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Rodent eradication declared a success in South Georgia

South Georgia is a remote, inhospitable island clinging on in the southern Atlantic Ocean. Despite the hostile climate, the ocean waters around South Georgia are extremely productive and provide food for millions of sea birds and marine mammals. For the huge numbers of birds that feed in the southern Atlantic, South Georgia is the place they call home. 29 species of bird breed on the island, including the wandering albatross, king penguin and the South Georgia pipit, which is found nowhere else in the world.

Unfortunately South Georgia has been colonised by invasive rodent species. These introduced rodents feed on the eggs and young of ground-nesting native birds, which can offer no resistance. Every year thousands, perhaps millions, of young birds are eaten alive by rats. Rats and mice were first brought to South Georgia by whaling ships in the 19th Century. Since then, with no natural predators, they have proliferated on the island. To see the damage these rodents can do, have a look at ARKive’s rather grim, but fascinating video of an introduced rat predating on a Henderson petrel chick. Henderson Island is similar to South Georgia: it is a remote, inhospitable island that supports a high diversity of – often threatened – bird life. On Henderson Island, as on South Georgia, rodents have a devastating impact on native bird populations.

South Georgia Heritage Trust, which is responsible for wildlife conservation on South Georgia, recognises that the only way to ensure the survival of native birds is to fully eradicate rats from the island. Previous research has shown that the only feasible method of eradicating rodents on an island the size of South Georgia – 80,000 hectares – is to spread toxic bait by helicopter. This is a massive undertaking and, if successful, South Georgia will be the largest island ever cleared of rodents. The eradication programme is aided by South Georgia’s geography: the island is divided by glaciers into several zones. Rodents can’t cross these glaciers, meaning that they will not re-infest baited areas.

The eradication programme began in March and conservationists reported that the first phase has been a success. Around 50 tonnes of rodenticide were spread by helicopter in March, over around 13% of the island. Inspections have found no evidence of live rats in this area – a great outcome. Although some wildlife will inevitably be harmed by the rodenticide, the shape, colour and size of pellets have been carefully designed to minimise their attractiveness to non-rodents.

Project leader Professor Tony Martin, from Dundee University, states that while losses to other wildlife are unfortunate, they are offset against the benefit to nesting bird populations. Professor Martin told BBC News ‘When Captain Cook first set foot on the island in 1775 this was perhaps the most important seabird breeding island in the world. By far the majority of birds have been removed by one agent – rats – which man introduced. What we’re doing is turning back the clock two centuries to try to get the island back to where it was; and it’s something we do believe can be accomplished.”

South Georgia Heritage Trust’s objective is to remove every rodent from every piece of land on South Georgia, and leave it rodent-free for generations to come.  Hopefully, this will allow seabird populations to thrive on the island once more. To find out more about the rat eradication project, visit the South Georgia Heritage Trust’s website.

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Gun-Safety Talk a Safe Bet for All Families, Experts Say

Most American parents who own guns discuss gun safety with their children, but the topic is far less likely to arise in homes without guns, a new survey finds.

Perhaps as many as half of American households have a gun, and nearly 30 children are injured or killed daily by guns, most of which are owned by the child’s family or friends, according to researchers at the University of Michigan’s C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital.

In their national poll on children’s health, the researchers asked 1,621 parents about gun ownership and if they had discussed gun safety with their children.

One-third of respondents with children ages 5 to 17 said they had a gun in the home. Of parents with guns in the home, 82 percent said they have talked to their children about gun safety. But only 48 percent of parents without guns in the home have ever discussed gun safety with their children.

The survey also found that 19 percent of all parents were “very worried” that their child could be hurt by a gun at a friend’s home. However, parents who owned a gun were less likely to be very worried compared with parents who did not own a gun 10 percent versus 24 percent, respectively.

“With firearms in about one-third of the approximately 35 million U.S. households with children under 18, discussing gun safety is something all parents need to consider. Parents in non-gun-owning households simply cannot assume that their children will never encounter a situation involving firearms,” survey director Dr. Matthew Davis, an associate professor of pediatrics and internal medicine at the University of Michigan Medical School, said in a university news release.

He advised parents to find age-appropriate education materials that highlight the basic principles of gun safety and discuss these points with their children.

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Raw for Dessert: Easy Delights for Everyone

We recently reviewed Raw Food Made Easy For 1 or 2 People by Jennifer Cornbleet, loving every morsel of her straight-forward, delicious and simple approach to the raw vegan diet. But her follow-up, Raw for Dessert: Easy Delights for Everyone, takes the cake.Featuring all-natural, clever recipes using the freshest of ingredients, Raw for Dessert delivers an alternative to your run-of-the-mill dessert book. Every recipe is completely vegan, and is void of processed, refined flours and sugars.

Oh, and no oven required.

No baking, no cooking, no doughs, no burning. Instead, Raw for Dessert is a myriad of immaculate no-bake treats.

Traditional baking can step aside, with what Cornbleet refers to as the art of substitution. But dont let that worry you the ingredients arent out of the ordinary. Instead, flour is swapped for ground nuts, dates and natural sweeteners for sugar, and coconut and avocado for cream and butter.

For those who dont follow a completely strict raw diet, Cornbleet caters to them with substitutions and additions. For example, her decadent Chocolate Ice Cream features raw cocoa powder as an ingredient, however non-raw-foodists can substitute their regular cocoa powder.

Luckily for us (as readers and eaters), fruits are highlighted in their natural sweetness, enhancing them with just a few additions for everyday eating. Take the Classic Ambrosia, for example, bringing the fresh taste of oranges, bananas, and coconut together with just a touch of added sweetness in addition to an offering of variations to the basic recipe.

Although justifying rich treats should never be an option, Cornbleet combinations do just that. Who can resist a decadent Knockout Brownie Sundae? We certainly cant, and taking a look through the ingredients make it even better. Brazil nuts, for example are rich in fibre and selenium. The brownie and ganache highlights antioxidant-rich cocoa, and her use of walnuts delivers omega-3 goodness.

And we promise, this is just the beginning.

Just like in Raw Food Made Easy, Cornbleet delivers each recipe with ease. Fancy kitchen appliances, uncommon ingredients, and hours of preparation dont make their appearance. Instead its a simple, focused and mouth-watering combination of everything you need to make drool-worthy desserts.

After a basic primer on ingredients, equipment, technique and knife skills (which anyone can master), the book launches into the pages of recipes. It begins with the Basics, outlining frostings, jams, crusts, and more, essential ingredients to many of the recipes to follow. Fruit Desserts comes next, highlighting natures bounty with crumbles, trifles and other delicious combinations.

Next comes Sorbets, Ice Creams and Sundaes, with options such as basic Chocolate Ice Cream to fancier Cookies n Cream and Peach Melba.

This is followed by our favourite chapter, Cakes, Cookies and Bars, with a Spice Cake to showcase at the holidays, a Chocolate Lava Cake to win over anyones heart. It doesnt end there; Pies and Tarts are next, making delicious use of fruits, chocolate, pumpkin and pecan.

The recipes end with Creamy Desserts then Candy, with puddings and fudge and everything in between.

What we love most is that you dont have to be a vegan to love the book. You definitely dont have to be a raw foodist. You just have to love desserts and treats featuring simple ingredients and directions with outstanding results.

We also love is the variety included, with local ingredients abundant, depending on the season. Its the perfect time to try the Apple-Pear Crumble and the Winter Compote, both, we promise, are sure to please.

We love this book, and its perfect combination of decadence, simplicity, and (dare we admit) healthy.

To read our review on Raw Food Made Easy, click here.

To read more about author Jennifer Cornbleet, visit her at .

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What are NCDs and How Can You Prevent Them?


11 Oct 2010 08:57 AM

An official with the World Health Organization, Dr Shin Young-soo announced Sunday that the Western Pacific is seeing an increase in NCDs, and that these NCDs are responsible for 75 percent of deaths in the region.

Our own region is far from immune to NCDs. Here is what you need to know about them and ways to prevent them from affecting yourself and your family.

NCD stands for Non-communicable disease. This refers to diseases that cannot be caught from another person or object contaminated by germs. Heart disease, cancer (although some cancers have been associated with viruses), stroke and diabetes are general forms of NCDs. NCDs are also called lifestyle diseases because they can usually be prevented or at least curbed by living healthy lifestyles.

NCDs are usually attributed to such lifestyle choices as smoking, unhealthy diets and lack of exercise. So the best way to prevent NCDs are by choosing healthy practices. Seems simple, right? But as we all know, it is harder than it might seem on paper.

Quitting smoking is tough to do, exercise is hard to fit in to a busy day, and a healthy diet often requires both time and enough of a food budget to sustain it on a regular basis. Unhealthy convenience foods are both quick and cheap, often tasty, and require less work to prepare. Even the best of us rely far too much on them.

But when the going gets tough, think about this. Not only will a healthy lifestyle help you live longer, you will also live better, with more energy and less aches and pains. And while better food may cost a bit more, it is still much cheaper than the long term health care costs that are required with many NCDs. Quitting smoking has an immediate financial benefit.

Arm yourself against NCDs starting today.

Can Clothing Make You Sick?

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5 Signs That You Are Overtraining

Rodrigo Cayo (DREAM)

Some of us leading a healthy lifestyle seem to get too carried away with things and sometimes end up training too much in spite of our bodies telling us no. The problem is we can become pretty bad at listening to the signals our bodies put out, sometimes all we need is a day of total rest with nothing more than maybe some light stretching and some basic moving around.

The main reason for writing this post is that I have been guilty of overtraining in the past few weeks, you see I have had some extra time on my hands and have been spending it either in the gym or playing sports. This led to some pretty consistent training, all be it too consistent. About a week ago I started to feel tired, not as energetic as usual. Before long I was struck down with a pretty bad cold/flu which left me in bed with fever for about 48hours with the effects still lingering around.

Well thats what you get for ignoring the messages to tone things down, and take a day off. So what are the hidden symptoms/signs that you maybe training too hard, or putting too much physical stress on your body in one way or another?

1- Increased Appetite. This was one of the first things I noticed, my appetite literally went through the roof. In spite of feeling full the need to eat wasn’t going away. This seems to come from the body looking for extra calories or nutrients in order to repair the damage done and replenish glycogen stores and rebuild the muscle. And whilst this is not a bad thing, it must be listened too if you are extra hungry it is probably for good reason so eat. Just make sure you stick to healthy wholesome foods which will supply much needed vitamins and nutrients along with the calorie replenishment.

2- Feeling Unmotivated. A general lack of lust for doing is another key symptom to keep a check on. This is something that can sneak up on you slowly and is almost always down to pushing yourself too hard in one area of your life. Don’t be disheartened by this lack of motivation as it can be a pretty horrible feeling, be assured that the drive will come back in full force once you are properly rested. It is simply your body telling you enough is enough and it is time to slow down, relax and get some down time…….

3- Lower Back Pain. Whilst lower back pain is the most common area to get tense/sore when stressed other problem areas are the shoulders (scapula) and constant headaches. These are the physical symptoms to look out for when overtraining.

I for one can tell pretty quick that I have over exerted myself physically if I wake up with a tender lower back, it is nothing serious just a nagging tenderness in the affected muscle and again is simply a sign from the body to rest. Whilst others may disagree I am convinced that some lower back pain is stress related rather than a structural problem, so If you are suddenly getting tender and stiff muscles it is worth taking a day or two off from training to see if things clear up by themselves.

4- Muscle Twitches. Ever had a twitching eye lid or spasms in your calves? these are often signs of a tired and overworked nervous system. Muscle twitches and spasms are a common complaint of bodybuilders and athletes who put huge strain on their Central Nervous System day in and day out through their training. If you are experiencing any significant muscle twitches or spasms it is worth taking a few days off training and possibly experimenting with a B vitamin complex which can help nourish the nervous system.

5- Sleeping too much or too little. Depending on the individual sleep varies when overtrained, some end up having irritated and restless sleep, while others just can’t stop sleeping. If you find that your sleep patterns have changed significantly in the past few months or they coincide with some extra training or certain stress in your life then it is worth giving yourself a day off. Good sleep is hugely important to recovery so it is worth trying to get it right.

With all the stresses of modern day life very few of us can get away with a overly packed training schedule on top of our normal commitments (work, family etc…) This is leading to more and more overtraining, or to be put simply being run down from overexerting ourselves in the gym. Sports and exercise are tools to revitalise and refresh, as soon as we feel things going the other way it is time to unwind and take some time off.

1 comment so far

  1. Comment by Lily
    14 September 2010

    Excellent article!
    This past week that is precisely what I did to myself, and I am feeling it. Pretty much everything described herein. I definitely need to slow down. Great article I will post the link on my FB page I think more people need to read it.

    Thanks a bunch for your insight!

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Health Highlights: Aug. 6, 2010

2037 is the same as in last year’s report.

Groups Defend Guidelines for Early Diagnosis of Alzheimer’s

New proposed guidelines for early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease were defended this week by the Alzheimer’s Association and the U.S. National Institute on Aging.

The guidelines, released in July, include the use of biomarkers to identify people who are likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease, much the same way that high cholesterol levels are used to identify people at risk for heart disease, The New York Times reported.

But critics question the point of diagnosing Alzheimer’s before a person even has symptoms, since there are no treatments for the disease. Others are concerned that the early diagnosis guidelines are simply an offering to drug companies so that they can start marketing expensive and perhaps not very effective new drugs.

In a conference call Wednesday, the Alzheimer’s Association and the National Institute on Aging clarified their position. At this stage, biomarkers would be used only for research. For example, some patients would have biomarker tests to determine how brain changes predict disease, The Times reported.

And it’s believed that new criteria for early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease might help in the testing of potential new drugs.

“Certainly, we are not out there trying to help drug companies,” Dr. Reisa Sperling of Brigham and Womens Hospital in Boston, told The Times.

But currently, nearly all drugs are tested only in people who have severe Alzheimer’s symptoms, which almost guarantees failure.

“We are trying these drugs way too late,” Spierling said.

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Hawaii Medical Center emerges from bankruptcy

As part of the process, the company, which operates Hawaii Medical Center West and Hawaii Medical Center East, paid $5.7 million on the approximately $50 million in debt that it owes to St. Francis Healthcare System of Hawaii, the hospitals’ former owner.

Going forward, the medical center said it will focus on rebuilding its core specialties, which include transplant surgeries and services, surgery on liver and thoracic tumors, and skilled nursing.

“We’ve worked hard to restore the financial health of the hospitals and ensure that they are viable for the long term,” said Hawaii Medical Center’s CEO, Salim Hasham.

Hawaii Medical Center’s bankruptcy reorganization plan had it scheduled to exit bankruptcy on the first of July, but remaining paperwork caused delays, according to the medical center.

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‘Heroes’ Judged Harshly for Bad Behavior, Study Finds

SATURDAY, Feb. 26 Your past record of good deeds won’t help you escape blame when you do something wrong, suggests a new study. But you may get off easier if you’re perceived as a victim.

U.S. researchers looked at study participants’ reactions to a number of fictional scenarios representing real-life transgressions, ranging from stealing money to harming another person.

The results showed that, no matter how many previous good deeds a person had done, they received just as much blame if not more than people with less heroic backgrounds.

“People may come down even harder on someone like the Dalai Lama than they do on ‘Joe Blow,’” study author Kurt Gray, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Maryland, said in a university news release.

“However, in our research those who have suffered in the past received significantly less blame, even if such suffering was both totally unrelated to the misdeed and long since past,” he added.

The study findings are published in the March issue of the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology.

“Our research suggests that morality is not like some kind of cosmic bank, where you can deposit good deeds and use them to offset future misdeeds. Instead, people ignore heroic pasts, or even count them against you, when assigning blame,” said Gray, director of the university’s Mind Perception and Morality Lab.

In fact, people tend to simply divide the world up into do-gooders and evil-doers, so “psychologically, the perceived distance between a hero and a villain is quite small, whereas there’s a wide gap between a villain and a victim. This means that heroes are easily recast as evil-doers, whereas it’s very hard to turn a victim into a villain,” Gray explained.

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