News Ireland daily BLOG Wednesday

Wednesday 8th May 2013

Kidnap victim American Amanda Berry hailed as the ‘Real Hero’ in rescue of three young Women


Having the Courage to Scream for Help and Escape

Police in Cleveland America today lauded Amanda Berry as a “real hero” for breaking free after 10 years of captivity and rescuing herself and two other women held as prisoners in a Cleveland house.

Berry’s bolt to freedom Monday night revealed a shocking case of three women abducted as long as 11 years ago and held in a modest house where neighbors and relatives never suspected anything was wrong.

Three brothers have been arrested in the case and are awaiting charges.

Police are unable to supply any details of what went on the house for past decade because they have yet to interview any of the victims or the suspects.

“We wanted to give them a day or two to decompress,” Cleveland Police Deputy Chief Ed Tomba said, referring to the three women who emerged to freedom and their families after such extreme isolation.

Tomba said the women would be interviewed today and the suspects would be grilled on Wednesday.

The cops do know, however, that it was Amanda Berry’s bold escape that set the women free.

“The real hero here is Amanda. She’s the one that got this rolling. We’re following her lead,” Tomba said at a press conference this morning. “Without her we wouldn’t be here today.”

Berry broke through a door with the help of a neighbor and called police on Monday evening. Within minutes, police were at the modest two-story home on Seymour Avenue. There authorities found two other missing woman, Gina DeJesus, 23, and Michele Knight, 32 who were also abducted in separate cases years ago, just miles from where they had each disappeared.

“I believe, out of the three of them, Amanda’s the key,” chief said.

Neighbors said they heard cries for help coming from a house just before 6 p.m., and when they went to investigate, helped kick open the door of the home to get the women out.

Berry, police said, “broke out of the lower part of screen door” to freedom. Frantically, she called 911. “I’ve been kidnapped, and I’ve been missing for 10 years,” Berry told a 911 operator. “And I’m here. I’m free now.”

“Due to Amanda’s brave actions, these three women are alive today,” Tomba said.

All three women were taken to Metro Health Medical Center on Monday night where they were examined and reunited with their families. Berry and DeJesus was discharged this morning.

Tomba said authorities asked the hospital to keep Knight at the facility for another day because they “had some trouble locating family for her.”

FBI sources tell ABC News the victims are being cared for at an undisclosed location and an FBI agent has been assigned to each victim.

“This is the ultimate definition of survival and perseverance,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Stephen Anthony. “Our prayers have been answered. The nightmare is over.”

Police arrested three brothers in connection with the women’s alleged kidnappings Ariel Castro, 52, Pedro Castro, 54, and Onil Castro, 50.

The house where the women were held belongs to Ariel Castro, a Cleveland school bus driver who was fired last year after being suspended several times. Police said they had twice been called to the house, once in 2000 and again in 2004, after the women had vanished.

Cops said Castro was questioned in 2004 about leaving a child on a school bus after completing his route and taking a lunch break. The incident was declared an accident and he was not charged with any crime.

In recent years they had dug up two yards in Cleveland looking for the women’s remains.

Authorities said they had routinely received tips about Berry and DeJesus who disappeared as teenagers, but none had led them to the Castros. Berry went missing at 16 in 2003 while on her way home from a job at Burger King. DeJesus went missing when she was 14, a year later while walking home from school.

Knight vanished first in 2002, when she was 20 years old. She was considered a runaway and her case received less media attention than the other women.

Police said they were giving the women time with their families before beginning to question them about their time in captivity. A special team of investigators from the FBI, “child forensic examiners and victim-witness specialists” has been brought in to question them today.

Net worth of Irish households increasing again


Central Bank says households saw wealth increase by 1 per cent in the last quarter of 2012

Irish households are getting richer again

Irish households are getting richer, according to the Central Bank, with the net worth of households increasing by 1 per cent to € 461.6 billion in the last quarter of 2012. This means that the average wealth of an Irish household now stands at € 100,674, having risen for the second consecutive quarter.

The Central Bank’s quarterly financial accounts for the fourth quarter of 2012 also show that the debt burden is in decline, with household debt to disposable income, an indicator of debt sustainability, falling to 201.6 per cent, its lowest level since the fourth quarter of 2006. In addition, household debt as a proportion of total assets also fell during the fourth quarter, down to 27 per cent.

Government liabilities rose again during Q4 2012, reaching € 214.4 billion. This represented an increase of 1.4 per cent or € 3 billion, and was largely due to further funding of € 2.8 billion received as part of the EU/IMF bail-out programme. As of the end of 2012, the total value of EU/IMF loans stood at € 57.9 billion.

Private sector non-consolidated debt fell “significantly” in the quarter, down by 16.4 per cent to stand at 289.9 per cent of GDP. This represents the largest decline to date and shows that private sector debt is now at its lowest level since the second quarter of 2009.

The decline in debt was due to a reduction in both household, and business debt, with households cutting their debt to 2.2 per cent of GDP, and businesses, excluding financial institutions, to 14.2 per cent of GDP. According to the Central Bank, the reduction in debt outstanding amongst the corporate sector “largely reflected the relocation of some multinationals”.

Physical Activity Reduces Breast Cancer Risk


Breast cancer risk can be reduced through physical activity, according to new data published in a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research, called Cancer Epidemiology.

Aerobic exercise may prove to be a very effective means of lowering one’s risk of developing breast cancer.

Breast cancer is the most common invasivecancer in females worldwide. It accounts for 16% of all female cancers and 22.9% of invasive cancers in women.

Recently, researchers in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute identified analteration in a gene, which affects the breakdown of estrogen and is also related to a modest reduction in breast cancer risk in pre-menopausal women.

The authors discovered that one of the ways in which aerobic exercise reduces the risk of developing breast cancer is by altering the way that estrogen is broken down and metabolized.

Aerobic exercise increases the ratio of “good” to “bad” metabolites of estrogen.

Mindy S. Kurzer, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Food Science and Nutrition at the University of Minnesota in Saint Paul, said:

“Observational studies suggest physical activity lowers breast cancer risk, but there are no clinical studies that explain the mechanism behind this. Ours is the first study to show that aerobic exercise influences the way our bodies break down estrogens to produce more of the ‘good’ metabolites that lower breast cancer risk.”

The researchers conducted a clinical trial called “Women in Steady Exercise Research (WISER)”. The trial included a total of 391 young and healthy premenopausal women.

They split the women into two groups with matching age and body mass indexes (BMIs).

The control group (179) led a sedentary lifestyle throughout the whole study period, whereas the intervention group (212) did half an hour of aerobic exercise five times a week for a period of 16 weeks.

The researchers made sure that the intensity of the exercise was the same for all the women. As part of their workout routine, the women used treadmills, stair steppers or elliptical machines.

Most of the participants completed the study (86% from the control group and 78 percent from the intervention group).

24-hour urine samples were collected on three consecutive days before the study and on three at the end. The researchers used a novel technique for measuring the estrogen levels, called liquid chromatography/tandem mass spectroscopy, to identify the quantity of three parent estrogens (E1, E2 and E3) as well as nine metabolites.

A reduction of breast cancer risk has been associated with the increased production of a metabolite called 2-hydroxyestrone (2-OHE1) as opposed to one called 16alpha-hydroxyestrone (16alpha-OHE1).

The researchers found that aerobic exercise caused an increase in the amount of 2-OHE1 and a decrease in amount of 16alpha-OHE1, which subsequently meant that their risk of breast cancer decreased.

Kurzer concluded:

“Exercise, known to favor fitness and improve heart health, is also likely to help prevent breast cancer by altering estrogen metabolism. It is very important, however, to decipher the biological mechanisms behind this phenomenon.”

A previous study published in the journal CANCER similarly identified a link between physical activity and a reduced risk of breast cancer, which showed that women can reduce their breast cancer risk by exercising and maintaining their body weight.

Ireland has highest rate of ovarian cancer in Europe


376 new cases every year of the West’s ‘silent killer’

Ireland has the highest mortality rate from ovarian cancer in Europe, according to a report from the National Cancer Registry.

Today, on the first world ovarian cancer day, awareness is being raised about the West’s ‘silent killer’.

In Ireland, an average of 376 new cases present each year.

That makes us the 4th highest for incidents of the cancer, of 30 countries surveyed between 1994 and 2010.

Symptoms include increased abdominal size and persistent bloating along with abdominal pain, and women are asked to be aware of these conditions.

Sharon O’Toole is a scientist doing research in the area in Trinity College Dublin.

Ovarian cancer is diagnosed annually in nearly a quarter of a million women globally, and is responsible for 140,000 deaths each year. Statistics show that just 45% of women with ovarian cancer are likely to survive for five years compared to up to 89% of women with breast cancer.


Experts now believe it is the frequency and combination of symptoms that can help doctors distinguish between ovarian cancer and other conditions. If a woman experiences one or more of the following symptoms on most days within a three week period, they should discuss their concerns with their doctor:
· Increased abdominal size / persistent bloating (not bloating that comes and goes)
· Difficulty eating/feeling full quickly
· Abdominal or pelvic pain
· Needing to pass urine more urgently or more frequently

Women with ovarian cancer are most likely to have one or more of the above symptoms on a frequent basis. There can be other symptoms too, including change in bowel habits, abnormal vaginal bleeding, fatigue, and unexpected weight loss or weight gain around the abdomen.

Dr Noreen Gleeson, Gynaecological Oncologist at St James Hospital and a member of the medical panel of ovarian cancer charity OvaCare welcomed the global initiative and its aim to raise awareness of ovarian cancer in Ireland. “Currently, unlike cervical cancer, there is no reliable screening test for ovarian cancer.

Although ovarian cancer can be a deadly disease, if it is diagnosed at the earliest stage it can be treated effectively with surgery and chemotherapy, leading to survival rates of up to 90%. If we are to improve on poor outcomes for our women, ovarian cancer needs to be detected earlier. That means that women and GPs need to be on the lookout for early signs and symptoms. The National Cancer Control Programme are currently putting measures in place to address the poor outcomes in Ireland and we look forward to the implementation of these at the earliest possible opportunity.”

World Ovarian Cancer Day is being promoted in Ireland by three Ovarian Cancer charities Ova-Care, Supporting Ovarian Cancer Knowledge (SOCK) and the Emer Casey Foundation which provide vital nationwide support services for those affected by ovarian cancer as well as funding research with the DISCOVARY consortium.

White-tailed eagle chicks born in Ireland for the first time in over a century


An adult White-tailed Eagle is seen catching a fish on Lough Derg, Co Clare

Three baby white-tailed eagles have been born in Ireland for the first time in 100 years.

A proud pair of eagles hatched a chick at a nest in Killarney National Park, Co. Kerry, having laid eggs in late March.

A second pair has also successfully hatched two chicks near Mountshannon, Co Clare.

These are the first chicks of the high profile reintroduction programme which began in 2007 with the release of young Norwegian eagles in the park as part of the white-tailed eagle reintroduction programme.

So far, some 100 birds have been released.

The project has been dogged by controversy, with some 27 birds found dead. Twelve were confirmed as poisoned and one was shot dead.

Project director Dr Alan Mee told today : “ We are very excited as this is a huge breakthrough. Hopefully the chicks will survive and fly.”

However, Dr Mee warned bird lovers not to approach the baby eagles.

“ Disturbance, particularly during the early stages of nesting when the birds are on eggs or have small chicks, would be detrimental to the pair’s success,” he said.

“ I would stress that it is an offence under the Wildlife Acts to willfully disturb white-tailed eagles at the nest.

“ We would caution people not to approach the nest area but instead avail of the unique opportunity to watch from Mountshannon pier.”

Heritage Minister Jimmy Deenihan said today : This is a momentous occasion in that we are now witnessing the first white-tailed eagles born in the wild in Ireland in over 100 years.”

“ The birth of these chicks gives a great boost to the reintroduction project initiated by my Department in conjunction with the Golden Eagle Trust.”

“ The principal aim of this project is to re-establish a viable breeding population of  white-tailed eagles and today’s events are the big step towards achieving that goal.

White-tailed eagles can live for 25-30 years and generally mate for life with adult pairs remaining within their home range throughout the year.

First time breeders, especially young birds, often fail at their first attempt.

Nesting began in late March with pairs laying eggs in nests in Clare and Killarney.

The Mountshannon breeding pair, a five year old male and four year old female, was collected on the island of Frøya off the west coast of Norway.

This pair laid eggs in 2012 but failed to hatch chicks.

However by January 2013 had already built a new nest.

The Killarney breeding pair, a six year old female and five year old male, were collected on islands in Flatanger and Hitra, Norway, in 2007 and 2008.

The Killarney female spent part of the winter in early 2009 in the Scottish Highlands before returning to Kerry.

Several pairs have now established themselves in counties Kerry, Cork, Clare and Galway at coastal and inland lake sites.

White-tailed Sea Eagle was once a respected and conspicuous part of the Irish landscape before being hunted to extinction more than a century


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