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More things linked to cancer – this time hot tea

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A recently published survey has shown that drinking hot tea fast will increase the chances of getting throat cancer.

The Iranian survey was published in the British Medical Journal and shows a correlation between those who drink the hot drink increase their chances of developing oesophageal cancer.

Throat cancer kills around 500,000 people worldwide annually.

The study, which was formulated into fruition in 1970 also shows that drinking the hot beverage very fast will increase the chances of attaining the disease five-fold, if consumed under two minutes. It can also burn your tounge.

However, the researcher says it may be down to the fact that it is hot, and says other drinks swallowed hot may see an increase in the chance of getting oesophageal squamous cell carcinoma cancer, the most common form of throat cancer and the one this study focused on.

Researcher Dr Farhad Islami said, “Several studies have shown an association between drinking maté (a beverage which is commonly consumed in South America) and risk of oesophageal cancer. However, both the temperature and maté itself may have a role in this case.”

Hot tea now looks to be a possible contender to the ranks of alcohol and tobacco as known causes of cancer. Though, associate professor at Otago’s School of Medicine Dr Brian Cox warned that it is just “one study” and shouldn’t be taken as fact just yet.

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Written by Gabriel Pollard

5 April, 2009 at 8.09 pm

Posted in Health, International

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Earth Hour – a thumbs up or middle finger to climate change?

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Earth Hour kicked off today in attempt to save the world by turning off lights, and other non-essential items, for 60 minutes.

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has called for prompt action on alledged climate change, and said this is a very symbolic way of showing the world leaders that their citizens want change. The event has been described as a “global election”, with lights off being a vote for action against climate change, and lights on indicating that a person is voting for climate change. 

From 8.30-9.30 pm, the lights of public buildings from Christchurch’s Cathedral to Paris’ Eiffel Tower to the United Nations, including its headquarters located in New York, US – a move which will save the New York offices $102 – will be turned off.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that the demonstration will be the largest show of public concern regarding climate change.

“People will be telling their representatives to seal a deal in Copenhagen, a deal at the climate change talks that will protect people and the planet.”

However, critics such as Freedom Alliance president Thomas Kilgannon are lampooning the UN involvement saying it’s self-serving gimmick, trying to run up support for the Copenhagen deal which they are spear-heading.

Kilgannon said, “It’s like a lot of what the U.N. does — it’s a gimmick, it’s empty, it’s shallow and it’s not going to lead to anything.

“The bigger problem is that they’re doing this leading up to the conference in December. They’re trying to consolidate their authority to push their agenda.”

2900 cities are said to be taking part, according to the WWF. Celebrities are also claimed to be taking part, including actors Kevin Bacon, Cate Blanchett and Edward Norton.

One billion people are hoped to take part in this year’s black out, a big jump in the 50 million that took part last year, and the Australia-limited event in 2007, where the mass phenomenon started.

Many residents in Christchurch,  New Zealand have called on Earth Hour to be more than once year. Heck, why not do it every day. In fact, in our household we turn the lights off from the latest midnight to the earliest 7am. We just save seven hours of power, beat that environmentalists who only like to turn their lights off for an hour every year.

The Earth Hour website asks us to spend the hour making a video, taking and uploading photos, live-blogging, or tweeting away on Twitter. But, they must forget, all those activities use power. Power equals carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide equals death to them. They sure are missing the point.

Written by Gabriel Pollard

28 March, 2009 at 10.36 pm

Posted in International

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Free trade with Korea possible following China’s deal

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New Zealand’s Trade Minister Tim Groser has called on submissions on a possible free-trade-agreement (FTA) with the Republic of Korea. This follows the first ever FTA secured with China by the former Labour-led New Zealand Government.

The incumbent National-led Government said that the submissions are now being called as part of a review of the possibility that was undertaken two years ago. A 2007 joint private study involving the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research (NZIER) and the Korean Institute for International Economic Policy (KIEP) with results only having been released recently and “indicates that an FTA would offer net economic benefits to both countries.”

Mr Groser said, “Korea is New Zealand’s sixth largest export market, with our total bilateral goods trade worth around NZ$2.5 billion a year. Korea is also an important source of international students and tourists. Entering into an FTA would see the platform laid to develop further this important relationship.”

While New Zealand receives submissions, Korea will conduct domestic consultations. “We are confident that this submission process, and Korea’s own domestic consultations, will demonstrate favourable support for this process and that our two Governments can subsequently move to the formal announcement of negotiations,” Mr Groser said.

South Korean Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan visited this weekend as a part of key discussions revolving around this possible agreement. New Zealand’s Foreign Minister Murray McCully said, “Talks will also focus on how we can strengthen cooperation between New Zealand and South Korea on regional and global security issues, as well as ways to improve bilateral links, particularly in areas such as science and education.”

In September 2007 Korean Minister Yu In-chon signed a film co-production contract with New Zealand.

Written by Gabriel Pollard

25 January, 2009 at 10.06 pm

Whalers flee Australian waters, head for New Zealand’s

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Japanese whalers have left Australia’s Economic Exclusion Zone (EEZ), and are now heading for the waters of the Ross Dependency, which is under the claim of New Zealand. The Sea Shepherd, an environment conservation group, said that the three whaling vessels are now heading eastward.

Sea Shepherd’s Captain, Paul Watson, said, “They are now in the waters of the Ross Dependency and the Steve Irwin is in pursuit.”

The Steve Irwin is their Netherlands-based vessel and has been monitoring the harpoon vessel Yushin Maru #2, the spotting vessel Kaiko Maru and has observed and tracked the Nisshin Maru from the air since December 20; which has brought them many close encounters, Mr Watson said.

“What is now good news for the whales in Australian waters is now bad news for the whales in the waters south of New Zealand,” said Mr Watson.

Sea Shepherd claim that the whalers are in violation of international conservation law and the principles of the United Nations World Charter for Nature as the Ross Dependency waters are an established whale sanctuary. Mr Watson said, “We will continue to pursue, harass and intervene against their blatantly illegal lethal assaults on the whales.”

On board the Steve Irwin are around 40 volunteers and Animal Planet filming the second season of Whale Wars. The Japanese claimed this was endangering their lives and lambasted both Sea Shepherd and Animal Planet for their alleged attempts at making more exciting television.

Steve Irwin is at the moment currently heading to New Zealand to refuel and replenish other provisions. Mr Watson said, “We don’t have the luxury of refuelling at sea like the Japanese fleet has.”

After refuelling at the closest port, they will head back to the expected position of the Japanese ships to prevent more whale deaths and “to continue to pursue, harass and intervene against illegal Japanese whaling activities,” Mr Watson said.

However, the Japanese Whaling Association has called for the Australian and New Zealand Governments to refuse port access to the Steve Irwin under the claim that the Sea Shepherd is committing “terror” on the sea. “Otherwise these countries will be complicit in any further attacks,” they said.

The Japanese whaling fleet plans to kill about 1,000 whales this summer, using a loophole in a 1986 global whaling moratorium that allows “lethal research” on the ocean giants. So far, Sea Shepherd have successfully stopped the Japanese from culling any whales this season, and last year cost them $70 million in lost profit while saving over 500 endangered whales.

Written by Gabriel Pollard

5 January, 2009 at 10.19 pm

Animal Planet endangers lives at sea: Japanese whalers say

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Japanese whaling ships are currently being targeted by environmental activists aboard the Steve Irwin ship in Antarctic waters. The Japan Whaling Association (JWA) say they fear for the lives aboard the whaling vessel.

The activists group is called Sea Shepherd, and they are being filmed by Animal Planet on board the Steve Irwin for a show called Whale Wars on the actions they take against the Japanese whalers.

It is against an international moratorium to hunt whales commercially, but the Japanese do so under the guise of “scientific research”. Hundreds are killed a year. The meat finds its way to dinner plates still however.

President of the JWA, Keiichi Nakajima, said, “We expect more dangerous and criminal activity will be carried out by the Sea Shepherd-Animal Planet crew because they want to make an exciting television series and this fills us with very great concern for the lives of the Japanese crews and scientists.”

A Japanese government-backed whaling body claimed that the activists’ ship rammed into the left side of the Japanese vessel, damaging a bulwark, while the Sea Shepherd accused the whaling boat of steering into it.

“Paul Watson even orchestrated a fake event to make it look like he was shot, all of which was aimed at denigrating Japan and boosting the ratings of the Animal Planet un-reality TV series,” Mr Nakajima said.

Paul Watson is the captain of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society vessel Steve Irwin and says that despite the grumblings of the JWA, they have prevented the Japanese from killing any whales in the last nine days.

Mr Watson denies the claims that they are endangering anyone, “Our critics should just shut up because we’ve been doing this for five years, we haven’t been charged with anything, we’ve not broken any laws, we’ve not injured anybody.”

Mr Nakajima said, “Animal Planet will try to deny it has any influence on what Sea Shepherd extremists plan and carry out, but the fact is the very presence of the film crew on board is enough to provide a causal link between them and the events that occur in the Antarctic.”

Written by Gabriel Pollard

1 January, 2009 at 9.05 pm

13 airlines accused of cartel behaviour to be prosecuted

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New Zealand’s Commerce Commission has filed proceedings in the High Court of New Zealand against 13 international airliners for alleged cartel  behaviour for more than seven years. Seven airline staff of a high level in their respective companies also face prosecution.

In a press release the Commerce Commission said, “Airlines throughout the world colluded to raise the price of freighting cargo by imposing fuel surcharges for more than seven years. This affected the price of cargo both into and out of New Zealand.”

The Commerce Commission said that between 1999 and 2000, the 13 airplane operators entered into an illegal agreement imposing fuel surcharges for six years until 2006. Following the 9/11 attacks on America, a security surcharge was also imposed, according to the New Zealand Government’s competition regulatory agency.

The allegations also involve a series of regional price fixing agreements.

Around 60 airline operators are involved, but only 13 are being focussed on; including Air New Zealand, British Airways and Australian-based Qantas Airways. More staff could be involved too.

The agency bringing the charges have claimed that the anti-competition colluding has “extensively” harmed the New Zealand economy. It is estimated that the price fixing generated a revenue of NZ$2.9 billion over seven years.

Commerce Commission Chair Paula Rebstock said, “Participation in cartel activity is internationally regarded as one of the most egregious forms of anti-competitive behaviour.

“Many New Zealand businesses and every consumer will have been directly affected by the increased air freight costs over many years. It will have resulted in increased costs for exporters and importers and higher overall prices for many consumer goods.”

State owned Air New Zealand’s general counsel John Blair says the Commission is merely “grandstanding” and they will defend the charges before them outright.

International equivalents of New Zealand’s Commerce Commission are already investigating, with several companies already being issued massive fines amounting to tens, even hundreds, of millions of dollars each.

Ms Rebstock said, “New Zealand is a long way from its overseas markets and so the harm to our economy and our ability to compete internationally will have been disproportionately greater than in other jurisdictions in which the conduct took place.”

The Commerce Commission were tipped off from an industry insider, whose airliner have been granted immunity from prosecution.

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Written by Gabriel Pollard

15 December, 2008 at 2.04 pm