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News Comment
a personal view of the week's news from Erithacus

6th October 2001 

Figures for shares traded on the London Stock Exchange in September showed a dramatic increase after months of unusually low volumes. The total number bought and sold for the month was up 31% on September 2000, and September 21st saw a record 235,011 transactions beat the previous record of 202,602 in April 2000.

The FTSE100 index climbed steadily this week, closing on Friday comfortably above the important 5000 level at 5036 although off the dayís high of 5082.9. The rise for the week amounted to a total of 132.6 points, and although many share prices remain volatile many analysts believe confidence is returning which should maintain the movement generally upwards for major companies at least. A level of 5,400 is being quoted for the FTSE100 by the end of this year, although few doubt there will be some highly volatile movements during the next three months.

With stocks on the U.S. markets closing up on Friday as well, some believe next week will start with substantial rises likely to continue throughout the week. However, there is an odd undercurrent of something unpleasant that seems to be circulating among investors and traders. There may be bad news on its way Ė possibly before the weekend is over.


I was interested, and startled, to read an article first published in The Journal of Reproductive Medicine. In a study between December 1998 and March 1999, groups of Christians in the USA, Canada and Australia were given photographs of women undergoing IVF treatment in South Korea and were asked to pray for success of the treatment. A second group of women undergoing the same treatment at the same hospitals, and randomly selected by an independent statistician, were monitored but not included in the prayers nor made known to the prayer groups.

Astoundingly, the differences in success between the two groups was dramatic. Those who were the subject of the prayers had a 50% success rate, while success for the other group was only 26%. The first group also showed a significantly higher level of multiple pregnancies.

A remarkable result? A coincidence? Were there other factors involved? Maybe.

It would be an interesting study to repeat with other groups, wouldnít it?


I also hear that elephants are on the move.

Forty of the animals have already been moved from the Kruger National Park in South Africa to an area in Mozambique. It seems the Kruger National Park has been so successful in providing a safe habitat for the elephant that its 9000-strong population of the animals is now damaging the area to the extent that it cannot support any more of them. Plans to move more than 1000 elephants in the next three years seem ambitious but the alternative of culling a similar number is far from acceptable, particularly when it should be possible to use the animals to "repopulate" an area in Mozambique where most of the elephants were killed during that countryís civil war.

Hannibal would have been proud.


Itís an old and recurring theme for me (as anyone reading my musings on the news will know), yet once again I find I need to return to the subject of "mad" scientists.

You know, and I know, that of course itís bad to eat to much fat. Experts have been telling us this for years, and we are all much healthier eating good fruit, vegetables, and a moderate amount of carbohydrates.

That is what they have been telling us, isnít it?

Apparently not.

A new report by U.S. scientists (no, Iím not blaming the USA Ė at least, not this time) backed by such eminent bodies as the British Epilepsy Association, claims that a high fat diet will reduce the likelihood of epileptic fits. Although this is being seen primarily as a new way of treating particular epileptic conditions that are unresponsive to conventional drugs, some researchers believe the intake of a higher level of fat than had been thought "good for you" can act as a preventative measure to reduce the risk of epileptic conditions occurring.

Experts warn people not to change their eating habits on the basis of the results so far, but there seems to be some significant evidence that beta hydroxybutyric acid, which is left behind when the human body has insufficient carbohydrate intake to break down fats completely, may act to replace missing components that would normally stop seizures.

Testing of the effects of a diet rich in fats and low in carbohydrates (called the "ketogenic diet") is being carried out at three centres in the UK, including Great Ormond Street Hospital in London, specifically as a treatment for severe epilepsy.

I guess itís good that some scientists will always have the sense to look in completely different directions from almost anything that becomes accepted as "normal" or "healthy". I just wish they would stop being so definite every time they manage to convince themselves about whatís "good for us".


6th October 2001                        

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Links to previous news comments:

29-Sept-2001
22-Sept-2001
15-Sept-2001
8-Sept-2001
1-Sept-2001
25-August-2001
18-August-2001
27-July 2001
14-July-2001
7-July-2001
30-June-2001
23-June 2001
16-June-2001
10-June-2001
03-June-2001
26-May-2001
19-May-2001
12-May-2001
05-May-2001
21-April-2001
14-April-2001
07-April-2001
31-March-2001
24-March-2001
18-March-2001
11-March-2001
04-March-2001
24-Feb-2001
18-Feb-2001
10-Feb-2001
03-Feb-2001
27-Jan-2001
20-Jan-2001
13-Jan-2001
06-Jan-2001
30-Dec-2000

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