Daily Archives: May 8, 2014

News Ireland daily BLOG by Donie

Thursday 8th May 2014

Mary Lou McDonald accuses Ruairi Quinn of sexism in heated Dail exchanges

 

Quinn refers to McDonald’s ‘motherly concern’ for Labour party

Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald has accused the Labour Minister for Education of sexism during heated Dáil exchanges on Alan Shatter’s resignation.

Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald has accused the Labour Minister for Education of sexism during heated Dáil exchanges on Alan Shatter’s resignation.

Speaking in the Dáil today, Ruairí Quinn said he never ceased to be amazed at the warm affection and “motherly concern’’ Ms McDonald expressed for the well being and future of the Labour party. “I cherish it deeply and know that we are well liked and minded by you…and that if we ever begin to go somewhat astray, you will, in a careful way, look after us,’’ he added.

Ms McDonald said Mr Quinn’s reference to her as motherly, “to the cackles of your almost exclusively male audience’’, did not go down well with her or mothers who might be watching the proceedings. “I do not appreciate the tone of that remark,’’ she added.

She said that she knew “a sexist undertone’’ when she heard it.

Earlier, Ms McDonald said Mr Shatter had accepted no responsibility for what had gone wrong under his remit. “But, then, why should he, when the Taoiseach and the Tánaiste and the Cabinet, and the backbenchers of Fine Gael and Labour, have defended his actions in this Dáil and in the media ?,’’ she added.

She said the House was being told that Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore had known about Mr Shatter’s resignation in mid-afternoon. “He certainly did not know about it at lunchtime and your colleague, Joan Burton, did not know about these matters early yesterday morning because she was on the airwaves, reiterating her confidence in Alan Shatter,’’ she added.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said it was surprising that Mr Gilmore was defending Mr Shatter, even at lunchtime yesterday. This was against a background of the Taoiseach’s office receiving the Guerin report on Tuesday evening, he added.

Mr Quinn said all he knew was that the Tánaiste had been informed of the resignation in mid-afternoon yesterday. Only the Tánaiste could give a precise answer, he added.

Irish inflation edges up to 0.3% as threat of deflation lingers

 

Latest CSO data suggest education, alcohol and tobacco among the main drivers

A period of deflation or negative price growth has been identified as a serious risk to Irish economic recovery.

Inflation edged up to 0.3 per cent last month, with higher prices for education, alcohol and tobacco among the main drivers.

However, the latest consumer price index, compiled by theCentral Statistics Office (CSO), suggests inflationary pressure in the economy remains weak.

The CSO figures indicated the average basket of consumer goods and services in April was 0.3 per cent higher than a year earlier, up from the 0.2 per cent rate recorded in March, but still below the euro zone average of 0.7 per cent.

A period of deflation or negative price growth could hamper Ireland’s recovery, as it makes debt more difficult to service.

A breakdown of the CSO’s index showed average education costs rose by 4.5 per cent year on year, mainly as a result of the recent hike in college fees.

Alcohol and cigarette prices were also stronger, rising 3.7 per cent over the past 12 months, reflecting increases in excise duty announced in the last budget.

Prices in the CSO’s miscellaneous goods and services section, which includes a range of items from hairdressing to financial services and insurance, rose by 3.2 per cent year on year.

Restaurant and hotel prices also rose by 2 per cent.

Conversely, the average cost of clothing and footwear fell by 3.7 per cent, while the cost of communications, which covers phone bills, dropped by 3.3 per cent.

The figures also showed prices for household equipment and routine house maintenance fell by 3.1 per cent.

In addition, the price of food and non-alcoholic beverages being sold in shops and supermarkets fell by 2.1 per cent year on year.

The CSO said the divisions which caused the largest downward contribution to prices over the year were food and non-alcoholic beverages; clothing and footwear; and household furnishing and maintenance.

This reflects the relatively weak level of consumer demand on the high street, and possibly discounting by retailers.

Davy stockbrokers said headline inflation has been largely depressed by external factors, namely ECB rates and oil prices.

It noted that energy prices were down 2.2 per cent in the year to April, while mortgage interest fell 11 per cent.

If these factors were excluded inflation would put inflation at 1.3 per cent – the fastest rate of growth since January last year, the brokerage said.

“We expect the inflation rate to gradually pick up in the near term as the economy recovers but to remain below 1 per cent for most of 2014.”

“The bottom line is that demand in the economy is not quite as weak as the headline inflation rate suggests,” it said.

At the moment, the local property tax is not included in the CSO’s consumer price index.

Ming Flanagan claims Gardaí induced people to sell drugs to

‘boost crime figures’

 

New Garda whistleblower ‘taking grave risk’ by going to confidential recipient, Dáil told

Independent TD Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan has claimed senior Gardaí induced young people to sell drugs to undercover officers in an effort to boost crime detection figures.

In the Dáil this morning he named a new whistleblower, serving Garda Nick Keogh, based in Athlone, whom he said was today giving information to the interim confidential recipient, retired judge Patrick McMahon and was taking a “grave risk” by going public.

The Roscommon-South Leitrim TD said the garda was forced to go public because in his Garda station whistleblowers were being referred to as “snitches”.

Mr Flanagan cited a number of “grave allegations” made by the garda including the cover-up of the original file of an incident, where the file was stolen and the incident removed from the pulse system.

New statements were created and an accused was threatened by a garda to plead guilty to an offence, he said.

According to Mr Flanagan, the garda’s greatest concern was a drugs operation where there was a “systematic and orchestrated effort by high ranking Garda officers to induce and coerce Irish citizens, in this case with no previous criminal convictions, to buy drugs from dealers and in doing so putting them in personal danger and in turn to sell drugs to undercover gardaí without making any profit, thus boosting crime detection figures for arrests”.

Mr Flanagan said a “grave aspect” of the operation, was that a significant and well recognised drug dealer in the area – “long associated with a senior member of the drugs unit” – was not targeted.

He asked Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn, who was taking leaders’ questions: “What are you going to do to reassure this person that he won’t be bullied, he won’t have a rat hung on his door”.

He asked would the Government let him know that he was a “hero” and not a “rat”.

Mr Quinn said the Labour Party and the Government was committed to having a proper Ombudsman for gardaí and a proper complaints procedure and introducing a Garda authority, so that the incidents Mr Flanagan was talking about would not reoccur.

Mr Flanagan is running as a European election candidate in the upcoming elections.

Prostate Cancer the Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatments

  

Prostate cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer in men: Almost 240,000 men in the United States are diagnosed with prostate cancer each year, according to the National Cancer Institute.

The prostate is a gland located beneath a man’s bladder, toward the front of the rectum. About the size of a walnut, it surrounds the urethra, the tube that carries urine from the bladder. The prostate produces seminal fluid, which nourishes and transports sperm.

Prostate cancer usually grows slowly and is often confined to the prostate gland. When it’s detected early, the chances of successfully treating prostate cancer are greater.

Risks and symptoms

  There are no early warning signs of prostate cancer, according to the Mayo Clinic. In more advanced stages — when the prostate has enlarged — symptoms may include trouble urinating, blood in the urine or semen, erectile dysfunction or pain in the lower back, hips or thighs.

According to the American Cancer Society, about 1 man in 7 will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime. The disease is more prevalent in men older than 50 years, and about 6 cases in 10 occur in men older than 65 years.

For reasons that are not well understood, prostate cancer is more common among African-American men and Caribbean men of African ancestry. It’s less common, however, in Asia, Africa, Central and South America than it is in Europe, North America, Australia and other regions.

Researchers have also found that prostate cancer can run in families, suggesting a genetic link. A low-fiber diet that is high in meat and dairy products and workplace exposure to certain toxins have also been linked to a higher risk of prostate cancer.

In 2014, about 29,480 men are expected to die of prostate cancer, though most men diagnosed with the condition do not die from it, according to the American Cancer Society. More than 2.5 million men with prostate cancer are still alive today.

There is no universally agreed-upon schedule or time-frame for screening men who may be at risk for prostate cancer. Some medical organizations recommend screening all men over the age of 50, and earlier screening for men who may be at higher risk, such as African-Americans or men with a family history of prostate cancer.

Men who have a weak urine stream, difficulty stopping a urine stream, a dribbling stream or blood in their urine or semen may wish to talk to their health care provider about those or any related symptoms, regardless of age.

It should be noted that some of the symptoms of prostate cancer — weak or dribbling urine stream — are similar to the symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia, or BPH, a common condition that’s sometimes referred to as prostate gland enlargement.

Your doctor or health care provider will probably request a urinalysis (urine test) to rule out an infection or other condition, according to the Mayo Clinic. A digital rectal exam (DRE), in which your doctor will insert a gloved finger into your rectum to check your prostate, is also commonly performed.

A prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test is a blood test that determines the amount of PSA in your bloodstream. PSA is a substance produced by the prostate; elevated PSA levels may be an indication of infection, inflammation, enlargement or cancer.

  If any of these procedures detects an abnormality, your doctor may recommend additional tests, such as an ultrasound of your prostate or a biopsy of tissue collected from your prostate. [5 Things You Should Know About Prostate Cancer]

Treatment

Treatment of prostate cancer depends in part on your age, general health and the degree to which the cancer has spread, or its stage. Stage I prostate cancer is described as a very early cancer that’s non-aggressive and confined to a small area of the prostate.

Stage II prostate cancer is more aggressive and may have spread to both sides of the prostate gland. Stages III and IV describe cancer that has spread beyond the prostate gland to other tissues or organs, according to the National Cancer Institute.

Many doctors recommend active surveillance or “watchful waiting” — including blood tests, rectal exams, biopsies and other procedures — to see if more aggressive treatment is necessary. Surveillance may be an option when prostate cancer is very slow growing or limited in scope.

There are two types of radiation therapy used to treat prostate cancer. External beam radiation uses a large machine to direct radiation to the prostate and other affected tissue. Brachytherapy, in which numerous small implants (about the size of a grain of rice) are placed inside the body, delivers a low dose of radiation over a long period of time.

Prostate cancer cells rely on the male hormone testosterone to grow. Hormone therapy can reduce the amount of testosterone in your body, thereby limiting the growth of cancer cells. Some doctors recommend drugs that stop the body from producing testosterone; other drugs may be used to block the hormone from reaching cancer cells.

Some doctors may also recommend surgery to remove the testicles (which produce testosterone) in a procedure known as an orchiectomy.

 Robotic surgery (Eg. left picture) is a option your doctor and consultant may propose which involves the Urologist to remove the prostate gland, this is known as a (prostatectomy), and this could be done for all stages of prostate cancer.

In most cases, the surgery will involve the remove of the entire prostate gland and nearby lymph nodes. A prostatectomy can result in urinary incontinence and erectile dysfunction.

For advanced cases of prostate cancer, some doctors recommend chemotherapy to kill cancer cells, or immunotherapy, which stimulates the immune system to destroy cancer cells.

Life after prostate cancer treatment

Regular checkups and other procedures are usually scheduled for people who have been treated for prostate cancer. These may include a DRE, a PSA test or other procedures. Your doctor will also be able to offer help in coping with the side effects of prostate cancer treatment.

Prostate cancer can recur following treatment. Your health care provider will address any changes and suggest additional treatments as appropriate.

Men who have had prostate cancer may benefit from cancer support groups, individual counseling, stress management classes, help from social workers or alternative therapies such as relaxation techniques, spiritual guidance, meditation and exercise.

Polar Bears DNA could help cure obesity?

DNA may hold a secret to boosting metabolism and preventing heart disease 

  

  • The animal’s DNA is uniquely evolved to cope with a high fat diet
  • They have mutated genes involved in fatty acid metabolism
  • Explains how they eat a high fat diet without suffering clogged arteries
  • This discovery could help scientists find new ways to treat human obesity

Polar bears may hold the answer to the obesity crisis in their genes, new research has shown.

A study of the animal’s DNA revealed they are uniquely evolved to cope with a high fat diet that would prove disastrous to a human.

The bears prey on blubber-rich seals, and also scavenge the fatty carcasses of whales.

Polar bears could hold the key to the obesity crisis in their genes, new research suggests

Half their body weight consists of fat and their cholesterol levels are sky high, yet they are untroubled by heart disease.

Now scientists believe they know the polar bear’s secret – several mutated genes involved in fatty acid metabolism and cardiovascular function.

The genes appear to be crucial to the bears’ adaptation to extreme conditions in the high Arctic and may explain how they avoid clogged arteries.

Scientists hope understanding how they work will help them find new ways to fight human obesity.

Lead researcher Professor Rasmus Nielsen, from the University of California at Berkeley, U.S., said: ‘The promise of comparative genomics is that we learn how other organisms deal with conditions that we also are exposed to.

‘For example, polar bears have adapted genetically to a high fat diet that many people now impose on themselves.

Studying how bears cope with a hugely high fat diet could help scientists tackle obesity in humans

‘If we learn a bit about the genes that allows them to deal with that, perhaps that will give us tools to modulate human physiology down the line.’

Colleague Dr Eline Lorenzen, also from Berkeley, said: ‘For polar bears, profound obesity is a benign state.

‘We wanted to understand how they are able to cope with that.’

The study, published in the journal Cell, showed that the polar bear is a much younger species than was previously thought.

COULD OTHER BEARS ALSO HELP IN THE FIGHT AGAINST OBESITY?

  

In December last year it was revealed that scientists are also studying grizzly bears in the hope they could solve the obesity crisis.

A study is being carried out into the creatures because they are able to eat up to 58,000 calories a day without becoming overweight.

Despite eating such huge amounts, they do not suffer heart attacks or clogged arteries – and they don’t develop diabetes.

As a result, the U.S. drug maker Amgen is studying 12 of the bears at Washington State University in a bid to work out how they do it.

Test results so far suggest that bears modify their sensitivity to the hormone insulin, which controls how sugars and fats are broken down and used for energy.

As they put on weight before hibernation, bears seem to be more sensitive to insulin, Dr Kevin Corbit said.

But when hibernation begins they seem to shut off their responsiveness to the hormone completely.

Dr Corbit plans to spend the next two years working out how exactly the mechanism works.

His work will be assisted by the sequencing of of the bears’ genome which he hopes will be completed soon.

Polar bears diverged from brown bears less than 500,000 years ago, compared with previous estimates of up to five million years.

After setting off on their own evolutionary path they rapidly changed to adapt to Arctic life.

Not only did their fur become white, but genes that affected their metabolism and heart function altered.

One gene, known as APOB, plays a role in moving cholesterol from the bloodstream into cells, thereby reducing the risk of heart disease.

Danish co-author Dr Eske Willerslev, from the University of Copenhagen, said: ‘Such a drastic genetic response to chronically elevated levels of fat and cholesterol in the diet has not previously been reported.

‘It certainly encourages a move beyond the standard model organisms in our search for the underlying genetic causes of human cardiovascular disease.’

The research involved sequencing and analysing the complete genomes, or genetic codes, of 79 polar bears from Greenland and 10 brown bears from around the world.

It comes at a time when the polar bear population – estimated at no more than 20,000 to 25,000 – is declining and the animal’s habitat, Arctic sea ice, rapidly vanishing.

As higher latitudes warm, brown bears are moving further north and occasionally interbreeding with their distant Arctic cousins.

The animals’ ability to interbreed is the result of a genetic relationship a tenth of the distance between humans and chimpanzees, the scientists said.

‘All the unique adaptations polar bears have to the Arctic environment must have evolved in a very short amount of time,’ Professor Nielsen said.

‘These adaptations include not only a change from brown to white fur and development of a sleeker body, but big physiological and metabolic changes as well.

‘There has been a lot of debate about it, but I think we really nailed down what the divergence time is between them, and it is surprisingly recent.’

Birds can’t use their migratory direction process because our devices make to much noise

 

Wavelength interference from electronics and AM radio stations disrupt the internal magnetic compasses of European migratory birds, explains a report published yesterday in Nature.

Seven years of double-blind experiments (new researchers replicating old experiments) led the report’s co-author,Henrik Mouritsen, of the University of Oldenburg, Germany, to conclude that cities disrupt migratory bird patterns.

The Earth’s magnetic field, virtually mapped for the first time earlier this week, clues in European robins to their migratory direction, the report details. But when electromagnetic waves from our devices pollute the atmosphere, the birds don’t know which way to fly.

Mouritsen covered wooden huts housing his robins with aluminum plating (the traditional method of blinding birds from magnetic clues such as the sun or stars, Naturewrites). When his team grounded the plating—reducing the electromagnetic interference on campus from 50 kilohertz to five megahertz—they found that the birds could orient themselves. Ungrounded, however, the frequencies were so strong that the bird could not find their way.

Until Mouritsen moved his experiment from a rural field site into the college town, there was very little evidence of humans’ electromagnetic radiation affecting birds’ migratory patterns.

He poses this question to Nature: “If birds can’t use one of their most significant compasses when they are in towns, what effect will that have on survival?”

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