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Gucci Adopts Fur-Free 2018 Spring Collection

Gucci will go fur-free next year and auction off all of its remaining animal fur items. The changes will come into force with the brand’s spring-summer 2018 collection. The new approach was made possible due to the efforts of Gucci’s creative director, Alessandro Michele, who was appointed in 2015. As part of the change, a charity auction will be held of the fashion house’s remaining animal fur items, with the proceeds going to the animal rights organizations Humane Society International and LAV. Humane Society International celebrated the luxury brand’s move as a “compassionate decision.” Gucci will become part of the Fur Free Alliance, an international group of more than 40 organizations which campaigns on animal welfare and promotes alternatives to fur in the fashion industry.

35 New Saints Named

Pope Francis has declared 35 new saints, nearly all of them martyrs drawn from the bloody history of Catholicism’s spread in Latin America. Before a crowd of some 35,000 in St. Peter’s Square, the Pontiff carried out the rite of canonization for 30 martyrs massacred in Brazil in the 17th century. The two priests and 28 lay people were slaughtered by Dutch Calvinists and indigenous people in 1645 and in some cases had their hearts torn from their chests after being tortured and mutilated. Catholicism’s spread in southern Brazil started at the very end of the 1500s with Jesuit missionaries and priests from Portugal, but the arrival of Calvinists in the coming decades meant persecution for Catholics. Others canonized included a priest from Spain who devoted his life to studying therapeutic plants in the 19th century and an Italian priest who died in the 1700s, after spending his life traveling through southern Italy.

Longevity Study/Swap

Why do people live longer in southern Italy than southern Sweden? A group of Swedes will swap lives with Italians for three months as part of a study which aims to find out why. Two hundred residents of the southern Swedish city of Malmö will live with host families in Cilento on Italy’s southeastern coast, while the same number of Italians will relocate to Malmö. They’re making the move as part of a study to shed light on why the southern Italians live so long – and whether it’s possible for Swedes to replicate their healthy habits. Cilento is one of several so-called ‘Blue zones’ or places across the world where the residents have a significantly longer lifespan than average. Women living there have an average life expectancy of 92 years and men 85, while the average for the Skåne region is 84 and 80. Their secret to longevity has long fascinated scientists who have put forward explanations ranging from rural Italy’s tight-knit communities, to the fresh fish in their diets and the vast quantities of olive oil used in their cooking. This is not the first time that the secret to a long life has been studied in Cilento. Last year, a group of American and Italian researchers announced that they had found residents of the area had low levels of adrenomedullin, a hormone that acts to widen blood vessels. Further research is needed to determine whether this factor leads to a longer life.

Italy Seeded for World Cup

Italy will be one of the four seeded teams in the draw for the European play-offs for next year’s World Cup after Fifa released their latest world rankings. Italy missed the top spot in its grouping and will now play Sweden to determine their placement. Fifa will also use these latest rankings to determine the top-seeded nations when the draw for the World Cup group phase is made on December 1st in Moscow. That means, along with hosts Russia, the top seeds will be Germany, Brazil, Portugal, Argentina, Belgium, Poland and France. Leading nations to miss out on a top seeding include Spain, England and Uruguay. The U.S. didn’t make the World Cup for the first time since 1986.

A Remarkably Healthy Pasta

Eat spaghetti, cheat death! It might sound too good to be true, but Italian researchers say they have devised a recipe that could help reduce deaths from heart attacks. In a newly published study, medical researchers at the Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna’s Institute of Life Sciences in Pisa have developed a special kind of pasta enriched with barley flour. The barley contains a substance called beta-glucan that is known to help the body form new blood vessels – which could serve as a “natural bypass” in the event of a heart attack, the researchers said. To test their theory, the team fed barley-enriched pasta to mice and then induced cardiac injury. They found that more of those mice survived than mice that had received regular wheat pasta. In addition, the mice that survived in the control group had more damage to their hearts than the barley-fed mice. The team hopes that enriched pasta will eventually prove “a friend to the heart” in humans.

First-ever Medical Procedure

A 51-year-old woman who was afflicted with a deep-lying stomach tumor became one for the record books. She became the first patient to have such a tumor. Removal was accomplished entirely by endoscopy at the ISMETT Hospital in Palermo, Sicily, a world’s first. The patient was discharged after three days and is doing well, sources said. She was able to move immediately after coming out of anesthesia, to eat after 48 hours without any problems and to leave the hospital a day later.