William Clay Ford, a descendant of auto industry pioneer Henry Ford and owner of the Detroit Lions, has died at age 88. He was the son of Edsel Ford.
Ford's death was confirmed by the automaker that bears his family's name Sunday. The company said Ford died at home after suffering from pneumonia. And it said that during his 57 years with the company, Ford led the Design Committee and helped develop cars such as the Continental Mark II, a sleek two-door built in the mid-1950s.
"My father was a great business leader and humanitarian who dedicated his life to the company and the community," executive chairman Ford William Clay Ford, Jr. said in a statement released by the company. "He also was a wonderful family man, a loving husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather. He will be greatly missed by everyone who knew him, yet he will continue to inspire us all."
At the time of his death, Ford was the car company's director emeritus. In Detroit, he was also known as the enthusiastic owner of a football team that one won playoff game in the 50 years he owned the team. Ford became the franchise's owner in 1963, after purchasing the Lions for $6 million.
Lions President Tom Lewand issued this statement today:
"No owner loved his team more than Mr. Ford loved the Lions.
"Those of us who had the opportunity to work for Mr. Ford knew of his unyielding passion for his family, the Lions and the city of Detroit.
"His leadership, integrity, kindness, humility and good humor were matched only by his desire to bring a Super Bowl championship to the Lions and to our community. Each of us in the organization will continue to relentlessly pursue that goal in his honor."
The Lions have had a hard time finding consistent success. Here's how the Detroit Free Press' Dave Birkett describes their struggles under Ford:
"The Lions made just 10 postseason appearances and won one playoff game in Ford's tenure, a 38-6 victory over the Dallas Cowboys in January of 1992, and the owner had a dubious relationship with his fan base.
"Known by players and executives within the organization and across the league for his uncommon wealth and generosity, Ford was frustratingly loyal to the men he put in charge of running his team."
As Birkett notes, several coaches and executives formed tight relationships with Ford, who was known for eating bologna sandwiches on white bread at his Grosse Pointe house. They recall a loyal team owner who was involved with his team and players.
Describing Ford's legacy outside of the company his grandfather founded, Ford noted his work with the Eisenhower Medical Center, the United Way, and the Boys' and Girls' Clubs of America. The company also described his support for sports medicine research and the Henry Ford Museum.
Italy has more UNESCO world heritage sites than any other country in the world, and its art and cultural riches have drawn visitors for centuries.
It also prides itself on being a culinary mecca, where preparing, cooking and serving meals is a fine, even sacred, art. And now that the country is in the deepest and most protracted recession since World War II, why not cash in on its reputation as a paradise for visiting gourmets and gourmands?
In late February, Oscar Farinetti, who founded the Eataly chain of food emporiums, announced a new plan to help rescue economy: "Fico Eataly World," a theme park devoted entirely to food and wine.
The project is a joint venture between Eataly and the municipality of Bologna, which is providing 86,000 square feet of land with warehouses to be transformed into food labs, grocery stores and, of course, restaurants. The price tag for the park is estimated at $55 million.
Eataly, which has over two dozen branches around the world, was founded in Turin in 2007 by Farinetti, who is CEO and owns a 60 percent share. The other 40 percent is owned by cooperatives of the COOP group of supermarkets.
The cooperatives have their roots in the Communist Party that was powerful in the Emilia-Romagna region that surrounds Bologna in the post-war period. The founder of the Slow Food Movement, Carlo Petrini, is also left-leaning, and another example of the ties between the left and the contemporary gastronomy movement.
The location for the Eataly theme park could not be more appropriate. Italy has many very different cuisines, but Bologna and Emilia-Romagna are widely, if grudgingly, recognized as the gastronomic capital of Italy.
The region is the home of Parmesan cheese, prosciutto di Parma, balsamic vinegar, tortellini and lasagna, among many other delicacies. Since the Middle Ages, the city was known as Bologna La Grassa, Bologna the fat - as in, affluent and epicurean.
Today, Bologna is also home to the world's only University of Gelato, as I reported in 2013.
The foreign media has referred to the planned food theme park as a "Disneyland of Food."
But when I mentioned the "Disneyland for foodies" to people shopping at two well-known Roman outdoor markets, everyone grimaced in disgust.
"Sounds like something for tourists," Simona Vitali, a middle-aged woman shopping for groceries in Piazza San Cosimato, told me. "We Italians have no need for such a theme park."
Farinetti told the online English language service ANSA he hopes the park will draw annually 10 million visitors who will "play with this magical thing, Italian food."
Eataly World is scheduled to open Nov. 1, 2015.
An experimental blood test can identify people in their 70s who are likely to develop Alzheimer's disease in the next two or three years. The test is accurate more than 90 percent of the time, scientists reported Sunday in Nature Medicine.
The finding could lead to a quick and easy way for seniors to assess their risk of Alzheimer's, says Dr. Howard Federoff, a professor of neurology at Georgetown University. And that would be a "game changer," he says, if researchers find a treatment that can slow down or stop the disease.
But because there is still no way to halt Alzheimer's, Federoff says, people considering the test would have to decide whether they are prepared to get results that "could be life-altering."
The idea of predicting Alzheimer's isn't new. It's already possible to detect signs of the disease long before symptoms like memory loss begin to appear. But the tests require either a spinal tap, which is painful, or an MRI scan, which is time consuming and expensive.
So Federoff and a team of researchers set out to find something better. They took blood samples from 525 people age 70 and older. Then, he says, they looked to see who developed Alzheimer's in the next five years.
The goal was to find some difference between the blood of people who developed Alzheimer's and the blood of people who remained "cognitively normal," Federoff says. And after sifting through more than 4,000 potential "biomarkers," he says, "We discovered that 10 blood lipids [fats] predicted whether someone would go on to develop cognitive impairment or Alzheimer's."
The results need to be confirmed, and the approach still needs to be tried in people of different ages and from different racial groups, Federoff says. Even so, he says, it raises the possibility that in the not too distant future, a lot more people will know their risk of Alzheimer's.
That knowledge can be a good thing, says Dr. Jason Karlawish, a professor of medicine, medical ethics and health policy at the University of Pennsylvania. That's been shown among people who chose to be tested for a gene that increases the risk of Alzheimer's, he says.
"Knowing their risk of developing cognitive impairment is very relevant to making plans around retirement and where they live," he says. "So there is certainly a role for knowing that information."
On the other hand, people who have the Alzheimer's gene and know it tend to rate their own memories as worse than people who have the gene but don't know it, he says. And knowing you carry the gene also seems to hurt people's performance on memory tests.
But the biggest concern about Alzheimer's testing probably has to do with questions of stigma and identity, Karlawish says. "How will other people interact with you if they learn that you have this information?" he says. "And how will you think about your own brain and your sort of sense of self?"
The stigma and fear surrounding Alzheimer's may decrease, though, as our understanding of the disease changes, Karlawish says. Right now, people still tend to think that "Either you have Alzheimer's disease dementia or you're normal, you don't have it," he says.
But research has shown that's not really true, Karlawish says. Alzheimer's is a bit like heart disease. It starts with biological changes that occur years before symptoms appear. And there is no bright line separating healthy people from those in early stages of the disease.
The Conservative Political Action Conference ended in Washington Saturday, after giving Sen. Rand Paul a second consecutive victory in the presidential straw poll that's seen as an indicator of how Republicans see their leaders.
"The Kentucky senator received 31 percent, far ahead of second place Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who received 11 percent. Neurosurgeon Ben Carson finished third with 9 percent, ahead of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who received 8 percent.
"The announcement came at the end of the group's annual three-day confab. Organizers said that 2,459 attendees voted on computer kiosks.
"Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum tied for fifth place, with 7 percent."
As Politico notes, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who was in second place in 2013, finished seventh in this year's poll.
The annual straw poll is seen as an early indicator of who conservative voters might back in Republican presidential primaries, the earliest of which are slated to be held in February of 2016.
The event also brought a chance to gauge conservative voters attitudes toward an ongoing legal issue in the U.S.: the legalization of marijuana for recreational use.
As NPR's Sam Sanders reports, "62 percent of voters said marijuana should be legalized in some way."
In a report for our Newscast unit, Sam says a former vice-presidential candidate closed out the three-day event:
"Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin told Republican lawmakers to forget about the Tea Party at their own peril.
"'You know that 2010 election that swept you into power? You didn't build that! The Tea Party did!' she said. 'So dance with the one that brought ya. And you want another sweep? Then grab a broom and join us at the party.'"
For more analysis of CPAC, check out NPR's It's All Politics.
Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul's straw poll victory at last week's Conservative Political Action Conference wasn't unexpected for the presidential contender. In third place, however, was a surprise finisher.
Dr. Ben Carson is one of a handful of black Republicans that conservatives are buzzing about this year. While the GOP has made strides in cultivating viable black candidates, the party still has difficulty resonating with black voters.
He may not have the rock-star status of top conservatives like Paul or Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, but Carson's following is growing.
"He has to win," says Helena Ciaramilla, who got her picture snapped with Carson at a book signing. Ciaramilla was passing out bumper stickers that said, "Run Ben Run."
"He's our destiny," she said. "He's the only man who can unite this country."
The world-renowned neurosurgeon won over legions of conservatives by denouncing Obamacare last year, with the president sitting just a few feet away. He attacks the media, preaches a message of self-reliance and shuns political correctness.
That's prompted some to urge Carson to run for the GOP nomination in 2016. He spoke Saturday on CPAC's final day.
"Of course, gay people should get the same rights as everyone else," he told conservatives. "But they don't get extra rights. They don't get to redefine marriage."
Carson is not the only black Republican building a national following. South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott is the current standard bearer for black conservatives. His call for smaller government, with a dig at the president, hit the right notes earlier this week.
"The success of our economy is seen in the size of our ideas, not in the size of our tax bills," Scott said. "We need to cut our taxes, not raise them, like President Obama wants to."
The conference attendees tend to skew younger and overwhelmingly white, which is why jokes like these go over so well:
"Some of y'all don't want Obamacare to increase the tax on tanning beds," Scott said. "Now please note, I said 'some of y'all.' I don't really care about that tax. Just joking, just joking. You got to have a some fun when you come to CPAC right?"
Those jokes, however, hide an awkward truth. Even as some black candidates are hitting their stride, the Republican Party's standing among African-Americans is abysmal. Mitt Romney won a mere 7 percent of the black vote in 2012.
The mood turned serious during a panel called "Reaching Out." GOP political consultant Jason Roe served as moderator.
"The way the demographics are changing in the United States," Roe said, "if we don't change, we won't be relevant to the national debate."
That's essentially the same conclusion the RNC came to in its autopsy report on the 2012 presidential election loss.
Antawan Copeland, an African-American who is attending his first CPAC, says he's been a Republican for at least 15 years.
"I don't think they've made any new strides in my neighborhood," Copeland said. "I don't see everyone in the black community rushing out to become Republicans."
So just how far does the GOP need to travel? Look no further than Copeland's fiance, Carol Smith. Carol is actually her middle name; she doesn't want to give her full name, she says.
"Because I'm not ready to be outted," she says. "I'm not ready to come out of the Democratic closet."
Smith says she's gotten a warm reception from CPAC attendees, but the social stigma of the Republican label is too much to bear right now.
It's hard, as a black woman, she says, to say she's no longer a die-hard Democrat.
"In private, no, but in public, yes," she says. "When I have these conversations with friends and family, I'm vilified."