Friday, August 11, 2017

Vegemite is good for you (1)

I think Vegemite is gourmet food! JR

People who eat Vegemite and other yeast spreads are less anxious than those who don't, new research has found.

A study from the University of Victoria has shown there is indeed truth to the 'happy little Vegemites' jingle - thanks to the high levels of B vitamins in the product.

'There isn't any scientific evidence to back up [the jingle], which is something we were interested in establishing,' Professor Vasso Apostolopoulos told the Herald Sun.

The research found not just any yeast spread would do, with spreads that contained B12 proving to be the most effective.

These included Marmite and a brand of Vegemite marketed to children, called My First Vegemite.

'Those who ate spreads that contained B12, which includes Marmite and the new Vegemite with the orange lid, were even less stressed and anxious than those who ate the other brands,' the Professor said.

Earlier, the Professor told the University she and her team had chosen to examine yeast spreads because of their high levels of B vitamins, which help moderate stress.

'We know these [yeast] extracts contain some of the world's richest sources of B vitamins, which are essential in keeping our bodies energised and regulating the nervous system,' she said.

'What we want to find out is whether consuming these vitamins through yeast-based supplements in an everyday diet improves depression, anxiety and stress scores.'

More than 500 people in Australia and New Zealand were surveyed online. They were asked if they ate the spreads, which ones, and then their moods were monitored.

Despite the promising results, the Victorian Professor said the spreads were not adequate replacements for medical treatment of depression and mental health problems.


Vegemite is good for you (2)

SCIENTISTS in Sydney have made a world first breakthrough in pregnancy research that is expected to save thousands of lives by preventing miscarriages and multiple types of birth defects.

The research team at Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute has also found a remarkably simple cure — a common dietary supplement that contains niacin, one of key elements of Vegemite.

The historic discovery, believed to be among Australia’s greatest ever medical achievements, is expected to forever change the way pregnant women are cared for around the globe.

Professor Sally Dunwoodie from the Victor Chang Institute has identified a major cause of miscarriages as well as heart, spinal, kidney and cleft palate problems in newborn babies.

“The ramifications are likely to be huge. This has the potential to significantly reduce the number of miscarriages and birth defects around the world and I do not say those words lightly,” Prof Dunwoodie said.

Every year 7.9 million babies are born with a birth defect worldwide and one-in-four pregnant women will suffer a miscarriage in Australia. In the vast majority of cases the cause of these problems has remained a mystery. Until now.

The landmark study found that a deficiency in a vital molecule, known as NAD, prevents a baby’s organs from developing correctly in the womb.

Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD) is one of the most important molecules in all living cells. NAD synthesis is essential for energy production, DNA repair and cell communication. Disrupting its production causes a NAD deficiency.

The Victor Chang researchers have found this deficiency is particularly harmful during a pregnancy as it cripples an embryo when it is forming.

Prof Dunwoodie said: “Now after 12 years of research, our team has also discovered that this deficiency can be cured and miscarriages and birth defects prevented by taking a common vitamin.”

At the heart of the paramount discovery is the dietary supplement vitamin B3, also known as niacin.

Scientists at the Victor Chang Institute have discovered how to prevent miscarriages and birth defects by simply boosting levels of the nutrient during pregnancy.

Vitamin B3 is typically found in meats and green vegetables as well as vegemite. However, a recent study found that despite taking vitamin supplements at least a third of pregnant women have low levels of vitamin B3 in their first trimester, which is the critical time in organ development.

By the third trimester, vitamin B3 levels were low in 60 per cent of pregnant women. Researchers said this indicated pregnant women may require more vitamin B3 than is available in most vitamin supplements.

Using a preclinical model, scientists at the Victor Chang Institute investigated the effect of vitamin B3 on developing embryos. The results were astounding.

Before vitamin B3 was introduced into the mother’s diet embryos were either lost through miscarriage or the offspring were born with a range of severe birth defects. After the dietary change both the miscarriages and birth defects were completely prevented with all the offspring born perfectly healthy.


Some things you can't blame Malcolm Turnbull for: the state of the NBN is one of them

Customers who switch to it (and they are being given no choice – their existing services turn off 18 months after they are invited to switch) are greeted with slower speeds, more dropouts, unreliable phone and alarm services, and movies that continually buffer when they try to watch them between 4pm and 10pm.

Many are worse off than they were before.

Importantly, they are worse off whether they are getting the new Turnbull NBN, which is delivered by a mix of technologies, or Labor's original national broadband network, which in cities was to be delivered all by fibre-to-the-premises.

Australia's foremost telecommunications analyst, Ian Martin of New Street Research, says the method of delivery has nothing to do with it.

"Let's be clear, technology is not the issue in slow speeds," he wrote in the Australian Financial Review this month. "Hybrid fibre coaxial and fibre to the node are well able to handle speeds of 50 megabits per second and 100Mbps or more. In some places the copper component is old and slow but this is not an issue across the board and can be dealt with other than by an expensive upgrade to fibre to the home nationally."

Horrendously expensive and unbelievably time-consuming, Labor's original plan was for a technician to lay or string an optic fibre cable into each home and business in each of Australia's cities and big towns at a cost of $4300 per premises. It was essential for Labor to keep the cost off-budget: $49 billion gets noticed when you are running a deficit. So it decreed that NBNCo, the government-owned company that was to build the NBN, would eventually make a profit.

Spending on profit-making companies isn't treated as spending under the oddly-named Charter of Budget Honesty, which is one of the reasons the current government is building the Western Sydney airport and the Melbourne to Brisbane rail freight link that way. As long as it can pretend they'll one day make a profit it can keep the cost of building them off its books.

Dodgy assumptions in its 2010 corporate plan helped. It assumed that no more than 16.4 per cent of customers would abandon fixed lines. It's achieving only a 75 per cent take-up, suggesting the real figure is closer to 25 per cent. It assumed the number of households would grow at a compound annual rate of 1.6 per cent per year. Between the last two censuses it's grown by much less.

It assumed that people would want to pay big-time for more speed, as it had to.

Two million or so customers on, it's discovering that eight out of 10 select the lowest speeds possible: 12Mbps and 25Mbps, turning 50Mbps and 100Mbps into niche products.

    There's nothing inherent in the NBN that's strangling its speed and giving customers grief; it's inherent in the pricing model it adopted to make it look as if it could make money.

It expected customers to upgrade as they became acquainted with the wonders of high speed, but given that many were acquainted with higher speeds before they switched, that's unlikely.

And it adopted a curious method of charging the retailers who sold its connections to the public. It billed them twice. First for speed, under a monthly "access virtual circuit" charge set to reflect the speed provided. It's a silly idea. There's nothing to stop it giving everyone the highest possible speed; it's like constraining a car engine until the owner hands over more. And it charges for "connectivity virtual circuits" which reflect how much data the retailer is able to put through at once. Again, there's no reason for this. There's usually no physical constraint on how much can be put through at once.

Retailers wanting to grab market share have been paying for the first – it's an access charge – and skimping on the second. This means they can claim to offer the quoted speeds at a good price,  but can't deliver them when their cut-price connections become congested in the early evenings and speeds slow to a crawl.

Their customers blame the NBN, the NBN blames the retailers, and so worried is the government it has commissioned the Australian Communications and Media Authority to inquire into the whole mess.

Turnbull's NBN will at least be cheaper. Martin believes that under Labor's scheme the connectivity virtual circuit charge would have been three times higher, making the retailers skimp more and degrade speeds further.

One day it will be sold. That's the policy of both parties. Even under Turnbull's scheme the government will be lucky to get back half of what it spent. Then, when it becomes clear it was never a profit-making concern and the spending gets brought back on-budget tarnishing the financial records of both Swan and Morrison, we'll start wondering why we ever thought we could spend up big replacing what for many is a perfectly good service instead of spending less and zeroing in on the people who needed help.


Churches lay out plebiscite fears for PM

The Anglican Archbishop of ­Sydney, Glenn Davies, and leading Catholic officials have written to Malcolm Turnbull demanding that any proposed bill on same-sex marriage be released before Australians are asked to vote on the issue.

With the Senate yesterday rejecting­ for a second time the government’s preferred option of a compulsory attendanc­e plebis­cite, the first salvos have been fired in a campaign to derail the people’s postal vote, which will begin within five weeks.

Opposing forces in the debate are lining up against the government, with church and Christian schools lobby groups demanding religious and freedom-of-speech protections, both during the public­ debate and in any bill on gay marriage that is put to the ­parliament should a “yes” vote be returned.

Religious figures have raised concerns directly with the Prime Minister about voter fraud, relig­ious protections and public funding for the campaign.

A senior government source confirmed that a letter had been delivered to the Prime Minister’s office and several cabinet ministers, signed by Archbishop Davies and delivering a series of blunt questions that he said the government had yet to answer.

A similar letter is believed to have been received from senior leaders of the Catholic Church.

“This timeframe is inapprop­riately short, particularly given there remain a number of un­resolved questions concerning the postal plebiscite process,” ­Archbishop Davies wrote.

The leading national yes lobby, Equality Campaign, and the Human Rights Law Centre said they were waiting to assess what legal challenge might be mounted against the plebiscite when more details were released.

“If and when we proceed with a legal challenge, it will be considered and based on the details yet to be provided by the government,” said HRLC co-chair and director Anna Brown.

The government released further detail late yesterday, including confirmation that the question to be put to Australians would remain the same as proposed under the plebiscite model rejected by the Senate.

It will ask: “Should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry?”

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann confirmed yesterday that he had signed an advance of $122 million to the Australian Bureau of Statistics to begin the first phase of the Plebiscite (Same-Sex Marriage) Bill 2016.

The ABS will begin to post envelopes on September 12, with returns to close on November 7 and a result to be confirmed on November 15.

The Australian Christian Schools Association is planning a campaign to ensure religious protections for schools are guaranteed, claiming neither Mr Turnbull nor Bill Shorten had offered a firm commitment to schools that their teachings of traditional marriage would be protected.

The list of issues raised by Archbishop Davies in his letter to Mr Turnbull included assurances on a previous personal commitment by the Prime Minister to make public funding available to both sides under the original plebiscite.

The letter asked if religious leaders would be engaged in preparation of the bill and “if a postal plebiscite is resolved in the negative, what assurances can be provided that this will be the end of the matter?”.

Archbishop Davies also wanted assurances that free speech would be protected during the campaign, considering activists had used anti-discrimination laws to silence church leaders.

The Opposition Leader called on the government to ensure a “civil” debate after questioning Mr Abbott’s calls for people who had concerns about religious freedoms to vote no. “Today the member for Warringah warned Australians to vote no in the plebiscite for reasons unrelated to marriage equality, claiming if you’re worried about religious freedom and free speech, vote no,” Mr Shorten said.

Mr Turnbull responded by calling on all sides engaged in the debate to act with “responsibility and respect”.

“If we’re seriously at the point where the Labor Party is saying you cannot have a vote on this issue because people will say outrageous things, then how can we have a referendum on any of the issues discussed?’’

Shadow Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus suggested Labor would now accept the postal plebiscite, urging voters to get behind the yes campaign.


Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).    For a daily critique of Leftist activities,  see DISSECTING LEFTISM.  To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup  of pro-environment but anti-Greenie  news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH .  Email me  here

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