News Ireland daily BLOG by Donie

Wednesday 22nd February 2014

Rehab scratch cards made just 8% profit on sales of €7 million “Unbelievable ?”

  Angela Kerins, chief executive of Rehab

           Angela Kerins, chief executive of Rehab      

Lottery scratch cards sold by charity giant Rehab worth €4 million in 2010 made profits of just €9,452, according to Minister for Justice Alan Shatter.

In a Dail speech he revealed that an audit by his Department also found that Rehab Bingo sales of €3.19m in the same year yielded profits of €548,000.

  Minister Alan Shatter released the details as he explained his decision to phase out the Charitable Lottery Scheme.

Under the scheme charities could apply for government grants based the gross sales of tickets.

Shatter said the scheme was “no longer fit for purpose” and that more than €120 million in National Lottery surplus funding and taxpayers’ money has been paid out since 1997.

He said it encourages “inefficient fundraising practices and high administration costs” and that it was unfair to the donors that a low proportion of monies donated was being used for charitable purposes.”

Minister Shatter said that people must be properly paid for their “the charity sector is not well served by a lack of transparency over senior executive salaries, nor by excessive levels of remuneration, where such may exist.”

The Minister for Justice also pointed out that the Rehab Group and Rehab Lotteries are suing the State for €1.5 billion in damages over the operation of the National lottery.

 Rehab claim the rules are anti-competitive.

“Whatever the outcome of this costly action, it is likely to exert a significant burden on either public resources or charity resources or both,” said Shatter.

Homing pigeons navigate like Human pilots “Memory navigation map the key”

   

Pigeons are best able to memorise flight paths when the terrain below is neither too featureless nor too crowded

Homing pigeons navigate in the same classic way as human pilots, by spotting landmarks on the ground, research has shown.

And like their human counterparts, they can be confused by landscape that all looks the same.

The birds are best able to memorise flight paths when the terrain below is neither too featureless nor too crowded.

“We discovered that pigeons’ ability to memorise routes is highly influenced by the visual properties of the landscape in a 250 metre radius below them,” said lead scientist Dr Richard Mann of Uppsala University, Sweden.

“Looking at how quickly they memorise different routes, we see that that visual landmarks play a key role. Pigeons have a harder time remembering routes when the landscape is too bland like a field or too busy like a forest or dense urban area.

“The sweet spot is somewhere in between; relatively open areas with hedges, trees or buildings dotted about. Boundaries between rural and urban areas are also good.”

Dr Mann and colleagues from Oxford University and the Zoological Society ofLondon released 31 pigeons from four sites around Oxford for an average of 20 flights each.

Their findings, published in the Royal Society journal Biology Letters, showed the birds were better navigators over landscapes with a certain visual complexity, such as rural areas with hedges or copses.

Pigeons navigate exceptionally well despite having small brains. Whatever method they use must make highly efficient use of their limited mental processing, scientists believe.

“There may be certain rules that free-flying birds use to structure information that enable them to map the environment using their limited brain power,” said co-author Professor Tim Guilford, from Oxford University’s Department of Zoology.

“Fundamentally understanding how they do this will tell us more about their abilities and limitations, and could reveal methods that robots with limited processing power might use to navigate.”

Knowing the landscape features that pigeons use to navigate could also help researchers to predict the flight patterns of any birds that are active during the day, or diurnal.

Identifying the likely flight paths of birds could be of use to conservationists, birdwatchers and town planners.

“Homing pigeons provide a reliable model for studying navigation and there’s no reason to believe that other diurnal birds won’t use similar methods,” said Prof Guilford.

Watch out for glaucoma “Untreated can lead to blindness”

 

Did you know that glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness in the United States? Glaucoma is a sneaky disease which causes damage to the optic nerve, the part of the eye that carries the images we see to our brains.

Glaucoma awareness is extremely important since this disease has little symptoms. A person with glaucoma can lose up to 40% of their vision before they even notice and once their vision is lost, it is permanent.

The National Eye Institute projects a 58 percent increase in glaucoma patients by 2030.

Early detection and treatment (like eye drops above right picture) by your ophthalmologist (Eye M.D.) are keys in preventing optic nerve damage and blindness from glaucoma.

While the only sure way to detect glaucoma is to have a complete eye examination performed by your ophthalmologist, there are some important risk factors to consider.

These factors include age, elevated eye pressure, family history of glaucoma, African or Hispanic ancestry, farsightedness or nearsightedness, past eye injuries, thinner central corneal thickness, systemic health problems (including diabetes, migraine headaches, and poor circulation), and pre-existing thinning of the optic nerve.

Your ophthalmologist can weigh all of these factors to determine if your risk of developing glaucoma is higher than normal and whether you should be closely monitored as a glaucoma suspect.

Together we can work to spread the word about this sight-stealing disease and fight to prevent unnecessary vision loss from glaucoma!

“607 people died” 40% increase in drug-related deaths in Ireland since 2004

  

607 people died from drug-related incidents in 2011 – a 40% increase since 2004

The number of drug-related deaths in Ireland has increased from 431 in 2004 to 607 in 2011, according to the latest figures published by the Health Research Board (HRB).

365 of the deaths in 2011 were due to poisoning (ie overdose).

242 deaths were related to trauma, such as road traffic collisions, or medical causes, such as liver disease.

The 2011 figures show that there were ten more drug-related deaths than the previous year.

The HRB also says that from 2004 to 2011, 4,606 people died directly or indirectly from drug use in Ireland.

The HRB National Drug-Related Deaths Index provides the latest data about the nature and the extent of premature death due to problem drug and alcohol use in Ireland. It makes a number of key findings:

– The number of poisoning deaths increased from 338 in 2010 to 365 in 2011.

– Almost two thirds of these deaths were male and men account for the majority of deaths since 2004.

– The median age for those who died was 39 and alcohol was involved in 37% of poisoning deaths in 2011, more than any other drug.

– Alcohol alone was responsible for 17% of poisoning deaths.

More than half of poisoning deaths involved more than one drug (polydrug). There was a notable increase (28%) in the number of poisoning deaths as a result of polydrug use, rising from 168 in 2010, to 215 in 2011.

The drugs most implicated in polydrug use are alcohol, diazepam, methadone and anti-depressant medication.

Heroin-related poisonings continue to decline from 72 in 2010 to 60 in 2011, while cocaine deaths have fallen from a peak of 66 deaths in 2007 to 23 in 2011.

One quarter of all sharks and rays are threatened with extinction, according to a new study published in the open-access journal eLife. The paper analyzed the threat and conservation status of 1,041 species of chondrichthyans—the class of fish whose skeletons are made of cartilage instead of bone which includes sharks, rays, skates and chimaeras—and found this group to be among the most threatened animals in the world.

The collaboration between 300 scientists from 64 countries reports, “the main threats to chondrichthyans are overexploitation through targeted fisheries and incidental catches (bycatch), followed by habitat loss, persecution, and climate change.”

The authors pinpoint two areas with greater than expected threat levels: the Indo-Pacific Biodiversity Triangle and the Red Sea. The former is among the most biologically and culturally diverse areas on the planet, but is also among the least-regulated.

“The Indo-Pacific Biodiversity Triangle, particularly the Gulf of Thailand, and the islands of Sumatra, Java, Borneo, and Sulawesi, is a hotspot of greatest residual threat especially for coastal sharks and rays with 76 threatened species.” The paper’s authors argue that without national and international action, the species found in this area may rapidly become extinct.

The paper cites ‘finning’—the process of cutting off the fins and dumping the body back into the ocean—as a major threat to sharks, wedgefishes and sawfishes. This practice is driven by market demands in China where shark fin soup is a highly sought-after delicacy. 
“Fins, in particular, have become one of the most valuable seafood commodities,” the authors write, “It is estimated that the fins of between 26 and 73 million individuals, worth US$400-550 million, are traded each year.”

Large body size and shallow habitat are the biggest factors determining a species’ likelihood of being threatened. “The probability that a species is threatened increases by 1.2% for each 10 cm increase in maximum body length, and decreases by 10.3% for each 50 m deepening in the minimum depth limit of species,” the authors report.

In addition to targeted fishing, 20 species of shark and rays are directly threatened by pollution. 22 species are threatened by the destruction of river systems and estuaries through residential and commercial development. 12 species are at risk from the conversion of mangroves into shrimp farms, and the construction of dams and other water-control measures.

“While no species has been driven to global extinction— as far as we know,” the authors write, “at least 28 populations of sawfishes, skates, and angel sharks are locally or regionally extinct,” and “several shark species have not been seen for many decades.”

One quarter of sharks and rays are threatened with extinction

Giant Guitarfish  

One quarter of all sharks and rays are threatened with extinction, according to a new study published in the open-access journal eLife. The paper analyzed the threat and conservation status of 1,041 species of chondrichthyans—the class of fish whose skeletons are made of cartilage instead of bone which includes sharks, rays, skates and chimaeras—and found this group to be among the most threatened animals in the world. 

The collaboration between 300 scientists from 64 countries reports, “the main threats to chondrichthyans are overexploitation through targeted fisheries and incidental catches (bycatch), followed by habitat loss, persecution, and climate change.”

via IUCN SSG   The authors pinpoint two areas with greater than expected threat levels: the Indo-Pacific Biodiversity Triangle and the Red Sea. The former is among the most biologically and culturally diverse areas on the planet, but is also among the least-regulated. 

“The Indo-Pacific Biodiversity Triangle, particularly the Gulf of Thailand, and the islands of Sumatra, Java, Borneo, and Sulawesi, is a hotspot of greatest residual threat especially for coastal sharks and rays with 76 threatened species.” The paper’s authors argue that without national and international action, the species found in this area may rapidly become extinct.

The paper cites ‘finning’—the process of cutting off the fins and dumping the body back into the ocean—as a major threat to sharks, wedgefishes and sawfishes. This practice is driven by market demands in China where shark fin soup is a highly sought-after delicacy.

“Fins, in particular, have become one of the most valuable seafood commodities,” the authors write, “It is estimated that the fins of between 26 and 73 million individuals, worth US$400-550 million, are traded each year.”

Large body size and shallow habitat are the biggest factors determining a species’ likelihood of being threatened. “The probability that a species is threatened increases by 1.2% for each 10 cm increase in maximum body length, and decreases by 10.3% for each 50 m deepening in the minimum depth limit of species,” the authors report.

In addition to targeted fishing, 20 species of shark and rays are directly threatened by pollution. 22 species are threatened by the destruction of river systems and estuaries through residential and commercial development. 12 species are at risk from the conversion of mangroves into shrimp farms, and the construction of dams and other water-control measures.

“While no species has been driven to global extinction— as far as we know,” the authors write, “at least 28 populations of sawfishes, skates, and angel sharks are locally or regionally extinct,” and “several shark species have not been seen for many decades.”

Advertisements

Comments are closed.