Hep C and drug abuse often go hand in hand but screening

first_img 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. Reviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Dec 19 2018When people seek help at a drug treatment center for an opioid addiction, concerns about having contracted hepatitis C are generally low on their list.They’ve often reached a crisis point in their lives, said Marie Sutton, the CEO of Imagine Hope, a consulting group that provides staff training and technical assistance to facilitate testing for the liver-damaging virus at more than 30 drug treatment centers in Georgia.”They just want to handle [their drug problem],” she said. “Sometimes they don’t have the bandwidth to take on too many other things.”Even though health care facilities that serve people who use drugs are well-positioned to initiate screening, too often that is not happening, recent studies have shown. Not testing these patients for hepatitis C is an enormous missed opportunity, public health experts agree.”It’s a disease that can be cured the moment we identify somebody,” said Tom Nealon, president and CEO of the American Liver Foundation. “Not testing is incomprehensible when you look at what hepatitis C does to their bodies and their livers.”As the number of people who inject drugs has soared, the rate of hepatitis C infection, frequently tied to sharing needles, has climbed steeply, too.People who are infected with hepatitis C can go for years without symptoms, so they may not have any inkling that they’re sick. That delayed onset makes screening important, advocates say, since people may unwittingly infect others.Screening people who misuse drugs for the deadly virus is a commonsense strategy to get people cured and break the cycle of transmission. But there are obstacles — sometimes a lack of money, staff or other resources.”Reimbursement rates for hepatitis C testing often don’t match the cost,” said Andrew Reynolds, hepatitis C and harm reduction manager at Project Inform, an advocacy group. If patients test positive, they need to be linked to treatment, and financial support for staffing to do that is often limited, he said.Only 27.5 percent of 12,166 substance abuse facilities reported offering testing for hepatitis C in 2017, according to research published on the blog for the journal Health Affairs in October. It is one of the first studies to look at this issue since the federal government began reporting on testing for HIV and hepatitis C in its national survey of substance abuse and treatment services in 2016.When researchers narrowed their analysis to the much smaller number of opioid treatment programs that are federally certified to use methadone and other drugs in treatment, a higher, but still not overwhelming, proportion — just over 63 percent — said they offered screening for hepatitis C.”We certainly thought the numbers would be higher,” said Asal Sayas, a co-author of the analysis and director of government affairs at amfAR, the Foundation for AIDS Research. “Testing is one of the most fundamental forms of prevention.”In primary care settings, the situation sometimes isn’t much better, even when patients have a diagnosed “opioid-use disorder.”An analysis by Boston Medical Center researchers of nearly 270,000 medical records of people aged 13 to 21 who visited federally qualified health centers from 2012 to 2017 found that 36 percent of the 875 patients with that diagnosis were tested for hepatitis C.”Even in a setting with an identified risk factor in opioid-use disorder, too few youths are being screened for hepatitis C,” said Dr. Rachel Epstein, a postdoctoral research fellow in infectious diseases at Boston Medical Center and a co-author of the study, which was presented at the annual meeting of the Infectious Diseases Society of America in early October.Hepatitis C is a virus that causes inflammation to the liver, in some cases leading to scarring, liver cancer and death. It is transmitted through blood, including contaminated needles that people share when they inject drugs.The initial test for hepatitis C is an inexpensive blood test to check for antibodies in the blood that indicate exposure to the virus. If that antibody test is positive, a second test is necessary to find out if the virus is circulating in the bloodstream, which would mean someone is infected with the virus. The secondtest can cost several hundred dollars, experts say.Related StoriesStudy evaluates long-acting HIV therapy in patients unable to adhere to strict daily regimensNew project involves understanding link between opioid crisis and cancerPatients reading clinician visit notes report positive effects on use of prescription medicationsTo be sure, some federally qualified health centers have made testing for hepatitis C a priority. Clinicians at two community health centers run by Philadelphia FIGHT — which was established as an AIDS service organization — test many of their patients who are at high risk because of injection drug use or unsafe sexual practices, such as having sex with an infected partner. The screenings are often done on an annual basis, with a reminder to the medical personnel in the patient’s electronic medical record.”That’s something pretty basic that we’ve done in our community health centers to make sure we’re testing people and providing a cure,” said Dr. Stacey Trooskin, director of viral hepatitis programs at the FIGHT centers and clinical assistant professor at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine.Among at least 3.5 million people who have the disease, most are baby boomers who were infected before routine screening of donated blood began in the early 1990s. In recent years, as the drug epidemic has taken hold, new infections have been concentrated among young people who inject drugs, in particular those between ages 18 and 29, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.Complicating the effort to get people screened is the fact that many of the people who enroll in drug treatment programs are uninsured, said Imagine Hope’s Sutton. In states that have expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, the program generally picks up the tab for hepatitis C testing and treatment, though often with restrictions. But 14 states, including Georgia, haven’t expanded that coverage for adults with incomes up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level ($16,753 for one person).Insurance coverage isn’t the only challenge. If people have to come back to a clinic for the second test, chances are they may fall through the cracks and not get that follow-up.When a patient tests positive, a nurse or counselor at the drug treatment center, who is likely overbooked working with patients to address their addiction, must carve out time to explain this new diagnosis and talk through treatment options.”There’s a whole system of care that needs to be built for these people and, unlike HIV, it doesn’t exist for hepatitis C at this time,” Sutton said.Like many other clinics around the country, hepatitis C testing at Georgia drug treatment centers is supported with funding from the Focus program, sponsored by drugmaker Gilead — the first company to offer a new class of highly effective drugs that generally cure hepatitis C in three months or less with few side effects.Gilead didn’t respond to requests for comment.Finding resources to pay for treatment is also difficult. The high costs of the new drugs when they were introduced led some public and private insurers to strictly limit access. But, in recent years, drug prices have come down as more drugs hit the market and many states have loosened Medicaid restrictions.For example, New Mexico’s Medicaid program doesn’t require that people be sick or abstain from using illicit drugs or alcohol for a time before starting treatment. Still, “hepatitis C testing remains out of reach for many because their providers aren’t aware that their patients can get treated,” said Kimberly Page, an epidemiologist and professor of internal medicine at the University of New Mexico who focuses on hepatitis C.last_img read more

Bacterial resistance to lastresort antibiotic is spreading at alarming rate in Vietnam

first_imgBy Sally Robertson, B.Sc.Dec 21 2018Reviewed by Kate Anderton, B.Sc. (Editor)Researchers at Osaka University have discovered that polymyxin E-resistant Escherichia coli is widely prevalent among people living in rural Vietnam. In this borderless society, drug-resistant bacteria quickly spread beyond national and regional borders, so it is necessary to strengthen international surveillance systems and promptly take preventative measures.”Yoshimasa Yamamoto, Lead Researcher Kateryna Kon | ShutterstockPolymyxin E is an antibiotic that is used to prevent the growth of Gram-negative bacteria such as E.coli and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. It is one of only a few remaining drugs that can treat multidrug-resistant bacteria and is categorized as a last-resort antibiotic by the World Health Organisation.Previously, E. coli resistance against this antibiotic was mostly been related to chromosomal mutations. Since this type of resistance is not transferred to other bacterial species, it was not thought to be particularly concerning.However, a transmissible polymyxin E-resistant gene called mcr1 was found in China in 2015, raising global concerns that the resistance could be transferred to other bacterial species. The transmission of the mcr1 gene to other bacterial species would lead to super resistant “nightmare bacteria” that are resistant to every kind of antibiotic, including the last-resort polymyxin E.Since drug-resistant bacteria are known to spread through livestock and livestock products in developing countries, Yoshimasa Yamamoto and colleagues hypothesized that the large quantities of polymyxin E being added to animal feed in Vietnam could be driving the spread of resistance. They therefore decided to test the prevalence of the resistant bacteria in rural communities.As reported in the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, the researchers found that the prevalence of polymyxin E-resistant bacteria was extremely high among residents of rural communities; at 70.4%.They also discovered that the resistant bacteria carried the mcr1 gene, and that the spread of resistance had occured much faster than expected.Commenting on the significant threat that “nightmare bacteria” could pose in the treatment of infectious disease, Yamamoto says that the number of refractory infections for which antibiotics do not work will increase, significantly affecting clinical practice.center_img Sources:Threat of “nightmare bacteria” exhibiting resistance to last-resort antibiotic colistin.Wide dissemination of colistin-resistant Escherichia coli with the mobile resistance gene mcr in healthy residents in Vietnam. Journal of Antimicrobial Therapy. (2018)last_img read more

New insight on survivability of rare Wyoming plant

first_imgReviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Mar 5 2019A rare plant found only at two sites in central Wyoming has persisted, in part, because it can recover from relatively low densities and grows at different rates within each location, according to new research led by a University of Wyoming scientist.The desert yellowhead, which grows on fewer than 55 acres in the Beaver Rim area of Fremont County, has been listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act since 2002. The new research, published by lead author Reilly Dibner, a postdoctoral researcher formerly at UW’s Haub School of Environment and Natural Resources, provides insights into how the plant has managed to survive in small, stable numbers. But the scientists say its long-term future is difficult to predict because of increasingly variable rainfall patterns and warming.The research paper appears today in Ecological Monographs, a scientific journal of the Ecological Society of America. Other authors are from the University of Colorado-Boulder and Duke University.”A small, isolated population like this generally is thought to have a high probability for extinction, but several mechanisms have allowed the desert yellowhead to persist so far,” says Dibner, who received her Ph.D. from UW’s Program in Ecology. “While this plant has shown remarkable stability over its short known history, we lack the ability to confidently predict its future chances of survival.”The plant, also known as “yermo” — which comes from its scientific name, Yermo xanthocephalus — was discovered in 1990 by botanist Robert Dorn in the Sand Draw area southeast of Riverton. That population was monitored closely for a decade by Central Wyoming College faculty member Richard Scott and his wife, Beverly, along with other volunteers. In 2010, as a result of extensive searches by UW’s Natural Diversity Database and the Bureau of Land Management, a second, smaller population of desert yellowhead was discovered by UW scientists Bonnie Heidel and Joy Handley about five miles away at Cedar Rim.The desert yellowhead has attracted attention because of its unusual geographic distribution, uniqueness and extreme rarity. It’s not known if the desert yellowhead has always had such a limited range or if it once was distributed more broadly.Related StoriesResearch on cannabis use in women limited, finds new studyTrump administration cracks down on fetal tissue researchAXT enhances cellular research product portfolio with solutions from StemBioSysDibner and the other researchers used detailed population data collected by the Scotts, along with five years of data from their own study, to assess the factors that allow the desert yellowhead to survive in such small numbers. They concluded that several mechanisms are in place to keep the plant from disappearing.The research found that despite the low density of the desert yellowhead — there are fewer than 15,000 individual plants scattered across the 55 acres — these populations survive partly because of a principle called negative density dependence. This means that the populations tend to grow fastest when at low numbers, allowing them to bounce back from low numbers.”In particular, negative density dependence is an important mechanism allowing subpopulations to recover from unfavorable environmental conditions,” the researchers wrote.Additionally, diversity in the plant’s responses to precipitation, soils and other environmental factors has served as a stabilizing mechanism for the desert yellowhead. For example, some of the plants growing below steep slopes respond relatively poorly during wet years, while dry years are harder on plants located in flatter areas. That makes the desert yellowhead more likely to persist in a variable climate, the scientists say.The researchers used computer simulations to attempt to predict the future population of the desert yellowhead. Simulations based on historical numbers estimated a substantially greater chance of long-term survival than simulations based on the more recent five-year study, but the scientists say that’s likely because of drier-than-average climate conditions during the more recent study.”We found that longer-term census data gave more realistic, higher estimates of population stability than did our shorter-term demographic study,” they wrote.”What remains unclear is whether or not central Wyoming will face wetter or drier conditions with climate change, or how increasing temperatures will mediate effects of moisture for yermo,” they added. “Thus, as with most other species, we still lack the ability to predict confidently the dynamics with changing abiotic (nonbiological) conditions.” Source:http://www.uwyo.edu/uw/news/2019/03/uw-research-provides-insight-on-survivability-of-rare-wyoming-plant.htmllast_img read more

Electronic consultations in allergy and immunology may reduce need for specialist visits

first_imgE-consults have become a critical tool in our efforts to innovate in outpatient care delivery. We believe they can increase patient satisfaction, since we always give patients the choice between e-consults and regular in-person consults, and they reduce the burden for primary care providers. We also believe they can improve the quality of care and reduce costs, since electronic consults can substitute for in-person consults that are billed to insurance companies and to patients themselves.” Reviewed by Alina Shrourou, B.Sc. (Editor)Jun 12 2019A study from Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) researchers finds that electronic consultations (e-consults) in allergy and immunology can simplify the process of providing the most appropriate care, often reducing the need for in-person specialist visits. The paper, which has been published online in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice, reports on the first two years of the MGH program and finds a significant reduction in the time needed to access specialist guidance. Electronic, clinician-to-clinician consultations based on data in the electronic health record do not require real-time communication and are designed to address non-urgent questions specific to the care of an individual patient. The MGH began offering e-consults in Cardiology and Dermatology in late 2013 and extended the program to Allergy/Immunology in August 2016. As of January 2019, the MGH e-consult program involves 47 specialty areas, and almost 10,000 e-consults were provided during 2018.The current study, led by first author Neelam Phadke, MD, MGH Division of Rheumatology, Allergy and Immunology, looked at data regarding allergy/immunology e-consults provided from August 2016 through July 2018, as well as in-person consults beginning in August 2014. Of approximately 300 e-consults completed during the study period, around 60 percent led to recommendations for in-person specialty visits, while 27 percent provided only advice and education to the referring practitioner. When the e-consult led to a recommendation for an in-person specialty visit, information from the e-consult made visits more productive by allowing the allergist to be better prepared. Educational information provided via e-consults benefited both referring physicians and the patients, often providing reassurance on the appropriateness of a planned course of action.Two-thirds of e-consults related to patients with histories of potentially allergic reactions to drugs, primarily antibiotics like penicillin, many in conjunction with a program to evaluate pregnant patients with a history of penicillin allergy. Immunology e-consults could result from patient or provider concerns about frequent infections or abnormal antibody levels. While the average wait time for an in-person allergist visit before institution of the e-consult program was 22.5 days, the wait time reduced to 21.0 days after the program began. Allergists completed e-consults in an average of 11 minutes, and the average turnaround time for the referring provider to receive allergy specialist guidance was less than 24 hours.Study co-author Jason H. Wasfy, MD, MPhil, MGH Cardiology – who founded the MGH e-consult program in 2013 and now directs population health management at MGH: We found that e-consults expedite care for all patients with allergy/immunology conditions. Whereas wait times for an in-person patient visit with an allergist often exceed three weeks, e-consults can provide allergist guidance to referring physicians within 72 business hours. For many patients, e-consults avert the need for an in-person visit entirely; and even when an in-person consult is required, the initial e-consult provides valuable information – including additional patient history, previous diagnostic testing and treatment trials – that can make the in-person consult more productive and valuable for the allergist, the referring provider and the patient.”Kimberly Blumenthal, MD, MSc, Senior Author, MGH Division of Rheumatology, Allergy and Immunology Related StoriesNovel vaccine against bee sting allergy successfully testedEight-year study identifies potential new way to treat extreme childhood food allergyUnreliable diagnostics for fish allergy testingLead author Phadke notes that a key limitation to broader use of e-consults is the reliance on electronic medical records systems that may not be shared between specialists and referring physicians, a problem that could disproportionately affect smaller hospitals that already lack access to subspecialists like allergists. But when the required systems are in place, she says, “E-consults can allow primary care physicians to receive guidance from one or more subspecialists, synthesize messages that may have been conveyed from multiple providers, and delivery neatly packaged recommendations to the patient.”Blumenthal and Wasfy are both assistant professors of Medicine, and Phadke is a research fellow in Allergy/Immunology at MGH. Additional co-authors are Susan Goldstein, MsIE, and Jacqueline Ngo, MPH, MGH Performance Analysis and Improvement Unit; and Anna Wolfson, MD, Christian Mancini, Xiaoqing Fu, MS, Aidan Long, MD, Aleena Banerji, MD, MGH Rheumatology, Allergy and Immunology.Source: Massachusetts General HospitalJournal reference: Phadke, N A. et al. (2019) Electronic Consultations in Allergy/Immunology. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice. doi.org10.1016/j.jaip.2019.05.039.last_img read more

Most problems with catheter use stem from poor physiciannurse communication

first_imgReviewed by Alina Shrourou, B.Sc. (Editor)Jul 2 2019Indwelling devices like catheters cause roughly 25% of hospital infections, but ongoing efforts to reduce catheter use and misuse haven’t succeeded as much as health care workers would like.But most problems with catheter use stem from poor physician-nurse communication, according to a new University of Michigan study.Milisa Manojlovich, a professor at the U-M School of Nursing, says the bigger picture underscores a more disturbing problem: Even routine patient care such as catheter use can cause serious problems for patients if communication breaks down among health care workers. Related StoriesBordeaux University Hospital uses 3D printing to improve kidney tumor removal surgeryWVU researcher investigates how nursing homes can best meet obese residents’ healthcare needsStudy paints clear picture of the staffing levels of nurses at nursing homesManojlovich and colleagues interviewed a small group of nurses, physician assistants, nurse practitioners and physicians about problems monitoring and communicating among their teams about patients’ indwelling catheters.All respondents said poor communication delayed removal of unnecessary catheters. Communication broke down for various reasons and on many levels: poor relationships between doctors and nurses, hierarchical differences or misalignment of workflows that prevented nurses from being present for daily rounds (when surgeons and health care teams review patient care plans).Catheters are hidden beneath blankets, so physicians don’t automatically know who’s using one––especially if a nurse isn’t there to point it out.Often, catheters remain in too long, which can cause infection, or they aren’t necessary at all. It’s estimated that 60% to 90% of intensive care patients, and 10% to 30% outside the ICU have urinary catheters, according to the study.”Any foreign object in the body carries an infection risk, and a catheter can serve as a superhighway for bacteria to enter the bloodstream or body,” Manojlovich said.Electronic health records also cause confusion––sometimes nurses and doctors have different information, or there’s a lag updating charts, or a reliance on both paper and computer records causes problems, she says.Research shows that some patients and caregivers request catheters, believing they’re preferable to getting up to use the toilet, Manojlovich said. However, they should understand that catheters bring risk of infection, and non-infection risks such as pain, trauma or bleeding, and should talk to their nurse or physician about complications.The study, “Contextual barriers between physicians and nurses about appropriate catheter use,” is slated for the July issue of the American Journal of Critical Care. Source:University of MichiganJournal reference:Manojlovich, M. et al. (2019) Contextual Barriers to Communication Between Physicians and Nurses About Appropriate Catheter Use. American Journal of Critical Care. doi.org/10.4037/ajcc2019372 Even those mundane, simple things can have unintended consequences way beyond their scope. People get catheters all the time, but meanwhile they cause lots of harm so we need to talk about them. This study found a whole host of factors that affected the ability to discuss this issue.”Milisa Manojlovich, Professor, U-M School of Nursinglast_img read more

Toyotas Planobased CEO talks selfdriving cars and the real reason the automaker

Citation: Toyota’s Plano-based CEO talks self-driving cars and the real reason the automaker suspended testing (2018, April 6) retrieved 18 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-04-toyota-plano-based-ceo-self-driving-cars.html While executives emphasized they didn’t know the particulars of the crash, Toyota quickly announced that it was suspending testing of its “Chauffeur” self-driving vehicle system on California and Michigan streets.Jim Lentz, Toyota’s Plano-based North American CEO, recently told the Dallas Morning News that it wasn’t doubts about the technology that spurred the auto giant’s move.”We were concerned that our drivers have been upset,” he said, speaking from the New York Auto Show. “We’ll go back into testing as soon as our drivers are ready to get back behind the wheel.”Lentz said that even the test cars in its “Chauffeur” self-driving mode—meaning the vehicle is fully in control—typically have two drivers and two steering wheels.”And there are just a small number that are tested on public roads. He wouldn’t say exactly how many such cars are there are.Lentz said that although Toyota doesn’t know about the specifics about the Arizona crash, the questions it raises are interesting.While he doesn’t anticipate that the crash will slow down the automaker’s timeline—Toyota has said it hopes to showcase fully self-driving delivery vans at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics—it has forced drivers and regulators to think about their “appetite for risk.”How quickly autonomous cars will be rolled out for the general public, Lentz said, will be “based primarily on two things.” Neither of them have anything to do with the technology.”One is cost,” he said. “Today, autonomous vehicle systems are $100,000 to $150,000—those costs have to come down before you have widespread use.”The second is how many high-profile accidents like the one in Arizona lawmakers are willing to stomach to save more lives in the long run.”My thinking on policy is, we believe first and foremost that autonomous cars are there to save lives—not to put Uber drives out of business,” Lentz said. “Autonomy could technically save 35,000 lives a year, but it won’t be perfect and people will lose their lives.”The way Lentz figures it, tens of thousands of people die in car crashes in the U.S. each year.According to the federal Department of Transportation, more than 37,000 people died on U.S. roads in 2016, the most recent year available.If most of those are in some way the result of human error, then autonomous cars could eliminate the vast majority of crashes. But the number is never going to get down to zero, Lentz said.”Even if you save a net, as a government policy are you willing to accept other similar accidents?” he said. “If the answer is, ‘No,’ I think that’s going to slow down the adoption of these (higher level) autonomous vehicles.”Still, Lentz said cars are evolving to be closer to autonomous, even if they don’t fully drive themselves.”Today we have emergency braking and a host of sensors, which are a precursor to autonomy,” he said. “That next step, in our case, is this guardian mode, where you will be in control of your car but they will prohibit you from making a big mistake—stop you from turning down a one-way street.”Then, he said, you get to the level of autonomy of Toyota’s “Chauffeur” mode.The race to get self-driving technology to consumers has, nevertheless, been a major concern for automakers like Toyota.In early March, Toyota announced it was spending almost $3 billion to start a new company based in Tokyo aimed specifically at taking the research and development that the world’s dominant carmaker has been doing at its Toyota Research Institute facilities and creating software that will get those ideas into vehicles.Meanwhile, Plano-based Toyota Connected, another “startup”-type Toyota company, has been working to harness vast amounts of data to build broader mobility platforms that can do things like manage fleets of rental cars—cars that executive say will eventually be self-driving.”I think we’re on track,” Lentz said. Explore further Toyota suspends self-driving car tests after Uber death When a woman crossing an Arizona street was struck and killed by a self-driving Uber car late last month, it sparked a swift public reckoning over the near-term future of autonomous vehicle testing on public roads. ©2018 The Dallas Morning News Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC. 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

By 2040 artificial intelligence could upend nuclear stability

While AI-controlled doomsday machines are considered unlikely, the hazards of artificial intelligence for nuclear security lie instead in its potential to encourage humans to take potentially apocalyptic risks, according to the paper.During the Cold War, the condition of mutual assured destruction maintained an uneasy peace between the superpowers by ensuring that any attack would be met by a devastating retaliation. Mutual assured destruction thereby encouraged strategic stability by reducing the incentives for either country to take actions that might escalate into a nuclear war.The new RAND publication says that in coming decades, artificial intelligence has the potential to erode the condition of mutual assured destruction and undermine strategic stability. Improved sensor technologies could introduce the possibility that retaliatory forces such as submarine and mobile missiles could be targeted and destroyed.Nations may be tempted to pursue first-strike capabilities as a means of gaining bargaining leverage over their rivals even if they have no intention of carrying out an attack, researchers say. This undermines strategic stability because even if the state possessing these capabilities has no intention of using them, the adversary cannot be sure of that.”The connection between nuclear war and artificial intelligence is not new, in fact the two have an intertwined history,” said Edward Geist, co-author on the paper and associate policy researcher at the RAND Corporation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan research organization. “Much of the early development of AI was done in support of military efforts or with military objectives in mind.”He said one example of such work was the Survivable Adaptive Planning Experiment in the 1980s that sought to use AI to translate reconnaissance data into nuclear targeting plans.Under fortuitous circumstances, artificial intelligence also could enhance strategic stability by improving accuracy in intelligence collection and analysis, according to the paper. While AI might increase the vulnerability of second-strike forces, improved analytics for monitoring and interpreting adversary actions could reduce miscalculation or misinterpretation that could lead to unintended escalation. Researchers say that given future improvements, it is possible that eventually AI systems will develop capabilities that, while fallible, would be less error-prone than their human alternatives and therefore be stabilizing in the long term.”Some experts fear that an increased reliance on artificial intelligence can lead to new types of catastrophic mistakes,” said Andrew Lohn, co-author on the paper and associate engineer at RAND. “There may be pressure to use AI before it is technologically mature, or it may be susceptible to adversarial subversion. Therefore, maintaining strategic stability in coming decades may prove extremely difficult and all nuclear powers must participate in the cultivation of institutions to help limit nuclear risk.”RAND researchers based their perspective on information collected during a series of workshops with experts in nuclear issues, government branches, AI research, AI policy and national security.”Will Artificial Intelligence Increase the Risk of Nuclear War?” is available at http://www.rand.org.The perspective is part of a broader effort to envision critical security challenges in the world of 2040, considering the effects of political, technological, social, and demographic trends that will shape those security challenges in the coming decades.Funding for the Security 2040 initiative was provided by gifts from RAND supporters and income from operations.The research was conducted within the RAND Center for Global Risk and Security, which works across the RAND Corporation to develop multi-disciplinary research and policy analysis dealing with systemic risks to global security. The center draws on RAND’s expertise to complement and expand RAND research in many fields, including security, economics, health, and technology. Artificial intelligence is the weapon of the next Cold War Explore further 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 RAND Corporation Citation: By 2040, artificial intelligence could upend nuclear stability (2018, April 24) retrieved 18 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-04-artificial-intelligence-upend-nuclear-stability.html A new RAND Corporation paper finds that artificial intelligence has the potential to upend the foundations of nuclear deterrence by the year 2040. read more

Shared data and shrinking aircraft seats to cut travel times in Europe

Mathematicians develop a new ‘third way’ to improve airplane boarding Provided by Horizon: The EU Research & Innovation Magazine ‘My conclusion is that moving from open data to a federation of open services may accelerate the deployment of multimodal journey services in Europe, opening the market not only to major stakeholders but also to small local ones,’ said Prof. Detti. ‘Everyone, big or small, should have a part in the door-to-door planning to effectively single out the best choices,’ he said.Another idea proposed by researchers in the Netherlands is to cut down the door-do-door journey times for people travelling by air by introducing the concepts of self-travelling luggage and shrinking seats.The PASSME project, which finishes at the end of May 2018, is a collaboration between researchers, interior design companies and communications experts that aims to come up with time-saving innovations for airport and aircraft interiors and processes in order to make them more efficient.’PASSME’s ambition is to create a one-hour reduction (in travelling time taken to travel by plane) between the origin and the destination,’ said Professor Sicco Santema of Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, who coordinates the project.The team has been working with Amsterdam and Hamburg airports as well as KLM airlines to analyse how people move through airports and to identify where bottlenecks occur. They found that airport security checks and boarding aircraft are huge time sucks, and that luggage flow of both checked-in and carry-on bags can increase the unwanted time spent in an airport by 30 minutes.SeparatedAs a result they are investigating the impact of a self-travelling luggage system, where the passenger and the bags travel completely independently of each other. According to their research, the sooner a passenger is separated from his or her luggage, the better, both in terms of time and experience.Door-to-door delivery services that take luggage directly from a person’s home to their destination already exist today, and PASSME envisages a future where this is commonplace.The project also developed a unique aircraft seat that temporarily shrinks and then reverts to its original position after boarding. It reduces boarding times by five minutes, by temporarily doubling the width of the aisles to allow passengers to pass easily, even if others are arranging their luggage.’We can decrease the width of the chairs in the aircraft and therefore the aisle will be twice as wide. And therefore the boarding and disembarking will be much quicker, which is not so important in the total travel time, but if an aircraft doesn’t depart on time, it will be delayed. So the effect is quite strong,’ said Prof. Santema. Aircraft seats that temporarily shrink and a joined-up transport system that allows people to easily plan a door-to-door journey could help shift people’s first choice of travel away from cars and towards public transport by reducing the time and effort involved. Explore further That’s the hope of scientists who are working to increase the level of multimodality – using several different types of transport during one journey. It’s the European year of multimodality in 2018 and the idea is to encourage people to use public transport more regularly in order to ease congestion in cities and for the environmental and health benefits of having fewer cars on the road.’It’s pretty clear that the attractiveness of the car as door-to door mode of transport is very strong,’ said Kier Fitch of the European Commission, speaking at a talk on improving door-to-door travel around the EU during the Transport Research Arena conference in Vienna, Austria, in April.But, it’s clear that improvements need to be made in many cities before public transport systems can be seen as genuinely viable alternatives to the car.Fitch stressed that public transport had to step up its game to provide fast and reliable travel options with back-ups to passengers, saying: ‘Providing reassurance is important – people need to know that they will be able to re-plan their journey quickly and easily if something goes wrong.’Professor Andrea Detti of the University of Rome Tor Vergata in Italy has spent the last three years designing and developing a platform to help optimise the door-to-door transport of passengers and goods using various means of transport, as part of a project called BonVoyage.DataHe says the team spent a considerable length of time developing algorithms that computed the best way for someone to move from A to B, but encountered difficulties when transport operators were unwilling to hand over the required data.’If you are a company that wants to create a journey planning software, you need data,’ said Prof. Detti. ‘My feeling is that transport operators do not like to disclose their data. This reluctance in opening their data may slow down the pace of future multimodal planning systems, especially for small, young, companies that want to enter the market.’To tackle this, the project proposed a more structured, federated system of exploiting the planning services offered by the transport operators, rather than their data. Seperating the traveller and luggage early on can significantly reduce waiting times during travel. Credit: Pxhere/725806, licensed under CC0 Citation: Shared data and shrinking aircraft seats to cut travel times in Europe (2018, May 9) retrieved 18 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-05-aircraft-seats-europe.html 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

New financial apps demystify stocks and bonds for Latinos

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. Carlos Garcia was three years into his first job in technology at Merrill Lynch when he first learned what a 401K retirement savings account was. He was floored when he learned that a colleague had already saved $30,000 in three years, and the company had matched it. Another is Mi Dinero Mi Futuro, a personal financial planning platform started by Ramona Ortega, a former New York corporate attorney who became preoccupied with the lack of financial literacy among Latinos while working in bankruptcy and securities litigation.”No one talked to me about money,” said Ortega, the daughter of Napa Valley farm worker and the first in her family to go to college. “The fact is that our communities have not had a legacy of talking about money.”Finhabits follows in the footsteps of robo-advisors Betterment, Wealthfront and Acorn, which use computer algorithms instead of a traditional wealth adviser to manage customer funds across various types of investments. Ortega’s platform is similar to more well-known personal finance apps Mint and Credit Karma; it offers personalized budgeting tools and recommendations for affiliated financial products. More than competing with established players, the founders of Finhabits and Mi Dinero Mi Future see themselves as creating a new market among Latinos, who they believe are overlooked by traditional financial institutions and even many of the digital newcomers.It is not an easy market to penetrate, however.According to a 2014 Prudential Research study, just 19 percent of Latinos had individual retirement accounts and less than 10 percent had investments in individual stocks, bonds of mutual funds. Only about 60 percent of Hispanics had a savings account, compared to 80 percent of the general population. The study cited various factors, including uncertainty among immigrants about what will happen to investments if they leave the country, distrust of financial institutions and difficulty understanding products. In this Tuesday, May 22, 2018 photo, Carlos Garcia, founder and CEO of Finhabits, speaks during an interview with The Associated Press in New York. Finhabits is a bilingual digital platform designed to make savings and investment accessible for Hispanics. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer) Citation: New financial apps demystify stocks and bonds for Latinos (2018, July 2) retrieved 18 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-07-financial-apps-demystify-stocks-bonds.html In this May 24, 2018, file photo, Rosa Franco, director of lending at Neighborhood Trust Federal Credit Union walks out of the bank to head upstairs to the offices of one of their financial partners in New York. Franco says the credit union’s partnership with Finhabits still in development and she anticipates a challenge in marketing the service to her clients, many of whom are consumed by pressing concerns like debt repayment and or sending money to relatives abroad. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson) Garcia said Finhabits has about 10,000 active clients who invest an average of $40 a week. It is signing up about 1,000 new clients each week and aiming for 50,000 by the end of the year.One challenge for financial start-ups is earning the public’s trust. Finhabits and Mi Dinero Mi Futuro are trying to that through partnerships with institutions already targeting minority and underserved communities.Finhabits is a provider in Washington state’s newly established Retirement Marketplace, which helps individuals and small businesses find low-cost retirement saving plans. Nearly 80 percent of the West Coast state’s 385,500 Hispanic workers are not covered by an employer-sponsored plan, said marketplace director Carolyn McKinnon.Finhabits also has partnerships with credit unions, including Neighborhood Federal Credit Union, which serves New York City’s predominantly Latino neighborhoods of West Harlem, Washington Heights and Inwood.Rosa Franco, director of lending at the credit union, said the partnership is still in development. She anticipates a challenge in marketing the service to her clients, many of whom are consumed by pressing concerns like debt repayment and or sending money to relatives abroad.”It’s difficult for many people to think about the future. They live paycheck to paycheck. Many people just think Social Security is their only option for retirement,” said Franco, who used the Finhabits app herself to open a Roth IRA. In this May 24, 2018, photo, fliers offering financial advising services to clients hang in a cubicle at the Neighborhood Trust Federal Credit Union in Washington Heights in New York. The credit union is offering services through a developing partnership with Finhabits, a bilingual digital platform designed to make savings and investment accessible for Hispanics. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson) In this Tuesday, May 22, 2018 photo, Carlos Garcia, founder and CEO of Finhabits, speaks during an interview with The Associated Press in New York. Finhabits is a bilingual digital platform designed to make savings and investment accessible for Hispanics. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer) In this May 24, 2018, photo, Rosa Franco, director of lending at Neighborhood Trust Federal Credit Union talks with employees at the bank in New York. Franco says the credit union’s partnership with Finhabits is still in development and she anticipates a challenge in marketing the service to her clients, many of whom are consumed by pressing concerns like debt repayment and or sending money to relatives abroad. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson) Another study, done in 2016 by the Pew Charitable Trusts, found that more than 60 percent of Latino workers lacked access to an employer-sponsored retirement plan, compared to 40 percent for white workers.”This demographic has been very tough to crack historically,” said William Trout, head of wealth management research at Celent, a consulting firm focused on financial services technology. “Will that second generation look for a platform that is speaking to a Hispanic population? Well, somebody has to test it. I think it’s worth a shot.”With Finhabits, beginner investors can start with $5 weekly contributions into traditional IRA, Roth IRAs or taxable investment accounts for shorter-term goals. Finhabits asks users about their priorities and risk tolerance and then recommends investment portfolios. The money goes into low-fee exchange trade funds from Vanguard and BlackRock.Through its app, blogs and text-messaging services, Finhabits explains financial concepts (portfolio diversification? It’s like ordering different types of tacos) and compound interest to persuade people that investing their money is safer and wiser than trying to “hit the fat one,” as Latinos refer to the lottery jackpot.Crucial to the Latino community, Finhabits lets users open an account with an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, a processing number issued by the Internal Revenue Service for people who are required to pay taxes but do not have Social Security numbers. That makes the service accessible to immigrants who are not legal residents but still pay federal taxes.Savvier investors can simply set up accounts directly with Vanguard or BlackRock, which require more active knowledge of investing. But most often, those big players don’t have formal marketing strategies for Hispanics. Explore further Millennials are not adequately saving for retirement, study finds © 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. Ortega, who recently received a new round of investment from venture fund Backstage Capital for Mi Dinero Mi Futuro, crisscrosses the country giving workshops at universities and Hispanic professional organizations.At a financial boot camp in Los Angeles City Hall, Ortega won over Liliana Aide Monge, who moved to the U.S. from Mexico at age 5 and is now the co-founder of Sabio, web development and cybersecurity training company.Growing up, Monge said her family was “not part of the formal banking structure at all. The money came in and you pay the rent and you pay for food.”Now a mother of two boys, Monge has used Mi Dinero Mi Futuro to budget her money, buy life insurance and open a high-yield savings account.”It was an eye-opening experience,” she said. The concept of making money off money was foreign to Garcia, an MIT graduate who was born in Texas to immigrants from Mexico. His story is not uncommon among U.S. Hispanics, who lag behind other demographic groups when it comes to saving for retirement. But for Garcia, the episode became the inspiration many years later for Finhabits, a bilingual digital platform designed to make savings and investment accessible for Latinos.Finhabits launched last year into a crowded world of robo-advisers, savings apps, online lending platforms and other financial-technology companies.But it is one of the few aimed at demystifying stocks and bonds for Hispanics, particularly young professionals who have the means to start investing but may have inherited a fuzzy understanding of the financial system from their immigrant parents.”Hispanics are very hard workers and we are able to generate quick income for our families. Sometimes we are good at savings but we put the money under the mattress,” said Garcia, who previously founded two other companies, including an internet analytics service for hedge funds.Other financial-tech startups aimed at Latinos have focused on immediate financial needs: paying off debt, building credit and gaining access to loans. Few besides Finhabits are dedicated to encouraging investing and long-term financial planning.last_img read more

Uber begins trading nearly 7 below its IPO price

first_img A banner for Uber is draped on the front of the New York Stock Exchange before the world’s largest ride-hailing service holds its initial public offering, Friday, May 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan) The statue of Fearless Girl stands in front of the New York Stock Exchange before Uber, the world’s largest ride-hailing service, holds its initial public offering, Friday, May 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan) The shares rose slightly just after trading began just before noon on a volatile day for the markets.The ride-hailing giant sold shares in the IPO at $45 each, raising $8.1 billion and giving the company a valuation of $82 billion. Shares began trading about 2 1/2 hours after the markets opened Friday, with investors already feeling jittery over an escalating trade dispute with China.CEO Dara Khosrowshahi tried to manage expectations for the first day of trading, telling CNBC that Uber investors are in it for the long ride.”Today is only one day. I want this day to go great, but it’s about what we build in the next three to five years,” he said in an interview with CNBC. “And I feel plenty of pressure to build over that time frame.”Uber, Khosrowshahi said, is dealing with a potential $12 trillion market so “it makes sense to lean forward.”He predicted that younger generations will not want to own cars. “I think more and more you’re going to have transportation on demand services, essentially de-bundle the car. They’re going to want to push a button and get the transportation they want.”Khosrowshahi and other company officials stood on a balcony above the New York Stock Exchange and clapped as the bell rang to signal the start of the day’s trading.The IPO price on Thursday came in at the lower end of Uber’s targeted price range of $44 to $50 per share. The caution may have been driven by escalating doubts about the ability of ride-hailing services to make money since Uber’s main rival, Lyft, went public six weeks ago.Jitters about an intensifying U.S. trade war with China have also contributed to the caution. All major indexes down at least 1% on Friday after the two countries failed to reach a deal before Friday’s tariff deadline.Even at the tamped-down price, Uber now has a market value of $82 billion—five times more than Lyft’s. Explore further Uber began trading as a public company at $42 per share Friday, nearly 7% below its initial public offering price. Citation: Uber begins trading nearly 7% below its IPO price (2019, May 10) retrieved 17 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2019-05-uber-ipo-price.html 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. Both Uber co-founders Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp were present at the exchange but absent from the podium during the bell ringing.A black Uber logo was hanging over exchange floor and bright green Uber Eats trucks were parked outside. Men in black T-shirts and hats with the Uber Eats logo handed out drinks and snacks on the trading floor while photos of sedans, helicopters and Jump bikes were shown on screens above.No matter how Uber’s stock swings Friday, the IPO has to be considered a triumph for the company most closely associated with an industry that has changed the way millions of people get around. That while also transforming the way millions of more people earn a living in the gig economy.Uber’s IPO raised another $8.1 billion as the company it tries to fend off Lyft in the U.S. and help cover the cost of giving rides to passengers at unprofitable prices. The San Francisco company already has lost about $9 billion since its inception and acknowledges it could still be years before it turns a profit.That sobering reality is one reason that Uber fell short of reaching the $120 billion market value that many observers believed its IPO might attain.Another factor working against Uber is the cold shoulder investors have been giving Lyft’s stock after an initial run-up. Lyft was down 4% to $53.18 per share on Friday. It hit an all-time low since it began trading in April with an IPO price of $72.Uber “clearly learned from its ‘little brother’ Lyft, and the experience it has gone through,” Wedbush Securities analysts Ygal Arounian and Daniel Ives wrote late Thursday.Despite all that, Uber’s IPO is the biggest since Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group debuted with a value of $167.6 billion in 2014.”For the market to give you the value, you’ve either got to have a lot of profits or potential for huge growth,” said Sam Abuelsamid, principal analyst at Navigant Research.Uber boasts growth galore. Its revenue last year surged 42% to $11.3 billion while its cars completed 5.2 billion trips around the world either giving rides to 91 million passengers or delivering food. Your Uber has arrived, on Wall Street Uber might be even more popular if not for a series of revelations about unsavory behavior that sullied its image and resulted in the ouster of Kalanick as CEO nearly two years ago.The self-inflicted wounds included complaints about rampant internal sexual harassment , accusations that it stole self-driving car technology, and a cover-up of a computer break-in that stole personal information about its passengers. What’s more, some Uber drivers have been accused of assaulting passengers, and one of its self-driving test vehicles struck and killed a pedestrian in Arizona last year while a backup driver was behind the wheel.Uber hired Khosrowshahi as CEO to replace Kalanick and clean up the mess, something that analysts say has been able to do to some extent, although Lyft seized upon the scandals to gain market share.Kalanick remains on Uber’s board and while he kept a relatively low profile on Friday, he can still savor his newfound wealth. At $45 per share, his stake in Uber will be worth $5.3 billion. Hundreds, if not thousands, of other Uber employees are expected to become millionaires in the IPO.Meanwhile, scores of Uber drivers say they have been mistreated by the company as they work long hours and wear out their cars picking up passengers as they struggle to make ends meet. On Wednesday, some of them participated in strikes across the United States to highlight their unhappiness ahead of Uber’s IPO but barely caused a ripple. A similar strike was organized ahead of Lyft’s IPO to the same effect.In its latest attempt to make amends, Uber disclosed Thursday that it reached a settlement with tens of thousands of drivers who alleged they had been improperly classified as contractors. The company said the settlement covering most of the 60,000 drivers making claims will cost $146 million to $170 million.Now, Uber will focus on winning over Wall Street.Uber may be able to avoid Lyft’s post-IPO stock decline because it has a different story to tell than just the potential for growth in ride-hailing, says Alejandro Ortiz, principal analyst with SharesPost. Uber, he said, has plans to be more than a ride-hailing company by being all things transportation to users of its app, offering deliveries, scooters, bicycles and links to other modes of transportation including public mass transit systems.”Whether or not that pitch will work kind of remains to be seen. It’s nearly impossible to tell now,” he said. “Obviously the risk to the company now is they have a lot more shareholders that they have to convince.” © 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. Austin Geidt, one of Uber’s first employees, rang the opening bell. She joined the company nine years ago and is now head of strategy for the Advanced Technologies Group, working on autonomous vehicles. Over the years, she helped to lead its expansion in hundreds of new cities and countries. This March 20, 2018, file photo shows the Uber app on an iPad in Baltimore. Uber is about to embark on a wild ride on Wall Street with the biggest and most hotly debated IPO in years. Uber’s shares begin trading on the New York Stock Exchange, Friday, May 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)last_img read more

Gujarat govt in firefighting mode as migrants flee

first_imgCOMMENTS Cyber security SHARE SHARE EMAIL Panicked by the political fallout of migrant workers fleeing Gujarat in large numbers Chief Minister Vijay Rupani on Monday gave a public assurance of safety and security of these workers. Chief Secretary JN Singh held a high-level meeting to review the situation.Minister of State for Home Pradipsinh Jadeja told reporters that 56 cases have been registered against miscreants and 431 accused have been arrested. Seventeen companies of State Reserve Police (SRP) have been deployed at vulnerable places, including Sanand.Cases registeredThe police registered cybercrimes against miscreants in Ahmedabad, Mehsana and Gandhinagar for spreading rumours on social media against the migrants. The crime branch has registered cases against 70 people for spreading false messages and videos.For the BJP, these developments come at an inopportune time as it faces Assembly elections in Hindi-speaking strongholds of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh next month.Most of these migrants hail from these States. Workers from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar also work in these districts in large numbers.The wave of attacks against Hindi-speaking migrant workers across seven districts in the wake of the rape of a 14-month-old girl allegedly by a youth of Bihar origin in Sabarkantha district triggered the panic. Reportedly, angry locals began to threaten and target these ‘annual migrants’ in their residential, industrial and commercial areas.Railway stations and bus stands in the seven districts — Mehsana, Sabarkantha, Ahmedabad-urban and Ahmedabad-rural, Gandhinagar, Aravalli and Surendranagar — remain flooded with migrants. The BJP government posted police around their workplaces, homes; and at railway stations and bus stops to persuade them to return.Blaming CongressBihar Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Modi alleged that “Congress-support” was behind the attacks, and blamed Congress MLA Alpesh Thakore. The police arrested Congress leader Mahotji Thakore in Gandhinagar, on Monday.Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar reportedly spoke to Rupani and raised concerns about the safety of Bihari workers in Gujarat. Rupani acknowledged the contribution of migrant workers in the development of the State and appealed to the people to maintain harmony.Gujarat Congress spokesman Manish Doshi claimed that the Rupani Government had lost control of law and order in the State. Patidar leader Hardik Patel and former JD(U) president Sharad Yadav also castigated the BJP.Industrial lossIndustries in Gujarat fear loss due to these violent incidents ahead of the festival season. The Gujarat Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI), in a letter to Rupani, requested the government to ensure safety of the migrant workers, who form a majority workforce.“This season is a major business opportunity for industries, especially the MSMEs. Most businesses are running at full strength to meet the order deadlines, and such disruptions will cause a major dent to the momentum,” said Jaimin Vasa, president, GCCI.These incidents surfaced 10 days after the Chief Minister’s announcement, making it mandatory for industries or service sector companies to provide 80 per cent jobs to Gujaratis, including 25 per cent to the locals from the related areas.Ajit Shah, president, Sanand Industries Association said, “Out of the 25,000 workers, 15,000 are migrants. Of them, 4,000 have already fled to their native places. We have sheltered about 6,000 in a nearby village. We are trying to persuade them to return to work.” said . COMMENT Published on Cybercrimes registered against miscreants for spreading false messages and videos Passengers from UP and Bihar and North-India waiting to catch a train at Ahmedabad railway station on Monday   –  Vijay Soneji October 08, 2018 SHARE migrationlast_img read more

CBI crisis Alok Verma files reply on CVCs finding

first_imgPublished on CBI vs CBI: CVC submits preliminary probe report to Supreme Court SHARE SHARE EMAIL The top court will not adjourn tomorrow’s hearing COMMENTS SHARE CBI Director Alok Kumar Verma on Monday filed in the Supreme Court his response on findings of the CVC’s preliminary probe report on corruption charges against him in a sealed cover.The apex court had earlier in the day asked Verma to file his response “as quickly as possible” during the day” and made it clear that it will not adjourn the scheduled hearing on Tuesday after his lawyer sought more time. “Even though we sought a little time from the court, the sealed cover reply of Mr Verma was filed with the Secretary General at 1 PM,” lawyer Gopal Sankaranarayanan, representing Verma told PTI.The apex court, on November 16, had asked Verma to file his response in a sealed cover to the preliminary probe report of the Central Vigilance Commission on corruption charges against the CBI Director by 1 pm on Monday. The bench made clear that it will not shift the schedule date of hearing and asked him to file his response “as quickly as possible” during the day by 4 PM itself to enable it to peruse the reply. Earlier, the apex court had said that the CVC has made some “very uncomplimentary” findings in its probe on corruption allegations against Verma and wanted further investigations into some of the charges which required more time, adding there were also some “very complimentary” conclusions.Summing up the “exhaustive” confidential report of the CVC given to it, the court ordered that its copy along with the annexure be given to Verma in a sealed cover.Verma had approached the apex court challenging the Centre’s decision to divest him of his duties and sending him on leave following his feud with special CBI director Rakesh Asthana, who has levelled corruption allegations against him. Asthana has also been divested of his duties and sent on leave. Pursuant to the top court’s order, the CVC’s inquiry against Verma was conducted under the supervision of former apex court judge Justice A K Patnaik and the report was filed in the court on November 12. Besides the plea filed by Verma, the court is also seized of the PIL filed by NGO Common Cause, which has sought a probe by special investigation team against CBI officers.Besides, it had barred Rao from taking any major policy decision but granted him liberty to perform routine tasks that are essential to keep the CBI functional.On November 4, Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge had also moved the top court contending that divesting Verma of his statutory powers and functions is “completely illegal and arbitrary“.In an interlocutory application filed in the pending petition, Kharge, who is also a member of the three-member selection committee which appoints the CBI director, said that “as a concerned stakeholder he brings to the attention of the court the brazen and illegal actions” of the political executive in interfering with the independent functioning of the CBI director. CBI crisis: CVC submits report to Supreme Court 0 RELATED COMMENT Rahul: Removal of Verma illegal, criminal November 19, 2018last_img read more

Govt to table Bill to repeal mandatory death penalty in October

first_img Nation 09 Jul 2019 Bill to increase Sabah seats to be tabled Currently, the 11 offences fall under two acts – nine under the Penal Code, including murder, waging war against Yang di-Pertuan Agong and committing terrorist acts, and two under the Firearms (Increased Penalties) Act 1971.In a separate development, Liew said the government this Tuesday will be tabling the amendment bill on lowering the voting age from 21 to 18 to be automatically registered as voters.If the Bill is passed, about 3.8 million new voters, including those aged 18, are expected to be eligible to vote in the 15th General Election.Liew said the government on Wednesday would table the bill to add 13 new seats in the Sabah state legislative assembly to the existing 60. – Bernama Tags / Keywords: Related News Related News Death penalty , Repeal , Parliament , Liew Vui Keongcenter_img Nation 05 Jul 2019 Source: Govt will not table Bill to abolish death penalty this Parliament meeting Nation 08 Jul 2019 Bill to increase number of state seats in Sabah expected to be tabled next week SANDAKAN (Bernama): A Bill to repeal the mandatory death penalty is expected to be tabled in Parliament in October once the government decides on appropriate prison terms for 11 serious criminal offences it covers.Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Liew Vui Keong (pic) said a task force would be set up soon to study the matter.”This will involve a major shift in policy and as such, the government needs more time to study it and make a decision,” he told a press conference here Saturday(July 13).Liew said the task force would also review the life imprisonment penalty and look into the possibility of reducing jail terms to between 10-30 years. {{category}} {{time}} {{title}}last_img read more

Seen dancing with guns Uttarakhand MLAs expulsion from BJP recommended

first_img Press Trust of India DehradunJuly 12, 2019UPDATED: July 12, 2019 23:50 IST Video of MLA Champion showing him dancing with guns went viral on social mediaHIGHLIGHTSState BJP in-charge made the recommendation to the central leadershipA notice served earlier to the MLA gave him 10 days’ time to explain his conductThe notice seeks an explanation from him why he should not be expelled from the partyState Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in-charge Shyam Jaju has recommended Pranav Singh Champion’s expulsion from the party even before the suspended Khanpur MLA could respond to a notice seeking an explanation from him on a viral video in which he was seen dancing with guns in his hands.Jaju, who is in charge of the party’s affairs in Uttarakhand, has made the recommendation to the central leadership, state Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) media in-charge Devendra Bhasin told reporters in Dehradun on Friday.On a notice served earlier to the MLA which gave him 10 days’ time to explain his conduct, Bhasin said the state BJP will wait for the legislator’s response before making its recommendation to the party’s central leadership.The notice served to the MLA on Thursday seeks an explanation from him why he should not be expelled from the party.The party had also extended his three-month suspension for an indefinite period as a penal action.Champion landed himself in fresh trouble on Wednesday when a video showing him dancing with guns to a popular Bollywood number in front of cheering supporters went viral, leaving the party red faced.Also Read | Uttarakhand BJP MLA does Tamanche Pe Disco, stirs rowAlso Read | Pandey-monium in pink pants: Cops hunt for BSP leader’s son after 5-star brawlAlso Watch | Watch: Drunk BJP MLA Pranav Singh Champion brandishes guns while dancingFor the latest World Cup news, live scores and fixtures for World Cup 2019, log on to indiatoday.in/sports. Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter for World Cup news, scores and updates.Get real-time alerts and all the news on your phone with the all-new India Today app. Download from Post your comment Do You Like This Story? Awesome! Now share the story Too bad. Tell us what you didn’t like in the comments Posted byMohak Gupta Tags :Follow DehradunFollow UttarakhandFollow BJP Seen dancing with guns, Uttarakhand MLA’s expulsion from BJP recommendedThe notice served to the MLA on Thursday seeks an explanation from him explaining why he should not be expelled from the party.advertisement Nextlast_img read more

Rajya Sabha passes Aadhaar amendment Bill allows to file complaint in case

first_imgRajya Sabha passes Aadhaar amendment Bill, allows to file complaint in case of security breachWith the passage of the Bill, the people are now allowed to file complaints in cases of impersonation or disclosure of their identity.advertisement Siraj Qureshi AgraJuly 13, 2019UPDATED: July 13, 2019 18:25 IST Aadhaar, a 12-digit unique identification number issued to Indian citizens by Narendra Modi-led government has been the centre of major controversies in the past. (File Photo)HIGHLIGHTSThe Rajya Sabha on Monday passed the Aadhaar and Other Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2019The people are now allowed to file complaints in cases of impersonation or disclosure of their identityAadhaar is a 12-digit unique identification number issued to Indian citizens by Narendra Modi-led governmentThe Rajya Sabha on Monday passed the Aadhaar and Other Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2019 that will allow the voluntary use of the 12-digit identification number as identity proof for Indians to open bank accounts and also get a mobile phone connection.Aadhaar, a 12-digit unique identification number issued to Indian citizens by Narendra Modi-led government has been the centre of major controversies in the past due to privacy concerns or logistical issues in getting a new card.With the passage of the Bill, the people are now allowed to file complaints in cases of impersonation or disclosure of their identity.However, sources said modifications in the cards made earlier are proving to be very difficult in the absence of an adequate number of Aadhaar Kendras.Although the banks and the post offices have been asked to fill in as Aadhaar centres, it is a fact that most of these banks and post offices do not have the facility of making a new card or rectifying an old one.Commenting on the passing of the Aadhaar Bill, social activist Deep Sharma said that it will be a major relief if simple tasks like opening a bank account or getting a new phone number could be accomplished without showing an Aadhaar card.Deep Sharma also said that the UPA government had introduced Aadhaar as a way to transfer subsidies and other government benefits directly to the people, but the BJP government made it a universal identity document and there were many cases of security breach.Jan Suvidha Kendras, opened to make Aadhaar cards, were closed without any announcement and the task was given to banks and post offices where the government employees were already overburdened with work that they showed no interest in making or modifying Aadhaar cards.Only 10 per cent of the people who went to the post office or the bank for a modification in their Aadhaar card or for a new card, actually got it done, the social activist further said.ALSO READ | Aadhaar Bill seeking its use as ID to open bank accounts passes in Lok SabhaALSO WATCH | All you need to know about the recent Aadhaar updateFor the latest World Cup news, live scores and fixtures for World Cup 2019, log on to indiatoday.in/sports. Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter for World Cup news, scores and updates.Get real-time alerts and all the news on your phone with the all-new India Today app. Download from Post your comment Do You Like This Story? Awesome! Now share the story Too bad. Tell us what you didn’t like in the comments Posted byPrakriti Sharma Nextlast_img read more

Hours before Goa Cabinet reshuffle CM Pramod Sawant drops four ministers

first_imgHours before Goa Cabinet reshuffle, CM Pramod Sawant drops four ministersThe four ministers would be replaced with Michael Lobo, who resigned as Deputy Speaker of Assembly earlier in the day, and three of the 10 MLAs, who switched over to the BJP from the Congress.advertisement Next India Today Web Desk New DelhiJuly 13, 2019UPDATED: July 13, 2019 14:33 IST BJP leader Michael Lobo with Goa Assembly Speaker Rajesh Patnekar. (Photo: ANI)Ahead of a reshuffle of the state cabinet, Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant dropped four ministers — three of the Goa Forward Party (GFP) and one Independent — from his cabinet on Saturday.A notification to this effect was issued in the afternoon.According to the notification, the four ministers — Deputy Chief Minister Vijai Sardesai, Water Resources Minister Vinod Palyekar, Rural Development Minister Jayesh Salgaonkar (all GFP MLAs) and Revenue Minister Rohan Khaunte (Independent) — were dropped from the cabinet.They would be replaced with Michael Lobo, who resigned as Deputy Speaker of Assembly earlier in the day, and three of the 10 MLAs, who switched over to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) from the Congress on Wednesday.”I Michael Lobo, Deputy Speaker of Goa Legislative Assembly, hereby tender my resignation as a Deputy Speaker of Goa Legislative Assembly with effect from July 13,” stated Lobo’s resignation letter to Goa Assembly Speaker Rajesh Patnekar.Earlier in the day, Lobo had confirmed that he will resign and join the cabinet as a minister. “I will resign and will be sworn-in as a minister in the Chief Minister Pramod Sawant government,” he said.This new political development comes hours before the expected Goa cabinet reshuffle to accommodate the Congress defectors who joined BJP recently.The swearing-in ceremony of new ministers is scheduled to be held at 3 pm at Raj Bhavan.Lobo also said apart from him, Chandrakant Kavlekar, Jeniffer Monserratte and Philip Nery Rodrigues would be a part of the new cabinet.Taleigao MLA Jeniffer Monserratte is the wife of Panaji MLA Atanasio Monserratte. Earlier there were speculations that he would be inducted into the cabinet.Lobo said, “Atanasio Monserratte refused to take up the ministerial berth and instead requested the chief minister to make his wife a part of the cabinet.”Earlier, CM Pramod Sawant sought the resignation of four of his ministers – three of Goa Forward Party and an independent.Rajesh Patnekar had also confirmed that Lobo would resign and be sworn-in as a minister later in the day. He said that the Assembly will function as per schedule.”Though new ministers are being inducted, the Assembly will go as per schedule. The new ministers will have to study their portfolios while answering the questions on the floor of the House. As far as I am concerned there is no rescheduling of the Assembly and Congress party will have to give the name of Leader of Opposition by Monday,” Patnekar said.(With inputs from agencies)READ | New cabinet ministers to be sworn in at 3 pm Saturday: Goa CM Pramod SawantALSO READ | Goa CM Pramod Sawant seeks resignation of 3 ministers, independent MLA to induct new facesALSO WATCH | Leaderless Congress headed towards self-destruction?For the latest World Cup news, live scores and fixtures for World Cup 2019, log on to indiatoday.in/sports. Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter for World Cup news, scores and updates.Get real-time alerts and all the news on your phone with the all-new India Today app. Download from Post your comment Do You Like This Story? Awesome! Now share the story Too bad. Tell us what you didn’t like in the comments Posted byKritika Bansal Tags :Follow Goalast_img read more

Fire breaks out at Nandaram market in Kolkata

first_imgFire breaks out at Nandaram market in KolkataThe cause of the fire has not been ascertained yet. An investigation in the case has been initiated.advertisement India Today Web Desk New DelhiJuly 13, 2019UPDATED: July 13, 2019 17:03 IST PTI image used for representation.A major fire broke out on Saturday afternoon at Nandaram market in Kolkata in West Bengal. At least six fire tenders are present at the spot and the attempts to douse the fire are underway.The fire was reported from the 9th floor of Nandaram market.The cause of the fire has not been ascertained yet. An investigation in the case has been initiated.The same market was gutted in a major fire nearly a decade ago. It was repaired and the business establishments had resumed work then.More details are awaited in the Nandaram market fire.Also Read | Gurugram: 100 shanties gutted, 7-month-old infant dead in fireAlso Watch | Fire breaks out at high-rise in Kolkata’s Park StreetFor the latest World Cup news, live scores and fixtures for World Cup 2019, log on to indiatoday.in/sports. Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter for World Cup news, scores and updates.Get real-time alerts and all the news on your phone with the all-new India Today app. Download from Post your comment Do You Like This Story? Awesome! Now share the story Too bad. Tell us what you didn’t like in the comments Posted byChanchal Chauhan Nextlast_img read more

Encounter breaks out between Naxals police in Gadchiroli

first_imgEncounter breaks out between Naxals, police in GadchiroliThe police retaliated after Naxals opened fire.advertisement Asian News International GadchiroliJuly 12, 2019UPDATED: July 12, 2019 11:12 IST An exchange of fire took place between Naxals and Gadchiroli Police in a remote area in Etapalli tahsil in Maharashtra’s Gadchiroli district on Thursday.The police retaliated after Naxals opened fire. They later fled the spot.The police has recovered arms and other things belonging to the Naxals from the encounter site.No casualties have been reported.Also read: Skirmish between police, Naxals in Gadchiroli forestALSO WATCH| 2 jawans, 1 journalist killed in Naxal attack in ChhattisgarhFor the latest World Cup news, live scores and fixtures for World Cup 2019, log on to indiatoday.in/sports. Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter for World Cup news, scores and updates.Get real-time alerts and all the news on your phone with the all-new India Today app. Download from Post your comment Do You Like This Story? Awesome! Now share the story Too bad. Tell us what you didn’t like in the comments Posted byIram Ara Ibrahim Nextlast_img read more

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