News Ireland daily BLOG by Donie

Saturday/Sunday 7 & 8th June 2014

Top US politician launches assault on Irish tax laws 

   

The Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Silicon Valley’s best young whizz kids were left embarrassed as California Governor Jerry Brown took a sledgehammer to the Irish tax laws that lure US corporations here.

The Enterprise Ireland event in San Francisco was held to celebrate Irish-American links and the new wave of Irish entrepreneurs heading to the west coast in search of a fortune in new technologies.

Instead there was barely concealed hostility as California’s most senior politician gave a withering attack on our tax system and the US corporations who benefit.

He said his state of California would become an “independent country” if it had the same tax regime as Ireland.

It was one of several jibes about Irish taxation made after Taoiseach Mr Kenny had heralded the relationship between Ireland and the US.

And Mr Brown said that Apple was now an “Irish company” that benefited from what he described as “creative accounting”.

“I don’t know how you got to have Apple to have so much of their business in Ireland, we thought they were a Californian company, when you look at their tax returns they’re really an Irish company… it’s called creative accounting,” Governor Brown said.

The no-holds barred assault on fiscal policy caused deep unease among the Irish contingent in the boardroom.

His speech was met with gasps after he remarked about the relationship between Ireland and Britain.

After stating that both the Irish and Californians swim “against the stream”, he added: “The Irish have had to live next door to the English for all these centuries.”

Governor Brown then alluded to the number of Irish barmen working on the very street where he was making his controversial remarks.

“We have a lot of your countrymen that come to San Francisco, they run a lot of establishments here, on Geary Street you see a number of them,” he said, to polite laughter. But it was his continued focus on Irish tax laws that raised most eyebrows, even among the officials from the Government, the IDA and Enterprise Ireland.

The event – designed to assist Irish start-up firms seeking to break into the US market – was also attended by Irish ambassador to the US, Anne Anderson, several IDA officials including chief executive Barry O’Leary and dozens of Irish business people.

Governor Brown’s outspoken remarks come as the European Commission is poised to launch a formal probe into allegations that the Revenue Commissioners have offered special deals to multi-national companies.

The probe, which may begin as early as Wednesday, could result in businesses being asked to repay money.

When asked about the matter during his visit to Silicon Valley, Mr Kenny said: “Clearly when the Commission decide to make a statement on the matter, Ireland will react to it.

“We believe our legislation is robust, that the application of that legislation is ethical and obviously we will be prepared to defend that very strongly in the event of any further statement or requirement from the European Commission.”

In his own speech at the Enterprise Ireland event on Saturday, Mr Kenny spoke about his aims for Ireland to become “the greatest small nation on Earth”. He added that Dublin was “becoming a magnetic attraction for young people from all over the world”.

The Taoiseach said these young people were “changing the frontiers up ahead”.

Galway cancer survivor’s medical card withdrawn without any notice

  

A Galway carpenter who had a bone marrow transplant and aggressive chemotherapy treatment for a rare cancer nearly 22 years ago that left a legacy of side effects, was among those whose medical card was withdrawn out of the blue.

Now James Mullen, 59, is among tens of thousands hoping they will get their medical card back after the Government’s U-turn forced by their humiliation at the ballot box in last month’s local and European elections.

In 1993, James, from Clifden, Co Galway, underwent a bone marrow transplant that saved his life.

Back then, the chemotherapy regime that accompanied his successful cancer treatment was extremely aggressive – unlike the carefully targeted therapy available today.

It left James with a legacy of medical issues. At one stage he was on 22 tablets a day to treat blood pressure, stomach problems and other side-effects of his cancer treatment.

He told the Sunday Independent: “It’s a small price to pay. I’m glad to be rid of the cancer. Without the bone marrow transplant and the treatments I was told in 1993 that I would be dead within five years.”

Since then James has had a discretionary medical card – until about eight weeks ago.

He received no official notification. He found out that his medical card had been withdrawn by the HSE when he went to his pharmacist to pick up his prescription.

“I had to pay €140 for my medicines,” James added.

It is a large monthly bill the married father of four can ill afford.

“I rang the HSE and was talking to someone in there. I told them I was a cancer patient on twice yearly check-ups in Galway and Dublin. The chap said to me that back in the Nineties it was easy to give out medical cards because cancer patients didn’t live that long, but that has changed now,” James said. He has still not got his medical card back and has written to the HSE stating his case.

“They did send me a GP visit card to replace the medical card but that is not worth anything to me, I never go near a GP,” he said. “If I have a problem I have to see the specialist in hospital. What I need is help meeting the bill for medicines and drugs.”

The Irish Cancer Society (ICS) and other groups representing patients who had medical cards withdrawn in the latest health fiasco have been promised by Minister James Reilly that the mess will be sorted out before the Dail rises for Summer.

An emotional Dr Reilly was joined by Junior Minister Alex White for meetings with a number of groups on Friday, including Down Syndrome Ireland, the Jack & Jill Foundation, ICS and the Irish Motor Neurone Disease Association.

The Our Children’s Health group, which has been campaigning for the return of cards and also met the Minister said: “We would like to acknowledge Minister Reilly’s sincerity and commitment to expedite the introduction of the new framework while also moving quickly to deal with those that have lost their medical cards.”

The group said the minister had “committed to identify and reinstate medical cards for all those affected” and added that this would be undertaken by the time the Dail breaks for the summer recess on July 17.

A spokesman for the group said Dr Reilly became “quite emotional” as he spoke to them.

A Department of Health spokesman said: “On the issue of those persons who lost a discretionary medical card through the review process, the groups were advised that the goal of the Government is to resolve that issue before the summer.”

It has now emerged that both Dr Reilly and the HSE furiously opposed the “medical cards probity” savings of €113m in 2014 advocated by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.

Eventually, after that battle, the savings sought under the heading “Medical Card Probity” were reduced to €23m and approved by cabinet.

On Wednesday, Dr Reilly apologised to his Fine Gael colleagues for the way the medical card issue had been handled, but appeared to cast some blame on cabinet colleagues for forcing unrealistic savings on his department.

A range of options to treat prostate problems

Half of men over 60 have symptoms of enlarged gland

  

As they age, an undeniable aspect of men’s health involves beginning to think the prostate.

According to Men’s Health Network, more than 50 percent of men in their 60s and as many as 90 percent of men age 70 or older have symptoms of an enlarged prostate. More than 230,000 men each year are diagnosed with prostate problems and 30,000 men a year will die.

The prostate is part of a man’s sex organs. It is a small gland that produces semen. The walnut-sized organ surrounds the urethra, a tube that takes urine from the bladder to the penis, and also carries semen during ejaculation. In men, the prostate gland grows in puberty and then stops until about age 40 when it starts to grow again. In some men, the prostate gland does not stop growing after that.

There are three conditions associated with prostate growth. It can result in an enlarged prostate, a non-cancerous condition that can lead to frequent urination, difficulty going and an incomplete emptying of the bladder. This condition can lead to pain, sleep disorders, incontinence, bladder stones, kidney infections or damage to the bladder, kidneys or urethra.

Prostatitis is an inflammation of the prostate and can have complications related to infections, including fever, and illness.

Physicians advise a prostate exam at about age 50, earlier if there is a family history of prostate cancer.

“When we do the exam, we are looking to gauge the size of the prostate,” said Dr. Cullen Jumper of Core Physicians’ Atlantic Urology Associates in Exeter. “We check for hard spots (nodules) which might be concerning. If we need to, we biopsy and discuss the results. Once they reach this age group, all men should at least be discussing this test with their primary care physician. If they have concerns, they need to ask the questions. Many men do not, and they should.”

Dr. Steven Kahan of Atlantic Urology Associates said benign prostate hyperplasia, BPH, is the common term for the condition where the prostate grows to the point that it begins to interfere with urinary function.

“Traditionally, in the past this was treated with surgery, called TURP (transurethral resection of prostate), and that may still be done if needed, but there are also a variety of medications now to treat this,” Kahan said. “Some of the medications used were designed to treat high blood pressure, but we discovered they work well for this condition, too. Now we treat with medication and only consider surgery if that does not work.”

Besides the TURP surgery, Kahan said options include green light laser and ablation of prostate surgical methods.

Cancer of the prostate is treatable if caught early. A physical exam by the physician and possible biopsy tests are required to diagnose prostate cancer.

Dr. Gary Proulx is medical director of radiation oncology at Exeter Hospital’s Center for Cancer Care. He said that even if cancer is detected, treatment may be postponed in favor of “active surveillance” because prostate cancer is usually a very slow-growing disease.

“It is a typical misconception that men die from prostate cancer and that is usually not the case,” Proulx said. “Active surveillance means we simply monitor the cases where there such a low volume of the disease, where it is early grade cancer. We will generally biopsy it one year after discovery, to gauge the growth. Of course, if it is progressing we will treat it.”

Treatment of prostate cancer can involve surgery to remove the cancer followed by radiation treatments. Proulx said there used to be a push to treat immediately, but thinking has changed.

“It was thought that the prostate was generally being overtreated, and I would tend to agree,” Proulx said. “We are leaning the other way because sometimes it is just not necessary. Obviously, if the cancer is in the intermediate to high grade, we will act. Autopsies of men in late age, in their 80s, will often show the presence of prostate cancer, where the men never had any prostate issue in their lives.”

While there are no specific lifestyle changes recommended for prostate health, Proulx believes diet is a factor.

“Japanese men living in Japan never get prostate cancer,” Proulx said. “They eat a lot of fish and a generally lean diet. When they come here and take on a fatty diet, they get prostate cancer.”

A new ‘solitary’ dolphin’s moved to Irish waters

swimmers are being urged to keep their distance

 

Clet, who originated in French waters, is described as a “non-social solitary dolphin who does not seek out and engage with swimmers”.

Some people may remember a series of warning being issued last summer after a number of swimmers were injured while interacting with a dolphin off Co Clare.

As many as five people were injured by the mammal known locally as ‘Dusty’. Warning signs were placed around Doolin harbour, a favourite spot for the animal.

Well — as we head into the summer swimming season once again, a new warning’s being issued concerning another dolphin who’s recently relocated to Irish waters.

The dolphin in question, known has Clet, has been spotted recently in scenic West Cork — in particular, Glandore, Schull and Baltimore harbours.

According to the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group, the mammal — who originated in French waters — recently moved the southwest coast from the Isles of Scilly.

According to the IWDG’s Paul Kiernan he is a “non-social solitary dolphin who does not seek out and engage with swimmers”.

In an article on the group’s website this week, Kiernan set out the dangers posed by swimming with any wild dolphin, pointing out that the practice poses “significant potential to increase the risk to the health and safety of swimmers”.

He writes that while many dolphins “spend long periods of time in shallow waters facilitating encounters with small groups of people” their behaviour often changes as more and more people seek to share the experience — especially if they grab at the mammal or attempt to be towed along…

Natural, normal behaviours such as diving, feeding and resting behaviours decline in frequency in the presence of humans.

The animal seeks out interactions, becomes increasingly forceful in these interactions and begins to exhibit behaviour hazardous to swimmers in the water.

Documented behaviours include preventing swimmers from leaving the water by repeatedly swimming in front of them to intercept their exit, increased activity levels and force of activity, tail slapping and breaching in close proximity or on top of swimmers.

Dolphins have also been shown to bite or butt swimmers.

As humans, we do not possess the power to communicate with these animals and therefore we cannot understand how our actions will be interpreted by a wild dolphin, regardless of whether that dolphin is seeking contact with humans or not.

Clet was spotted swimming around sail boats in Glandore harbour on Thursday. The IWDG is encouraging people to get in contact if the spot the mammal, as hope to monitor his movements around Irish waters.

Great white shark EATEN by even larger mystery animal 

 

The 8-foot-long shark was eaten, possibly by an even bigger shark, think researchers.

Scientists are baffled after they discovered that 8-foot long great white shark has been eaten by even bigger “mystery sea monster.”

Researchers have no idea what animal could be responsible for killing and eating the shark.

The only theory they have so far come up with is that was attacked by a “colossal cannibal white shark.”

Researchers had tagged the healthy shark to track its movements.

But the tracking device washed up on an Australian beach four months later.

Data shows there was a rapid temperature rise along with a sudden 2,000-foot plunge, That, scientists believe, proves it eaten by something much bigger, saying the records indicate the shark went inside another animals’s digestive system.

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