Tag Archives: environment

News Ireland daily BLOG by Donie

Thurs 10th November 2016

Irish Government appeals against €13bn EU ruling

Image result for Irish Government appeals against €13bn EU ruling  Image result for Irish Government appeals against €13bn EU ruling

Ireland’s stance on the EU’s landmark ruling against Apple, saying the tech giant owed the country €13bn, has finally been made official.

Ireland doesn’t want the EU’s help when it comes to taxation. So much so that Michael Noonan, Ireland’s Minister for Finance, has officially appealed against the Apple ruling.

In August, Europe’s competition commissioner, Margrethe Vestager, revealed the culmination of a three-year investigation into Apple’s tax status in Ireland.

Finding that Apple enjoyed a special agreement of sorts with the Irish Government, €13bn was the value Vestager put on the arrangement.

“This selective treatment allowed Apple to pay an effective corporate tax rate of 1% on its European profits in 2003, down to 0.005% in 2014,” she said.

Quids in for Ireland, with billions of winnings a boon to a country still operating under a shroud of debt. However, the Irish Government has been firmly in Apple’s corner throughout the case, and ever since.

Yesterday, just one day before the appeal deadline, Noonan acted.

“The government fundamentally disagrees with the European Commission’s analysis and the decision left no choice but to take an appeal,” Noonan told a European Parliament committee in Brussels.

“The tax practices that gave rise to the Apple decision are no longer part of Irish law, but we still think that the competition commissioner is wrong in law, and we’re appealing on those grounds.”

At the time of the decision, Apple CEO Tim Cook called it “maddening”.

“It’s maddening. It’s disappointing. It’s clear it comes from a political base and has no basis in fact,” he said.

Speaking to RTÉ, Cook strongly lauded Apple’s Irish workforce, currently employing some 5,000 people in Cork, with this figure soon to rise to 6,000. There’s also a new data centre in Galway to be built, but some are now concerned future investment could be curtailed should Apple be forced to pay up.

Apple’s relationship with Ireland “has not been diminished one iota”, said Cook, calling the company’s Ireland-based employees “world class”.

“I’m pretty confident that the Government will do the right thing. That is to stand up and fight against this overreach.”

Ireland must ‘practise what we preach’ on USA undocumented people

If State wants Trump to help Irish illegals we must address ‘crucial issue’ here.

Image result for Ireland must ‘practise what we preach’ on USA undocumented people   Image result for 50,000 undocumented Irish in the United States

Labour leader Brendan Howlin raised concerns about Donald Trump’s position on immigration which he said was the direct opposite of Ireland’s.

Ireland needs to “practise what we preach” and address the issue of the undocumented migrants living in the State if the Government wants US president-elect Donald Trump to help illegal Irish immigrants in America.

Labour leader Brendan Howlin said the Migrant Rights Centre estimated that 20,000 to 26,000 undocumented immigrants are in Ireland of whom 2,000 to 6,000 are children, who “live in the shadows of our society”.

He said that “if we’re going to take the initiative to protect the 50,000 undocumented Irish in the United States, is there not an absolute imperative on us to practise what we preach and address those in our State who are undocumented”.

Mr Howlin raised in the Dáil concerns about Mr Trump’s position on immigration which he said was the direct opposite of Ireland’s.

“He has promised to deport illegal immigrants in the first 100 days and the clock is ticking.” Mr Howlin asked what the Government was doing “to address the crucial issue” of the estimated 50,000 undocumented Irish in the US.

Equal obligation

And he said there was an equal obligation on the State to help deal with the undocumented in Ireland.

Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald told him: “I do want to confirm to this House that on immigration reform, relief for undocumented Irish remains an absolute priority for the Government.”

She said the Government was taking a two-pronged approach in trying to regularise the status of the undocumented and trying to get a dedicated quota for legal emigration from Ireland.

She said Taoiseach Enda Kenny had had a preliminary conversation with US president-elect Trump “and we will continue to pursue the values that we hold dear and the priority issues of which immigration reform remains an absolute priority”.

The Government raised this issue at every opportunity and fully intended to do so again “in our contacts with this administration”, she said.

Ms Fitzgerald, who is Minister for Justice, said she had met the Migrant Rights Council a number of times and intended to have further discussions with them.

She said “we would encourage people to make contact with officials and regularise their position”.

She said that every few months there were citizenship ceremonies and “we have a very inclusive approach” to immigrants seeking to work in Ireland.

HSE boss Tony O’Brien apologises after leaked memo said patients could be removed with “minimum force”

Minister for Health Simon Harris said that the rescinded memo was “utterly offensive and unacceptable”.

  Image result for HSE boss O'Brien apologises after leaked memo said patients could be removed with "minimum force"

The HSE boss Tony O’Brien has apologised for any distress caused after a leaked memo said nurses could remove patients from beds “as trespassers” using “minimum force” to free up beds.

O’Brien told the Oireachtas Health Committee this afternoon that the memo should not have been disseminated as widely as it was.

He apologised for any distress it caused.

However, he did say it was drafted based on legal counsel in relation to rare cases where patients refused to leave hospital.

Yesterday, Minister for Health Simon Harris said that the memo was “utterly offensive and unacceptable” and had been rescinded.

He was agreeing with Liam Doran, General Secretary of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation, who welcomed the retraction but also expressed worry over why the memo included those instructions in the first place.

Roscommon-Galway Independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice shared his concern, and said that those responsible for HSE statement on removal of patients should be removed from their roles.

“The notion that the HSE would ask nurses to use force to remove patients from beds is absolutely unbelievable and a further indication of the disconnect that there is between some of the people who run our health service and the most important people of all, who are the patients.

“The callous tone of this statement is quite astonishing and to suggest that anyone in a civilised society would be treated in this manner is quite shocking.”

Simon Harris pledges to take action on medicinal cannabis

Minister makes promise to mother of child with a catastrophic form of epilepsy

Image result for Simon Harris pledges to take action on medicinal cannabis  Image result for Simon Harris pledges to take action on medicinal cannabis

Buds of cannabis at a a medical marijuana dispensary in Oakland, California, US. Minister for Health Simon Harris has promised he will take action on the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes.

Minister for Health Simon Harris has promised the mother of an ill child that he will take action on the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes in January.

The Minister made the promise to Vera Twomey after she embarked on a walk from Co Cork to Leinster House in order to draw attention to the issue.

Her six-year-old daughter, Ava Barry, has a catastrophic form of epilepsy, but is now almost seizure-free after she started taking two doses of cannabis oil a day.

Ava suffers from Dravet syndrome and needed around-the-clock care before she started taking cannabidiol oil earlier this month.

Ms Twomey is calling for a change to Irish law to allow for cannabis to be used for medicinal purposes.

Cannabis for medicinal purposes is legal in a number of countries, including the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, Canada, Australia, Malta, Croatia and some US states.

It is usually made available on prescription from doctors and supplied in a standardised form through pharmacists.

Mr Harris had said the Government had ordered a review of the Republic’s policy on medicinal cannabis.

As part of the review, Mr Harris has asked the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) to provide him with expert scientific advice on the matter.

The Oireachtas health committee is also due to discuss the issue later this month.

In a statement on Wednesday, Mr Harris said he “had a good meeting with Vera and Paul Twomey”, where he took the opportunity to update them on the policy review.

He said the HPRA had been asked to provide advice on recent developments in the use of cannabis for medical purposes, and an overview of related products that have been authorised in other jurisdictions.

Additionally, he said he had asked for an overview of the “wider ongoing and emerging clinical research” on the efficacy of medicinal cannabis, as well as an overview of the different regulatory regimes in place in states which allow it.

The HPRA will also advise on the legislative changes that would be required to allow the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes in the Republic.

Mr Harris said he hoped to receive the report from the HPRA and advice from the Oireachtas health committee in January.

He said he will then move forward with any legislative changes that may be recommended.

Cannabis for Medicinal Use Bill

Separately on Wednesday, Anti-Austerity Alliance-People before Profit TD Gino Kenny launched the Cannabis for Medicinal Use Bill 2016 at a press conference in Dublin.

The Bill is unlikely to be passed without Government support.

The Bill provides for the regulation of cannabis for medicinal use so that patients can receive a “legally-protected, secure supply” of a quality-controlled cannabis-based medicine.

The Bill includes provisions for a regulatory authority that would issue licences for importation and supply of such medicines.

The cannabis-based medicines would only be available from a pharmacy under the terms of the Bill, while the advertising and the sale of cannabis to minors would be banned.

Some 90% of Ireland’s prostate cancer patients alive after five years

N.B.: Scientists have revealed recently that a component found in green tea may help reduce the development of prostate cancer in men facing high risk.

Image result for Some 90% of Ireland’s prostate cancer patients alive after five years  Image result for 90% of Ireland’s prostate cancer patients alive after five years  Image result for 90% of Ireland’s prostate cancer patients alive after five years

Nine out of 10 prostate cancer patients survive more than five years, compared to just one in three 40 years ago.

As part of the Movember fundraising campaign, the Irish Cancer Society has been looking back on prostate cancer research advances in Ireland.

Survival rates have improved tremendously, because of huge strides in the prevention, detection, and treatment of the disease.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among Irish men, accounting for a third of their cases.

About 3,400 new cases of the diseases are identified in Ireland every year, due to improved detection.

However, more needs to be done to improve survival rates, particularly for men with metastatic prostate cancer.

Also, ways need to be found to improve the lives of men who have survived the disease, as they often suffer a reduced quality of life.

The Irish Cancer Society and the Movember Foundation Ireland became partners nine years ago to invest in Irish prostate cancer research projects.

Consultant medical oncologist, Prof Ray McDermott, said prostate cancer survival rates only showed one side of the journey a patient with the disease travelled.

“For survivors, their diagnosis and treatment often impact on their physical and mental wellbeing in ways men rarely speak openly about,” he said.

Prof McDermott is clinical director of the prostate cancer research initiative, iPROSPECT, funded by the Irish Cancer Society in partnership with Movember, to devise personalised treatments and improve patient outcomes.

Scientists have revealed recently that a component found in green tea may help reduce development of prostate cancer in men facing high risk.

Trump’s climate change denial poses big problems in global fight

US president-elect has promised to tear up the Paris climate accord ratified last year

Image result for Ireland must ‘practise what we preach’ on USA undocumented people  Image result for Trump climate change denial poses big problems in global fight  Image result for Trump climate change denial poses big problems in global fight

The greatest danger posed by US president-elect Donald Trump may be his threat to “cancel” the Paris accord on climate change, which was concluded last December after decades of negotiations.

The Paris accord seeks to limit the rise in global temperatures to “well below” 2 degrees compared to pre-industrial revolution levels; 1.5 degrees if possible.

“Article 28 of the text I negotiated foresees that a state which has signed – and President Obama signed – may renounce the accord three years after it enters into force,” Laurent Fabius, who presided over the 21st Conference of Parties, or COP, told France Inter Radio.

The accord took effect on November 4th, after the required two-thirds threshold of ratification by 55 countries, accounting for 55% of global greenhouse emissions, was met.

Trump could renounce the agreement in 2019, Fabius said. A US withdrawal would take effect in 2020. The US is the world’s second-largest producer of carbon emissions, after China.

Fabius recalled going through the agreement, line by line, with US and Chinese envoys. China linked its ratification to that of the Americans, and a US pullout could create a domino effect.

“It would have huge repercussions,” Fabius said. “Once you put greenhouse gases in the air, they stay there for up to 10,000 years. There’s a risk that other countries will say, ‘If the US is doing nothing, we won’t either.’ It would be extremely grave for the world; the future of the world is at stake.”

News of Trump’s election cast a pall over COP22 in Marrakech, the first international climate summit since the Paris accord. The meeting had started with great optimism on November 7th, because the ratification procedure had been completed much more quickly than expected.

In other positive news for the fight against climate change, the first global climate deal for aviation was reached on October 6th, and an agreement to phase out planet-warming hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs, used in air conditioners and refrigerators, was concluded in Kigali on October 15th.

This hard-won progress is threatened by Trump’s climate negationism. “With Donald Trump’s election, a period of great uncertainty regarding US climate policy has opened,” Alden Meyer of the Union of Concerned Scientists told Le Monde from Marrakesh.

“It will have an undeniable psychological effect, even if it doesn’t block the working session in Marrakesh.”

On Tuesday, US election day, the World Meteorological Organisationpresented its analysis of the global climate from 2011 through 2015 at COP22. The five-year period was the hottest on record. The organisation reported “the increasingly visible human footprint on extreme weather and climate events with dangerous and costly impacts”.

The same day, the Germanwatch group reported that more than 528,000 people have died in the past decade due to some 11,000 extreme weather events.

Trump has often ridiculed one of the most powerful scientific consensuses of our time. “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make US manufacturing non-competitive,” he tweeted in November 2012.

Global warming

In a campaign speech last May, Trump promised to “cancel” the Paris accord on the grounds it gave “foreign bureaucrats” control over US energy consumption and would “kill jobs and trade”.

In other tweets, Trump has cited freak cold weather events as proof that global warming is a hoax, claimed that wind turbines are “bad for people’s health” and that low-energy light bulbs cause cancer.

Trump does not even need to renounce the Paris accord to sabotage it. At the insistence of the US and other parties, the accord is non-binding, and there are no sanctions against countries who do not fulfil their pledges to cut carbon emissions.

Trump has vowed to dismantle the US Environmental Protection Agency, which has an $8 billion budget, and whose work he termed “shameful”. He also said he would cut US funding for UN projects that fight climate change.

The Obama administration pledged $3 billion to the Green Climate Fund to help developing countries make the transition to renewable energy.

President Barack Obama’s “Clean Power Plan”, designed to reduce emissions from power plants, has been suspended since February, following a lawsuit by 27 mostly Republican states.

The president-elect wants to develop fossil fuels and increase reliance on coal mining and coal-fired power plants, which are responsible for 40% of US carbon dioxide emissions. And he may resurrect plans for the Keystone XL pipeline between Alberta, Canada, and refineries in Illinois and Texas.

News Ireland daily news BLOG by Donie

Monday 18th January 2016

What plummeting oil prices mean for you the consumer

The falling price of a barrel of oil – which could go as low as $10 this year – has knock-on effects on fuel prices, general spending and energy costs

      

If you ever went looking for evidence to prove that economists, analysts, journalists and so-called expert commentators haven’t a clue what they are talking about much of the time, you would not have to go much further than a quick glance at oil production and prices over recent years.

For many years up until the very recent past, there was much talk of Peak Oil and what would happen to our world when fossil fuels dried up. Then technology stepped in, production methods got better and oil started to emerge from the ground in places where it had previously been inaccessible. Suddenly all the talk was of a glut in supply and Peak Oil became a less hot topic of conversation – but it’s likely to return. At least for now. This glut in supply is either good news or very bad news, depending on which side of the environmental and economic fence you are sitting and how forward-looking you’d like to be.

In the early summer of 2008, as a barrel of crude oil reached $147 (€136) on international markets, much talk was of what would happen when a barrel hit $200. Before it could get close to that, Lehman Brothers came crashing down, taking the global economy with it. The economic shockwaves sent oil prices into a tailspin, which is starting to look like a death spiral.

Global oversupply and worries about the severity of the economic slowdown in China and the sluggish performance of normally high-consuming countries in the developed world are to blame for prices not seen since 2003. In the middle of last week, crude oil prices continued on their downward trajectory, having fallen almost 20 per cent since the beginning of the year. And prices at the beginning of the year were very low.

Analysts have been scrambling to make sense of it all and were forced to frantically adjust to the new year price rout. “A marked deterioration in oil market fundamentals in early 2016 has persuaded us to make some large downward adjustments to our oil price forecasts for 2016,” Barclays bank stated. “We now expect [a barrel of oil] to average $37 in 2016, down from our previous forecasts of $60 and $56, respectively.”

That is a fairly major “downward adjustment” but Standard Chartered went further – much further, in fact. That bank’s experts said prices could drop as low as $10 a barrel.

“Given that no fundamental relationship is currently driving the oil market towards any equilibrium, prices are being moved almost entirely by financial flows caused by fluctuations in other asset prices, including the [US dollar] and equity markets,” its analysts said. “We think prices could fall as low as $10 before most of the money managers in the market conceded that matters had gone too far.”

But what does that mean for consumers in Ireland? If oil prices continue to fall, will we be winners or losers? Here are just some of the ways it has an impact.

1 The easiest-to-identify, real-time way oil prices affect us is on garage forecourts. Petrol and diesel prices have fallen significantly in recent months, although not perhaps by as much as many people would like. According to the fuel-tracking website pumps.ie, the average price of a litre of petrol in the Republic last week was €1.25, with many garages selling a litre for less than €1.20. Two years ago, according to the AA, the average price of a litre of petrol in the State was €1.53, and the price was €1.70 in September 2012.

What kind of savings are we talking about? Well, fuel usage figures from the AA suggest that an average car does about 19,000km a year. If it has a fuel consumption rate of 9.5 litres per 100km, it will use 150 litres of fuel per month or 1,800 litres a year. Based on these numbers, the average Irish motorist will spend €810 less on fuel this year than they would have four years ago.

2 If people are spending that much less on forecourts, they have a lot more money to spend elsewhere. This increased spending power boosts the wider economy and might go some way to explaining a 7 per cent increase in spending in the run-up to Christmas compared with last year. There are about two million private cars on the road, and if all of them made savings of about €800, that would see a net transfer of wealth back to Irish consumers of more than €1.5 billion over the next 12 months.

3 And the transfer and the savings might be even greater than that were it not for taxes and currency values. Oil is bought in US dollars, and Irish prices are dependent on the relative strength of the euro against the dollar. In recent times the news hasn’t been good. When oil prices fall, investors put money into safe havens such as the dollar, which has caused that currency to get stronger in recent months. The euro has lost about 20 per cent of its value against the dollar in the past 18 months, which has kept petrol prices higher than they might have been.

Fuel taxes have also done consumers no favours. Since the emergency budget of October 2008, there have been five tax increases on fuel. Together these have added about 20 cent to a litre of petrol. The excise duty of fuel is levied on a per-litre basis and not as a percentage of the price, which means that when the cost falls, the tax remains at the same level. VAT is charged at 23 per cent of the non-tax fuel price and does fall in line with other price falls. The vagaries of the tax system mean about 91 cent of every litre of petrol is taken up by tax, with the remaining 30 cent or so going towards everything else.

4 While forecourt prices might be on the frontline, the most profound impact of cheap oil prices is on the economy as a whole. No matter what the Government says, lower oil prices have contributed to our economic recovery and growth of 7 per cent in a period of historically low inflation. Ireland is an oil importer, and lower prices cut costs for consumers and businesses. However, falling oil prices could bring about deflation across Europe, which could have a serious long-term impact on growth.

5 Home energy prices have been falling over recent months, although price declines have been slower in this sphere than on forecourts. All the companies have rolled out price cuts in recent months and have been very anxious that we know all about it. But average gas and electricity bills have fallen by no more than €50 a year. That amounts to a decline of around 5 per cent, which is pretty meagre when you consider the actual falls in the cost of the raw materials.

Earlier this year, the Minister for Energy, Alex White, held a series of meetings with the energy suppliers to discuss the speed at which wholesale energy price reductions were being reflected in household bills. Not much changed after that. To be fair to White, prices are deregulated and there’s not much more he can do other than ask the question.

6 Falling oil prices have downsides. It might mean we have more money, but cheaper oil also means there are fewer incentives to develop cleaner alternatives to fossil fuels. In the 1970s oil prices spiked, which brought about massive economic disruption in developed countries, most notably the US. In turn that led to huge amounts of research into ways to save energy. Fast-forward 10 years and some of that research and development started to pay off. Cars and electricity generation became more efficient. And everyone benefited. If oil prices stay low, there is less incentive to develop cheap alternatives, which stymies research, and that will have knock-on effects that will be felt for a generation.

7 When oil prices are low, gas- guzzling SUVs sell well, whereas fuel-efficient smaller cars do not. Cheap oil makes it much harder to curb carbon emissions.

8 There might, however, be some environmental pluses. One of the reasons why there has been a surge in supply on global markets has been a dramatic ramping-up of production of shale oil in the US. This method of oil extraction is not only controversial, it’s also expensive. To make it profitable, such producers need oil to sell at more than $60 a barrel. When it sells for a lot less, this production method becomes much less attractive. There is a downside here, too. When incentives to develop new oil and gasfields disappear, there will be an inevitable reduction in R&D, which will lead to higher costs once oil prices rebound.

9 From managing dairy and poultry production to ploughing fields, agriculture is very energy-intensive. Lower oil prices benefit farmers, and ultimately that benefit gets passed on to all consumers in the form of cheaper food, at least once the middlemen in big retail have taken their cut.

10 There should be a drop in the cost of flights, although that has yet to happen in any meaningful way. One argument put forward by advocates of the aviation industry to explain why consumers have not seen any price cuts is that airlines buy their fuel far in advance, which leads to a significant time lapse in savings. However, the drop in oil prices has been sustained for more than a year, so that argument suggests that airlines all over the world are making more money than they otherwise might and are not passing on anything to consumers. Internationally, demand for airline seats is strong, so they are unlikely to start cutting fares, even though they could.

Supermarkets sales in Ireland grow at rate not seen since the boom times

Supervalu retains top spot as market share goes beyond 25.1 %

    

SuperValu has retained its position as the number one retailer in Ireland. Sales growth has continued to accelerate over recent months and reached 4.3% over the past 12 weeks. The bounce took the retailer’s share of the market to 25.1%.

A happy Christmas for all the State’s major retailers saw the retail market grow by 3.5% over the festive season as shoppers relaxed their purse strings.

The latest supermarket share figures from Kantar Worldpanel in Ireland for the 12 weeks to January 3rd point to a strong uplift for the Irish grocery market resulting in overall market growth not seen since January 2009.

The new numbers show that just over 1% separates the market share of the most popular retailer and the retailer in third position.

SuperValu has retained its position as the number one retailer in Ireland. Sales growth has continued to accelerate over recent months and reached 4.3% over the past 12 weeks. The bounce took the retailer’s share of the market to 25.1%.

Tesco saw a marginal uplift in its sales taking its market share to 24.6%. Dunnes enjoyed a strong sales performance with an increase of 5.6% in its sales which saw its market share increase by half a percentage point to 24%.

Lidl enjoyed the strongest growth within the grocery market with sales 11.6% ahead of Christmas 2014 as an additional 44,000 people chose to shop with the retailer this year. It’s market share is now 8% compared to the 7.9% held by Aldi.

The director at Kantar Worldpanel David Berry described Christmas as the most important time of the year for grocery retailers.

“The past 12 weeks are the first time since March 2013 that all five of the major supermarkets in Ireland have grown sales,” he said. “Shoppers spent an additional €77 million on groceries compared with the same time last year, with confectionary, crisps and other snacks doing particularly well. “

Mr Berry pointed out that it wasn’t just party food that boosted sales and shoppers also spent more on staple items such as fruit, vegetables and eggs. “This is a clear sign of increased consumer confidence as shoppers worry less about what they’re spending,” he suggested.

This is the trait a women desire most in a man

   

This is the trait women desire most in a man?

It turns out that being a nice person who helps others out is a much more attractive quality for women than just being buff. Though the ideal man would be both attractive and altruistic, the study showed that for long term relationships the women preferred men who were just altruistic over men that were just attractive – meaning that altruism is actually a more valuable quality than physical attractiveness even when taken on its own.

In the study, women were presented with images of men acting in bravery or kindness including things like saving drowning child or buying a homeless person a sandwich. Interestingly the researchers discovered that girls were more likely to choose a guy who was considerate but not hot over someone who was handsome but not that kind. Attractiveness plays a part, with partners of equal attractiveness and kindness being the most popular.

So if you want to secure a few dates then try volunteering at your local soup kitchen or helping an old lady cross the road. Full story: Science has just proved that nice guys don’t finish last: City A.M. Although when it came to one-night-stands, looks were more important than a caring personality. Altruism, defined as the “unselfish regard for, or devotion to the welfare of others”, was found in the study to have a sizeable role in mate choice, particularly in women’s preferences and in long-term relationships.

The study, published in Evolutionary Biology, gave women scenarios about men, and then asked them to rate their attractiveness. ‘Overall, the results provide further support for the view that altruism acts as an important trait in mate choice, particularly for long-term relationships’

Will people lose weight if labels show how long it takes to burn off calories?

    

It’s one thing to know how many calories a chocolate bar, bag of chips, or serving of mac and cheese contains, but quite another to know how many minutes of exercise it would take to burn it off. Will it take 20 minutes to 50 minutes? Even longer?

Adding that information to food and drink labels could help people avoid packing on the pounds, according to a policy paper published Friday by the Royal Society for Public Health. The British health agency found that introducing “activity-equivalent calorie labels” helps people stop underestimating how long it will take them to work off something they’ve eaten.

The need for the labels is certainly there: Nearly 2 billion people worldwide are overweight or obese, according to the World Health Organization.

“Although nutritional information provided on food and drink packaging has improved, it is evident that it isn’t working as well as it could to support the public in making healthy choices,” said Shirley Cramer, the chief executive of the society, in a statement. “Activity-equivalent calorie labeling provides a simple means of making the calories contained within food and drink more relatable to people’s everyday lives, while also gently reminding consumers of the need to maintain active lifestyles and a healthy weight.”

The health organization shared sample images of the labels, which show consumers how many minutes they’d have to bike, swim, or run if they choose to eat a particular item. People can then decide whether noshing on a bag of potato chips is worth 19 minutes of running, 23 minutes of cycling, or 13 minutes of swimming.

A survey of 2,000 adults by the society found that 63% would support the introduction of activity-equivalent calorie labels. More than half of respondents said seeing the labels would change their behavior.

The public health experts wrote that people spend about six seconds looking at the package on a food item before they toss it in their shopping cart. Although some folks may be checking for sodium content or for the grams of fat in an item, the society’s researchers wrote that people are “most likely to look for total calories on food labels, rather than other forms of nutritional information.” To take advantage of the focus on caloric intake, the organization recommends that food companies alter the front of packages so that consumers can make informed decisions.

WhatsApp is now to become a free app

   

The world’s most popular messaging service, WhatsApp, is dropping its token US$1 fee still levied on some users as it experiments with making businesses pay to reach their customers, chief executive Jan Koum said on Monday.

In addition, the Facebook-owned communications service expects in the coming months to offer complete encryption of messages, in a move to ensure the privacy of user conversations that is likely to draw further criticism from some governments.

The authorities in the United States, Britain and elsewhere say the growing prevalence of encryption on services such as WhatsApp and Apple’s iMessage, hamstring their ability to monitor criminal suspects or thwart militant plots and have threatened to pass new laws to block these changes.

WhatsApp, the service that offers free text, picture and video messages, has been slowly working to develop end-to-end encrypted communications services for more than a year. It has already introduced full encryption for users on Android phones.

“We are a couple of months away from calling it done,” Koum said, noting that once completed, WhatsApp will represent the world’s largest service offering completely private messaging. “Soon we will be able to talk more about this,” he said.

Once fully introduced, WhatsApp will be the largest encrypted communications service in the world, he noted.

The seven-year-old company, which was acquired by social media giant Facebook for $19.2 billion in 2014 and now counts nearly 1 billion users, is testing making restaurants, airlines and credit card firms pay to contact consumers.

“Today, we are announcing that WhatsApp is going to be free to users. We aren’t going to charge a dollar a year anymore,” Koum told an audience of entrepreneurs and investors at the annual Digital-Life-Design (DLD) conference in Munich.

He said making customers pay even small amounts remains difficult in many countries where access to credit cards and bank accounts for making online payments remains complicated.

Instead, Koum said it will begin experimenting this year to simplify how businesses interact with consumers.

New Irish flooding body will be able to propose laws

The river Shannon group aims to tackle floods as cost of storm damage remains unclear

  

The Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Alan Kelly following a briefing with the National Coordination Group.

The body tasked with overseeing the river Shannon will be given powers to recommend legislative changes to Government,

The draft terms of reference for the Shannon River Basin Management Co-ordination Group are to be agreed by Government this week.

It is understood the body, which will be chaired by the Office of Public Works (OPW), will meet on a quarterly basis and will be answerable to the relevantOireachtas committee and the Cabinet’s subcommittee on climate change.

The group will publish its work programme for the river Shannon and will be tasked with overseeing the delivery of 66 flood plans.

No talking shop

The most significant power it will receive will be the ability to request legislative or regulatory changes if required.

A Government source said: “For those who called it a talking shop they are wrong.

“If this group believes that there is not adequate laws or adequate regulation it can recommend change.

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“It will be a new co-ordination committee which will be accountable to an Oireachtas committee and to a Cabinet committee. It will have to publish the minutes of its meetings.”

The group was established by the Taoiseach in response to the flooding crisis.

A number of representative groups are to sit on the body, including local authorities, Bord na Móna, ESB and the National Parks and Wildlife Service.

The exact cost of the damage from the series of storms has yet to be compiled. Minister for Transport Paschal Donohoe is to bring a report to Cabinet in the coming weeks on the extent of destruction of infrastructure.

The initial cost was nearing €60 million, but it is expected the bill will rise significantly.

Local authorities are due to make their costings available to Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly later this week.

The Government has already agreed to allocate €18 million to assist the clean- up, but the extent of the damage is still not known.

Insurance issue.

It is also expected the interim report on flood insurance by the OPW will be considered at Cabinet next week.

Mr Kelly is also to travel to Brussels this week to meet the European Commissioner Karmenu Vella to discuss the response to the floods.

However, it is understood Ireland will not qualify for emergency EU funding due to rules requiring the total damage to amount to 0.6 per cent of gross national income.

As water levels continue to recede following the flooding earlier this month, a number of roads in Clare have reopened.

All roads in Springfield, Clonlara, are now passable and the N67 at New Quay has reopened.

An indication of the possible cost of the damage comes from the February 2014 storm, which insurers put at €111 million.

The storms of December 2013-January 2014 cost €46 million, while the October 2011 flooding cost €127 million.

News Ireland daily BLOG byDonie

Thursday 17th December 2015

EU parliament demanding the release of Irish citizen Halawa from an Egyptian prison

EU parliament seeks Irish man’s immediate release and cites breach of human rights

   

EU parliament resolution demanding that death penalty be ruled out if Ibrahim Halawa is convicted passed yesterday by 566 votes to 11.

The European Parliament has called for the immediate release of Irish manIbrahim Halawa, who has been detained in Egypt for more than two years.

Mr Halawa, who turned 20 last Sunday, has been in prison since August 2013. He was arrested at the Fateh mosque in Cairo during protests against the ousting of then-president Mohamed Morsi. He and 419 others are awaiting a mass trial, which was adjourned for the 10th time this week.

In a resolution passed by 566 votes to 11, with 46 abstentions, the parliament demanded Egypt “categorically rule out the threat of the death penalty if Ibrahim Halawa is convicted, given that he was arrested as a juvenile”. It said that as Mr Halawa was 17 when he was arrested, Egypt was bound by international obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The text called on the European External Action Service, through the EU delegation in Cairo and “EU member states, notably Ireland”, to monitor all hearings in his trial and that of his co-defendants and to continue providing full legal, consular and other forms of support.

The resolution was supported by Irish MEPs from Fine Gael, Labour and Sinn Féin. Fianna Fáil’s Brian Crowley did not vote. The text expresses “deep concern” about the “unacceptable breach of basic human rights arising from the arbitrary detention” of Mr Halawa and calls for his immediate and unconditional release to the Irish authorities on foot of a presidential decree issued in November 2014 under Egyptian law 140.

It voices “extreme concern” about the “failure . . . to provide a fair trial” for Mr Halawa and his co-defendants, in particular the lack of opportunity to review or challenge their continued detention and the charges against them, “repeated denial of access to lawyers” and the “excessive pre-trial detention period”, which the parliament said violated Egypt’s domestic and international obligations.

The resolution noted Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan had expressed disappointment about the continuous adjournment of the case and that Irish officials had attended all hearings and paid 48 consular visits to Mr Halawa. This underlined the importance the Government attached to the case, it stated.

Mr Halawa’s lawyers have appealed for his release and repatriation under the presidential decree, but the Government says Egypt has indicated to it that it will only be willing to consider applying the decree when the trial is formally concluded.

Charges against the 420 accused, reduced from 494, range from murder and attempted murder to taking part in a banned protest. Mr Halawa is charged with the latter.

Smoking in cars with children to be banned from 1st Jan 2016 in Ireland

   

A ban on smoking in vehicles when children are present will come into effect in the Republic of Ireland on New Year’s Day, 1 January 2016.

Anyone caught smoking in a vehicle in front of a child or youth under the age of 18 will be fined 100 euros (£73).

Failure to pay the fine, or to stop a vehicle and give personal details to the police could lead to a prosecution and 1,000 euros (£727) penalty.

A similar ban is being considered by the Northern Ireland Assembly.

Earlier this month, Stormont Health Minister Simon Hamilton announced an amendment to a bill currently going through the assembly, which if passed, would now mean smoking in cars with children would be illegal anywhere on the island of Ireland.

‘Enclosed spaces’

The Irish government signed its ban into law this week, under the Protection of Children’s Health (Tobacco Smoke in Mechanically Propelled Vehicles) Act.

The details were announced by Minister for Children Dr James Reilly and Minister for Health Leo Varadkar.

Image copyrightIrish Govenment News ServiceImage captionHealth Minister Leo Varadkar (L) and Minister for Children James Reilly (R) posed with five-year-old Millie Sunderland and 11-year-old Fionn O’Callaghan to publicise the forthcoming ban

Mr Reilly said it was a central part of his government’s “Tobacco Free Ireland” policy.

“The Irish Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) Study 2014 found that nearly one in every five children between the ages of 10 and 17 years are exposed to toxic, carcinogenic smoke in cars,” he said.

“Even if windows of the car are open the young person is not protected from the harmful effect of second-hand smoke.”

Mr Varadkar said: “Children are more susceptible to the effects of second-hand smoke and may not be able to avoid exposure.

“Second hand smoke is particularly harmful to children in enclosed spaces, such as cars.”

Under the new law, drivers and passengers will be banned from smoking cigarettes, cigars or pipes when they are inside a vehicle with someone under the age of 18.

Drivers will also be held responsible if they allow their passengers to smoke in front of children.

The legislation does not apply to electronic cigarettes, which are exempt from the ban.

In Great Britain, a law banning smoking in vehicles carrying children came into force in England and Wales in October.

The Scotland government is planning to legislate on the issue next year.

A 400% increase in people seeking help from Threshold

    

There has been a 400% increase in the number of people seeking help from Threshold because of rent increases.

The latest annual report for the national homeless charity shows 1,516 people sought advice over rent reviews during 2014 – up from 372 the previous year.

The first figures for the newly set up Tenancy Protection Service show it has helped nearly 3,000 people since starting in June 2014, and has kept 344 families in their homes by negotiating with landlords.

The service is run by Threshold in Dublin and Cork.

The Chief Executive of Threshold, Bob Jordan, has said there is been a huge increase in tenants facing rent hikes: “People at the lower end of the private rented market facing 20-30% rent increases due to the shortage of accommodation in urban sectors.

“In terms of numbers we had a 400% increase of people coming to us with that problem, who wanted us to talk to their landlord or get them increased rent supplement in order to keep them in their homes, so really the focus of thresholds work in 2014 and into 2015 has been preventing people from becoming homeless.”

 There has been a 400% increase in the number of people seeking help from Threshold because of rent increases.

The latest annual report for the national homeless charity shows 1,516 people sought advice over rent reviews during 2014 – up from 372 the previous year.

The first figures for the newly set up Tenancy Protection Service show it has helped nearly 3,000 people since starting in June 2014, and has kept 344 families in their homes by negotiating with landlords.

The service is run by Threshold in Dublin and Cork.

The Chief Executive of Threshold, Bob Jordan, has said there is been a huge increase in tenants facing rent hikes: “People at the lower end of the private rented market facing 20-30% rent increases due to the shortage of accommodation in urban sectors.

“In terms of numbers we had a 400% increase of people coming to us with that problem, who wanted us to talk to their landlord or get them increased rent supplement in order to keep them in their homes, so really the focus of thresholds work in 2014 and into 2015 has been preventing people from becoming homeless.”

Lettuce is worse than meat for our environment????

A study says

    

Which is worse for the environment: lettuce or bacon?

A study published last month in the scholarly journal Environment Systems and Decisions appears to contradict mounting evidence that meat farming is worse for the environment than growing fruits and vegetables.

According to new research from a team of Carnegie Mellon University scientists, “following the USDA recommendations to consume more fruits, vegetables, dairy and seafood is more harmful to the environment because those foods have relatively high resource uses and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions per calorie.”

In other words, the study says that following a mostly vegetarian diet has a more profound impact on climate change eating meat.

“Eating lettuce is over three times worse in greenhouse gas emissions than eating bacon,” said Paul Fischbeck, professor of social and decisions sciences and engineering and public policy at Carnegie Mellon, in a press release. “Lots of common vegetables require more resources per calorie than you would think. Eggplant, celery and cucumbers look particularly bad when compared to pork or chicken.”

The research team looked at the entire food supply chain–from growing, to processing and transporting food, food sales and service, household storage and use—to determine what impact each step took on resources in the form of energy use, water use and GHG emissions.

Eating the so-called “recommended healthier foods”—a mix of mostly vegetables fruits, dairy and seafood—increased the environmental impact in all three categories, with energy use shooting up by 38 percent, water use increasing by 10 percent and GHG emissions increased by 6 percent.

Though many outlets were quick to decry vegetarian diets as worse than a standard omnivorous diet—flying in the fact of pro-veg celebrities like Morrissey and, more recently, Arnold Schwarzenegger—the study’s author admitted there were a few caveats to make.

“We looked at what Americans eat — we’re not trying to change people’s preferences — we looked at the USDA guidelines and assumed people would look at them and eat more of what they like,” Fischbeck told Business Insider.

The study didn’t compare a traditional American diet with a pure vegetarian one. It compared a a 3,800 calorie per day diet (that’s what the average American consumes) that meets the USDA’s guidelines for adding fruits, veggies, and fish to a healthier one—one that restricted the number of calories—but also met the agency’s recommendations.

As per the lettuce comment, Fishbeck says it’s important to note the per calorie context.

Eating 100 calories of lettuce would amount to multiple heads, which, yes take more resources and amount to more greenhouse gas emissions than eating 100 calories of bacon—which would be about two small slices. But there are plenty of protein and calorie rich vegan foods that have a lower environmental impact than bacon.

“Absolutely beans and nuts and grains are good,” Fischbeck said.

But the biggest takeaway from the study should be that eating  a “healthier” diet, which resulted in greater weight control, had a positive impact on the environment and reduced energy use, water use and GHG emissions from the food supply chain by about 9 percent. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization’s average minimum daily requirement is 1,800—an amount which the average American far exceeds.

Tim Peake tweets first pictures back to Earth from space

Major Peake also tweeted Sir Elton John from space, quoting his hit song Rocket Man

   

Tim Peake tweets his first picture from the International Space Station. 

British astronaut Tim Peake has sent his first picture from the International Space Station – and tweeted the Queen from space.

Major Peake, who arrived at the ISS on Tuesday for his six-month mission, sent the image of the Soyuz rocket that transported him.

Buckingham Palace’s Twitter account posted a good luck letter from the Queen to Major Peake as he blasted into orbit on board the Soyuz rocket on Tuesday.

After spending his first full day on the International Space Station (ISS), Major Peake has tweeted back, saying: “Thank you, Your Majesty. I am honoured that you were watching, Ma’am. #Principia”.

In her letter, the Queen said: “We hope that Major Peake’s work on the Space Station will serve as an inspiration to a new generation of scientists and engineers.

Tim Peake is arrives on the ISS  Photo: ESA Operations

“The thoughts and prayers of the whole country are with him and the crew, especially at this time of year.

“We join with his friends and family in wishing him a productive mission and a safe return to Earth.”

Earlier on Thursday, Major Peake tweeted Sir Elton John from space, quoting his hit song Rocket Man.

Sir Elton had tweeted a good luck message to the astronaut on Tuesday: “From one Rocket Man to another, good luck @astro-timpeake with your launch and mission! #Principia #spacerocks.”

Catching up on his Twitter correspondence for the first time since arriving in space, Major Peake responded: “Thank you! Sorry for late reply. Was already in spacecraft when your message came in (zero hour 9 am). #spacerocks”

“Zero hour 9am” is the second line from Sir Elton’s song Rocket Man, which tells the story of a lonely astronaut in space who is thinking about his family.

The Queen sent a Good Luck message to Tim Peake  Photo: Twitter/@BritishMonarchy

Major Peake will be separated from his wife Rebecca and sons Thomas, six, and Oliver, four, for nearly six months during the Principia mission.

He is tasked with completing dozens of experiments for researchers on Earth as he orbits the planet at 28,800km per hour.

Major Peake is due to speak to members of the press for the first time since docking with the ISS via a live link to the European Astronaut Centre near Cologne, Germany, on Friday.

The question and answer session, between 11am and 2pm, will be streamed live on the European Space Agency’s website.

News Ireland daily BLOG by Donie

Saturday 12th December 2015

Councillors involved in RTÉ sting programme leave local authority body

Cllr John O’Donnell’s membership of LAMA terminated after he refused to resign.

     

Cllr John O’Donnell from Donegal filmed in a meeting with an undercover RTÉ reporter. Mr O’Donnell ’s membership of the LAMA has been ‘terminated with immediate effect,’ after he refused to resign. 

Two of the councillors who featured in the RTÉ Investigates programme on Monday night have resigned from Local Authority Members Association (LAMA), the councillors’ representative body.

The membership of a third councillor who featured in the programme, Cllr John O’Donnell, has been “terminated with immediate effect,” after he refused to resign, an emergency meeting of LAMA held in Tralee on Saturday has been told.

The Independent politician appeared in an RTÉ Investigates programme earlier this week which alleged he had asked for payment in return for helping a fictitious wind farm company to set up in Donegal.

Each county council is represented on the LAMA and 28 of the 31 members attended this morning’s meeting at the county council building in Tralee.

The meeting was called at short notice “in light of recent revelations into the standards of public office RTE Investigates programme,” it said in a statement issued after the meeting.

“The executive of LAMA are shattered and saddened by these revelations as we believe all of our members are throughout the country,” LAMA general secretary former Mayor of Kerry, Cllr Bobby O’Connell, ( FG) who is currently mayor of Killarney, said on behalf of the body.

“The LAMA executive, at its emergency meeting on Saturday December 12th has received resignations from Cllr Hugh McElvaney, Monaghan County Counciland from Cllr Joe Queenan, Sligo County Council.

“These resignations have been accepted by the executive, unanimously. Cllr McElvaney who represents his county council on LAMA and had been an ex officio member of the board of LAMA attended the meeting in Tralee and tendered his resignation.

“Cllr John O’Donnell, Donegal county council, has indicated he will not resign his membership from LAMA. The executive decided at its meeting on December 12th to terminate Cllr John O’Donnell membership with immediate effect,” according to the statement issued after the meeting.

“LAMA remains committed and determined to represent and promote the highest standards which is expected and shared by our members,” Cllr. Mags Murray Chairperson LAMA said.

On Friday a special meeting of Donegal County Council passed a motion calling for the resignation of Mr O’Donnell.

Despite being filmed asking for a payment to be made to a third party, Mr O’Donnell (34) claims he was “entrapped” by the national broadcaster.

He said his only interest when meeting the company was to secure investment and jobs for Donegal.

A large group of protesters with posters calling for Cllr O’Donnell’s resignation gathered in the council chamber for the meeting, which lasted almost three hours.

Commemorative €2 coin to mark the centenary of Easter Rising

The 1916 centenary coin will be released into circulation by the Central Bank in January

   

A commemorative €2 coin to mark the centenary of the 1916 Rising is to go into circulation in the New Year, the Central Bank has announced.

The coin features a depiction of the statue of Hibernia, the historic personification of Ireland, on the roof of the General Post Office (GPO) in Dublin.

The designer of the coin, Emmet Mullins, said the statue of Hibernia “witnessed the events of 1916 and watched the growth of a nation since the Rising”.

This will be the first time that Ireland has issued its own commemorative €2 coin.

Previous commemorative €2 coins issued by Ireland were part of a European Union initiative.

This €2 coin will be available to purchase in a proof set, and an annual mint set, in January.

The Central Bank announced news of the new €2 coin on its official Twitter account. It said €4.5m worth of the coins will be released into circulation in January.

It added that it will also release silver and gold proof commemorative coins to mark the 100th anniversary of the Proclamation of the Irish Republic.

New hard-hitting one pint drink driving campaign highlights the dangers of sinking the one

   

New hard-hitting drink drive campaign highlights the dangers of ‘sinking’ one pint

A new hard-hitting drink-drive campaign has highlighted the dangers of having just the one drink before getting in a car.

The television advert shows a young man on a night out with his mates having “just the one” while they all enjoy themselves.

Then, as he is making his way home, a moment of lapsed concentration leads to tragedy.

The new campaign, aimed at 18-24-year-old men, reinforces the message to never drink and drive.

Launching the campaign, Environment Minister, Mark H Durkan said that in the past 15 years there had been 2,000 deaths and serious injuries caused by drink driving.

“That’s 2,000 devastated families,” he said.

“This new road safety campaign reinforces the need for motorists to ‘Never Ever Drink and Drive’.

“It stresses the impairing effects of alcohol on driving, even from the first drink. The message is designed to increase further the unacceptability of driving even after one drink, especially for younger males.”

The two-and-a-half-minute advert will also be shown on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Last year there were 16 deaths and 62 seriously injured casualties due to drink/drug related driving. This means that last year alone, alcohol and/or drugs accounted for over 20% of all road deaths.

Research has shown impairment begins well below the current drink drive limit of 80 milligrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood.

The skills most critical for driving – the brain’s ability to observe, interpret and process information from the eyes and other senses – are impaired by alcohol even at the lowest levels.

The new campaign spells out the legal consequences of being caught drink driving from imprisonment, to losing your licence and having to re-take your test. It also tells the story of ordinary young men enjoying a night out and have their lives destroyed due to a delayed reaction.

Mr Durkan added: “PSNI statistics show that 17-24 year old males are most at risk of causing death and serious injury by drink and driving, either to themselves and other innocent road user. Our campaign is heavily targeted towards them with intense use of social media.

“All drivers though who buy and consume a pint or any other alcoholic drink should realise it could be the most expensive one they ever had, ultimately costing them or other road users their lives.”

The SDLP minister continued: “The tragedy of these deaths and injuries is sorely felt not only by the bereaved families but by friends, colleagues and the wider community.

“This is a tragedy that could be avoided by taking the simple decision not to drive after having a drink.

“As road users and drivers we all make choices and we all have influence.

“This is as critical a message all year round but particularly at Christmas. People need to realise you can’t take chances by having one beer, a glass of wine in a bar, or a shot of vodka at a party and then getting behind the steering wheel.

“If you are with a driver who is drinking alcohol, persuade them to take a taxi home or get a lift from someone who isn’t drinking. Don’t put your own life at risk.”

Assistant Chief Constable Alan Todd added: “As this new advertisement illustrates, there is no safe limit, so never drink and drive.

“Nobody should ever find themselves ever asking the question, I wonder if I’m ok to drive? Or trying to calculate if they are under the drink drive limit, be it after one drink, or the morning after a night out.

“Do not take the risk. The consequences, as police officers and our emergency service colleagues witness first hand, can be catastrophic.

“As I said when we launched our winter anti-drink drive operation a fortnight ago, I want all motorists to think about the consequences to yourself and your family of being involved in a serious collision.

“How would you feel if your actions resulted in you or one of your family being paralysed? How would you feel if some innocent person was killed? Consider too the impact of losing your driving license and gaining a criminal conviction. Would you also lose your job? Your home?

“I do not want police officers knocking on doors at any time of the year, but especially over Christmas and the New Year, to tell families that a loved one has been killed on the roads. If everyone slowed down, did not drive after drinking or taking drugs, wore a seatbelt and drove with greater care and attention then together we can reduce this preventable carnage on our roads.”

The new advert will be shown on TV for the first time on the X Factor at 9.40pm on Sunday just before the winner of the talent show is announced.

Pear eaters are less likely to be obese

       

The old saying goes, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away,” but a different fruit may provide the same, if not more, benefits: the pear, the Medical Daily has reported.
Research has shown eating just one can fills us with high levels of vitamin C and fiber at just under 100 calories.
Eating a pear or drinking its juice may also help stave off a hangover and reduce risk of stroke.
Now, a study from Louisiana State University has found people who eat pears are less likely to be obese.
The study, published in Nutrition and Food Science, revealed people who ate pears had a lower body weight and were 35 percent less likely to be obese than their pear-abstaining counterparts.
The researchers also investigated the effects eating fresh pears had on nutrient intake, diet quality, cardiovascular risk factors.

Using nine years of data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, which involved 24,808 participants aged 19 and up, the researchers found on top of lower body weight and less obesity risk, pear consumers were generally older, consumed less alcohol, and smoked fewer cigarettes than those who didn’t eat pears.
Pear eaters also had a higher quality diet, characterized by higher levels of fiber and overall vitamins, and less fat and added sugar.
This was despite both pear eaters and non-eaters consuming the same amount of calories.

To determine what specifically the pear eaters were doing to maintain a healthy diet, the researchers looked at the Healthy Eating Index, “a measure of diet quality that assesses conformance to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans,” according to the Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion.
They found pear eaters consumed more whole fruits and grains, and plant and seafood-based proteins, while limiting their sodium and empty calorie intake.

“The association between pears and lower body weight is very exciting,” lead author Dr.
Carol O’Neil, of the Louisiana State University Agricultural Center, said in a press release.
“We believe fiber intake may have driven the lower body weights that were seen in this study because there was no difference in energy intake or level of physical activity found between the fresh pear consumers and non-consumers.

Fiber is important to our daily diets for a number of reasons – it helps with digestion and keeps us feeling fuller longer.
This in turn helps to stave off food cravings, which helps with weight loss.
Studies have also shown fiber may help reduce risk of heart disease, type 2-diabetes, and cancer.
Aside from pears, fiber can be found in raspberries, lentils, artichokes, and various whole grains.
Mixing up the types of fibrous foods you eat will be best for your health.
Despite the benefits, the researchers found only 2 percent of Americans ate a single, medium-sized pear – this alone accounts for half of the recommended daily fruit intake, according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
In concluding their study, the researchers wrote “consumption of fresh pears should be encouraged as part of an overall healthy diet, since pears are nutrient-dense and can help individuals meet the fruit recommendation.

Paris climate change deal “As ministers adopt a historic agreement”

To keep global warming “well below” 2C

    

A standing ovation as 195 countries adopt historic deal to keep global warming “well below” 2C and “signal the end of fossil fuels”

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The world last night agreed the first universal, legally binding deal to tackle global warming, in a move that David Cameron said marked “a huge step forward in helping to secure the future of our planet”. The deal, agreed at UN talks in Paris, commits countries to try to keep global temperature rises “well below” 2C, the level that is likely to herald the worst effects of climate change.

It also commits them to “pursue efforts” to limit warming to 1.5C – a highly ambitious goal that could require the UK to take even more radical action than under its existing Climate Change Act.

Amber Rudd, the Energy Secretary, admitted that the world did not “have the answers yet” as to how it would meet the long-term goals of the Paris deal, which would require carbon to be extracted from the atmosphere by the second half of this century.

President François Hollande, the summit host, last night welcomed “the most beautiful and peaceful revolution” and said the deal was a “major leap for mankind”.

The Prime Minister said: “Britain is already leading the way in work to cut emissions and help less developed countries cut theirs and this global deal now means that the whole world has signed to play its part in halting climate change.” Last night’s deal requires countries to set increasingly ambitious targets for cutting their national emissions and to report on their progress – but, crucially, leaves the actual targets, which are not legally binding, for countries to decide for themselves.

Paris climate change deal: Moment agreement announced  Photo: COP21, Paris, Host Broadcaster

The deal also requires developed nations to continue to provide funding to help poorer countries cut their carbon emissions and adapt to the effects of climate change – but does not set a legally binding level of money.

An accompanying, non-binding agreement requires developed countries to continue a goal of “mobilising” $100 billion (£65.9 billion) of public and private finance for developing countries each year after 2020.

It also calls on them to pledge a higher sum by 2025 – potentially pressuring the UK to increase its contribution beyond the £5.8 billion it has pledged over the next five years.

The UK’s Climate Change Act already legally commits it to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 80 per cent of 1990 levels by 2050. This – and interim targets set by the Government’s official advisers, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) – are designed to be compatible with a goal of no more than 2C warming, and it is estimated will require £10 billion a year in green energy subsidies by 2030.

News Ireland daily BLOG by Donie

Thursday 10th December 2015

Irish economic growth hits 7% as recovery outstrips targets

Latest GDP numbers reflect increasing output in ‘all business sectors’, says the CSO

   

While CSO numbers reflect increasing domestic demand, they also point to a decline in net exports in the same period.

Ireland’s economy grew by 7% in the third quarter of 2015 compared with the same period in 2014, new figures reveal.

The rate of gross domestic product (GDP) growth in July-September – up 7% year-on-year, and up 7% in the year to date – suggests growth for the year will beat Government targets.

Budget 2016, unveiled by the Coalition in mid-October, was predicated on the achievement of 6.2% GDP growth this year and 4.3% growth in 2016.

On Wednesday, however, Minister for Public Expenditure Brendan Howlinraised the prospect of a growth rate this year in excess of 7%.

The new quarterly national accounts, published this morning in Dublin by the Central Statistics Office, reflect increasing output in “all business sectors” in the three months to September compared with the previous quarter.

However, the data also shows that the pace of quarter-on-quarter growth eased in summer and early autumn.

The figures point to 1.4% GDP growth in the three months to September, following 1.9% growth in the three months to June and 2.1% growth in the three months to March.

While the figures reflect increasing domestic demand on a quarterly basis, they also point to a decline in net exports in the same period.

Investment activity increased by 4.9% compared with the second quarter and personal consumption, the largest component of domestic demand, rose 0.7%. Quarterly export growth of 2.2% was outpaced by 5.4% growth in imports.

The volume of activity in the industrial sector rose 2.5% quarter on quarter, a rise which includes a 1.2% increase in construction activity.

The volume of activity in “other services”, which includes the financial and insurance sectors as well as health and education, rose 1.4% and activity in the distribution, transport, software communications sector advanced by 1.3%. Agriculture, forestry and fishing activity rose 11.4%.

Measured on a gross national product (GNP) basis, which strips out the impact of multinational profit flows, the economy contracted by 0.8% in the third quarter. This compares with 1.9% GNP growth in the second quarter.

While it is GDP figures which form the basis for key budgetary calculations, the data shows that annual GNP growth in the three months to September reached 3.2%. GNP growth in the year to date reached 5.6%.

Government introduces tough drink law will not spoil Christmas

     

‘Happy hour’ Alas cheap drink’s promotions will be banned and shops will no longer be able to display bottles of alcohol behind check-outs under radical new proposals revealed yesterday.

A can of beer cannot be sold for less than €1.97 and a bottle of wine with 12.5% alcohol content must be no cheaper than €7.40 under the proposed legislation.

Health Minister Leo Varadkar, who said he hopes to get the legislation through one of the Houses of the Oireachtas before the general election, insisted he was not “cancelling Christmas” with the wide-ranging Public Health (Alcohol) Bill.

But the draconian measures are necessary to reduce the nation’s levels of heavy drinking which are causing death, illness and other social misery, he warned.

“The evidence about Ireland’s drinking habits is shocking,” he insisted. He said the minimum pricing to stop cheap alcohol being sold in shops will be set at 10c per gram of alcohol.

Although Scotland’s bid to introduce the same measure is being challenged in Europe, he said he expects the court ruling later this month will allow it through as long as it can be shown to be more effective than other actions.

Irish officials are already preparing a case to support this and while ideally he wants minimum pricing to be introduced here and in Northern Ireland at the same time, he said the Republic cannot wait.

The measures include:

– Confining the sale of alcohol to an area in a shop that customers will not pass through. Alcohol must be in a separate section.

– Alcohol ads will be restricted to giving information about the product. They cannot glamorise alcohol. In cinemas, the ads will restricted to when over-18 films are being shown.

Television ads such as the Guinness commercial featuring rugby players Gareth Thomas will not be allowed because it is linking drink with courage.

– Alcohol-related ads cannot be found within 200 metres of creches, playgrounds or schools.

– Breaches of the code will be a criminal offence with fines of between €5,000 and €250,000 or jail terms of up to three years.

Some of the measures will be phased in over three years.

Responding to the Bill, Alcohol Action Ireland said it was a landmark piece of legislation. Prof Frank Murray of the Royal College of Physicians also called it an “important first step.”

“Every day doctors see the awful carnage as teenagers and men and women of all ages come to our hospitals as a result of road accidents, fights, falls and other incidents.”

Padraig Cummins of the Vintners Federation of Ireland said they welcomed the introduction of minimum pricing.

Crucial

The legislation addresses the issues of “availability, price, information and display all of which are crucial,” he added.

However, Ibec, the group representing Irish business, said the new legislation ” fails to provide effective measures to tackle the serious problem of alcohol misuse.”

Chief executive Danny McCoy said that “instead it penalises responsible consumers and a sector that provides valuable employment across the country.

“It is yet another example of government regulation being introduced without any effort being made to establish the wider economic cost.

“Alcohol misuse is a serious problem that demands a coordinated, effective response.”

The empowerment of women is vital to climate change action?

COP21: Women farmers account for up to 80% of food production in developing states

     

The Gender Day symposium was attended by Mary Robinson (above), appearing on a panel hosted by France’s Ségolène Royal.

The empowerment of women is essential in tackling climate change, according to Irish climate change expert Prof John Sweeney.

Prof Sweeney, in Paris for COP21, said a majority of the world’s farmers were women, who currently account for up to 80% of food production in developing countries.

Women farmers also account for more than 90% of the female labour force in many African countries, with some 40 billion hours per year spent by African women merely collecting water.

This week the COP21 conference featured a symposium to recognise Gender Day, and a number of events were held to emphasise the importance of a gender statement appearing in the final agreement.

Mary Robinson

The Gender Day symposium was attended by Mary Robinson, appearing on a panel hosted by France’s Ségolène Royal.

Dr Robinson encouraged young women to challenge the status quo, where the reins of power were largely held by men.

Also speaking at the conference was former US vice-president Al Gore, who received a standing ovation after an hour-long illustrated talk on climate change including the floods associated with Storm Desmond.

Storm Desmond produced a new record UK daily rainfall total, in Cumbria, of over 340mm. This, for instance, compares to a rainfall figure for Glasnevin in 1887 which recorded 356mm in the whole year.

Extreme events

Prof Sweeney said changes in the frequency of extreme events – “often with catastrophic human consequences in countries not significantly complicit in causing global warming” – were being experienced widely across the world as the climate alters.

“Climate justice is the driving force for an agreement, now that the science of climate change is largely settled,” said Prof Sweeney.

Central Bank whistle-blower told to remove critical findings

Sinn Féin’s McDonald has submitted details of case to Comptroller and Auditor General.

  The purpose of whistleblower legislation is to encourage employees to “raise genuine and reasonably-held concerns about matters of public interest” free of any threat of sanction   Related image

A Central Bank whistle-blower is claiming he was told to remove critical findings from an internal audit report about the bank.

The former employee, who alleges his contract with the bank was terminated after he complained, has made a protective disclosure to Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald.

Ms McDonald has submitted details of the case and the report, written in October of 2014, to the Comptroller and Auditor General and plans to raise the matter at the Public Accounts Committee.

She said she was “very concerned” that a high-ranking auditor within the Central Bank would be asked to remove or delete findings from a report.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland programme, Ms McDonald said the report reflected the bank’s “partial or non-compliance” with the code of governance set out for State bodies.

Up to 70 to be given access to Oireachtas banking inquiry report

She said the original report found the bank was partially compliant on the issue of staff pay.

The Central Bank has been in the spotlight over the payment of retention bonuses to some staff, which unions claim may have breached financial emergency legislation on public-sector pay.

The Central Bank hired consultants Deloitte to examine the issues raised by the individual. Deloitte later found in favour of the Central Bank’s management.

In a statement, the Central Bank said it was not in a position to comment on issue as it is currently before the Workplace Relations Commission.

“However, the Central Bank can confirm that issues raised about Internal Audit (IA) in the Bank were thoroughly investigated last year following challenges raised by a team member,” a spokeswoman said.

“ Because the matter related to the IA function, the Central Bank appointed an independent external party to fully investigate. The independent external party did not uphold the complaints,” she added.

“ The Central Bank has a confidential disclosures (‘whistleblowing’) policy in place, and places great importance of staff ‘speaking up’ when appropriate. The Central Bank is satisfied that its actions in relation to this issue have been appropriate,” she said.

The employee is understood to have detailed his concerns to the then governor of the Central Bank, Patrick Honohan, through an internal mechanism for whistleblowers.

However, Ms McDonald said she had concerns about whether the individual was treated correctly as a whistleblower.

Being happy does not always make you live longer?

A 10-year study of one million women found people’s emotional state of well-being had no direct effect on mortality.

      
Happiness may make the world go round but it does not make you live longer, according to new research ending the mistaken belief that being sad or stressed leads to ill-health.“Happiness and unhappiness do not themselves have any direct effect on death rates,” the study’s Co-author said Corbis

A 10-year study of one million women found people’s emotional state of well-being had no direct effect on mortality and that previous research simply confused cause and effect.

Life-threatening poor health can obviously cause unhappiness, which is why unhappiness is associated with increased mortality the researchers said.

The study is so large that it rules out unhappiness being a direct cause of any material increase in overall mortality in women. This was true for overall mortality, for cancer mortality, and for heart disease mortality, and it was true for stress as well as for unhappiness.

Smoking usually made people unhappier than non-smokers, researchers found. However, after taking account of previous ill health, smoking, and other lifestyle and socio-economic factors, they found that unhappiness itself was no longer associated with increased mortality.

Co-author Professor Sir Richard Peto, of the University of Oxford, said: “Many still believe that stress or unhappiness can directly cause disease, but they are simply confusing cause and effect. Of course people who are ill tend to be unhappier than those who are well, but the UK Million Women Study shows that happiness and unhappiness do not themselves have any direct effect on death rates.”

The investigation, published in The Lancet today/on Thursday was carried out within the Million Women Study – a national study of women’s health, involving more than one million UK women aged 50 and over, and a collaborative project between Cancer Research UK and the NHS.

Three years after joining the study, women were sent a questionnaire asking them to self-rate their health, happiness, stress, feelings of control, and whether they felt relaxed. Five out of six of the women said they were generally happy, but one in six said they were generally unhappy.

Unhappiness was associated with deprivation, smoking, lack of exercise, and not living with a partner. The strongest associations, however, were that the women who were already in poor health tended to say that they were unhappy, stressed, not in control, and not relaxed.

The main analyses included 700,000 women with an average age of 59. During the next 10 years these women were followed by electronic record linkage for mortality, during which time 30,000 of them died.

The scientists said after allowing for any differences already present in health and lifestyle, the overall death rate among those who were unhappy was the same as the death rate among those who were generally happy.

Lead author, Dr Bette Liu, now at the University of New South Wales, Australia said: “Illness makes you unhappy, but unhappiness itself doesn’t make you ill. We found no direct effect of unhappiness or stress on mortality, even in a ten-year study of a million women.”

Previous reports of reduced mortality being associated with happiness, with being in control, with being relaxed, or with related measures of wellbeing had not allowed properly for the strong effect of ill health on unhappiness and on stress.

The effects of happiness and wellbeing on society are becoming increasingly measured and studied. David Cameron introduced The Happiness Index in 2012, measuring national well-being, while a West Midlands school became the first in the country to introduce lessons in happiness this week. All pupils at Sacred Heart Primary School in Tipton, from nursery to Year 6, will study the new subject alongside maths and English following positive responses to a training day for staff in November.

Headteacher Melanie Gee said she had been exploring a variety of ideas to make sure children’s well-being and mental health needs were being met.

Donegal Irishman William Campbell collects his Nobel prize

The path to the awarding of the Nobel Prize in medicine tonight stretches to curiosity sparked in TCD in the 1950s

     

William C. Campbell at his home in North Andover, Massachusettsafter the announcement that he won the 2015 Nobel Prize in Medicine.

This evening I’ll be celebrating the achievement of William C Campbellwhen he receives his Nobel Prize in Stockholm. Short of being awarded oneself, it doesn’t get much better for a university president than seeing a graduate receive the greatest honour in his or her field.

Campbell’s story has touched, and resonated with, people around the world, because the work for which he has been awarded – eradicating river blindness – is particularly inspirational and altruistic, and because so many places and institutions can claim him.

Born in Ramelton, Co Donegal, he was a Trinity undergraduate before doing his PhD at the University of Wisconsin- Madison, and joining Merck Research Laboratories, where he made the discovery, with Japanese scientist, Satoshi Omura, that the avermectin family of compounds kill the parasitic worms that cause river blindness and other diseases. He’s now an American and an Irish citizen with a Boston-Donegal accent.

He exemplifies, in fact, the contemporary high-flying academic who, in the course of a career, typically crosses countries and institutions, building networks of valuable contacts. He has said that in Trinity his professor,Desmond Smyth “changed my life by developing my interest in this particular field – parasitic worms”.

This graceful acknowledgement is characteristic of Dr Campbell – he acknowledges everyone who helped him on his path – and it’s also striking to realise just how long a ‘gestation’ he had for his research. He was a Trinity undergraduate getting interested in parasitic worms in the early 1950s; he made his discovery, with Omura, of avermectin in the late 1970s; he helped persuade Merck to distribute the drug free of charge in 1987, and he received the Nobel in 2015 – 65 years after he first started researching parasitic worms.

This is important to emphasise. We all like to see research applied – translated from the laboratory into products and services that benefit humankind; commercialisation, the link-up between academics and industry, is increasingly important. But we shouldn’t necessarily collate “application”, “translation” and “commercialisation” with speed.

Yes, if research can be applied quickly, that’s great, and if we can help speed things up by investing further, then we should – but excellent research needs time and we have to respect that. Frequently the researcher has no idea, when he or she commences, of where the research is going. You start with an idea and a passion for discovery, and you follow where it leads. Ground-breaking research doesn’t tend to arise from a prescriptive or directive start.

Quaternions In fact Dr Campbell wasn’t that slow to apply his research, at least compared with

others. Take William Rowan Hamilton, the 19th century Trinity mathematician and scientist, who discovered quaternions, a complex number system in three- dimensional space. He memorably described his discovery: on October 16th, 1843, he was walking from Dunsink into Dublin when “I then and there felt the galvanic circuit of thought close; and the sparks which fell from it were the fundamental equations between i, j, k . . . I felt a problem to have been at that moment solved – an intellectual want relieved – which had haunted me for at least 15 years before”. He could not resist “the impulse – unphilosophical as it may have been – to cut with a knife on a stone of Brougham Bridge, as we passed it, the fundamental formula”. The equation is now commemorated on a stone plaque at Brougham, or Broome, bridge on the Royal Canal at Cabra.

Fifteen years is long to be worrying at an intellectual problem. More striking again is that it took another 150 years for Hamilton’s great discovery to be applied. It was recognised as seminal but it had no application until the late 20th century – quaternions are now used in the control of spacecraft and in three-dimensional computer modelling, such as video games. Hamilton’s discoveries in dynamics had the same fate – they didn’t attract much interest until Erwin Schrödinger picked up on them 100 years later and gave the Hamiltonian formulation a central role in his construction of quantum mechanics.

This is how great research happens – ideas and discoveries are refined, from one researcher to another. I don’t like the distinction that has grown up between “basic” and “applied” research – as if one is more useful than the other. It’s impossible to foresee which research will have the greatest ultimate applications. When we rush and harry researchers to come up with a commercial product, we are interfering with the process, and ultimately that’s self-defeating.

News Ireland daily BLOG by Donie

Monday 19th January 2015

Outrage expressed at provisions of the Magdalene Bill

 

Advocates for women say Bill is unacceptable paring back of redress package promises

The entrance to the former Magdalene laundry on Stanhope Street, Dublin. The Redress for Women Resident in Certain Institutions Bill, published last month, proposes survivors of the laundries be entitled to GP care, prescription medicines, nursing and home-help as well as dental, ophthalmic, aural, counselling, chiropody and physiotherapy services provided by the HSE.

The draft legislation to assist survivors of Magdalene laundries has been described as “unacceptable, unfair and full of broken promises” by advocacy groups.

Advocates for the women say the Bill published last month represents an unacceptable paring back of what the Government promised as part of the women’s redress package.

After Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s apology to the Magdalene women last year, Mr Justice John Quirke was tasked with designing a restorative justice scheme, which the Government accepted.

The Redress for Women Resident in Certain Institutions Bill, published last month, proposes the women be entitled to GP care, prescription medicines, nursing and home-help as well as dental, ophthalmic, aural, counselling, chiropody and physiotherapy services provided by the HSE.

‘Paring back’

This was described at the press conference as “an obvious and unacceptable paring back” on what Justice Quirke recommended, as well as possibly being open to legal challenge.

It was also claimed that of approximately €60 million allocated for spending on redress for the woman, just €18 million had been spent so far.

Dr Katherine O’Donnell of Justice for Magdalene Research(JFMR) said the Bill represented “a massive claw back” on the Quirke recommendations. She felt it may be open to legal challenge as, on receiving redress, women signed a waiver agreeing not to sue the State. This was on the understanding all the Quirke recommendations would be fulfilled, she said.

“Justice Quirke could not have been clearer in recommending that each woman should receive a card entitling her to the full range of health services provided to state-infected Hepatitis-C survivors under the HAA card scheme,” said Maeve O’Rourke, of JFMR.

“Instead, the Bill promises little more than the regular medical card, which most of the women [91 per cent] already have.”

Health issues

She said 14 per cent of the women were over 80, while the average age of the approximately 500 involved was 70, 66 per cent of them with serious health issues.

The Bill also failed to provide care representatives for Magdalene women in nursing homes whose full capacity to address their affairs may be limited, or to implement fully the recommendations on the women’s pension entitlements.

Orla O’Connor, of the National Women’s Council, said the Bill was “a further denial of the rights of women survivors of the Magdalene laundries”.

Amnesty International’s Colm O’Gorman described the Bill as “outrageous” and asked “what did the Taoiseach apologise for?” He described Government assertions that the interdepartmental McAleese inquiry was “a comprehensive investigation” of the laundries as “shocking”.

‘Enhanced’ medical card

Responding to the criticism, a Department of Justice spokesman said the women would “receive an enhanced medical card on the same lines as the HAA card”.

On the women with reduced capacity, he said this was being dealt with through separate legislation expected to be enacted in the first half of this year.

He also said: “Justice Quirke’s recommendation regarding top-up pension-type payments is being fully implemented.”

Six out of seven Irish maternity units have “deficits” in tests rolled out after Savita’s death

 

The I-MEWS system was established in the wake of the death of Savita Halappanavar.

THE HEALTH SERVICE Executie (HSE) says it can give “reasonable assurances” that a patient safety system that monitors pregnant women and their vital signs is operational in six of the seven hospitals it audited last year.

The warning system, established in the wake of the death of Savita Halappanavar is not being operated properly in six of seven maternity wards audited, the HSE found.

The Irish Maternity Early Warning Score (I-MEWS) was developed as part of the HSE Clinical Strategy Programme’s plan for managing acutely ill patients in obstetrics and gynaecology.

It reads vital signs such as temperature, pulse, respiration and blood pressure and is designed to trigger an escalation of care if the readings are abnormal.

In a series of audits carried out last July and August, the HSE found that while six of the seven maternity units (The Coombe, UHG, CUMH, Cavan General, South Tipperary General and Midlands Regional) had the system, all were found to be lacking.

The audits tested whether an escalation of care was ordered in cases where there had been detected maternal septicaemia (DMS).

The main deficits in compliance identified by the audit team were in relation to initialling and scoring of observations.

“Compliance in relation to the consistent completion of accurate scores when taking sets of observations needs improvement,” states the report.

Excluding the Rotunda, the audit team found deficits in all hospitals in relation to the completion of repeat observations within the recommended timeframes following a trigger. However, the majority of hospitals demonstrated a high level of compliance in relation to escalating the necessary clinical care in cases of red and multiple yellow triggers.The audit team found that in the cases of DMS the escalation of care directly attributable to I-MEWS was positive where the escalation of care resulted from a trigger with the appropriate response required as per the I-MEWS guideline.

The audit team recommend training on the system and the use of midwifery metrics across the board. They say that this will lead to “safe, effective care”.

The HSE said that the audits were not designed to pass or fail hospitals.

“The purpose of the audit is not to pass or fail the maternity hospitals. Many aspects of good practice were identified by the audit team and some deficiencies were noted, which will guide the actions required in the hospitals to fully implement the policy.”

New research has shown that some types of cancer just “bad luck”

  Types of cancer

Eat well, wear sunscreen, trim the fat….

TEN ways to keep cancer at bay..why take the chance? Last week researchers said apart from breast cancer and pancreatic cancer – the disease is not in the genes so sit up, take notice and look after yourself

Scale down

A landmark study by the World Cancer Research Fund found “convincing evidence” that being overweight is a cause of six different types of cancer, including colon and breast cancer. The review found that gaining weight can also boost your risk, even if you are within a healthy weight range (BMI 20-25).

Get moving

Exercise is not just about managing your weight. It can also help reduce your risk of cancer. What’s more, should you get cancer, if you are fit, you are much better placed to fight the disease.

Butt out

Smoking is the single biggest cause of ill-health and death in Ireland. Aside from lung cancer, smoking can raise your risk of oral cancers, as well as kidney cancer, pancreatic cancer and more. If you smoke, stop now. Help is available from the HSE QUIT service- Freephone 1800 201 203.

Don’t go against the grain

Two or more servings of wholegrain, which you can get from breads, cereals and pastas, could cut your risk of developing pancreatic cancer by 40%. In pre-menopausal women, fiber in wholegrain cereals could cut the risk of developing breast cancer in half.

Trim the Fat

The more fat you eat, the greater your risk of developing pancreatic cancer. Limit fat to 20-35% of your calorie intake.

Don’t scrimp on sunscreen

Most people already know that sun exposure increases your risk of skin cancer but do not know how much sunscreen to put on. When in the sun, you should wear the equivalent of two tablespoons worth to cover your body and a teaspoon’s worth for your face. Always reapply after swimming and do not go out in the midday sun. Never use sun beds.

Arm yourself with nature’s anti-cancer arsenal

Fruits and vegetables contain phytochemicals and antioxidants which research suggests help to protect you against cancer. Different foods offer different protective benefits, so be sure to eat a variety of different colours. Broccoli and kale may reduce the risk of colon cancer, while tomatoes can help to protect you against cancers of the stomach and pancreas.

Be the designated driver

Besides the fact that being the designated driver will make your weekends more affordable, evidence suggests drinking increases your risk of cancers in the bowel, esophagus and liver. Alcohol is also linked with an increase breast cancer risk for women taking hormone replacement therapy (HRT) or with a family history of the disease.

Be on the lookout

Cancers such as breast cancer, testicular cancer and skin cancer sometimes have symptoms that you can see and feel. Get to know your body so that you know what is normal for you. If something changes, go to your GP to get it checked out. It may be nothing, but your GP can tell you for sure.

Say “yes” to the test

If you are invited to participate in screening programmes such as BreastCheck, CervicalCheck or BowelScreen, say “yes.” These are government-funded programmes designed to keep you healthy. They usually involve quick, often painless health checks that will see if you have abnormal cell growth and, if so, will mean doctors will catch any problems at any early stage when they are easy to solve.

Speaking about the Your Health, Your Choice Cancer Prevention Tips for 2015 was Helen Forristal, Nurse Manager, Marie Keating Foundation. She said, “The New Year is a time when many of us reflect on how we want our lives to be different, especially our health and our waistlines. The Marie Keating Foundation wants to help people make small, simple changes to their lifestyle that will help them life happier, healthier, longer lives that are hopefully free from cancer. It is never too late to make changes to your lifestyle, no matter what age or weight you are or no matter how long you have been smoking.”

Forristal added, “The Your Health, Your Choice Cancer Prevention Tips for 2015 are all available on our website alongside our free Ask the Nurse service where people can send us questions that they may have about cancer prevention, cancer symptoms and cancer treatment. We are here to help.”

The long-delayed climate change Bill now published & to mixed reaction

  

Promises a low carbon economy by 2050 without binding targets for emissions

The Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Bill 2015 was published on Monday afternoon by the Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly.

Three years behind schedule, after a myriad of consultations and drafts, the Government has finally published the State’s first climate change Bill to a very mixed reaction.

The Bill has changed little from the draft prepared by Mr Kelly’s predecessor in Environment, Phil Hogan, whose decision not to include any specific targets for emissions reductions was widely criticised by environmental groups and opposition parties.

Instead the Bill sets out a more generalised purpose of enabling the State make a transition to a low carbon economy by 2050. There is no specific definition of “low carbon economy” in the legislation.

The Bill sets out that the manner in which the transition towards a low carbon economy will be achieved will be through a National Mitigation Plan (to lower Ireland’s level greenhouse emissions) and a National Adaptation Framework (to provide for responses to changes caused by climate change). These two plans will be renewed every five years, and will also be required to include tailored sectoral plans.

While there are no explicit targets set out, the legislation obliges the State to “take into account any existing obligation of the State under the law of the European Union or any international agreement”.

In effect, Labour and Fine Gael Deputies have said, the Bill formally obliges the State to adhere to EU targets such as a 20 per cent reduction in emissions by 2020 over 1995 levels.

The other major feature of the Bill is the establishment of an expert advisory council of between nine and 11 members which will advise and make recommendations to the Minister for the Environment.

Its chair will be independent but it will include the top officials from the EPA, Teagasc, Sustainable Energy Irelandand the ESRI. The Minister will not be compelled to follow its advice although he or she will be required to make an annual transition statement to the Dáil.

In a statement Mr Kelly said: “In bringing forward this proposed national legislation, Ireland will also contribute – and be seen to contribute – its fair share of mitigation effort.”

He said it was important that developed countries such as Ireland provide leadership in terms of their contribution.

There was sharp criticism of the absence of any specific target for emissions reductions in the draft legislation. Opposition parties and environmental groups also chided Mr Kelly for not including some of the key recommendations made by the Oireachtas Committee on the Environment into the final Bill.

They included providing a definition of low carbon, as well as guaranteeing the independence of the Expert Advisory Council, as is the case with the Irish Fiscal Advisory Council.

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan charged that the Bill had neither targets nor ambition. “The Bill contains noting but vague aspirations,” he said adding that the first mitigation plan would not be prepared in the lifetime of the Government. “Fine Gael and Labour have no ambition when it comes to tackling climate change . . . they don’t give a damn.”

Oisín Coghan of Friends of the Earth said it was deeply disappointing the Bill had ignored the proposals of the Oireachtas Committee. “The Bill does not include a definition of low carbon, it doesn’t guarantee the independence of the Council, and it doesn’t include the principles of climate justice,” he said.

Independent TD Catherine Murphy said it “watered down” previous efforts to put forward climate legislation.

Our Immune system is shaped by the environment more than genetics

  

Immune systems are shaped by environment more than they are by genetics, according to a new study from Stanford University. 

Immune systems in humans are shaped more by environment and behavior than by genetics, according to a new study. Past exposure to pathogens, as well as a record of immunizations, appears to hold a greater influence over health and wellness than genes, according to the new study.

The human immune system is incredibly complex, including a wide variety of white blood cells, as well as messenger proteins to coordinate attacks on microbial invasions. The overall makeup of immune systems can differ greatly from person to person, based on both genetic and environmental factors.

Twins were studied in the experiment, in an effort to determine the relative roles played in illness and health by environment versus heredity. Identical twins share an almost identical set of genes, whereas about half of the genetic code matches in fraternal twins. This allows researchers to isolate which aspects of a subjects health are due to genetic inheritance, as opposed to environment.

Mark Davis of Stanford University led the research team, which studied blood samples from 210 twins, both fraternal and identical, between the ages of eight and 82. These were then examined, searching for 200 factors related to health, including 51 varieties of proteins and 95 forms of immune cells. Investigators found that the immune systems of identical twins were too varied to be explained by genetics. In three quarters of the experiments performed, environment was found to be the predominant factor over genetic inheritance.

“Moreover, younger twins were more similar than were older twins, evidence that as the twins aged and were exposed to different environments, their immune systems diverged over time,” Emily Conover wrote for Science magazine.

Flu vaccines were studied as part of the research, as identical twins should have nearly-identical immune responses if genetics were the dominant factor in fighting illness. The study found that there were significant differences in how bodies of identical twins responded to the vaccines. The degree to which antibodies, forms of protein used to fight off disease, are created in a body appeared to be primarily related to environment. This difference is likely related to the strains of influenza to which a person had become exposed during their lifetime.

Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is a highly-contagious, but usually harmless, virus related to chicken pox and infectious mononucleosis. Between 50 and 80 percent of the U.S. population carries the microbe in their systems. Some of the identical twins in the study were pairs where only one of the siblings carried CMV. Researchers found great variation in those pairs, highlighting the role of environment in shaping immune system responses.

News Ireland daily BLOG

Friday 20th September 2013

German multinational uses Ireland to avoid €100m annual tax bill

 

A German software giant SAP uses Ireland to avoid paying taxes of up to €100m a year, according to a special report by global news agency Reuters.

The news wire, which has been one of the most authoritative sources of information on the global financial crisis, claimed that while Ireland accounted for less than 1% of SAP’s sales, it is the home base for 20pc of its profits.

The revelations heap yet further pressure on the Irish government amid a European probe into how Ireland levies taxes on several multi-national companies.

And it also means that the controversy surrounding the state’s tax regime does not simply encompass US companies but raises questions about EU corporations as well.

SAP, which is headquartered in Walldorf, Germany, provides software for businesses to process and analyse transactions and is the fourth largest firm in Germany.

The company told Reuters that profits reported in Ireland reflected genuine economic activity and that the structure was driven by operational rather than tax motives.

Moody’s upgrades outlook on Irish sovereign debt

    

The credit ratings agency Moody’s has upgraded its outlook on Irish sovereign debt from negative to stable.

Moody’s continues to apply a junk rating to Irish government bonds, but the change in outlook is the first sign that the agency may consider a ratings upgrade.

In a note issued tonight, Moody’s said the key drivers of the outlook change were the Government’s progress in restoring solvency to its public finances, and the country’s reduced risk of losing access to financial markets because of an improvement in its liquidity.

It notes that Ireland has fully pre-funded its 2014 debt rollover requirement.

It also says its debt and deficit position has improved as a result of the promissory note deal and the extension of the terms of bailout loans from the European Union.

It also notes financial market perceptions about Ireland have shown little reaction to adverse events that were observed in some of the other peripheral countries over the past year, notably in Cyprus.

It sees this as a sign that Ireland is now better insulated from shocks to investor confidence from elsewhere in the euro area.

The agency also lifted its outlook on NAMA debt from negative to stable.

Minister for Finance Michael Noonan said the move was a “welcome development”.

He said: “While it’s disappointing that the move was not an upgrade in the rating, it is clearly a step in the right direction.”

Moody’s is the only major ratings agency to assign junk bond status to Irish government debt.

It has consistently been the most negative of the ratings agencies on the eurozone crisis.

Its last ratings note on Ireland was issued in March, when it affirmed both its junk rating for the country’s debt, and its negative outlook, citing the continued vulnerability of the euro area to shocks, and the poor asset quality of the Irish banks, which it says was holding backtheir ability to lend and support economic growth.In its latest note, Moody’s says upward pressure on Ireland’s sovereign rating could come from the Government continuing to meet its fiscal consolidation targets, producing a primary surplus [which is planned to happen next year] and benefitting from stronger GDP growth.It expects growth to be supported by stronger growth in the UK and eurozone.

However, it says negative ratings pressure would develop if the country’s efforts at fiscal consolidation were to falter, if there were much bigger stresses in the euro area, or if any new losses in the banking sector were expected to be transferred to the Government’s balance sheet.

Of the other major ratings agencies, Standard and Poor’s rates Ireland at a low investment grade level of BBB+ with a positive outlook, indicating it is likely to upgrade the rating at its next review.

Fitch also rates Irish sovereign debt at BBB+ with a stable outlook, indicating it may consider an upgrade at next review.

But Moody’s has assigned a sub-investment grade rating of Ba1 – two notches below the other agencies.

An investment-grade rating from all three of the main ratings agencies would make Irish debt more attractive to investors, as some funds are prevented from investing in sub-investment grade instruments.

This in turn could lead to greater interest by investors in government bonds, which could help to reduce the Government’s cost of borrowing from the markets.

Moody’s says the Government is considering the option of getting a €10bn precautionary credit line from the ESM, which it presumes would come into effect in 2014.

It says it expects the monitoring associated with any precautionary line would establish Ireland’s eligibility to access the ECB’s new bond-buying programme, Outright Monetary Transactions, “if circumstances require it to do so”.

Ireland is due to return to full market funding of its sovereign debt at the end of the year, following the completion of a three-year programme funded by the EU and IMF.

Ryanair pledges to end their abrupt culture and improve customer service’s

 

O’Leary vows to address customer service ‘issues’ after voted worst in UK poll

Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary said the company plans to revamp its website and concentrate more on its mobile and social media strategy.

No-frills airline Ryanair has announced its plans to transform its “abrupt culture” and revamp its website, admitting for the first time that it had a significant problem with customer service.

The airline said it would become more lenient on fining customers over bag sizes and overhaul the way it communicates.

“We should try to eliminate things that unnecessarily piss people off,” chief executive Michael O’Leary told the company’s annual general meeting. The airline was this week voted the worst of the 100 biggest brands serving the British market by readers of consumer magazine Which.

Mr O’Leary said it would stop fining customers whose carry-on baggage exceeds minimum sizes by a matter of millimetres. “A lot of those customer services elements don’t cost a lot of money … It’s something we are committed to addressing over the coming year,” he said.

Ryanair is also rethinking its digital marketing strategy after admitting rival EasyJet’s website was better.

The company said it planned to make its mobile app available free of charge from October 1st, and would engage with customers via its @Ryanair twitter account.

Ryanair pledged to make it quicker for customers to complete booking, with a redesign of its booking flow to go live in December and a registration service scheduled in time for next summer.

It also plans to remove the security feature Recaptcha, which uses distorted text to prevent automated access to services , for individual bookings, although it will stay in place for high volume users such as larger travel agents.

“Our primary focus this winter will be to significantly invest in, and improve, the Ryanair.com website, our mobile platform and our interaction with passengers using social media,” chief executive Michael O’Leary said. “ We are pleased to remove Recaptcha from November for individual passengers, although the security feature will remain in place for high volume or multiple IP addresses in order to deter larger travel agents, screenscrapers and others who flood our website seeking fare quotes, and diminish our website’s accessibility for individual passengers.”

Church of Ireland appoints first woman bishop

 

Rev Pat Storey is first female bishop in Ireland or Britain

The Church of Ireland has appointed its first woman bishop. Rev Pat Storey was yesterday elected as the new Bishop of Meath and Kildare, to succeed Most Rev Dr Richard Clarke, who last December was appointed Church of Ireland primate and Archbishop of Armagh.

Rev Storey, who is the also the first woman bishop in Ireland or Britain, is 53 and has been rector of St Augustine’s in Derry since 2004. Married to Rev Earl Storey they have two adult children, Carolyn (25) and Luke (22).

Having grown up in Belfast and studied French and English at Trinity College Dublin,Rev Storey trained at the Church of Ireland Theological College (now Institute) in Dublin and was ordained deacon in 1997 and priest in 1998.

She served as a curate in Ballymena Co Antrim and was team vicar in Glenavy Co Antrim as well as a part-time youth worker co-ordinator with the Church of Ireland Youth Department. She is also a member of the Standing Committee of the General Synod.

Announcing her appointment today Archbishop Clarke said that “having known Pat Storey since she was an undergraduate and I was chaplain at Trinity College, Dublin, I very much welcome her as a new bishop. She is a person of great warmth, intelligence and spiritual depth and I am certain that her ministry in the dioceses of Meath and Kildare and the wider Church will be a blessing to many. We remember her and her family in our prayers.”

In response, Rev Storey said she was “both excited and daunted by this new adventure in our lives. I have had an extraordinarily happy experience in St Augustine’s and in this wonderful city which I will be sad to leave. However, I count it an enormous privilege to begin a new phase of my ministry with the people of Meath and Kildare, and I look forward to working with the team of clergy who are already there. I would sincerely ask for your prayers for myself and my family, who are the best family in the world!”

Her appointment had passed to the Church of Ireland House of Bishops yesterday as the episcopal electoral college for Meath and Kildare, which met on May 28th lastfailed to appoint a new bishop of the dioceses. On being contacted after the House of Bishop’s decision yesterday Rev Storey asked for some to consider the Bishops’ historic and momentous decision.

Samaritans warn of suicide risk of Ireland’s middle-aged men

 

New survey highlights loneliness and isolation as key causes

Suicidal feelings were expressed during one in five contacts made by men, while 20 per cent of these also talked about previous suicide attempts.

One in four men who contacted the Samaritans talked about loneliness and isolation in a new survey carried out by the support group.

The poll of 671 men was taken across 10 branches of the support group in Ireland and the UK during the week from August 5th to August 11th last.

Some 23 per cent of men talked about relationship difficulties, while in 43 per cent of conversations, financial issues were discussed.

Suicidal feelings were expressed during one in five contacts made by men, while 20 per cent of these also talked about previous suicide attempts.

Samaritans chief executive Catherine Johnstone said there was a “likelihood of social disconnection” among men in mid-life, “particularly if unemployed and without a partner”.

She said this played a “fundamental role” in the high risk of suicide in this demographic. “A lack of supportive relationships or belief there are no people you can turn to are well-established risk factors for suicide.

“A growing evidence base shows that positive social connections – such as marriage or partner, family, ties to friends and neighbours, workplace ties – make people happy and healthy.

“Lack of social relationships constitutes a major risk factor for ill-health and mortality, comparable to cigarette smoking, blood pressure, blood lipids, obesity and physical inactivity.

“This survey again highlights the role of men’s feelings of loneliness and lack of social support in their increased risk of suicide. We have to stop putting pressure on men to live up to societal views of what it is to be a ‘real man’,” she added.

To contact the Samaritans, call 1850 609090

How Hybrid cars can help our Environment

 

To some it may seem like an odd dichotomy that a hybrid car with two energy sources could actually be better for the environment than traditional cars with only one. However, that is exactly the belief that hybrid experts support – the idea that hybrid cars are better for the environment than traditional cars.

But what are hybrids and why exactly do supporters believe they are better for planet earth than their gas run counterparts?

According to NewCarPark.com, hybrid cars use two types of power sources – traditional gasoline engines and an alternative fuel source such as electric or hydrogen-run motors. This allows the second energy source to kick in, thus reducing their gas usage, which also results in three important benefits.

  1. •           Better gas mileage  A hybrid car gets 5 miles per gallon better mileage on average than a traditional gasoline-powered vehicle. And, because hybrid cars run in part on alternative fuel sources, they do not need to be filled up with gasoline as frequently, cutting overall gasoline consumption and cost.
  2. •           Fewer emissions – When gasoline is burned to produce energy for vehicles, carbon monoxide is created and released into the environment. However, with hybrid cars, much less of this dangerous substance is released into the atmosphere, thus reducing emissions and air pollution.
  3. •           Decreased fuel demand – As hybrid cards become more mainstream, the demand for fuel could decrease, potentially leading to less drilling and lessening the risk for negative impacts on the environment.

While the debate over environmental benefits of hybrid cars may continue, one thing remains clear – you should understand the pros and cons of both.

Whether you’re thinking about buying a brand new hybrid car or a traditional used car, be sure to find a lender you can trust to help you make the most of whichever car you decide to purchase. From new car loans  and used auto loans  to the chance to refinance the auto loan  you currently have, the right lending solution can help make your money work harder for you.

News Ireland daily BLOG by Donie

Thursday 5th September 2013

Ireland promised euro zone support to smooth an exit from bailout

 

Eurogroup head says measures will be in place for Ireland as Greece faces third rescue

Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the Netherlands’s finance minister and president of the Eurogroup, said there would be support measures to smooth ireland’s exit from bailout.

Ireland will get euro zone support to smoothly exit its bailout programme at the end of this year, the head of euro zone finance ministers Jeroen Dijsselbloem told the European Parliament today.“Ireland’s performed very well in its programme and will exit the programme, but there will be measures to support its gradual exit,” he said.“I can’t give you any details on the way that will be formed yet … but there will be support to make sure that it is a good exit and not a temporary exit,” Mr Dijsselbloem said.

The euro zone is also likely to decide on a third bailout for Greece in November, after international inspectors finish an assessment of Greece’s struggles to carry out painful reforms, officials said.

“As far as the potential need for a third programme for Greece is concerned, it’s clear that despite recent progress, Greece’s troubles will not have been completely resolved by 2014,” Mr Dijsselbloem told the European Parliament today.

“It is realistic to assume that additional support will be needed beyond the programme. In this context, the Eurogroup has indicated clearly that it is committed to providing adequate support to Greece during the current programme and beyond until it has regained marketaccess,” he said.

The International Monetary Fund and Greece estimate that Athens will need €10-11 billion in new financing in 2014-2015 above what the euro zone and the International Monetary Fund have agreed to so far.

This is partly because euro zone central banks refused to delay repayment of Greek government bonds, contrary to an assumption by euro zone finance ministers, the Eurogroup, when they set up the current bailout.

Greece is still deep in its worst post-war slump, and the sale of state assets is well behind plan.

Greece has already had two international bailouts since 2010, and more money for it is controversial in Germany which has elections on September 22nd. Voters there are tired of helping others after three years of the sovereign debt crisis.

Greece will not need any additional funds until the second half of 2014, but a decision must be taken in November at the latest because the IMF can only participate in the Greek bailout if the programme is fully funded 12 months ahead.

The next review of the reforms that Greece has committed to in exchange for the €172 billion financial lifeline last year, will start in late September and take several weeks to complete. It is written by inspectors from the IMF, the European Central Bank and the European Commission.

“Once this is completed, we will have an overview … of the financing of the current programme and we will have this on our agenda the next month and finalise the process in November,” Mr Dijsselbloem said.

Two major Irish Charities call for 60 cent Budget increase in cigarette prices

 

The pre-Budget call from the Irish Cancer Society and the Irish Heart Foundation is aimed at tackling the “enormous economic cost of smoking-related illness”.

Ireland’s smokers could be hit with a 60 cent increase in the cost of a pack of cigarettes, if the Government takes heed of a call from two high-profile charities.

The pre-Budget submission from the Irish Cancer Society and the Irish Heart Foundation calls for annual tax increases on tobacco products of 5 per cent above inflation.

The charities are also calling for a new way of regulating the industry, which would introduce a price cap on products: manufacturers would be forced to lower their own prices to below current levels, and the Government could then offset the difference by adding more taxes to the price of a pack.

Spokesperson for the Irish Heart Foundation Chris Macey said it was “bizarre” that although Ireland has regulators for everything from energy to taxi driving, there was none to cover the tobacco industry. He added:

“There is no legitimate argument for the status quo because even apart from the health catastrophe of 5,200 people killed by tobacco-related illness a year in Ireland, the tobacco industry is a drain on the nation’s economy.

“It creates virtually no employment and on Department of Health estimates the taxpayer is subsidising tobacco companies to the tune of almost €6 for every euro of profit they take out of the country.”

The charities claim that the introduction of a regulation system could generate €65 million euro for the State.

One-fifth (20%) of all Irish credit union loans are now in arrears

   

Big chunks of the credit unions loan books of are not being repaid, but there is some evidence of an improvement in the arrears situation.

Regulator for the sector Sharon Donnery  told credit union managers yesterday that 20pc of the value of all loans were in arrears.

The value of credit union loans has fallen by 11pc to €4.6bn for the 400 credit unions in the State up to June last year.

This means that the value of arrears is €920m.

Ms Donnery said: “Average sector arrears were slightly over 20pc.”

The overall arrears figure had been higher, at close to €1bn in 2011.

But a fall in the overall value of all credit union loans has meant the euro value of the arrears is down.

Loans are maturing faster than new ones being taken out, as people are taking out fewer loans because they fear that lower incomes and higher state taxes and charges mean they will not be able to repay credit union borrowings.

Ms Donnery said: “Credit unions continue to face significant challenges to their business model.”

Average dividends, or interest paid on savings, were below 1pc last year, the credit union registrar told the Credit Union Managers Association.

She said credit unions remain trusted and valued by their members.

Credit unions were encouraged to explore mergers with other community lenders.

Ms Donnery told the managers: “While I understand many of you have questions about restructuring, and indeed concerns, I would urge you to see it as a positive with the potential to build a strong and relevant credit union sector for the future.”

How shopping around could save you up to €500 a year

 

Ireland’s householders are missing out on savings of up to €500 a year by failing to seek out the best value for services, a government agency has found.

New research shows that tiny numbers of consumers are switching health insurance, bank accounts and television service providers.

The National Consumer Agency, which commissioned the research, said people who move to a different health insurer could save €500 a year.

Those who switched energy provider can save up to €240 a year, while big savings can be made from moving waste service provider and telephone service operator.

Consumers have been accused of inertia – doing nothing and ending up paying higher prices. Just four out of every 100 have switched bank accounts in the past year, despite both AIB and Bank of Ireland introducing new charges and fees for current accounts.

And fewer than one in 10 consumers has changed health insurance provider, even though there are now four players in the market and premiums have gone up by between 10pc and 27pc in the past year.

And small numbers have moved to get a better deal on mobile phone services and broadband.

Head of the National Consumer Agency Karen O’Leary hailed the fact that one in four consumers had now changed where they do their main grocery shopping.

High numbers moved to a different car insurer. 

However, only around 16 out of 100 consumers have moved their electricity and gas accounts to a different company. 

This is despite the fact that annual gas prices will have risen by €250 in past two years when a new Bord Gais hike in prices comes into effect in October.

Ms O’Leary added: “More consumers are aware that shopping around and switching providers can save them money.

INERTIA 

“However, there is still a large level of inertia, with large numbers of consumers sticking with the same provider.

“This is surprising given the pressures on people’s income and the fact that the majority of those who switched did, in fact, save money.”

Many consumers still view switching as a hassle, the head of the National Consumer Agency said.

There was a big risk that householders were not making fully informed decisions by checking out all the prices in the market.

Large numbers of people who have not switched have never checked to see if a better deal is available.

The research, carried out by Behaviour and Attitudes, found that almost half of those who have not switched gas provider had never checked to see if a better deal was on offer.

And high numbers of householders have not checked out competitor prices to see if they could get cheaper electricity and telephone landline services.

Consumers reported that one of the biggest barriers to switching was a belief that that moving provider is more hassle than it is worth, but a belief that there is not much of a price difference between providers was another strong factor.

Other barriers included a distrust of the price offered and a difficulty in comparing prices.

Ms O’Leary added: “Switching may not be as difficult as you think. In recent years it has become a much simpler process in many sectors so it shouldn’t take long to see if you can get a better deal and switch if it’s worth your while.”

She added that staying with the same provider was not in itself a bad thing, providing you made the decision on an informed basis.

Young and middle-aged men in Ireland still dominate suicide stats 

  

Latest official figures show slight fall-off in suicide and self-harm rates. 

Young and middle-aged men remain most at risk from suicide in Ireland, the latest official figures show.

The National Office for Suicide Prevention’s annual report indicates 495 people took their own lives in 2010, of which over 80 per cent were men.

While the figure was lower than the previous two years, it remains higher than those recorded in the years prior to the economic recession.

“The latest confirmed figures for suicide by the Central Statistics Office for 2010 indicate that suicide rates in Ireland may be stabilising,”

The director of research at the National Suicide Research Foundation (NSRF), Professor Ella Arensman, said.

However, she cautioned that the decrease in suicides coincided with an increase in deaths of “undetermined intent” which may have included “hidden cases of suicides”.

The report was one of three major reports on suicide and self-harm released today by the HSE.

The annual report of the National Registry of Deliberate Self-Harm’s revealed there were 12,010 incidents of self-harm recorded in emergency departments last year, representing a 2 per cent decrease on the previous year.

However, the self-harm rate were still 12 per cent higher than that recorded prior the downturn.

According to the registry, women aged in their late teens and men in their early 20s were most likely to hurt themselves.

The most common method used in self-harm, accounting for 69 per cent of all cases, involved an overdose of medication, with women being overrepresented, the report.

A separate report by the Suicide Support and Information System (SSIS) recorded incidences of two suicide death clusters in 2011 in Co Cork, with 13 in one 23km radius over three months, and seven over two months in a 28km area.

Minister of State with responsibility for Mental Health Kathleen said deaths by suicide were a concern to everyone.

“We have all been made aware of suicide a some stage in our lives, whether it was a family member, friend or a member of our community,” she said.

“The challenge of reducing suicide rates demands a very comprehensive and multi-layered response, with interventions at different levels and involving a range of stakeholders.”

Some advice on getting rid of wasps and a scary prediction for next year!

   

Wasps are a real nuisance at this time of the year, and unfortunately, they’ll be buzzing around annoying us for another month before they disappear for the winter. 

Rentokil says has been experiencing an increase in call-outs relating to wasps this year, in comparison to the last two years and predicts that next year will be an even bigger year for wasps. Over

Wasps are beneficial insects at the beginning of the season (May/June), as they are insectivorous they act as natural pesticides, killing other harmful insects such as greenfly.

However, they become a pest later on in the year (August/September) when they start to crave sugars due to the nest naturally breaking down and the workers becoming redundant. This is when they become more noticeable in our homes and gardens and when the risk of getting stung increases.

Dr Colm Moore of Rentokil advises: “At this time of year wasps have already performed their natural duty and worker wasps find they have increasingly fewer larva to feed rendering their role within the colony redundant.

“If you think that you may have a wasp nest in your home, we recommend a professional and safe riddance programme using insecticide, as many of the myths surrounding control measures are either unsafe or ineffective.

“Wasp populations tend to boom every three to four years. Over the last two years we have experienced fewer call-outs and now this year a substantial increase.

“If winter conditions this year are favourable we predict that next year will be an even bigger year for wasps. If you found wasps to be a nuisance this year then prepare to be inundated next year.

Urban myths of methods to get rid of wasp nests:

  1. • Bagging the nest and throwing it away – we don’t recommend this as not only would it not be considered humane it brings high risks to individuals getting stung, particularly by those wasps returning to the nest.
  2. • Setting the nest on fire – we strongly advise against this as the fire can quickly get out of control.
  3. • Water jets – this method is not effective or safe. It can make the wasps become aggressive and one ends up introducing a sting hazard to non-targets within the treatment area.
  4. • The only humane way to deal with a wasp nest in the home is by letting nature take its course; however, we don’t recommend this in many cases. It can be dangerous to have a nest nearby, particularly near young children, the elderly and pets. It is even more hazardous where individuals may be allergic to wasp and bee stings and who may go into anaphylactic shock if stung.

News Ireland daily BLOG by DONIE

Sunday 21st July 2013

British Police investigate case of woman who traveled from Ireland & died after an abortion

 

A 32 year old woman died hours after a termination procedure in London.
Police in the UK are investigating the case of a woman who traveled from Dublin to London for an abortion but died hours after the procedure had taken place.

The 32-year-old woman, who was a foreign national living in Ireland and underwent an abortion at a Marie Stopes clinic in west London. However, she died in a taxi hours after the procedure.

The woman, who was legally resident in Ireland, had sought an abortion at a maternity hospital in Dublin but had been told that it was not legally possible to provide one in this jurisdiction.

She is understood to have had a condition which raised the risk of miscarriage, although it was not believed to be in any way life-threatening.

The London Metropolitan Police has confirmed it was investigating the circumstances surrounding the case and preparing a file for the Crown Prosecution Services. It declined to comment further.

Marie Stopes yesterday declined to comment on the case on the basis of client-confidentiality.

The woman died in January 2012. An inquest has not yet been held into the woman’s death as the police investigation is continuing.
Anonymous
The woman’s husband, who wishes to remain anonymous, said he is still waiting for answers but is frustrated at the lack of progress.

“I think if this was an Irish or a British woman, we would know what happened to her. But I am still waiting for answers.

He also said he was frustrated at the lack of assistance from some Irish authorities in seeking an abortion for his wife.

He said his wife had a child in Ireland in 2010 but the pregnancy was painful and complicated by extensive fibroids.

The husband said the couple was told that treatment of the condition could involve a procedure that would leave her infertile.

“We were worried about what would happen when she became pregnant again,” he said.

“She was sick, but we were told that nothing could be done in Ireland.”

Twenty weeks pregnant
He said his wife was about 20 weeks pregnant when she travelled to Britain for an abortion. She might have had an abortion sooner, he added, but he and his wife had spent time exploring the various options available to them and raising money for the procedure.

“We were left on our own to deal with it. We didn’t get any help at all,” he said.

Both he and his wife were in Ireland on student visas at the time.

He is now 33 years of age and living in Ireland with his three-year-old daughter.

Maternal mortality
The woman’s case is likely to be examined by the UK’s Centre for Maternal and Child Enquiries, an organisation aimed at reducing the incidence of maternal mortality.

Maternal deaths are relatively rare in the UK. A recent report by the centre found that between 2006 and 2008 a total of 261 women in the UK died directly or indirectly related to pregnancy.

The overall maternal mortality rate was 11 per 100,000 maternities.

Thousands of Irish women travel to the UK for abortions every year. Latest figures show that almost 4,000 women from the Republic travelled to England or Wales for an abortion last year.

Former IMF official warns austerity could be ‘self-defeating’ for Ireland

Ashoka Mody with the IMF's Ajai Chopra 

Ashoka Mody with the IMF’s Ajai Chopra

Proposed budget cuts should be ‘considerably lowered’, Ashoka Mody urges

A former senior IMF official has warned that austerity must end for the economy to grow while a Labour Party paper has said more welfare cuts “may not be politically deliverable”.

Austerity was a “potentially self-defeating policy” because of the lack of growth and no reduction in debt levels it had resulted in, said former IMF chief of mission to Ireland Ashoka Mody.

“We have to ask ourselves why Ireland is not growing . . . It’s hard for me to believe that austerity is not contributing to this,” he told RTÉ’s This Week.

It had become “orthodoxy that the only way to establish market credibility” was to pursue austerity policies. But five years of crisis and two recent years of no growth needed “deep thinking” on whether this was the right course of action, said Mr Mody.

Asked whether Ireland should implement a €3.1 billion reduction in spending in this year’s budget demanded by the EU-IMF troika he said this figure should be “considerably lowered”. “I would even ask the question why can we not imagine and consider the possibility that for the next three years, as an experiment, there be no further fiscal consolidation,” he added.

“The only instrument left to address this in the short term is the fiscal instrument and that requires complete rethinking of how aggressive and how persistent the austerity has to be,” Mr Mody said.

There was “not one single historical instance” where austerity policies have led to an exit from heavy debt burden. Changing policies could possibly lead to growth, reduce debt levels and also prompt a “psychological boost” for the economy, he added.

Mr Mody said the likelihood of Ireland getting money back form the European Stability Mechanism for its legacy banking debt was “almost zero”. “I would be astonished if it happens,” he added.

During a meeting last week the EU-IMF troika urged the Government to deliver a €3.1 billion cut in budget spending. But some Ministers are resistant to such level of cuts.

A paper circulated among senior Labour Party officials states budget cuts will have to be “lowered considerably”. The level of welfare cuts expected in this October’s budget are “very problematic and politically undeliverable”, theSunday Business Post reported. The cuts would be “regressive from a poverty perspective and have a disproportionate impact on certain cohorts”, the paper added.

Minister for Finance Michael Noonan said last week the Government would not be ending its austerity policy, despite savings made after reform of debt deals.

Dancers set record for largest Riverdance performance

Dance troupe from 44 countries gather in snaking line along River Liffey

Some of the 1,693 Irish dancers including members of the current Riverdance troupe along the banks of the River Liffey during their successfull Guinness World Record attempt for the most number dancers performing Riverdance at the one time. The dancers lined the North and South Quays while also crossing the Samuel Beckett Bridge. 

The event shook the capital, literally. Once the opening bars of Bill Whelan’s now world renowned Riverdance song kicked in and the dancers started tapping the Samuel Beckett Bridge began to bounce like a trampoline.

“Dancers need a sprung floor,” Butler said after the event. “And this is the most sprung of a floor I’ve ever danced on.”

Leading the way alongside Butler was Padraic Moyles, a Riverdance member for more than a decade, who said the experience was the highlight of his career.

“There’s no better fit than riverdance and the Gathering,” he said after signing autographs and posing for photos with wide-eyed fans.

“It’s just so fitting that we have the world record here in Dublin, along the banks of the river Liffey, where Riverdance originally started back in 1994,” he said.

“It’s amazing what this small country can do, isn’t it? … Through our poets, our playwrights, our musicians and our dancers we’ve gone to all four corners of the world and we spread a positive message all the time.

“It should be something that we’re all extremely proud of,” he said.

With hands joined together in a circle that ran from the Samuel Beckett Bridge along both banks of the Liffey up to the Sean O’Casey Bridge, members of more than 160 different Irish dance schools throughout the world danced for five minutes straight.

And then they did it all over again ten minutes later, in order to ensure that the old record, of 652 held by Nashville in Tennessee, was officially broken.

While the sun had been shining non-stop all week and temperatures reached 30 degrees in some parts, today it stayed firmly behind the clouds. Riverdance producer, Moya Doherty, was glad temperatertures stayed low by recent standards “so that the dancers [didn’t] have to be picked up off the ground”.

“Just standing on this iconic bridge… and feeling the pulsation of the dancers is extraordinary,” she said. “[I’ve] met people from Russia, Seattle… Australia so it is quite the gathering, it’s very moving.”

Director of Riverdance, John McColgan, said the talent on display was “truly remarkable” and “proof, if we needed it, of the enormous affection that exists for Irish dance and Riverdance”.

Project Director of the Gathering Ireland, Jim Miley, said the event connected people from countries all over the world “in an authentic way that’s deep rooted in Irish culture” and the event was likely to be one of the highlights of the Gathering.

Families from counties throughout Ireland also participated in the event, including the Kilmartins from Laois. “It was brilliant” said 10-year old Ava who said she wasn’t nervous about dancing on the bridge. Conor, her older brother who had been practicing hard during the weeks leading up to the event, said it was “fantastic” to now be a world record holder. 16-year-old Katie, the eldest of the three siblings, said Irish dancing was her passion and the entire experience was “amazing”.

Thousands lined the streets to catch a glimpse of the dancing brilliance on display while dozens more gazed on from boats in the Liffey. It seems that the powerful celtic original which united and delighted audiences 19 years ago hasn’t, in any way, lost its ability to captivate audiences the world over.

Town to be guinea pig in trial to get rid of small change

  

One and two-cent coins are to be rounded out of Wexford town in a bid to see if consumers will accept getting rid of pesky small change.

But with money tight, one shopkeeper in the town predicted that consumers would be hostile to the move if they saw prices going up as a result.

The Central Bank announced that Wexford will host a one-cent and two-cent rounding trial this autumn to gauge the reaction of consumers and retailers to the change, which it would like to introduce nationwide.

Prices will be rounded off to the nearest five cent at the till.

The rounding will not apply to each individual item purchased; it will only be carried out on the final shopping bill.

Anne Marie Fortune, who manages Pettitt’s Supervalu in the town, predicted that shoppers might be hostile to the move. She said: “People need all their cents in the current climate and a lot are counting out every last one, so it won’t go down well.”

While there would be winners as well as losers from the rounding process, people would be more likely to remember if they lost out, said Ms Fortune, adding: “People are more prone to seeing prices go up than down – that’s just the way it is.”

MONITOR

However, the fact that rounding would only be carried out on the final bill might lessen the impact, Ms Fortune said.

The Central Bank is keen to reduce the use of small coins. They are a nuisance for it to manage as they keep going out of circulation and so more have to be supplied.

The EU is also keen to discourage their use and the trial announced for Wexford is part of the Central Bank’s National Payments Plan for transforming how people spend their money.

The Consumers’ Association of Ireland (CAI) said it had insisted to the Central Bank that only the final bill should be rounded off. It would have been unacceptable if individual prices had been rounded off.

However, consumer watchdogs must monitor prices to ensure retailers do not round them up over time, as happened during the switchover to the euro, said the CAI’s chief executive, Dermott Jewell.

Irish Coast Guard crewman delivers baby boy in Letterkenny

  

The woman was taken to Letterkenny General Hospital but gave birth to the baby in the corridor with the help of the crew member.

The Irish Coast Guard has said today that one of the crew members on its Rescue 118 helicopter delivered a baby last night.

The crew was tasked with transferring a woman who was in advanced labour from Aranmore to Letterkenny General Hospital.

On its Facebook page, the coast guard said that the helicopter landed at the hospital and two paramedics started to wheel the women to the delivery suite. However she didn’t make it that far and began to give birth in the hospital corridor.

The paramedics left to get the midwife but the coast guard said today that “the baby had other plans”.

Crewman Gary Robertson had helped deliver the baby in the corridor of Letterkenny General Hospital by the time the midwifery team had arrived. The healthy baby boy and mother are both said to be doing fine.

The coast guard said this is the first baby Robertson has ever delivered. And “next time it could be in the back of the helicopter”.

US Aircraft jets drop bombs on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef

 

US fighter aircraft planes dropped four unarmed bombs on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef in an “emergency jettison” during a training exercise, officials said Sunday, ruling out any risk to the public or environment.

The US 7th Fleet said two Harrier aircraft dropped the ordnance on the iconic reef’s marine park off the Queensland coast on Tuesday.

“The selected emergency jettison area was in a deep channel away from the reef to minimize the possibility of reef damage,” the US 7th Fleet said in a statement.

“It is approximately 50 to 60 metres deep and does not pose a hazard to shipping or navigation.”

An Australian Defence Force spokesman told Australian Associated Press that the bombs posed “minimal risk or threat to the public, the marine environment or civilian shipping transiting the reef area”.

“Defence is working closely with the US military, the Australian government and environmental organisations to ensure there is no danger… now or in the future,” he said.

US and Australian officials are seeking to issue an appropriate navigation notice until charts can be updated showing the location of the unexploded ordnance, the 7th Fleet said.

The two AV-8B Harrier planes had intended to drop the bombs on a range on a nearby island but were unsuccessful despite several attempts.

“After being unable to expend their ordnance during a planning training mission, and having insufficient fuel to reach their pre-designated jettison area, the pilots jettisoned the ordnance in an unarmed condition on July 16,” the 7th fleet said.

The fleet said each Harrier jettisoned one BDU 45, which are inert ordnance, and one GBU 12, which were dropped in an unarmed state.

About 28,000 Australian and US military are involved in training exercise Talisman Saber in Queensland, which began on 15 July and ends on 5 August.

News Ireland daily BLOG by Donie

Friday 5th July 2013

Joan Burton at war over €440m Social protection cuts

  

Social Protection Minister says changes are needed to avoid harsh cuts

Defiant Joan Burton has pledged to protect benefit payments as she goes to war over €440million cuts to her department.

The Social Protection Minister has admitted she will struggle to find the savings her Cabinet colleagues have demanded by this October.

Speaking on her way into a meeting with interest groups on Friday, Ms Burton said she is determined to preserve her budget as best she can.

She said: “I am particularly conscious that is about almost every family in Ireland, every town, every community in Ireland and that the monies involved add up to large amount of spending but in terms of someone who managing on a social welfare income exclusively it is vitally important in terms if their life.”

Ms Burton said there were changes that needed to be made within the system to avoid making harsh cuts.

She said: “There are structural reforms of the social welfare system which are really important and a lot of those structural reforms limit the amount of fraud and abuse in the system and again for people who have worked – particularly retired people- and contributed, it is really important for me as a Minister that I make savings that enable them to maintain their social welfare payments.”

The two Finance Ministers have demanded the Labour Minister slash €440 million but she admits that figure is far too high.

Minister Burton has won the fight before – in 2011, she reduced the cuts needed from €665 million to €475 million and last year, she dragged it from €540 million to €390 million.

She revealed she is determined to maintain core social welfare payments and looks set to stay clear of half-rate carers allowance and the old age pension.

She said: “People who are at work will know that they look every month at what they receive in terms of their take home pay.

“In the same way, somebody who gets a weekly social welfare payment (does likewise).

“Most important item in maintaining domestic demand if you think of your pensioners. The cast bulk of that money is spent in Ireland and it is spent in local shops, local communities.”

Minister Burton met volunteer and charity groups yesterday as the Budget talks begin ahead of October’s announcement.

Carers have already warned they can’t take any more pain and Social Justice Ireland has demanded welfare payments increase by €5.

The Minister said she “hopes” she can get the support from her cabinet colleagues to maintain social welfare payments.

Age Action said multiple austerity budgets is having a severely damaging effect on the most vulnerable of older people.

Spokesman Eamon Timmons said some older people are even considering giving away their family pet because they can no longer afford to feed it.

Two-thirds of new jobs in Ireland created by entrepreneurs

19,000 firms started-up in 2012

  

Two-thirds of new jobs in Ireland created by entrepreneurs – 19,000 firms started-up in 2012

The latest Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) reveals that 19,000 businesses were started-up in Ireland in 2012. Not only that, the GEM research indicates Irish early stage entrepreneurs have a stronger focus on international markets and exports than their OECD and EU counterparts.

This year’s research has been compiled by Paula Fitzsimons of Fitzsimons consulting, who is also the national GEM co-ordinator, and Dr Colm O’Gorman, professor of entrepreneurship at Dublin City University Business School.

Since GEM research has been carried out in Ireland for nine of the last 10 years, the 2012 report contains a 10-year perspective. High levels of entrepreneurial activity, with many people perceiving opportunities to start new businesses, characterised the earlier period (2003-2008). The overall culture was very supportive and entrepreneurship was considered a good career option.

Mirroring the changes in the economic environment, an overall decline in the rate of early stage entrepreneurial activity, particularly among men, is apparent in the latter period (2010-2012 inclusive), as is a rise in the proportion of those starting a new business out of necessity.

The entrepreneurial ecosystem in Ireland

However, significant improvements in the overall entrepreneurship ecosystem in Ireland make it an increasingly supportive environment for starting a new business.

Advances in access to seed and venture funding, international incubator supports, access to top-level mentoring supports, and Enterprise Ireland’s and the City and County Enterprise Boards’ wide range of supports for start-ups, have all contributed to making Ireland a highly attractive location in which to start a new business venture.

Improvements in the degree of perceived innovation and intended internationalisation among those starting new businesses in the more recent period are also very positive and suggest an improvement in the quality of the new enterprises being started. Successful entrepreneurs continue to be held in high regard.

The GEM report indicates that Irish early stage entrepreneurs have a stronger focus on international markets and exporting than their OCED and EU counterparts. This focus of entrepreneurs on developing innovative products and services for export is essential for growth and economic recovery. The increase in the level of ambition and export focus among women entrepreneurs is also welcome.

Entrepreneurs creating jobs in Ireland

“Two-thirds of all new jobs are created by start-ups in the first five years of existence. That is why we have placed entrepreneurship at the centre of our plans for jobs and growth,” Ireland’s Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton, TD, said in relation to the latest GEM report.

“Through the Action Plan for Jobs, we have put in place a series of measures to support greater levels of start-up activity across the economy, including a range of new credit measures and world-class supports for small business through the local enterprise offices. Now we are taking advice from world experts and taking views from the public on the next phase of our plan to support more entrepreneurs and start-ups, and ultimately create the jobs we need.

“Today’s report is a very welcome analysis of entrepreneurship in Ireland. It provides substantial detail on trends across a range of indicators and will be of immense help as we frame policies in this area.”

Commenting on the report, the chairman of the Government’s new Entrepreneurship Forum Sean O’Sullivan said Ireland has always been a place full of dreamers and doers and that’s essentially what entrepreneurship is, a blend of the two.

“As citizens, we must take on the responsibility of creating our own jobs, and figure out how to be more efficient, working at greater speed with higher innovation and reduced cost.

“If we can field world-class rugby players, artists, and scientists, why can’t we also field world-class, fast-growing indigenous businesses? An Ireland that restores economic growth is an Ireland that expands opportunity and quality of life for all its citizens.

“After the battering we’ve endured in recent years, we’ve got a long road ahead of us to return to being No 1 in entrepreneurship in Europe. As Taoiseach Enda Kenny has made it clear, however, Ireland is open for business. Our challenge is to seize this opportunity, move quickly and boldly go beyond where we have ever been before,” said O’Sullivan.

Number of new cars taxed in Ireland down 40% in June

   

Diesel cars accounted for almost three quarters of those licenced for first time

The number of new cars licensed in the State was 40 per cent lower in June than in the same month last year.

Figures from the Central Statistics Office show that the number of new vehicles licensed in the first half of this year (49,503) was 16 per cent lower than in the same period in 2012 (58,936). Last year’s sales were bolstered somewhat by the Government’s scrappage scheme, which ended last June.

The CSO reported that 3,293 new private cars were licensed last month, compared with 5,481 in June 2012. The number of new goods vehicles licensed fell by 25.4 per cent to 745.

The CSO figures differ from those issued earlier this week by the Society of the Irish Motor Industry (SIMI). The CSO measures the number of cars taxed for the first time while the SIMI figures are based on new registrations issued by the Vehicle Registration Office.

The SIMI registration figures showed the new car market down 73 per cent in June and 20 per cent for the year. Total new car registrations from January to June were 53,230, with last month seen as particularly bad (1,673) as buyers seemingly held on until July to do business and get a 132 registration plate. Car registrations on July 1st (1,927) were higher than for the whole of June.

Volkswagen was the highest selling brand, with 466 new cars licensed last month, followed by Toyota (381), Ford(335), Skoda (253) and Opel (205).

Diesel cars accounted for 72.7 per cent of all vehicles licensed (2,393) last month, with 874 petrol cars taxed for the first time.

Casual sex in Irish college’s linked to depression

   

College students who engage in casual sex – that is sex with partners they know less than one week – may be more likely to suffer with depression and anxiety, a new study suggests.

This autumn, thousands of young people in Ireland will begin or return to third level education and for many, the social side of college life plays as big a role as the academic side.

US researchers decided to investigate any links between casual sex and mental health in emerging adults. They surveyed almost 4,000 heterosexual students from more than 30 colleges.

Just over one in 10 admitted to having casual sex in the month prior to the survey.

The researchers found that among the college students, casual sex ‘was negatively associated with wellbeing and positively associated with psychological distress’.

Overall, those who recently engaged in casual sex had higher levels of depression and higher levels of social and general anxiety.

While previous studies have suggested that women are more negatively affected by casual sex than men, in this study, gender did not appear to affect the outcome.

The researchers said that it is still unclear whether casual sex leads to psychological distress or whether people engage in risky sexual behaviours because of mental health problems they already have.

However, they insisted that ‘it is premature to conclude that casual sexual encounters pose no harmful psychological risks for young adults’.