Category Archives: Latest

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY

The world is changing rapidly. The rich are becoming richer and crooked conmen in the guise of multi-millionaires seek to be in total control of events. This is a revolution the like of which, historically at least, my generation has not known before and is unlikely to see its reversal for decades to come if the order of things were to miraculously collapse, which seems doubtful.

The political elite throughout the world are amassing rich advisors notably not known for their honesty – far from it, if their decisions are analytically put to the test – and whose strategies are gaining ground into the bargain. The US is now a prime example where the advisors who now technically control the corridors of the White House rule supreme. The Trump administration has become a law unto itself and nothing that they do is subject to the scrutiny that the US constitution demands.

The public are becoming hypnotized by their rhetoric that America, because of its wealth, is the victim and everything done in its name to correct that situation is sacrosanct: and now this rotten concept spreads to every corner of the globe making greed and power bywords for a new order of things.

As a result, the political situation worldwide is in total disarray and stands fearfully unstable. We in Britain have not escaped the dangers of these unholy trends and, hopefully, we must resist becoming immersed in its complex machinations. Our traditions are far too sacred to ignore or cast aside for expediency’s sake.

Let’s rise above it all, lead by example and stop the internal bickering of this Tory administration whose fate is now in the balance if common sense is not restored as a matter of urgency.

BY GOD’S GOOD GRACE

As science progresses in every field our ambitions become more urgent, especially to find out whether a colony of inhabitants exists beyond the far away stars and in what form: somehow we could be a step forward in achieving our goals, for scientists have discovered that one of Saturn’s moons carries all the ingredients for life to evolve.

Complex carbon-based molecules have been detected erupting from the crust of Enceladus. The discovery by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft means the moon has all the building blocks for simple life – forms potentially similar to microbes living in extreme conditions on Earth.

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Dr Christopher Glein of the South West Research Institute in San Antonio, Texas, said: ‘This moon is the only body besides Earth known to simultaneously satisfy all of the basic requirements for life as we know it.’ Enceladus, Saturn’s sixth largest moon, is around 630 million miles from earth and extremely cold. It has ice volcanoes and an underground ocean. The carbon discovery was in Cassini samples of a plume of material emerging from beneath the surface of Enceladus.

Previous discoveries have found hydrogen molecules which could be used as a food source for alien life, as it is on Earth. Dr Hunter Waite, co-author of the paper, published in the journal Nature said: ‘Hydrogen provides a source of chemical energy supporting microbes that live in the Earth’s oceans. Once you have identified a potential food source, the next question to ask is ‘’what is the nature of the complex organics in the ocean?’’’
Dr Glein added: ‘We are yet again blown away by Enceladus. We must be cautious but it is exciting to ponder that this finding indicates the biological synthesis of organic molecules on Enceladus is possible.’

Conditions on Mars were conducive to life evolving some one hundred million years earlier than it did on Earth according to researchers. An analysis of meteorites has shown that the surface of the Red planet cooled down much sooner than previously thought. A team from the University of Copenhagen said this provided a potential platform for life. Commenting on the finding Linda Elkins-Tanton of Arizona State University, said: ‘Mars had a head start on Earth in the planetary evolution game.’

With all these amazing discoveries I have become addicted as I suppose most people are, about the miracle of the universe which is mind-blowing to say the least. The next generation of humans will have the benefit of learning a great deal more and only God knows what that knowledge will lead them to. Praise the Lord!

THE BELLS OF ST CLEMENTS WERE RIGHT

They used to say an apple a day keeps the doctor away. However, the latest saying has replaced the apple with the orange. As children we were told that the best way to protect our vision was to crunch on a carrot. Now scientists say that if we want our vision to stay sharp throughout life we should be eating oranges instead. Just one a day cuts the risk of developing macular degeneration by 60% a study shows. The incurable condition is the most common cause of sight loss in the elderly. Researchers interviewed more than 2,000 over-50s and followed them over a 15-year period. Those who ate at least one orange a day reduced their risk of developing macular degeneration 15 years later by more than 60%.

The Australian researchers believe the effect is caused by anti-oxidants called flavonoids. Oranges were not the only fruit they studied. The team also looked at apples, plus common drinks such as tea and red wine. But none of these appeared to prevent macular degeneration. Study author Bamini Gopinath from the University of Sydney, said: ‘Essentially we found that people who eat at least one serving of orange everyday have a reduced risk of developing macular degeneration, compared with people who never eat oranges. Even eating an orange once a week seems to offer significant benefits.’

The team at the Westmead Institute for Medical Research embarked on their study in the hope of understanding the causes of eye disease and the genetic and environmental conditions that may threaten vision. Previous studies focused on the effect that common nutrients such as vitamin C, E and A have on the eyes. But Professor Gopinath’s study took a new approach. She said: ‘Our research is different because we focused on the relationship between flavonoids and macular degeneration. Flavonoids are powerful anti-oxidants found in all fruits and vegetables, and they have important anti-inflammatory benefits for the immune system.’ She added that: ‘apart from oranges, the data did not show the relationship between other food sources protecting eyes against the disease.’

Around 600,000 Britains have sight-loss caused by macular degeneration. Around 70,000 are diagnosed every year – equivalent to nearly 200 a day. Age is the strongest known risk factor and the disease is more likely to occur after 50. Smoking and high blood-pressure, as well as genetic factors can also increase the risk. The research was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

According to the Royal National Institute of Blind People, a diet full of fruit and vegetables, as well as regular eye tests are the best way to keep our vision healthy. Several previous studies have looked at whether taking anti-oxidant supplements or multi-vitamins can help to prevent age-related macular degeneration. However, there is not yet any firm evidence linking them to the disease.

If I were you, I would stick to an orange a day. They are pleasant and refreshing to eat and if it helps to keep your eyesight healthy, then this would be an added bonus.

IT ISN’T A PAPER MOON…

From time to time the Moon is the subject of great debate. Scientists now believe that it may have supported simple life forms twice in its existence. The arid, cold and cratered surface was potentially habitable 3.5 billion years ago. This was because lunar volcanoes released water trapped under the Moon’s surface which could have been there for up to 70 million years, shielded by the atmosphere which has also now disappeared.

But early forms of bacteria could have survived. These would have arrived in clouds of debris caused when huge meteorites smashed into Earth, while now they would be blitzed immediately by deadly solar winds and cosmic radiation. At that time, the churning volcanic magma is thought to have created a protective magnetic field on the lunar surface.

With the presence of water, carbon and a thin atmosphere, the main building blocks for life were in place according to Professor Dirk Schulze-Makah from the Technical University of Berlin. The astrobiologist, who has worked with Professor Ian Crawford, from Birkbeck College, University of London, to analyse data from probes and rock samples, said: ‘If liquid water and a significant atmosphere were present on the early Moon for long periods of time, we think the lunar surface would have been at least transiently habitable.’

The study, published in the journal Astrobiology, suggests the water came as hydrogen and carbon dioxide when released in a molten magma lake during volcanic lunar eruptions. So for life to exist, it only needed a meteor strike to transfer bacteria from Earth, which 3.5 billion years ago was much closer to the Moon.

The authors identify a second, less likely, time life could have survived, shortly after the Moon formed 4 billion years ago. Until a decade ago most experts thought the Moon had always been dry – possibly because any channels formed by water, as seen today on Mars, were eroded by solar winds. Experts now say it may once have been home to vast lakes.

I’m truly hooked these days on the various theories now presented, for the mystery of creation becomes more complex with the passage of time and as scientists discover new avenues which seem plausible.

CRIME AND PUNISHMENT

Apart from the collapse in standards in British politics, the other matter that irritates most is the bleak truth about ‘wild west’ Britain, which was revealed recently in damming new official crime figures which are now horribly out of control. The number of violent street robberies reported to police rose by nearly a third last year and amid public horror over bloodshed on our streets, the number of killings jumped by 12%. The total of 701 homicides – a figure that does not include the victims of the Manchester and London Bridge terror attacks – is nearly a third higher than those recorded just 4 years earlier. And while knife crime and murder was concentrated in London and the major cities, robbery and mugging was rapidly on the rise in suburban counties and the shires, with increases of more than a third in Leicestershire Warwickshire, Hertfordshire, and of two-thirds in North Wales.

The Office of National Statistics (ONS) figures – covering England & Wales for the year to the end of March – found that robberies soared by 30%, amid concern over a wave of moped gang snatches on city streets; burglaries recorded by police increased by 6%; recorded knife crime rose 16% and police recorded 5.5 million offences in total, a rise of 13% on the previous year. It was the fourth year in succession for rising homicides, and 4 out of 10 killings stemmed from knife attacks.

Alex Mayes, of the Victim Support charity, said: ‘It is truly shocking to see these rises in homicides and violent crime such as knife crime. While overall crime levels are generally stable, these increases in some high-harm crimes are concerning. Too many lives are being shattered by these violent crimes.’ Javed Kahn, of children’s charity Barnardo’s, said the knife crime figures make sombre reading. He added: ‘From our work with the most vulnerable children and young people, we know that the reason that they get involved in knife crime or gangs can be complex, but action to help stem the increase is vital.’

Matthew Scott, of the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners, acknowledged the gravity of the figures: ‘The public will be alarmed that the police-recorded crimes continue to rise, up 13% across England and Wales,’ he said. ‘Where there are genuine increases in serious violence, PCC’s will be working with their police constables to ensure effective plans are in place to tackle the underlying causes and keep communities safe. At the same time many police forces are still going through the process of amending their crime-recording practices, which makes comparisons with previous years’ data difficult when it comes to lower harm offences.’

Ministers and senior police officers maintain that the chance of becoming a victim of crime remain very low, despite the crime survey findings that 1 in 5 adults – about 9 million people – were targeted by criminals over the year. Police minister Nick Hurd said: ‘[It] is clear that the liklihood of being a victim remains low, however, every violent crime is a significant concern and the Government is taking decisive action to tackle it. We recognize that crime is changing and that police demands are becoming increasingly complex. The statistics show that there has been a societal shift towards victims reporting hidden crimes to the police and we welcome that more victims of domestic abuse and sexual violence are feeling empowered to come forward.’

The ONS report also showed wide spread computer crime including serious theft. There were nearly 50,000 cases of ‘authorized push-payments fraud’ in which victims are tricked into paying their account over to one run by a gang. On average, each individual hit by a computer money con lost 2,784 pounds and businesses typically lost 24,350 pounds. A total of 236 million pounds in computer finance scams!

This rise in crime of every nature is totally unacceptable and is likely to increase on an annual basis, unless the authorities take a grim view of this unwanted escalation of thuggery and do something fiercely punishing to stem this new threat to the well-being of the nation. This new criminal trend needs action and not empty words

TAKE THAT PILL

As a sufferer of type 2 diabetes I was relieved to read the other day that cheap diabetes pills could prevent thousands of heart attacks and strokes every year, research suggests. Two British studies found that those taking the drug Metformin – which is part of my medical agenda, and costs as little as one pence a pill – lowers blood pressure, loses weight and sees harmful thickening of the heart reversed.

Scientists believe that prescribing it could cut the number who die from heart attacks, stroke or heart failure, and save the NHS billions each year in looking for new treatments. Researchers at Dundee University gave the drug to those with coronary heart disease to see how it affected the heart and circulatory system. They found that Metformin could reverse harmful thickening of the left ventricle, the heart’s main pumping chamber. After taking it daily for a year, the thickening was reduced by twice as much in those taking Metformin, compared to those taking a placebo.

Patients who took Metformin also had reduced blood pressure and lost an average of 6.5lbs compared to no weight loss in the other group. Thickening of the heart’s main pumping chamber, known as Left Ventricular Hypertrophy (LVH) is a major risk factor for heart attacks and heart failure. With few symptoms most people do not know they have it until they get a heart attack or stroke. High blood pressure inflammation and insulin resistance are major causes which are also thought to be key rivals of coronary heart diseases. In the second study, conducted by the same university, researchers tested the drug in relation to a condition called Aortic Stenosis (AS) which causes heart failure.

Presenting their findings at the British Cardiovascular Conference in Manchester recently, they said the diabetic patients with AS who were treated with Metformin were less likely to die from heart attacks, strokes or heart failure than those on other diabetic treatments. Researchers believe the drug helped patients by tackling insulin resistance and inflammation, which then leads to a reduction in the size of the left ventricle.

Dr Ify Mordi, a clinical lecturer in Cardiology at Dudley University, said: ‘Metformin is emerging as a serious prospect for the treatment of some forms of heart and circularity diseases. We know from our previous research that it can reduce inflammation which is understood to be a major player in the development of heart disease. This new research shows that Metformin could potentially become a new treatment option for patients with aorta restenosis and thickening of the left ventricle. We need to undertake bigger studies to confirm our findings, but if successful this could offer help for thousands if not millions across the UK.’

Professor Jeremy Pearson, Associate Medical Director of the British Heart Foundation, which part-funded the research, said: ‘Repurposing of drugs like Metformin is a great example of how scientists can harness the power of medications which have more than one target in the body.’

In my view, all this scientific research goes to prove that the more we delve into medical enlightenment the more we are likely to discover avenues to improve or expand the medication we already have. Long may it continue.

LESS IS MORE

No one could conceivably believe that to slim down, eat more. Dieters who love to eat larger portions of food would be delighted that they can do so and still slim down, if they eat the right foods. A study has found that a diet of low energy dense foods – which include rice, pasta, potatoes, lean meat, fish, fruit and low fat cheese and yoghurt – allows people to both eat larger portions and still shed the pounds. Women who follow this diet in the evenings ate almost 50% more than those on a restrictive diet of higher energy dense foods that cut daily calories intake by 600. However, they are also lost almost twice the amount of weight over 14 weeks.

The study showed that those on the lower energy dense diet lost 12.8 lbs or 6.2% of body weight. This is almost double the 7.3lbs – 3.8% of body weight – lost by those on the restrictive diet. Researchers at the University of Leeds found the first group felt less hungry and had fewer cravings when they ate lower energy dense foods. This is because the foods contain fewer calories per gramme so you can eat far more of them.

The study, which appeared in the Journal of Nutrition, asked 96 women to eat low energy dense meals for two days at lunchtime and a high energy one over the next two. They followed either diet at home in the evening. It found that women on the low energy dense diet ate almost 4.5% more, despite losing much more weight over all.

Lead author Dr Nicola Buckland said: ‘A lot of people give up on diets because they feel hungry between meals. Our research shows that eating low energy density food can help overcome that problem.’ Dr Jacqui Lovin of Slimming World, which recommends the low energy dense diet, said: ‘We might think we need to be overly strict with ourselves when we are losing weight but this type of restrictive approach ultimately leaves us feeling more hungry and deprived.’

I personally opt for eating less as long as what I eat is healthy and varied. And also eat very little in the evening as long as it is two hours before I go to bed. Doing that, my weight remains steady and I feel no need to go to any particular diet.