Tag Archives: World hunger

News Ireland daily BLOG by DONIE

Saturday/Sunday 12 & 13th September 2015

Michael Noonan says Tax hikes are possible in next budget

Finance Minister Michael Noonan has revealed that the Coalition may hike taxes in next month’s budget to help increase Government spending.


Mr Noonan also privately told Fine Gael TDs yesterday that the Government is looking at overhauling Nama’s role so it can become a type of housing authority.

At the party’s pre-Dáil meeting in Adare, Co Limerick, he spoke about Fine Gael’s election priorities and said the Coalition was planning a cycle of budgets.

“It [economic recovery] has spread widely through the country now — all the cities, Cork, Limerick, Galway and a lot of the hotspots like Kilkenny, Kenmare, and Westport. There’s very strong economic growth.”

hildcare support, the treatment of the self- employed, and reducing personal taxation will be priorities for Fine Gael at the next general election, it was announced.

Mr Noonan said it was still his plan to allocate €750m on tax cuts and the same amount on funding services in the budget. But he indicated for the first time that the figure could increase if further taxation measures are introduced. The minister also strongly hinted that a further hike in duty on tobacco may be on the cards in the budget.

“There can be variations on that [splitting €1.5bn] because under the fiscal rules, if we were to raise taxes, it can increase the space. If we were to collect another €200m in taxes, €1.5bn would become €1.7bn because you can spend receipts of extra taxes.

“But we’re not really minded to do a lot on tax increases. We may raise some taxes, obviously on health grounds. There’s always an interest in raising duty on tobacco. We won’t rule it out completely.”

During a private session with TDs and senators, Mr Noonan said the Coalition parties were considering changing the remit or mission statement of the National Asset Management Agency, so its work with be similar to that of a housing executive.

“It has the tools, land and manpower. Why not?” said a TD. One minister confirmed the plan and said it would help alleviate the housing shortage if Nama had a direct role in the private sector, rather than solely acting as a “bad bank”.

Mr Noonan told reporters that a new model was being considered to alleviate the housing shortage. He said the issue was discussed at the think-in.

“There was quite a strong view that we need a major housing programme,” he said.

There was a need to deliver family homes, private houses, three-bed and four-bed semis and detached units, he said.

Earlier, Taoiseach Enda Kenny ruled out any reductions or changes to water charges if Fine Gael are returned to power.

He said prices would remain fixed until 2019 and that the decision was the right one.

Mr Kenny said he would serve out the full five years as Taoiseach if the Coalition is returned to power.

We have enough food to end our world hunger, says our Bono

U2 singer used to ‘create a stir’ at Expo 15 in Milan and put pressure on states to donate


Bono and Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi at Expo 2015 in Milan last night. Renzi acknowledged that Italy could provide more food aid and distribution. 

“These are big questions: can we face the problem of hunger in the world, can we fix the problem of poverty in the world, can we fix the problem of conflict in the world? With regard to the first two of those three, I can speak with confidence when I say yes, absolutely.

“There is already enough food in the world to feed the world. It is not the lack of food but rather the lack of will to distribute the food that is the problem”.

Bono was the speaker, and he uttered these sentiments at an Expo 2015 event in Milan last night, jointly organised by the Irish and Italian Ministers for Agriculture, Maurizio Martinaand Simon Coveney.

In its five months, Expo 2015 will have seen nothing like last night’s crowds, excitement and occasional hysteria as the fans, patrons and tourists gathered to hear the U2 frontman, referred to by Coveney as the “most influential Irish person on the planet”.

Last night’s event, largely, the brainchild of the Irish Minister Coveney, was billed as the launch of a campaign to highlight world hunger.

On the platform with Bono were the Italian prime minister,Matteo Renzi; Ertharin Cousin, executive director of the World Food Programme (WFP); and Sudanese ambassador Amira Gornass, future chair of the UN FAO Committee on Food Security.

“The Irish Minister said he was anxious that we try to do something big at Expo. Even if the Irish pavilion here has had a million visitors, the real theme of Expo is about feeding the world, particularly at this moment, when we face the challenges related to the mass movement of people in the Middle East and north Africa, across the Mediterranean and also into the Balkans.

“Feeding large numbers of people represents a really complex challenge.

Bono pressure?

The Minister went on: “What we have tried to do is use the fame of Bono, bring him here, cause a stir and put pressure on [countries to donate]. Ireland is coming here with a big package, namely €60 million over the next three years for the WFP.”

Both Bono and Coveney said out that the WFP – “the world’s largest humanitarian aid organisation” – in effect relies on ad hoc donations, and that it currently feeds more than four million displaced Syrians.

Next winter, however, it may be forced to stop supplying food to up to 250,000 Syrian refugees in Jordan because it has simply run out of money.

“That is something that has to change, globally and collectively,” Coveney said, “and I hope that is the big message that will come out of this evening.”

For his part, the normally verbose Renzi was happy to take a back seat, expressing his thanks to Bono but adding that Italycould do much more.

Pope John Paul II. 

Renzi recalled Bono’s involvement in a Drop the Debt campaign back in the 1990s, when the singer famously plonked a pair of cool dude shades on Pope John Paul II during a meeting at Castelgandolfo.

Renzi said that the world has not made enough progress in dealing with hunger and debt since then.

The WFP’s Cousin was another to thank Bono for lending his name to the campaign, acknowledging that had it not been for his presence on stage, “all you young people out there” would not be here to hear about the issues.

She said simply that, for many, “without food there is no hope. For these people, a piece of bread is a feast from God. But when you have no hope, you take the desperate measure, you do whatever is required in order to feed your family.”

Cuts to programmes.

It was Bono, however, who best summed up the meaning of Sunday night’s conscience-raising event.

“To me it seems extraordinary that, in the middle of a refugee crisis, the WFP find themselves having to cut their programme in Jordan, where they are doing extraordinary work. That is politically unacceptable to everybody under this sky this evening.

“This is not good enough, and neither the Italian people nor the Irish people will have it.”

Where else do landlords make the most money off our students?


New research suggests that Edinburgh is the place where landlords make most money off students. Sorry about that if you’re planning on studying there.

In fact, four of the top five most lucrative locations are in Scotland, with Coventry being the top English spot in second place.

Property site Zoopla looked at where investors can get the best return from buying up properties near universities and letting them out to students.

In Edinburgh, buy-to-let investors can expect a rental yield of 6.11% for doing so, while in Coventry it is 6.03%. Aberdeen is the third most profitable at 5.66%.

But while renting to students in Scotland is proving a veritable goldmine, the same is not true in the North of England.

Renting to students in Middlesbrough would mean a yield of just 1.47%, less than a quarter as profitable as Edinburgh.

Lawrence Hall of Zoopla commented: “Many Scottish universities are now internationally renowned, with thriving undergraduate and graduate environments.

“This means demand for rental accommodation in university areas is very high, as throngs of students compete to live near their campuses.

“Combined with Scottish house prices still remaining relatively low, this equates to excellent yields.”

Gluten-free diet fads put coeliacs at some big risks


Opting for a gluten-free diet as a lifestyle choice rather than because of an actual intolerance to gluten is sending mixed messages to workers in the hospitality industry about what coeliacs can or cannot eat.

That’s according to Dr Nicholas Kennedy, president of the Coeliac Society of Ireland (CSI), who said there are growing numbers of people on gluten-free diets “that have no medical requirement to do so”.

“What you have is people who are not coeliacs, on a very lax gluten-free diet, and they go into a restaurant and ask for gluten-free dishes, and they have a starter and a main course and then they see there’s nothing [gluten free] fascinating for dessert and they opt for cheesecake. That’s just a mixed message for the restaurant staff. People being slack about their gluten-free diet is causing problems for actual coeliacs,” Dr Kennedy said.

“You are either coeliac or you are not. It is not a question of ‘how coeliac are you?’” Dr Kennedy said.

Another problem was the increasing number of people self-diagnosing gluten sensitivities which, he said, could cause difficulties when it came to being clinically tested for coeliac disease.

“Eliminating gluten from your diet before testing may result in a false negative result,” Dr Kennedy said.

People who self-diagnosed were also potentially denying themselves the opportunity for proper long-term management of their condition, he said.

Dr Ciarán P Kelly MD, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, said it had become increasingly popular to adopt a gluten-free diet and that, in the last decade, the market for gluten-free products had grown by more than 20% each year.

Dr Kelly, who along with Dr Kennedy, was addressing the Association of European Coeliac Societies annual conference in Dublin, outlined how consuming gluten causes symptoms such as bloating and discomfort in coeliacs, but also intestinal injury, high coeliac antibodies, malabsorption, and nutritional deficiencies.

If untreated, it can lead to complications such as osteoporosis. Those with coeliac disease tend to have a genetic predisposition towards the disease. It can be associated with other autoimmune diseases, and the only treatment is a lifelong strict gluten-free diet.

In contrast, those with non-coeliac gluten sensitivity tend to have no known genetic predisposition; no known complications; and the strictness of their gluten-free diet may vary.

Sinn Féin TD Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, whose four children have coeliac disease, spoke in support of targeted screening directed at first blood relatives of those already identified as coeliacs.

Coeliac disease is more prevalent in those of Irish descent and an estimated 45,000 people are affected in Ireland. People with coeliac disease cannot tolerate gluten, a substance in wheat, rye, and barley.

Go west to Sligo Ireland for stunning scenery, great & perfect pubs and poetry galore

Deirdre O’Brien tells us on how a trip to the WB Yeats’ Land of Heart’s Desire finds the poet in us all?


The sign on a pub in Sligo reads: “This space is saved for my birthday party, please keep it free from 6.30. Love W. B. Yeats.”

By the appointed hour the party, at Hargadon’s Pub in Sligo, was in full swing with trucks of oysters being washed down by pints of Guinness. But the guest of honour was never going to make it – as the party was for his 150th birthday, and he’s been dead since 1939.

Still, the Irish never let inconvenient details stand in the way of a good thrash, and they weren’t going to miss out on celebrating the anniversary of the birth of a famous and beloved son.

Ireland is sometimes called The Land of Saints and Scholars and for many of the natives, Yeats, a Nobel laureate as well as a statesman, is regarded as a bit of both.

Although he was actually born in Sandymount in County Dublin, nowhere claims him more fiercely than Sligo, the county in the West where he spent idyllic childhood holidays and is now buried.

He called it “The Land of Heart’s Desire” and before his death and original burial in France, he left the instruction ‘dig me up and plant me in Sligo’. That was exactly what was done. His final resting place is now the graveyard of ¬Drumcliffe Church.

But Sligo feel that Yeats belongs to them, not least because the wild, rugged landscape of the county inspired much of the beauty of his romantic poetry, such as the famous poem The Lake Isle of Innisfree.

And while a trip to Sligo won’t turn us all into Nobel laureates, everyone will be wowed by the sheer beauty of the landscape.

A good place to start isInnisfree itself – the name Yeats gave to Lough Gill. A beautiful body of water, it’s perfect for a boat cruise.

Sunshine is never guaranteed here, but the day we visited the heavens obliged with a double rainbow – pointing exactly to the island thought to been Yeats’ inspiration. Nice work, Mother Nature.

On the lake’s border is Parke’s Castle, a beautifully restored 16thC fortress, which hosts some interesting exhibitions about life in Ireland, including some frightening realistic waxworks. heritageireland.ie/en/north-west/parkescastle

The other massive draw for Sligo is the coastline known as The Wild Atlantic Way. Stretching for 2,500kms, it is one of the world’s longest coastal driving routes. We started out on Streedagh Beach.

The views are breathtaking, and while the weather can be bracing, if you wrap up warm, the rolling breakers, the riot of wild flowers, the raw sea air, and the bursts of sun will be guaranteed to lift your spirits.

You can bike, hike, ride horses, surf or swim or take a tour. Seatrails offers a great walk conducted by a very knowledgeable archeologist. seatrails.ie

Sligo Town itself is a pretty old fashioned place, with a sleepy vibe. Hargadons pub is well worth a pit stop. Look out for the two huge murals, one of WB himself and the other, of Maud Gonne, the beautiful revolutionary who captivated him.

The neighbouring county is Leitrim, known as Lovely Leitrim. One of the least populated counties in Ireland, what it lacks in population, it makes up for in landscape, including some picture-postcard pretty villages especially the charming Drumohair.

We stopped for lunch at the Stanford Inn, the sort of perfect Irish pub that serves delicious food, a warm welcome and Guinness a world away from the stuff served across the water.

A really special place is the Holy Well at Tobernault, an age old site of worship, where the Druids used to congregate in secret. A peaceful pilgrimage site, its waters are said to have healing powers.

Sligo may feel like a world away from the stresses of city life, but it’s just three hours drive from Dublin.

A trip to the wild West and a few days soaking up the culture of Dublin’s Fair City make for a magical combination no doubt a heart’s desire indeed.

Russian cosmonaut Gennady Padalka sets space time record

The Russian astronaut Gennady Padalka has returned to Earth with the record for having spent the most time in space.


The 57-year-old’s latest mission lasted 168 days, bringing his total to 879 days in space over five trips.

This is two months longer than the previous record set in 2005 by Russian Sergei Krikalev over six missions.

Mr Padalka and two other members from the International Space Station (ISS) landed safely in Kazakhstan on their Soyuz spacecraft just before sunrise.

The capsule descended after re-entering the Earth’s atmosphere under a parachute.

Gennady Padalka

  • Graduated as a pilot and became a colonel in the Russian Air Force
  • First journey to space was in 1998, to Russia’s Mir space station
  • Only person to have commanded the ISS four times
  • He beat the previous record for most time in space on 28 June 2015
  • Has participated in 10 spacewalks

What are the challenges of living in space?What are the challenges of living in space?

A ground crWhat are the challenges of living in space?ew rushed to welcome and extract the three astronauts from the charred spacecraft and medics checked their condition.

“I am fine,” Mr Padalka told them as he sipped tea and ate an apple, the AFP news agency reports.

Mr Padalka’s companions – Andreas Mogensen from Denmark and Kazakh Aidyn Aimbetov – are both novices in comparison, having only spent 10 days in orbit on what was their first mission.

Mr Aimbetov had travelled in place of British soprano Sarah Brightman, who had been due to made the trip as a space tourist but withdrew from training in May citing family reasons.

Six astronauts now remain on the ISS, including Nasa’s Scott Kelly and Russia’s Mikhail Kornienko, who began a 12-month tour of duty in March – the longest continuous stay anyone would have been aboard the 400km-high (250 mile) orbiting platform.


News Ireland daily BLOG by Donie

Sunday 16th June 2013

G8 leaders can help to end world hunger  says Archbishop John Sentamu


Fewer than a dozen activists gather in special campsite for protesters

The GB leaders meeting this week in Co Fermanagh can help end world hunger by preventing multinational companies avoid tax, the Archbishop of York has said.

The Most Reverend John Sentamu called on the G8 to close tax loopholes because “too many unscrupulous businesses” are robbing people in third world countries of education, health, food, and employment.

The drain on developing countries from corporate tax avoidance outweighs the support they receive through international development aid, Dr Sentamu told the congregation at St Macartin’s Cathedral in Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh.

He also called for greater transparency in international political decision making. “Decisions that affect millions of people are made behind closed doors without the participation of the people affected by them,” he said.

Dr Sentamu also suggested the introduction of a special shopping card for people in industrialised countries which would automatically donate a percentage of any supermarket food transaction to food aid programs in the developing world. He said the proceeds would go towards a “global monetary food insurance”, to ensure that “nobody in our global village goes hungry”.

The G8 annual meeting of global leaders will convene at a resort on the shores of Lough Erne tomorrow. The summit will last for two days and the issues of tax and transparency are high on the agenda.

Anti-G8 protests took place in Belfast yesterday and today and further protests are expected in Enniskillen tomorrow, less than 10 km from the where the meeting will take place. Organisers expect about 3,000 demonstrators to turn up, an ambitious figure considering the Belfast event yesterday attracted approximately 1,500 protesters.

Some £50 million has been spent on security ahead of the meeting. An extra 3,600 police officers have been drafted into the North from Britain while a total of about 8,000 police officers will be on summit duty.

An 11km security fence has been erected around the Lough Erne resort and no fly zones are also in place for the summit. Some 900 Gardaí have been deployed around the Border for the event

Protesters have set up camp at Broad-meadow green in the town but this evening numbers were very thin on the ground, with about five tents and less than a dozen demonstrators.

“There’s supposed to be other groups coming along, but it’s so hard to tell” one protester said, adding that he “expected there to be more here by now.” Campaign groups and left-wing political parties are expected to transport the bulk of the protesters to the town tomorrow on buses from Belfast, Derry and various cities in the Republic.

Generic drug prices three times dearer in Ireland


Survey reveals Irish generic medicine prices are highest of 10 European countries
the cost of generic medicines in Ireland is almost three times that in the UK, according to a major new study of international drug prices.

Commonly used generics, which are copies of branded drugs which have come off patent, cost more in Ireland than in any of the other nine European countries with which Ireland is traditionally bracketed for price purposes, the study by US healthcare consultants shows.

Generic medicines cost 123 per cent more in Ireland than in the Netherlands, 63 per cent more than in Germany, and 55 per cent more than in Denmark.

They cost 26 per cent more than in the next most expensive country, Spain.

The Government could save €70 million a year if the price of generic medicines fell to the average of neighbouring European countries, the research by IMS Healthcare finds.

The actual price differential on generic drugs for Irish consumers is probably even higher than revealed in the study as it measures ex-factory prices before wholesalers and pharmacists add their mark-ups.

The results of the study are likely to increase pressure on the Government to force a reduction of drug prices here, as demanded by the troika overseeing Ireland’s debts.

The Economic and Social Research Institute is due to publish its analysis of Irish medicine costs vis-a-vis other countries shortly.

The study is based on the ex-factory price of medicines last January in 18 European countries and was commissioned by the Irish Pharmaceutical Healthcare Association(IPHA), which represents the manufacturers of branded medicines.

The top 200 substances in each market were examined, accounting for up to 99 per cent of total spending on medicines. While previous surveys have revealed large disparities in drug price between Ireland and other markets, most were based on a small range of products and some used older price data.

The latest study was carried out last January after the Department of Health finalised two new agreements with branded drug manufacturers and generic drug-makers.

It appears to show that in the generic sector Minister for Health James Reilly’s efforts to cut prices have so far borne little fruit.

The State spends almost €2 billion a year on drugs provided under a variety of schemes.

For drugs which are still on patent, the study shows that Irish prices, while third dearest of 10 countries, are virtually the same as the average of a basket of prices. Only Germany and Denmark had higher prices. Comparisons with other countries in southern and eastern Europe also revealed that branded drug prices are broadly the same in Ireland as the international average.

The IPHA says this shows that Ireland is not an “outlier” in comparison to other countries with similar healthcare systems and national incomes.

“The fact that the Irish index is in line with the index in the other basket countries demonstrates that our external reference pricing model is effective in calculating fair prices for the Irish market, which are neither too high nor too low and serve to ensure continuity of supply of products for Irish patients.”

For off-patent drugs, Ireland was the second dearest of 19 countries after Switzerland.

GUH Medical practitioners to receive special sepsis training

As a result of Savita Halappanavar report findings


HSE director says hospital had confirmed the wards caring for her had been adequately staffed

Staffing levels were ‘normal’ and ‘adequate’ on the wards at Galway University Hospital caring for Savita Halappanavar in the days before her death, the HSE’s national director for quality and patient safety has said.

Medical practitioners will receive special training in the recognition and management of sepsis in order to prevent serious infections similar to that which led to the death of Savita Halappanavar.

The Health Service Executive (HSE) report into Ms Halappanavar’s death published yesterday found there was inadequate assessment and monitoring to pick up the deterioration in her condition, a failure to adhere to hospital guidelines for managing sepsis and a failure to offer her all management options as she experienced inevitable miscarriage.

A lack of recognition of the gravity of the risk to her health led to “delays in aggressive treatment”.

UK-based obstetrician Prof Sir Sabaratnam Arulkumaran, who led the inquiry team, called on the Government to change the law to help doctors treating pregnant women who have rapidly escalating conditions such as sepsis, which caused Ms Halappanavar’s death.

The HSE’s national director of quality and patient safety Dr Philip Crowley said Ms Halappanavar’s death from sepsis was a “rare occurrence”, and it was clear from the HSE report that “staff did not recognise what was happening”.

“Sepsis is becoming more common. As a health service we need to redouble our efforts to train people in the recognition and very aggressive management of sepsis and that is what we are going to do,” he told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland.

Questions were raised yesterday about staffing levels at Galway UniversityHospital in the days leading up to Ms Halappanavar’s death, but Dr Crowley said the hospital had since confirmed that the wards caring for her had been adequately staffed and no consultant obstetrician was on leave at the time.

Treatment provided by University Hospital Galway, where Ms Halappanavar died last October after being admitted when 17 weeks pregnant, was heavily criticised by the HSE inquiry team.

The report warned more women could die in Irish hospitals in a similar manner unless legal clarity is provided for doctors on when they can intervene to terminate a pregnancy.

Dr Crowley said today that medical practitioners would need clear instructions on how to implement any forthcoming legislation on abortion.

“No matter what law is passed by the Oireachtas we will need clear clinical guidance as to how to apply that law intelligently and safely and carefully in the care of a whole myriad of different clinical situations.”

Minister for Health James Reilly expressed has referred the HSE report to the Medical Council and the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland for consideration. He has also invited the Institute of Obstetricians to meet him for talks on its implications.

The hospital and HSE apologised to Ms Halappanavar’s husband Praveen yesterday for the events in her care that contributed to her tragic death and sought to reassure the public they had made changes to ensure the circumstances of her death were not repeated.

Galway University Hospital is awaiting the outcome of a third report by the Health Information and Quality Authority before bringing recommendations to the board about disciplinary measures, clinical director Dr Pat Nashsaid yesterday.

Mr Halappanavar is to seek a meeting with Dr Reilly, said his solicitor, Gerard O’Donnell.

Mr O’Donnell said Mr Halappanavar was pleased that the process of finding out what had happened to his wife had “come this far”, but was still seeking accountability for her death.

He said his client was considering taking a negligence case or a constitutional action “seeking a declaration that Savita was deprived of her statutory right to have her life protected”.

A spokesman for the HSE said no proceedings had been initiated so far in relation to liability for her death, but it would consider its position, along with the State Claims Agency, if the situation changed.

The silent cancer killer of men, and why they won’t do anything about it


The numbers are there for all to see. One in six men will have prostate cancer in their lifetime.

Prostate cancer occurs in African-American men 60 percent more often than Caucasian men, and when they are diagnosed, it’s more likely to be in advance stages.

African-Americans get screened and tested at the same rate as White Americans — 52 percent — however more black men get the disease. But what about the other 48 percent of African-American males in the prime age group? Why are they avoiding getting screened?

Men avoid seeing the doctor

“Men don’t get tested if we think we don’t think anything is wrong,” says Larry Green, facilitator of the African-American Prostate Cancer Support Group at Lincoln Community Center in Durham, North Carolina.

This poses a challenge, because prostate cancer warning signs are subtle.

“Prostate cancer typically doesn’t have any symptoms which is why screening and testing are so important. It is often considered as a silent killer,” says Stanley Frencher Jr. MD, MPH, who is chief resident in urology at Yale University.

Sexual identity, For some men, there is a reluctance to be screened due to how they view themselves.

“Some of the treatment for prostate cancer will impact sexual function, so men avoid treatment,” explains Thomas Farrington, founder and president of the Prostate Health Education Network (PHEN), who is also a prostate cancer survivor.

As a result, some men have decided to live with the results.

“Men make a trade off of dealing with the disease versus not feeling like a man,” adds Green.

And it doesn’t help that, going through it or survived it, men are very reluctant to talk about prostate cancer.

“There is a personal factor involved where men don’t want to hear bad news,” says Frencher.

Not expected to care

In May 2012, the United States Preventive Services Task Force has recommended against Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) based screening for Prostate Cancer. This was done to reduce misdiagnosis and overtreatment. However, according to some, it has decreased the public’s awareness of this deadly disease.

“The controversy surrounding the accuracy of PSA screenings and Digital Rectal Exams combined with the reluctance of men going to the doctor in the first place has put a lot of men off from seeing the doctor,” says Frencher.

Two of the initial screenings done for prostate cancer are PSA and rectal exams. A number of men have felt that a rectal examination — using a doctor’s finger — is too invasive and often avoid it.

“A lot of men will get the PSA screen, but they will object to getting the [rectal exam] despite the consequences,” says Green.

Most common male cancer kills black men more

The cost is too high

Some men are still unwilling to go through with the surgery. Two of the major side effects are impotence, and incontinence, both of which can be permanent.

“[Men] think if they get a diagnosis and have surgery they won’t be a man anymore because they can’t get it up. It doesn’t take many stories to get that fear [of getting screened] out there” explains Green.

Furthermore, due to the socioeconomic status, lack of medical insurance plays a role in why they more men aren’t being screened.

“African-American and Latino men are less likely to have insurance which means they are less likely to have primary care and less likely to have any type of screening,” says Frencher.

Public perception is reality

Some African-American men still harbor resentment over how African-Americans were treated in the past.

“There is still a mistrust of the healthcare system that has resulted from the Tuskegee Studies with syphilis and the feeling of being a guinea pig,” says Frencher.

Adding the present statistics with the historical past have made some African-American males think twice about getting screened and treated.

“Since African-American get it at a 60 percent higher rate than other ethnic groups and twice the death rate, being diagnosed at younger age, you put all of that together and a lot of African-Americans feel as if they are being experimented on,” explains Frencher.

What can be done to increase the numbers of men who are screened? Education and awareness are two places to target.

“Quite frankly, there is a lot of confusion about prostate cancer so education and awareness are the biggest things.”

The PHEN network has worked with churches to increase awareness of prostate cancer in the community by sending out information, podcasts and having their members share their own stories about living with prostate cancer.

In addition, PHEN is having their 5th annual Father’s Day Rally Against Prostate Cancer.  Over 300 churches nationwide are taking part in this event. Frencher still feels more should be done.

“Churches are a great place to start but what about the men who don’t attend church? You have to reach them in other areas such as barbershops, elk clubs, lodges, fraternity meetings.”

Frencher also feels that prostate cancer is often overshadowed by other, more publicized, cancers.

“Breast cancer has very similar numbers to prostate cancer but you hear a lot more about it and people consider that to be much more of a disease than prostate cancer in spite of the numbers,” explains Frencher.

Change public policy

A study from the National Cancer Institute has shown, that in spite of the criticism of PSA screening, over 1.3 million men were found to have prostate cancer by doing PSA screenings who would have otherwise been caught unaware.

“PSA screenings should intensively screen men at increased risk which [include] African-American men and all men with relatively high PSA levels in their 40s,” says Dr. Gerald Andriole, chief of urologic surgery at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

In response to the new recommendations by USPSTF, a government task force, the National Comprehensive Cancer Network released a statement stating that PSA screening had “advantages and disadvantages” and that there are no right answers. Suggesting that each man should make an informed and knowledgeable decision about whether the test is best for them.

“Knowledge is the best defense against prostate cancer,” says Farrington.

It’s not just patients that need to become more aware and educated, Frencher says, but doctors as well.

“[Health care] providers need to be more consistent in their message when educating patients. Sending mixed messages will only confuse the patients,” explains Frencher.

More research, technology and advancements may ultimately help with the tough decisions.

“The better the tools to diagnose [prostate cancer], the better we can identify which men should take that risk [of incontinence and impotence] in order to extend their life and have a higher quality of life,” says Frencher.

Human Mankind has 1,000 years to escape Earth  says Stephen Hawking’s


Renowned British physicist Stephen Hawking warns human beings won’t survive “without escaping” from the “fragile” planet. His gloomy forecast is people will become extinct on Earth within current the millennium.

Speaking at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles the 71-year-old scientist called for further exploration of space to guarantee the future of mankind, the Belfast Telegraph reports.

“We must continue to go into space for humanity. If you understand how the universe operates, you control it in a way,” Professor Hawking said, adding that “we won’t survive another 1,000 years without escaping our fragile planet.”

Space exploration has however been struggling with the global financial crisis and has too proven subject to spending cuts. In particular NASA’s planetary science budget, which is seen as crucial to finding habitable planets, was slashed by $300 million this year.

At the same time, the Mars race has progressed at a good pace.

On Monday NASA concluded from Curiosity Rover’s findings that the red planet is gradually turning cold after losing a large part of its original atmosphere.

Russia, in its turn, has signed a deal with the European Space Agency to become a full-fledged partner in the ExoMars project, a new attempt to discover if there is life on Mars and eventually send a manned mission there. In 2010 and 2011, the Mars-500 experiment was carried out in Moscow: a group of six volunteers were locked inside a simulated spacecraft for 520 days – the time it would take to make a round trip to the planet.

Back at the LA Medical Center, Hawking was touring a stem cell lab, which is focused on trying to slow the progression of Lou Gehrig’s disease, also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. He’s been suffering the incurable ailment, which attacks nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord that control the muscles, for 50 years.

Director of Cedars-Sinai’s ALS program, Dr. Robert Baloh, has admitted that he is unable to explain Hawking’s longevity, because people rarely live more than a dozen years with this diagnosis.

“But 50 years is unusual, to say the least,” Baloh said.

Hawking was diagnosed with the neurological disorder while a student at Cambridge University at the age of 21. He is confined to a wheelchair and needs permanent assistance. The only movement he is able to do on his own is to twitch the cheek. He communicates with the rest of the world by means of the built-in wheelchair computer, which conveys the owner’s thoughts by a monotonous robot’s voice.

“However difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at,” Hawking added speaking of dealing with his health condition.

Despite his grave diagnosis, Professor Hawking has remained active. In 2007, he floated like an astronaut on an aircraft that creates zero-gravity by making parabolic dives.

Hawking spent his career on decoding the Universe, working on black holes and the origin of matter. The Professor brought his esoteric physics concepts to the masses through his books, including “A Brief History of Time” published in 1988, which was sold 10 million copies worldwide.