Daily Archives: July 19, 2016

News Ireland daily BLOG by Donie

Monday 18th July 2016

Ireland’s first-time home buyers may get aid under a new scheme

Irish Government is considering tax relief and top-ups in effort to tackle the housing crisis


A scheme to help first-time home buyers in Ireland with tax relief and State top-ups of mortgage deposit savings is being examined by the Government.

A scheme to help first-time home buyers with tax relief and state top-ups of mortgage deposit savings is being examined by the Government.

The Help to Buy scheme is under consideration as part of efforts to tackle the housing crisis, but will not be included in Minister for Housing Simon Coveney’s action plan for housing, to be announced tomorrow.

While Mr Coveney will reiterate the programme for government’s plan to introduce such a scheme, details are being withheld until October’s budget.

Mr Coveney had pushed for it to be included in his action plan but Minister for Finance Michael Noonan said tax measures can only be announced on budget day.

Mr Noonan last night emphasised that the Government does not want to cause any market disruption.

He said when former Tánaiste Michael McDowell proposed abolishing stamp duty in 2006, it contributed to a slump in house sales.

Mr Noonan said he is prepared to backdate Help to Buy measures to this month.

Mr Coveney is understood to have pushed for a top-up scheme in recent weeks. A similar scheme operates in the UK, where mortgage deposit savings are topped up by 25%, to a limit of £3,000.

Similar approach

The Fianna Fáil party proposed a similar approach in its election manifesto, although it said the top-up would be restricted to €5,000 per person, or €10,000 per couple.

It is understood that Mr Noonan and others raised concerns with Mr Coveney that such a scheme could drive up demand and house prices at a time when few homes are being built.

Of concern to all Ministers is the difficulty in saving for a mortgage deposit in Dublin and other urban areas due to the Central Bank lending rules.

One Government source suggested the value of Help to Buy would have to be around €10,000 to have a tangible effect.

The emerging scheme is a mixture of a deposit top-up and tax relief, modelled on the Home Renovation Incentive Scheme. VAT relief targeted at first-time buyers also featured in discussions.

The programme for government contains a proposal to temporarily reduce VAT on new affordable homes and apartments from 13.5% to 9%.

Four new gold mines discovered by gold mining firm Conroy Gold in Ireland


Gold found in the Republic is officially owned by the State and extracted under licence.

Irish gold mining firm Conroy Gold and Natural Resources has found four new gold zones on its Glenish target in Monaghan.

The discovery was made in a 150 metre-wide structural corridor in the western part of the Glenish gold target.

It included intersections of 2.25 metres grading 2.65 g/t gold, at a depth of 18 metres, 2 metres grading 1.59 g/t gold at a depth of 27.75 metres; 2.75 metres grading 1.43 g/t gold at a depth of 36 metres and 3 metres grading 1.76 g/t gold at a depth of 64.25 metres.

The Glenish gold target spans some 147 hectares.

The gold mineralisation in the drilling area remains open in all directions.

Mining activity in Ireland requires a licence from the State, but “recreational” panning is allowed.

That’s defined as activity that uses only hand-held, non-motorised equipment. The Department of Communications, Energy and National Resources asks panners to seek permission from various parties, including relevant landowners and the National Parks and Wildlife Service, to ensure the site they wish to use isn’t environmentally sensitive.

Precious metals in the ground are the property of the State but panners are allowed to keep small quantities “as a souvenir”. Any finds which return more than 20 gold flakes or individual nuggets that weigh more than two grammes are to be notified to the department.

But selling the gold is a no-no. That’s defined by law as ‘working’ of minerals – which requires permission from the Government.

A global study shows stroke is largely preventable

10 risk factors are the same worldwide, with some regional variations


Ten risk factors that can be modified are responsible for nine of 10 strokes worldwide, but the ranking of those factors vary regionally, says a study led by researchers of the Population Health Research Institute (PHRI) of McMaster University.

The prevention of a stroke is a major public health priority, but the variation by region should influence the development of strategies for reducing stroke risk, say the authors of the study published in The Lancet today.

  1. Stroke is a leading cause of death and disability, particularly in low-income and middle-income countries. The two major types of stroke include ischaemic stroke caused by blood clots, which accounts for 85% of strokes, and haemorrhagic stroke or bleeding into the brain, which accounts for 15% of strokes.
  2. The study led by Dr. Martin O’Donnell and Dr. Salim Yusuf of the Population Health Research Institute at McMaster and collaborators from 32 countries, builds on findings from the first phase of the INTERSTROKE study which identified ten modifiable risk factors for stroke in 6,000 participants from 22 countries. This full-scale INTERSTROKE study added 20,000 individuals from 32 countries in Europe, Asia, America, Africa and Australia, and sought to identify the main causes of stroke in diverse populations, young and old, men and women and within subtypes of stroke.
  3. “This study has the size and scope to explore stroke risk factors in all major regions of the world and within key populations,” said O’Donnell, a principal investigator for the PHRI and professor of translational medicine at HRB-Clinical Research Facility, NUI Galway.
  4. “We have confirmed the ten modifiable risk factors associated with 90% of stroke cases in all regions, young and older and in men and women. The study also confirms that hypertension is the most important modifiable risk factor in all regions, and the key target in reducing the burden of stroke globally.”
  5. The investigators looked at the different risk factors, and determined the proportion of strokes which would be cut if the risk factor disappeared.
  6. The number of strokes would be practically cut in half (48%) if hypertension was eliminated; trimmed by more than a third (36%) if people were physically active; and shaved by almost one fifth (19%) if they had better diets. In addition, this proportion was cut back by 12% if smoking was eliminated; 9% for cardiac (heart) causes, 4% for diabetes, 6% for alcohol intake, 6% for stress, and 27% for lipids (the study used apolipoproteins, which was found to be a better predictor of stroke than total cholesterol).
  7. Many of these risk factors are known to also be associated with each other (such as obesity and diabetes), and when were combined together, the total for all 10 risk factors was 91%, which was similar in all regions, age groups and in men and women.
  8. However, the importance of some risk factors appeared to vary by region. For example, the importance of hypertension ranged from practically 40% in Western Europe, North America, and Australia to 60% in Southeast Asia. The risk of alcohol was lowest in Western Europe, North America and Australia but highest in Africa and south Asia, while the potential impact of physical inactivity was highest in China.
  9. An irregular heart rhythm, or atrial fibrillation, was significantly associated with ischaemic stroke in all regions, but was of greater importance in Western Europe, North America and Australia, than in China or South Asia.
  10. However, when all 10 risk factors were included together, their collective importance was similar in all regions.

“Our findings will inform the development of global population-level interventions to reduce stroke, and how such programs may be tailored to individual regions,” said Yusuf, a professor of medicine of McMaster’s Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine and director of the PHRI. “This includes better health education, more affordable healthy food, avoidance of tobacco and more affordable medication for hypertension and dyslipidaemia.”

Along with the study, The Lancet published a related comment from New Zealand researchers Valery L. Feigin and Rita Krishnamurthi of the National Institute for Stroke and Applied Neurosciences, of Auckland’s University of Technology.

They said the key messages from the study were that stroke is a highly preventable disease globally, regardless of age and sex; that the relative importance of modifiable risk factors means there should be development of regional or ethnic-specific primary prevention programs, and that additional research on stroke risk factors is needed for countries and ethnic groups not included in INTERSTROKE.

“Now is the time for governments, health organizations, and individuals to proactively reduce the global burden of stroke. Governments of all countries should develop and implement an emergency action plan for the primary prevention of stroke,” they wrote.

Meanwhile: –

Too much red meat could harm your kidneys?

A study now reveals


Red meat consumption now linked to kidney failure, say’s researchers

Eating red meat may boost the risk for kidney failure, but swapping even one daily serving of red meat for another protein may reduce the risk, a large study from Singapore suggested.

Red meat intake is strongly associated with an increased risk of end-stage renal disease, the loss of normal kidney function. The relationship was also “dose dependent”, which means the higher the consumption, the greater the risk.

The association held up even after compensating for factors that could skew the results, such as lifestyle and other health conditions, the study authors noted.

“Our findings suggest that patients with chronic kidney disease or the general population worried about their kidney health can still maintain protein intake but consider switching to plant-based sources,” said Dr Woon-Puay Koh, professor in the office of Clinical Sciences at Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School in Singapore.

“However, if they still choose to eat meat, fish, shellfish and poultry are better alternatives to red meat,” said Koh, one of the study authors.

The study adds new data to a conflicting body of evidence on the relationship between protein in-take, particularly red meat, and kidney disease, experts noted.

“It adds useful and additional information to our knowledge base, but I’m not sure if it necessarily tips the scale one way or another,” said Dr Allon Friedman, a nephrologist and associate professor of medicine at Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis.

“My opinion is that it’s still perfectly fine for individuals who are otherwise healthy to consume red meat in moderation,” he said.

Dr William Mitch, professor of nephrology at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, said that plenty of studies have shown that low-protein diets may benefit people who already have kidney damage.

However, in the general population, there’s no persuasive evidence that eating a lot of protein causes kidney damage,” he said.

Red meat has been implicated in recent reports and studies as potentially harmful to human health. The World Health Organisation (WHO) last year warned of a possible link between red meat and cancer. Similarly, a November 2015 study in the journal of cancer found that meat cooked at high temperatures could potentially affect kidney cancer risk.

For the new study, researchers followed more than 63,000 Chinese adults in Singapore for an average of 15.5 years.

The food questionnaires were used to gather data on people’s daily protein consumption. The records on the incidence of end stage renal disease came from a nationwide renal registry.

About 97 percent of red meat intake in the study population consisted of pork. Other protein sources included poultry, fish, shellfish, eggs, dairy products, soy and legumes.

Although pork may appear white after being cooked, but it still considered red meat, said the US Department of Agriculture.

People consuming the highest amounts of red meat had 40 percent increased risk of developing end stage kidney disease, compared with people who ate the lowest amounts, the study found.

No association was found with poultry, fish, eggs or dairy products, while soy and legumes appeared to be slightly protective. The study also found that replacing one serving of red meat with another protein reduced the risk of kidney failure up to 62 percent for poultry.

Here are six ways to nail that CV once and for all & bag your dream job

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Interviews have changed a lot?

If you’re sick of your jobs, then stop talking about it and go for a change. From networking to that CV, here are top tips towards making that move:

  1. The compelling CV: Stop talking about your duties and focus on your achievements. It may seem obvious that you should be outlining your duties in previous roles, but what employers want to see is results. Focus not on what you did but what you did well. Your cv has one job – to get you the interview so make sure it’s a world class document.
  2. Start Networking: Go to industry talks and conferences and start meeting people. Employers will always look to the people they know, then they’ll look for recommendations, before finally advertising a job.  Employers want to avoid having to go through cvs and interview processes by being referred a great person from someone they trust.
  3. Don’t copy and paste: You may feel as though you have spent so long perfecting your CV and cover letter that you just need to change the name of the recipient and fire it off. This is the worst tactic to use. No matter how well-written a cover letter is, it will never read as well as one written specifically for that job.
  4. Stand out at interview: Do your preparation – talk to people who work there, look at their social media pages, see if they have been in the news recently. You will find a huge amount about the organisation that often the interviewer sitting across from you does not know. It shows that you have a genuine interest in the job.
  5. Pick up the phone: We all hear people talking about how many jobs they’ve applied to, only to be ignored or rejected. But how many of those people have ever actually picked up the phone and called in? Everyone relies so heavily on the internet these days that a single phone call can be enough to differentiate you.
  6. Prove your enthusiasm: One of the most common things candidates will bring up in an application is their enthusiasm for the role. While enthusiasm is better than indifference, don’t just say you’re enthusiastic about your line of work, prove it by pointing to things you have accomplished with that enthusiasm.
  7. Go for jobs you actually want: If you are not sure if you want to work for the company you have an interview with, you certainly are not going to convince someone else. So do your research talk to friends, find a job and a company you love – this is not easy it takes time and effort but doing a job you love means never working a day in your life.

Hummingbirds process the world much differently than other birds of flight?

Says an UBC study?


When you spend time engaged in 100 kilometre per hour dives and fly 50 km/h in tight spaces you tend to see the world a little differently.

Hummingbirds can move as fast as your car and stop on a dime to feed from a flower, which requires some specialized image processing abilities, according to Roslyn Dakin, a post-doctoral fellow at the University of British Columbia.

“We wanted to know how they avoid collisions and we found that hummingbirds use their environment differently than insects to steer a precise course,” she said. “They are really amazing flyers, they are capable of hovering and dramatic acceleration and stopping.”

Bees process their distance from objects by how quickly objects pass through their field of vision, like the telephone poles that race by you when you drive a car. But hummingbirds are doing something else.

The tiny speedsters chart their course based on how quickly images get larger, an indication they are getting close and pose a hazard. Things that get smaller are likely moving away and pose no risk.

“They tend to steer towards smaller features and away from larger features,” she explained.

The researchers spent months building and programming a 5.5 metre-long flight chamber to capture the hummingbirds’ reactions to visual queues, in other words, find out how they steer in flight.

“We took advantage of hummingbirds’ attraction to sugar water to set up a perch on one side of the tunnel and a feeder on the other, and they flew back and forth all day,” said co-author Douglas Altshuler, a zoology professor. “This allowed us to test many different visual stimuli.”

Hummingbirds react strongly — adjusting their altitude — when presented with projected images of patterns moving up or down, rising as their environment appeared to move upward.

“That is a trait they share with flies,” said Dakin.