BJYM leaders wife shot dead family alleges dowry death

first_img petrol pump, shot dead, petrol pump employee shot dead, greater noida, indian express Snehlata (28), the wife of Rahul Singh, a district-level office bearer of the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM), was shot dead under mysterious circumstances late on Saturday night, the police said. (Representational Image)The wife of a BJP youth wing leader was allegedly shot dead in Fatehpur area of Uttar Pradesh’s Barabanki district, police said on Sunday. Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha resumes motorcycle rally from Kolkata after clashes Advertising Calcutta HC rejects govt’s appeal to postpone BJYM rally Advertising Rohingya camp fire in Delhi: BJP youth wing leader tweets he did it, Prashant Bhushan files complaint Snehlata (28), the wife of Rahul Singh, a district-level office bearer of the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM), was shot dead under mysterious circumstances late on Saturday night, the police said.The woman’s father, Ramkumar, has accused his son-in-law of killing her for not fulfilling the dowry demands. He alleged that Snehlata’s in-laws were demanding a car after her marriage on January 27.According to Singh, he and Snehlata were going to Daulatpur when suspected robbers stopped them and looted them. Singh alleged that he and his wife were beaten up, and when Snehlata resisted, she was fired at and died on the spot. Superintendent of Police Akash Tomar said a case had been registered against Singh and five members of his family for dowry death.Police said the statements given by Singh were also being investigated. By PTI |Barabanki (up) | Published: July 7, 2019 6:33:21 pm Related News Post Comment(s)last_img read more

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Bihar flood toll rises to 67 48 lakh affected

first_img Related News Heavy rain in Nepal leads to flood in several Bihar districts By Express News Service |Patna | Published: July 18, 2019 3:09:24 am Post Comment(s) Bihar floods, Bihar floods death toll, Bihar floods news, bihar rains, bihar weather today, bihar monsoon, flash flood bihar, Nitish kumar, Indian express A flooded village, following incessant rainfall, in Bihar’s Muzaffarpur district on Wednesday. (PTI)The toll in the Bihar floods rose to 67 on Wednesday with over 48 lakh people being affected in 12 districts across the state. Advertising Rajiv Pratap Rudy targets tourism ministry for no move on projects in Bihar The highest number of casualties were reported from Sitamarhi with 17 deaths, followed by Araria (12), Madhubani (11), Sheohar (9), Purnea (7) Darbhanga (5), Kishanganj (4) and Supaul (2).A total of 831 panchayats in 92 blocks were affected by flash floods caused by additional water discharge from Nepal.Pratyaya Amrit, Principal Secretary of the Disaster Management Department, said, “About 1.15 lakh people have been living in relief camps. We are also running 1,116 community kitchens in flood-affected areas. Twenty-six teams of NDRF and SDRF have been in operation”. Advertising Two labourers die of asphyxiation while cleaning well in Bihar Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had on Tuesday said that the government would compensate people for loss of crops and livestock. The CM had conducted aerial surveys of flood-affected areas on three days. He said while flash floods had inundated some parts of Bihar, several other districts might face drought because of inadequate rains.The Opposition RJD, however, said that flood relief and rescue operations need to be scaled up. RJD spokesperson Bhai Birendra told The Indian Express, “What the government announced in the Assembly has not reached the ground. Twenty-six teams of NDRF and SDRF are grossly inadequate when over 48 lakh people are affected by floods. Thousands of people have not got basic food items like rice and jaggery. All the government’s claims are on paper.”RJD leader and former CM Rabri Devi urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to declare the floods as a national disaster.last_img read more

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Move over Hubble Discovery of expanding cosmos assigned to littleknown Belgian astronomerpriest

first_img Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Belgian astronomer Georges Lemaître proposed the idea of an expanding universe 2 years before Edwin Hubble’s work on receding galaxies. Email By Daniel CleryOct. 29, 2018 , 3:45 PM Hubble’s Law, a cornerstone of cosmology that describes the expanding universe, should now be called the Hubble-Lemaître Law, following a vote by the members of the International Astronomical Union (IAU), the same organization that revoked Pluto’s status as a planet. The change is designed to redress the historical neglect of Georges Lemaître, a Belgian astronomer and priest who in 1927 discovered the expanding universe—which also suggests a big bang. Lemaître published his ideas 2 years before U.S. astronomer Edwin Hubble concluded that galaxies farther from the Milky Way recede faster.The final tally of the 4060 cast votes, announced today by IAU, was 78% in favor of the name change, 20% against, and 2% abstaining. But the vote was not without controversy, both in its execution and the historical facts it was based on. Helge Kragh, a historian of science at the Niels Bohr Institute in Copenhagen, calls the background notes presented to IAU members “bad history.” Others argue it is not IAU’s job to rename physical laws. “It’s bad practice to retroactively change history,” says Matthias Steinmetz of the Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics in Potsdam, Germany. “It never works.”Piero Benvenuti of the University of Padua in Italy, who stepped down as IAU general secretary in August, proposed the change last year because, he says, “historically, it felt not right.” In 1927 Lemaître calculated a solution to Albert Einstein’s general relativity equations that indicated the universe could not be static but was instead expanding. He backed up that claim using previously published measurements to show a relationship between the distances of galaxies and their velocities, calculated from their Doppler shifts. However, he published his results in French, in an obscure Belgian journal, and so they went largely unnoticed. 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Country In 1929, Hubble used largely the same data to show a linear relationship between velocity and distance for receding galaxies and published a second paper in 1931 with more data. It became known as Hubble’s Law. “Hubble was clearly involved, but was not the first,” says astronomer Michael Merrifield of the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom. “He was good at selling his story.”The text of the IAU resolution, circulated to members ahead of the vote, asserts that Hubble and Lemaître met in 1928, at an IAU general assembly in Leiden, the Netherlands—between the publication of their two papers—and “exchanged views” about the blockbuster theory. Kragh says that meeting “almost certainly didn’t take place” and that IAU’s statement “has no foundation in documented history.” Benvenuti counters that historians know from comments from Hubble’s assistant that he returned very excited from Leiden and began to gather more data. “Who else could have talked to Hubble about this problem but Lemaitre?” Benvenuti asks.The resolution has also come under fire for confusing two different issues: the expansion of the universe and the distance-velocity relation for galaxies, which is also known as the Hubble constant. Hubble never claimed to have discovered cosmic expansion, but did do much of observing work to nail down how fast the universe was expanding. “If the law is about the empirical relationship, it should be Hubble’s Law,” Kragh says. “If it is about cosmic expansion, it should be Lemaître’s Law.”Members have also criticized IAU over the way the vote was conducted. Traditionally, IAU resolutions are debated at general assemblies, once every 3 years, and decided by a show of hands of attending members. But such a straw poll led to the unpopular 2006 vote that reclassified Pluto as a dwarf planet. “The IAU got badly burned over the Pluto thing,” Merrifield says. As a result, IAU introduced the provision of having an online vote of the whole 11,000 membership.In the case of Hubble’s Law, attendees at the August general assembly in Vienna were frustrated by a very short debate, followed by a straw poll (74% in favor of the name change). The IAU executive committee invited others to submit questions electronically and launched the online vote at the beginning of October. Merrifield says there was not enough time and opportunity for debate. “The IAU presented the issue as neat and tidy, but it is a much more murky and messy tale,” he says. He says several other researchers could have a claim because they were also working on cosmic expansion and galaxy motion at the time.A final concern is whether IAU is within its rights to weigh in on historical affairs. “There is no mandate to name physical laws,” Steinmetz says. IAU has acknowledged this and is only recommending the use of the term Hubble-Lemaître Law. Will it catch on? “No, I don’t think so,” Kragh says. “Hubble Law is ingrained in the literature for most of a century.”In any event, says Merrifield, “It doesn’t matter all that much, really.”*Correction, 29 October, 5:17 p.m.: An earlier version of this story misstated the frequency of IAU general assemblies.*Clarification, 6 November, 12:15 p.m.: This story and caption have been changed to clarify Hubble’s 1929 work and its reliance on the same data used by Lemaître.last_img read more

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Seek 71 crore from builder who flouted green norms in Gurgaon Environment

first_img Seek 71 crore from builder who flouted green norms in Gurgaon: Environment ministry tells NGT The committee’s recommendation came after the National Green Tribunal (NGT), on March 25, ordered it to assess the environmental damage and the cost of restoration. (File Photo)A committee headed by the Ministry of Environment has recommended recovery of over Rs 71 crore from M/S Ansal Buildwell Ltd to undo environmental damage sustained during construction of their housing project at Sushant Lok-III in Gurgaon. The committee’s recommendation came after the National Green Tribunal (NGT), on March 25, ordered it to assess the environmental damage and the cost of restoration.Sushant Lok-III is a residential township spread over 199.063 acres of land in Gurgaon’s Sector 57, developed by Ansal Buildwell and its sister concern Aadharshila Towers Private Ltd.A damage assessment report filed by the four-member committee suggested Rs 16.392 crore as damage cost on Ansal Buildwell Ltd for not obtaining environmental clearance (EC) and the consent to establish and operate under the Water Act. Best Of Express The additional costs were recommended under different heads like non-submission of approved wildlife conservation plan; Rs 24.60 crore for discharge of untreated sewage; no groundwater recharging system for open spaces and other common areas; illegal extraction of groundwater for 300 swimming pools; improper solid waste management; and not developing green belt area, among others.“The committee recommended that an amount of Rs 71,07,20,000 as damage assessment cost be recovered from M/s Ansal Buildwell Ltd for restoration of the environment,” the report said.Besides asking the committee to make an assessment, the NGT had slapped an interim penalty of Rs 10 crore on the firm and its two sister concerns in Gurgaon for violation of environmental norms. It had asked them to deposit the amount with the Central Pollution Control Board within a month.It had also held that since neither environmental clearance nor consent to establish and operate has been taken under the Water Act, the builders will have to furnish performance guarantee of Rs 5 crore to the satisfaction of the CPCB within a month, undertaking to comply with the statutory norms within three months. In markets along the Yamuna, plastic ban remains on paper while river bears brunt Advertising Green body raps Delhi panel, orders shutting of all polluting dairy units in capital Advertising Written by Pritam Pal Singh | New Delhi | Published: July 17, 2019 2:45:09 amcenter_img NGT forms panel to remove encroachment, restore park in Ghaziabad Related News In undecided Congress, first open call for Priyanka: She should be party chief Post Comment(s) NRC deadline approaching, families stranded in Assam floods stay home The builders Tuesday sought review of the March 25 order on the ground that they were not aware of the order passed and they only came to know about it from newspapers.The bench dismissed their review application, observing that the order was passed on the basis of the findings and recommendations of the committee constituted by the tribunal.Asking the committee to visit and inspect the site, NGT had asked them to indicate whether the project has been executed wholly or in part after September 14, 2006, which is the cut-off date for requiring EC. Karnataka: Supreme Court to rule today, says Speaker’s powers need relook last_img read more

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Study suggests diet as major contributor for high risk of hypertension in

first_imgReviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Oct 4 2018New findings suggest that diet is a major contributor for the increased risk of hypertension in black compared to white Americans. The results, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, are part of the Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke (REGARDS) study, which looks at the incidence of stroke in approximately 30,000 individuals. The study is funded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), a part of the National Institutes of Health.”This study addresses a lead cause of racial disparity in mortality and identifies potential lifestyle changes that could reduce racial disparities in both stroke and heart disease,” said Claudia Moy, Ph.D., NINDS program director and one of the study authors.In the study, led by George Howard, Dr.P.H., a biostatistics professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, researchers studied individuals over the age of 45 over a period of 10 years and looked to identify risk factors associated with the higher likelihood of developing high blood pressure in the study participants.”The majority of disparities we see in the health of black versus white Americans are cardiovascular in nature,” said Dr. Howard, “and of these, all are tied to an increase in high blood pressure.”For both men and women, a diet composed of high amounts of fried and processed foods and sweetened beverages was the greatest factor associated with why blacks are at a greater risk of developing high blood pressure compared to whites. For both men and women, other important factors included salt intake and education level. For women, additional factors contributing to the racial difference in high blood pressure included obesity and waist size.Related StoriesMediterranean diet may improve memory in type 2 diabeticsPlant-based diet may be effective treatment for Crohn’s diseaseStudy reveals link between inflammatory diet and colorectal cancer risk”One of the main factors affecting the difference between the black and white population is cardiovascular disease, and the increased risk of high blood pressure among black Americans could help explain why their life expectancy is four years shorter than that of whites,” said Dr. Howard. “Understanding how we can prevent this increased risk of hypertension in blacks is critical for reducing health disparities among the black population.”The researchers hope that these findings could be applied to reduce the prevalence of hypertension and thus the risk of stroke and heart attack in the black American population. This study suggests that lifestyle changes, particularly changes in diet, could help reduce the disparities seen in black versus white Americans.”The best way to treat high blood pressure is to prevent it from occurring in the first place,” said Dr. Howard.The REGARDS study includes more than 30,000 black and white Americans, approximately half of whom live in the Stroke Belt, an area in the southeastern United States where the rate of stroke mortality is higher than the rest of the country. Of these, 6,897 participants, 1,807 black and 5,090 white, were analyzed for this study.In 2016, the NINDS launched a stroke prevention campaign called Mind Your Risks, which is designed to educate people aged 45-65 about the link between uncontrolled high blood pressure and the risk of having a stroke or developing dementia later in life. Source:https://www.ninds.nih.gov/News-Events/News-and-Press-Releases/Press-Releases/Diet-rich-fried-and-processed-foods-linkedlast_img read more

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Research reveals Australias changing alcohol trends

first_img Source:http://www.latrobe.edu.au/ Overall, rates of quitting drinking increased steadily between 2001 and 2013 from 4.3 per cent to six per cent, and rates of reducing either the quantity or frequency of drinking also increased from around 24 per cent to 30 per cent in both over the same time Almost one in two drinkers (43.4 per cent) reported using at least one method to reduce their drinking in 2013 14 to 17-year-olds were the group most likely to have recently quit drinking (13 per cent) 24 to 29-year-olds were the group most likely to have recently reduced drinking (49 per cent) Males (45 per cent) were more likely than females (41 per cent) to recently reduce drinking, while females (eight per cent) were more likely than males (four per cent) to recently quit drinking People over 30-years were more likely to report health reasons for reducing drinking, while people under 30 years were more likely to report lifestyle, social or lack of enjoyment in drinking Females were more likely to reduce drinking for health reasons, while males were more likely to quit drinking for the same reason Reviewed by Alina Shrourou, B.Sc. (Editor)Oct 29 2018New research from La Trobe University has revealed that 30 per cent of Australians recently reduced the quantity of their alcohol consumption and a further 29 per cent reduced the frequency of their drinking, while six per cent kicked the habit for good.Published in Alcohol and Alcoholism, the study found young adults aged between 24 and 29 were generational leaders in reducing alcohol intake, citing lifestyle reasons such as work, education and family as their main influencers for change.Researchers analysed 12 years of data from the National Drug Strategy Household Survey, which included almost 120,000 participants. The data was collected in four stages, looking at the drinking habits of Australians in the previous 12 months.Lead researcher Dr Amy Pennay, from La Trobe’s Centre for Alcohol Policy Research, said the findings confirm the cultural status of alcohol in Australia is shifting.”The research shows all age groups and sexes in Australia are reducing or quitting drinking, even older, more established drinkers,” Dr Pennay said.”Most surprisingly, we found that intoxication is not as acceptable as it once was, with more than a third of 14 to 30-year-olds who had quit drinking doing so because they dislike the impact alcohol has on their social experiences.”They believe in moderation, they are concerned about violence and they want to avoid drunkenness or genuinely dislike how getting drunk makes them feel.”While health concerns related to alcohol consumption remained the greatest concern for Australians overall, Dr Pennay said the findings connected to socialising could influence future public health efforts.Related StoriesRecreational marijuana users tend to drink more alcohol, medicinal users drink lessNew research examines whether effects of alcohol/pregnancy policies vary by raceUTHealth researchers investigate how to reduce stress-driven alcohol use”For example, health-related messages appear particularly salient for older populations, while a focus on the pleasures of moderation, avoiding violence and ways to enjoy leisure time without intoxication seem to resonate more with younger groups,” Dr Pennay said.”More and more Australians are choosing to have a healthy relationship with alcohol.”It is important now, more than ever, that we use this research to maintain and sustain this movement.”Additional statistics:last_img read more

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Researchers uncover specific microbial signatures of intestinal disease

first_imgReviewed by Alina Shrourou, B.Sc. (Editor)Jan 21 2019Researchers from the Department of Biomedical Research of the University of Bern and the University Clinic of Visceral Surgery and Medicine of the Inselspital Bern, Switzerland, have discovered that changes in the composition of the intestinal bacteria in patients with chronic inflammatory bowel disease affect the severity of the disease and the success of therapy. The advance provides an important basis to improve treatment of these diseases.Enormous numbers of bacteria live in our intestines: they normally cause no disease and they are essential if we are to remain healthy. If the delicate balance of these beneficial bacteria is disturbed through an unhealthy diet or side-effects of medications, the health-promoting functions of the bacteria are disrupted. Without the right interactions between our bodies and our intestinal bacteria different sorts of disease are triggered, especially inflammatory bowel disease.There are different forms of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) – Crohn’s disease (which affects different segments of the entire intestinal tract) and ulcerative colitis (which affects the large intestine). These conditions affect about 30 people per 100,000 of the European and North American populations. Over the last 10 years the incidence of IBD in Switzerland has sharply increased: in 2004 there were about 12,000 patients compared with 20,000 in 2014. Since IBD usually starts before the age of 35, with major ongoing limitations for the quality of life and ability to work, the conditions also have severe social and economic consequences.New results have now been reported on the relationships of intestinal bacteria in IBD patients by the research team led by Andrew Macpherson,Bahtiyar Yilmaz und Pascal Juillerat in the Department of Biomedical Research in the University of Bern and the University Clinic of Visceral Surgery and Medicine of the Inselspital. They have discovered that changes of particular species of intestinal bacteria lead to severe relapsing disease resistant to therapy and even make the return of the disease more likely in patients whose active segments of Crohn’s disease have been surgically removed. The work is being published in the journal ‘Nature Medicine’.Networks of intestinal bacteriaThe researchers examined the relationship between the intestinal microbes, the way in which the disease developed, and how it responded to treatment in 270 patients with Crohn’s disease, 232 patients with ulcerative colitis and 227 healthy individuals. The intestinal samples were provided from two large patient cohorts, the Swiss IBD cohort (www.ibdcohort.ch) led by Professor Gerhard Rogler of the University Hospital of Zürich, with major contributions from many different Swiss hospitals and Gastroenterology community practices, and a separate cohort of patients from the Gastroenterologists of the Inselspital Bern. Dr. Bahtiyar Yilmaz, the co-first author of the study commented, ‘The availability of this range of material from two separate groups of patients studied over many years with unprecedented documentation of all the clinical details by Swiss gastroenterologists and the staff of the Inselspital Bern made our study unique’.Related StoriesBacteria in the birth canal linked to lower risk of ovarian cancerStructure of bacteria responsible for traveler’s diarrhea decipheredNew methods to recognize antimicrobial resistant bacteria and how they workThe analysis of the intestinal samples showed that the microbes in IBD patients differ significantly from those of healthy individuals. This is mainly caused by increases of some species of bacteria that can trigger or worsen the disease, and reductions in bacterial species that are important for maintaining health in the intestine. The researchers found 18 new sorts of bacteria that could affect the disease outcome. They were also able to show that body habitus, age, lifestyle and the type of treatment had a major effect on these intestinal microbes. Professor Andrew Macpherson, leader of the study and last author commented, ‘We found that the different bacterial groups were living associated together in distinct communities, and it is the disruption of these community networks between the different bacterial species affect the disease. Like the communities in human society, every individual bacterial species has its place in the community if the intestine is to remain healthy. One of these bacterial communities is especially important, because its different bacterial members produce short chain fatty acids, which feed the epithelial cells that line the surface of intestinal tissues and help them to build a tight barrier between the contents of the gut and the underlying tissues of the body.’Computational methods are essential to interpret the resultsMathematical algorithms were used to process the results in the search within thousands of different sorts of bacteria, to find those networks of beneficial bacterial species that are important to avoid severe disease and to make the case likely to respond to therapy. Andrew Macpherson commented, ‘Patients with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis have huge differences in the severity of the clinical course and responsiveness to treatment – this makes it difficult for doctors to decide which particular therapy is like to be successful. Sadly, at present, there are a few patients in whom almost all therapies do not work well. We hope to use these results to improve the outcome, especially for the most severely affected patients.’Pascal Juillerat, co-first author of the study, commented, ‘Since we now know the specific microbial signatures and how the networks of beneficial and damaging bacteria are built up, we should be able to manipulate the intestinal bacteria in a designed way – specific for individual patients – as a way of settling their disease. Since every person has a different composition of their intestinal microbiota, we will need to do this on an individual basis.’Last, but not least, the relapsing-remitting nature of IBD has huge costs for the quality of life and places a burden not only on the patients and their families, but also on the very substantial costs for Swiss Healthcare. The researchers hope that this new approach can provide a new way to help those affected and to reduce the financial burden for the Swiss community.Source: https://edit.cms.unibe.ch/unibe/portal/content/e796/e803/e59463/e805/e751801/e753172/e766149/media_service766165/preview_html?lang=eng&preview=previewlast_img read more

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Genderspecific smoking cessation strategies may improve quit outcomes in women

first_imgReviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Jan 25 2019Female smokers experienced more stress and craving than male smokers after viewing cellphone-delivered stress-inducing images, report addiction researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina in Nicotine & Tobacco ResearchGender matters when it comes to smoking cessation.Women are 31 percent less likely to quit smoking successfully, according to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, in part because nicotine replacement therapy is thought to be more effective in male smokers. In contrast, laboratory-based studies suggest that women crave cigarettes more when they experience stress. However, that finding has not been clearly replicated in a real-world setting.In an article published online by Nicotine & Tobacco Research, researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) report the findings of a real-world study in 177 smokers. In the study, female smokers experienced more stress and craving than male smokers after viewing stress cues. Stress cues are images that induce stress, similar to news images of violence or war. However, no gender differences in craving were noted after viewing cellphone-delivered smoking cues. Smoking cues are images that suggest smoking behavior, such as a photograph of a cigarette or a person smoking.These findings suggest that improving quit outcomes in women may require gender-specific cessation strategies.”We know that not all existing treatments are equally effective for men and women,” says Rachel L. Tomko, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at MUSC and first author on the article. “That could be because they find different aspects of smoking rewarding and relieving, and there are different things that maintain their smoking. Our findings suggest that stress may be one thing that maintains smoking more for women than for men.””This research helps us understand what drives smoking behavior and what really may create barriers to treatment that we didn’t think were there,” explains Kevin M. Gray, M.D., professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at MUSC and senior author on the article. “If smoking were all about the nicotine, then everyone would respond beautifully to nicotine replacement therapy. But it’s more nuanced and complex than that. The better we can get at it, the better we will be able to create the right kinds of treatment for each individual.”Participants in the real-world study viewed eight images each day (four sets of two) for two weeks. These included smoking cues, stress cues and neutral images. Each time they received a pair of images, they completed a form assessing their stress, negative emotion and craving levels before viewing the images (their baseline value) and after viewing each image. They also tracked the number of cigarettes they smoked each day.Related StoriesOxidative stress could play key role in the spreading of aberrant proteins in Parkinson’s diseaseUTHealth researchers investigate how to reduce stress-driven alcohol useFinancial incentives may help people quit smoking and remain smoke-freeThese data were recorded via a smartphone app (status/post; Infinite Arms; Charleston, SC) that integrates with the research tool RedCap (Vanderbilt University), and these RedCap data were hosted by the South Carolina Clinical and Translational Institute, an NIH Clinical and Translational Science Awards Program Hub.As already noted, female smokers reported experiencing more stress, negative emotion and craving after viewing stress cues, but not smoking cues, than male smokers. Regardless of gender, smokers with higher baseline levels experienced more stress, negative emotion and craving after viewing stress cues. Because women smoke more in response to stress and environmental triggers, their smoking patterns could be expected to vary more than men’s. However, the MUSC team found no difference in the number of cigarettes smoked per day for male and female smokers.”Fortunately, showing smokers stress and smoking cues did not result in an overall increase in cigarettes smoked,” says Tomko. “This is likely because smokers are already exposed to similar images on a daily basis. However, it is surprising that women did not have more day-to-day fluctuations in their number of cigarettes than men. It is possible that minor, everyday stressors result in women smoking a cigarette a bit sooner than they would have otherwise but does not impact the overall rate of smoking. We hope to test this in future research.”With other colleagues at MUSC, Gray and Tomko plan to analyze the daily hormone level data collected during the study to explore how hormones affect stress and smoking. Using a special lighter that can record time, they will also conduct studies to see how long it takes for different smokers to light up after experiencing stress. This could, for example, provide more evidence that stress leads to smoking in women. More broadly, they will continue to map out the gender and other differences that affect how smokers respond to treatment and use that knowledge to better craft cessation therapies.”The really good news – and we can say this both as clinicians and researchers – is that we have effective treatments for smoking cessation,” says Gray. “The challenging news is that, even with effective treatments, most smokers who try still struggle to quit smoking. We can try to make improvements by using the blunt instrument of a bigger, better treatment for everybody. However, I think we should also try to think what is different between individuals — either gender or other characteristics — and whether those differences help us better tailor our treatments.” Source:https://www.musc.edu/last_img read more

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Researchers use mouse models to explain the developmental process behind COPD

first_imgReviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Feb 1 2019The airways and lungs are affected by a range of diseases, but while some have been well characterized and treated, others such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD) are still somewhat of an enigma. This condition is known to involve a variety of progressively deteriorating symptoms such as inflammation of the lungs and narrowing of the airways, but the causes of these at the cellular and molecular levels have largely remained obscure.In a landmark study recently published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, a research team from Tokyo Medical and Dental University (TMDU) have used a variety of mouse models to explain the developmental process behind COPD. The team showed that the immune cells basophils, previously believed to be mainly involved in fighting parasitic infections and inducing allergic responses, also induce the destruction of alveolar walls (emphysema).Related StoriesSchwann cells capable of generating protective myelin over nerves finds researchAMSBIO offers new, best-in-class CAR-T cell range for research and immunotherapyTrump administration cracks down on fetal tissue researchEarlier studies of COPD focused on mice as a suitable model for easily dissecting the mechanisms behind this disease, but encountered a range of difficulties in mimicking the features in humans. First, mice were exposed to smoke, given the association between smoking and COPD, but this failed to mirror the progressiveness of the disease in humans even after they quit smoking. This was superseded by the approach of administering enzymes called proteases directly into the airway. Proteases break up proteins, producing more human COPD-like features.”Here, we induced emphysema in model mice using a protease called elastase,” lead author Sho Shibata says, “We then worked backwards one step at a time through the series of cellular and molecular events causing this symptom to identify what started this cascade, using mice with knockout of each component of this cascade.”The team started by revealing that the lung tissue destruction was caused by a molecule called MMP-12, which they found was released in excess from immune cells called interstitial macrophages when elastase was administered. They then found that these interstitial macrophages arose when the precursor immune cells called monocytes were induced by an immunity-regulating molecule called interleukin-4. Looking backwards another step in this chain, the team showed that this interleukin-4 was released by the immune cells basophils.Control mice (left panel) or basophil-depleted mice (right panel) were intranasally treated once with porcine pancreatic elastase to elicit emphysema.”Our results are surprising because basophils have not previously been identified to be active in this kind of situation,” corresponding author Hajime Karasuyama says. “It may be that basophils were previously overlooked because they only make up 1% of the white blood cells in the lungs.”Basophil-derived IL-4/monocyte-derived IM/MMP-12 axis plays a crucial role in emphysema formationThe team hope that their discovery will lead to therapies targeting basophils or the interstitial macrophages that they create to slow down the progression of emphysema. Source:http://www.tmd.ac.jp/english/press-release/20190124_1/index.htmllast_img read more

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Market muscle Study uncovers differences between Medicare and private insurers

first_imgReviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)May 10 2019Private health insurance plans in 2017 paid more than twice what Medicare would have for those same health care services, says a sweeping new study from Rand Corp., a respected research organization.Its study, which examines payment rates by private insurers in 25 states to 1,600 hospitals, shines light into a black box of the health industry: what hospitals and other medical providers charge. It is among the first studies to examine on such a wide level just how much more privately insured people pay for health care.The finding: a whole lot. The difference varies dramatically across the country. And as national health expenses climb, this growing gap poses a serious challenge for lawmakers. The Rand data suggests a need for market changes, which could come in the form of changes in industry behavior or government regulation, in order to bring down hospital prices in the private sector. “If we want to reduce health care spending,” said Christopher Whaley, a Rand economist and one of the paper’s two authors, “we have to do something about higher hospital prices.”Put another way, if, between 2015 and 2017, hospitals would have charged these health plans the same rates as Medicare, it would have reduced health spending by $7.7 billion.The national discrepancy is staggering on its own. But the data fluctuated even more when examined on a state-by-state level.In Indiana, private health plans paid on average more than three times what Medicare did. In Michigan, the most efficient of the states studied, the factor is closer to 1.5 — the result, the study authors said, of uniquely strong negotiating of the powerful UAW union, historically made up of autoworkers.The difference between Medicare and private coverage rates matters substantially for the approximately 156 million Americans under age 65 who get insurance through work-sponsored health plans, researchers said. For them, higher hospital prices aren’t an abstraction. Those charges ultimately translate to individuals paying more for medical services or monthly premiums.That’s especially true for the increasing number of people who are covered by “high-deductible” health plans and have to pay more of their health care costs out-of-pocket, said Paul Ginsburg, a health economist at the Brookings Institute. He was not associated with this study.The gap between Medicare and private plans — and how it plays out across the country — underscores a key point in how American health care is priced. Often, it has little to do with what it costs hospitals or doctors to provide medical care.”It’s about how much they can charge, how much the market can take,” said Ge Bai, an associate professor at the Johns Hopkins University Carey Business School who studies hospital prices but was not affiliated with the study.The paper’s authors suggest that publishing this pricing data — which they collected from state databases, health plans and self-insured employers — could empower employers to demand lower prices, effectively correcting how the market functions.But, they acknowledged, there’s no guarantee that would, in fact, yield better prices.One issue is that individual hospitals or health systems often have sizable influence in a particular community or state, especially if they are the area’s main health care provider. Another factor: If they are the only facility in the market area to offer a particularly complex service, like neonatal intensive care or specialized cardiac care, they have an upper hand in negotiating the price tag. In those situations, even if an employer is made aware that Medicare pays less, it doesn’t necessarily have the ability to negotiate a lower price.”Employers and health plans in a lot of cases are really at the mercy of big, must-have systems. If you can’t legitimately threaten to cut a provider or system out of the network, it’s game over,” said Chapin White, a Rand policy researcher and Whaley’s co-author. “That’s when you come up against the limits of market-based approach.”Related StoriesMedicare going in ‘right direction’ on opioid epidemicPodcast: KHN’s ‘What the Health?’ Is ‘Medicare for All’ losing steam?KHN’s ‘What the Health?’: All about ‘Medicare for All’It wasn’t always this way, said Gerard Anderson, a Johns Hopkins health policy professor and expert in hospital pricing, who was also not involved with the study. Anderson began comparing Medicare prices to that of private insurance in the 1990s, when they paid virtually the same amount for individual services.Since then, private health plans have lost the ability to negotiate at that same level, in part because many hospital systems have merged, giving the hospitals greater leverage. “Most large, self-insured corporations do not have the market power in their communities to take on the hospitals even if they wanted to do so,” Anderson said.The RAND findings come as Democrats campaigning for 2020 are reopening the health care reform debate. Single-payer advocates argue, among other points, that covering everyone through a Medicare-like system could bring lower prices and increase efficiency to the rest of the country, or at least give the government leverage to negotiate a better price.That’s certainly possible, but it isn’t guaranteed. Under single-payer, Anderson said, the challenge would be to make sure Medicare doesn’t simply end up paying more, or that cuts aren’t so dramatic that hospitals and doctors go out of business.And there’s the political calculus, Ginsburg of Brookings noted. Hospitals, doctors and other health care industries are all influential lobbies and could successfully ward off any efforts to lower prices.”It’s one thing to have regulatory control of prices. It’s another to set them low enough to make a difference,” he said.Other strategies, such as a “public option” — which would allow people to opt into a government-provided plan but preserve multiple health care payers — could also make a difference, he said. Lawmakers on the state or federal level could limit what hospitals are allowed to charge for certain medical services, as Maryland does.Some states have taken smaller-scale approaches, too, by tying their payment rates to a percentage of Medicare, rather than negotiating case by case. In Montana, state employees get coverage that pays about 230% of the Medicare rate on average — an arrangement that saved the state more than $15 million over two years.For its part, the American Hospital Association, an industry trade group, points to the importance of lowering the cost of prescription drugs or reducing overuse, among other things.Policy fixes are debatable, White said. But the data makes one point clear: From an efficiency standpoint, the current system isn’t working.”There are right now the secret negotiations between health plans and hospitals,” and the system is “dysfunctional,” he said. This article was reprinted from khn.org with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.last_img read more

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Novel method for evaluating genomic sequencing results in newborn screening

first_imgReviewed by Alina Shrourou, B.Sc. (Editor)May 26 2019Newborn screening is required in the U.S. and differs slightly depending on which state you live in. For the most part, it’s done before a newborn baby leaves the hospital and includes a blood test that screens for 30-50 serious health problems that usually arise in infancy or childhood, and could hinder normal development.Compared to current newborn screenings, genomic sequencing is able to detect many more inherited conditions. But there’s also more to the results than just testing positive or negative, and with current commercially available products, those results and any caveats that exist may not be fully explained to the patient. Because of this, there’s a push in the scientific community to determine how genomic sequencing should be implemented as a part of newborn screening before the technology is available on a large scale. Out of all the additional information we can provide through genomic sequencing, which could potentially be hundreds of conditions that might develop, what do parents want to learn, and what information would be most appropriate to provide?”Laura Milko, PhD, associate director of the Program for Precision Medicine in Health Care at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine Milko is the first author of a study published in The Journal of Pediatrics that describes a method of sorting conditions to help categorize the types of results to be disclosed in newborn genomic sequencing. Milko and her colleagues identified several hundred conditions that could be helpful to report to parents. This study was part of a larger UNC School of Medicine project called North Carolina Newborn Exome Sequencing for Universal Screening (NC NEXUS) led by Cynthia M. Powell, MD, and Jonathan S. Berg, MD, PhD.Current newborn screening standards were developed by the Health Resources Services Administration (HRSA) in their Recommended Uniform Screening Panel. Milko’s study used this standard as a comparison tool in developing their sorting method.”The conditions that are currently screened for in newborns are those that are more effectively treated if identified early, before symptoms develop,” Milko said. “We developed a sorting system that categorizes information in much the same way.”Categorizing the information is important, because results from genomic sequencing include a lot of gray area, and some pieces of information are more helpful than others. We have around 20,000 genes and they all play roles in how our bodies grow, develop, and function. Changes in these genes, also called variants, might interfere with the gene’s normal role and could lead to certain health conditions. Genomic sequencing is able to identify a person’s genetic variants. Most of them are harmless or have no known health implications, but some variants might be related to rare genetic conditions. The variants that are pinpointed by genomic sequencing are an indication that a condition could develop, but do not necessarily identify when it will develop, or how severe the condition might be.Related StoriesHealthy lifestyle lowers dementia risk despite genetic predispositionFinger-prick blood test could help prevent unnecessary antibiotic prescribing for patients with COPDRevolutionary gene replacement surgery restores vision in patients with retinal degeneration”Some diseases are more likely to develop than others,” Milko said. “We look at how many people within the population with that particular gene variant actually end up developing the disease to determine its prevalence. That information goes into determining how useful it might be to include in a newborn’s genomic sequencing report.”The group also looked at when conditions tend to develop. Current screening standards only recommend tests for conditions that develop during infancy or childhood and require immediate treatment. Genomic sequencing can uncover genetic variants that have an impact throughout a lifetime, but providing results related to conditions that could develop later in life has potential legal and ethical implications. Further, there is debate on how useful information is when no treatment is available for the condition that was identified. Would you want to know that your child has a chance of developing a potentially fatal disease at some point if there was nothing you could do to prevent or treat it?”There are concerns that learning about a child’s genetic risks might increase parental anxiety and have a negative impact on the family, especially when there is nothing that can be done about it,” said Milko. “There are also issues related to the disclosure of results about adult-onset conditions, since revealing this information about an infant would prevent them from being able to decide whether to learn it when they become an adult.”Jonathan Berg, MD, PhD, associate professor in the department of genetics and director of the Program for Precision Medicine in Health Care, was the senior author of this study. All of these factors played a role in how Milko and her research team sorted disease indicators into categories. They looked at 822 gene-disease pairs all together, and determined that 466 would be valuable to add to newborn screenings based on current HRSA standards. An additional 245 were identified as potentially useful, and suggested they be offered as additional testing if parents choose to do so.”We need to start the conversation with physicians, policy makers and parents about how to use this technology,” Berg said. “The sequencing is really the easy part. The difficult part is thinking about what results to provide, how to teach physicians to share those results, and how to educate parents on what that information really means.”Source:University of North Carolina Health CareJournal reference:Milko, L. et al. (2019) An Age-Based Framework for Evaluating Genome-Scale Sequencing Results in Newborn Screening. The Journal of Pediatrics. doi.org/10.1016/j.jpeds.2018.12.027.last_img read more

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Stomach flu vaccine prevents type 1 diabetes in children

first_imgAs a result of this preliminary analysis, which is the first time that this trend has been examined in detail, the researchers say that strengthening commitments to enforce the immunization schedule already in place could go a long way in reducing the number of cases of this chronic medical condition.SourceRogers M. A. M. et al., (2019). Lower Incidence Rate of Type 1 Diabetes after Receipt of the Rotavirus Vaccine in the United States, 2001–2017. Scientific Reports. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-44193-4 By Dr. Liji Thomas, MDJun 14 2019Scientists have discovered that the rotavirus vaccine reduces the likelihood of children being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. Rotavirus causes a severe gastrointestinal illness characterized by diarrhea and dehydration. It is rarely fatal in developed countries but can be deathly in low-income countries.Kateryna Kon | ShutterstockThe authors of the current study looked at almost 1.5 million insurance records of American children born after 2001, who were followed for periods ranging from 1 to 16.5 years, depending on their year of birth and registration with the insurance firm.Among completely immunized children, the risk of type 1 diabetes went down by 41%. The incidence was 12.2/100 000 compared to 20.5/ 100 000 for unvaccinated and partially vaccinated children, during the period of study. In other words, skipped doses eliminated any benefit in terms of preventing diabetes.Both the pentavalent and monovalent rotavirus vaccines are used in the US, but the greatest reduction in risk (37%) was seen with children who were completely immunized; having had three doses of the pentavalent vaccine.When classified by birth year, researcher Dr. Mary Rogers found that type 1 diabetes risk was reduced by 33% for fully vaccinated children born between 2006 and 2011, but this went up to 54% for those born between 2012 and 2016. The reason for the difference is unknown, but might be because rotavirus delays diabetes onset, rather than preventing it altogether.After adjusting the risk factors, the risk reduction was found to be 33% for vaccinated children born between 2006 and 2017. While there was no difference between boys and girls, babies born in winter had a lower incidence compared to those born in spring or autumn, and those who lived in the central US compared to New England and New Jersey, which have higher rates of skipped vaccination.The incidence of type 1 diabetes in the vaccinated cohort was 55% lower compared to the five years before vaccine introduction (in 2006).Was the risk reduction due to the rotavirus vaccine or other vaccines?The 2006 cohort also served as the historical controls to find if other vaccines were responsible for the risk reduction. To examine this, the children from the historical cohort were analyzed for diabetes risk after they received their first three immunizations for diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis at 2, 4 and 6 months. These records were compared with children in the current cohort who received, in addition, the rotavirus vaccine. Here again, there was a 56% reduction in type 1 diabetes incidence in the second group.Altogether, the disease incidence reduced by almost 7% after 2006 in the age group from 0 to 19 years, in contrast to the 7% rise in each previous year. The reduction was seen almost completely in children 0-4 years old, because other age groups showed a rise in incidence.The study also looked at how effective the vaccine was against rotavirus infection, and found that children who had received the vaccine were 94% less likely to need hospitalization for this cause. In addition, children who had received the vaccine had a 31% lower risk of hospital stay for any cause during the 60 days following the administration of the oral vaccine.How does the rotavirus vaccine prevent type 1 diabetes?Rotavirus infection is known to affect the beta cells in the pancreas which produce insulin. This may be responsible for the lower incidence of type 1 diabetes following this immunization, but because the disease is comparatively rare, large numbers of people must be examined before any causation hypothesis can be proved.More studies are required over a longer time frame to find out whether the disease is truly prevented or just delayed. Other confounding factors which may have affected the results must also be identified. This is an uncommon condition, so it takes large amounts of data to see any trends across a population. It will take more time and analyses to confirm these findings. But we do see a decline in Type 1 diabetes in young children after the rotavirus vaccine was introduced.”Dr. Mary Rogers, First Author of the Studylast_img read more

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Nursing home care prices rise faster than other medical care and consumer

first_imgVery few people have studied this topic, so it required building the largest dataset on nursing home prices to date. This kind of information is very valuable to potential consumers of this care.”Sean Huang, PhD, MA,Department of Health Systems Administration, Georgetown University Medical Center Reviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Jun 21 2019One of the largest studies on out-of-pocket costs for nursing home care finds prices are high and rising faster than other medical care and consumer prices, reports a team of health policy researchers.Their study, published in Medical Care Research and Review, reviews nursing home prices in eight states between 2005-2010 and uncovers out-of-pocket prices that increase significantly beyond normal inflation and inflation in medical care prices.For example, annual out-of-pocket costs for nursing home care increased as high as 30% in California during the study period.The study also finds substantial price variation across states. In 2010, at an average of $131 a day (about $47,800 annually), Texas had the least expensive nursing home out-of-pocket cost, while New York State, at $334 daily ($121,910 a year) had the most expensive.Related StoriesStudy examines potential advantages and disadvantages of blister packaging for nursing homesStudy paints clear picture of the staffing levels of nurses at nursing homesStudy: Stress experienced by premature infants can carry on throughout their adult lifeThe study also finds different prices between nursing homes after adjusting for staffing levels and geographical difference.The for-profit nursing home chains charged the lowest prices and nonprofit nursing home chains provided the most expensive care. The price differential between for-profit chains and nonprofit chains is about $4,160 annually, or equivalent to 6.2% of the average price of for-profit nursing homes. However, there is no statistically significant difference in prices between for-profit and nonprofit independently operated nursing homes.The researchers also find that areas with higher market concentration of nursing homes leads to higher prices. Nursing homes that are near capacity limit also charge more than nursing homes that have more rooms available.The study aims to provide more transparency of the out-of-pocket prices of nursing home care. “Not many people have those kind of resources, and so it is important to understand how fast prices grow and how they vary,” says the study’s lead author, Sean Huang, PhD, MA, assistant professor in the Department of Health Systems Administration at the School of Nursing & Health Studies at Georgetown University Medical Center.Typically, individuals in need of nursing home care who do not have Medicaid, and usually pay out of pocket until they run out of money. Then they are eligible for Medicaid, Huang says. Only a small fraction of nursing home residents have private insurance, such as long-term care insurance, that helps cover the costs.This study used a unique dataset on nursing home prices from 2005-2010 across eight states. ” Source:Georgetown University Medical CenterJournal reference:Huang, S. et al. (2019) The Determinants and Variation of Nursing Home Private-Pay Prices: Organizational and Market Structure. Medical Care Research and Review.doi.org/10.1177/1077558719857335last_img read more

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Challenges and research for an evolving aviation system

“Commercial aviation in the United States and most other regions of the world is the safest mode of transportation,” said Kenneth Hylander, past chairman of the Board of Governors at the Flight Safety Foundation, executive vice president of safety at Amtrak, and chair of the committee that conducted the study and wrote the report. “This high level of safety is the result of many factors, including decades of investments by industry and government and the dedication of researchers, engineers, pilots, air traffic controllers, and a great many other members of the aviation community. As the national airspace system is constantly changing, it is time to develop a new, real-time safety assurance system.”The report envisions an IASMS that can collect data on the status of aircraft, air traffic management systems, airports, and weather, and then assess the data second by second, minute by minute, and hour by hour to detect or predict elevated risks quickly. Additionally, the IASMS would focus on risks that require safety assurance action in-flight or prior to flight, such as making a decision to postpone or cancel a flight until flight conditions change or equipment is repaired, for example. Safety assurance actions generated by an IASMS may take the form of recommendations that operators take action upon or, when urgent action is required, IASMS may be designated to initiate safety assurance actions autonomously.Successful development of an IASMS will require overcoming key technical and economic challenges, and the task of maintaining a high level of safety for commercial airlines is complicated by the dynamic nature of the national airspace system—the common network of U.S. airspace, airports or landing areas, aeronautical information, rules, regulations, and procedures, technical information, and manpower and material. As the national airspace system evolves to accommodate the increase in number of flights and numerous new entrants, such as increasingly autonomous systems, aviation safety programs must also evolve to ensure that changes to the national airspace system do not inadvertently introduce new risks. Explore further A comprehensive aviation safety system as envisioned by NASA would require integration of a wide range of systems and practices, including building an in-time aviation safety management system (IASMS) that could detect and mitigate high-priority safety issues as they emerge and before they become hazards, says a new report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. An IASMS could continuously monitor the national airspace system, assess the data that it has collected, and then either recommend or initiate safety assurance actions as necessary. The report recommends 10 high-priority research projects for consideration by agencies and organizations in government, industry, and academia with an interest in developing an IASMS for the national airspace system. Of these 10 projects, developing a detailed concept of operation for an IASMS is judged by the committee to be of the highest priority and will involve considering multiple possible system architectures, evaluating key trade-offs, and identifying system requirements. For most of the research projects, meeting the needs of an IASMS will likely require a mix of new technologies, improvements to existing technologies, and/or the application of existing technologies developed for other applications.Each recommended project would rely on academia, industry, and government agencies to develop new technologies and products associated with the development of an IASMS. The committee specifically called on academia to participate in research at lower levels of technology readiness and on industry to focus on more advanced research and product development.Furthermore, government agencies should support research and development consistent with their own organization’s mission objectives and the desired nature of the given organization’s research portfolio in terms of risk, technical maturity, and economic potential, the report recommends. For example, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is leading the NextGen program, some elements of which pertain directly to the development of an IASMS. NASA could contribute primarily by supporting basic and applied research for the advanced development of systems by industry and the FAA. The U.S. Department of Defense could monitor any changes to the air traffic management system that could impact the operation of military aircraft in civil airspace. In addition, each research project could be addressed by partnerships involving multiple organizations in the federal government, industry, academia, and other international government agencies.The report acknowledges that executing all of the high-priority research projects identified in the report would require significant resources although many of the research projects could achieve substantial advances using currently available resources, especially if program planning and executing takes maximum advantage of the synergies that exist among some of the research projects. Citation: Challenges and research for an evolving aviation system (2018, January 18) retrieved 18 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-01-evolving-aviation.html Overcoming barriers to successful use of autonomous unmanned aircraft Provided by National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. read more

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Cambridge Analytica says it is no Bond villain

This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. Cambridge Analytica claimed Tuesday it was “no Bond villain” as it vehemently denied exploiting Facebook users’ data for the election campaign of US President Donald Trump. The marketing analytics firm stressed it had deleted data about Facebook users obtained in breach of the social network’s terms of service.The information had been gathered via a personality prediction app developed by academic Aleksandr Kogan’s research firm Global Science Research (GSR).Cambridge Analytica (CA) insisted it did not use the data during Trump’s 2016 campaign and did not support the pro-Brexit side in Britain’s referendum on its European Union membership that same year.Spokesman Clarence Mitchell claimed the company had been portrayed like the enemy in a James Bond film.”Cambridge Analytica is no Bond villain,” he said.”While no laws were broken, we have acknowledged where mistakes have been made.”He convened a press conference in London “to counter some of the unfounded allegations and, frankly, the torrent of ill-informed and inaccurate speculation”.CA suspended chief executive Alexander Nix on March 20 after recordings emerged of him boasting that the firm played an expansive role in the Trump campaign, doing all of its research, analytics as well as digital and television campaigns.In undercover filming captured by Channel 4 television, he is also seen boasting about entrapping politicians and secretly operating in elections around the world through shadowy front companies.Speaking of Nix, Mitchell said: “At worst he’s guilty of over-zealous salesmanship in an attempt to apparently win a contract. “Staff that saw that were horrified and did not recognise the Cambridge Analytica they worked for.”He said the data CA acquired from GSR was for up to 30 million respondents in the United States only, irrespective of how many GSR was able to get information on.The data that Kogan managed to collect through the app was tested in 2014 and 2015, before Facebook complained about it, and was “shown to be virtually useless in that it was only just above random guessing, in statistical terms,” said Mitchell.”Cambridge Analytica did not use the data further. The firm did work for Donald Trump for five months.”But, Mitchell insisted: “Any suggestion that the GSR Kogan data was used in that campaign is utterly incorrect. Its effective uselessness had already been identified by then.”Mitchell said CA was “extremely sorry” that it ended up in the possession of data that breached Facebook’s terms of service.On the Brexit referendum, he said CA pitched to Leave.EU, before it lost out on becoming the officially designated Leave campaign, but its bids to them, and to other referendum campaigns, were unsuccessful.He said an independent investigation into the company, being carried out by a senior lawyer, was close to conclusion.Kogan, who teaches at Cambridge University, told a British parliamentary committee Tuesday that criticism of his work by Facebook showed the US social media giant was in “PR crisis mode”. Explore further © 2018 AFP Cambridge Analytica fights back on data scandal Citation: Cambridge Analytica says it is ‘no Bond villain’ (2018, April 24) retrieved 18 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-04-cambridge-analytica-bond-villain.html Cambridge Analytica insists it did not use the data during Trump’s 2016 campaign and did not support the pro-Brexit side in Britain’s referendum read more

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Bright future for solar cell technology

Journal information: Advanced Energy Materials More information: Jia Liang et al. Enhancing Optical, Electronic, Crystalline, and Morphological Properties of Cesium Lead Halide by Mn Substitution for High-Stability All-Inorganic Perovskite Solar Cells with Carbon Electrodes, Advanced Energy Materials (2018). DOI: 10.1002/aenm.201800504 Harnessing energy from the sun, which emits immensely powerful energy from the center of the solar system, is one of the key targets for achieving a sustainable energy supply.Light energy can be converted directly into electricity using electrical devices called solar cells. To date, most solar cells are made of silicon, a material that is very good at absorbing light. But silicon panels are expensive to produce.Scientists have been working on an alternative, made from perovskite structures. True perovskite, a mineral found in the earth, is composed of calcium, titanium and oxygen in a specific molecular arrangement. Materials with that same crystal structure are called perovskite structures.Perovskite structures work well as the light-harvesting active layer of a solar cell because they absorb light efficiently but are much cheaper than silicon. They can also be integrated into devices using relatively simple equipment. For instance, they can be dissolved in solvent and spray coated directly onto the substrate. Perovskite solar cells have not yet been produced on a commercial scale. Currently, the OIST Energy Materials and Surface Sciences Unit’s new perovskite solar cells are small enough for Dr. Liu to hold them in the palm of his hand. Credit: Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Dr. Longbin Qiu (left) and Dr. Zonghao Liu (right), both post-doctoral researchers from the Energy Materials and Surface Sciences Unit, hold solar cells made from their new perovskite material. Credit: Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology “The solar cells are almost unchanged after exposure to light for 300 hours,” says Dr. Zonghao Liu, an author on the paper. Electron microscopy image of perovskite solar cells, showing the different layers. Credit: Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology All-inorganic perovskite solar cells tend to have lower light absorption than organic-inorganic hybrids, however. This is where the second feature comes in: The OIST researchers doped their new cells with manganese in order to improve their performance. Manganese changes the crystal structure of the material, boosting its light harvesting capacity.”Just like when you add salt to a dish to change its flavor, when we add manganese, it changes the properties of the solar cell,” says Liu. Thirdly, in these solar cells, the electrodes that transport current between the solar cells and external wires are made of carbon, rather than of the usual gold. Such electrodes are significantly cheaper and easier to produce, in part because they can be printed directly onto the solar cells. Fabricating gold electrodes, on the other hand, requires high temperatures and specialist equipment such as a vacuum chamber. Materials made from perovskite structures could potentially revolutionize solar cell devices, but they have a severe drawback: they are often very unstable, deteriorating on exposure to heat. This has hindered their commercial potential.The Energy Materials and Surface Sciences Unit at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University (OIST), led by Prof. Yabing Qi, has developed devices using a new perovskite material that is stable, efficient and relatively cheap to produce, paving the way for their use in the solar cells of tomorrow. Their work was recently published in Advanced Energy Materials. Postdoctoral scholars Dr. Jia Liang and Dr. Zonghao Liu made major contributions to this work.This material has several key features. First, it is completely inorganic – an important shift, because organic components are usually not thermostable and degrade under heat. Since solar cells can get very hot in the sun, heat stability is crucial. By replacing the organic parts with inorganic materials, the researchers made the perovskite solar cells much more stable. Citation: Bright future for solar cell technology (2018, April 27) retrieved 18 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-04-bright-future-solar-cell-technology.html New all-inorganic perovskite solar cells tackle three key challenges in solar cell technology: efficiency, stability, and cost. This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. Provided by Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Explore further Potassium gives perovskite-based solar cells an efficiency boost The all-inorganic perovskite solar cells are built in several layers. The bottom layer is glass, which is several millimeters thick. The second layer is a transparent conductive material called FTO. Then comes an electron sensitive layer made from titanium oxide. The fourth layer is the photoactive perovskite. Finally, the top layer is carbon. Credit: Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology There are still a number of challenges to overcome before perovskite solar cells become as commercially viable as silicon solar cells. For example, while perovskite solar cells can last for one or two years, silicon solar cells can work for 20 years. Qi and his colleagues continue to work on these new cells’ efficiency and durability, and are also developing the process of fabricating them on a commercial scale. Given how quickly the technology has developed since the first perovskite solar cell was reported in 2009, the future for these new cells looks bright. read more

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EU tells Luxembourg to recover 120 mn euros from French energy giant

first_imgEngie’s biggest shareholder is the French state An investigation by the European Commission found Luxembourg had allowed two Engie group companies to avoid paying taxes on almost all their profits for about a decade by means of complex financing structures.”Luxembourg gave illegal tax benefits to Engie,” EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said in a statement.”Engie paid an effective corporate tax rate of 0.3 percent on certain profits in Luxembourg for about a decade. This selective tax treatment is illegal.”Brussels launched an in-depth probe in 2016 into tax rulings by Luxembourg which the commission said “artificially lowered” Engie’s tax bill “without any valid justification”.The arrangement centred around Engie LNG Supply, which trades liquified natural gas products in Luxembourg, and Engie Treasury Management, which manages financing within the group.In 2008 Engie set up an arrangement that allowed it to treat the same transaction as both equity and debt and thereby make significant deductions from Engie LNG Supply’s taxable profits. The Luxembourg authorities then endorsed the structure with a tax ruling.”Luxembourg must now recover about 120 million euros in unpaid tax from Engie, plus interest,” the commission said.Luxembourg, which has been hit by several EU tax investigations including one last year that led the commission to order web retail giant Amazon to pay 250 million euros in back taxes, insisted that the Engie arrangements were within the rules at the time.”As Engie has been taxed in accordance with the tax rules applicable at the relevant time, without having received a selective treatment, Luxembourg considers that Engie has not been granted State aid incompatible with the internal market,” the Luxembourg government said in a statement.However it acknowledged that the result of the Engie arrangements “no longer correspond to the current spirit of the national and international tax framework”. © 2018 AFP Citation: EU tells Luxembourg to recover 120 mn euros from French energy giant (2018, June 20) retrieved 18 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-06-eu-luxembourg-recover-mn-euros.html Explore furthercenter_img EU to decide Amazon tax break case: sources The EU on Wednesday ruled that Luxembourg had given illegal tax breaks to energy giant Engie and ordered it to recover 120 million euros from the company, whose biggest shareholder is the French state. This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.last_img read more

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Boeing profits surge after tax settlement raises earnings estimate

first_img The aerospace giant, which has benefited from a multi-year investment boom in global air travel and lofty defense spending amid rising geopolitical tensions, reported profits of $2.4 billion for the quarter ending September 30, a 30.6 percent jump from the same period of the prior year. Revenues rose 3.8 percent to $25.1 billion.Boeing upgraded its revenue forecast by $1 billion to a range of $98-100 billion for the full year. “Our teams continued to perform at a high level during the quarter,” Boeing Chief Executive Dennis Muilenburg said. “Strong underlying performance, along with growth across our businesses we’ve seen throughout the year, give us confidence to raise our 2018 revenue and earnings guidance and reaffirm our operating cash flow guidance.”Shares of the aerospace giant jumped 3.8 percent to $363.17 in early trading. The gain came a day after fellow industrial giants Caterpillar and 3M saw shares plummet following disappointing results that acknowledged higher costs associated with tariffs connected to US trade conflicts with China and other countries.But Boeing’s press release made no mention of fallout from trade.”It seems like they’re hitting on all cylinders,” said CFRA Research analyst Jim Corridore. But he still expects Boeing shares to stay volatile as long as US trade conflicts persist.”They have great demand, they’re executing very strongly, but investors are not going to let go of the idea that tariffs will affect them at some point,” Corridore said. Explore further Boeing earnings up, but reports higher costs on tanker Boeing’s commercial deliveries fell, but the company got a boost from a bit tax settlement Boeing raised its full-year profit and revenue forecasts Wednesday following a better-than-expected third quarter as demand for commercial and defense aircraft stayed robust. © 2018 AFP New defense ordersCommercial airplane deliveries actually fell compared with a year earlier, in part due to a production slowdown in Washington state due to delays in receiving key components. But profit margins in the business surged on higher production of other key planes.The company booked 171 net orders, a decline from the second quarter, but well above the prior year’s level.The defense business turned in an operating loss due to $691 million in one-time costs connected to investment programs. But the company scored major new defense contracts during the quarter. Aerospace giant Boeing has scored some new defense contracts in the latest quarter, even while that business line posted a loss, helping to boost the full-year revenue forecast Citation: Boeing profits surge after tax settlement, raises earnings estimate (2018, October 24) retrieved 17 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-10-boeing-profits-surge-tax-settlement.html Boeing also set aside $112 million in higher costs for the KC-46 transport aircraft, the latest over-runs on the program.Key defense announcements during the quarter included an $805 million contract from the US Navy for the MQ-25, an unmanned aerial refueler and the contract for the MH-139 Air Force helicopters. Analysts say Boeing’s defense business has benefited from expected Pentagon spending increases under President Donald Trump, although some have noted that a potential Democratic takeover of Congress in next month’s midterm elections could threaten some of that bounty.The hits from the one-time costs were partly offset by a $412 million benefit from a 2013-2014 tax settlement.The results topped analyst expectations for earnings-per-share and revenues, and could alleviate worries that US industrial companies will all be big losers from the US-China trade conflict. Boeing has been seen as vulnerable on that front because of its substantial China business.The company also does business with Saudi Arabia, which has been under scrutiny following the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. But Corridore said the kingdom accounts for a “miniscule” share of Boeing’s business overall.”It’s not going to impact them and also it’s probably not going to go anywhere,” Corridore said. “The most extreme scenario is that things get pushed out, delayed cosmetically for political purposes and those number come back in.” This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.last_img read more

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More belttightening at VW to fund electric new start

first_img © 2018 AFP German car giant Volkswagen said Thursday it is looking for three billion euros ($3.8 billion) in new savings to help fund its pivot towards electric vehicles, adding that it could not rule out job cuts. Citation: More belt-tightening at VW to fund electric new start (2018, December 6) retrieved 17 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-12-belt-tightening-vw-fund-electric.html Explore further Without more savings, profitability at VW’s historic own-brand cars division “will not be enough to be completely ready for the future,” said Arno Antlitz, chief financial officer at the unit, adding “enormous investments” were needed.The belt-tightening drive comes on top of a programme launched in 2017 that has already found 2.2 billion euros of savings, the group said.Added together, the schemes should allow the unit to achieve a profit margin of “at least six percent” by 2022, three years earlier than planned and up from the four to five percent it aims for in 2020.After admitting in 2015 to manipulating millions of diesel vehicles worldwide to appear less polluting in regulatory tests, Volkswagen hopes to leave its “dieselgate” scandal behind with a massive electrification programme.The sprawling 12-brand group said in mid-November it would invest 44 billion euros by 2023 to speed up the transition away from internal combustion engines—including 11 billion euros at the core VW brand alone.Costs have been slashed by reducing the number of variants of each car, increasing productivity at the group’s plants and “optimising raw materials costs”.The group provided no estimates of the impact its new savings drive would have on jobs, but “further cuts to staffing will be inevitable,” a senior manager told business daily Handelsblatt.”There are opportunities for cuts in administration,” finance chief Antlitz said, on top of the 21,000 job cuts worldwide by 2020 already planned for the VW own-brand division.Germany’s vital car industry has fallen behind on electric cars compared with foreign competitors, only taking the technology more seriously since the dieselgate scandal erupted.Emissions cheating has so far cost VW 28 billion euros and sent sales of diesel vehicles plummeting in Germany and further afield.center_img Volkswagen to spend 44 bn euros on ‘electric offensive’ German auto giant VW is looking for more savings to help fund its switch into electric vehicles This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.last_img read more

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SAS pilot strike strands 72000 passengers

first_img This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. A total of 1,409 pilots were on strike, affecting domestic, European and long-haul flights, SAS said, predicting that 170,000 passengers would be affected through Sunday.The Swedish Air Line Pilots Association, which initiated the strike, said months of negotiations had failed to find a solution to pilots’ “deteriorating work conditions, unpredictable work schedules and job insecurity”.The Swedish Confederation of Transport Enterprises meanwhile said it could not accept the 13-percent wage increase demanded by the pilots, given their “already high average wage of 93,000 kronor (8,766 euros, $9,769) a month”.The pilots’ association said work schedules, and not wages, were the main focus of the negotiations, as most SAS pilots to have work at variable times and days.”Many SAS pilots have no control over when and how long they have to work. In a worst case scenario, they risk having to work seven weekends in a row,” the pilots’ association said in a statement.”Everyone who has a family life can imagine how difficult it is to not know when you have to work,” SAS’ Swedish union representative at the pilots’ association, Wilhelm Tersmeden, said.’Hope we’ll be rebooked’SAS contacted most passengers before the cancellations to warn them of the strike and offered to rebook them at no extra cost.On Friday, many travellers turned up at Stockholm’s Arlanda airport in the hopes of getting on other flights.Elsa Lundberg, 20, and Christoffer Weil, 22, had been due to travel to Scotland for a hiking trip with their college class.”This trip is the biggest thing this semester,” Weil told news agency TT. Explore further © 2019 AFP German unions call for strike against Ryanair Wednesday “We hope that we’ll be rebooked on another flight. But we’re a big group and it’s unlikely everyone would be able to get on the same flight,” Lundberg said. Pilots at Scandinavian carrier SAS walked off the job in Sweden, Denmark and Norway on Friday, stranding more than 72,000 travellers as 673 flights were cancelled, the airline said. “They’re offering free coffee at Arlanda now, so that’s at least a good thing,” she said.Swedish pastor Ronny Nygren, who was scheduled to take his church’s youth group to Rome on Friday and was hoping they would be rebooked on another flight, said he had mixed feelings about the strike.”It’s good that they’re fighting for their work conditions. But then you have to think about the 13 percent, compared to other Swedes’ salaries,” he told TT.The strike affected about 70 percent of SAS flights, with the remainder operated by partner airlines. SAS has implemented repeated savings programmes in recent years to improve its profitability, after teetering on the brink of bankruptcy in 2012.In the first quarter of 2019, the airline widened its losses, impacted by negative exchange effects and high fuel prices.It posted a net loss of 469 million kronor, compared to 249 million a year earlier, but forecast a full-year profit.Danish bank Sydbank on Friday predicted the strike would cost SAS 60 to 80 million kronor per day.A protracted strike, and the added pressure of meeting the pilots’ demands, could put SAS in a precarious financial position, eating away at much of the profit expected this year, Sydbank analyst Jacob Pedersen told TT. “That could jeopardise the airline’s future,” Pedersen said.The SAS share price was down by 5.6 percent in mid-morning trading, while Stockholm’s OMX 30 index was down 0.3 percent. Citation: SAS pilot strike strands 72,000 passengers (2019, April 26) retrieved 17 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2019-04-sas-strands-passengers.html SAS predicts 170,000 passengers will be affected by the pilot strike A strike by pilots has affected about 70 percent of Swedish airline SAS’s flights, with 673 cancelledlast_img read more

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