Chinese tennis needs to ‘grow up,’ says Li Na

first_imgBSP sees higher prices in November, but expects stronger peso, low rice costs to put up fight Typhoon Kammuri accelerates, gains strength en route to PH Hopes were high when Peng Shuai reached the 2014 US Open semi-finals, shortly after Li’s retirement, and Zhang Shuai won her second Guangzhou Open title this year.Wu Yibing also became China’s first boys Grand Slam singles champion at last month’s US Open. But nobody has consistently challenged at the highest levels.In Wuhan, five Chinese women were in the main draw but Wang Qiang was the only one to reach the third round — the best ever performance by a home player in the tournament.Peter McNamara, Wang’s Australian coach, said the high expectations created by Li’s career were a problem for Chinese players.“I think it’s very intimidating having such a great player and champion who did raise the bar to a level that’s pretty hard to get to,” he said.ADVERTISEMENT LATEST STORIES “I never bring it up, about trying to reach her heights.”Maverick or modest?Li was always a special case for Chinese tennis, as she took the maverick step of breaking away from state control to forge her career on her own terms.The 35-year-old said that modesty, a typical trait of Chinese culture, could be holding players back. Peng is currently the top ranked Chinese player at 24, with Zhang at 26.“They always say ‘Oh, I’m not so good’ but for the sport you have to show all of the world (you are good),” Li said.World number one Garbine Muguruza also said she found Chinese players “very respectful on the court… very quiet”, in contrast to Li, who she described as having great “intensity”.Fabrice Chouquet, Wuhan co-tournament director, told AFP that tennis in China was in the middle of a transition between two generations.“We have a solid number one and two here,” he said, referring to Peng and Zhang. “And behind them a younger generation of players that is really going to come up.”Wang Qiang is part of that new crop, says McNamara, and has yet to reach her full potential.“My girl is a baby. She’s 25 but she’s 20 as a tennis player,” he said. “This is the thing about Chinese players, they mature late.” Fire hits houses in Mandaluyong City Trending Articles PLAY LIST 00:50Trending Articles00:50Trending Articles00:59Sports venues to be ready in time for SEA Games01:37Protesters burn down Iran consulate in Najaf01:47Panelo casts doubts on Robredo’s drug war ‘discoveries’01:29Police teams find crossbows, bows in HK university01:35Panelo suggests discounted SEA Games tickets for students02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games Move over Neymar: how rugby players hope to change Brazil Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Li Na. AFP FILE PHOTOLi Na said she’s sorry Chinese tennis has not moved on more since her retirement, as the country’s fruitless search for a new champion continues.Li’s two Grand Slam titles set the bar extremely high for her fellow Chinese, who have laboured in vain to match her trail-blazing achievements.ADVERTISEMENT Chinese tennis success has mainly come from women, with Wu’s victory in New York an anomaly. While there are five Chinese women in the top 100 and 11 in the top 200, the top Chinese man is 220-ranked Wu Di.McNamara said the divide could also be explained by culture in the country of the one-child policy, where sons are highly prized.“Boys get it fairly easy. Girls don’t,” he said, adding: “They fight very hard, the girls.“You can see their mentality on the court. They will go to untold lengths to improve.”center_img Nonong Araneta re-elected as PFF president LOOK: Loisa Andalio, Ronnie Alonte unwind in Amanpulo for 3rd anniversary Read Next Brace for potentially devastating typhoon approaching PH – NDRRMC Fire hits houses in Mandaluyong City Frontrow holds fun run to raise funds for young cancer patients  MOST READ The contrast was laid bare at last week’s Wuhan Open, where Li received a rock-star welcome during a brief appearance, but none of the Chinese players went beyond the third round.Following her rapturous reception in Wuhan, her home city, Li said she was disappointed that China hadn’t found a new star to love since she stepped off tour in 2014.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSWATCH: Drones light up sky in final leg of SEA Games torch runSPORTSSEA Games: Philippines picks up 1st win in men’s water poloSPORTSMalditas save PH from shutout“Actually, I didn’t like (that) people always remember me,” said Li, who won the French Open in 2011 and the Australian Open in 2014. “That means Chinese tennis didn’t grow up.”“(When) I decided to retire, I was thinking next day (new Chinese winners) would come,” she added. View commentslast_img read more

Masters World Cup 2019

first_img(Update: Due to a change in circumstances, TFA will now be looking to field an additional team – Women’s 35s.)Touch Football Australia (TFA) and its national representative teams are about to enter the final year and the most important period of the current World Cup cycle. Our aim as always is for the best possible teams and athletes to represent Australia at the 2019 World Cup.TFA has a proud record in international Touch and Australia currently holds the Open and Masters World Cups and we are extremely motivated to maintain this status at the 2019 event.The Masters World Cup will be held, in conjunction with the Open World Cup, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia from the 28th April – 4th May 2019.At this stage TFA is looking to enter teams in the following divisions:Men: Over 30s, 35s, 40s, 45s, 50sWomen: Over 27s, 35sMixed: Senior MixedThere is no guarantee that all these divisions will go ahead as viability is based on sufficient team entries being received by FIT. There are currently several divisions offered at the event which are not viable therefore TFA will not be seeking nominations for those divisions.The following document outlines the nomination process for the selection of the Australian Masters Teams for the 2019 Masters World Cup.More detailed information on the overall tour will become available in the next few months, however indicative costs for a player levy, based on previous overseas international events, would be in the area of $2500.TFA will implement a selection process whereby players are initially required to nominate for selection. All players who nominate will be considered for an invitation to the Selection Camp to be held in January 2019. Teams will be selected following this selection camp. Once selected, World Cup Teams will then attend team training camps in the lead up to the event.Please note:  ALL interested players must nominate through the official link to be considered. For further information on this process or any queries please contact the TFA High Performance Manager, Wayne Grant, at wayne.grant@touchfootball.com.au or 0411 270 306Find out more here: Masters Nominations – 2019 World CupNew Memo containing info including addition of Women’s 35s division: 2019 World Cup – 35 Women’s Nomination Informationlast_img read more

RCMP charge two Dakota Ojibway police officers over use of forces credit

first_imgAPTN National News ROSEAU RIVER FIRST NATION, Man.–RCMP charged five people, including a sergeant and a constable, for unauthorized use of data from a credit card belonging to the Dakota Ojibway police service.The RCMP released a statement saying a Dakota Ojibway police sergeant and constable along with a detachment clerk were charged with multiple counts of unauthorized use of credit card data. The RCMP also charged one of the officer’s family members and a 17 year-old youth.The officers were members of the Roseau River First Nation detachment, said the statement.The police statement said the offences dated from Jan. 22 to May 10 of this year and occurred in the Altona, Man. and Morris, Man., area.“Investigation has shown the individuals involved were using a (Dakota Ojibway police) business credit card for personal purposes,” said the statement.The investigation was triggered by a complaint from the Dakota Ojibway police force’s management.The five individuals charged are expected to appear in provincial court Dec. 9.news@aptn.ca@APTNNewslast_img read more

Morneau gets an earful at town hall meeting on small business tax

first_imgOTTAWA – Canada’s finance minister got a grilling Friday from taxpayers who are boiling mad about the Liberal government’s proposed tax changes for small businesses.Bill Morneau was in Oakville, Ont., for a town hall meeting where a question-and-answer session boiled over more than once into a shouting match. Some were bellowing at Morneau to answer their questions, while others tried to shout them down to let the minister talk.All the while, Morneau’s fellow cabinet minister, Karina Gould, tried to maintain calm even as time was wrapping up with several people still lined up at microphones, anxious to give the finance minister a piece of their minds.Morneau sat silently near the end of hour-long session as person after person approached the microphones in the room to argue against the measures.“This is not the first room like this that I’ve sat in,” he said at the start of his closing remarks.He brought up one question that stood out to him about what the government planned to do next, only to be asked by more than one person to answer it directly, once and for all.“Just to be clear, I’m trying to say what we’re focused on. I’m certainly not going to address the tax policy issues that we may consider after that. You can’t do that.“You wouldn’t expect us to come to policy decisions on the fly,” he said, at which point the uproar began anew, and Gould had to ask the audience to let Morneau finish.The Liberals have faced heated opposition to their plan ever since Morneau unveiled the proposed changes over the summer, with questions from within the Liberal caucus.Opponents of the reforms insist the changes would hurt Canadians at different income levels and from many different sectors, including doctors, farmers and small business owners.The rhetoric has become even more heated in recent days as the Opposition Conservatives have linked the changes to Morneau’s family company, Morneau Shepell, which offers individual pension plans. One expert told the Commons finance committee those kind of plans could become more appealing if the tax proposals are implemented as-is.Morneau brushed off the questions about his family business, which he helped run before entering politics.“I expect that when people have a strongly held point of view, they’ll use multiple tactics to try and make that point of view heard. That’s what it means to be a politician.”Morneau has been waging a public relations campaign to reassure different sectors of the country concerned at how the changes would affect them. On Thursday, he said technical fixes were in the works to address farmers’ concerns that the changes would impair their ability to bequeath the family farm to the next generation.During the Oakville meeting, Morneau told the audience the changes would only apply “on a go-forward basis” and that the Liberals would “protect what’s been done in the past.”Speaking afterwards, Morneau said the government’s messaging on the proposed changes has turned into a game of broken telephone.Many people seem to be focused on changes to things like income sprinkling and passive investments — strategies that probably don’t apply to them because they are used by only a small subset of tax filers, he said.“We’ve just been unable to get through the message that we want to keep small business tax rates low, that people could be looking at only some advantages that are available to only a very small subset of pretty wealthy Canadian controlled private corporations and concerned that impacts everyone.”Conservative finance critic Pierre Poilievre called the town hall meeting a “rendezvous with reality” for Morneau. Poilievre summarized what he heard from the meeting: Morneau’s “plan will not only pick their pockets, but screw up their life plans.”Morneau isn’t ready to say what, if any, changes the Liberals will make to the proposal — only that he will keep listening to Canadians.The issue will be on the agenda next week when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau meets with his provincial counterparts.last_img read more

The top iPhone and iPad apps on App Store

first_imgApp Store Official Charts for the week ending December 2, 2018:Top Paid iPhone Apps:1. Minecraft, Mojang2. Heads Up!, Warner Bros.3. Toca Hair Salon 3, Toca Boca AB4. Plague Inc.,Ndemic Creations5. Facetune, Lightricks Ltd.6. iSchedule, HotSchedules7. NBA 2K19, 2K8. Kingdom Rush Vengeance, Ironhide S.A.9. Bloons TD 6,Ninja Kiwi10. Krome Studio Plus, Krome PhotosTop Free iPhone Apps:1. BitLife – Life Simulator, Candywriter, LLC2. ZEPETO, SNOW Corporation3. Google Chrome, Google LLC4. Google Maps – Transit & Food, Google LLC5. Fire Balls 3D, Voodoo6. YouTube: Watch, Listen, Stream, Google LLC7. Instagram, Instagram, Inc.8. TikTok – Real Short Videos, musical.ly Inc.9. Swing Star, Good Job Games10. NBA 2K Mobile Basketball, 2KTop Paid iPad Apps:1. Minecraft, Mojang2. Procreate, Savage Interactive Pty Ltd3. Toca Hair Salon 3, Toca Boca AB4. Notability, Ginger Labs5. GoodNotes 4, Time Base Technology Limited6. Toca Life: Neighborhood, Toca Boca AB7. Kingdom Rush Vengeance, Ironhide S.A.8. Geometry Dash, RobTop Games AB9. XtraMath, XtraMath10. CHUCHEL, Amanita Design s.r.o.Top Free iPad Apps:1. Google Chrome, Google LLC2. YouTube: Watch, Listen, Stream, Google LLC3. Netflix, Netflix, Inc.4. My Talking Tom 2, Outfit7 Limited5. Popular Wars, Lion Studios6. Fire Balls 3D, Voodoo7. Swing Star, Good Job Games8. Paper.io 2, Voodoo9. NBA 2K Mobile Basketball, 2K10. Amazon Prime Video, AMZN Mobile LLC__(copyright) 2018 Apple Inc.The Associated Presslast_img read more

Make permanent capital

first_imgGlobal trends in money management and business efficiency are a useful guide to build and scale Indian businesses, especially to increase the efficiency of capital usage. The one trend that has been in focus throughout the asset management industry, especially the private equity world, has been that of “permanent capital”. This is broadly defined as access to funds for long periods, instead of the usual seven to ten-year fund horizon that has been the norm in the private equity industry. Permanent capital funds focus less on existing investments in a defined period – and the emphasis is more on generating potential long-run investment returns. Also Read – A special kind of bondInvestors have generated permanent capital through a variety of strategies. Some large investors such as the likes of Blackstone, Apollo & KKR have utilised Initial Public Offerings (IPOs) to generate capital they can then invest strategically. Apollo has also generated permanent capital through investing and managing assets for a retirement solution focused annuity business called “Athene”, which, through its annuity business, generates significant cash that Apollo has utilised to generate returns. Also Read – Insider threat managementAccess to a constant pool of capital has helped boost returns for both the capital provider and capital allocator. The essential point to learn is that a higher degree of permanent capital allows businesses to access opportunities for longer time-periods, ride out periods of high market volatility and, most importantly, acquire assets at attractive valuations when rivals are unable to do so due to unfavourable market conditions or internal distress. The lessons and advantages from permanent capital apply as much to companies as they do to asset managers. The vital question businesses must ask is whether they are building sources of permanent capital or, even better, are they improving the stability of cash flows available to the business – especially with a view on the next market downturn. For a company or conglomerate, “permanency” of capital can be obtained through access to businesses that provide stable incoming cashflows. For instance, a firm focused on high-risk-return projects in the biosciences field must continuously evaluate whether it has a portfolio of royalty-generating patents that provide it with mission-critical capital inflows. As mentioned earlier, in market downturns, stable cash flows can help shield businesses from the adverse funding conditions and assist a company in acquiring valuable assets across the industry. Most importantly, the steady incoming cash flows that provide the permanency of capital can assist a firm in continuing to pursue the high-risk-return projects that may yield significant investment returns in the future. In a world where factors such as specialisation, patents and vertical integration can provide competitive advantages to firms, so can greater access to permanent capital. To frame the argument differently, firms that can have greater permanency to their capital or can unlock sources of permanent capital will have distinct advantages over their rivals. For companies to succeed through permanent capital vehicles (PCVs), whether through private company platforms or structures such as Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs), the aim must be long-term value-creation and not just short-term capital raising. Creating market credibility through both efficient capital usage and managing investor relationships is vital. For businesses that are exceptional operators, PCVs are the avenue to partner with patient capital providers to generate value for all. For investors looking towards emerging markets such as India, PCVs are essential, especially in the context of relatively lesser secondary market liquidity, longer investment horizons for value generation and smaller size of debt capital markets. The utilisation of PCVs to hold on to investments longer for value creation could be a vital factor. However, it will be crucial that PCVs, when utilised by investors or companies to raise and manage capital, avoid the issues that have been prevalent in some cases. The focus must be on long-term value creation and not on capital “extraction”. Therefore, the PCVs must be structured to incentivise the operators to maximise long-term value and not focus on merely creating large investment vehicles to generate high fees. As the capital markets and businesses in India evolve, winners and losers in highly competitive markets will get determined by a variety of factors, including sources of funds. Both the quality and quantity of funding available will be one of the fundamental factors that determine long-term winners. Permanency of capital offers some essential insights into improving one’s competitiveness.(Taponeel Mukherjee heads Development Tracks, an infrastructure advisory firm. Views expressed are personal)last_img read more

Tom Brady possibly distracted by his supermodel wifes ATV controversy in Costa

first_imgRelated posts:Costa Rica’s former world champion boxer gives birth to daughter Beyoncé reunites with Destiny’s Child in Costa Rica for Kelly Rowland’s wedding Hollywood celebrity Matt Damon and family vacation in Costa Rica World’s fastest man Usain Bolt partying in Costa Rica The Denver Broncos defeated the New England Patriots, 26-16, Sunday afternoon and will play the  Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLVIII on Feb. 2.There are plenty of reasons the Broncos stymied the Patriots and their superstar QB Tom Brady. Peyton Manning, the other legendary quarterback on the field, meticulously tore apart New England’s wounded defense with several long drives that ended in touchdowns. The Patriots’ suddenly hot running game was slowed down for the first time in several weeks by the Broncos. After falling behind early, Brady’s Patriots were not the type of team built for a comeback this year (though Brady did manage to run and throw for a score in the fourth quarter).However, was there a bigger factor in the Patriots’ elimination than the distracting images taken by tabloids this week of Brady’s wife Gisele Bundchen riding an ATV with her daughter, and without helmets in Costa Rica?During a vacation at their Costa Rican beach-side home, the Brazilian supermodel went for a stroll on a four-wheeler. Bundchen rode like a boss, with one hand on a handlebar and the other cradling her 1-year-old daughter Vivian – and neither wearing a helmet. The photos caused such a firestorm that Bunchden’s publicist needed to issue a statement insisting that mother and daughter were driving slowly on a private beach.“Her hair in the picture not flying in the wind, showing a lack of speed,” was a real sentence written in the statement. This did sound like a decent defense, actually.But now Brady is out of the playoffs, and let’s all agree that Costa Rica played a role in preventing the NFL’s most hated quarterback from getting to the Super Bowl. How could he concentrate with these paparazzi photos circulating the week leading up to the conference championship?It’s not all bad for Brady though. Instead of going to freezing New Jersey for the Super Bowl, he can begin his off season early in sunny Costa Rica. Where he and Gisele and the family can spend their time on the beach driving an ATV real slowwwww, and Brady can forget all about football, except perhaps for the part where you wear a helmet. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Koen Verwee vicepresident of marketing and produ

first_imgKoen Verwee, vice-president of marketing and products at Liberty Global-owned Swiss cable operator UPC Cablecom is to leave the company after three years. Verwee, who previously worked at Telenet, is to take up a new role in his home country of Belgium outside the telecom sector.UPC Cablecom is also merging its IT and network services businesses into a new technology business unit to reflect the convergence of network infrastructure and IT. The new unit will be haded by former vice-president of network services Alexander Lorenz, who is promoted to senior vice-president.last_img

Click on image to enlarge Theres a simple rea

first_img (Click on image to enlarge) There’s a simple reason why prices are plunging: supplies are sky high. News of a “monster” natural gas find in British Columbia has one again highlighted that North Americans need to make a choice. Do we want to keep the huge volumes of natural gas that have been discovered in recent years across the continent landlocked and transportable only by pipeline, or should we develop the infrastructure that will enable us to transport this fuel to the gas-hungry markets of Asia? Both options come with advantages and drawbacks, of course. Keeping the fuel landlocked will keep prices depressed, likely so much so that many producers will be unable to turn a profit and will shut up shop. Building the infrastructure to transport natural gas to faraway shores is expensive, but more importantly it would commit the continent to a future of fracking, liquefying, and exporting natural gas, a decision that carries heavy environmental repercussions. Here’s how it stacks up. North America has trillions of cubic feet of a fuel that the energy-hungry developing economies of the world want. Knowing that the easy oil and gas of the world are gone, those developing economies are desperate to lock down oil and gas supplies for the future. As their desire for our gas climbs, so will the price they are willing to pay. In short, it’s going to be hard to say no for long – the financial incentive will be too strong. That’s why we see North America becoming a significant exporter of liquefied natural gas (LNG)… but not for years. It will take a long time for North America to develop substantial LNG infrastructure. In the meantime, who will benefit? Let’s investigate. Apache’s Monster Find Back in 2009, Houston-based Apache Corp. drilled a well in the Liard Basin of northern British Columbia. It was just a normal exploration well, like the thousands it had drilled before in its quest to find gas reservoirs. Then the drill hit gas. It hit so much gas that Apache didn’t release results from the well until last week, almost three years later, because the company wanted to snap up as much of the surrounding land as possible. You do that when a single well produces 21 million cubic feet per day in its first month. Making things even better, the well was only fracked six times – in many other shale reservoirs wells are fracked as many as 18 times to enable the gas to flow freely. Apache has now drilled three wells in the Liard, with a fourth under way, and has examined logs from 16 others drilled since the 1960s. With those results in hand the company believes the Liard could be “the best unconventional gas reservoir in North America.” Based on initial results, the company estimates that the Liard Basin holds 210 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of natural gas, of which 48 tcf is recoverable. For comparison, total US recoverable gas reserves stand at 300 tcf. The wells drilled to date, which are spaced more than 25 km apart, are producing gas into an existing pipeline that runs south from the Northwest Territories. Apache says the fact that all the wells are performing very similarly indicates the reservoir is very robust. To give itself the best chance to tap into that robust reservoir, Apache has secured about 174,000 hectares of land in the Liard, an area that is 150 km northwest of the town of Fort Nelson and 100 km west of Horn River, another substantial BC shale gas play. The Downside Of Shale Gas Riches Even with only a few wells completed, there is little doubt about the importance of the Liard discovery. It is huge – so huge that Apache believes its Liard wells could be profitable at a gas price of just $2.57 per MMBtu, almost as low as current North American natural gas prices. Gas prices in North America have been pretty volatile over the last 15 years, spiking at least four times. Discounting those short-lived price spikes, the Henry Hub spot price has ranged from just under $2 to almost $8 per MMBtu – a wide range. We are presently near the bottom of that range. By Marin Katusa, Casey Researchcenter_img (Click on image to enlarge) This is the shale gas phenomenon. The ability to tap into natural gas trapped within tight rock formations known as shale basins has unlocked trillions of cubic feet of natural gas, pushing US gas reserves from 162 tcf in 1993 to 273 tcf in 2009. (Official US Energy Information Administration data for US gas reserves is currently only available until the end of 2009, though estimates from other reputable sources such as the US Geological Survey put today’s US gas reserves above 300 tcf.) It is simple supply and demand: Supplies have risen dramatically, and demand is struggling to catch up. That is, demand within North America is struggling to catch up. There is demand aplenty in other parts of the world; and in those places prices are much higher. In Northeast Asia, strong demand from Japan and South Korea is keeping LNG prices near US$17 per MMBtu. Yes, that is more than six times higher than the current Henry Hub spot price of US$2.70 per MMBtu. It is worth noting, too, that $2.70 per MMBtu is a relatively good price for Henry Hub, one propped up in the last few weeks by warm weather and hurricane threats. By contrast, in April the North American gas benchmark fell to just US$1.86 per MMBtu; prices have hovered near just $2 for several months. Weak gas prices like that have several effects. First, swaths of North American gas producers are cutting back on production. They do not see a need to supply more gas to an already oversupplied market and, more importantly, many actually lose money producing gas at these prices. Second, if prices remain this depressed for a sustained period, producers will start writing down their reserves counts. A “reserve” is a volume of fuel that is economic to produce using current technology. When prices are high, lots of gas reserves are economic – even very tight shale deposits requiring multiple fracs to get the gas flowing. When prices dive, it becomes more costly than it is worth to produce gas from these challenging and expensive tight gas deposits, which means they lose their reserve status. In short, North America’s gas companies flooded their own market, drowning out any chance that good prices will return anytime soon. Problem, Solution The problem for North America’s gas producers is that their gas is landlocked. Natural gas has to travel by pipeline – in its gas form it takes up a lot of volume per unit of energy produced, which means it is never worth the cost of transportation to ship it. So North America’s gas producers are generating a product that has to find buyers in North America. Or they could condense their product down into a liquid, rendering it transportable. That’s the beauty of LNG – it is natural gas in a reduced-volume format, which means it can be loaded onto tankers and shipped across oceans. If North Americans want to take advantage of their newfound natural gas wealth, LNG is the way forward. We can use some of the fuel at home, of course, and will use more and more if ideas like converting the continent’s transport trucks to natural gas take hold. But the trillions of cubic feet of gas contained in shale basins from the Liard Basin in British Columbia to the Fort Worth Basin in Texas are more than we can use – so much more, in fact, that prices will remain too low for producers to bother producing it, and these gas reserves will revert to being geologic curiosities rather than economic resources. That is one choice: keeping our natural gas landlocked and committing producers to years – perhaps decades – of rock-bottom pricing. The other choice is to build gas liquefaction facilities on our coasts and send our gas wealth across the oceans to markets in need. The economics of this choice are pretty clear. Even though LNG plants cost billions to build, the size of the resource here and the expectation of continued strong gas demand in the developing world put the calculations back in the black pretty quickly. So economics are not the question. The question, instead, is environmental. Does North America want to become an LNG exporter? The economic upsides include jobs and money, but the environmental concerns include new pipelines, tankers transiting coastal waters, more drilling and fracking of natural gas wells, and the knowledge that we are enabling a continued global addiction to fossil fuels. It’s a choice that will play out in the news media over the next few years, as interested parties start vying for permission to start these multiyear construction projects. Construction is just about to begin on North America’s first gas liquefaction plant, being built by Cheniere Energy at Sabine Pass, on the Gulf of Mexico near the Louisiana-Texas border. The project is expected to cost $10 billion and will not be complete until late 2015, but Cheniere has already signed offtake deals with BG Group of the UK, Gas Natural Fenosa of Spain, Gail of India, and Kogas of South Korea that account for almost 90% of the plant’s expected output. The demand is there. The opposition is there, too – Cheniere spent years trying to get regulatory approval for Sabine Pass, against the protestations of groups such as the Sierra Club. The bottom line is that even though environmental concerns continue to hang over its natural gas industry, they are unlikely to prevent North America from eventually exporting LNG in earnest. There are simply too many jobs and too much money at stake. Energy is always a high-stakes game… but winning it has become even more crucial to developed and developing nations alike. Some have started calling the jostling a “new Cold War” – but no matter where the trends go, one thing is certain: outsized profit potential awaits the investor who intelligently taps in to those shifting trends today.last_img read more

In May 22 testimony to the Joint Economic Committe

first_imgIn May 22 testimony to the Joint Economic Committee of Congress, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke issued another of many similar positive interpretations of central bank policy. Yet again, he continued to argue that quantitative easing has decreased long-term interest rates and produced other benefits. He called economic growth “moderate,” a term that he has often used without acknowledging that the Fed’s forecasts have repeatedly been far above the mark. Within less than two months—or by the time of the July FOMC meeting—the Fed had downgraded the economic growth to “modest,” tacitly acknowledging that program of open-ended $85 billion purchases of government and federal agency security purchases had failed to boost economic activity. The Fed’s polices have not produced the much-promised re-acceleration in economic growth. In the first half of 2013 as well as the latest four quarters, the real GDP growth rate was a paltry 1.4%, even less than the 1.9% growth in the 13.5 years of this century, and less than two-fifths  of the 3.8% GDP growth rate since 1790. Only growth in the 1930s was less than in the 2000s, a time when Dr. Bernanke played a major, if not dominant, role in monetary policy decisions. Questions abound: how serious have their forecast errors been? Are they related to the Fed’s failed policies? Has the Fed facilitated errant fiscal policies that are as much a problem as central bank policy? What may explain the Fed’s excessive optimism? Are they so committed to what they are doing that they continue to make unsupported assessments, or is the Fed relying on an outdated understanding of how the macro-economy works—one that does not square with an impressive body of new scholarly research? In its final forecast for 2011, made in late 2010, the Fed forecast that real GDP would rise 4% in 2011, and just prior to that projection they expected even stronger growth. For 2012, the Fed projected 3.3% growth, with previous assessments even higher. In both years, their forecasts were more than double the actual result. In the June FOMC, the central tendency forecast was for real GDP growth this year of 2.3% to 2.8%, an outcome that is unlikely to be reached since much of the poor first-half growth was due to inventory building in the face of a final sales (GDP less inventory investment) growth rate that was a mere 0.7%. Augmenting horrendous forecasts, the Fed made overly optimistic economic assessments in the official minutes of the Fed Open Market Committee, as well as the Beige Book, that are very hard to reconcile with the poor economic outcome. Four major defects in the Fed’s approach are all too evident. First, they continue to fail to take into account that economic growth slows considerably once gross government debt reaches 90-100% of GDP, and that this relationship may turn nonlinear above that threshold—i.e., that growth deteriorates more than proportionately as debt levels escalate. Second, high levels of private debt to GDP have a similarly debilitating effect. Third, the Fed has relied on a wealth effect that is either nonexistent or extremely weak. Fourth, all three quantitative easing (QE) operations have raised, not lowered, long-term Treasury bond yields, thus serving to keep the interest rate higher than it otherwise would be. The short-run impact of these policies also transitorily raised inflation. Since wages remained soft, real income of the vast majority of American households fell. If the Fed had not taken such extraordinary steps, interest rates and inflation would be lower currently than they are, and we could have avoided the unknowable risks embodied in the Fed’s swelling balance sheet. In essence, the Fed has impeded the healing process, delayed a return to normal economic growth, and worsened the income/wealth divide while creating a new problem—how to “exit” its failed policies. Bad Things Happen When Government Debt Exceeds 100% of GDP Four different scholarly studies, all published in just the past three years, document this conclusion. These studies are highly relevant. Since Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) figures indicate that gross government debt exceeds 100% in the US, Japan, and the OECD countries of Europe. At the end of the second quarter, the US figure was slightly excess of 100% and will climb to 103% by the end of 2013. Three of these studies have been published outside the United States and were primarily conducted by foreign scholars, and thus avoid domestic political biases. Here are the studies, starting with the one with the broadest implications: “Government Size and Growth: A Survey and Interpretation of the Evidence,” from Journal of Economic Surveys. Published in April 2011, Swedish economists Andreas Bergh and Magnus Henrekson (both of the Research Institute of Industrial Economics at Lund University) found a “significant negative correlation” between size of government and economic growth. Specifically, “an increase in government size by 10 percentage points is associated with a 0.5% to 1% lower annual growth rate.” “The Impact of High and Growing Government Debt on Economic Growth: An Empirical Investigation for the Euro Area,” in European Central Bank working paper, Number 1237, August 2010. Cristina Checherita and Philipp Rother found that a government-debt-to-GDP ratio above the threshold of 90-100% has a “deleterious” impact on long-term growth. Additionally, the impact of debt on growth is nonlinear – as the government debt rises to higher and higher levels, the adverse growth consequences accelerate. The Real Effects of Debt, published by the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) in Basel, Switzerland in August 2011. Stephen G. Cecchetti, M. S.Mohanty, and Fabrizio Zampolli determined that “beyond a certain level, debt is bad for growth. For government debt, the number is about 85% of GDP.” “Public Debt Overhangs: Advanced-Economy Episodes Since 1800,”by Carmen M. Reinhart, Vincent R. Reinhart, Kenneth S. Rogoff, Journal of Economic Perspectives, Volume 26, Number 3, Summer 2012, pages 69-86. The authors identified 26 cases of “debt overhangs,” which they define as public-debt-to-GDP levels exceeding 90% for at least five years. In spite of the many idiosyncratic differences in these situations, economic growth fell in all but three of the 26 cases. All of the instances, which lasted an average of 23 years, are included in the paper. They found that average annual growth is 1.2% lower for countries with a debt overhang than for countries without. The long duration of such episodes means that cumulative shortfall from the debt excess—i.e., several years in a row of subpar economic growth—is potentially massive. Bad Things Happen When Private Debt Rises Above 160-175% of GDP This argument is also operative since private debt to GDP in the US was 273.3% of GDP in the four quarters ending in the first quarter of 2013. This is a serious matter, since it strikes at one of the primary purposes of central banking—to promote private credit. But when private debt levels are excessive, efforts to promote more private debt are counterproductive. Thus, the Fed is destabilizing rather than facilitating economic growth. The two major studies on private debt, both completed in the past two years and published outside the US, bear directly on this issue. In Too Much Finance, published by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in March 2011, Jean Louis Arcand, Enrico Berkes, and Ugo Panizza found a negative effect on output growth when credit to the private sector reaches 104-110% of GDP. The strongest adverse effects are for credit over 160% of GDP. The second is the 2011 BIS study authored by Cecchetti, Mohanty, and Zampolli. They found that private debt levels become “cancerous” (in BIS economic advisor Cecchetti’s own words) at 175% (90% for corporations and 85% for households)—just slightly more than the UNCTAD study. The Nonexistent or Minimal Wealth Effect The issue here is not whether the Fed’s policies cause aggregate wealth to rise or fall. The question is whether changes in wealth alter consumer spending to any significant degree. The best evidence says that wealth fluctuations have little or no effect on consumer spending. Thus, when the stock market rises in response to massive Fed liquidity, the broader economy is unaffected. According to Dr. David Backus, economics professor at New York University, the stock market boom in the late 1990s helped increase the wealth of Americans, but that did not produce a significant change in consumption. As the stock market rose, Backus did not observe a big increase in consumption. And when it subsequently fell, neither was there a big decrease (Flavelle, Christopher, Slate, March 6, 2010, “Debunking the Wealth Effect”). More Americans own houses than own stocks. This suggests that a change in home equity should have a bigger impact on spending than a comparable change in the stock market. However, Backus did not observe much of a wealth effect on consumer spending as housing prices rose, implying that the reverse effect was also minimal on the way down. Backus’ analysis confirms research done in 1999 at the New York Fed by Sydney Ludvigson and Charles Steindel. In the Economic Policy Review, they found a positive connection between aggregate wealth changes and aggregate spending. But they wrote: “Spending growth in recent years has surely been augmented by market gains, but the effect is found to be rather unstable and hard to pin down. The contemporaneous response of consumption growth to an unexpected change in wealth is uncertain and the response appears very short-lived.” In “Financial Wealth Effect: Evidence from Threshold Estimation” (Applied Economic Letters, 2011), Sherif Khalifa, Ousmane Seck, and Elwin Tobing found “a threshold income level of almost $130,000, below which the financial wealth effect is insignificant, and above which the effect is 0.004.” Thus, a $1 rise in wealth would in time boost consumption by less than one-half of a penny, and only for those in the upper-middle class and above. Quantitative Easing Effects on Treasury Bond Yields and Inflation It might surprise you to learn that the 30-year Treasury bond yield increased during QE1 and QE2, as measured by the average rate from when the policy was announced until it ended versus the monthly average after each program ended. Since QE3 is ongoing, we measured the change from year-end 2012 to July 2013. Rates rose during that period, too. The 30-year yield rose in all cases, by 109, 33, and 72 basis points respectively. When the Fed says it wants higher inflation and radically expands its balance sheet to achieve that objective, the short-term effect is to raise inflation, inflationary psychology, and Treasury bond yields, which are the anchor for all interest rates. The higher transitory inflation caused by the quantitative easing cuts into real weekly earnings. The rise in interest rates has seriously slowed the recovery in housing, which is the sector that is supposed to be leading the recovery. In June, housing starts were unchanged from the end of 2012, illustrating that QE causes winners and losers without producing a generalized benefit to all in the US economy. The Fed Made Things Worse In response to the Fed’s QE programs, stock prices rose, but no convincing evidence indicates that this has boosted consumer spending in any meaningful way. Treasury yields rose during those operations, in part because the rise in stock prices has been interpreted as a possible sign of better economic conditions, rather than merely of the excess liquidity created by the Fed’s balance sheet expansion. Although inflation has receded to less than a 1% annual rate, it did spike during the earlier phases of QE operations, thus eroding real income for those dependent on wages as their main source of income. The standard of living—defined as median household income—has fallen back to the level of 1995. Full-time employment as a percentage of the population was a discouraging 47.2% in July 2013, down 0.5% from when the recession ended in 2009 and off 0.3% from the recovery high reached in March 2012, and not far above the worst level of the past three decades. Historically, 50.2% of the population has been able to find part-time work. The continuing sharp deviation from that norm indicates that the “American Dream” in the US is increasingly being made less available. Other signs of reduced economic opportunities from these failed monetary and fiscal policies include: a record 1 out of 6.5 Americans is on food stamps; and a record 1 out of 13 Americans is on Social Security Disability; and a birth rate that has dropped to the lowest level since 1920. According to the Pew Research Center, 36% of the nation’s young adults ages 18-31 were living in their parents’ home in 2012—the highest share in at least four decades. It represents a slow but steady increase over the 32% of the same-aged counterparts who were living at home prior to the Great Recession in 2007 and the 34% doing so when it officially ended in 2009. Thus, for most households, economic conditions would have been better if the Fed had simply done nothing. Moreover, the problem of what to do with the Fed’s engorged balance sheet would not exist—a subject that has diverted valuable time from the more important discussion: how to right the mighty ship that once was, but no longer is, the US economy.  The best approach would be for the Fed to recognize the failure of QE and end the program immediately, thereby allowing price distortions in the markets to correct themselves. By ending the illusion that the Fed can take constructive actions, this might even serve to force federal government leaders to deal with the growing fiscal policy imbalances. Otherwise, debt levels will continue to build and serve to further limit the potential for economic growth. Dr. Hunt is an internationally known economist who has worked for the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas and has been published in Barron’s, the Wall Street Journal, and the New York Times. While his ideas on money printing and inflation as expressed above may challenge your beliefs about the Fed’s activities and abilities, it is precisely this kind of shaking up that is necessary to adjust our thinking and enable us to make better investment decisions. This kind of challenge to one’s beliefs may be the reason why Lacy Hunt is such a popular speaker at Casey Research Summits. He has confirmed his participation in the upcoming Summit—the only conference Casey Research will hold this year—scheduled for October 4-6 in Tucson, Arizona. Other confirmed speakers including Dr. Ron Paul, Donald Coxe, Chris Martenson, Van Simmons, and Doug Casey; and most of the expert panel have agreed to stay throughout the Summit and participate as audience members, giving attendees unparalleled access to their thoughts. With stock markets and precious metals remaining volatile… with political uncertainties escalating around the world… and with the US economy, already tottering under its financial burdens, about to discover the full impact of Obamacare, investors need independent analysis and ideas more than ever. Three Days with Casey may be your best opportunity to get them, as well as actionable advice, from some of the world’s top geopolitical and finance experts. Learn more and reserve your seat today—not many remain.last_img read more

At 87 Maxine Stanich cared more about improving t

first_imgAt 87, Maxine Stanich cared more about improving the quality of her life than prolonging it.She suffered from a long list of health problems, including heart failure and chronic lung disease that could leave her gasping for breath.When her time came she wanted to die a natural death, Stanich told her daughter, and she signed a “do not resuscitate” directive, or DNR, ordering doctors not to revive her should her heart stop.Yet a trip to a San Francisco emergency room for shortness of breath in 2008 led Stanich to get a defibrillator implanted in her chest — a medical device to keep her alive by delivering a powerful shock to her heart if it started beating irregularly.At the time, Stanich didn’t fully grasp what she had agreed to, even though she signed a document granting permission for the procedure, said her daughter, Susan Giaquinto.That clarity came only during a subsequent visit to a different hospital, when a surprised ER doctor saw the defibrillator protruding from Stanich’s thin chest. It was the first time a doctor clearly explained what the defibrillator would mean for Stanich, said Giaquinto, who accompanied her mother on both hospital trips.To Stanich’s horror, the ER doctor explained that the device wouldn’t allow Stanich to slip away painlessly. Instead, the defibrillator would give her a jolt “so strong that it will knock her across the room,” Giaquinto said.Surgery like Stanich’s defibrillator implantation has become all too common among those near the end of life, experts say. Nearly 1 in 3 Medicare patients undergoes an operation in the year before death, even though the evidence shows that many are more likely to be harmed than to benefit from it.The practice is driven by financial incentives that reward doctors for doing procedures, as well as a medical culture in which patients and doctors are reluctant to talk about how surgical interventions should be prescribed more judiciously, said Dr. Rita Redberg, a cardiologist who treated Stanich when she sought care at the second hospital a week after her defibrillator was implanted.”We have a culture that believes in very aggressive care,” said Redberg, who specializes in heart disease in women at the University of California, San Francisco. “We are often not considering the chance of benefit and chance of harm, and how that changes when you get older. We also fail to have conversations about what patients value most.”While surgery can be lifesaving for younger people, operating on frail, older patients rarely helps them live longer or returns the quality of life they once enjoyed, according to a 2016 paper in Annals of Surgery.The cost of these surgeries — typically paid for by Medicare, the government health insurance program for people over 65 — involve more than money, said Dr. Amber Barnato, a professor at the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice. Older patients who undergo surgery within a year of death spent 50 percent more time in the hospital than others, and nearly twice as many days in intensive care.And while some robust octogenarians have many years ahead of them, studies show that surgery is also common among those who are far more frail.Eighteen percent of Medicare patients have surgery in their final month of life and 8 percent in their final week, according to a 2011 study in The Lancet.More than 12 percent of defibrillators were implanted in people older than 80, according to a 2015 study. Doctors implant about 158,000 of the devices each year, according to the American College of Cardiology. The total cost of the procedure runs about $60,000.Procedures performed in the elderly range from major operations that require lengthy recoveries to relatively minor surgery performed in a doctor’s office, such as the removal of nonfatal skin cancers that would likely never cause any problems.Research led by Dr. Eleni Linos has shown that people with limited life expectancies are treated for nonfatal skin cancers as aggressively as younger patients. Among patients with a nonfatal skin cancer and a limited time to live, 70 percent underwent surgery, according to her 2013 study in JAMA Internal Medicine.When less is moreSurgery poses serious risks for older people, who weather anesthesia poorly and whose skin takes longer to heal. Among seniors who undergo urgent or emergency abdominal surgery, 20 percent die within 30 days, studies show.With diminished mental acuity and an old-fashioned respect for the medical profession, some aging patients are vulnerable to unwanted interventions. Stanich agreed to a pacemaker defibrillator simply because her doctor suggested it, Giaquinto said. Many people of Stanich’s generation “thought doctors were God … They never questioned doctors — ever.”According to the University of Michigan’s National Poll on Healthy Aging, published Wednesday, more than half of adults ages 50 to 80 said doctors often recommend unnecessary tests, medications or procedures. Yet half of those who’d been told they needed an X-ray or other test – but weren’t sure they needed it – went on to have the procedure anyway.Dr. Margaret Schwarze, a surgeon and associate professor at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, said that older patients often don’t feel the financial pain of surgery because insurance pays most of the cost.When a surgeon offers to “fix” the heart valve in a person with multiple diseases, for example, the patient may assume that surgery will fix all of her medical problems, Schwarze said. “With older patients with lots of chronic illnesses, we’re not really fixing anything.”Even as a doctor, Redberg said, she struggles to prevent other doctors from performing too many procedures on her 92-year-old mother, Mae, who lives in New York City.Redberg said doctors recently treated her mother for melanoma — the most serious type of skin cancer. After the cancer was removed from her leg, Redberg’s mother was urged by a doctor to undergo an additional surgery to cut away more tissue and nearby lymph nodes, which can harbor cancerous cells.”Every time she went in, the dermatologist wanted to refer her to a surgeon,” Redberg said. “Medicare would have been happy to pay for it.”But her mother often has problems with wound healing, she said, and recovery would likely have taken three months. When Redberg pressed a surgeon about the benefits, he said the procedure could reduce the chances of cancer coming back within three to five years.Redberg said her mother laughed and said, “I’m not interested in doing something that will help me in three to five years. I doubt I’ll be here.”Finding solutionsThe momentum of hospital care can make people feel as if they’re on a moving train and can’t jump off.The rush of medical decisions “doesn’t allow time to deliberate or consider the patients’ overall health or what their goals and values might be,” said Dr. Jacqueline Kruser, an instructor in pulmonary and critical care medicine and medical social sciences at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.Many hospitals and health systems are developing “decision aids,” easy-to-understand written materials and videos to help patients make more informed medical choices, giving them time to develop more realistic expectations.After Kaiser Permanente Washington introduced the tools relating to joint replacement, the number of patients choosing to have hip replacement surgery fell 26 percent, while knee replacements declined 38 percent, according to a 2012 study in the journal Health Affairs. (Kaiser Permanente isn’t affiliated with Kaiser Health News, which is an editorially independent program of the Kaiser Family Foundation.)In research findings published last year in JAMA Surgery and the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, Schwarze, Kruser and colleagues suggested creating narratives to illustrate surgical risks, rather than relying on statistics.Instead of telling patients that surgery carries a 20 percent risk of stroke, for example, doctors should lay out the best, worst and most likely outcomes.In the best-case scenario, a patient might spend weeks in the hospital after surgery, living the rest of her life in a nursing home. In the worst case, the same patient dies after several weeks in intensive care. In the most likely scenario, the patient survives just two to three months after surgery.”If someone says they can’t tolerate the best-case scenario — which involves them being in a nursing home — then maybe we shouldn’t be doing this,” Schwarze said.Maxine Stanich died in 2010, just after her 90th birthday. Although Redberg had deactivated the defibrillator at Stanich’s request, it remained in her chest.Kaiser Health News is a nonprofit news service covering health issues. You can follow Liz Szabo on Twitter: @LizSzabo. Copyright 2018 Kaiser Health News. To see more, visit Kaiser Health News.last_img read more

Western Building Products current facility in Wau

first_imgWestern Building Product’s current facility in Wauwatosa.Last updated on June 27th, 2019 at 01:37 pmThe city of Milwaukee could provide $2.45 million for infrastructure improvements related to Western Building Products Inc.’s planned move to the Joy Farms site on the city’s far northwest side.BizTimes first reported in March that Wauwatosa-based Western was considering an undeveloped site at 7007 N. 115th St. as one of three possible locations to relocate its business and 200 employees. The company is looking to move because it has outgrown its existing facility and cannot expand anymore at the site.The Joy Farms TID would be used to pay for infrastructure work related to the Western Building Products project.The proposed $2.45 million developer-financed tax incremental district includes $2.2 million for the construction of a sanitary sewer main and $250,000 for a water main line at the site, Jeff Fleming, Department of City Development spokesperson, said in an email. The TID would be paid off in 14 years, and the maximum life of the district is year 2039. The Redevelopment Authority of the City of Milwaukee is scheduled to hold a public hearing on Thursday, June 20 regarding the creation of the new TID.Bill Zacher, recovery manager with Western, said in March that if Western were to move forward with the Joy Farms site it would request assistance from the city through tax increment financing. Zacher did not immediately respond to a request for comment this morning.According to an application filed earlier this year with the city, the new Western industrial building would be approximately 325,000 square feet, which would include 25,000 square feet of offices and 300,000 square feet of manufacturing, distribution and storage space. The expected project cost was $20 million.The project would result in 20 new jobs, the application states.Western, an employee-owned company that started business in 1946 on West State Street in Milwaukee, is one of the largest distributors of millwork products in the Midwest, according to the company’s website. Its product inventories include a wide assortment of mouldings, stair parts, windows, columns and interior, fire-rated doors. Additionally, the company brands and sells its own exterior door systems. Get our email updatesBizTimes DailyManufacturing WeeklyNonprofit WeeklyReal Estate WeeklySaturday Top 10Wisconsin Morning Headlines Subscribelast_img read more

Researchers uncover how insect antibiotic targets Gramnegative bacteria

first_imgReviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Nov 15 2018An antibiotic called thanatin attacks the way the outer membrane of Gram-negative bacteria is built. Researchers at the University of Zurich have now found out that this happens through a previously unknown mechanism. Thanatin, produced naturally by the spined soldier bug, can therefore be used to develop new classes of antibiotics.The global emergence of multi-drug resistant bacteria is posing a growing threat to human health and medicine. “Despite huge efforts from academic researchers and pharmaceutical companies, it has proven very difficult to identify effective new bacterial targets for antibiotic discovery,” says John A. Robinson from the Department of Chemistry at UZH. “One of the major challenges is identifying new mechanisms of antibiotic action against dangerous Gram-negative bacteria.” This group of bacteria includes a number of dangerous pathogens, such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa, which causes life-threatening lung infections, and pathogenic Escherichia coli strains.Elimination of outer protective shieldAn interdisciplinary team of chemists and biologists from UZH and ETH Zurich have now uncovered how thanatin – an antibiotic produced naturally by the spined soldier bug Podisus maculiventris – targets Gram-negative bacteria. The insect’s antibiotic prevents the outer membrane of the bacteria from forming – an unprecedented mechanism in an antibiotic. All Gram-negative bacteria have a double cell membrane, with the outer membrane taking on an important defensive function and helping the bacteria to block the entry of potentially toxic molecules into the cell. The outside of this membrane is made up of a protective layer of complex fat-like substances called lipopolysaccharides (LPS), without which the bacteria could not survive.Focusing on protein-protein interactionsRelated StoriesBacteria in the birth canal linked to lower risk of ovarian cancerGrowth problems in preterm infants associated with altered gut bacteriaFinger-prick blood test could help prevent unnecessary antibiotic prescribing for patients with COPDUsing state-of-the-art methods, the Zurich researchers succeeded in proving that thanatin disrupts the transport of LPS molecules to the outer membrane. The transport pathway consists of a super-structure of seven different proteins that assemble to form a bridge from the inner membrane across the periplasmic space to the outer membrane. LPS molecules cross this bridge to the cell’s surface, where they form part of the structure of the outer membrane. Thanatin is able to block the protein-protein interactions that are needed to form the bridge. As a result, LPS molecules are prevented from reaching their destination and the biogenesis of the entire outer membrane is inhibited – which is fatal for the bacteria.New potential clinical candidates”This is an unprecedented mechanism of action for an antibiotic and immediately suggests ways to develop new molecules as antibiotics targeting dangerous pathogens,” explains Robinson. “This finding shows us a way to develop substances that specifically inhibit protein-protein interactions in bacterial cells.”This new mechanism is already being used by an industry partner – Polyphor AG in Allschwil near Basel – to develop new potential clinical candidates. The company has a proven track record of success in this area and has recently also developed the antibiotic murepavadin in cooperation with UZH. Murepavadin is currently in phase III clinical tests in patients with life-threatening lung infections caused by Pseudomonas aeruginosa. “Another new antibiotic targeting other Gram-negative pathogens would be a very welcome addition to the new medicines urgently needed for effective antibacterial therapy,” says Robinson. Source:https://www.uzh.ch/last_img read more

Parents cant delete what kids tell Amazon voice assistant

first_imgAmazon met with skepticism from some privacy advocates and members of Congress last year when it introduced its first kid-oriented voice assistant , along with brightly colored models of its Echo Dot speaker designed for children. This Dec. 20, 2017, file photo shows the Amazon Echo Dot stocked on a shelf alongside jars of Garlic Chili Sauce at the Amazon Prime warehouse in New York. Consumer advocates say the kids’ version of Amazon’s Alexa won’t forget what children tell it, even after parents try to delete the conversations. A coalition of groups on Thursday, May 9, 2019, is planning to ask the Federal Trade Commission to investigate whether Amazon is holding onto children’s voice recordings and personal information longer than it should. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File) © 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. Explore further Citation: Parents can’t delete what kids tell Amazon voice assistant (2019, May 9) retrieved 17 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2019-05-parents-delete-kids-amazon-voice.htmlcenter_img Now those advocates say the kids’ version of Amazon’s Alexa won’t forget what children tell it, even after parents try to delete the conversations. For that and other alleged privacy flaws they found while testing the service, they’re now asking the Federal Trade Commission on Thursday to investigate whether it violates children’s privacy laws.”These are children talking in their own homes about anything and everything,” said Josh Golin, who directs the Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood. “Why is Amazon keeping these voice recordings?”A coalition of groups led by Golin’s organization and Georgetown University’s Institute for Public Representation is filing a formal complaint with the FTC alleging that Amazon is violating the federal Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, known as COPPA, by holding onto a child’s personal information longer than is reasonably necessary.Amazon said in a statement that its Echo Dot Kids Edition is compliant with COPPA.Consumer Reports said that its own tests also found that the Echo Dot Kids remembered information that was deleted, including a birth date and the color of a dog. The nonprofit organization said its researchers were able to delete data from regular versions of Echo Dot and Alexa.In one example the advocates captured on video, a child asks the device to remember some personal information, including her walnut allergy.An adult later tries to delete all that information, which includes the voice recordings and written transcripts associated with them. But when the child asks what Alexa remembers, it still recalls that she’s allergic to walnuts.”This suggests that Amazon has designed the Echo Dot Kids Edition so that it can never forget what the child has said to it,” the complaint says.It also says that about 85% of the more than 2,000 games, quizzes and other Alexa “skills” aimed at kids did not have privacy policies posted. Such skills are generally produced by independent software developers or other third parties, not Amazon.It’s unclear whether the FTC will take up the complaint, as its investigations are rarely public. But the agency has been enforcing children’s privacy rules more seriously in the past year, said Allison Fitzpatrick, a lawyer who helps companies comply with COPPA requirements and was not involved in the complaint.That was the case earlier this week, when the agency issued a warning to a Ukrainian firm that its three dating apps appeared to violate COPPA because they were accessible to children. That led Google and Apple to pull them from their app stores. Earlier this year, the FTC imposed a $5.7 million fine on popular video-sharing app TikTok, the largest COPPA-related penalty since the law was enacted two decades ago.For the FTC to take notice, however, Fitzpatrick said there usually needs to be evidence of “real, actual harm,” not just the theoretical harm she said advocacy groups often outline.But Fitzpatrick said that, on their face, the new allegations against Amazon appear troubling. She said the FTC provides an exemption that enables a business to collect a child’s voice recording without parental consent, but that’s only for a temporary and specific purpose—such as to perform an online search or fulfill a verbal command. FTC urged by child advocates to investigate Amazon’s Alexa 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

Ageless Federer enjoys turning the tables on great foe Nadal

first_imgLONDON (Reuters) – There was no rain break, no twilight five-set drama and no Wimbledon trophy on offer on Friday but none of that bothered ageless Swiss maestro Roger Federer. The only thing that mattered to the 20-time Grand Slam champion was that, unlike in his last grasscourt duel with Rafael Nadal 11 years ago, he had won the “crazy last game” which sealed his passage into a 12th Wimbledon final.The strokes of genius the duo had produced during the four hour 48 minute nerve-shredding 2008 final had led Boris Becker to declare that “every tennis player alive is going to tune in” to the 40th instalment of their enthralling rivalry.Friday’s 7-6(3) 1-6 6-3 6-4 triumph by Federer did not quite hit the levels of intensity or generate the kind of eye-popping shot-making that ensured the 2008 epic was so memorable. However, the Swiss was delighted to win that final game which featured three deuces and a break point before he finally ended a potential Nadal fightback on his fifth match point.”It’s always very, very cool to play against Rafa here, especially (since we) haven’t played in so long,” said the second seed, who stands one win away from holding aloft the pineapple-topped Challenge Cup for a record ninth time. “Coming out of the gates, we were both playing very well. Then the climax at the end with the crazy last game, some tough rallies there. It had everything at the end, which was great, I guess. I’m just relieved it’s all over at this point.”It’s definitely, definitely going to go down as one of my favourite matches to look back at because it’s Rafa, it’s at Wimbledon, the crowds were into it, great weather.”NADAL SILENCEDNadal’s four-set defeat was somewhat unexpected since he had been an unstoppable force in his last three matches. The Spaniard’s form had led American great John McEnroe to declare: “You play against a guy like Nadal, he wants to tear your heart out. He wants to eat you alive.”On Friday, though, the raging Mallorcan was well and truly silenced by his great foe Federer.The result not only narrowed 18-times major champion Nadal’s advantage over Federer to 24-16 in their head-to-head meetings, it also earned the Swiss some much needed breathing space in the race to the top of the Grand Slam leaderboard.The 37-year-old now has the chance to extend his haul to 21 when he faces the other member of tennis’s Big Three – 15-time major winner Novak Djokovic – in Sunday’s final.”I know it’s not over yet,” said Federer, the oldest man to reach a Wimbledon final since Australian Ken Rosewall managed the feat aged 39 in 1974.”There’s no point to start partying tonight or get too emotional, too happy about it, even though I am extremely happy.”There is, unfortunately or fortunately, one more (match to play). It’s great on many levels. But (I’ve) got to put my head down and stay focussed. I hope this gives me a huge boost for the final on Sunday.” (Reporting by Pritha Sarkar, editing by Ken Ferris) Related News Related News {{category}} {{time}} {{title}}center_img Tennis 07 Jul 2019 Federer stardust touches everyone, and everything, at Wimbledon Tennis 10 Jul 2019 Factbox: Roger Federer versus Kei Nishikori Tennis 07 Jul 2019 ‘Big Three’ in ominous form as Wimbledon moves into second weeklast_img read more

Azman We dont pay too much for maintenance

first_img {{category}} {{time}} {{title}} Related News PLUS in 2017 had a revenue of RM3.8bil and generated an operating cashflow of RM2.6bil. After paying for its operations and debt-holders, it still had RM800mil cash to distribute to shareholders.What the takeover proposals also talk about, according to reports, is the maintenance fees that PLUS spends to keep the NSE in prime condition. There have been suggestions that PLUS pays too much to keep its highways running in proper condition, but that, according to Datuk Azman Ismail (pic), PLUS Malaysia’s managing director and chief executive officer, is a fallacy.“We do benchmarking and have looked at where we are in terms of domestic peers and we found ourselves, on average, to be within the domestic peers in terms of millions per km. “We are at RM1.3mil per km and our domestic average is on that number as well,” he tells StarBizWeek in an interview.The emphasis on maintenance is also important, as road safety is of paramount importance to the highway operator. Azman says that its upkeep of the highways is to ensure that accidents among road users is kept low. “For PLUS, we have one of the lowest road accident rates per 100,000km travelled.”What Azman says is that the scope of work for PLUS is large in order to maintain the highway.PLUS Malaysia maintains about 1,170km of roads, more than 8,300 slopes, two major tunnels, 741 bridges (including the link to Singapore) and over 6,000 culverts. It does over 10,000 slope inspections on an annual basis. “That is the kind of dimension we are talking about. Some of our roads are built over swamp land and peat soil, which means in terms of pavement condition, it has to be looked at,” he says. The annual budget for pavement maintenance is RM300mil.The toll compensation is something PLUS has to deal with and it is audited. There is, however, a one-year delay before it receives compensation from the government to keep toll rates static.Toll charges have not gone up for the past 14 years since 2015 and to maintain the same toll rate continuously over the next five years is a tall order for PLUS.Its principal repayment of the Islamic sukuk is going to increase substantially in the next couple of years, while its operating and maintenance cost is constantly rising.The toll collection is substantially spent for loan repayments, operations and maintenance, and continuous upgrading and improvement of facilities at its highways.In terms of breakdown, 36% of toll collection is used for operations and maintenance, 7% for new interchanges, upgrading and widening works, and capex, 47% for loan repayments and 10% for distribution to shareholders.Streamlining toll ratesWith maintenance cost an ongoing issue when it comes to the NSE, sources say the government is looking at compelling all highway concessionaires to put up a competitive tender for the maintenance of the highways.Sources say this is part of the initiatives taken to streamline toll rates among concessionaires, as the bulk of their cost comes from maintaining the highways.According to a source, the initiative is headed by the Finance Ministry that indirectly controls PLUS Expressways, which is the biggest concessionaire in the country.PLUS is owned by UEM Group and the EPF. UEM Group, in turn, is controlled by Khazanah Nasional Bhd that is under the ambit of the Finance Ministry.Another ministry that is also looking at streamlining and reducing toll rates is the Works Ministry under Baru Bian.In respect to the toll rates, the Malaysian Highway Authority has been collecting data on the maintenance cost incurred by concessionaires for their toll highways.The cost differs between a normal highway and an elevated structure. The cost is higher for a highway that is built on an elevated structure compared with a normal highway. An elevated structure includes the cost of maintaining the pillars that the highway is constructed on.As for the normal highway, the cost is mainly on resurfacing the pavement and building and maintaining the rest areas. The more rest areas a highway has, the higher the cost will be. According to an industry player, the cost for maintaining the pavement for a normal highway is about RM600,000 per km per annum, while the amount is almost double for an elevated highway.The other cost incurred are for items such as cutting the grass and maintaining the facilities at the rest areas.“At the moment, almost all the concessionaires undertake the maintenance cost themselves. There are hardly any competitive tenders for the maintenance work. If there is better transparency in the award of the work, the toll rates can be brought down,” says the official.Dealing with concerns For Azman, he is not resting on what PLUS is doing with its highways. The company is looking at using newer and cheaper materials on maintenance while not sacrificing on quality.“We want our (cost) benchmark to go even lower than our domestic peers,” he says.“This is an efficiency cycle we are always on in terms of operation as well as maintenance.“The cost goes up and today, if you don’t find other materials, it is going to go up.”Another hurdle for PLUS is when the West Coast Expressway (WCE) opens up. It is a highway that is closer to the west coast of the peninsula but runs parallel to the NSE.PLUS feels that with the opening of WCE, road users will have more choices in terms of road networks (toll and non-toll roads) to choose from. These are complementary factors that would enhance the value proposition of a road network vs an alternative mode of transport. Azman feels that while traffic volume on PLUS will be affected by 5%, the company welcomes the WCE, as it provides Malaysians who are more inclined to travel along their coastal destinations a choice that befits their needs.The overall impact on the reduction of traffic volume is less than 5% because road users who travel by car from Kuala Kangsar to Tanjung Malim will still take the NSE.Digital transformationTraveling by road allows road users to do discretionary travel, which does not need to book flight or train tickets or are compelled to follow scheduled time journey as offered by the public transport system. From studies conducted by PLUS, there will be some loss in revenue for the company when WCE starts to be fully operational. Most notably from the heavy vehicle segment, as the WCE is built on flatter coastal land which can contribute to lesser fuel consumption for heavy vehicles. Similarly, with the present public transportation choices of the ETS, for example, those who wish not to drive can do so, says PLUS.“We also see an impact when a competing infrastructure scheme is opened to the public, such as the Guthrie Corridor Expressway and LEKAS, as well as other rail transportation systems like the ETS and MRT. When there is a parallel infrastructure development to the highway corridor, the demand will react for or against it, depending on the scheme that will give the better value of time and value of money to the people,” says PLUS.Simultaneously, PLUS says it is already taking the initiatives to compete with the emergence of new highways and fulfill today’s customer expectations by embarking on digital transformation and elevating customer’s experience.PLUS is embarking on its digital transformation via a partnership with Microsoft (Malaysia) to integrate Microsoft’s Azure cloud system into its highway toll, and leverage on Microsoft’s future-ready technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and big data analytics. The challenge is the will to invest in creating the data for better visibility of the future, says PLUS.It has also embarked on its digital transformation journey. Digitalisation is always the very first step before it can leap over to IR4.0. PLUS says it is currently leveraging on technology, especially on data and AI, to improve operational efficiency and strategic planning.Click here for related stories:PLUS turns to new technology to help its traffic controllersLeave PLUS alone!Related story:PLUS turns to new technology to help its traffic controllers Corporate News Tags / Keywords: Paramount importance: Traffic is smooth along North-South Expressway near Ipoh. PLUS says road safety is of paramount importance. The North-South Expressway (NSE) is an undoubted jewel in corporate Malaysia. Since construction started in the 1980s, the continued expansion of the NSE has seen its reach expand, and in the process, its toll collection balloon.The highway was a centrepiece for the Renong Group, where its financial muscle was used to buffer the sustainability concerns of its then-parent. Its huge free cashflow also subjected it to takeover proposals until it was finally bought up by UEM Group Bhd and the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) in 2012 in what was the largest corporate deal in Malaysia.The lucrativeness of the NSE and its parent company – PLUS Malaysia Bhd – has not stopped prying eyes envious of its cashflow, and now, there are moves to buy over the lucrative highway.But what is the attraction of PLUS? Related News Nation 28 Apr 2019 More eyes on the road soon Nation 16 May 2019 11 more Awas cameras for North-South Expressway Nation 09 Jul 2019 LGE: Proposed takeover of four highways will see motorists paying less for tolllast_img read more

West Bengal government observes Save Water Day

first_img Press Trust of India KolkataJuly 12, 2019UPDATED: July 12, 2019 22:30 IST Mamata Banerjee stressed on conservation of rain water. (Photo: ANI)Save Water Day’ was observed by the West Bengal government Friday and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee participated in a march in the city to raise awareness on conservation.Mamata Banerjee urged the people to take “precautionary measures” to save the natural resource as water scarcity has become a major issue in the world.Emphasising on conservation of water, she said, “With water scarcity becoming a major issue in many places in the world we believe in taking precautionary measures to save water resources”.She also stressed on conservation of rainwater and said her government would observe July 12 as ‘Save Water Day’ in every year.Accompanied by her cabinet colleagues, government officials, intellectuals including writers, actors and directors of Bengali film and theatre industry and sports personalities, Banerjee walked from Jorasanko Thakurbari, the ancestral home of Rabindra Nath Tagore in north Kolkata, to the Gandhi statue on Mayo Road, a distance of around 4 km.Sporting blue-coloured sashes with the message “Save Water, Save Life”, the participants also waved placards carrying the message of water conservation.Banerjee said that the Trinamool Congress government had dug nearly 1.5 lakh ponds in five years till 2016 in the state as against the 50,000 the party had promised in its poll manifesto in 2011.”People are often assured of many things by the government and also individuals, but many promises are not met. I am used to keeping promises,” Banerjee said.The chief minister said about three lakh water bodies have been dug so far by the state government under the water conservation programme of ‘Jal dharo Jal bharo’ (Collect water, store water).Many check dams have been constructed and irrigation canals have been rejuvenated to prevent floods and provide water during the period of scarcity, she said.The state government would observe a ‘Student Day’ to disseminate the message of conserving water in every sphere of the society, Mamata Banerjee added.Also Read | Jal Shakti Abhiyan: Govt’s water conservation campaign to cover 256 districts across nationAlso Read | Water woes: Parched Chennai cries for reliefAlso Watch | Water crisis: Is it time to press emergency button?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 byChanchal Chauhan West Bengal government observes Save Water DayMamata Banerjee urged the people to take “precautionary measures” to save the natural resource as water scarcity has become a major issue in the world.advertisement Nextlast_img read more

BJP MLAs daughter marries Dalit boy makes emotional appeal to dad on

first_imgOther Videos from India 26:36 Sat, 13 Jul, 2019 20 Years of Kargil: A ground report from Tololing in Drass 01:59 Sat, 13 Jul, 2019 First prototype of Brahmos-NG will be ready by 2024 00:41 Sat, 13 Jul, 2019 Watch: Audi spotted performing stunt at Delhi’s Vijay Chowk 03:16 Sat, 13 Jul, 2019 Pakistan removes 5 Pro-Khalistani leaders from Kartarpur corridor panel 02:13 Sat, 13 Jul, 2019 Enter the Growler: S-400 missile ground report from Moscow 01:52 Sat, 13 Jul, 2019 UP law panel drafts stringent law for mob lynching, recommends life term 03:31 Fri, 12 Jul, 2019 Delhi: Farmers of Khera Khurd shift their tubewells due to depleting water levels 09:13 Fri, 12 Jul, 2019 BJP is using money power: Abhishek Manu Singhvi on Karnataka crisis Load More Other Video CategoriesIndiaSportsWorldMoviesSo SorryTelevisionlast_img read more