Music linked to blood pressure

English playwright William Congreve believed in the healing power of music, writing in 1697 that `Music has charms to soothe the savage breast’ and scientists now concur.


Listening to a repeated 10-second rhythm found in various music compositions – particularly by Italian composer Giuseppe Verdi – was found to coincide exactly with changes in blood pressure that reduce the heart rate.

Oxford University cardiologist Professor Peter Sleight, will present his findings from more than 20 years of research at the British Cardiovascular Society conference in Manchester this week.

The researchers played different music styles to people and analysed each person’s cardiovascular response, including blood pressure and pulse measurements.

The responses to either calming or more exciting music were similar between individuals.

Experts said this suggests that music therapy to calm individuals could be relatively simple as it would not need to be tailored to the individual.

Prof Sleight said music was already being used commercially as a calming therapy but there were no real studies into its effectiveness.

“Our research has provided improved understanding as to how music, particularly certain rhythms, can affect your heart and blood vessels.

“But further robust studies are needed, which could reduce scepticism of the real therapeutic role of music.”

Professor Jeremy Pearson, associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation welcomed the research.

“We know that stress can play a role in cardiovascular disease so the calming effect of music may have some potential as a therapy.

“However, as Professor Sleight points out, more robust evidence is needed before we see cardiologists prescribing a dose of Taylor Swift or 30 minutes of Vivaldi a day.”

Australia will not bid for FIFA events until change

Football Federation Australia (FFA) declared its intention to bid for the women’s global showpiece a month ago, but its failed bid for the 2022 men’s tournament has come under renewed scrutiny since the arrests of more than a dozen football and media executives for corruption.


“In the current volatile environment, FFA can give no consideration to bidding for any FIFA tournament,” the FFA said in a statement on Tuesday.

“FFA has made it clear that major reform is needed. FIFA’s problems are deep-rooted and tangled in a culture that has developed over decades.

“Until such time that the existing governance model is overhauled, it’s hard to imagine the circumstances in which FFA would put Australia forward as a bidding nation.”

The FFA declined to provide further comment when contacted by Reuters.

Australia successfully bid for and hosted the Asian Cup in January but garnered just one vote for the 2022 World Cup which was controversially awarded to Qatar, a tiny Middle Eastern country with scorching hot summers and no tradition of football.

The bidding process for 2022 is among a number of World Cups under investigation by U.S. and Swiss authorities for bribery allegations.

National police are probing Australia’s 2022 bid which was criticised by FIFA’s own ethics committee last year in a summary of a major investigation into all bidders for the tournament and the 2018 finals awarded to Russia.

Local lawmaker Nick Xenophon has also called for a parliamentary inquiry into Australia’s bid.

FFA president Frank Lowy has been under pressure from local media to step down until Australia’s bid is cleared but insists the country’s bid was clean.

Australia’s sports minister Sussan Ley said last week the government could not consider committing public money toward any future bid overseen by FIFA until major reform of the governance of global football.

(Editing by Greg Stutchbury)

China to hit peak emissions sooner than expected: report

The world’s biggest importer of coal, China, is expected to reach its peak greenhouse gas emissions by 2025 and possibly even sooner, a new report says.


“This suggests that China’s international commitment to peak emissions ‘around 2030’ should be seen as a conservative upper limit from a government that prefers to under-promise and over-deliver,” the report says.

The report represented the views of its authors, not the Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy or the Grantham Research Institute of Climate Change, which funded the report.

The report was released on Monday, the same day G7 countries resolved to end the use of fossil fuels in their energy-intensive economies.

The countries pledged to develop long-term low-carbon strategies and abandon fossil fuels by the end of this century, and invited other countries to join them, Reuters reported.

Australia’s policy to curb carbon emissions includes an Emissions Reduction Fund, which gives incentives to companies to reduce their carbon emissions.

However, the Australian government removed its Carbon Tax in 2014 and energy produced from burning coal has increased since then.

Recently, the US and Brazil quizzed Australia about the effectiveness of the Emissions Reduction Fund compared to the Carbon Tax it replaced.

The tough questions at a United Nations climate change summit in Germany coincided with a report that labelled Australia as a “climate change free-rider”.

“With one of the world’s highest levels of per capita emissions, Australia has gone from leadership to free-rider status in climate diplomacy,” the report said.

Meanwhile, the world’s biggest emitter of carbon dioxide continues to reduce its use of coal, which contributes significantly to greenhouse gas emissions.

On Monday, Reuters reported Chinese coal imports slumped sharply in May due to Chinese energy policies, which include cutting imports of low-grade coal and increasing clean energy production.

“Total imports in the first five months of the year reached 83.26 million tonnes, down 38.2 percent compared with the previous year, according to preliminary data from China’s General Administration of Customs,” Reuters reported.

NSW man overboard ‘deserves bravery award’

A NSW man who died after jumping naked from a cruise ship into the sea in a bid to save his girlfriend should be awarded Australia’s highest bravery award, says the policeman who investigated his disappearance.


Paul Rossington, 30, plunged nearly 20 metres into the Tasman Sea after his girlfriend, Kristen Schroder, 26, apparently slipped from a fifth-level balcony on the Carnival Spirit on May 8, 2013, a coronial inquest in Sydney heard on Tuesday.

That act of conspicuous courage should not go unrecognised, Detective Sergeant Michael O’Keefe told the inquest, as he called for Mr Rossington to be awarded the Cross of Valour.

“He must have known that jumping out would most likely end with him losing his life,” Mr O’Keefe said.

A massive search began for the couple more than 16 hours later when the ship docked in Sydney and it became evident they were no longer on board.

Their bodies have never been recovered and the court heard there is little chance either survived for long.

The inquest heard the cruising holiday was “make-or-break” for their relationship of 10 months, which was described as volatile but not violent.

Mr O’Keefe said the couple had been arguing over dinner on the final night of the cruise, with Mr Rossington accusing his girlfriend of flirting with another man before leaving the table and heading back to their cabin.

Around 9pm, infrared CCTV footage shows a figure in dark clothing, presumably Ms Schroder, climbing over the balcony of their cabin before apparently slipping, clinging on for four seconds, then falling, the court heard.

She tumbled 6.7 metres, struck the railing of a lower deck, and then somersaulted a further 12.6 metres into the Tasman sea.

Moments later a second figure – presumably Mr Rossington – jumps over the railing into the water.

His much brighter signature on the infrared CCTV indicates he was warm and naked when he jumped, Mr O’Keefe said, adding he had most likely been in bed then ran onto the balcony when he saw his girlfriend fall.