News Ireland daily BLOG by Donie

Friday 14th November 2014

Donegal council calls for water charges to be abolished


Fine Gael chief whip Barry O’Neill votes for motion seeking Irish Water referendum

Donegal County Council last night passed a motion calling on the Government to abolish water charges.

The Fine Gael chief whip on Donegal County Council was among those who tonight passed a motion calling on the Government to abolish water charges.

The resolution proposed by Independent Cllr Frank McBrearty Jnr also urged the Government to hold a referendum to ensure Irish Water would not be privatised.

Speaking at a special meeting of the council in Lifford today, Fine Gael chief whip Cllr Barry O’Neill said the establishment of Irish Water had been “an utter fiasco”

An unsuccessful by-election election candidate in Donegal South-West in 2010, Cllr O’Neill said from “the seeking of PPS numbers to reports of bonus cultures” Irish Water had been “nothing short of a disaster.”

Proposed water charges were “a step too far for the Irish people” who have had enough, he said.

His comments were greeted by some applause from over 60 anti-water protestors crammed into the council chamber.

The motion called on the Government to abolish water charges on residential homes to “commit itself to holding a referendum not to privatise our natural resource of water that belongs to the Irish people”.

The result of the vote was 33 for, none against and one abstention (Cllr Bernard McGuinness of Fine Gael.)

Another month of growth for Aer Lingus Regional Airports


Aer Lingus Regional, operated by Stobart Air, enjoyed its 16th month of consecutive growth last month, according to new figures released by the airline.

Between January and October 2014, 1,137,239 passengers flew with Aer Lingus Regional, an additional 197,000 passengers, or 21% more, than the same period in 2013.

In October alone, passenger numbers were up 9% when compared to same month last year.

There was 13% growth on the Dublin to Glasgow route in October 2014 compared to October 2013, due to new aircraft, and improved flight frequencies and schedules better aligned to business hours.

The airline will provide additional flights for the Ireland versus Scotland game today.

Dublin to Kerry experienced its eighth consecutive month of growth, with a 22% increase in passenger numbers, a figure helped by connecting traffic to North America via the Dublin Airport transatlantic hub.

The airline’s Cork base enjoyed its seventh consecutive month of growth, flying 10% more passengers than October last year.

Some 20,000 additional passengers were flown in the summer months, a growth of 13% on summer 2013.

The Dublin to Newcastle route completed its first full year of service with 70,000 passengers flown.

Elsewhere, the Dublin to Leeds Bradford route commenced in October, with full inaugural flights and strong initial demand for connections to North America.

There was 10% growth on the Dublin to Isle of Man route last month, due to midterm break and Bank Holiday.

“We are, once again, pleased with Aer Lingus Regional’s continuous growth. This is the direct result of frequent, reliable services to key cities in the UK,” said Julian Carr, managing sirector at Stobart Air.

“We are especially pleased by the clear success of the Dublin to Newcastle route after a full year of service, and we are equally encouraged by the very positive commencement of the Dublin to Leeds Bradford route.”

Stobart Air is the franchise flying partner to leading Irish carrier Aer Lingus and more recently, international carrier Flybe, operating its services from London’s newest gateway, London Southend Airport, to six key European destinations.

Type 2 Diabetes Reversible, Says ESC on World Diabetes Day


Type 2 diabetes can be prevented, or reversed with simple lifestyle changes, one diabetes expert representing the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) is stressing on World Diabetes Day.

Given that the theme this year is Healthy Living and Diabetes,Dr Eberhard Standl (Munich Diabetes Research Group, Germany), an ESC spokesperson, is urging use of a simple questionnaire that can help people find out if they are at risk and whether they need to take action.

“The dramatic increase of type 2 diabetes worldwide has exceeded expectations. Globally there are 400 million people with type 2 diabetes and a similar number with the pre-stages of type 2 diabetes,” says Dr Standl.

The epidemic seems unstoppable, “but there is very good and strong evidence that people can stop diabetes with lifestyle changes,” he urges in an ESC statement issued to coincide with World Diabetes Day.

Meanwhile, the charity Diabetes UK is highlighting “10 Things to Think About on World Diabetes Day.”

Globally, someone dies every 7 seconds from diabetes, with an estimated 5 million deaths attributable to the disease in 2014. And 77% of the total number of people with diabetes now live in low- and middle-income countries with emerging economies, it stresses.

Also, type 1 diabetes is on the rise, it notes.

Researchers are trying to pinpoint the causes of the 3% increase, which means that currently almost 80,000 children every year under the age of 15 develop the disease.

Simple Questionnaire Can Help Guide People as to Risk

The ESC questionnaire asks about age, body mass index, waist circumference, physical activity, consumption of fruits and vegetables, use of antihypertensive medications, history of high blood glucose, and family history of type 1 or 2 diabetes.

Points are given depending on the answers provided, with a score lower than 7 indicating very low risk; 7 to 11, a slightly elevated risk (1 in 25 chance of developing type 2 diabetes); 12 to 14, a moderate risk of 1 in 6; 15 to 20, a high risk of 1 in 3; and more than 20, a very high risk of 1 in 2.

“The questionnaire is very easy and people can do it themselves. A score of 12 or higher indicates that you should take some preventive action. Regular physical exercise is the most important thing you can do, followed by eating fiber-rich foods, limiting saturated fats, and losing weight,” says Dr Standl.

“Many people hardly move during their working day and even during leisure time. To reverse or prevent type 2 diabetes, the goal is 30 minutes of decent physical exercise every day. This could be brisk walking, jogging, swimming, or cycling, and should be combined with muscle training,” he added.

People who want to reverse early diabetes into a pre-stage of diabetes, or prevent type 2 diabetes from developing, need to lose about 5% of their body weight.

“There is no question that people who have had type 2 diabetes for just a short period of time can reverse it with a low calorie diet. This can be effective within 3 to 5 days. Of course the continuing challenge is to maintain the lower body weight,” he says.

And adopting lifestyle changes that prevent or reverse type 2 diabetes in the short term can also prevent death from cardiovascular disease over the long term, Dr Standl stresses.

“If you take the questionnaire and find out you’re at risk of diabetes, it’s not too late. Making positive changes by being more active, eating a healthy diet, and losing weight can reverse diabetes and is also good for your heart.”

Enjoy Food: People With Diabetes Can Eat the Same as Others

Diabetes UK is also marking World Diabetes Day by launching Enjoy Food, a program to help people with diabetes and their families eat more healthily.

The charity stresses that although having a healthy diet is an important part of managing diabetes, people with the condition can eat the same foods as anyone.

This is important to note, it says, because a recent survey commissioned by the charity indicates that only 40% of people would find it easy to tailor a meal for someone with diabetes, and only 62% of people would feel confident asking a guest with diabetes outright what they can and can’t eat.

In a statement, Barbara Young, chief executive of Diabetes UK, said: “It is worrying that so few people would find it easy to tailor a meal for someone with diabetes, as it suggests that there is a common misconception that having the condition has to mean substantial changes to what you eat.”

By making small changes to the way they shop, plan, and prepare their meals, people can eat food that is healthy as well as delicious, she says.

Enjoy Food includes recipes, expert diabetes nutritional information, as well as practical guides about shopping for food, meal planning, and healthy swaps.

Eating walnuts every day could reduce the chance of prostate cancer, study finds


Scientists found diets rich in nut or its oil slowed tumour growth in mice, also reduced cholesterol and increased sensitivity to the insulin

A daily handful of walnuts may stave off prostate cancer, according to new research.

Scientists have found diets rich in the nut, or its oil, slowed tumour growth in mice.

They also reduced cholesterol and increased sensitivity to the hormone insulin which helps prevent diabetes.

The secret to staving off prostate cancer? Scientists have found diets rich in the nut, or its oil, slowed tumour growth in mice.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men (after skin cancer), but it can often be treated successfully. More than 2 million men in the US count themselves as prostate cancer survivors.

Some 35,000 Britons are diagnosed with it each year, and 10,000 die.

It is cancer that starts in the prostate gland.

The prostate is a small, walnut-sized structure that makes up part of a man’s reproductive system.

It wraps around the urethra, the tube that carries urine out of the body.

Walnuts are a ‘superfood’ naturally high in a host of health boosting chemicals, including omega-3 fatty acids, and have already been shown to protect against breast cancer and heart disease.

The latest findings showed they cut levels of the hormone IGF-1, which has been implicated in both prostate and breast cancer.

Dr Paul Davis, of the University of California at Davis, said: ‘For years, the United States government has been on a crusade against fat, and I think it has been to our detriment.

‘Walnuts are a perfect example. While they are high in fat, their fat does not drive prostate cancer growth.

‘In fact, walnuts do just the opposite when fed to mice.’

Some 35,000 Britons are diagnosed with it each year, and 10,000 die.

The new study, published in the Journal of Medicinal Food, was aimed at finding out if the beneficial properties were unique to walnuts, or whether it was a particular ingredient such as omega-3 fatty acids found in other foods.

The mice were fed whole walnuts, walnut oil or a walnut like fat for 18 weeks.

While the two former reduced cholesterol and slowed prostate cancer growth, in contrast, the latter did not have these effects, proving other nut components caused the improvements.

Dr Davis said: ‘We showed it is not the omega-3s by themselves, though, it could be a combination of the omega-3s with whatever else is in the walnut oil.

‘It is becoming increasingly clear in nutrition it is never going to be just one thing, it is always a combination.’

While the study did not pinpoint which combination of compounds in walnuts slows cancer growth, it did rule out fibre, zinc, magnesium and selenium.

In addition, the research demonstrated walnuts modulate several mechanisms associated with cancer growth.

Dr Davis said: ‘The energy effects from decreasing IGF-1 seem to muck up the works so the cancer cannot grow as fast as it normally would.

‘Also, reducing cholesterol means cancer cells may not get enough of it to allow these cells to grow quickly.’

The mice were fed whole walnuts, walnut oil or a walnut like fat for 18 weeks.While the two former reduced cholesterol and slowed prostate cancer growth, in contrast, the latter did not have these effects, proving other nut components caused the improvements.

In addition, the research showed increases in the chemical adiponectin and a tumour suppressor known as PSP94, as well as reduced levels of the COX-2 molecule, all markers for reduced prostate cancer risk.

Although results in mice do not always translate to humans, Dr Davis said his results suggest the benefits of incorporating walnuts into a healthy diet.

Other research which has assessed the Mediterranean diet also found eating walnuts reduced cancer mortality.

Added Dr Davis: ‘In our study the mice were eating the equivalent of 2.6 ounces of walnuts.

‘You need to realise 2.6 ounces of walnuts is about 482 calories.

‘That is not insignificant, but it is better than eating a serving of supersized fries, which has 61O calories.

‘In addition to the cancer benefit, we think you also get cardiovascular benefits that other walnut research has demonstrated.

‘It is the holiday season, and walnuts are part of any number of holiday dishes. Feel free to consume them in moderation.’

Females protect offspring from infanticide by forcing males to compete through sperm


Previous research has shown that infanticide by males is widespread in many mammal species, but most commonly occurs in those species where females live in social groups dominated by one or a few males.

Outsiders will fight dominant males for access to the females. When a rival male takes over a group, they will kill the infants of previously dominant males to render the females ‘sexually receptive’ again, so that they can sire their own offspring. This may be the main cause of infant mortality in some species, such as Chacma baboons.

Now, a new study published today in the journal Science shows that these brutal acts are strategic; males may only have a short time in charge before they themselves are deposed, and want to ensure the maternal investment of females is directed towards their own future offspring for the longest time possible.

However, the females of some species – such as the mouse lemur – have evolved a highly-effective counter-strategy to stop males from killing their offspring: by having as many mates as possible in a short amount of time. By confusing the paternity of the infants, known as ‘paternity dilution’, any male act of infanticide risks the possibility of killing his own offspring.

In such species, reproductive competition shifts to after copulation, not before – so that the most successful male is the one whose sperm out competes those of the others. This leads to males producing ever larger quantities of sperm, leading in turn to increases in testis size. The testes of male mouse lemurs swell 5-10 times larger during the breeding season.

“In species in which infanticide occurs, testis size increases over generations, suggesting that females are more and more promiscuous to confuse paternity,” said lead author Dr Dieter Lukas, from University of Cambridge’s Department of Zoology.

The testes of male mouse lemurs swell 5-10 times larger during the breeding season.

“Once sperm competition has become so intense that no male can be certain of his own paternity, infanticide disappears – since males face the risk of killing their own offspring, and might not get the benefit of siring the next offspring.”

Closely related species that differ in infanticide and testes size include chimpanzees (males commit infanticide) versus bonobos (males have not been observed to kill offspring). Bonobos have testes that are roughly 15% larger than those of chimpanzees.

Male Canadian Townsend voles don’t commit infanticide, and have 50% larger testes compared to in fanticidal males of close relatives the North American meadow voles, says Lukas.

He conducted the research with his colleague Dr Elise Huchard, now based at the CNRS Centre d’Ecologie Fonctionnelle et Evolutive in Montpellier.

Fifty years ago, observations of wild Hanuman langurs shattered previous depictions of monkey groups as peaceful, supportive societies, says Lukas, as new males that had just taken control of a group of females frequently killed all juveniles.

Subsequent observations have accumulated over the years on various mammals to show that infanticide by males is a widespread phenomenon, occurring in species from house mice to lions and gorillas. In some species, he says, the biggest risk faced by infants might not actually be predators or diseases, but the adult males of their own species.

In the latest study, Lukas and Huchard compiled and compared detailed field observations for 260 mammalian species to show that male infanticide occurs in species where sexual conflict is most intense, and reproduction is monopolised by a minority of males. The researchers’ findings indicate that infanticide is a manifestation of sexual conflict in mammalian social systems.

Infanticide may be the main cause of infant mortality in some species, such as Chacma baboons.

“While it had previously been suggested that infanticide might be an evolutionary driver in mammalian societies – leading to females allying themselves with other females or forming bonds with a specific male in order to defend their offspring – we’ve now shown that this isn’t the case: male infanticide is a consequence of variation in sociality, most commonly occurring in species where both sexes live together in stable groups,” said Lukas.

The researchers say the new study supports the idea that infanticide isn’t a general trait present in all species, but is strategic and occurs only when it is advantageous to males. The study reveals the reversible nature of male infanticide, and that it is successfully prevented by the ‘paternity dilution’ strategy of female sexual promiscuity.

Added Huchard: “Male infanticide appears and disappears over evolutionary times according to the state of the evolutionary arms race between the sexes. Although infanticide may not have contributed to shape the diversity of mammalian social systems, it has deeply influenced the evolution of sexual behaviour and sex roles.

“This study also highlights that some of the greatest challenges faced by mammals during their lifetime come from others of their own species.”


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