News Ireland daily BLOG by Donie

Tuesday 4th August 2015

Inflation remains flat across OECD countries membership

New figures show annual rate of inflation unchanged

    

Excluding food and energy, the annual inflation rate across the OECD stood at 1.6% for the third consecutive month

Global inflation rates remained flat during the year to June, according to new figures compiled by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

The group said the annual rate of inflation across its 34 members was unchanged at 0.6%. Excluding food and energy, the annual rate stood at 1.6% for the third consecutive month.

Energy prices continued to fall in the year by minute 9.3%, slightly lower than the 9.8% decline recorded in May. Food price inflation slowed to 1.5% in June as against 1.6% for the preceding month.

In the year to June, inflation was broadly stable in most major OECD economies. In France, inflation was up 0.3% while it expanded from 0.9% to 1% in Canada and from 0.1% to 0.2% in Italy. Inflation decreased slightly in Japan, falling to 0.4% from 0.5%. It also declined in the UK.

Denis O’Brien’s legal action against the Dáil is ‘foolish’ says Lucinda Creighton

   

Renua leader Lucinda Creighton says she thinks that a legal action by Denis O’Brien against a Dáil Committee is very”foolish”.

Mr O’Brien is taking a case against all 10 members of the Committee on Procedures and Privileges.

It’s after the CPP rejected his complaint that Deputy Catherine Murphy abused parliamentary privilege when making claims about his banking arrangements with IBRC.

Deputy Creighton says it’s essential to defend the integrity of the Houses of the Oireachtas.

“I think this is very unwise and foolish, it’s ill-judged and it’s very misfortunate that Mr O’Brien has chosen to go down this road,” said Deputy Creighton.

“I totally support and fully stand by the members of the committee and indeed by the right of Deputy Murphy to speak on the record in the Dáil on issues that are of huge public concern, and we will continue to maintain that position, and to support the right of members of the Oireachtas to speak without fear on the floor of the Dáil.”

Vehicles and licences to be linked in a points clampdown in Ireland

New central register for Gardaí, courts and RSA

 

New plans would see car owners being required to provide licence details when they purchase a car and each time they transfer ownership – so that a vehicle would always be linked with its driver or driver

Every vehicle on the road will be linked directly to the driver’s licence for the first time, in a radical overhaul designed to ensure that penalty points effectively punish those who have committed motoring offences.

A new central register will be accessible to the Courts Service, the gardaí and the Road Safety Authority (RSA), which is responsible for the allocation of penalty points.

It would see car owners being required to provide licence details when they purchase a car and each time they transfer ownership – so that a vehicle would always be linked with its driver or drivers.

The move is a solution to problems which have dogged the enforcement of the penalty points system.

These include the failure by seven motorists out of every 10 convicted of penalty point offences to produce their licence in court, thus avoiding having the points applied to their licence.

It would also help authorities keep a better track of motorists who have been disqualified from driving.

Sources said the proposal had been discussed extensively by a working group comprising the Department of Justice, Department of Transport, An Garda Síochána, the Courts Service and the Road Safety Authority (RSA).

It is not yet clear what sort of financial investment would be needed in order to implement a system of matching driving licences to vehicles.

However, if the costings can be agreed upon, the initiative could be officially announced by the end of the year.

Details of the proposal come just weeks after the Irish Independent revealed how more than 20,000 motorists had taken advantage of a loophole to avoid getting penalty points on their licences. These were drivers who failed to produce their licences in court over the course of a 15-month period.

Some 72% of motorists convicted of penalty point offences between January 2014 and March of this year managed to avoid the imposition of penalty points in this way.

Significant efforts have been made by the Courts Service to ensure that licences are presented, including the prominent signage and announcements at the beginning of sittings informing motorists of the requirement.

However, in many cases these warnings are still simply being ignored.

It is thought that the new scheme linking licences with cars would get rid of the need to record licence numbers in courts.

Instead, there would be a central register where the details are stored and these would be accessible to the relevant authorities.

Under the current system, when licence numbers are not provided in court, the RSA has to do a time- and resource-consuming matching exercise to ensure that points are applied to the licence of the offender.

Although it is an offence not to produce your licence in court, punishable by a fine of up to €2,000, the law is regularly flouted and until recently was not being enforced by Gardaí.

The force initiated a crackdown last month, with Gardaí prosecuting people for not producing their licences when requested to do so by the judge or the registrar.

Gardaí are due to announce figures on such prosecutions later in the week, but it is understood that at least 30 arrests were made within days.

Meanwhile, the Department of Transport has said it is confident that a separate loophole, which threatened to void penalty points that were issued between August and December of last year, has now been fully closed.

Loopholes

One driver, an Athlone woman Kim Nugent, successfully challenged the imposition of six penalty points, which would have given her a total of 12 and therefore an automatic disqualification.

Her legal team argued that a technical loophole, relating to the failure to properly commence certain relevant legislation from 2010, had the effect of rendering the endorsement and penalty points null and void.

The case was settled and Ms Nugent had her points cancelled.

However, a department spokesman said it was confident that it could successfully fight off any other challenges.

Ms Nugent succeeded as her case had been lodged before the loophole was closed.

A recent survey indicates that cars with dangerous defects are on the road in Ireland

 

A survey by the Society of the Irish Motor Industry has found that half of their members see cars presenting with dangerous defects around once or twice a month.

93% of garages have seen cars come in with dangerous tyres in the past three months.

SIMI is calling on car owners to keep up their car maintenance as a priority.

Director General Alan Nolan said that it could be a matter of life and death.

“If you don’t get your car serviced and looked after and checked to make sure that it doesn’t have anything dangerous arising, it’s not just about your investment into the car, and that’s important, but it’s about your family in the car, yourself in the car, and other people on the road,” said Mr Nolan.

“And I think the increase in fatalities on the road indicate that there isn’t the same degree of care about servicing cars as there was pre-recession.”

Early diagnosis of lung cancer is critical when dealing with it

 

Lung cancer is the fourth commonest cause of cancer in Ireland. About 2,000 Irish people are diagnosed with lung cancer every year. Around 8 in 10 cases develop in people over the age of 60, usually in smokers. If lung cancer is diagnosed at an early stage, there is a chance of a cure. In general, the more advanced the cancer (the more it has grown and spread), the less chance that treatment will be curative.

TYPES OF LUNG CANCER

Primary lung cancers arise from cells within the lung. The two most common types are called small-cell lung carcinoma (SCLC) and non-small cell lung carcinoma (NSCLC). NSCLCs include squamous cell cancers (the most common type of lung cancer), adenocarcinoma and large-cell carcinoma. About 1 in 5 cases of lung cancer are SCLC; the remainder are NSCLC. All these types of lung cancers arise from various cells which line the airways (bronchi). There are some other, rarer types of primary lung cancer which arise from other types of cells within the lung.

Secondary lung cancers (or lung metastases) are tumours which have spread to the lung from another cancer somewhere else in the body. The lung is a common site for metastases from other cancers. This is because all blood flows through the lungs and may contain tumour cells from any other part of the body.

WHAT CAUSES LUNG CANCER?

Smoking is a major risk factor and is the main cause of lung cancer. Compared with non-smokers, those who smoke between 1-14 cigarettes a day have eight times the risk of dying from lung cancer. Those who smoke 25 or more cigarettes a day have 25 times the risk.

Non-smokers have a low risk of developing lung cancer. However, people who are regularly exposed to other people’s smoke (passive smokers) have a small increased risk. People who work with certain substances have an increased risk, especially if they also smoke. These substances include radioactive materials, asbestos, nickel and chromium. People who live in areas where there is a high level of background radiation from radon have a small increased risk. Air pollution may be a small risk too.

A family history of lung cancer in a first-degree relative (mother, father, brother, sister) slightly increases the risk of lung cancer. But note: most cases of lung cancer do not run in families.

THE SYMPTOMS OF LUNG CANCER

The symptoms of lung cancer can vary between different people. Many people do not have symptoms in the early stages and lung cancer may be diagnosed when a chest X-ray is performed for a different reason. Initial symptoms of lung cancer may include one or more of the following:

  • Persistent cough.
  • Coughing up blood or bloodstained phlegm (sputum).
  • Chest and/or shoulder pains.
  • Tiredness and loss of energy.
  • Weight loss.
  • Shortness of breath or wheezing – especially if a tumour is growing in a main airway and is partially blocking the airflow.
  • Hoarse voice.
  • A change in shape at the end of your fingers (clubbing).

If the cancer spreads to other parts of the body, various other symptoms can develop such as bone pain or swelling of the neck or above the collarbone.

THE DIAGNOSIS

If a doctor suspects that you may have lung cancer, the common initial test is a chest X-ray. This is a simple and quick test and may show changes such as abnormal shadowing. However, a chest X-ray cannot confirm cancer, as there are various other causes of shadowing on a chest X-ray. Other tests are therefore needed.

You may be offered a computerised tomography (CT) scan and other investigations which will help to confirm the diagnosis of lung cancer. You may need other tests which not only provide more information about the cancer but also help to detect whether or not it has spread.

THE TREATMENT OPTIONS

Treatment options which may be considered include surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy. The treatment advised for each case depends on various factors, such as:

  • The site of the primary tumour in the lung.
  • The type of cancer.
  • The stage of the cancer (how large the cancer is and whether it has spread).

The types of treatment regimes for SCLC and NSCLC can be very different.

You should have a full discussion with a specialist who knows your case. They will be able to give the pros and cons, likely success rate, possible side-effects and details about the possible treatment options for your type of cancer.

Bonobos can talk like human babies

   

Infants have a limited range of communication options — but they make it work. Moms and dads know that a certain squeal can mean both “I’m happy” and “Change me.” Long before they start speaking, children as young as three months old are able to use sounds to express both positive and negative emotions.

For a long time scientists thought that “functional flexibility,” the ability to produce vocalizations in a range of emotional states and situations before language develops, was unique to human infants. But it turns out that may not be the case after all.

New research shows that wild bonobos, our closest living relative in the primate world, can vocalize in a similar manner by using a squeaking sound, termed “the peep,” that requires context to be understood. Peeps are high-pitched sounds which are short in duration and produced with a closed mouth.

Researchers at the University of Birmingham, UK and the University of Neuchatel, Switzerland conducted research on bonobos in their native setting in the Congo. They found that bonobos utilized “the peep” in a wide range of situations across positive, negative and neutral situations without variation in acoustic structure, which means that the listener must take into account the context into order to discern what the bonobo is communicating.

“I was struck by how frequent their peeps were, and how many different contexts they produce them in,” lead researcher Dr. Zanna Clay from the University of Birmingham’s School of Psychology said in a press release. “It became apparent that because we couldn’t always differentiate between peeps, we needed to understand the context to get to the root of their communication.”

The researchers found that peeps made during negative contexts were acoustically distinct, however, which they believe is a result of higher subglottal air pressure during call production. Negative situations are charged, tense and urgent and can produce physiological consequences that could alter vocal tones.

The findings challenge the belief that animal vocalizations are tied to specific contexts or emotional state, which suggests that “functional flexibility” has evolutionary roots that predate the evolution of human speech.

“We felt that it was premature to conclude that this ability is uniquely human, especially as no one had really looked for it in the great apes,” Dr. Clay said. “It appears that the more we look, the more similarity we find between animals and humans.”

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