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Islamic Poultry for Latino Tables (Yes, They Have Chilies, Too)

“We were taught what we needed to sell by the customers,” said Ahmed Elrabat, whose father helped found the shop in the 1980s.

By ANA FACIO-KRAJCER

Sebastian Flores walked out of Al Salam Pollería with a free bag of white-feathered chicken heads.

Mr. Flores, 26, an immigrant and a regular customer of Al Salam, a Muslim, family-owned halal poultry shop, was driving home when he developed a craving for the treat. He was planning on sprinkling the chicken heads with poultry seasoning and roasting them in the oven, the way they did back home in Puebla, Mexico.

Customers like Mr. Flores are the lifeblood of Al Salam Pollería, a thriving shop that opened 28 years ago “by accident,” according to its founders. Abdul Elhawary and his brother-in-law, Safwat Elrabat, who died 12 years ago, opened the shop in East Los Angeles because the zoning there allowed the sale and on-site slaughter of live poultry, in accordance with their religion’s dietary requirements.

Chicken feet at Al Salam Pollería, a Muslim, family-owned business that caters to Latino customers.

There were few halal butchers in Los Angeles in the 1980s, Mr. Elhawary, 60, said, so the family expected large numbers of Muslims from across the city to make the trek to buy halal poultry.

That never happened. Much to their surprise, though, Latino immigrant customers did show up, and in large numbers.

“It was a very happy coincidence and very happy surprise,” said Mr. Elrabat’s daughter, Iman Elrabat-Gabr, 37, “that Latinos were really interested in fresh chicken.”

Animals must be killed according to Islamic law for their meat to be halal, a practice followed at the store only when a customer requests halal meat.

“Around 1989, when we found out that 90 percent of the customers are Latino and we only had 10 percent that are non-Latino, we changed the name in the business cards to Al Salam Pollería,” Mr. Elhawary said. Originally, it had been Al Salam Farms; “salaam” means peace in Arabic and “pollería” is poultry shop in Spanish.

Ms. Elrabat-Gabr recalls that in the beginning, chicken feet would end up in the trash. Muslims did not eat them. But her family soon learned that in Latino culture, the feet were used for chicken soup and were considered a treat for children. The chicken heads, on the other hand, are an uncommon request and are given away free to customers, she said.

Abdul Elhawary, the owner of Al Salam Pollería.

“In Southern California, we believe we were the first Muslim-owned poultry store that figured out that Latinos are just as much interested in live chickens — fresh chickens — as we are,” said Ms. Elrabat-Gabr, who helps out at the East Los Angeles store. Her family, she said, takes pride in having discovered a niche market in Latino communities.

The East Los Angeles shop has been so successful over the last 20 years that members of the Elrabat and Elhawary families have opened three other butcher shops in Latino enclaves. Mr. Elhawary runs a shop of his own (L. A. Fresh Poultry Pollería) west of downtown Los Angeles. Ahmed Elrabat, 35, his nephew, owns a storefront (Pollería el Matador) in Southeast Los Angeles, where a large Mexican flag hangs from a pole outside.

Except for a few Koran verses on a wall and a small porcelain figure of the Kaaba shrine in Mecca atop a refrigerator, Al Salam Pollería, identified easily by the rooster on its roof, resembles a business that caters to the Latino palate. The products for sale include dry pepitas and chilies for mole poblano; various herbs like epazote, essential to some Mexican dishes; and Mexican candy like mazapan.

“We were taught what we needed to sell by the customers,” said Mr. Elrabat.

Ms. Elrabat-Gabr said her father had often spent entire days speaking only Spanish at the poultry shop and “before he died he was more fluent in Spanish than English.”

Mr. Elhawary, who was a high school French teacher in Egypt before emigrating to the United States in 1980, said learning Spanish had not been difficult for him.

“French helped me digest the Spanish language. Spanish is a very beautiful language. It’s musical,” said Mr. Elhawary. “Once you know the language, it breaks the barrier between you and the person.”

A private joke between the family and their shoppers.

Hussam Ayloush, executive director of the Los Angeles chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said Latinos and Muslims had many things in common.

“And sometimes even the food tastes similar because of the many years of interaction between the Muslim Arabs from Africa and Spaniards,” said Mr. Ayloush, whose Mexican-American wife converted to Islam. “You’re talking about 700 years of Muslims living in Spain. And those same Spaniards are the ones that came to Latin and South America and brought with them much of that Arab culture.”

Adrian Pantoja, a professor of politics and Chicano studies at Pitzer College in Claremont, Calif., said the family showcased the ways some of the city’s ethnic entrepreneurs had learned to adapt.

“For me, it’s one example of perhaps hundreds of thousands of little shops like these in Latino neighborhoods,” Mr. Pantoja said.

Mr. Flores, the customer with his bag of chicken heads, said he was a regular patron, and not just because of the quality of the food.

“Here they treat you well and they speak Spanish,” Mr. Flores said. “It’s good that they are willing to learn from another culture.”

Islamic Poultry for Latino Tables (Yes, They Have Chilies, Too)

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Grandmas Grow Gold in Swaziland

Sibongile Nkosi, 70, started growing marijuana near Piggs Peak when she heard that the plant could earn a decent return.

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PIGGS PEAK, Swaziland — After her daughters died, Khathazile took in her 11 orphaned grandchildren without hesitation. It is what a gogo, or grandmother, does in a country where the world’s highest H.I.V. infection rate has left a sea of motherless children.

“God will help us,” she said.

Perhaps. But Khathazile has some insurance in case divine intervention fails: Swazi Gold, a highly potent and valuable strain of marijuana that is sought after in the thriving drug market of next-door South Africa. In a field deep in the forest, atop a distant hill in this arid corner of tiny Swaziland, Khathazile grows Swazi Gold to keep her growing brood of grandchildren fed, clothed and in school.

“Without weed, we would be starving,” explained Khathazile, who asked that only her middle name be used.

Khathazile is one of thousands of peasants eking out a meager living in the rural areas of this kingdom at Africa’s southern tip by growing marijuana, according to relief workers, embracing it as a much-needed income boost that is relatively hardy and easy to grow.

She does not think of herself as part of a vast global chain of drug cultivation that includes poppy farmers in Afghanistan or coca growers in Latin America. She simply has her grandchildren to consider and says she started growing it when her attempts at other crops failed.

Swazi Gold, a highly potent and valuable strain of marijuana, is sought after in South Africa’s drug market.

“If you grow corn or cabbages, the baboons steal them,” Khathazile said.

Swaziland, Africa’s last absolute monarchy, is officially a middle-income country. But deep poverty remains the rule here in the rural hinterlands around Piggs Peak, a dusty town in the country’s mountainous northwest. Not much grows in its rocky soil, and jobs are tough to find. Many young people flee to Swaziland’s two big cities, Mbabane and Manzini, or to neighboring South Africa to look for work.

That leaves behind a lot of old women and children. Aggressive rollout of antiretroviral therapy has helped curb the country’s AIDS death rate, but the disease has hollowed out virtually every family in one way or another, leaving older siblings caring for younger ones and frail grandparents struggling to raise small children once again.

It is the story of Khathazile’s family. In 2007, her daughter Tensile died at the age of 24, she said, leaving behind four orphaned children to take in. A couple of years later another daughter, Spiwe, died, leaving three more mouths to feed. They, too, came to live with their gogo. Then in July, her daughter Nomsa died, leaving behind four more children. There was nothing to be done but move them into her one-room hut as well.

“I cannot abandon these kids,” Khathazile said.

Such families struggle to make ends meet. “Most people are farming in a way that depends on rain,” said Tshepiso Mthimkhulu, an official at Swaziland’s Red Cross, based in Piggs Peak. “There are many orphans and widows who have difficulty surviving.”

There is certainly a market for their alternative source of income. According to the United Nations, South Africa has reported rising marijuana use, and Swaziland appears to be an eager supplier. The country, a tiny nation of about 1.4 million people, was reported to havemore acreage under marijuana cultivation in 2010 than India, a nation more than 180 times its geographic size.

Sibongile Nkosi, 70, said she started growing marijuana even before her daughter died and left her with two orphans to feed. She had heard from other women in her village, which sits on a hilltop on the outskirts of Piggs Peak, that the plant could earn a decent return.

“I put the seeds in the ground, watered them, and it grew,” she said of her first crop. “I was able to feed my children.”

Marijuana cultivation may provide a safety net, but the grandmothers of Piggs Peak are hardly drug kingpins. They must find a secret field to plant, often one deep in the forest, which they reach by walking for hours. Clearing a patch is tough work, even for women long accustomed to hard labor. They have to buy seeds, if they are new at planting, as well as manure. Not enough manure and the crop fetches a lower price. It must be carefully pruned to produce the right kind of flowers. And they have to watch out for weeds.

“Weeds are very bad for weed,” Ms. Nkosi said.

Then there are the police. They often search for marijuana fields in March and April, just before the harvest, and burn them to the ground, leaving the women with nothing to show for their hard work.

A good harvest can yield as much as 25 pounds of marijuana. But they sell to middlemen who come through the villages at harvest time, and have little bargaining power. Most make less than $400 per crop.

“The men come from South Africa to buy, but they cheat us,” Ms. Nkosi said. “What can we do? If you sit with it the police can come and arrest you.”

Enterprising growers bury part of their harvest in watertight barrels deep in the woods, saving them until December when the supply dries up and prices rise. But most of the grandmothers need the money last week, not six months from now.

Ms. Nkosi said she had never been tempted to sample her crop.

“It makes you drunk,” she exclaimed when asked if she had ever smoked marijuana. “If I try it I will fall on the ground!”

Marijuana had provided her family with enough to survive, but she wondered if it was really worth it.

“I don’t want to grow it anymore,” Ms. Nkosi said. “The money is too little.”

But as this year’s planting season began, she was gearing up for another crop. School fees for her two remaining grandchildren at home would be nearly $400 next school year, she said, and she had no other way to earn the money.

“When you are in poverty you must do whatever you can to live,” she said. “If I earn a little something my heart will be content.”

Grandmas Grow Gold in Swaziland

Jada Pinkett Smith Tweets Bikini Pic: ‘We DO Get Better with Age’

*Jada Pinkett Smith wants her Twitter followers to know that this is what 40 looks like.

The actress and wife of Will Smith tweeted the above photo of herself at the beach.

Smith has said she shapes her physique with regular boxing, yoga, martial arts and hitting the gym five days a week. When it comes to diet, she goes for the so-called superfoods like salmon and blueberries.

She told Shape magazine, “I can’t cook. It’s genetic. My grandmother can’t cook, my mother can’t cook. I was raised to believe you eat because your body needs fuel for energy, so I eat superfoods.”

Jada Pinkett Smith Tweets Bikini Pic: ‘We DO Get Better with Age’

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Alzheimer’s disease: 7 things that raise your risk

Alzheimer's disease: 7 things that raise your risk

Think Alzheimer’s disease strikes out of the blue? Maybe not. A new study published in The Lancet Neurology shows that healthy living can help prevent Alzheimer’s. The study found seven conditions in particular that account for up to half of the 35 million cases of Alzheimer’s around the world and in the U.S. What are these behaviors? Keep clicking to see the top 7 risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease…

7. Diabetes

7. Diabetes

Problems with blood sugar control kick off the list of modifiable risk factors for Alzheimer’s. The study suggests that 3 percent of Alzheimer’s cases in the U.S. are linked to diabetes.

6. Low education (TIE)

6. Low education (TIE)

Time to go back to school – or to pick up a crossword puzzle? Low education – or simply not using your brain enough – accounts for 7 percent of Alzheimer’s cases in the U.S.

6. Obesity (TIE)

5. Obesity (TIE)

Packing on the pounds as you pile on the years? Midlife obesity accounts for 7 percent of Alzheimer’s cases in the U.S.

4. High blood pressure

4. High blood pressure

How’s your blood pressure? Keep it in check – 8 percent of Alzheimer’s cases are linked to mid-life hypertension.

3. Smoking

3. Smoking

Need another reason not to smoke? Smoking accounts for 11 percent of Alzheimer’s cases.

2. Depression

2. Depression

Depressed? Maybe it’s time to seek treatment – 15 percent of Alzheimer’s cases may stem from depression.

1. Too little exercise

1. Too little exercise

Not enough physical activity is the number one preventable factor that contributes to Alzheimer’s cases. About one third of the U.S. population is sedentary, so the highest risk factor is also dangerously common – time to get up and move.

Alzheimer’s disease: 7 things that raise your risk

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Cambodian Children’s Deaths Linked to Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease

By ALEXANDRA SIFFERLIN

sudo takeshi / Getty Images

The mysterious illness that has killed dozens of Cambodian children may be a deadly strain of hand, foot and mouth disease, a common childhood illness. Lab tests have confirmed that a virulent strain of the disease called EV-71 was responsible for some of the 59 cases of illness reviewed in Cambodia since April, including 52 deaths,according to the World Health Organization (WHO) and Cambodian Health Ministry.

The numbers of cases and deaths have been scaled down since an initial report put the caseload at 62. Epidemiologists are now interviewing parents and still trying to determine a cause for all the cases; in many, relevant medical information may have been omitted and not all the children were tested before they died. “As far as I’m aware, EV-71 was not identified as a virus in Cambodia before,” Dr. Nima Asgari, who is leading the WHO investigation, told the Associated Press.

The Institut Pasteur in Cambodia tested samples taken from 24 patients and found that 15 came back positive for EV-71.

(MORE: Drug-Resistant Bacteria Found in 4-Million-Year-Old Cave)

EV-71 has been reported in other regions of Asia, including Vietnam and China. This strain of the disease can cause paralysis, brain swelling and death. In Cambodia, most affected children were under age 3, and many experienced severe respiratory symptoms that escalated quickly; some also developed neurological symptoms.

The Institut Pasteur in Cambodia tested samples taken from 24 patients and found that 15 came back positive for EV-71.

(MORE: Drug-Resistant Bacteria Found in 4-Million-Year-Old Cave)

EV-71 has been reported in other regions of Asia, including Vietnam and China. This strain of the disease can cause paralysis, brain swelling and death. In Cambodia, most affected children were under age 3, and many experienced severe respiratory symptoms that escalated quickly; some also developed neurological symptoms.

(MORE: Study: Preschoolers’ Sack Lunches Reach Unsafe Temperatures)

The disease, which is caused by enteroviruses — the same family as polio — is moderately contagious and is spread through sneezing, coughing and contact with blisters or infected fecal material. Although no vaccine or specific treatment exists, the disease is typically mild and most children recover in 7 to 10 days without medical treatment, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The CDC notes also that children with hand, foot and mouth disease are most contagious during the first week of illness, but can continue to spread the disease long after symptoms have disappeared because the viruses that cause it can remain in the feces for weeks. Also, infected people who show no symptoms of the disease can still spread the viruses to others.

Hand, foot and mouth disease should not be confused with foot-and-mouth disease which affects cattle, sheep and swine.

Although the U.S. is not experiencing a similar outbreak, hand, foot and mouth disease can be contracted by anyone. Between November 2011 and February 2012, the CDC received reports of 63 people with symptoms of hand, foot, and mouth disease in Alabama, California, Connecticut and Nevada.

To prevent the disease, the CDC recommends:

  • Washing your hands often, especially after changing diapers
  • Thoroughly cleaning objects and surfaces (toys, doorknobs, etc.) that may be contaminated with a virus that causes the disease
  • Avoiding close contact (like kissing and hugging) with people who are infected

Read more: 

MORE: Bad Food: Illnesses from Imported Food are on the Rise, CDC Says

ADHD in Children

ADHD: What Is It?

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a condition that robs children of their ability to focus and pay attention. Kids with ADHD are fidgety and easily distracted. This makes it difficult to stay “on task,” whether it’s listening to a teacher or finishing a chore. The National Institute of Mental Health estimates 3% to 5% of kids have ADHD, but some experts believe that figure could be as high as 10%.

Bored boy sitting at desk in classroom

ADHD Symptoms: Inattention

The main symptom of ADHD is the inability to pay attention. Kids may have trouble listening to a speaker, following directions, finishing tasks, or keeping track of personal items. They may daydream often and make careless mistakes. Children with ADHD tend to avoid activities that require sustained concentration or that might be boring.

Distracted schoolgirl in classroom

ADHD Symptoms: Hyperactivity

Another component of ADHD is the inability to sit still. Children may run and climb on things constantly, even when indoors. When they are seated, they tend to squirm, fidget, or bounce. Some kids with ADHD talk excessively and find it difficult to play quietly.

child jumping on bed, blurred motion

ADHD Symptoms: Impulsiveness

A third symptom is impulsiveness — cutting in line, interrupting others, or blurting out answers before the teacher finishes a question. This aspect of ADHD makes it difficult for children to wait their turn or think before they act.

boy throwing paper airplane in class

ADHD’s Impact on Daily Life

Without treatment, ADHD can affect a child’s development socially and academically. The inability to focus often leads to poor performance in school. Kids who interrupt or cut in line may have trouble making and keeping friends. These setbacks can lead to low self-esteem and risky behaviors. ADHD also increases the risk of childhood depression and anxiety disorders.

boy writing on blackboard as punishment

Causes of ADHD

Children with ADHD have less activity in areas of the brain that control attention. They may also have imbalances in brain chemicals called neurotransmitters. It’s unclear what causes these irregularities, but ADHD runs in families, so many experts believe genetics play a role.

Brain scans showing ADHD in child

Types of ADHD

There are three forms of ADHD. Combined type is the most common and applies to children who display inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsiveness. In the hyperactive/impulsive type, children are fidgety and can’t control their impulses. Kids with the inattentive type, formerly called attention deficit disorder, have trouble focusing. But they are not overly active and usually don’t disrupt the classroom.

school boy pulling a girls hair in class

Medications for ADHD

Stimulant medications can help increase a child’s attention span while controlling hyperactivity and impulsive behavior. Studies suggest these drugs work in 70% to 80% of patients, although they may have some troubling side effects. Non-stimulant medications are also options for some children.

Generic Medication for ADHD

Counseling for ADHD

Counseling can help a child with ADHD learn to handle frustrations and build self-esteem. It can also provide parents with supportive strategies. A specific type of therapy, called social skills training, can help kids improve at taking turns and sharing. Studies show that long-term treatment with a combination of drugs and behavioral therapy is more effective than medication alone.

Child in a psychotherapy consultation

Special Education for ADHD

Most children with ADHD are educated in standard classrooms, but some do better in a more structured environment. Special education is a type of schooling that is tailored to meet the specific needs of children with learning disabilities or behavioral disorders. Not all children with ADHD qualify for special education.

man helping his boy do his homework

The Role of Routine

Parents can give kids more structure at home by laying out clear routines. Posting a daily schedule will remind your child of what he or she is supposed to be doing at any given time. This can help a child with ADHD stay on task. The schedule should include specific times for waking up, eating, playing, homework, chores, activities, and bedtime.

father and daughter looking at chores chart

ADHD and Junk Food

While many kids bounce off the walls after eating junk food, there is no evidence that sugar is a cause of ADHD. The role of food additives is less certain. Some parents believe preservatives and food colorings worsen the symptoms of ADHD, and the American Academy of Pediatrics says it’s reasonable to avoid these substances.

Boy eating hotdog with mustard on shore

ADHD and Television

The link between television and ADHD is unclear, but the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests limiting young children’s exposure. The group discourages TV viewing for kids under 2 and recommends no more than two hours a day for older kids. To help your child develop attention skills, encourage activities like games, blocks, puzzles, and reading.

girl watching anime cartoon on television

Preventing ADHD

There is no surefire way to prevent ADHD in children, but there are steps you can take to reduce the risk. You can increase your chance of your child not having ADHD by staying healthy during pregnancy. Start by avoiding alcohol, drugs, and tobacco during pregnancy. Children whose mothers smoked during pregnancy are twice as likely to develop ADHD.

Pregnant woman pushing shopping cart

Outlook for Children With ADHD

With treatment, a large majority of children with ADHD improve. They should continue to undergo regular follow-up since many kids grow out of the disorder as they get older. But more than half of patients continue experiencing symptoms once they reach adulthood.

Scrambled egg on a plate with toast

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10,000 Germs and a Few Pounds of Bacteria is Healthy, Scientists Say

germs.jpg

Contrary to what most people may think, germs are necessary to keep the human body healthy.

Now scientists have mapped just which critters normally live in or on us and where, calculating that healthy people can share their bodies with more than 10,000 species of microbes.

They live on your skin, up your nose, in your gut — enough bacteria, fungi and other microbes that collected together could weigh, amazingly, a few pounds.

Don’t say “eeew” just yet. Many of these organisms work to keep humans healthy, and results reported Wednesday from the government’s Human Microbiome Project define what’s normal in this mysterious netherworld.

One surprise: It turns out that nearly everybody harbors low levels of some harmful types of bacteria, pathogens that are known for causing specific infections. But when a person is healthy — like the 242 U.S. adults who volunteered to be tested for the project — those bugs simply quietly coexist with benign or helpful microbes, perhaps kept in check by them.

The next step is to explore what doctors really want to know: Why do the bad bugs harm some people and not others? What changes a person’s microbial zoo that puts them at risk for diseases ranging from infections to irritable bowel syndrome to psoriasis?

Already the findings are reshaping scientists’ views of how people stay healthy, or not.

“This is a whole new way of looking at human biology and human disease, and it’s awe-inspiring,” said Dr. Phillip Tarr of Washington University at St. Louis, one of the lead researchers in the $173 million project, funded by the National Institutes of Health.

“These bacteria are not passengers,” Tarr stressed. “They are metabolically active. As a community, we now have to reckon with them like we have to reckon with the ecosystem in a forest or a body of water.”

And like environmental ecosystems, your microbial makeup varies widely by body part. Your skin could be like a rainforest, your intestines teeming with different species like an ocean.

Scientists have long known that the human body coexists with trillions of individual germs, what they call the microbiome. Until now, they’ve mostly studied those that cause disease: You may recall health officials saying about a third of the population carries Staphylococcus aureus harmlessly in their noses or on their skin but can infect others.

But no one knew all the types of microbes that live in healthy people or where, and what they do. Some 200 scientists from nearly 80 research institutions worked together for five years on this first-ever census to begin answering those questions by unraveling the DNA of these microbes, with some of the same methods used to decode human genetics. The results were published Wednesday in a series of reports in the journals Nature and the Public Library of Science.

First, the researchers had to collect tissue samples from more than a dozen body sites — the mouth, nose, different spots of skin, the vagina in women, and from feces. Then they teased apart the bacterial DNA from the human DNA, and started analyzing organisms with some daunting names: Lactobacillus crispatus, Streptococcus mitis, Corynebacterium accolens.

Our bodies are thought to be home to about 10 bacterial cells for every human cell, but they’re so small that together microbes make up about 1 percent to 3 percent of someone’s body mass, explained Dr. Eric Green, director of NIH’s National Human Genome Research Institute. That means a 200-pound person could harbor as much as 6 pounds of bacteria.

There are about 22,000 human genes. But the microbes add to our bodies the power of many, many more — about 8 million genes, the new project estimated.

Those bacterial genes produce substances that perform specific jobs, some of which play critical roles in the health and development of their human hosts, said Dr. Bruce Birren of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, another of the project’s investigators. Genes from gut bacteria, for example, lead to digestion of certain proteins and fats. They also produce certain beneficial compounds, like inflammation-fighting chemicals.

Another surprise: There isn’t one core set of bacteria that perform those functions. A wide variety can do the same jobs, the researchers found.

That’s fortunate considering people carry a customized set of microbes, one that varies dramatically depending on where you live, your diet and a host of other factors. Your microbial zoos also can change, such as when taking antibiotics that kill infection-causing germs as well as good intestinal bacteria that may be replaced with different but equally effective bugs.

“We don’t all have the same bacteria although they all seem to have been organized to do the same things,” Birren said. It may be that our lifestyle and environment “induces each of us to have arrived at a solution that works for us.”

With this first snapshot of what normal looks like, studies now are under way to see how the microbes differ in people with certain diseases, in hopes of learning how to prevent or treat the illnesses.

Consider the intestinal superbug named C. difficile that people all too often catch while they’re in the hospital, and that sometimes kills. Washington University’s Tarr wants to know what mixture of gut bacteria can fend off the diarrhea-causing germ or make it more likely to infect — so that doctors might one day know who’s more vulnerable before they enter a hospital.

Also, researchers at Baylor College of Medicine reported Wednesday that the kind of bacteria living in the vagina changes during pregnancy, perhaps to give the fetus as healthy a passage as possible. Previous research has found differences in what first bacteria babies absorb depending on whether they’re born vaginally or by C-section, a possible explanation for why cesareans raise the risk for certain infections.

All new information in some ways is humbling, because it shows how much more work is needed to understand this world within us, noted infectious disease specialist Dr. David Relman of Stanford University, who wrote a review of the project’s findings for the journal Nature.

For example, the project included mostly white volunteers who live around Houston and St. Louis. Relman said more work is needed to define a normal microbiome in people with different racial, ethnic and geographic backgrounds.

And there are many remaining questions about how these microbes interact with human genetics.

“We are essentially blind to many of the services that our microbial ecosystems provide — and on which our health depends,” Relman wrote.

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Gentrification spelled out: Fish in the ’Hood renamed Fish in the Neighborhood

(Astrid Riecken/ FOR THE WASHINGTON POST ) - Bill White owns Fish in the Neighborhood, a restaurant where fresh fish is prepared to be taken home or to be enjoyed outside on a small patio.

By 

Even as upscale, high-rise condos went up around it and a string of hipster bars opened nearby, the beloved storefront restaurant Fish in the ’Hood remained an iconic institution on its gritty but evolving stretch of Georgia Avenue. Such was the pace of change that longtime customers often found themselves joking: Is this really still “the ’hood?”

Last week, Bill White, the restaurant’s owner, answered that question. He climbed a ladder and hung a new boardwalk-style neon sign that reads: Fish in the Neighborhood, with “neighbor” in bold. The new sign puts a spotlight on what remains and what has changed in this Georgia Avenue neighborhood known as Park View, an area sandwiched between Petworth to the north and Howard University to the south, seemingly capturing a moment of transition in this city, where African Americans may be losing their majority status in the District for the first time in 50 years, according to 2010 census data released last year.

“Wait, where am I?” joked Tameka Whipple, 35, an African American nurse and longtime customer who came in to order butterfly shrimp and her favorite slaw. She had been standing on the corner, perplexed by the sign. “But I guess, I do get it. It’s kinda thugged-out to be like, ‘Fish in the ’Hood!’ Maybe it makes the area sound ghetto, or less safe, than it is. People aren’t as scared to walk here anymore, I noticed that.”

It’s like the ’70s sitcom “The Jeffersons,” she said, laughing. “But it’s the neighborhood that’s ‘movin’ on up.’ ”

White, who is African American and married to a Salvadoran woman, tossed a fleshy piece of tilapia into a pan, cooking it in olive oil, seasoning it with Old Bay and offering to squeeze a freshly cut lemon over its crunchy skin. (The menu offers three options: crispy, extra crispy or extra, extra crispy.) Amid the crackling sounds and pungent aromas of salmon, snapper and shrimp, catfish, crab cakes and clams flash-frying in vats of hot oil, White talked about the change.

“Maybe some people — older black residents and some white newcomers — would see the term ‘’hood,’ and think it’s negative. I also wanted to emphasize the word ‘neighbor,’ ” said White, as he looked out onto Georgia Avenue.

Heading outside to talk, White sat under one of the store’s outdoor tables, shaded by shaggy tiki umbrellas, and pointed out the diversity on the street: a pretty African American police officer on a bike, her hair tightly braided; a buff white woman with yoga mat bobbing off her shoulder; and a West Indian couple in business attire, who entered the shop and chose their fish from the display case and had it made to order, “just like we would back home.”

“The avenue is changing, and I’m like the last of the Mohicans around here. There are so many black businesses that are dying off,” White said, delivering plates of cornmeal-crusted bass and scallops, along with collard greens and candied yams dusted with cinnamon to the lunch crowd outside. “We’re adjusting, because it’s the only way to survive. I try to look and see what’s around me.”

White says he hasn’t formally changed the name because — in his head, anyway — it was known as Bill’s Seafood Kitchen: Fish in the ‘Hood. Students from Howard University, whose campus is just down Georgia Avenue, coined the nickname Fish in the ’Hood a few years after the landmark storefront was opened nearly 15 years ago.

He would hear students on the phone saying, “ ‘Yeah, I’m at this place and it’s like Fish in the ’Hood,’ ” said White, 51, as he handed out lemonades. “It got to the point where I would answer the phone ‘Bill’s Seafood Kitchen,’ ” and they would say, ‘Do I have the wrong number? I’m calling for Fish in the ’Hood.’ After about five calls like that, I thought: ‘Why not just change the name?’ ”

The City Paper once termed this general area, “Not-yet-worth,” a play on Petworth, a sprawling neighborhood that sits a few blocks north, because it was slower to gentrify than others in adjacent Columbia Heights or Mount Pleasant. Just one block up and across the street from Fish in the Neighborhood, the new E.L. Haynes Public Charter School is bathed in the flickering lights of a windowless strip club, the House, with its “Girls, Girls” sign. Although crime has been down in the area, there was a 3:30 a.m. nonfatal shooting outside the store on New Year’s Eve, which cracked White’s front window, which had a rendering of two giant fish facing each other. (Along with the new sign, White’s going to put in a new window and redo the fish.)

But the property values speak for themselves. White’s rent recently shot up from $1,000 a month to $4,000, and he’s worried he will eventually be bought out by Starbucks or another luxury condo. It’s not just paranoia: His landlord recently sold a building down the street to a new condo project, the Avenue. It’s marketed on posters to well-dressed black and white professionals with the slogan “Georgia Avenue, the pulsating lifeblood of DC.”

White’s wife still answers the phone with, “Fish in the ’Hood.” But, to some, the new sign feels like a hip-hop star, who’s correcting his grammar to widen his appeal. “This means their salmon is swimming upstream!” chuckled poet E. Ethelbert Miller, director of Howard University’s African American Studies Resource Center. “Maybe one day, a new sign can call it ‘Fish in the Heights.’ But this is the reality — the city is always changing. ”

Still, the irony of the new sign is that the word “neighborhood” suggests the business is “reaching out to white residents who have tin ears. But the fact is that they live and eat there because they like the idea of being ‘in the ’hood,’ ” said Jane Freundel Levey, chief historian at Cultural Tourism D.C., a nonprofit that promotes neighborhood history.

“I love the name Fish in the ’Hood. It’s funny,” said Alex Leininger, 30, who is white and brought his parents, who were visiting from Seattle, to the restaurant.

Eating lunch at an outside table, BJ Lockhart and his wife, Annabelle, debated the new sign. “He needs to use Fish in the ’Hood, as the official name,” said Annabelle Lockhart, who has lived in the District for 40 years but is from the U.S. Virgin Islands. “We don’t want to lose the identity of the neighborhood.”

“But it’s not the name that matters. We fell in love with this place because of how we are treated, with dignity and fresh fish,” said BJ Lockhart, who is originally from the island of Antigua and owns an insurance business on Georgia Avenue. “Because the pace of gentrification has been so slow on the avenue, I hope that we can keep what is good and lose what is bad.”

His wife thought about it, smiling as she made sure he was too busy talking to notice she was going to steal his last oyster.

“And this place, whatever the name, well, it’s really, really good,” he said. Then he swatted her hand away from his plate.

Gentrification spelled out: Fish in the ’Hood renamed Fish in the Neighborhood

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Pizza Hut Introduces Hot Dog-Stuffed Crust

By Bill Hudson

In a continuation of a fattening trend, Pizza Hut restaurants are introducing the Hot Dog Stuffed Crust Pizza to their international menu.

The pie will include a mustard drizzle along the crust, but will only debut in the United Kingdom, and will not be brought to the United States anytime in the near future.

The hot dog-addled crust adds about 170 calories and 15 grams of fat per dog. No exact estimates on how many dogs comprise the pizza crust’s ring have been announced.

Burger King has also piled onto the fatty treat wagon, testng a Bacon Sundae to add to the dessert menu.

The ice cream treat has all of the staples of a sundae, with an added strip of bacon. The item is being tested in the Nashville, TN. market at this point.

Pizza Hut Introduces Hot Dog-Stuffed Crust

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