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Archive for April, 2019

Maternal age not the pregnancy risk factor we once thought

04.13.2019, Comments Off on Maternal age not the pregnancy risk factor we once thought, 成都夜生活, by .

Bronwyn Fagan had her daughters when she was over 30 years old. Bronwyn with her daughters Jade 8, and Ivy 6.Photo: Jamila Toderas Bronwyn Fagan had her daughters when she was over 30 years old. Bronwyn with her daughters Jade 8, and Ivy 6.Photo: Jamila Toderas
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Bronwyn Fagan had her daughters when she was over 30 years old. Bronwyn with her daughters Jade 8, and Ivy 6.Photo: Jamila Toderas

More n women are having babies later in life and the findings of a new report is shifting understanding about the level of risk for those giving birth over 35.

The n & New Zealand Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology study found the presence of medical conditions conferred a greater risk of adverse outcomes in pregnancy than age itself.

Trends in motherhood are changing and the report found one in seven first-time mums gave birth at between 35-39 years of age.

Women in this age group without health concerns had a similar risk level of maternal death to those in the same circumstances who were over 40 years old.

Lead author University of Sydney Professor Jonathan Morris said the study analysed 117,357 pregnancies among 99,375 women aged over 35 from NSW birth records from 2006 to 2012.

It encompassed women aged 35 to 56 years old, 32.2 per cent of whom were first time mothers and 67.8 per cent were women who had previously had babies.

Dr Morris said the data showed for the vast majority of women outcomes for pregnancy were good.

“What this work has done for the first time is looked at things other than age. When you examine the contribution of age compared with medical conditions or what’s happened in your pregnancies before – those characteristics are far more important than age.”

For example, a 35 year old first-time mum with no medical conditions had an estimated 5 per cent risk of perinatal death or serious complications compared to 5.7 per cent for a first-time mother aged 40.

By comparison, the results showed for a 35 year old first time mum with diabetes that risk level jumped to 12.4 per cent.

AMA ACT president Dr Stephen Robson, a highly-experienced obstetrician and gynaecologist, said the report refined thinking about risk, but demonstrated age was a factor in the mix along with medical and obstetric history.

“It would be a critical mistake to take this as reassurance that if you are well you can delay childbirth as long as you want,” he said.

“As you get older it becomes harder to become pregnant. And you are more likely to have an early pregnancy loss or miscarriage which is a devastating experience.”

Dr Robson said there were limitations to the study. One was an under representation of women who have had previous complications with childbirth as many chose not to have further pregnancies.

And with high levels of screening, pregnancies with abnormalities discovered that might otherwise threaten the life of a mother or baby were often not carried to full term and delivery.

Brownyn Fagan was nearing 36 when she had her first child Jade and 38 when her youngest, Ivy arrived.

The former elite athlete and busy lawyer said her two caesarean deliveries were not without their individual moments of panic, but she felt her level of physical fitness was an asset in both pregnancy and labor.

“When you are older you are used to having control over what happens in your life but with birth and labor there are so many unknowns,” she said.

“It’s good to have statistics. To have that fear alleviated and have risks put into perspective it takes a weight off because there are so many things to think about.”

Dr Robson, president of the Royal n and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said “pejorative terms” such as geriatric pregnancy were out of favour within the profession as it dealt with a shift in the age of mums.

“We need to recognise those terms aren’t helpful, they often put people offside, and as you can tell from this paper they are not particularly useful medical definitions,” he said.

And while life was different and fewer women were having their first child in their early twenties, it was in everyone’s interest to heed warnings about pregnancy risk.

“If you are in an older age group, you do have health problems like high blood pressure and so on or in previous pregnancies if you have had problems you need to engage a GP or someone skilled in pregnancy early, ideally before you try for pregnancy,” he said.

“But if you do become pregnant and you are healthy from that point forward you should be confident.”

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A chance for peace in the South China Sea

04.13.2019, Comments Off on A chance for peace in the South China Sea, 成都夜生活, by .

The warmongers will hate it but in the foreseeable future there’s a chance that China and its South East Asian neighbours will reach a peaceful settlement on development and freedom of navigation in the South China Sea.
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Ongoing discussion arising from a week-long Association of Southeast Asian Nations ministerial meeting in Manilla could result in a regional code of conduct to manage disputes without outside interference.

It’s a long road and undoubtedly there will be stumbles on the way but the current Manilla ministerial meeting offers a better prospect of resolving the issues than US, n and British military exercises in seas far from their shores.

British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson’s statement last month that the United Kingdom would engage in warship exercises in the South China Sea was but one example of this confrontational and colonialist approach. (You have to wonder if Boris’ next plan is to insist on British rights to re-open the opium trade).

The South China Sea is about as far away from the British Western European islands as one could get.

Johnson said Britain would be sending its two new colossal aircraft carriers to the region “to vindicate our belief in the rules-based international system and in the freedom of navigation through those waterways which are absolutely vital for world trade.”

One wonders if Johnson has any idea where British interests lie.

Currently 44 per cent of British exports go to the European Union and 53 per cent of its imports come from the EU, a total of ??514.4 billion.

North America is by far its next biggest trading region, with the US and Canadian trade worth ??170 billion.

Some 70 per cent of Britain’s trade is with countries in its surrounding seas. So why send your only two aircraft carriers to the other side of the world to protect trade that is not threatened in the first place?

As many have pointed out, the last thing China would want to do is damage trade through its surrounding seas.

But that’s not to say there are no issues in the East China Sea or the South China Sea that could generate conflict. Fishing rights, environmental protection and of course oil and gas fields are all potentially hot issues.

Having Western warships and fighter planes roaming the region will not help resolve these matters.

Lately we have avoided major incidents between Western and Chinese naval vessels that could spark regional conflict.

But in 2001 a Chinese fighter pilot died after his plane hit a US Navy aircraft gathering intelligence just off the Chinese coast, 70 miles from Hainan Island.

Ironically the only lives lost recently have come from the collision between the USS Fitzgerald and a Philippine-flagged merchant vessel, the ACX Crystal, where seven US sailors died south of Tokyo Bay in the East China Sea.

ns will also well remember the June 1969 tragedy when the USS Frank E Evans crossed the bow of the aircraft carrier Melbourne during a training exercise in the South China Sea. Seventy four US sailors lost their lives.

Potentially the biggest prizes in the South China Sea will come from oil and gas discoveries.

Vietnam recently directed a subsidiary of a Spanish company Repsol to suspend drilling operations on a block in the Spratly Island region of the South China Sea after Chinese foreign ministry officials raised objections.

Much closer to Vietnam’s coast, ExxonMobil is planning development of the Blue Whale natural gas reserves in a region just outside the area historically claimed by China.

In the hope of confirming a huge gas field, the Philippines is also planning to drill in the Reed Bank region north of the Spratly Islands.

The new code of conduct could enable joint drilling and development of disputed blocks without anyone losing face and without costly conflict.

No matter how you try, you can’t get away from history when considering China’s claims and its disputes with surrounding states.

To most in , Okinawa in the East China Sea is recalled only as the scene of the largest US amphibian assault on Japan during WWII.

But it was once the capital of the Ryukyu kingdom which controlled the Ryukyu Islands running south of Japan and guarding the eastern Pacific approach to China.

Today the islands are considered part of Japan but for centuries the kingdom was a vassal state of China.

In 1879 when China’s military capability was no match for Japan, Japan unilaterally abolished the kingdom and incorporated Okinawa into Japan as a prefecture.

US emissaries early recognised the value of these islands with Commodore Matthew Perry, who famously used his cannon bearing Black Ships to forcibly “open” Japan to trade, argued in 1854 that the United States should establish a foothold in the Ryukyus to sustain US maritime rights in the east.

Japanese expansion saw it take Taiwan in 1895 in the first Sino-Japanese war, invade mainland China in 1931 and push on as far as New Guinea in the Second World War.

Today China is not claiming the Ryukyus, but it is claiming the Senkaku or Diaoyus rocky outcrops to their south which Japan annexed in 1895.

Further south, China sees Taiwan as part of its territory and even further south China maintains its historic claims to the Paracel and Spratly Islands in the South China Sea.

What is rarely mentioned these days in all the US talk about freedom of navigation is that Article 2 (f) of the WWII peace treaty signed between the allies and Japan on 8 September 1951 in San Francisco states: “Japan renounces all right, title and claim to the Spratly Islands and to the Paracel Islands.”

China was not represented at the San Francisco conference but the following year the Republic of China signed the Treaty of Taipei with Japan. This states: “Japan has renounced all right, title and claim to Taiwan (Formosa) and Penghu (the Pescadores) as well as the Spratly Islands and the Paracel Islands.”

American maps produced before the US recognised Communist China as the “One China” (such as that printed by Encyclopaedia Britannica) clearly show the Paracel Islands marked as Chinese.

If the People’s Republic of China is the “One China”, then it surely follows that it has a strong claim over the Paracels.

Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and the Philippines can mount strong claims for many islands, reefs, banks and rocky outcrops off their shores and will no doubt do so.

The ASEAN code of conduct will enable negotiations between these countries and China, and with goodwill and compromise on all sides the issues can be resolved peacefully.

Similarly, without provocative naval exercises, Japan and China should be able to negotiate a resolution to manage their disputed borders.

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Demountable numbers drop as ACT student numbers surge

04.13.2019, Comments Off on Demountable numbers drop as ACT student numbers surge, 成都夜生活, by .

Toronto High School. Lake Macquarie. Generic class picture for school feature. Technology. Classroom. Teacher. Student. February 2015. Picture by Jamieson MurphyThe number of demountable classroom buildings used in ACT public schools has fallen over the past decade, despite an increase in the territory’s student population.
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Figures from the ACT education directorate showed as of July 2017, there were 73 demountable buildings across Canberra public schools, making up 130 classrooms.

A demountable building can include between one and three classrooms.

During the past 10 years the number of demountables has fallen from 87 buildings used in 2008, which at the time made up 144 classrooms.

Janelle Kennard from the ACT Council of Parents and Citizens Association said she was surprised the number of demountables across ACT public schools had fallen despite the increase to student numbers.

“At our monthly meetings, we’re hearing more and more problems and concerns from parents around capacity issues with public schools, and it’s surprising that there’s fewer demountables,” she said.

“I’m a bit baffled by that.”

Ms Kennard said some school halls no longer had room for parents to attend school assemblies, with facilities reaching capacity due to a boost in student enrolments.

While she said demountables were a good solution to meet the need of a growing student population more forward thinking on the issue was needed.

“We have to be careful when it comes to long-term planning, with adequate school planning in Canberra, and a willingness to build more schools is required,” she said.

A spokeswoman for the directorate said the decrease was due to multiple factors.

“Over the last 10-year period, some new transportable buildings have been procured, some have been relocated and some that have reached the end of their life have been disposed of,” the spokeswoman said.

School enrolments continue to climb in the ACT, with some forced to use libraries or community rooms as classroom spaces.

The most recent ACT school census showed there was a 3.8 per cent jump in the number of enrolments at public schools this year, rising more than 1700 students from last year.

In the past four years, student numbers at all ACT schools have increased by 9.6 per cent, or 6583 students. !function(e,t,s,i){var n=”InfogramEmbeds”,o=e.getElementsByTagName(“script”),d=o[0],r=/^http:/.test(e.location)?”http:”:”https:”;if(/^\/{2}/.test(i)&&(i=r+i),window[n]&&window[n].initialized)window[n].process&&window[n].process();else if(!e.getElementById(s)){var a=e.createElement(“script”);a.async=1,a.id=s,a.src=i,d.parentNode.insertBefore(a,d)}}(document,0,”infogram-async”,”//e.infogram苏州夜总会招聘/js/dist/embed-loader-min.js”); Demountable buildings in ACTCreate your own infographics

The directorate spokeswoman said the average serviceable life of a demountable classroom was between 15 and 20 years, and it was one of the strategies used to deal with a rise in student enrolments.

“The directorate’s approach is to use transportable [classrooms] when there is a short-to-medium term peak in student numbers at a school, and when student enrolments differ to the modelled projections,” she said.

“Transportables can also be moved within the school system, allowing for flexibility in use of infrastructure and reducing the risk of creating facilities that are not needed in the long term.”

Three demountable buildings were installed during the past financial year, with two of them at Neville Bonner Primary School and one for Palmerston Primary School.

It’s expected four demountables will be installed over the coming year.

Figures from the directorate show Amaroo School and Gold Creek School have the most demountables, with seven buildings each.

n Education Union ACT branch secretary Glenn Fowler said while the union holds no position on the issue of demountable classrooms, class size was an important topic.

“Demountables come and go and we don’t have a blanket position on them. We’re happy to listen to experts on demographics and we’re not inflexible about it,” he said.

“Every child must be guaranteed an education at their local public school and they deserve to be educated in a fit-for-purpose, 21st century learning environment.”

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Postal vote on same-sex marriage would be invalid without legislation: lawyers

04.13.2019, Comments Off on Postal vote on same-sex marriage would be invalid without legislation: lawyers, 成都夜生活, by .

Legal advice to be sent to Malcolm Turnbull says a postal vote would likely be invalid without legislation. A postal vote on same-sex marriage would likely be invalid without legislation and struck down in the High Court, according to legal advice obtained by marriage equality advocates.
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In the first detailed legal opinion to be presented on a same-sex marriage postal vote, lawyers argued the Turnbull government could not circumvent Parliament to enact a postal plebiscite.

The advice, prepared by Ron Merkel QC and Christopher Tran, and seen by Fairfax Media, suggested the High Court would likely rule a postal vote invalid unless authorised by a specific law.

Same-sex marriage campaigners have seized the advice and committed to a legal challenge if Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull goes ahead with the idea, which has been gaining traction among Coalition MPs.

Shelley Argent, spokeswoman for Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, said she “would not hesitate to take the government to the High Court” based on the advice, which will be sent to Mr Turnbull and Attorney-General George Brandis.

It comes as Liberal MPs prepare for a special meeting on Monday to debate alternatives to the plebiscite, which failed to get through the Senate, including moving straight to a free vote in Parliament.

The legal advice strongly backs the view that a postal vote cannot be paid for under existing laws, nor could such a vote be chalked up as “departmental expenditure” by a Commonwealth agency.

A postal vote could not reasonably be described as part of the government’s ordinary annual activities because plebiscites were historically rare and same-sex marriage was a socially momentous change, the lawyers advised.

And if guidance on same-sex marriage was to be sought from ns, it should be at the instigation of their elected representatives – the Parliament, not the Commonwealth Executive – they said.

Mr Merkel and Mr Tran noted there was scope under the Commonwealth Electoral Act for the n Electoral Commission to supply goods and services “to any person or body”.

However, they argued the government would still need authorisation by some other means – in this case, by passing a specific law – to request that service from the AEC.

“While this area is still attended by a great deal of uncertainty, the preferable view is that it is more likely than not that the High Court would find the proposed postal plebiscite and its funding to be invalid unless specific legislation is enacted to support it,” Mr Merkel and Mr Tran concluded.

Separately, Mr Turnbull and Senator Brandis have also received letters from legal groups concerned about the constitutional validity of a postal plebiscite.

Anna Brown, director of legal advocacy at the Human Rights Law Centre, said the idea was “potentially unlawful” and lacked the usual safeguards for procedural fairness, arguments once made by Mr Turnbull against a postal vote on the republic.

n Marriage Equality and the Human Rights Law Centre have commissioned legal advice from Kate Richardson SC, who is expected to make similar points to Mr Merkel, which will be presented to the government before this week’s debate.

It is understood the Turnbull government has sought its own advice on how a voluntary postal vote could be held without legislation, which Immigration Minister Peter Dutton has asserted as doable.

Jonathon Hunyor, chief executive of the Public Interest Advocacy Centre, said Mr Merkel’s legal advice strongly backed the view that a postal plebiscite “has to go back to Parliament” to ensure it is valid.

That would doom it to failure, as Nick Xenophon and Derryn Hinch have vowed to block a plebiscite, and Labor and the Greens remain implacably opposed.

Veteran gay rights campaigner Rodney Croome said: “Human rights and equality issues should be dealt with through the Parliament, not the post office.”

A spokeswoman for Senator Brandis said: “Consistent with long-standing practice, the government does not comment on legal advice.”

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When it comes to electricity, the joke’s on us

04.13.2019, Comments Off on When it comes to electricity, the joke’s on us, 成都夜生活, by .

There’s this joke, told against economists.
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Two of them are walking down the street. One points, and says: “Hey look, there’s a $20 note on the footpath.” The other replies: “Impossible. If there was, someone would have picked it up by now.”

Boom tish. My favourite is about a can-opener. And there’s another one about sheep. But we’ll leave them for another day.

What I’m getting at is that the joke against economists is actually a joke against us, about half of us.

Newgate Research has come up with the numbers in a paper prepared for the n Energy Market Commission, quoted by the Prime Minister in his letter to electricity bosses; the one summoning them to a crisis meeting in Canberra on Wednesday.

Roughly half of us haven’t switched electricity suppliers in the past five years, and a good many have never switched.

The letter says they are leaving on the table (or on the ground) savings of up to $830 per year in Victoria and $1400 in NSW.

Why do they do it? Most say (just like the economist) that they “generally don’t trust energy companies that promise a better deal”. Most also say it’s too complicated to compare offers and plans, a conclusion I reluctantly came to myself, and I’m normally good at these things.

Curiously, around half say they would rather cut their bill by cutting electricity use than shopping around, and most strangely of all, 39 per cent say the amount of money they could save isn’t “worth the time and effort involved in switching”.

It’s strange, because without investigating switching they can’t know how much they could save, and also because the savings would be ongoing, whereas the time and effort would be a one-off.

Newgate dug deeper and asked how much of a saving they would need in order to seriously consider switching. The thresholds were astonishingly high. On average the 2000 householders surveyed said they would need to save 23 per cent of their electricity bills to make the effort worthwhile. That’s $82 each quarter in Victoria (more than $300 a year) and $97 each quarter in NSW (almost $400 a year).

If it was petrol, or groceries, we’d drive to the other end of town to save half as much.

And savings available from switching electricity suppliers appear to be bigger. Half of us don’t know it because we don’t think its worth our while finding out.

Many of us wouldn’t know where to start. Asked unprompted to name a government price comparison website, only 2 per cent could. Energymadeeasy.gov.au might as well not exist. Twice as many people used Google to compare suppliers as used a comparison website. Of those that did try to switch, 21 per cent found it difficult, a result much worse than the 15 per cent who found it difficult to switch internet providers, 9 per cent who found it difficult to switch mobile phone companies and 7 per cent who found it difficult to change home insurance. It’s about the same as the 20 per cent who find it difficult to switch banks, the best part of a decade after attempts to make it easy.

Partly, the difficulty is intentional. By expressing electricity charges in formulas that are hard to calculate, the retailers hope we’ll give up. And I reckon it’s also because electricity is dull, and the rewards are delayed. If you get a bargain on an iPad, you feel good straight away. You can take it home and see what you’ve saved.

But if you get a bargain on electricity, nothing changes: the electrons are the same and you won’t see a changed bill for months. It’s the same with mortgages: the dollars are identical and the savings take a while to flow through.

We’re wired for novelty. If the dollars are dull, we won’t pick them up.

Peter Martin is economics editor of The Age.

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