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From crystal meth to Olympic glory: the recovery and rise of Luvo Manyonga

Three years ago Luvo Manyonga was a crystal meth addict. Now he is an Olympic silver medallist. This is his journey from the tik-addled townships to Rio glory, with the help of an Irish former street-sweeper turned strongman

Luvo Manyonga has already made my favourite narrative of the year but, on a gentle summer afternoon in Pretoria, the South African long jumper is just getting started. At the Rio Olympics in August, Manyonga conjured up a dizzying leap when he transformed the desperate grind of poverty and drug addiction into a beautifully shiny silver medal and soothing redemption. It demonstrated “hes having” overcome the bleak hold that crystal meth once exerted over his township life.

Manyonga now looks like a million dollars. He might be wearing only a vest, shorts and flip-flops but he gleams with health at the University of Pretorias High Performance Centre 900 miles from the meth lairs of Mbekweni in the Cape. Manyonga talks with a Bolt-like conviction which only a gifted young athlete can carry off with style when he smiles as easily as this reborn Olympian.

I can be the best jumper in the world right now, the 25 -year-old says with an assured grinning. It wont take me long. By next year you will see flames.

A former Irish street-sweeper and Coney Island strongman has played a significant role in this incredible story. John McGrath ran go looking for Luvo in 2013, at a time when Manyonga was a lost soul and few people outside his family seemed to care whether the athlete survived. McGrath eventually tracked him down and, after a few hard years of working together, Manyonga determined the strength within himself to start jumping again.

I had expended the previous day with McGrath and Manyongas family in Mbekweni an hours drive from Cape Town. I tell Manyonga now that, before I left the township, McGrath said he was certain his friend would become the greatest long jumper in history. Yes, I believe that, Manyonga says. I was born in 1991 the same year the[ current] world record was defined [8. 95 m by Mike Powell ]. So I think it is a calling for me.

Can Manyonga become the first man to jump beyond nine metres a mark as resonant in his event as dipping under 10 seconds was once in the 100 m or when operating a mile in under four minutes was a dreamily impossible landmark? It is possible. Definitely. It can happen. Im super hungry with the ambition of taking over the world.

His ear studs flash and the tattoo spelling out LUVO on his arm flexes virtually in amusement at his bravado. But, as always with Manyonga, his past stimulates such boldness as moving as it is striking: In life I have overcome so many obstacles. So to get a silver medal in the Olympics is a privilege. But this was my first Olympics and still more is coming. I am the type of person where I dont get overawed. I dreamed about the Olympics since I started. So it didnt seem super-huge to me. Other people might feel different because they didnt experience what I did.

Manyonga leaning back when I ask him to describe his mood before the final. I was chilled out. I shared a room with Khotso Mokoena[ who won silver in the long jump at the 2008 Beijing Olympics] and I told him: Dude, I cant wait for tomorrow. Id been waiting for this moment so long. I was annoy I even had to go to sleep first. But I slept beautifully. I even slept earlier so I could get the night over. When I woke up in the morning “its like”

He searches for the right word. Christmas? I suggest.

Two hundred percentage, Manyonga beams. I just wanted the time to come right now. I wanted to show the world Luvo Manyonga is back.

Manyonga jumped a personal best of 8. 37 m, a mark he has since smashed, and he was comfortably ahead of the 2012 Olympic champion, Britains Greg Rutherford, whose leap of 8. 29 m would win him bronze. It was only on Jeff Hendersons sixth and final jump that the American snatched the Olympic gold medal away from Manyonga with 8.38 m. Those 10 mm are just grainy corpuscles of dust compared to the vast distance Manyonga has travelled out of the darkness and into the illumination of a new life.

Luvo At the 2016 Olympic Games: I wanted to show the world Luvo Manyonga is back. Photo: Alexander Hassenstein/ Getty Images

Changing the narrative

Modern sport is a tangled business. Today it is as much about fund and image as glory and substance. But it seems appropriate that the worlds best athletes should be well-rewarded when millions of people watch them. I also feel satisfied when sport offers a way out of impoverishment and desperation for athletes as talented as Luvo Manyonga.

And so I have some familiar and pragmatic discussions with Lee-Roy Newton, a former athlete and Manyongas new agent, about this interview. Newton and Manyonga began working together six weeks after the Olympics and the agent explains it is important we change the narrative. I think the narrative has already been changed by Manyonga. Rather than remaining a victim of craving he has become one of world sports most uplifting figures. But Newton points out that potential sponsors do not want to be associated with past negative stories.

I respect Newtons professionalism and desire to create fresh a chance for Manyonga but it would be pointless to write about the athlete in a vacuum. There are countless other Olympic medallists but interest in Manyonga stems from his admirable ability to overcome his mistakes and years of adversity. His medication problem is public knowledge and he was banned for 18 months in 2012 for using crystal meth, the opposite of performance-enhancing doping. But Manyonga is now lunging towards a different future where world records and Olympic gold medals may await.

I explain to Newton that I will travel first to Mbekweni to meet John McGrath and Manyongas family. Newton advises me not to emphasise the role of any individual who might have helped Manyonga with the implication that a meeting with McGrath is not welcome.

The worlds strongest man

Hey, its the worlds strongest human! a voice weeps out at Cape Town airport soon after John McGrath satisfies me for the first time. McGrath is engulfed by two friends who, it turns out, are actors. They worked with McGrath when he was part of a vaudeville show where he played the hammed-up role of the Worlds Strongest Man.

It was great fun, McGrath says after reminiscing with the men before they catch a flight. I did my usual thing. Bending iron bars and breaking out of steel chains.

McGrath laughters and, as we settle into his car for the long drive to Paarl and Mbekweni, the 49 -year-old tells me he will soon attempt to enter the Guinness Book of World Records.

Its pretty easy, McGrath says. I simply need to bend 10 six-inch steel fingernails in less than 21 seconds. I love the rawness of it.

McGrath has performed around the world as a strongman, rowed internationally for Ireland and also opposed as a kick-boxer for our own countries while earning five black belts in various forms of martial arts after studying hapkido with DoJuNim Ji, Bruce Lees teacher. As a party trick, he can rip up a pack of cards as if they are a flimsy sheet of paper. Yet his work with Manyonga carries the most magic for McGrath.

The drive from Cape Town to the pretty Afrikaans town of Paarl echoes with Irish affection for an extraordinary Xhosa long jumper. Manyonga& McGrath might sound like a new South African statute firm but when they met in 2013 the latter are a tik user( tik being the township name for crystal meth) and an ex-refuse collector from Waterford in Ireland.

I grew up in rural Ireland in the 1970 s, McGrath says over a coffee in his favourite cafe in Paarl. Its the same coffee shop where McGrath and Manyonga hung out when the strongman was straightening out the jumper. Ireland was not so compassionate then. It was dominated by the Catholic church and my education was narrow. But I always had hope that someday I could do something. It was a faint hope because I was bullied a lot. I get burned with cigarettes on my chest. That scars you even if you dont realise it at the time. But I reached the tipping point of saying: No more. I got into martial art then. I started karate and read books. I was reaching out to the world and enjoyed the eastern philosophies and the path of the warrior.

His physical strength was spotted by a rowing coach as McGrath went to the local club where they offered free swimming lessons. Irish people cant really swim, he smiles, so I took my opportunity. After a few sessions this guy said: Why dont you try rowing? That appealed to me because you have to be very strong for rowing. I would cycle to rowing, train, cycle back and do rudimentary weight-training with rocks.

McGrath became an achieved rower and, when he was picked for Ireland, he was in a barge with humen studying to be physicians or lawyers. I was sweeping streets in Waterford, McGrath remembers, and I did that for three years. But I was dreaming of a way out. Rowing was my ticket to freedom otherwise I was destined to sweep those streets until this day. I had tenacity and was picked for Ireland at persons under the age of 23. I was Irish Rower of the Year in 1999 but then my back struck.

McGrath suffered a bulging disc and he was told his sporting career was over. He ignored his doctors and attained his mark in martial arts and kickboxing. Such grit helps explain his empathy for Manyonga. McGrath had fallen for a South African girl and he flew to Cape Town with her on holiday in 2008. He has remained in the Cape ever since. McGrath is now a well-known figure in Paarl where he operates a gym.

In 2013 I was in Colombia as[ South Africas] tug-of-war coach-and-four at the World Games, McGrath explains. It was then that the Sascoc[ South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee] people and me first “was talkin about a” Luvo.

Manyonga had won the 2010 world junior championships and, a year later, he performed even more impressively. He finished fifth in the world championships in Daegu and, as McGrath says, Luvo won a lot of fund. But when he got back home he lost it and was back on crystal meth or tik as its called on the street. The Sascoc people told me: This kid is banned for 18 months and youre not a qualified coach-and-four so you cannot work with him.

McGrath laughs. Telling that to an Irishman is the biggest fuck-you of all time. I believed: Ill fucking indicate you. But it took me a month to track down Luvo. I think word had reached him: A two-metre tall, 120 kg white guy is looking for you. I didnt sound too appealing. But I got in touch with rector Eugene Maqwelan in Mbekweni and he found Luvo. We met at his church office. Luvo looked dapper. He looked awesome. He was a tik addict but something shone out of him. I said: If you want to take a new journey, I will stroll it with you. I was persuaded I could attain him better. Luvos redemption would partly be my own.

McGrath might have learnt a lot about strength and conditioning but he knew little about long jumping. I had to reconnect him with Mario Smith who had been his coach-and-four. Mario was a very good man and had great passion. But they had been through the wars and it took period. While we were trying to get them back together I worked with him in the gym and wherever I ran, Luvo ran. It was a slow process with lots of relapses.

Manyonga maintained sliding back into the dark clutches of craving and McGrath, three years later, sighs. You had to have the wisdom of Solomon and the patience of Job to work with Luvo then. You never knew from the working day to the next where he would be. But you had to make peace with that and believe things would get better.

They get worse. Even when Manyonga somehow qualified for the 2014 Commonwealth Games his paperwork was mysteriously lost, allegedly in a mistake make use of an administrator, for Manyonga was still an embarrassment. Soon afterwards, in June 2014, Smith died in a car accident while driving to meet Manyonga.

Manyonga was devastated but still missed the funeral after being waylaid by his tik buddies. Luke Alfred, writing for the Mail& Guardian, captured the desolation of that day as he and McGrath ran go looking for Luvo in Mbekweni. Alfreds poignant article headlined The impossibility of loving Luvo.

The loss of Mario was a terrible blow, McGrath remembers. Luvo went into a downward spiraling. He was staring death in the face. It would be an exaggeration to say then that the amount of people who believed in Luvo could be counted on one hand.

When Alfreds feature was published in August 2014 he quoted a trenchant McGrath: There are two ways Luvo can go: hell either be standing on an Olympic podium, or hell be dead from an overdose by the time hes 30.

It was one of the rare occasions when a journalistic feature had widespread impact. Manyonga and McGrath were summoned to parliament where they met the sports council for two hours. McGrath pleaded for help by stressing Manyonga required a proper coach-and-four as well as refuge from the tik-riddled streets of Mbekweni.

To be fair to him Gideon Sam[ the president of Sascoc] came through for Luvo, McGrath says. But the ANC[ the governmental forces party] instructed Sascoc to help Luvo and it took hour for that to kick in. We couldnt get a sponsor. Not even Adidas wanted to sponsor Luvo with some spikes. I get him a pair myself but I didnt realise there was a difference between sprinting and jumping spikes. I got Luvo sprinting spikes. They stick to the board as you take off but Luvo still jumped 8.10 m.

Finally, in 2015, Manyonga left Mbekweni for Pretoria where he benefits from the expert coaching of Toby Sutcliffe and Neil Cornelius at the High Performance Centre. McGrath stresses that much credit should be paid to these men for unleashing Manyongas brilliance.

We are joined by the photographer Pieter Bauermeister and head for Mbekweni in McGraths car an Irishman driving an Afrikaner and an English-speaking South African deep into the township. What can go wrong? McGrath quips before Bauermeister regales us with narratives of a past tik-related assignment where he had a gun held to his head by a gang leader. Its sobering to hear him associate reports that, in the Cape Town township of Ocean View, 80% of schoolchildren may be addicted to tik. The photographer explains that national statistics indicate there are as many as 250,000 crystal meth users in the Cape with 36% being minors. Luvo Manyongas Olympic achievement becomes even more notable.

McGrath drives us through the dusty warren of ramshackle huts and houses until we reach the home of Luvos mothers Joyce and John Manyonga. Luvos dad, his sister, Vuyiseka, and her baby daughter are at home but Joyce is working. Her white madam, an Afrikaans woman whose home is cleaned by Joyce in the neighbouring town of Worcester, is unaware her domestic servant is due to be interviewed.

The Irishman rolls his eyes. OK, he says, lets going to see Worcester.

Vuyiseka and her newborn join us on the drive to Worcester. I feel like I am back in apartheid-era South Africa as McGrath disappears inside to strike a deal with the white female so Joyce can be released from her chores.

Joyce Manyonga finally climbs into the car us and we drive back to Mbekweni. Thank you, Mama, McGrath says.

Its such hard work, Joyce replies in Afrikaans. I get very tired. I have been a domestic worker since 1977. Its a long time.

Vuyiseka explains that her father “losing ones” task seven years ago and that she and her father have not been able to find work as hard as “theyre trying”. Mama is the only breadwinner.

But there is more exhilaration than suffering in the tiny Manyonga home even when Joyce sheds copious tears. After they describe watching Luvos stunning Olympic feat in the early hours of a Sunday morning, Joyce rocks with pride. Her face then creases and tears roll down her cheek as she turns to McGrath.

John is like Luvos father, Joyce says. He looked after Luvo when nobody but his family wanted him. When Luvo was on medications, John took care of him.

McGrath seems down. He had suggested he would leave me alone with Joyce but I had asked him to stay. I feel compelled to speak: Im sorry, Joyce. I didnt wishes to upset you.

Joyce shakes her head. She explains that these are happy tears. This human, Joyce says, pointing at McGrath, is very nice. John is such a good man to all my children.

I ask Vuyiseka how they felt when Mario Smith succumbed. Luvo was on drugs and we were scared. But one day Luvo came to this house with John. He said: This is my new coach. We looked at John and we liked him. John would fetch Luvo for training and he would give us money for food and electricity. My mother suffers with high-blood pressure and she worried about Luvo. But John helped so much. I could write 10 pages about how good John is to us. Years ago there was just John. Now so many people want to be with Luvo.

There is no bitterness in Vuyiseka when she says Luvo would prefer them to visit him in Pretoria. Too many dark memories haunt him in Mbekweni. Last month he paid for his parents to fly north. It was the first time Joyce and John Manyonga had stepped aboard a plane. Joyce shudders and then exclaims with pleasure when she remembers the reaction in Pretoria.

They kept saying to me white and black people Luvos mother! We love you! We love Luvo!

Salty tears of pride autumn from her eyes as Joyce espouses John McGrath the Irish strongman who believed in her son.

This is the reason I am still alive

My mother always sobs, Luvo says affectionately when I tell him about my day in Mbekweni.

So does mine, I joke, before we agree that tears are not a sign of weakness. I tell him how much his mother impressed me. He nods and opens up. Im a simple person and I dont mind about situations. If I dont have it, I dont have it. Growing up in Mbekweni, I would go to school and get R2[ the equivalent of 20p] for lunch. My mom is a domestic worker and she made sure we had food on the table no matter what. The person I am today is because of my mama and my dad. This mentality I have now is because of what happened and what they taught me. Even going to sleep without food on the table attained me stronger.

Did that happen often? It did. My mom would go to a neighbour and ask for food. I believed I would never do that. It was only one day. You wont succumb from not feeing something. But my mother wanted to feed us.

Manyonga nods at Vuyisekas claim that he is happier watching the family in Pretoria than at home in Mbekweni. I believe I require some more time to grow and mend, he says softly. I will be a retrieving addict the rest of my life and, as a[ former] user, there are so many triggers there. Perhaps the corner where I used to hang out, ensure old friends, maybe thats going to trigger that. But its nice and safe here the only thing you think about is training and competing. Its the best route for me.

I loved my day in Mbekweni but it was impossible to ignore the old gulf between black and white South Africa. Are lack of opportunities the cause of widespread substance abuse in the townships? There are narcotics in the township but if you want to make it you can do it without drugs. But some people cant make it out of there because they dont have help or the hope there is something more in life. Thats where I learn about life. It was a wake-up call for me.

Manyonga told Luke Alfred he had to jump or succumb. Does he still believe that, if it hadnt been for long jumping, he might be dead? Yes. This is the reason Im still alive. God gave me the talent to show what can be done in this world. It doesnt matter what situation you are in you can come back. I can spread the word to the world. But you wont change the person or persons until he changes himself.

Manyonga guess carefully when asked to remember the most difficult time of his substance abuse. When I was starting to run away from Mario Smiths home. I was scared when I was high. I was thinking I wont go back. I was being paranoid supposing this is the best way to be.

Was he lonely? I actually felt alone around three oclock in the morning. Thats the hard time. You look around and theres people who might know I used to be a hotshot. But what if they kidnap or kill me?

Did Manyonga ever give up the dream of jumping? I always told the guys that I was using with that Im going to jump again. I was the kind of guy that would jumping over people or the fencing or even cars.

Even when he was high and not developing? Yes. I always had hope.

That hope was dented by Smiths death. He was almost like a parent. He taught me much about athletics and helped me become the person or persons I am. He played the biggest role in my life.

What about John McGrath? Manyongas body language changes and he appears awkward. Ja, in a educate point of view he did help. He did the best he can. I will give him credit also.

Its a clear sign Manyonga does not want to talk about McGrath. But I tell Manyonga how his mother and sister had reacted to McGrath.

He did help me and he played a role in my life. I wouldnt put him out of it. But so many people believed in me. They werent getting anything out of it if I am find it correctly. Perhaps they want something out of it. I dont know. But saying no one[ else] believed in me is not true.[ Sascocs] Gideon Sam, before I fulfilled John, flew to Cape Town to consider me personally. He told me: My boy, I believe in you ever since, Im sorry for saying this,[ your] fucked-up days. Im going to try to change your life one day. He flew back to Johannesburg and then John came out and we tried to get some interviews and spread the word that I need help.

Luvo Luvo Manyonga, left, on the Rio podium with the Olympic long jump gold medallist Jeff Henderson, and bronze medal-winning Greg Rutherford, right. Photograph: Matthias Hangst/ Getty Images

Did his parliamentary meeting with McGrath help? Those people from parliament didnt come back. ANC people came to my place. But it was empty promises. Merely Sascoc came back. Now I am saying Sascoc did the most.

I wonder how Manyonga felt when, apparently, someone from Sascoc lost his 2014 Commonwealth Games entry? I got over it because they are still helping me a lot. I wont say anything nasty about them. A mistake can happen to anyone. Sascoc took me from nowhere and now I am someone.

Manyonga is genuinely person. He is not just an Olympic silver medallist and an inspiration. He is also strong and free and with an exhilarating future ahead of him. It does not really matter who helped him most. His decision to change was driving in his inner strength.

Manyonga won an Olympic medal with less than a year of proper training. His real potential was captured three weeks after Rio when he won a Diamond League meeting in Brussels and jumped another personal best of 8. 48 m. His face illuminates up. At the Diamond League a miracle happened. I believe in God, so much, and the miracle happened when I was praying and insured a sunlight there. I felt so light. I didnt even feel that 8.48. When I landed I was guessing 8.20. The moment they presented it on the board I was like: Oh My God! I was coming from the Olympics with a silver medal but I didnt have to prove I deserved it. I simply show the world Ive still got it. Just give me the same beat and Ill show you.

We talk for another 10 minutes about his hopes for the future, his new girlfriend and inspiring South Africans. It feels right to tell Manyonga how impressive he has been this year whether in Rio, Brussels or, today, in Pretoria. But I am still confounded. I know he and McGrath were together less than a month ago. They seemed happy and even shared a stage to associate their joint narrative. But now, despite the outpouring of love his mother and sister showed for McGrath, a mere mention of the Irishmans name brings down a wall. Why?

Manyonga intermissions. Can I not comment on that?

Of course, I say.

We talk some more before Manyonga thanks me for coming to see him. He smiles when I say I expect him to win the world championships in London next year.

Ill be ready, Manyonga says as we shake hands.

A few weeks later I fulfill Luke Alfred. He has written three long features about Manyonga and McGrath and interviewed both men in detail over the last two years. I really like Luvo, Alfred says. And I really like John. Theyre both great.

Alfred giggles and shakes his head when I ask him about the changed timeline which suggests that Gideon Sam, and the administrators, did most to help Manyonga find redemption. My gut-instinct about McGrath chimes with his own.

I call McGrath and explain “whats happened to” Manyonga. He voices hurts but not surprised. We had already discussed, even with Joyce and Vuyiseka, the likelihood that the Irish strongman might be airbrushed out of this story.

Its OK, McGrath says. I love Luvo. I only want the best for him.

In the end the people who matter most are Luvo and Joyce Manyonga. The Olympic silver medallist and the domestic worker, a son and his mother, have both done wonders.

Exactly, McGrath says. Luvo and Joyce have done it. They have found hope. Nothing can change that. Its still a wonderful story.

Luvo Manyonga portraits by James Oatway, John McGrath and Mbekweni photographs by Pieter Bauermeister

Joseph Goebbels’ secretary, Brunhilde Pomsel, dies aged 106

One of last people close to Nazi leadership was topic of cinema last year, but felt no sense of remorse for Hitlers crimes

Brunhilde Pomsel, a former secretary to the Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels and one of the last people alive who had close contact with the Nazi leadership, has died at the age of 106.

Pomsel died in her sleep in Munich on Friday night, said Florian Weigensamer, a director and producer of a documentary feature about her life.

She spent three years working for Hitlers close confidante right up until his death on 1 May 1945, when Goebbels and his wife, Magda, poisoned their six children before killing themselves.

Pomsel, who had accompanied the Goebbels into Hitlers bunker in the dying days of the Nazi regime, described being dumbstruck on hearing the news. She told the makers of the documentary, A German Life, which is due to open in British cinemas afterwards this year: I will never forgive Goebbels for what he did to the world or for the fact that he murdered his innocent children.

It was perhaps the closest she got to expressing any regret for her role in the Nazi death machine. Her job required her, alongside everyday administrative chores, to systematically alter statistics, such as reducing the numbers of German soldiers who had been killed in the war and increasing the number of rapes said to have been perpetrated on German females by Red Army soldiers. But still she concluded more than seven decades later: Really, I didnt do anything other than kind in Goebbels office.

Pomsel called it an act of foolery that she ever decided to work for Goebbels. But her typing velocity was excellent, and so was the pay, so only an infectious disease would have stopped me from becoming a secretary to the Nazi propaganda minister, she said.

She insisted she had simply acted like most Germans by not defying the regime. Those people nowadays who say they would have stood up against the Nazis I believe they are sincere in meaning that, but believe me, most of them wouldnt have, she told the Guardian in her last interview in 2016.

She described how, after the rise of the Nazi party, the whole country was as if under a kind of a spell. I could open myself up to the accusations that I wasnt interested in politics, but the truth is the idealism of youth might easily have led to you having your neck broken.

Pomsels health had deteriorated rapidly following a fall in the months since the films release at Munich film festival last July.

Brunhilde Pomsel at her typewriter. Photo: Blackbox Film

During the last months of her life she was interviewed further by the film-makers for a book to accompany the documentary. Her attention span had waned, but she was still up to date with events in the world from Turkey to the USA, Weigensamer said.

She was very proud that the movie was made about her, even if parts of it were very unpleasant for her, but she thought it was important that she left something behind which will be shown in schools, so as to educate young people on the dangers of dictatorships.

Speaking about what she called the ghastly developments in world affairs, Pomsel said she only hoped the world doesnt turn upside down again as it did then.

Although she called herself an apolitical person, who has never fought for anything, she had followed current affairs closely in old age. She said recently: Hitler was elected democratically, and bit by bit he got his own route. Of course that could always repeat itself with Trump or Erdoan.

Despite the 30 hours of interview on which the film is based and hours of conversation that followed for the book, she withheld a crucial detailed descriptions of her own biography until shortly before her demise, Weigensamer revealed.

She told us about the love of their own lives, Gottfried Kirchbach, who was Jewish, with whom she planned to escape Germany forever, he said.

Kirchbach went to Amsterdam to arrange a new life for the couple. Pomsel visited him there regularly, until one day he told her she was imperiling their own lives because her frequent visits had come to the attention of the Nazi authorities. She never saw him again. A doctor advised her to abort the child of theirs she was carrying, because she had a serious lung complaint and she might have died.

Weigensamer said that even towards the end of her life Pomsel expressed no sense of guilt, except towards people she said she should have taken better care of. One of those was her best friend Eva Lwenthal, a vivacious, red-haired Jewish girl. Only in 2005 did Pomsel enquire about her friends fate, discovering “shes been” murdered in Auschwitz towards the end of the war.

She remained true to herself until the end, only seeing her own fate, never assuring it in terms of the societal dimensions or putting it into its historical context, Weigensamer said. There were no insincere confessions.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Science Or Snake Oil: Can A Detox Actually Cleanse Your Liver?

This is the first article in our new ongoing series Science or Snake Oil. Articles will look at the claims for a product and decide whether they are supported by science or lacking in evidence .

The human adult liver weighs about one-and-a-half kilograms, making it one of the largest organs in the body. It is a matter of a range of functions. It helps break down fats, carbohydrates and proteins into substances the body can utilise.

The liver acts as a storage unit for these substances( including vitamins and minerals) and supplies the body with them when they need it. For example, when your blood sugar level drops, the liver will release stored carbohydrate( glycogen) to rectify the problem.

It also acts by metabolising toxins into harmless substances or by eliminating toxic substances from the body. Clever marketing has led us to believe it is the food that contains toxins and, hence, following a diet that eliminates certain foods and taking over-the-counter products that cleanse your liver of toxins will detoxify the liver.

Can The Liver Be Cleansed ?

We have a misconception we can cleanse the body by following a detox diet.

This is a complete fallacy. To explain this process one must first understand exactly what a toxin is. A toxin is a harmful substance that enters your body from the environment. Examples include carbon monoxide from motor vehicles, bisphenol A( BPA) from customer plastics, and heavy metal such as result and mercury. Toxins can also include drugs and poisons.

However, substances are merely toxic based on the sums in which we ingest them. The situation in which detoxification is involved is when someone is being treated in a hospital for a dangerous level of a substance that is life-threatening.

The liver is otherwise working to eliminate unwanted substances in the body through our faeces and urine. These are the toxic byproducts from the metabolization of foods. For instance, excessive sums of protein can be dangerous to the liver.

Many over-the-counter products claim to clean your liver of toxins. But does the liver genuinely respond to an over-the-counter product that claims to detoxify or mend its function?

Most of these products contain the active ingredients from Silybum marianum ( known as milk thistle) and Taraxacum officinale ( known as dandelion ). Many of the formulations also contain other ingredients such as selenium, phosphatidylcholine, amino acids, artichoke leaf, green tea leaf and turmeric root, to name a few.

Several companies render a range of liver detox or liver cleanse products with differing quantities and ingredient compositions. But how strong is the evidence to display these active ingredients actually help with liver repair?

Some popular liver detox brands. Screenshot, Chemist Warehouse

Milk Thistle

Milk thistle extract( standardised to 80% silymarin) is the most commonly marketed herb claimed to detoxify the liver. Silymarin is the active ingredient in milk thistle. The use of milk thistle for therapy of various types of diseases dates back to Dioscorides, the first-century Greek physician.

In more recent times, it has been used to treat liver cancer. However the majority of studies that have been conducted are of low-quality study design, so its purported efficacy is still questioned.

There is some evidence to suggest milk thistle( usually accompanied by other substances) is beneficial for improving blood cholesterol, insulin resistance and inflammatory markers in the body. There is no evidence, however, to suggest milk thistle detoxifies the liver which many of these products claim.

Carusos liver detox active ingredients as per their website. Screenshot, Caruso’s


Dandelions therapeutic employ dates back to the tenth century for liver and spleen disorders.

Since then, the medicinal utilize of the plant has been tested for a range of cancers. But the evidence is contradictory, or based on poor study design with incomparable results.

Of greater relevance is that the majority of research analyse the efficacy of this flower extract has been tested merely in animals. Similar to milk thistle extract, there is no evidence to suggest it helps to eliminate toxins or detoxify the liver, and hence serves no benefit for such a proposed indication.

A Healthy Liver

To have a well-functioning liver you simply have to eat healthy foods and restriction your intake of substances, such as alcohol, that cause it to work harder. Excessive intake of any one particular food may contribute to an increased loading on the liver.

Therefore, a healthy, well-balanced diet based on national guidelines is the best liver cleanse available, rather than spending disposable income on over-the-counter products that are not backed by scientific literature supporting such claims.

Complementary medicines are members of the largest growing marketplaces in the world. Governing bodies must continue to incentivise companies to conduct innovative research to support the specific claims accompanying their products. Its imperative companies are transparent in their ad claims so customers know what they are spending their fund on from both an efficacy and safety point of view.

Evidence for approved ingredients should not be generalised from product to product. This is because the evidence supporting one such product is made up of a unique combining of ingredients and dosages. The most recent review of the regulatory framework for complementary medicines is available on the Department of Health website.

Nick Fuller, Research Fellow, Clinical Trials Development and Assessment, University of Sydney

Read more: www.iflscience.com

Alternative medication treatment put four-year-old boy in A& E – BBC News

Image copyright Thinkstock

The plight of a four-year-old boy who nearly succumbed after his mothers devoted him 12 alternative medicines has inspired physicians to warn against the treatments.

Doctors at Newham Hospital in east London said the parents were “devastated” that their good intentions had constructed him so unwell.

The boy took a dozen supplements supposedly to help treat his autism.

The National Autistic Society said it was crucial for physicians to talk through health risks of alternative therapies.

The boy developed a potentially fatal condition after taking supplements from a naturopath( natural health practitioner) for a number of months, which included vitamin D, camel’s milk, silver and Epsom bath salts.

He was admitted to A& E after losing 6.5 lbs( 3kg) over three weeks, suffered by symptoms including vomiting and extreme thirst.

Image copyright Science Photo Library Image caption ‘Often mothers is considered that supplements are natural, safe…but this is not true in many cases’

Dr Catriona Boyd and Dr Abdul Moodambail, writing in the British Medical Journal Case Reports , said it was not until the son had been at Newham Hospital, which is part of St Bart’s Health Trust, for several days that his mother told them about the holistic supplements.

Dr Moodambail told the BBC: “This happens on many occasions with other patients as well.

“Often the mothers is considered that these supplements are natural, safe and do not cause any side effects or adverse effects, but this is not true in many cases like this.”

He added: “The situation was stark because the child developed vitamin D toxicity leading to very high calcium levels, stimulating the child quite unwell and this can even be fatal as well.”

The boy made a full recovery in two weeks after being treated with hyperhydration and medications to reduce his calcium level.

What are complementary and alternative therapies?

Complementary and alternative medications( CAMs) are treatments that fall outside of mainstream healthcare Generally when a non-mainstream practise is used together with conventional medication, it is considered “complementary” When a non-mainstream practise is used instead of conventional medicine, it is considered “alternative” Examples of CAMS include homeopathy, acupuncture, osteopathy, chiropractic and herbal medicines Some complementary and alternative medications or therapies are based on principles and an proof base that are not recognised by the majority of independent scientists Others have been proven to work for a limited number of health conditions, such as osteopathy, chiropractic and acupuncture for treating lower back ache When a person use any health therapy – including a CAM – and experiences an improvement, this may be due to the placebo consequence Osteopaths and chiropractors are regulated in the same way as mainstream medical professionals There is no statutory professional regulation of any other CAM practitioners

House Republican renew call to nix August recess, citing ‘long list of pressing issues’

With time farther expiring on House Republicans long list of legislative aims, members have again asked Speaker Paul Ryan to cancel the chambers August recess.

During the 2016 elections, President Trump and Republican candidates operating for the House and Senate promised the American people that with unified Republican government we could attain many of the policy priorities that have been mere hopes for the last several years, Arizona GOP Rep. Andy Biggs wrote in his letter to Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican.

Biggs and the 11 other House Republicans who signed the letter Friday cited a long list of pressing issues on our docket including the repeal of ObamaCare, passing a tax reform plan, reign in federal spending and working toward balancing the budget.

The American people put their religion in us and are counting on us to carry out these goals, they also wrote.

Congress on Friday violated for a approximately two-week Fourth of July recess and will return to Washington for about 14 legislative working days before their month-long August break.

The letter also cited the need to pass a federal budget and appropriate federal funding by Sept. 30, when the U.S. government technically runs out of money.

And it quoth the need to reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration, the Childrens Health Insurance Program, the National Flood Insurance Program and Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

The House Freedom Caucus — roughly 30 of the chambers most conservative members including Biggs — was among the first to support the effort to cancel the August recess.

The group said in early June that Congress must remain in session the summer months to continue working to accomplish the priorities of the American people.

White House budget Director Mick Mulvaney lately said that he supportings Congress staying in session through at least part of August.

And White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway has made clear that President Trump, a businessman and real estate mogul by trade, wants faster results.

When he says drain the inundate, its not just about getting rid of all the crocodiles in the water that we dont need. Its about moving at a different pace, she recently told Fox News Fox& Friends.

The GOP-led Senate is perhaps under an even tighter deadline, after leaving for July break without passing their ObamaCare overhaul bill.

Still, get Republican congressional leaders to cancel or shorten the August recess, practically a perennial petition, is unlikely.

Capitol Hill lawmakers historically use August to travel in delegations to foreign countries.

This year, a journey to China is scheduled through the U.S. Asia Institute, and a trip-up to Israel is being led by the American Israel Education Foundation, according to a high-ranking congressional aide.

Read more: www.foxnews.com

15 brilliant Nigel Slater recipes from 2001 to today

To celebrate Observer Food Monthlys 15 th birthday, Nigel Slater shares his favourite dishes from 1,000 created for the magazine and others never seen before

Recipes have always been at the heart of OFM. They spring from the simple idea of enthusiastic cooks sharing ideas, passing on a recipe the government had made in the hope that others too might find it delicious. Over the years many of our recipes have come from professional chefs, others from cookery writers, home cooks, producers, growers, the occasional celebrity. Some of them have been mine. Virtually hundreds of thousands of if my maths is correct.

For this special birthday issue, I have brought together a collection of new recipes but among them you will find a few old favourites I have rethought. I have always enjoyed tweaking my own recipes, rethinking an earlier notion. Bringing a suggestion up to date, getting a new perspective, introducing a different ingredient, dispensing with the unnecessary.

Our eating doesnt stand still, so why should our recipes? Yes, there is always that trusty coffee and walnut cake we bring out at all opportunities( and so we should ), and a time-honoured classic is always worth repeating, but I celebrate that there is always a new take over a recipe waiting in the wings. The chance to revise, refresh and rethink can often be deliciously rewarding.

The recipes that follow, one for each of the publications 15 years, have been huge fun to make. I hope there is something for everyone. The lamb roasted over flatbread has become a favourite at home, especially if you use quite thick flatbread, so the outside crisp and the inside soaks up the sweet, herby fat from the roasting meat. The lemon creme fraiche ice cream with warm crumble maintained me dipping into the freezer with my teaspoon for days. The artichoke bruschetta has become a new place to turning for lunch-at-my-desk.

So here are 15 recipes its a pleasure for me to share with you. Because sharing is what recipes are all about.

Porcini herb broth

Photograph: Jonathan Lovekin for the Observer

I have long been a fan of using dried mushrooms to make a deep and beefy broth. Porcini are expensive, but you only need a very few to create a glowing, umami-fuelled stock. Cream of mushroom soup has never quite hit the spot for me, altogether too bland and often curiously sweet. To a clear soup of dried porcini I have added sliced, grilled mushrooms( you could use pretty much any assortment from portobello to penny bun ). The mushrooms dry out unnervingly on the griddle but their flavor concentrates and they take on wonderful smoky notes. Thrown into the soup they plump up and fulfil their promise.

Serves 4-6
dried flageolet 150 g
dried porcini 20 g
portobello mushroom 1 large
chestnut mushrooms 100 g
penny bun or other major mushrooms 150 g
lemon thyme 12 sprigs( about 2 tsp of foliages)
dill fronds a small handful
pea shoots or watercress 12 stems

Soak the flageolet overnight in cold water. The next day, drainage then bring the beans up to the boil in deep, unsalted water. Lower the hot to a simmer then cook the beans for 40 -5 0 minutes until they are tender and as soft as you like them.( I like mine with a little bite left in them .)

Put the dried porcini in a large, deep saucepan and add two litres of water. Bring the water to the simmer, then lower the hot and leave to simmer for a good 40 minutes. Season with salt and black pepper, tasting as you go. You will need to be quite generous with the seasoning.

Slice the fresh mushrooms( about the thickness of two pound coins on top of each other ). Warm a grill or griddle and cook the mushrooms on both sides. Use no petroleum unless your pan is unseasoned. Alternatively, you could fry them in a frying pan, brushed with a film of olive oil. Remove the mushrooms and add to the broth.

Tear the foliages from the lemon thyme and add most of them to the broth( save a few for the end ), then continue to simmer, letting the liquid reduce until you have a deep mushroom flavor. Add the cooked, drained beans and hot exhaustively, then, just before ladling the soup into deep bowl, add the dill fronds and pea shoots or watercress.

Grilled asparagus with pea and mint puree

OFM May 2016 Nigel Griddled Asparagus Buttery Pea Mint Puree Photograph: Jonathan Lovekin for the Observer

I am old enough to remember when asparagus was considered a luxury, a catch-it-while-you-can, seasonal crop sold at a premium cost. Nowadays a bunch of long, British-grown spears costs little more than a pouch of frozen peas. Butter remains a popular accompaniment, as is hollandaise sauce, but I opt something a little brighter savor to dip my lances in, such as the pea and mint puree here.

Serves 2-4
asparagus 600 g
olive oil a little
peas 300 g( frozen or podded weight)
butter 70 g
mint leaves 10

Warm a griddle pan over a moderate heat. Trim the asparagus lances, removing the dry aims of the stubbles, then toss in a little oil.

Put the peas on to cook in simmer, lightly salted water. Let them cook for 4-5 minutes. Melt the butter with 70 ml of water in a small pan over a high hot then set aside.

Place the oiled asparagus on the griddle and turning as the underside browns. They should be tender but retain more crispness than if you boiled them.

Drain the peas and tip into the jug of an electric blender or the bowl of a food processor. Pour in the butter and water concoction, add the mint foliages and process to a smooth puree. Serve the puree with the hot, griddled asparagus.

Crab and tomato soup

Photograph: Jonathan Lovekin for the Observer

Crab soups differ from the heavy, cream-laden bisques of French classical cookery to the clear, light Japanese broths with their shipment of pure white snow crab. The soup that follows lies somewhere between the two. There is substance, but also lightness. In high summer, this thick puree of tomatoes and peppers with its crown of white crab meat can be served as a salad. On other occasions, file under first course.

Serves 4
garlic 1 small clove
cherry tomatoes 300 g
cucumber 1
romano peppers 2
birds-eye chilli 1
sherry vinegar 2 tbsp
white crab meat 300 g
mustard and cress or watercress to finish

Peel the garlic and place in the jug of an electric blender or food processor. Tip in the cherry tomatoes. Peel the cucumber, then halve and cut one half into two or three pieces and add to the tomatoes and garlic. Finely dice the second half of the cucumber and set aside.

Roughly chop the romano peppers and add to the veggies in the blender. Process the veggies until you have a brilliant red puree, then season with the sherry vinegar and a little salt and black pepper. Fold the reserved diced cucumber into the white crab meat, taking care not to crush the flakes of crab.

Pour the soup into four bowl. Spoon the crab on top of the soup, add a pinch of mustard and cress and serve.

Prawns with lime and ginger marinade

Photograph: Jonathan Lovekin for the Observer

Regular readers will know I dont have much day for starters. They dont actually fit into the informal route I eat. There is, however, the odd occasion I need to serve something before the main dish. This recipe, of sharp, fresh flavours and light textures, fits the bill sensitively enough. When this recipe first appeared( in July 2002) I employed red mullet, but prawns are easier to detect and considerably cheaper, so I often use those instead.

Serves 2
rice wine vinegar 3 tbsp
lime juice of 1
lemon juice of 1
banana shallot 1 small
red birds-eye chilli 1
lime leaves 3
superstar anise 2
palm sugar 1 tsp
coriander seeds 1 tsp
black peppercorns 8
carrot 1 medium
olive oil 4 tbsp, plus a little extra for frying
big prawns 10, raw, shell on
fresh ginger a 10 g piece
fresh coriander a handful

Put the rice wine vinegar and lime and lemon juices into a stainless steel saucepan. Peel and finely slice the shallot and add to the pan. Halve, deseed and finely chop the chilli, then add together with the lime leaves, whole but softly crushed to release their fragrance, and the star anise. Stir in the palm sugar, then the coriander seeds and peppercorns and let the mixture simmer for a minute or two over a moderate hot. Peel the carrot and slice it very finely and add to the pan along with the olive oil and continue cooking for minute or two.

Shell the prawns and split them down the back with a large knife. Remove the black thread that runs just under the skin it should just pull away and open the prawns out virtually flat. Warm a griddle or frying pan over a high heat, then oil the prawns gently and place them, cut side down on the hot griddle. Leave them for got a couple of minutes to gently colour then turn and cook the other side for a further minute or until the flesh becomes opaque.

Grate the ginger finely into the dres. Set the prawns in a shallow dish and pour the hot dressing over them. Leave to cool then cover with clingfilm and refrigerate for 4 hours. Serve cool with a sprinkling of coriander leaves.

Roast pork, black pudding and apple stuffing, cabbage salad

Photograph: Jonathan Lovekin for the Observer

The family roasteds, of which there here have been many over the last 15 years, are among some of the most popular of OFMs recipes. For this one, a majestic, crackling-framed roasted stuffed with black pudding and apples, you will need a pork shoulder, skin on, bones removed. Ask the butcher to score the skin for crackling. A friend will prove invaluable for helping you secure the stuffed roasted with kitchen string.

Serves 6
boned pork shoulder 2-2. 5kg

For the stuffing
onions 2
olive oil 3 tbsp
black pudding 200 g
sausage meat 450 g
dessert apple 1
sage leaves 3

For the cabbage salad
brussels sprouts 300 g
red cabbage 250 g
radishes 50 g
white wine vinegar 3 tbsp
water 2 tbsp
caster sugar 1 tsp
salt tsp

Set the oven at 220 C/ gas mark 7. Peel the onions and roughly chop them, then warm the petroleum over a moderate hot and let the onions cook for 10 minutes till soft and translucent.

Remove the onions from the heat and crumble in the black pudding and the sausage meat. Coarsely grate or finely cube the apple and fold into the sausage meat mixture together with a seasoning of salt and pepper and the whole sage leaves.

Place the pork skin side down on a chopping board and, if necessary, remove any string the butcher may have tied it with. Spread the stuffing thickly over the meat then pull the edges up together and tie at 3cm intervals with string.( I always find a helping hand very useful at this point .) Season the pork with salt, scratching it down into the score marks in the skin.

Place the joint of pork in a cook tin, roast in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, then lower the hot to 160 C/ gas mark 3 and continue cooking for a further 70 -9 0 minutes until the pork is done to your liking.( Cover the pork with foil if it appears to be browning too much .) Remove from the oven and leave to rest, encompassed loosely with foil, for 20 minutes before carving.

Meanwhile, to construct the cabbage salad, trim and finely shred the brussels sprouts, then shred the red cabbage. Cut the radishes into quarterss. Bring the wine vinegar, water, caster sugar and salt to the simmer. As soon as the salt and sugar have dissolved, tip-off the dressing over the veggies, encompas with a lid or clingfilm and define side for 30 -4 0 minutes. Toss the ingredients from time to time.

Guindilla and mozzarella toasts

Photograph: Jonathan Lovekin for the Observer

I introduced this chilled, marinated mozzarella( in 2004) as a salad, using the diminutive bocconcini rather than cutting the larger and more usual sizing of Italian buffalo milk cheese into slices. Mercifully, this useful, hens egg sizing difference is now easier to situate. I liked the pinch and punch of the pickled guindilla chillies against the mild, milky cheese of the original recipe. Attaining the salad again for lunch last wintertime it crossed my mind how good the cheese might be melted under the grill with the pepper-spiced oil being used to soak a few rounds of accompanying rough-edged toast.

Makes 4 rounds( enough for 2)
mozzarella 250 g
olive oil 120 ml
black peppercorns 8
guindillas in brine or water 4
capers 12
caperberries 4
sourdough bread 4 slice for toast
marinated artichokes 4
coriander or parsley to finish

In a large, shallow china dish, place the mozzarella, halved if small, thickly sliced if big, in a single layer. Pour the olive oil over the mozzarella then tuck the black peppercorns, whole guindilla chillies, capers and caperberries in between the pieces of cheese. Cover the dish with clingfilm then refrigerate overnight.

The next day toast the bread gently then divide the mozzarella between the toasts, tucking in the halved artichokes as you go. Add the chillies, capers and caperberries from the marinade then percolates a little of the petroleum over each. Cook under the oven-grill for 3-4 minutes until the cheese begin to melting. A little chopped coriander or parsley at the end would be good.

Lamb belly flatbread

Photograph: Jonathan Lovekin for the Observer

Lamb belly is still staggeringly underrated and mercifully inexpensive. As it roasts, the fat and juices from the meat fall onto the flatbreads in the cook tin below. Stimulate sure your belly has a nice layer of fat.

Serves 6
lamb belly 1kg, scalped and boned
ras el hanout 2 tbsp
olive oil
flatbread 500 g( 6 slices)

For the sauce
dill 10 g
mint leaves 10 g
yogurt 500 ml
white wine vinegar a splash

Preheat the oven to 180 C/ gas mark 4. Place the lamb belly skin side up on a chopping board, then cut into two pieces that will fit your roasting tin. Score deep lines into the surface with a very sharp knife, about 2cm apart, running approximately half way through the meat. Then slash in the opposite direction, to give a lattice effect.

Scatter the ras el hanout over the surface, then scratches evenly over the meat, pushing the ground spice concoction down into the cuts. Season evenly with salt. Place the meat on a wire rack that will fit neatly on top of your roasting tin.

Pour a movie of petroleum on the base of the roasting tin then snugly fit the pieces of flatbread into the tin, in a single layer. Place the rack over the top and then put in the oven to roast. Leave for one hour and 10 minutes, watching carefully, letting the juices and melting fat from the lamb drip onto the flatbread. The bread will turn crisp and golden in places and be saturated with the hot fat in others.

Roughly chop the dill and the foliages from the mint then stir into the yogurt with a splash of white wine vinegar.

Remove the lamb from the oven and leave to rest for 10 minutes. Lift the lamb onto a chopping board and cut into thick slices. Serve the bread in a heap together with the bowl of herb yogurt and the slices of hot lamb.

Chicken wings with orange and green olive relish

Photograph: Jonathan Lovekin for the Observer

An update of my 2001 recipe for chicken cooked with olives and oranges. I have swapped the thighs for wings and the olives are now green rather than black, served as a coarse-textured savour with gherkins and parsley. The recipe is cheaper, the scalp more crisp and savoury, research results now something to pick up and eat with your fingers altogether more fun to eat.

Serves 2( with some relish left over use it on toast)
large chicken wings 12
orange 1 small
olive oil 3 tbsp
thyme 8 sprigs

For the relish
cucumber 100 g
green olive s 100 g, stoned
gherkins 80 g
finely chopped parsley 3 tbsp
olive oil 3 tbsp
lemon juice optional

Set the oven at 200 C/ gas mark 6.

Put the chicken wings in a cook tin. The tin should be large enough that the wings can sit on a single layer. Halve the orange and squeeze over the chicken. Add the olive oil, a generous grind of both salt and black pepper, then pull the leaves from the thyme and add to the pan. Toss the wings in the oil and orange then roast for about 35 -4 0 minutes till the wings are golden-brown and sticky. Prize them away from the pan if the government had stuck here and there.

Meanwhile, construct the olive savor. Peel and very finely dice the cucumber, dice the olives and the gherkins then mix them, in a small bowl, with the chopped parsley and the olive oil. You may like to add a little lemon juice too. Serve the chicken wings, sizzling hot from the oven, together with the olive relish.

Grilled lamb, parmesan, buttermilk polenta

Photograph: Jonathan Lovekin for the Observer

I am less fond of the coarse grained various forms of polenta, the cornmeal that needs a good 45 minutes attention from your stirring arm. The fine version is another matter, especially when we up the liquid levels so that the mixture is altogether creamier. Gild the lily a little further, with butter or cream, and you have one of my favourite starchy accompaniments. I stirred cream, butter and parmesan cheese into a fine-meal polenta to accompany a fist of lamb cutlets, grilled till the bones charred. I shall probably get told off for the amount of butter and cheese, but who cares when the effect is a luxurious, silky paste in which to dip your lamb bones?

Serves 4
chicken stock 500 ml
buttermilk 500 ml
fine polenta 150 g
butter 80 g
double cream 250 ml
parmesan 80 g, finely grated
lamb cutlets 8P TAGEND

Pour the chicken stock and buttermilk into a large, deep pan and place over a moderate hot. Bring the concoction to the boil, then salt generously. Rain the polenta into the liquid in a steady stream, stirring continuously. Take great care that the concoction doesnt bubble and spit at you( it can be like a volcano ). Lower the hot as needed. Maintain stirring over the hot for a good 20 -3 0 minutes until the mixture is smooth and starts to leave the sides of the pan.

Beat the butter into the polenta. Warm the cream in a small saucepan, then stir into the polenta with the grated parmesan. Check the seasoning, adding black pepper to taste.

Place the lamb cutlets on a hot griddle pan and cook for a couple of minutes on each side( alternatively cook under a hot oven-grill) till the fat is crisp and golden and the inside is still deep pink. Serve with the polenta, letting everyone dip their cutlets into the creamy cornmeal.

Lettuce, herb mayonnaise and smoked salted almonds

Photograph: Jonathan Lovekin for the Observer

Occasionally a lettuce is so beautiful it feels almost sacrilegious to garment it. On such an occasion recently I presented the lettuce cut into quarters to depict the beauty of its leaves, then served the dres a mustard-spiked mayonnaise thinned with a little cream and seasoned with spring herbs on the side. Each of us use the leaves to wipe the dres from our plates.

For 2 as a side dish
lettuce 1, perfect and crisp
mayonnaise 4 heaped tbsp
smooth dijon mustard 1 tsp
double cream 150 ml
mixed, chopped fresh herbs 4 tbsp( dill, parsley, cress)

For the nuts
olive oil 1 tbsp
whole scalped almonds 30 g
smoked salt flakes 2 tsp

Wash the lettuce, whole, attaining sure to rinse carefully between the layers of foliages. Dry the lettuce in a salad spinner.

For the nuts, warm the oil in a shallow pan over a low to moderate heat then add the almonds. Let the nuts cook gently, flinging them occasionally, for five minutes or until they are fragrant and golden brown. Tip-off the smoked salt flakes onto a plate and crush lightly with a spoonful. Remove the nuts from the pan with a draining spoonful and toss in the smoked salt.

Put the mayonnaise in a bowl and stir in the mustard. Very softly whip the cream till it merely starts to thicken then fold into the mayonnaise and check for seasoning. You may want to add a little more mustard.

Stir the chopped dill, parsley and cress through the dres. Cut the lettuce into quarters through the stem and place on a serving dish. Garment the lettuce with the herb mayonnaise, then scatter the smoked salted almonds over the top.

Baked shallots with cream and parmesan

Photograph: Jonathan Lovekin for the Observer

The recipe for onions cooked in cream first appeared in February 2004. It appealed not only because of its simplicity but because the richness of the cheese sauce was flattering to the humble onion. What worked especially well for me was the contrast between the over-the-top creaminess of the sauce and the sweet, juicy simplicity of the large Spanish onion. Its a good dish to accompany roast beef but it is equally fulfilling served with boiled, softly spiced brown rice( cinnamon stick, cleaves, garlic ). I have got into the habit of seasoning the cream with the occasional herb or spice. Thyme works well if the dish is to accompany roast lamb; garam masala if Im eating it with a rice pilau. The loveliest has been the addition of the aniseed notes of chopped fresh tarragon. I know of no other herb that works so perfectly with a creamy recipe such as this.

Serves 4 as a side dish
banana shallots 4 large
olive oil 3 tbsp
doubled cream 250 ml
creme fraiche 100 ml
tarragon 10 g
parmesan 40 g, grated

Set the oven at 180 C/ gas mark 4. Peel the shallots and cut them in half lengthways. Warm the oil in a shallow non-stick pan over a moderate hot. Place the onions, cut side down, in the hot petroleum and leave to colour lightly on the underside.

Transfer the onions to a baking dish, cut side up. Mix the cream and creme fraiche in a bowl. Pull the tarragon leaves from their stems and roughly chop, then add them to the cream together with most of the grated parmesan and a flavouring of black pepper.

Pour the cream and herb mixture over the shallots then scatter the remaining parmesan over the surface. Bake for 25 minutes till the top is nicely browned.

Hot summer pudding with sloe gin

Photograph: Jonathan Lovekin for the Observer

I am a long-time believer in the pleasures of seasonal eating. But, like any open-minded eater, I am happy to make exceptions. To my intellect, summertime dessert is far too good to keep for the dog days of July and August.( I feel much the same about the short window tradition forces upon my Christmas pudding .)

I induce summertime pudding all year, use frozen berries and currants without apology. My knee-jerk reservation that the quintessential pudding of late summertime doesnt feeling quite right when frost is on the ground is blown to pieces when the mess of bread, berries and juice is transformed into a hot pudding.( The juice is especially glorious when warm. A tot of sloe gin adds a heady fragrance .) A word of caution though, dont try to turn it out in traditional style. The steaming, juice-saturated bread is far too fragile to stand up.

Serves 6
mixed berries 650 g( blueberries, blackberries, raspberries)
caster sugar 75 g
water 200 ml
sloe gin 75 -1 00 ml
white bread 400 g
doubled cream a jug, to serve

You will need a baking dish approximately 26 -2 8cm in diameter.

Set the oven at 200 C/ gas mark 6. Pick over the fruit, removing any stems and stalks. Set the berries into a large stainless steel pan with the sugar and the water, then bring to the simmer. Lower the heat and simmer for five minutes or so till the berries have popped and their juices are flowing. Stir in the sloe gin.

Cut the bread into 1cm thick slices then use a 7cm cookie cutter to cut out small discs of bread. Set the bread trimmings into the base of the dish then encompas with the fruit and half of the syrup. Place the disc of bread in a single layer over the surface, each piece slightly overlapping the previous one. Spoon the remaining fruit syrup over the top and bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes or until piping hot. Serve hot, with cream.

Coffee meringue with chocolate and ginger cream

They Might Sound Gross, But Intestinal Worms Can Actually Be Good Tor You

Intestinal worms have an unbelievably bad reputation. The thought of them sneaking around inside our bodies and feeing us from the inside is pretty unpleasant. But just 100 years ago, before toilets and running water were cliche, everybody had regular exposure to intestinal worms. Thanks in part to modern plumbing, people in the industrialized world have now lost almost all of their worms, with the exception of occasional pinworms in some children.

Intestinal worms are properly called helminths, which most dictionaries will tell you are parasites. Exploiting their hosts, draining resources, sucking the life out of the body thats what parasites do, by definition. Indeed, many helminths, including the porcine tapeworm and the human hookworm, are known to cause illness and even demise in the human population. Parasitic worms are still a big problem in some parts of the world.

But for decades, outcomes coming out of laboratory after laboratory have shown that some kinds of helminths can be extremely beneficial to their host, and arent parasites at all.

These helpful helminths are mutualists, a type of organism that receives benefits from its host, and also provides benefits to the host.

For example, my lab, working with a Duke University colleague, Staci Bilbo, recently showed that the presence of helminths in pregnant rats protects the brains of the rat pup from rednes. In other words, it seems that moms helminths can protect unborn babies. And that is just the tip of the iceberg for what these critters can do.

Worms May Help With Allergy And Multiples Sclerosis

Having worms isnt necessarily bad for you. The largest randomized trial ever performed in human history involving two million children in India looked at how helminths affect health in places where humans naturally have them. The examine showed that mass treatment with an effective deworming narcotic did not increase body weight or survival. Shockingly, the helminths didnt seem to be doing any harm, since getting rid of them didnt improve health.

So that analyze seemed to show the is a lack of damage; could these helminths actively be doing good?

In the past, scientists thought that expanded in inflammatory illness such as hay fever and multiple sclerosis in industrialized societies were due to keeping our created surroundings too clean. Thus the name hygiene hypothesis.

However, the true problem for our health is the loss of biodiversity from our body own ecosystem, a condition called biome depletion.

Missing mutualistic helminths is a key factor in this, and is apparently a major contributing factor to a very large swath of cancer, including allergies and autoimmune conditions.

For instance, helminths have been found to protect laboratory animals from a broad range of allergies and autoimmune conditions. And recent findings suggest that many types of cancer can be reduced by helminths. The idea has been demonstrated by preventing colon cancer in rodents, and it is hoped that it will reduce the burden of cancer in humans by lessening chronic inflammation, a condition that can give rise to cancer.

In controlled analyses in humans, helminths were presented to halt the progression of relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis and effectively treat many individuals with inflammatory bowel cancer without report of adverse side effects.

How Do Worms Work With Our Immune System ?

The idea that helminths can help us with a broad range of inflammatory diseases that plague modern society makes a lot of sense when considering the science behind how helminths interact with our immune system.

Helminths have been a part of the ecosystem of the body for so many millions of years that they have become an integral part of that system. Mutualistic helminths help regulate immune function, inducing our body to build regulatory networks of immune cells that lessening general rednes without hurting our immune systems ability to respond to danger. In addition, these helminths make their own array of anti-inflammatory molecules and dedicate our immune systems much needed exercise, all of which decreases inflammation.

And a recent analyse showed that the addition of helminths to laboratory rodents dramatically changed the balance of the intestine ecosystem, changing the bacteria in the gut toward a much healthier balance.

With these factors in intellect, it would be hard to understand if missing our helminths did not cause health problems.

The humble rat tapeworm. William Parker, CC BY-NC-SA

Therapeutic Worms ?

My laboratory began work a few years ago looking at the sociology of helminthic therapy, the use of helminths to treat disease. Working with Janet Wilson, a sociologist at the University of Central Arkansas, we found that thousands of people are using helminths to self-treat a vast array of inflammation-related conditions, from inflammatory bowel cancer to hay fever to multiple sclerosis to migraine headaches.

At the moment, there is no helminth approved for medical employ by the FDA, and we observed that people generally procure their organisms from one of a few companies that sell expensive and often unregulated products, which can be risky.

Part of our study included a survey of helminth users, and most people filling out the survey reported that helminths treated their inflammatory conditions more effectively and with fewer side effect than did pharmaceuticals.

We also found that some self-treaters are the using a helminth “ve called the” rat tapeworm ( Hymenolepis diminuta ), which voices genuinely disgusting. However, people are utilizing this helminth because it is inexpensive and easy to make, and may provide a very effective treatment for a range of inflammation-related diseases, including migraine headaches and depression. People eat them and report that about 30 worms per month does the job, although the number varies depending on the individual.

After being swallowed and passed into the small intestine, the tiny worms almost certainly hatch out of their jelly-like capsule that has protected them since they first hatched from an egg. At that phase, they begin to interact with the immune system, reducing inflammation like any other helminth.

But then, with rare exceptions, they fade mysteriously, never maturing into adults and making eggs. Because rat tapeworms dont colonize our bowels the route that some other types of helminths do, an individual needs frequent exposure to have them in their bodies consistently.

The rat tapeworm has been used in the laboratory for decades and blocks experimentally induced colitis in mouse more effectively than daily immunosuppression with steroids. In fact, this is the same helminth we use in my laboratory to protect the developing brains of rat puppies from rednes. But no researchers have ever studied using rat tapeworms on humans to treat disease.

Why Arent Helminths Catching On ?

While work in labs, and our own research on people self-treating with helminths is promising, the safety and effectiveness of helminths needs to evaluated in more clinical trials. But perhaps the single greatest barrier to the widespread employ of helminths as treatment in humans is the availability of an affordable and effective FD-Aapproved helminth to the medical community.

We have FD-Aapproved live maggots and leeches, both of which are extremely effective, but we have no effective and safe helminth approved for use.

Perhaps the horrible reputation of helminths has deterred us from taking helminths seriously as a treatment? But we cant let the ick factor intestinal worms may initially inspire hold us back from farther research. Intense and systematic endeavour needs to be focused on the production of quality helminths. We need to proceed with the domestication of helminths for the benefit of humankind.

William Parker, Associate Professor of Surgery, Duke University

Read more: www.iflscience.com

Donald Trump silent as campaign recognise Obama born in the US

An email from the Republican team asserts he helped bring close to the issue first raised by Hillary Clinton but still no words from Trump himself

Donald Trumps campaign has acknowledged that Barack Obama was bear in the United States, though the Republican nominee himself refused to say where he believed the US chairpeople birthplace was.

In an emailed statementfrom senior communications adviser Jason Miller late on Thursday evening, the campaign stated: Mr Trump believes that President Obama was born in the United States.

It followed an interview with the Washington Post published on Thursday in which the Republican nominee, who has fanned false rumours the USs first black chairwoman was not born in the country, said he would not answer when asked if he believed Obama was born in Hawaii.

Ill answer that topic at the right time. I simply dont want to answer it yet, he said. Trump also brushed off a recent statement from his campaign director Kellyanne Conway that Trump now believed Obama was born in the US by saying: Its OK. Shes allowed to speak what she thinks.

Trumps campaign has long maintained only Mr Trump speaks for Mr Trump.

The Trump campaign statement also inaccurately blamed Hillary Clinton for the start of the false rumors about Obama during the 2008 Democratic primary race and took credit for the release of the presidents birth certificate.

In 2011, Mr Trump was eventually able to bring this ugly incident to its conclusion by successfully obligating President Obama to release his birth credential, said Miller. Mr Trump did a great service to the president and the country by bringing close to the issue that Hillary Clinton and her squad first raised. Inarguably, Donald J Trump is a closer.

Trump tweetedin 2012 that the birth credential may been a fraud and continued to raise questions about its veracity long afterwards. The false allegations that Obama was born in Kenya is commonly considered to be a racist dogwhistle.

Obama was born in Honolulu on 4 August 1961.

In a 2014 interview, Trumps oldest son Donald Jr, praised the New York real estate developers birtherism as a sign of his fathers integrity. Dont we want legislators to have strong sentiments about things that arent swayed by public opinion, asked the younger Trump.

Earlier in the day, Clinton was quick to cite Trumps initial refusal to back away from birtherism as evidence that the Republican nominee was fanning the flames of racial division.

Addressing the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute at its annual gala in Washington on Thursday evening, Clinton condemned Trump for continuing to push conspiracy hypothesis surrounding Obamas birthplace.

He still wouldnt say Hawaii. He still wouldnt say America, the Democratic presidential nominee said.

This man wants to be our next chairman? When will he stop this ugliness, this bigotry?

In her statements before the collect of prominent Hispanic leaders, Clinton reiterated her is supportive of comprehensive immigration reform while condemning Trumps rhetoric against migrants and Muslims alike.

Theres no insinuation or dog whistles any more, Clinton said of the Republican nominee. Its all right out there in the open now.

Earlier in the working day Trump reiterated his economic vision, pledging to voters that he would lower your taxes beyond any number you thought possible at a rally in New Hampshire.

The promise came only hours after Trump unveiled the latest iteration of his fiscal policy at the New York Economic Club in a speech where he said he outlined the ambitious goal of creating 25 million jobs over the next 10 years. The Republican nominee promised to drastically slash taxes with savings coming from reducing federal bureaucrats whom his campaign has derided with phrases like the FDA Food Police. Trump pledged that the result would increase economic growth from 2% to 3.5% and turn America into a magnet for new jobs.

Clintons remarks came after her four-day absence due to pneumonia. Before the Washington event, she first returned to the campaign trail with a rally in Greensboro, North Carolina. Taking stage to James Browns I Feel Good, the former secretary of state said she took sick days to reflect.

Clinton told the crowd: Being on the trail does not encourage reflection. Its important to sit with your thoughts every now and again and this helped me to reflect on what this campaign is all about.

Clinton, who has been reluctant to take questions from reporters on the campaign trail, afterwards held a brief press conference after her speech where she dodged repeated questions about when she told running mate Tim Kaine about her diagnosis.

The subject of health was relevant for both candidates as an interview of Trump with television personality Dr Mehmet Oz aired on Thursday . There, Trump brandished a doctors letter and was of the view that, although he could lose a few pounds, he was in peak health. In December, Trumps doctor, Harold Bornstein previously published a letter that said Trump would be the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency. The Republican nominee is a septuagenarian fond of fast food who doesnt exercising.

The Republican nominee also continued his hostility towards reporters. Trump boasted at his New Hampshire speech that his travelling press pond wasnt able to attend, which he called really good news and proclaimed to a cheering crowd: I love it.

Earlier in the working day, he called for the New York Times to fire their respected national political correspondent Jonathan Martin while also railing against CNNs Anderson Cooper, a debate moderator, because Cooper was very biased and worked for the Clinton News Network.

Donald Jr joined in on the purposes of the act where reference is told a Philadelphia radio station that the media has been[ Hillary Clintons] number 1 surrogate in this. The Trump son added without the media, this wouldnt even be a tournament, but the media has built her up. Theyve let her slide on every indiscrepancy[ sic ], on every lie, on every DNC game trying to get Bernie Sanders out of this thing. If Republicans were doing that, theyd be warming up the gas chamber right now.

The Clinton campaign quickly bashed Donald Jrs remarks as insensitive, divisive, and reckless. In a statement, the campaign added the bottom line is this offensive references to the Holocaust are never acceptable, especially from a presidential campaign.

Read more: www.theguardian.com