News Ireland daily BLOG Thursday

Wed. 5th & Thrs 6th June 2013

Ireland’s live Register down by 700 for May to 426,100


On a seasonally adjusted basis the Live Register total recorded a monthly decrease of 700 in May 2013, bringing the seasonally adjusted total to 426,100. In unadjusted terms there were 421,737 people signing on the Live Register in May 2013.

This represents an annual decrease of 11,170 (-2.6%). The number of long term claimants (more than 12 months) on the Live Register in May was 191,997.

The standard unemployment rate (SUR) for May 2013 was 13.7%, unchanged from the revised April 2013 rate. The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate from the most recent Quarterly National Household Survey (QNHS) was 13.7% in the first quarter of 2013.

Net annual emigration is running at 30,000 and in April the IMF said that the broad rate of unemployment was 23%.

On a seasonally adjusted basis the Live Register showed a monthly decrease of 700 males in May 2013, while females saw no change over the same period.

The number of male claimants decreased by 11,842 (-4.2%) to 266,921 over the year while female claimants showed little change increasing slightly by 672 to 154,816. This compares with a decrease of 9,527 (-3.3%) to 278,763 for males and an increase of 1,487 (+1.0%) to 154,144 for females in the year to May 2012.

The CSO says the Live Register is not designed to measure unemployment. It includes part-time workers (those who work up to three days a week), seasonal and casual workers entitled to Jobseeker’s Benefit (JB) or Jobseeker’s Allowance (JA). Unemployment is measured by the Quarterly National Household Survey and the latest estimated number of persons unemployed as of the first quarter of 2013 was 292,000.

Today’s Live Register data show the unemployment rate unchanged at 13.7% in May. This suggests the unemployment rate is unchanged from April and flat since the beginning of 2013. Total persons on the Live Register were 426,100 in May. This is the lowest level since August 2009. Of these, 68,900 were under the age of 25. Of course, reduced claims will reflect emigration and lower labour force participation in addition to higher employment. Nonetheless, today’s release suggests the downward trend in jobless claims is being maintained into Q2 2013.

That said, the Live Register release also provides data on numbers in government-run Job Activation programmes that are not included in the Live Register claimants data. Total numbers in these schemes were 86,042 in April 2013, up from 82,161 in April 2012. This is an increase of 3,881, or 4.7%, accounting for around one-third of the decline in Live Register numbers in the year to April.

The monthly unemployment series has been revised down substantially from the 14.0% first indicated for April to 13.7%. These revisions follow the release of the Quarterly National Household Survey (QNHS), which indicated that employment grew by 0.4% quarter-on-quarter in Q1 2013 and that the unemployment rate fell to 13.7%. So the 13.7% indicated for May in today’s release could in time still be revised substantially.

The Live Register data gave some indication that labour market trends were improving in Q1, although not to the extent revealed by the QNHS. The first vintages of the Live Register data showed the monthly unemployment rate declining from 14.3% in October to 14.0% in March. However, there are no clear signals for Q2 2013, with the Live Register unemployment rate flat in April and May at 13.7%, unchanged from Q1 2013. That said, jobless claims have continued their downward trend, which is somewhat encouraging.”

New motor tyre’s could be dangerous and a death trap


New tyre’s can be dangerous. Just because they have not been used doesn’t mean they are safe.

That is the warning now emerging after being highlighted by the Consumers Association of Ireland (CAI).

Its chief, Dermot Jewell, told Independent Motors it had reports of people buying new tyres only to discover, within two months, that they had perished. That is because they had been lying around unused for years and had begun perishing.

Mr Jewell says: “With money so scarce, people are not replacing tyres as often so they are being stockpiled and growing old. It is very dangerous. You could buy something that’s technically new but they could end up being dangerous.”

   Reputable dealers will check the date of manufacture for you. Dodgy ones won’t. That is the clear message from the Consumers Association.

The frightening verdict that unused tyres can become dangerously unfit for purpose without ever being on the road is another sharp reminder of just how little we know about four of the most important items on our cars.

But you should also know how to check for yourself – please see accompanying guide.

The central message is that tyres are susceptible to aging.

Like all rubber products, their physical and chemical properties change over time, components dry out, adhesion breaks down and that means tread can separate from other parts.

Mr Jewell told us: “Some consumers have bought what they believed to be new tyres. But they discovered they were in fact perished and needed to be replaced immediately for safety.

There is a recommendation that tyres should not be used if they have been in storage or unused for more than six years.

Now, in the absence of regulation on sell-by dates, the CAI is pleading with buyers to ask the age of any tyres they are thinking of purchasing.

“Although they may look new, they may in fact have been in storage for a significant period,” Mr Jewell says.

He admits it is a “new” issue for consumers who pay “significant” amounts for new tyres.

Mr Jewell says: “Reputable traders will have no difficulty in providing basic detail about the age of the tyre. If someone cannot or will not then we suggest consumers take their business elsewhere.”

Sometimes ageing cannot be detected by the naked eye and yet the tyre may be extremely unsafe. The CAI’s concerns come against the backdrop of new research which suggests that as many as 10 million tyres on UK roads could be dangerous – again not because of poor tread, but because of age.

Only 17pc of drivers know how to identify when their car’s tyres were manufactured.

The research, for Kwik Fit, says drivers may find their tyres reach the end of their safe life long before the tread nears the 1.6mm legal limit.

Nearly three-in-five (59pc) don’t know their tyres display the information needed to work out their age. One-quarter (24pc) know but can’t interpret the numbers.

More than six million drivers thought their car’s tyres were older than five years.

Low-mileage, older cars tend to be most at risk from premature ageing as their owners assume there is no problem if they can still see plenty of tread.

Irish Pharmacists legally obliged to replace branded medicines soon


Irish Pharmacists will be legally obliged to substitute branded medicines with cheaper, generic drugs within months.

The Irish Medicines Board (IMB) said assessments are under way on the county’s top 20 active substances that make up approximately 1,500 individual medicines.

The cholesterol-lowering drug Atorvastatin (Lipitor) will be the first one available under the scheme, by mid August, with two to three following each month after.

Pat O’Mahony, IMB chief executive, said specialist staff have been preparing for the introduction of the generic substitution legislation in recent months.

“Generic medicines meet exactly the same standards of quality and safety and have the same effect as the original branded medicines,” he said.

The Health (Pricing and Supply of Medical Goods) Act 2013 was signed by President Michael D Higgins last week and is expected to commence later this month, when consultations and assessments begin.

Under the system, the IMB will publish a list of interchangeable medicines on its website showing those medicines that can be safely substituted by pharmacists.

The first 20 active substances were selected by the Department of Health on the basis of overall cost to patients and the State, which forks out some 2 billion euro (£1.6 billion) on drugs each year.

A Department of Health spokesman said it is not possible to estimate the possible savings from the new legislation.

Meanwhile an IMB survey found eight out of ten consumers would accept a generic medicine if offered it by their doctor or pharmacist, while nine out of ten who previously used generic medicines said they had a positive experience.

It also revealed GPs (64%) and pharmacists (31%) are the most trusted sources of medicines advice.

However it also found one in four people were not familiar with the term ‘generic medicine’ and that 17% of respondents would not accept a generic if offered it by their healthcare professional.

“The main reason cited by those who would not accept a generic medicine is their lack of understanding of generic medicines,” added Mr O’Mahony.

“The increased focus on generics that is accompanying the introduction of the new legislation will help to address this.”

Unborn Babies learn & practice to grimace in the womb


Unborn babies “practice” facial expressions of pain while they are in the womb, scientists say.

Foetuses have been pictured using 4D scanning technology showing what appears to be pain.

The researchers, from Durham and Lancaster universities, suggest the ability to grimace is a “developmental process” which could help doctors assess the health of a foetus.

The study, published in the journal Plos One, found when the mother was 24 weeks pregnant, unborn babies were able to make simple expressions such as smiling. By 36 weeks the children were able to create “complex multi-dimensional expressions” such as pain.

Researchers, who examined video footage of 4D scans of 15 healthybabies, said the process was “adaptive” and helped the unborn baby to prepare for life after birth.

The study expands on previous research that suggests facial expressions of healthy foetuses develop and become more complex during pregnancy.

Researchers hope further investigation will examine whether the development of facial expressions in the womb is delayed if the mother smokes or drinks during pregnancy.

Lead researcher Dr Nadja Reissland, of Durham University’s Department of Psychology, said: “It is vital for infants to be able to show pain as soon as they are born so that they can communicate any distress or pain they might feel to their carers and our results show that healthy foetuses ‘learn’ to combine the necessary facial movements before they are born.

“This suggests that we can determine the normal development of facial movements and potentially identify abnormal development too. This could then provide a further medical indication of the health of the unborn baby.

“It is not yet clear whether foetuses can actually feel pain, nor do we know whether facial expressions relate to how they feel. Our research indicates that the expression of foetal facial movements is a developmental process which seems to be related to brain maturation rather than being linked to feelings.”

Rare monkeys start family at Dublin Zoo with twins


The newborn white-faced Saki monkey weighed about five ounces when born four weeks ago.

A pair of rare monkeys has started a new family at Dublin Zoo.

The tiny white-faced Saki was only 150 grams – about five ounces – when born four weeks ago and is only now just big enough to be seen by visitors.

Cradled by his protective mother, the unnamed male is one of the first new deliveries expected at the zoo over the summer. The Sulawesi-crested macaques also welcomed a new baby ape arrival recently.

Team leader Eddie O’Brien said it will be another four months before the young saki leaves his mother’s side and ventures out in to the South American House enclosure.

He said: “At the moment he is feeding from his mother and in about four weeks he will start to eat solids of mainly fruit and vegetables.

“For the next four months, his mother will carry the little guy close to her chest.

“In time, he will become stronger, gain more independence and start exploring the habitat on his own.”

While not endangered in the wild, white-faced Saki’s are a rare primate found in the tropical forests of Brazil, French Guiana, Guyana, Suriname and Venezuela. There are only three in Dublin Zoo, the newborn and his parents.

They have long furry coats with thick, shaggy hair with the male developing a white face and females having a bright stripe of golden hair from beneath each eye to the corner of her mouth or chin.

Staff said the Saki’s are normally shy monkeys, but are known to put on a real show of aggression to protect their territory by arching their backs, growling loudly and shaking their hair and the tree branches.

3-Inch Fossil holds clue to Human split from the Apes


The remains of a 55-million-year-old monkey found in China that could fit in the palm of one’s hand and had man-like feet and face, may offer a new timeline on when humans split from their primate cousins, scientists said.

An analysis of the nearly complete 3-inch (8-centimeter) skeleton concluded it was from the tarsiiforme family of primates, which includes lemurs, and shared characteristics of anthropoids, a group of higher primates that includes humans, according to a report in the journal Nature. The creature lived 10 million years after dinosaurs went extinct, scientists said.

The discovery of the new primate, named Archicebus achilles because of its man-like heel bone, narrows the time frame when tarsiiformes and anthropoids diverged. It also backs the hypothesis that the earliest primates were small mammals active in the daytime, climbed trees, and ate mainly insects, researchers said in the June 5 paper.

“This creature is very bizarre, it has a combination of features from tarsiiformes and from anthropoids,” said study author Ni Xijun of the Beijing-based Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology. “It also has nails on all its fingers and toes, a rounded face and brain case, very short snout, and front-facing eyes unlike with other small creatures.”

Very Long Tail

The new primate from the Eocene period, which lasted from 56 million to 34 million years ago, also has slender limbs and a disproportionately long tail when compared with its body. Absence of large eyes, which is common among nocturnal animals, mark it as a diurnal, or daytime, animal, according to the report.

The earliest anthropoid fossil found previously, also in China, is from about 45 million years ago, said Ni, citing an earlier study published in Nature in January 2000.

“We actually don’t know a lot about early anthropoids, but we now know quite a lot about tarsiiformes from this fossil, and we can deduce that the earliest anthropoid could be very similar,” said Ni, whose institute is part of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, in a telephone interview from Beijing.

The researchers had obtained the fossil in 2003 from a farmer, who found it while prospecting for relics in an abandoned paleontological site in central China’s Hubei province. The group then spent the next 10 years analyzing the petrified remains.

With an almost complete skeleton for the earliest primate found, scientists that find other fossils in future can use it as a reference, Ni said, adding this “will to help clarify a lot of theories about the origins of anthropoids.”

“From an evolutionary point of view, we know human beings belong to a large family of primates, but when did we separate from the other members?” he said. “Our finding sets up a milestone for that.”

Comments are closed.