Monthly Archives: September 2019

Could eating chocolate save your memory?

Remember to eat chocolate because it might just save your memory. This is the message of a new study, by Columbia University Medical Centre.
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The study shows that a naturally occurring substance in chocolate may improve the function of a part of the brain related to natural memory decline.

As we age, we tend to become more forgetful – struggling to remember people’s names or where we left our wallet. This sort of age-related memory loss affects a part of the brain that is different to the area affected in Alzheimer’s disease.

The Columbia University scientists had previously identified the age-related memory loss area in mice. They had also found that a compound within cocoa, called flavanols, boosted this part of the brain.

But they weren’t sure whether it was the same with humans.

To test the theory, the scientists took a group of 37 healthy volunteers and randomly gave them a chocolate drink rich in flavanols or low in flavanols.

Brain imaging and memory tests were conducted on the volunteers, aged between 50 and 69, before and after the three-month study.

“When we imaged our research subjects’ brains, we found noticeable improvements in the function of the dentate gyrus in those who consumed the high-cocoa-flavanol drink,” said lead author Adam M. Brickman, PhD, associate professor of neuropsychology at the Taub Institute for Research on Alzheimer’s Disease and the Ageing Brain.

The group on the high-flavanol drink also performed better in the memory test.

“If a participant had the memory of a typical 60-year-old at the beginning of the study, after three months that person on average had the memory of a typical 30 or 40-year-old,” said senior author Dr Scott Small, a professor of neurology, in a statement.

Other experts have called the study’s findings “promising” but pointed out that it was a “very small” study so needs to be conducted on a larger scale.

“Given a globally ageing population, by isolating a particular area of the brain that is weakening in functioning as we grow older, and demonstrating that a non-pharmacological intervention can improve learning of new information, the authors have made a significant contribution to helping us improve our cognitive health,” said Dr Ashok Jansari, a cognitive neuropsychologist at the University of East London.

Liz Coulthard, a senior lecturer in dementia neurology from Bristol University, said further research needed to be done to check that it was in fact the flavanols and not the increased levels of caffeine or theobromine (another substance found in chocolate) that enhanced cognitive performance in the cocoa-rich group.

She also said further tests needed to explore accuracy of performance, not just improved reaction times.

“It would be very exciting if such a cognitive benefit of flavanols were shown in a larger study that probed several aspects of cognition,” she said.

And before we race out to buy the family sized bag of Snickers, it’s worth remembering that most methods of processing cocoa – and certainly the processing that takes place before it reaches the supermarket aisle – removes many of the flavanols.

“The supplement used in this study was specially formulated from cocoa beans, so people shouldn’t take this as a sign to stock up on chocolate bars,” said Dr Simon Ridley, Head of Research at Alzheimer’s Research UK.

The best dietary way to reduce our risk of memory loss, Alheimer’s or dementia, is to stick with eating your greens and other good stuff.

“Continued investment in research is crucial to find ways to protect the brain and prevent the diseases that cause dementia,” Ridley said.

“Although there’s currently no certain way to prevent dementia, research shows that a healthy lifestyle can help reduce the risk of the condition.

“A healthy diet, regular exercise, not smoking, and keeping blood pressure and weight in check can all help lower the risk of dementia.”

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Woman shocked by raider damage

Gladiators police raid damage ‘shocking’ STRIPPED: The Gladiators Maitland clubhouse entertainment area was raided by police on Tuesday.
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STRIPPED: The Gladiators Maitland clubhouse entertainment area was raided by police on Tuesday.

STRIPPED: The Gladiators Maitland clubhouse entertainment area was raided by police on Tuesday.

STRIPPED: The Gladiators Maitland clubhouse entertainment area was raided by police on Tuesday.

STRIPPED: The Gladiators Maitland clubhouse entertainment area was raided by police on Tuesday.

Police have arrested four people after raids conducted on properties associated with the Gladiator outlaw motorcycle gang.

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A WOMAN whose stepfather was arrested in the raids of Gladiators clubhouse on Tuesday has hit out at the destruction of the headquarters.

Sarah Winchester said the clubhouse in Horseshoe Bend, Maitland, had been unfairly targeted – and gutted – and members had been wrongly labelled drug dealers.

But police believe the drugs they allegedly seized during raids on properties linked to the gang are worth in excess of $1million.

Mrs Winchester’s stepfather, 49 – labelled by police as one of the gang’s senior officer bearers – was one of four men arrested during the raids.

He was granted conditional bail after being charged with firearms offences.

A second Gladiator, a 41-year-old from Largs, was charged with numerous offences relating to the commercial supply of drugs, possession of an unauthorised pistol, receiving/disposing stolen property and dealing with the proceeds of crime.

A 25-year-old Port Stephens man faces charges relating to the large commercial drug supply and possession of unauthorised firearms.

A fourth man was arrested at Tenambit on Wednesday and was assisting police.

Strike Force Meaney was set up last year to investigate a Hunter Valley-based syndicate believed to be involved in the manufacture and supply of amphetamine-type substances.

Mrs Winchester said the clubhouse’s bar and stage had been destroyed in the raids, its walls and floor damaged and its furniture seized.

She said her stepfather was asleep at the clubhouse and was dragged from his bed naked and forced to sit with guns pointed to his head.

The fact that no drugs were found at the premises led her to question why police destroyed a clubhouse that members worked so hard to build.

‘‘Obviously there is nothing to hide, so it’s a shame that everything has been destroyed,’’ Mrs Winchester said.

‘‘They’ve been building up that place for decades; they do it with their own money in their own time and for all of it to go like that is horrible.

‘‘They do a lot for the community, they love their bikes and most of the guys are quite old, they are not a very young oriented club.’’

Mrs Winchester said the charges against her stepfather had been wrongly laid because the weapons in his room did not belong to him.

Central Hunter crime manager Detective Inspector John Zdrilic said the clubhouse had been stripped because it was a restricted premises and police had the authority to obtain a search warrant and take such action.

He said it was illegal to have a bar at the clubhouse and use it to serve alcohol, and anything relating to illegal pursuits could be seized.

Mrs Winchester said police were only fuelling the perception that club members were outlaws.

Her father was made a life member of the club before his death, and she said the members had ‘‘taken him in off the streets as a 15-year-old’’ and supported him.

‘‘When my dad was alive some of his closest friends were police officers and they always had a really good relationship with police, but now that has been turned on its head which is very sad,’’ Mrs Winchester said.

‘‘I know there are clubs that do deal with drugs and I know that it is an issue, but when you think of outlaw bikie clubs the Gladiators really don’t come to mind.’’

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Nathan Tinkler’s defender Tim Allerton joins creditor list

Nathan TinklerAFTER years of wearing Nathan Tinkler’s public relations flak jacket, Sydney-based spin doctor Tim Allerton has taken court action to shut down the Tinkler Group due to unpaid debts.
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Mr Allerton’s City Public Relations firm joins a long list of creditors forced to take drastic action over the past few years to recover debts from the former billionaire.

The Kent Street corporate and public relations specialist spent four years working as Mr Tinkler’s public apologist, putting out bushfires and defending the former coal baron’s business practices.

But the relationship has soured with Mr Allerton filing action last week in the NSW Supreme Court to wind up the parent company of Mr Tinkler’s dwindling empire.

When asked about the matter on Wednesday, Mr Allerton confirmed he was no longer working for Mr Tinkler but declined to reveal how much he was owed.

‘‘I really don’t have any comments to make in relation to that matter at all,’ he said.

The Newcastle Herald was unable to contact Mr Tinkler.

Patinack Farm’s HunterValley properties – Tremayne at Broke and the former Patinack headquarters, Richmond Grove at Sandy Hollow – will be up for grabs at auction in Sydney on Thursday.

Mr Tinkler is attempting to clear a $40million debt owed to Harvey Norman founder Gerry Harvey.

The Australia Taxation Office (ATO) has also registered two mortgages in relation to Patinack’s assets as part of a settlement with Mr Tinkler.

They were signed last month and in May, with one reportedly relating to a $20.1million debt, signed between the Tax Commissioner, Mr Tinkler, Patinack entities and the companies that own the Jets and the Knights.

The first offering of Patinack Farm properties last week ended with no immediate sales. The auction in Queensland failed to reach expected prices and the four properties were passed in.

Final bids on Patinack’s Canungra properties were $4.5million for Wadham Park, $1.8million for Elysian Fields, $3.5million for Benobble and $1.8million for Sarahvale – a total of $11.6million.

Before the auction, LJHooker managing agent Cameron McPhie said the sale was expected to make between $17million and $23million.

The Herald understands that as of Wednesday, the Hunter’s remaining Patinack Farm staff had not been paid wages for about a month.

It is understood there are still a significant number of horses at the Sandy Hollow property.

Mr Tinkler and his former right-hand man Troy Palmer might have to front a courtroom over the liquidation of Patinack Farm Administration (PFA) and $5million owed to creditors.

Amid a scuffle for company records, Adelaide-based liquidator Anthony Matthews and Associates have applied to publicly examine the pair, and Patinack chief financial officer Tony Marshall, in the South Australian Supreme Court in December.

An alleged payment of about $5million from PFA, previously the main employer at Mr Tinkler’s thoroughbred stud, to another Tinkler-group company is at the centre of the probe.

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More than 70 caught with drugs at Wee Jasper festival

More than 74 festival goers smuggled drugs into the Dragon Dreaming Music Festival at Wee Jasper over the weekend. Photo: NSW PoliceMore than 74 festival goers smuggled drugs into the Dragon Dreaming Music Festival at Wee Jasper over the weekend.
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Cannabis, ecstasy, heroin, ice and magic mushrooms were among drugs seized at the music and arts festival held near Yass.

Two people were arrested for drug supply and numerous others for drug possession.

Hume and Monaro Local Area Command police officers conducted a four-day high visibility operation between Friday, October 24 and Monday, October 27 to target anti-social behaviour and boost safety.

A team of 18 police and two drug detection dogs monitored about 2500 festival goers over four days.

Police also targeted drug-driving among drivers leaving the festival on the Sunday.

Twelve motorists underwent random drug tests. Two people were arrested after allegedly testing positive to prohibited drugs. Their samples have been sent for further analysis.

Inspector Evan Quarmby said police were disappointed to see so many people caught with prohibited drugs.

“Police were kept busy during the festival with 17 people found with prohibited drugs in the first two hours of the operation,” he said.

“To end up with 74 drug detections is a major concern and police will work closely with festival organisers to ensure future events are safe for everyone attending.

“The efforts of police in detecting these drugs are highly commendable but we need people attending these events to think about the dangers and conduct themselves responsibly and within the law.”

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Two teachers to face Indonesian trial over child sex allegations

Jakarta International School. Neil Bantleman, his wife Tracy Bantleman, pictured here the day he was taken into police custody on July 14, 2014. Photo: Michael Bachelard
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Two teachers from the prestigious Jakarta International School, who have spent 108 days without charge in police detention over child sex allegations, were told on Wednesday that they would face trial in an Indonesian court.

Canadian school administrator Neil Bantleman and Indonesian teachers’ aide Ferdinant Tjiong are likely to now be moved to the high security Cipinang detention centre in central Jakarta to await a trial over allegations of rape against three pre-school boys at the school.

The school and the men’s supporters had hoped the case would not move to this stage because they believe the evidence against them is thin and unconvincing.

However, on Wednesday, the head of Jakarta prosecutor’s office, Adi Toegarisman, said the dossier had been completed by police and handed up, so “now the suspects are the responsibility of the prosecutors’ office”.

The mother of one of the alleged victims said on hearing the news: “Good, good, good; of course I’m happy”.

“Based on the evidence, of course I will win. But I cannot say that because I’m not the judge,” the mother said.

But the school’s head, Timothy Carr, said the decision was a “profound disappointment as we are unaware of any viable evidence and we therefore believe these charges to be baseless”.

The school would “vigorously defend the innocence of these fine educators,” he said.

Mr Bantleman’s wife, Tracy, said she was “utterly shocked, frustrated, extremely angry”.

“We have a justice system that is exhibiting extreme carelessness with these two men … It’s an absolute disgrace to justice and human rights,” Mrs Bantleman said.

She said her husband had not been interviewed by police since he underwent a lie detector test on July 23, and no details of the allegations have ever been put to him.

She feared for the safety of her husband and Mr Ferdy in Cipinang prison, in which 2156 mainly Indonesian prisoners, from alleged murderers to drug addicts and gangsters, are held as they are tried.

The Canadian embassy has told Mrs Bantleman the men’s safety is its highest priority.

The school’s three founding embassies, including the Australian embassy, weighed in on July 14 when the men were first taken into custody to say they were “deeply concerned” at the detention of the teachers.

The evidence in the case includes four medical examinations of one of the boys and testimony of the alleged victims. Two of the medical reports found no abnormalities and the third, which included an anal examination, found some internal inflammation, pus and lesions, but did not identify a cause.

The fourth report was conducted at the police hospital and has not been released. The boy’s mother claims it backs the rape allegation.

Three of the same medical reports have also been used in the case of five contract cleaners currently on trial for allegedly raping the same boy. However, after initially confessing, the cleaners have now recanted and are denying any wrongdoing, saying they confessed under police torture. Another cleaner died during questioning, which police explained as a suicide.

The other evidence — the boys’ testimony — includes allegations from one that he was raped multiple times during the school day in an open, heavily populated administration block with glass walls which teachers call “the aquarium”.

Among his allegations are that there was a secret underground dungeon somewhere at the school, and that Mr Bantleman, who was known as “the boss” clicked his fingers during one attack and reached up to pluck a “magic stone” out of the sky to insert in the boy’s rectum to anaesthetise him before the rape.

Other allegations include a female principal videotaping the attack and supplying a light blue drink to drug the boy.

The boys had never been taught by the teachers, and had identified them by pointing out their photographs in the school yearbook.

The family of the first alleged victim has filed a $US125 million lawsuit against the school, one of the most highly regarded in Asia.

Disclosure: The author has two children attending the Jakarta International School.

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