Monday, June 01, 2009

Sandwiches now under attack

If you start with silly assumptions, you arrive at all sorts of silly conclusions. According to the stupid rules these "health" witch-doctors have dreamed up, roast dinners would be banned to. They will only be happy if we all live on lettuce. Repeated scientific studies have shown no benefit in a low fat diet and danger in a low salt diet.

FANCY a dose of salt and fat with your sandwich? Some sangers contain as much salt as six packets of potato chips and more saturated fat than a Big Mac. Expert analysis for the Herald Sun has uncovered the truth about some lunch favourites - and the news is not good for your heart or blood pressure. "Just because you buy a sandwich it doesn't necessarily mean it is better than junk food," accredited practising dietitian Milena Katz said. "You really need to be careful about the type of filling you choose rather than falling into a false sense of security."

Ms Katz said sandwiches packed with processed meats, drenched in sauces and combined with cheese could be a recipe for clogged arteries, stroke and heart attacks. The best choices limit fillings to one type of protein - such as meat, eggs or tinned fish - with salad or vegetables on multigrain bread.

A review of menus at Subway, Muffin Break, SumoSalad and bb's cafe found some products had startling amounts of salt and the bad saturated fat responsible for boosting cholesterol. One of the worst cases was a satay chicken wrap from Muffin Break with a whopping 1840mg of sodium - almost the entire recommended daily limit for an adult, and equivalent to the salt in six 45g bags of Smith's crinkle cut potato chips. It also had 11.5g of saturated fat, more than the 9.7g in a Big Mac.

Salami and pepperoni lovers tucking into a Subway spicy Italian six-inch sub are swallowing 1580mg of sodium, the amount in more than five packets of chips, and 11.2g of saturated fat. A bb's cafe chicken caesar panini had the salt content of almost six packets of chips, while SumoSalad's tuna cheese long roll contained less saturated fat than the burger, but the equivalent of the salt in four bags of chips.

The outlets said the items chosen were part of many options that included healthier choices. Selected companies make nutritional details available at stores and/or on websites. But people buying sandwiches from other shops are choosing blindly because sellers are not obliged to display nutritional fine print.

Steffi Burns, 16, was shocked when shown the sandwich report card. "Oh my gosh. I thought all kinds of sandwiches would be healthier than fast food, especially Maccas," the Diamond Creek teen said. Steffi said she usually took a salad to school. Her favourite sandwich is toasted ham, cheese and tomato.

Ms Katz said that while many people were aware of trimming fat, alarm bells should ring about salt, especially in the first 20 years of life. A homemade sandwich using finely sliced roast meat and salad or vegetables on multigrain bread was far healthier than bought sandwiches with processed meats full of preservatives, she said.

Some researchers say Australian adults are on average overdosing on at least twice the salt they need, risking high blood pressure and serious health problems. National watchdog Food Standards Australia New Zealand estimates one in three Australians exceed the recommended adult daily limit of no more than 2.3g (2300mg) of sodium, or about 1 1/2 teaspoons of common salt. Most of the sodium in food comes from salt (sodium chloride) added for flavour or as a preservative to extend shelf life. Low-salt foods contain 120mg of sodium per 100g.


Warmist laws to hit farmers

EMISSIONS trading could rip away as much as 22 per cent of farmers' income, government researchers say. That translates to up to $11,000 in income lost each year for an average-sized farm, with sheep and beef producers to be hardest hit. An Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics report, issued today, paints an alarming picture of the cost of emissions trading for rural communities.

The Government is set to introduce an emissions trading scheme in 2011, with agriculture partially exempt until at least 2015.

In the worst case scenario - where agricultural processors don't put up their prices, instead passing all the higher costs on to farmers - beef farmers would lose 22 per cent of their income in 2015. Sheep farmers would also fare badly, losing 17 per cent of income. Broadacre industries and dairy farmers are next in line, losing between 11 and 15 per cent of their income.

Cows and sheep emit plenty of methane, a noxious greenhouse gas, which partly explains why the costs are high.

However, the economic impact is considerably less if processors don't pass through all the costs of the ETS on to farmers.

The research is based on operators continuing with their current farming practices, instead of trying to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and costs under the ETS. The ABARE report said the ETS would cost farmers through higher prices for electricity, fuels and freight.

Direct emissions - such as methane burped by cows - will not be covered until 2015, and it's expected that some farmers will get most of those emissions permits for free.

ABARE executive director Phillip Glyde, who released the report, said the ETS was not all bad news for farmers. "In combination with a global response to climate change, (it) will reduce the expected negative effects of climate change on agricultural productivity in Australia,'' Mr Glyde said.


Bullies rule in nation's primary schools

BULLYING is spiralling out of control in the nation's schools with one-in-four children from Year 4 to Year 9 claiming they are regularly attacked. The Daily Telegraph can reveal that bullying peaks in the final years of primary school where 32 per cent of students are targeted by playground thugs.

New data documented in Australia's largest ever study of bullying in schools shows Year 8 students are also major victims with 29 per cent reporting attacks. The research, commissioned by the Federal Government, shows New South Wales has some of the highest levels of bullying in the country - well above the national average in Years 4, 5 and 6. Many of the 7000 children from 124 schools surveyed across Australia said they had lost faith in the ability of teachers to protect them.

The report, recommending an overhaul of the way in which schools handle the issue, found almost half of all children in Year 9 are both being bullied and bullying others. The Daily Telegraph also has learned that some parents, desperate to protect their children, are inflaming cyber exchanges by confronting bullies in online chat rooms. One 15-year-old girl in Sydney's west, mistaken for someone else online, was pursued by a gang of females who threatened to stab her at school.

And the breakdown of a teenage romance sparked a bullying episode that ended with another gang of girls smashing their victim's nose and eye socket.


Rights bill won't pay

THE battle lines over an Australian bill of rights are being drawn with a polarisation that will disturb the Rudd Government, which made the tactical decision to defer the republic campaign and give priority to the rights debate.

What do former Australian chief of army Peter Cosgrove, former governor-general Ninian Stephen and original chairwoman of the Northern Territory Emergency Task Force Sue Gordon have in common? They are the Australians who launched, wrote the foreword and the afterword to the new book Don't Leave Us with the Bill, the case against the bill of rights.

In his launch speech this week Cosgrove said he believed the issue was "possibly more important" than the republic. He warned that the Australian public was unimpressed with "me-tooism", being lectured that it must have a bill of rights when such laws "have made not a jot of difference to crushing inequities" in other societies.

"Enduring laws ought not to be a fashion statement," Cosgrove said on Monday when he declared: "Don't leave us with the bill."

Pledged opponents in this book are: Queensland Chief Justice Paul de Jersey; former High Court judge Ian Callinan; former solicitor-general David Bennett; former NSW judge and past president of the Australian Bar Association Ken Handley; historians John Hirst and Geoffrey Blainey; former chief of operations in Iraq Jim Molan; West Australian Attorney-General Christian Porter; University of Sydney professor of law Helen Irving; former Keating minister Gary Johns; the leader of the Catholic Church in Australia, George Pell; deputy president of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry John Levi; Australian Christian Lobby head Jim Wallace; former PM John Howard; and shadow attorney-general George Brandis, among others.

The message is that Australia's most prominent opponent of the bill of rights, former NSW Labor premier, Bob Carr, has strong support on both his flanks. The new book from the Menzies Research Centre, co-edited by its executive director Julian Lesser and lawyer Ryan Haddrick, penetrates the fog of polemic around this issue, created by a self-interested legal lobby and human rights industry.

The arguments against a bill of rights are powerful, intellectual and populist. The Rudd Government will commit an act of folly by ignoring them. There is a chance that Frank Brennan, chairman of the consultation panel on the rights issue, may offer the Government an exit strategy.

But if Attorney-General Robert McClelland is allowed to proceed Kevin Rudd will find himself engulfed in a culture war over power, rights and values, with unusual dividing lines.

Virtually every group is split internally, yet there will be strong opposition from the Liberal and National parties, the churches, which are frontline targets, indigenous leaders aware that "rights" arguments are the main barrier to reform in Aboriginal communities, law enforcement authorities, sections of the Labor Party hostile to this undemocratic manoeuvre, and citizens who see this is a power transfer from the people and parliaments to judges.

There are three themes in the Menzies Centre book: the bill of rights is not the best way for society to protect rights; it constitutes an unwise shift in Australia's governing institutions; and, most significantly, the campaign is not primarily about rights but is best understood as an ideological movement that recruits the human rights cause to win social and economic policy changes that would never attract majority support from the public.

Hirst is impolite enough to say there is a "widespread belief" in Australia "that the disadvantaged and minorities have been given far too much attention" and a bill of rights will give them even more. He says leaders such as Howard and Mark Latham were wary of this: witness Howard's "For all of us" 1996 slogan and Latham's warning against "subdividing society into a collection of single identities based on race, gender and sexuality".

This goes to a core point: a bill of rights may assist a few individuals but will diminish society.

Bennett argues the defect lies in thetension between the general rule and the exception: witness the Catholic Church's exemption from discrimination on religious grounds because it wants clergy and teachers to be Catholics. This is "justifiable discrimination", but such decisions should rest with politicians, not judges. How does one balance the right to life with the right to self-defence? How does one balance the right to avoid detention without conviction with the view of every Australian government that on rare occasions detention without conviction is essential for public security?

Defying the power grab by the legal profession, Callinan, de Jersey and Handley insist that non-elected judges should not be asked to resolve such social and economic issues.

Claims they do this now are false. The bill of rights envisages a new role for judges that, as Callinan says, departs from Australian practice.

"Under a human rights act, although it may take a while, the court eventually becomes the master," Handley says.

Howard says that in 2004 his government changed the Marriage Act to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman. But in Canada, as he explains, the courts purport to make such decisions, and this required override action by Canada's parliament.

The most stunning insight into this entire debate, however, is Brennan's recent and separate attack on Victoria's rights charter, supposedly the model for a national bill. Brennan's conclusion is that Victoria's law has failed its first test: the need to uphold freedom of conscience.

Brennan's concern was clause 8(1)(b) of the Abortion Law Reform Bill that, in defiance of Australian Medical Association ethics, overrode a physician's freedom of conscience and compelled a doctor who had a conscience objection on abortion to find and recommend to the patient a doctor willing to perform the operation. As Brennan said, the law requires "compulsory referral by a conscientious objector" or, in shorthand, leave your morals at the surgery door.

Brennan's conclusion is that Victoria's rights charter "failed spectacularly" to defend a core human right when it conflicted with the progressive-Left political agenda on abortion law and bioethics. He nails the issue: Victoria's law is not primarily about human rights. It is "a device for the delivery of a soft-Left sectarian agenda" and it will be discarded whenever "the rights articulated do not comply with that agenda".

In short, the rights debate is an ideological instrument for causes the Left knows the public may not embrace. Brennan sees it and said it. Presumably, this must influence his report to McClelland.

It goes to the real issue in the national debate: the advocates want certain rights to be advanced and other rights to be cut back.

It is time to ask what this means for society if extra rights are invested in the causes surrounding feminism, asylum seekers, gays, national security suspects, law breakers, secularism and Aboriginal guarantees as anti-intervention devices.


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