The News – 1 August 2014

Overview

  • Up to 15 people die and more than 430 are admitted to hospital every day in Australia due to alcohol-related illnesses, new research shows.
  • The Republican-led US House of Representatives has cleared the way for the launch of a lawsuit accusing president Barack Obama of overstepping his authority in carrying out his signature healthcare law.
  • The octopus spent about four-and-a-half years brooding her eggs, protecting them vigilantly until they hatch while forgoing any food for herself.


Stories Discussed
News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the 1st August 2014. Read by Rebecca Foster.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-07-31/15-australians-die-each-day-from-alcohol-related-illness-study/5637050

Up to 15 people die and more than 430 are admitted to hospital every day in Australia due to alcohol-related illnesses, new research shows.

The study reveals that in 2010, excessive and long-term consumption of alcohol resulted in 5,554 deaths and 157,132 hospital admissions.

In the study, jointly commissioned by Victoria Health, Turning Point Alcohol and Drug Centre and the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education, the Northern Territory topped the list with the highest proportion of all deaths being related to alcohol, at 11.8 per cent.

Dr Michael Thorn from the Foundation for Alcohol Research says Australia’s heavy drinking culture is showing little sign of abating.

The 2010 figure marks a 62 per cent jump in the rate of alcohol-related deaths and diseases since 2000.

Some of the rise can be put down to better research techniques and data access but there is also no getting away from the behaviour issue.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-07-31/republicans-vote-to-sue-obama-over-healthcare-law/5637442

The Republican-led US House of Representatives has cleared the way for the launch of a lawsuit accusing president Barack Obama of overstepping his authority in carrying out his signature healthcare law.

The 225-201 vote, along party lines, to authorise the suit will allow House lawyers to draft legal documents over a five-week summer recess starting on Friday.

The planned lawsuit is expected to generate months of bitter campaign rhetoric from both Republicans and Democrats ahead of November elections that will determine the political control of Congress next year.

The suit is expected to claim that Mr Obama exceeded his executive authority in making unilateral changes to the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare.

Republicans argue that by delaying some healthcare coverage mandates and granting various waivers, he bypassed Congress in violation of the US constitution.

Republicans have complained about other unilateral actions that Mr Obama has taken to advance his agenda, from executive orders on immigration policy to same-sex partner benefits.

But they have narrowly focused the suit on the healthcare law because “it is the option most likely to clear the legal hurdles necessary to succeed”, said Republican congressman Pete Sessions, who chairs the House Rules Committee.

“This administration has effectively rewritten the law without following the constitutional process,” he said.

Democrats say the lawsuit is a politically motivated waste of taxpayer resources while Congress has failed to act on other pressing issues including emergency funding to deal with a flood of migrant children.

“This is a veiled attempt at impeaching the president,” said Democratic congresswoman Sheila Jackson-Lee.

http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2014/07/31/4057741.htm

If someone were to create an award for “mother of the year” in the animal kingdom, a remarkably dedicated octopus from the dark and frigid depths of the Pacific Ocean might be a strong contender.

The octopus spent about four-and-a-half years brooding her eggs, protecting them vigilantly until they hatch while forgoing any food for herself.

It is the longest known egg-brooding period for any animal, write scientists in the journal PLOS ONE .

Shallow-water octopuses typically care for their eggs for one to three months, but little is known about the brooding of deep-sea species.

Using a remote-controlled submarine, the scientists monitored a deep-sea species called Graneledone boreopacifica, which lives off the coast of central California.

They tracked one female, recognisable by its distinctive scars, that clung to a vertical rock face near the floor of a canyon about 1400 meters under the surface, keeping the roughly 160 translucent eggs free of debris and silt and chasing off predators.

This mother octopus never left the oblong-shaped eggs — which during the brooding period grew from about the size of a blueberry to the size of a grape — and was never seen eating anything.

The octopus progressively lost weight and its skin became pale and loose.

The researchers monitored the octopus during 18 dives over 53 months from May 2007 to September 2011.

Dr Bruce Robison, a deep sea ecologist at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute in Moss Landing, California, says this species exhibits an extremely powerful maternal instinct.

“It’s extraordinary. It’s amazing. We’re still astonished ourselves by what we saw,” says Robison.

Most octopus females lay a single set of eggs in a lifetime and die shortly after their offspring hatch. The newborn of this species are no helpless babies. The long brooding period enables the hatchlings to come out of their eggs uniquely capable of survival, emerging as fully developed miniature adults able to capture small prey.

At this tremendous depth, there is no sunlight – the only light comes from bioluminescent sea creatures — and it is very cold — 3°C.

“It may seem nasty to us, but it’s home to them,” says Robison.

During the brooding period, the mother octopus seemed to focus exclusively on the welfare of the eggs.

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