Jeff Leach in The New York Times on eating dirt Leach writes that the unsung benefit to our country's new obsession with locally grown food is the dirt we eat along with it. "Increasing evidence suggests that the alarming rise in allergic and autoimmune disorders during the past few decades is at least partly attributable to our lack of exposure to microorganisms that once covered our food and us," Leach writes. He describes how our immune system works to sample "the microbial challenges from the environment," but notes how we've increasingly denied it those samples over time. "Autoimmune disease affects an estimated 50 million people at an annual cost of more than $100 billion. And the suffering and monetary costs are sure to grow," he writes.
David Ignatius in The Washington Post on diplomacy and drones Ignatius reports on a tense relationship between the American ambassador to Pakistan, Cameron Munter, and the CIA over questions about the wisdom of unmanned drone attacks. "[T]here has been relatively little public examination of how these covert weapons should coexist with the goals of statecraft," Ignatius says. "The technical issue was whether the ambassador, as chief of mission, had the authority to veto CIA operations he thought would harm long-term relations. Munter appears to have lost this fight." He traces the recent history of the ambassador's dwindling authority over the CIA initiatives, and suggests Obama pay as much attention to the diplomatic concerns his foreign service is raising as he does to the national security concerns his military highlights. Says Ignatius: "[H]e needs to remember that he is diplomat in chief, too."