Thelma and Louise for the 00’s? Watchers of last week’s Hollywood box office mostly noticed the triumph of the new Coen Brothers flick. But right behind them was a new Tyler Perry film that has at its heart two powerful women at the top of their game:

The Family That Preys tells the story of the friendship between the wealthy socialite Charlotte Cartwright (Bates) and Alice Pratt (Woodard), a working-class woman who owns a local diner. When the lives of both are disrupted by unethical business practices and their adult children’s extramarital affairs, the two friends get away from their problems by embarking on a wild road trip together.

“When Kathy’s name was first suggested to me, I said, ‘No way are we going to get Misery star Kathy Bates,” Perry says, referring to the 1990 film for which the actress won her Oscar. “She was a little hesitant at first, but when she heard that Alfre was going to do it, that sealed the deal.”

Community organizing is boot camp for governing, according to New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn. In case people didn’t know why community organizers matter, Quinn writes at Huffington Post that her own experience in the field taught her how to listen:

In fact, community organizers have built and bettered America, from Paul Revere to Susan B. Anthony to Rev. Martin Luther King. All dedicated public servants, all patriots, and all community organizers…I worked in Massachusetts to close unsafe nuclear power plants in residential neighborhoods. And here in New York City, I’ve helped low-income tenants stay in their homes and won better affordable housing policies.

And I learned a lot — How to listen to what people say, not just tell them what you think they want to hear. How to empower individuals to change their own lives. How to change and impact government policy in ways that can make an actual difference in real folks lives.  These are lessons I still use every day… Because whether you’re a small town mayor or Speaker in a city of 8 million, we should all be approaching elected service like community organizing

As an organizer, I believe in using the power of elected office to help empower and engage our constituents, to reform government so it actually works for working folks. We can bring those who, for so long, have been left out, or opted out, to the table, and make sure they have a voice in how their taxes are spent, or the laws that govern them. Effective elected officials, just like good community organizers, help connect people and policy, making sure our government work is on the mark.

Well, they did give us the Renaissance. In case you’ve been skeptical about the hype surrounding the so-called “Mediterranean Diet” — less meat and dairy, mostly veggies, fish and grains — a long-term study from the University of Florence gives harder proof that it works:

Previous research on the diet that is followed by populations bordering the Mediterranean Sea has suggested it protects against cardiovascular disease and cancer, but until this study, no research had yet pooled all the data available to examine the link to premature death and incidence of chronic diseases in the general population.

The analyses also showed a beneficial link between greater adherence to a Mediterranean diet and deaths from cardiovascular diseases (9 per cent reduction) and cancer (6 per cent), and incidence of Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease (13 per cent).

The authors concluded that “These results seem to be clinically relevant for public health, in particular for encouraging a Mediterranean-like dietary pattern for primary prevention of major chronic diseases.”

— Chris L.

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