Global study muddies water on heart benefits of eating fish


“Both of those pieces of evidence are not hooking up at the moment,” said Professor Clara Chow, president of the Cardiac Society of Australia and New Zealand.

“The evidence from clinical trials has been confusing.”

How much fish should you eat?

The Heart Foundation recommends eating two to three serves of fish a week, with evidence suggesting diets high in fish cut the risks of heart disease, stroke, eye degeneration and dementia. That should provide between 250 and 500 milligrams of omega-3 fish oil per day.

Fish that contain more than 500 milligrams of fish oil per 150 gram serve:

  • Mullet
  • Atlantic salmon
  • Mackerel
  • Australian salmon
  • Sardine
  • Fish that contain 300 to 400 milligrams of fish oil per 150 gram serve:
  • Snapper
  • Flounder
  • Tuna

To try to resolve the issue, a team of scientists from the Madras Diabetes Research Foundation compiled data from four very large studies, allowing them to track a huge pool of patients around the world for nearly a decade.

The study participants each filled in food surveys asking them how much fish they ate. The team then correlated their health outcomes.

The data, published on Tuesday in JAMA Interal Medicine, suggested a very slight protective effect.

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But the signal wasn’t strong enough to be conclusive.

There are several theories why.

The underlying studies were not designed primarily to look at the link between fish and heart disease. Also, people are notoriously bad at remembering what they ate last week.

And there is some evidence fish works best to prevent heart attack, rather than overall cardiovascular disease, which the scientists were measuring.

“I don’t think it’s a very good paper,” said Professor Nicholls.

Or perhaps, as several experts suggested, not all types of fish are equal.

Grilled fish is likely more healthy than, say, fish and chips or a fish sandwich.

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“Most of the fish eaten in south-east Asia is fried – and that probably does not give you cardiovascular benefits,” said Professor Thiruma Arumugam from the Centre for Cardiovascular Biology and Disease Research at La Trobe University.

And some fish, like salmon and mackerel, contain much higher levels of omega-3s than others. In a small subset of patients studied, oily fish seemed to be strongly proactive while other fish did not.

A 2019 study found patients with heart disease or diabetes given four grams of the fish oil EPA daily – a very high dose – had significantly lower rates of heart attack or death.

When his patients tell him they are taking fish oil, Professor Nicholls asks to see the bottle.

“There is fish oils and there is fish oils. Most you can buy over the counter really contain very low doses of omega-3s,” he said. “If you’re taking them to prevent a heart attack, most of those preparations won’t do that.”

What’s the bottom line?

Professor Nicholls said the Heart Foundation’s guidelines are still the right ones.

“A healthy diet includes the consumption of two to three servings of fish a week.”

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Couple expecting a girl; Archie’s skin colour sparked concerns, Duchess of Sussex reveals


Where to begin with that interview? It was bombshell, after bombshell.

In case you missed it, or would like a recap, our Europe correspondent Bevan Shields and my fellow blogger has written about the most shocking revelations made by the couple …

Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex have accused the royal family of worrying about how dark their baby’s skin would be and revealed the former actress was once on the verge of suicide in an explosive television interview which will rock the monarchy.

The couple also used the tell-all with American talkshow host Oprah Winfrey to announce their next child would be a girl and pinpoint the 2018 tour of Australia as a turning point in their now toxic relationship with the royal family.

The highly anticipated interview contained far more grave allegations than expected and risks morphing into the most damaging scandal to hit the monarchy since the death of Princess Diana in 1997.

In the biggest bombshell, Meghan claimed there were concerns within the royal family about how dark the skin would be of their first child, Archie.

Meghans said the concerns were relayed to Harry but declined to name the member of the family because it “would be very damaging to them”.

Oprah Winfrey interviews Prince Harry and Meghan, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, for a CBS Primetime special.

Asked whether there were concerns that her child would be “too brown” and that would be a problem, Meghan told Winfrey: “If that is the assumption you are making, that is a pretty safe one.”

Harry also lashed out at his family for failing to publicly defend Meghan against what he said was racist coverage of his new wife in the British tabloid media.

“Over 70 female members of Parliament called out the colonial undertones of articles written about Meghan, but nobody in my family said anything over the course of three years,” he said.

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He suggested the family did not speak out because they were worried about losing support from the press.

Asked about the conversation over Archie’s skin tone, Harry said he would never disclose the details. “At the time it was awkward. I was a bit shocked.”

“There were some real, obvious signs before our marriage that this was going to be hard.”

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Museum’s Indigenous director has quite a task on her hands


McBride grew up travelling between her parents’ homes in Sydney and Coonamble. Her father was born at Montkiela, a fringe camp in Walgett. Her mother is currently the director of nursing at a major western Sydney hospital.

Now the mother of two daughters, Bronte and Mackenzie, McBride is immersing them in their culture and has started possum cloaks for each.

“Everything I’m doing, I’m doing for my ancestors because I felt like they didn’t have quite the opportunity that I’ve had and also for future generations,” she said. “It’s looking back and forward and my girls are very proud cultural girls.”

Among the first communities McBride hopes to consult will be those from south-eastern Australia where the existence of Indigenous culture has too often been written off.

“Even though I’ll be director I’m not boss of the cultural collections, that’s the communities and that’s the elders,” she said. “I will be asking for patience, but Aboriginal people have been patient already and they will understand we are starting this journey. ”

Australian Museum director Kim McKay said McBride was a highly qualified professional who had worked for 11 years at the museum in a variety of roles.

In 2018 McBride created the Australian Museum’s inaugural festival of Aboriginal and Pacific Island cultures, Weave, challenging centuries-old stereotypes and myths about Indigenous culture around the time of colonial settlement.

The disinformation and myth-making around Aboriginal people was “scary”, McBride says. “It’s no wonder these negative stereotypes are so strong. Education is the key and that’s an important part of my role and the team we’ll build around us.”

This May, her latest “truth-telling” project, Unsettled, opens in the museum’s Touring Hall, unpicking the myths around Cook’s mapping of the East Coast, the years between 1770 and 1788, and what came after. Cook was dead nine years before the arrival of the First Fleet, his explorations guided by Dutch and Portuguese explorers who went before him. Neither in name or nation was Australia a familiar concept to Cook, she says.

Going back into the colonial records McBride notes Sydney’s first governors were all military men requesting the British War Office send soldiers and weapons.

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Australia to have key role as US President Joe Biden uses Quad alliance to launch vaccine rollout in Asia-Pacific


Prime Minister Scott Morrison has confirmed that the leaders of the Quad nations will soon hold their first joint meeting since the group was founded in 2007, a sign of its growing importance.

The meeting between Biden, Morrison, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and Indian prime minister Narendra Modi is expected to take place this month via video conference.

“The Quad is very central to the US and our thinking about the region,” Morrison told reporters at Parliament House on Friday.

Rather than “big bureaucracy with a big secretariat”, Morrison said the alliance “will be four leaders, four countries, working together constructively for the peace, prosperity and stability” in the Indo-Pacific.

A massive vaccine distribution program would mark a new era for the Quad, which has previously focused on defence co-operation, particularly joint naval exercises.

The Biden administration sees the Quad as an attractive means of exerting influence in the Asia-Pacific because all its members are all established democracies and have a combined population of 1.8 billion – exceeding China’s.

The Quad’s small size and informal structure could also allow it to act with more agility than larger and more bureaucratic multilateral organisations.

National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan recently said the Biden administration sees the Quad as a “foundation upon which to build substantial American policy in the Indo-Pacific region”.

The decision to elevate the Quad’s status represents an unusual embrace of a part of the Trump administration’s foreign policy approach – even as Biden ditches his predecessor’s “America first” rhetoric.

The Trump administration revived the Quad, which went into hibernation for almost a decade shortly after being founded, in its first year and instituted ministerial-level meetings for the first time.

The Quad has long been discussed as a potential “mini-NATO” for the Asia-Pacific region, while failing to live up to its promise.

“A lot of folks in the Asia-watching community have said the Quad was kind of a joke, that it doesn’t do much,” Derek Grossman, an expert on Indo-Pacific security issues at the RAND corporation, said.

“I think it’s going to be a very important forum for the Biden administration.”

As well as distributing COVID-19 vaccines, Grossman said the Quad could also play an important role in delivering infrastructure and co-ordinating action on climate change.

Daniel Russel, a key player in the Obama administration’s “pivot to Asia” policy, said: “This reflect’s the Biden team’s conviction that China shouldn’t be the only game in town.

“China’s dramatic rise and assertive behaviour has brought home the realisation for these four countries that they will benefit from a co-ordinated agenda to shape and influence regional trends and global governance,” Russel, a vice president at the Asia Society Policy Institute, said.

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Mike Green, senior vice president for Asia at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, said: “The Biden administration is sending an early and strong signal that China will face geo-political consequences for its coercive behaviour and that this administration is different to the Obama administration – that is to say, not naive about China.”

Green said the Quad represents “a fantastic bargain for Australia” given its population and military footprint is far smaller than that of its fellow member nations.

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Police searching for registered sex offender Paul Kraft


A 55-year-old registered sex offender is being sought by police after he failed to comply with his reporting obligations.

Police say Paul Kraft, who is also known to use the alias Paul Fleming, is actively avoiding authorities and have made an appeal to the public for assistance to find him.

Paul Kraft, 55, is a registered sex offender who is wanted by police. Credit:Victoria Police

He is wanted on a warrant for failing to comply with obligations to report his residential details.

Investigators believe he is living in the Sandringham area, and is also known to frequent the bayside area of Melbourne, including Beaumaris, Black Rock, Mentone and Mordialloc.

He was last seen by police in January this year when he attended a police station to collect some property.

Assistant Commissioner Chris Gilbert said Kraft had “significant and serious” obligations in relation to his status as a registered sex offender.

“We don’t believe Paul Kraft to be a dangerous person, however, we do ask that if the public sees him, don’t approach him, simply call triple zero and we will send someone to see him,” she said.

An image of Kraft was released on Saturday. Anyone who recognises him or know his current location is urged to contact police immediately.

He is described as approximately 187 centimetres tall, with a medium build, short brown wavy hair, hazel eyes, a fair complexion and is clean-shaven.

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State Department aide appointed by Trump stormed the Capitol, FBI says


A former State Department aide in president Donald Trump’s administration has been charged with participating in the deadly siege at the Capitol and assaulting officers who were trying to guard the building, court papers show.

It’s the first known case to be brought against a Trump appointee in the January 6 insurrection, which led to Trump’s historic second impeachment.

Federico Klein, who also worked for Trump’s 2016 campaign, was seen wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat amid the throng of people in a tunnel trying to force their way into the Capitol on January 6, the papers say. Klein pushed his way toward the doors, where, authorities say, “he physically and verbally engaged” with officers trying to keep the mob back.

Klein was seen on camera violently shoving a riot shield into an officer and inciting the crowd as it tried to storm past the police line, shouting, “We need fresh people, we need fresh people,” according to the charging documents.

As the mob struggled with police in the tunnel, Klein pushed the riot shield, which had been stolen from an officer, in between the Capitol doors, preventing police from closing them, authorities say. Eventually, an officer used chemical spray, forcing Klein to move somewhere else, officials say.

Klein was arrested on Thursday, local time, in Virginia and faces charges including obstructing Congress and assaulting officers using a dangerous weapon.

He was in custody on Friday and couldn’t be reached for comment. It was not immediately clear whether he had an attorney who could comment on his behalf. A Trump spokesman said he had no comment.

At least five people died as a result of the violence at the US Capitol on January 6.Credit:AP

At least five people, including a Capitol Police officer, died as a result of the violence. More than 300 people have been charged with federal crimes.

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Vaccine fast-tracked to Torres Strait to tackle threat of outbreak


“This is a really serious issue,” she said.

“You only have to look at a map, and I am sure some Queenslanders will get out their maps tonight and have a look, the Torres Strait and PNG … it is only a matter of kilometres.

“There is a lot of trade and commerce that happens and we are seeing more and more cases unfortunately in PNG, so we want to make sure we protect Torres Strait Islanders and far north Queenslanders.”

Ms Palaszczuk said she understood there were “some agreements about ensuring some vaccines are going to PNG”.

Dr Young said while it was not mandatory, she expected most people would nominate to receive the vaccination.

“They are really good at getting vaccinated up there, they are well and truly above the 95 per cent target that we aim for with the children,” she said.

“I expect they will take it up.”

The decision to fast-track the vaccine in the Torres Strait, supported by Prime Minister Scott Morrison, came after Queensland detected another new coronavirus case in returned worker from PNG’s Ok Tedi copper mine. The man tested positive while in quarantine.

Another five workers who arrived in Cairns on a charter flight from the mine tested positive on Thursday.

Meanwhile, all eight people who were quarantined on the same floor as a COVID-19 super-spreader have been traced, tested and put into isolation, Ms Palaszczuk confirmed.

A cap on weddings and funerals has been lifted, meaning there is no limit to guest lists as long as there is two square metres of space for each guest.

Dr Young said the first AstraZeneca doses would arrive in the next day or two, with new vaccine hubs to be set up at Logan and Bundaberg.

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China to overhaul Hong Kong’s political system


Ahead of China’s annual political gala, Beijing’s top official in Hong Kong, Xia Baolong, told the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macao Studies last week that the Chinese government would “perfect” the city’s electoral system.

“Only in Hong Kong would some people show off their rebellion against their motherland,” he said.

“Important positions, under any circumstances, cannot be taken up by anti-China forces that disrupt Hong Kong.”

The two sessions will meet hours after 47 pro-democracy leaders faced a Hong Kong court on charges of subversion for hosting an unofficial primary vote last year. After four days of hearings running into the early hours of the morning, 15 were granted bail late on Thursday night, leaving dozens of pro-democracy leaders either behind bars or in exile.

The deterioration in the political and judicial environment for the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong has sparked international condemnation and economic sanctions from the US. Hong Kong was handed over from Britain to China under a treaty that guaranteed a high degree of autonomy in 1997

Australia, along with the United States, has been a global driver of this paradigm shift. It weathered trade strikes from the world’s second largest economy on more than $10 billion worth of exports this year after calling for an inquiry into the coronavirus, criticising China’s human rights record and rejecting Chinese investment on national security grounds.

A woman holds a British flag as supporters queue up outside a court to try to get in for a hearing in Hong Kong on Monday.Credit:AP

“The Europeans, the Japanese and other leaders are rethinking their relationship with China and Beijing knows it,” said Bates Gill, a professor at Macquarie University and Asia Society Australia Scholar-in-Residence.

Willy Lam, a political scientist at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, said international pressure could become counter-productive, by satisfying the nationalistic aspirations of the party and sections of the population.

“[Chinese President] Xi Jinping is a nationalist,” he said. “If he is facing pressure from the US, Australia and Canada it will prompt him to be more aggressive and assertive in trying to crackdown.”

Zhang said new dialogue between US President Joe Biden and Xi was an opportunity to enhance cooperation after a lengthy phone call between the two leaders on February 11. The comments follow years of trade, foreign policy and national security tension with the Trump administration.

Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Chinese President Xi Jinping.Credit:Getty Images

“China and the US may have disagreements on certain issues but conflict and confrontation serve no one’s interests,” he said.

Zhang downplayed the significance of China’s rising military spending.

“In China we are committed to the path of peaceful development,” he said. “The efforts to strengthen our national defence does not threaten any country.”

Xi has spent months on the phone attempting to draw support among developing countries across Asia and Europe with the promise of economic investment, but his core focus is at home, where he rallied young officials at the National Academy of Governance on Monday “to brave hardships and move forward”.

“It is a message to the people of China that they need to brace themselves and go shoulder to the wheel in order to ride through what they rightly understand to be a turbulent situation for China in the next couple of years,” said Gill.

Xi, who now holds unchallenged authority at the top of the Chinese Communist Party, is attempting to lock in multi-generational support for his leadership.

He has bound “Xi Jinping Thought” to the constitution and is in the process of crushing the history of former leaders Hu Jintao, Jiang Zemin, and Deng Xiaoping into one pre-Xi era, while elevating his own-leadership to that of Mao Zedong’s, according to Carl Minzner, a professor of Chinese law and politics at Fordham Law School.

“And as that happens, you’ll see doors open within the Party apparatus that will permit a stronger and stronger focus on Xi personally – and facilitate efforts to fan a cult of personality around him,” he noted on Twitter on Wednesday.

Last Friday, Xi claimed China had eliminated “extreme poverty”. Now he will look to establish his legacy by shifting the country’s economy towards consumer driven spending by pushing his economic policy of dual-circulation – a partial rebranding of the Made in China 2025 policy – that will see China turn increasingly inwards for production and consumption.

“For China there is a lot of motivation here. It is not only a way to decouple but also to build resilience to turbulence in the international market place,” said Gill.

“It is also part of a shift from capital intensive growth to consumer growth. Which has been on the cards for a decade now.”

Zhang on Friday said that dual-circulation did not mean a “closed internal cycle”.

“It aims to tap domestic demand and leverage internal circulation to attract global resources,” he said.

“Under this new paradigm China will continue to open up and foster a business environment based on market principles.”

The success of that program will depend on the five-year economic agenda and a broader 15-year platform outlined throughout the week-long two sessions meetings in Beijing.

At its centre is a chapter on technology, which will see more than RMB2.4 trillion ($500 billion) spent on research and development next year alone to innovate China’s economy away from the middle-income trap that has come to define the economic growth rates of more developed economies.

“They need better productivity per worker and the only way they are going to get that is through innovation,” said Gill.

The focus will be on new green technologies to push China towards its net-zero emissions target by 2060 and on semiconductor self-sufficiency to guard against US trade threats to its booming IT industry.

“There will likely also be an emphasis on the development of the next generation of telecommunication technologies (6G),” said Qu Hongbin, chief China economist for HSBC.

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“Policy measures such as incentives to increase R&D spending through tax credits, direct funding support or favourable credit conditions for start-ups will likely help support increased investment in science and technology.”

But the work report, which effectively functions as China’s federal budget, is not likely to set an annual economic growth target for the second year in a row, as the coronavirus recovery hampers forecasts.

“Sustaining the growth recovery will be a top policy goal, but Beijing may avoid setting a numeric GDP growth target,” said Qu.

Instead, the party is expected to set a 5 per cent average annual target for the next five years when Premier Li Keqiang hands down the report on Friday afternoon.

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Homeless people stuck in ‘unsuitable, sometimes dangerous’ accommodation


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“For Victoria to reach the national social housing average [4.5 per cent of total housing stock], it would need to build up to 3400 new social housing dwellings per year until 2036,” the report said.

According to the report, the median period someone remains homeless in Australia is 4½ months, but it lasts more than a year in about 20 per cent of cases.

People under 35 are the largest age group of people experiencing homelessness in Victoria, although older women were a fast-growing cohort, the report noted.

Family violence was the main reason individuals accessing homelessness services sought assistance in Victoria.

“Because the homelessness system is so overwhelmed, it only has the resources to provide short-term accommodation for the very needy,” said inquiry chair Fiona Patten.

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The inquiry made 51 recommendations, including increasing the provision of affordable, stable long-term housing and prioritising early intervention measures, such as assistance for those fleeing violence.

It recommended the government set up innovative housing models, such as pop-up housing in underutilised buildings, transportable housing and the use of surplus government land (through leases or sale), to create social housing.

It also suggested the government look at implementing mandatory inclusionary zoning, which would compel developers to include social or affordable housing in all new major developments across the state.

“A mandatory model of inclusionary zoning would ensure that the private market takes partial responsibility, alongside government, for the provision of housing that meets the needs of all Victorians,” the report said.

It says there are concerns this could constrain the financial returns of property developers, but incentives could be provided to guarantee the cost of other dwellings in a development would not be driven up because of the inclusion of affordable housing.

The inquiry said measures put in place during the COVID-19 pandemic saw many people previously sleeping rough placed in emergency accommodation, such as hotels, with plans for this to transition into long-term housing.

“This event showed that with sufficient will on the part of the Victorian government, it is possible to end homelessness for many people experiencing it. Whether that will remain the case is yet to be seen.”

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