Lightning kills two inmates in Ludhiana jail

first_imgTwo inmates were killed on Thursday after lightning struck them in Borstal Jail in Ludhiana, the police said.“The incident occurred when four inmates were praying at a temple situated inside the jail premises. Lightning struck, leaving two of them dead and the other two injured,” Assistant Commissioner of Police (East) Devinder Chaudhary told reporters.Mr. Chaudhary said the deceased have been identified as Lakhvir Singh (18) and Rishav Kumar (19), both from Ludhiana. The injured inmates — Rajwinder Singh of Sidhwan Bet and Gurdeep Singh of Jagraon — were admitted at the civil hospital with serious burn injuries.last_img

a month ago​Nuno insists Wolves focused on Braga

first_img​Nuno insists Wolves focused on Bragaby Freddie Taylora month agoSend to a friendShare the loveNuno Espirito Santo insists that everyone at the club is focused on their next game – a Europa League tie against Braga.Wolves are suffering a dip in form, after suffering two successive defeats against Everton and Chelsea.They are in the bottom three in the Premier League, which is an unusual position considering their form last season.But Nuno thinks they must take things one game at a time in order to find their groove.”It’s the third season for us. We started in the Championship, Thursday we play Europa League, we are the same,” said Nuno to reporters.”We have to work hard, but we don’t stay too much time in the past, we just look at Thursday.”This is my job. It’s not when we win everything is OK, when we lose everything is bad.”That’s why I say we have to realise what happened.” About the authorFreddie TaylorShare the loveHave your saylast_img read more

Entries Invited for Poet Laureate of Jamaica/Helen Zell Young Writer’s Prize

first_img The country’s young poets are being invited to submit entries for the newly established Poet Laureate of Jamaica and Helen Zell Young Writer’s Prize for Poetry.The programme, which is a collaborative initiative of the National Library of Jamaica (NLJ) through the office of the Poet Laureate of Jamaica and the United States- based University ofMichigan’s Helen Zell Writers’ Program, seeks to recognise talented young Jamaicans with an interest in pursuing a career in poetry.The winner will receive a cash prize of US$1,000 as well as the opportunity to participate in the award ceremony to be held in Kingston on World Poetry Day on March 21, 2018.Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, Hon. Olivia Grange, who officially opened the programme during the launch of Legal Deposit Month on October 11 at the National Library of Jamaica, downtown Kingston, endorsed the initiative, which she said, will assist in preserving Jamaica’s rich cultural heritage.Listing several award-winning Jamaican authors and poets, among them Poets Laureate Professor Mervyn Morris and Lorna Goodison, Ms. Grange encouraged the younger generation of cultural artisans to participate in the competition as a first step in making their mark in the annals of Jamaica’s cultural heritage.“It is our hope that through this platform, a new generation of Jamaican poets will rise up to pen their own contributions to our sterling literary heritage. Indeed, you should have no shortage of inspiration. Now is your time to make your mark,” she said.Deadline for submissions is December 15, 2017. The winner will be announced in February 2018.Lorna Goodison, who is Poet Laureate of Jamaica for the period 2017 to 2020 will be visiting several secondary and tertiary institutions across the island to promote the programme.Judging and selection of original works will be conducted in two rounds, with the first round being carried out by a panel of judges at the NLJ.Shortlisted submissions will be sent to the Helen Zell Writers’ Program at the University of Michigan for the final round of judging. The programme is providing funding for the cash prize.For further information on entry requirements and application forms, contact the National Library of Jamaica at: poetlaureate@nlj.gov.jm or visit www.nlj.gov.jm. The country’s young poets are being invited to submit entries for the newly established Poet Laureate of Jamaica and Helen Zell Young Writer’s Prize for Poetry. The winner will receive a cash prize of US$1,000 as well as the opportunity to participate in the award ceremony to be held in Kingston on World Poetry Day on March 21, 2018. The programme, which is a collaborative initiative of the National Library of Jamaica (NLJ) through the office of the Poet Laureate of Jamaica and the United States- based University of Story Highlightslast_img read more

George Clooney And Don Cheadle Help Release Groundbreaking Report On War Profiteering

first_imgToday, The Sentry, an investigative initiative co-founded by George Clooney and John Prendergast, presented a new, groundbreaking report War Crimes Shouldn’t Pay: Stopping the looting and destruction in South Sudan.”Clooney and Prendergast joined Don Cheadle and lead investigators at the National Press Club in Washington DC to present findings of a two-year investigation into South Sudan’s shadowy war economy and its links to a network of international facilitators, including bankers, arms dealers, and multinational oil and mining companies. The report implicates South Sudan President Salva Kiir and former Vice President Riek Machar, who as rival leaders have been responsible for a civil war that has wreaked havoc on their nation.This marked the first public presentation of The Sentry’s multi-country investigations into the links between massive corruption, war profiteering, and armed conflict. The Sentry is a collaboration between The ENOUGH Project and Not On Our Watch, with their implementing partner the Center for Advanced Defense Studies. The Sentry also focuses on Sudan, Somalia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the Central African Republic.The report exposes top officials who have managed to accumulate fortunes profiting from massive corruption, fueling and exploiting a brutal civil war while their nation suffers famine-like conditions and the horrors of armed conflict, including mass rape, the burning of villages, and the use of child soldiers.The Sentry’s work unveils a new and innovative approach to countering mass atrocities and to promote peace in some of the world’s deadliest conflict zones, utilizing the tools of financial pressure normally reserved for countering terrorism, organized crime, and nuclear proliferation.Report highlights: • South Sudan’s president and the former vice president, their families and inner circles have stashed fortunes that include overseas mansions, luxury cars, and stakes in an array of businesses – major multinational oil and mining companies, banks, casinos, and an airline — and have left a trail of murky transactions, insider deals, and outright fraud.
 • The report details international complicity at every turn — bankers, businessmen, arms dealers, real estate agents, and lawyers who facilitate their heist. 
 • The Sentry found evidence of complicity in the looting and destruction of South Sudan on five different continents: Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia, and North America. 
 • The Sentry has collected images of family members of these top officials jet-setting and partying in 5-star hotels, and documentation of their offshore mansions and properties.
 • Researchers pored through thousands of pages of legal records, corporate filings, financial statements, transaction and shipping documents, and other official correspondence; tracked suspects’ online social media footprints; and utilized satellite imagery to gather and analyze data about their assets and movements. Investigators traveled to multiple locations including Melbourne, Adelaide, Addis Ababa, Kampala, Juba, Cairo and Nairobi, to gather evidence and interview hundreds of experts and eyewitnesses, many of whom spoke under the condition of anonymity.
 • Dossiers are already being turned over to US and international governments and agencies for enforcement action.
 • The report offers recommendations for an innovative new policy approach for preventing atrocities and promoting peace: combining anti-money laundering measures with targeted sanctions focused on the top leaders, accompanied by robust enforcement.Report excerpts: • A VIOLENT CONTEST OVER SPOILS OF POWER: “The key catalyst of South Sudan’s civil war has been competition for the grand prize — control over state assets and the country’s abundant natural resources — between rival kleptocratic networks led by President Kiir and Vice President Machar. The leaders of South Sudan’s warring parties manipulate and exploit ethnic divisions in order to drum up support for a conflict that serves the interests only of the top leaders of these two kleptocratic networks and, ultimately, the international facilitators whose services the networks utilize and on which they rely.”
 • HUMAN SUFFERING: “South Sudan, the world’s newest state, continues to be embroiled in a horrific civil war. Tens of thousands of people have lost their lives, many of them civilians. Mass rape has been used as a weapon of war. Children are routinely recruited as soldiers and sent as cannon fodder into combat. As of July 2016, some 2.3 million people have been displaced by the conflict. A staggering 5.1 million people —almost half the country’s population— require food assistance. Entire towns have been destroyed. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has called South Sudan “one of the most horrendous human rights situations in the world.”Report recommendations:This report proposes a new strategy to counter atrocities that will use the tools of financial pressure normally reserved for countering terrorism, organized crime, and nuclear proliferation for two purposes: first, to bring to account those government actors in South Sudan who until now have been able to operate with near impunity because the world imposes no consequences for their behavior; and second, to create significant and until now missing international leverage by altering the cost-benefit analysis of those leaders and shifting their incentives away from violence, atrocities, and corruption and toward peace, human rights, and transparency. The international community should take the following steps to create that accountability and leverage: 1. Take proactive steps to curb the laundering of the proceeds of corruption in South Sudan —and crack down on any banks that fail to stop such transactions. 2. Impose smarter sanctions on a wide array of high-impact targets and ensure these sanctions are robustly enforced. 3. Encourage and support South Sudan’s neighbors to lead in combating the laundering of assets looted from South Sudan and imposing asset freezes on those most responsible for human rights violations and financial misconduct. 4. Take proactive attempts to prevent de-risking. Directing anti-money laundering pressures against politically exposed persons in South Sudan could cause banks to determine that the risk of doing business with South Sudanese account holders is simply too high when compared with the incentives for maintaining business in the country. The Department of Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) should issue guidance to the banking community stressing that not every South Sudanese client is high-risk. 5. Introduce a financial management system that prevents violent kleptocrats from capturing state institutions to facilitate the looting of public resources.The Sentry brings together an experienced team of investigators, including former employees of the FBI, Treasury Department, other government agencies, intelligence communities, and Congress, as well as contributions from field researchers, country experts, academia and press.last_img read more

Ohio State mens basketball ends 4game losing streak with 8962 win over

OSU freshman guard Austin Grandstaff (3) dribbles the ball during a game against Virginia on Dec. 1 at the Schottenstein Center. OSU lost 64-58.Credit: Bree Williams | Lantern PhotographerIt might have come against a Virginia Military Institute team picked to finish last in the Southern Conference in the conference’s preseason coaches poll, but the Ohio State men’s basketball team will surely take its 89-62 win on Saturday any way it can get it to snap its four-game losing streak.“I feel like it’s definitely a sense of relief,” redshirt sophomore center Trevor Thompson said. “We’re a young team, but we’re still hungry, and I feel like in this game we grew a lot.”Facing a team that contains no players taller than 6-foot-6, the Buckeyes used their height to great advantage to control the paint on both ends of the floor and open up the outside game on offense.OSU (3-4) held a commanding 40-14 lead in points in the paint, while scoring 29 second-chance points and outrebounding the Keydets (3-4) by a margin of 48-27.Four Buckeyes finished with double-digit points, led by 19 from sophomore guard Jae’Sean Tate and 17 from junior forward Marc Loving.“It’s definitely a different feeling, a different atmosphere in the locker room,” Loving said about getting back on the winning side. “It feels good to get a win under our belt, but we still have a lot to work on to keep the one-game winning streak alive.”The Buckeyes came out of the gates firing, looking to put a kibosh to their losing streak. The home team jumped out to a 19-9 lead in the first six and a half minutes of the game, and put themselves in position to run away with the game.Some turnovers and missed looks fueled a very quick Keydet run, though, which saw them take a 23-22 lead midway through the first half. The deficit snapped OSU back to attention, as it went on a 17-3 run from that point en route to taking a 42-31 lead into the intermission.Loving said when VMI mounted its brief comeback, the team didn’t panic or press it too much.“I feel like we’re a very confident basketball team,” he said. “When moments happen like that, we just try to come together as much as possible, because if we don’t we will end up losing the game.”The Buckeyes shot just 4-of-14 from beyond the 3-point arc in the first half, but made up for it by shooting 12-of-20 inside of it. As a whole, OSU shot 47 percent from the field in the first half, while holding the visitors to 33 percent. Sophomore forward Keita Bates-Diop led the charge in the opening 20 minutes, scoring 12 points on 4-of-5 shooting with two blocked shots.OSU coach Thad Matta said he was happy with the looks that opened up on the perimeter despite the shots not always falling.“I thought that even though we didn’t shoot that high of a percentage, I thought our execution was a little better,” he said.The Scarlet and Gray continued the strategy of utilizing the team’s size to open up opportunities in the second half.OSU bumped its lead up to 18 points midway through the half, with much of the attack centering around the big, physical nature of Thompson, who scored six points in the second half to finish with 13. “He’s shown us, just in terms of his skill around the basket, I think he’s got a pretty good feel when he catches the ball, just in terms of what needs to be done, what he needs to do with it,” Matta said.Loving also played a big role on offense in the second half, with 11 points in the final 20 minutes. Another extended run later in the half, this one of the 11-0 variety, put the contest out of reach and put the nail in the coffin of OSU’s losing streak.VMI junior guard QJ Peterson, who came in averaging 20.2 points per game, was the leading scorer for the Keydets with 23 points, but was only able to shoot at a 6-of-16 clip as he was guarded tightly throughout by Bates-Diop.Two areas of major concern throughout the season for OSU saw improvements for Matta’s squad on Saturday: free-throw shooting and turnovers.The Buckeyes came into the game with the 11th worst free-throw percentage at 59.4 percent and averaging 15.7 turnovers per game, the 32nd worst mark in the nation.On Saturday, however, OSU shot an efficient 15-of-19 at the line (78.9 percent) and only coughed the ball up a season-low nine times.“We cut our turnovers down. We had single-digit turnovers for the whole game,” Loving said. “I feel like we have to carry that out throughout the rest of the season.”Freshman center Daniel Giddens, who leads the Big Ten with 3.3 blocks per game, was unable to play on Saturday as he dealt with an illness, but that didn’t stop OSU from altering five shots. Matta said after the game that he expects Giddens to return on Tuesday.That game on Tuesday is set to come against Air Force. Tip is scheduled for 8 p.m. at the Schottenstein Center. read more

Sergio Aguero signs a new oneyear deal at Man City

first_imgManchester City have announced that Sergio Aguero has a signed one-year contract extension that will keep him at the club until 2021The Argentine striker became City’s all-time record goalscorer last season and moved past the 200-goal mark in last month’s Community Shield win against Chelsea.Aguero had previously stated that he wishes to return to boyhood club Independiente once his original deal expired in 2020.But the prospect of reaching a decade with City ultimately proved too good to turn down.“I am happy for this additional year,” Aguero told CityTV.“My idea was being here for 10 years. I’ve been here for seven years, it’s going to be 10 when the contract expires.Roberto Firmino, LiverpoolVirgil van Dijk praises Roberto Firmino after Liverpool’s win Andrew Smyth – September 14, 2019 Virgil van Dijk hailed team-mate Roberto Firmino after coming off the bench to inspire Liverpool to a 3-1 comeback win against Newcastle United.“Hopefully, that’s going to happen. This was the main reason I signed.”Director of football Txiki Begiristain said: “We are delighted that Sergio is extending his stay at Manchester City,”“He has been so important to this Club since his arrival in 2011 and he remains at the forefront of what we are want to achieve in the coming years.“We are fortunate to have had one of the best strikers in the world at our club for so many years and I’m sure our supporters will be thrilled with this news.”Kevin De Bruyne, David Silva, Nicolas Otamendi and Gabriel Jesus have all signed contract extensions at the Etihad Stadium over the past year.Aguero has managed 204 goals and 60 assists in 299 games across all competitions for City since his arrival from Atletico Madrid in 2011.last_img read more

Bernardo Silva kept quiet to which Manchester club he was signing

first_imgThe Portuguese midfielder was heavily linked to Manchester United in May 2017, and on the plane to the English city he didn’t say who he was signing forIn May 2017 Portuguese midfielder Bernardo Silva left French Ligue 1 side Monaco in order to play in the English Premier League.He was heavily linked with a move to Manchester United, with many people saying he will understand fellow countrymen manager Jose Mourinho without a problem.But Silva kept quiet because only he knew he was going to join the Red Devils rivals Manchester City.“There was a guy on the plane who thought I was going to Man United. He was a United fan. I didn’t tell him he was wrong,” he told The Sun.Roberto Firmino, LiverpoolVirgil van Dijk praises Roberto Firmino after Liverpool’s win Andrew Smyth – September 14, 2019 Virgil van Dijk hailed team-mate Roberto Firmino after coming off the bench to inspire Liverpool to a 3-1 comeback win against Newcastle United.“But, yeah, a lot of people didn’t know where I was going.”“I heard about the interest and I’ve friends at United. One of the physios there was with me at Monaco,” he added.“The manager, of course, is Portuguese and I’ve met him around.”“Victor Lindelof — we were in the same year in Benfica. Nemanja Matic, I trained with him in Benfica, so I know a few players,” he said.“But if I have to be precise, the only official offer my agent got was the one from City.”last_img read more

175 Per Cent Drop In Energy Costs At JIS

first_img Jis Receives Budgetary Allocation To Relocate Tv Department Related Items:Donna-Marie Rowe, energy drop, Errol Gardner, jamaica information service Facebook Twitter Google+LinkedInPinterestWhatsApp Recommended for you Facebook Twitter Google+LinkedInPinterestWhatsAppKINGSTON, Oct. 22 (JIS): Three years after the implementation of energy efficient solutions at the Jamaica Information Service (JIS), the agency is reporting savings of 17.5 per cent per annum on its energy bill.The solutions, which include solar control film on windows, cool roof solutions, and overhaul of the air conditioning (a/c) system, were provided under the Energy Efficiency Conservation Programme (EECP), aimed at reducing energy costs across the public sector. Public sector entities are responsible for almost 12 per cent of the country’s overall energy consumption and the Government spends some $14 billion annually to pay for electricity.JIS was among the first entities to benefit from the EECP, implemented in 2011, through funding by the Government in partnership with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).Technical Officer for the EECP in the Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, Lincoln Dean, said the figures indicate a steady decline in energy consumption at JIS, which translates to an increase in cost savings for the agency.Mr. Dean, who was speaking in an interview with JIS News, informed that in year one of the project, the agency saw reduction in consumption of just over three per cent from the application of the solar film (tint) energy conservation technique on windows to reduce light and heat.In year two, the cool roofing coat was added, also to cut down on the heat, and this, along with the tinting of windows, resulted in a nine per cent reduction in energy consumption.With replacement of the old a/c unit with a more energy-efficient model in year three, consumption dropped by 17.5 per cent.Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the JIS, Donna-Marie Rowe, said cost containment continues to be a key objective of the JIS and the EECP has contributed significantly in reducing the agency’s energy bill, especially with the installation of the new air conditioning unit.The CEO, in applauding the energy efficiency and conservation initiative, said the Ministry worked well with the agency to execute the various elements of the project with minimal disruption to operations.Director of Corporate Services at the JIS, Errol Gardner, said that in addition to the energy savings, the EECP’s intervention has created an atmosphere that is more conducive for work.He noted that productivity has improved as staff are more comfortable and are working longer hours.Overall, the Government has realised savings of approximately $80 million to date under the EECP, which has been implemented in 40 public sector agencies. Entities such as the Office of the Prime Minister, the Kingston Public and Victoria Jubilee hospitals, Montego Bay Revenue Service Centre, and the Ministry of Finance and Planning are also benefitting from the retrofitting of their buildings. “Those institutions are also showing at least two to 17 per cent savings,” Mr. Dean informed.The EECP was scheduled to end this year but it is being extended for two more years, which will enable other entities to benefit.Mr. Dean said the objective of the Government is to retrofit the entire public sector with energy savings systems, so that the Government will serve as a model for energy efficiency and conservation in Jamaica.last_img read more

Thomas Publishing Shutters 76YearOld Title

first_imgAccording to its Web site, IEN carried a BPA-audited controlled circulation of 201,615. IEN’s seven international editions will continue publishing, the company said. Thomas Publishing has shuttered Industrial Equipment News, a 76-year-old monthly trade title that served the engineering, design and manufacturing markets. The May issue will be its last.In a memo to staffers,  chairman José E. Andrade and president Carl T. Holst-Knudsen attributed the closing of IEN to “the challenges of the current economy.” According to a knowledgeable source, about a dozen full-time and a dozen contracted positions were eliminated as a result of the closing. When contacted by FOLIO:, a Thomas spokesperson declined to comment on specific cuts.last_img

Bentley Bentayga Bengala is the Bentley 4×4 Squared we never knew we

first_imgEnlarge ImageThis thing isn’t exactly subtle, but who spends high six figures on a “subtle” SUV? Bengala Have you found yourself staring at pictures of Bentley’s Bentayga SUV and wondering what it would look like if that vehicle had a wine-fueled weekend-long tryst in Santa Barbara with the Mercedes G550 4×4 Squared and the result was another new SUV?Yeah, us neither. However, someone clearly has because a company in Spain is building it. It’s called the Bengala Bentayga, and it’s weird and awful and also kind of wonderful in a “Some men just want to watch the world burn” sort of way.So, what goes into making a Bengala Bentayga? The basic recipe starts with a Bentayga (obvs) and then slaps some massive and wide off-road tires and wheels on it. They’re almost like those Icelandic trucks that Top Gear took to the North Pole. Then Bengala slaps some big carbon fiber fender flares on for good measure.The company also claims that it totally reworked the suspension, but makes no mention of what precisely it changed, though based on the company’s renderings, it’s at least lifted relatively significantly. When Mercedes gave the old G-Wagen this treatment, it used crazy portal axles to provide a good chunk of the lift, but those old G-Wagens were slightly more “agricultural” than your average Bentayga, so it’s unclear how it would work in this case.36492401544-bbc8dc6e66-oEnlarge ImageClassy, right? Bengala Next, it slaps a few off-road light bars and a mahooooosive steel bull bar on the front and calls it good. The company says that it’s building 15 of these things and that aside from the wheels/tires/suspension package, the whole thing is entirely customizable to its new owner’s (lack of) taste.No mention is made of price, but we’d bet on it being eye-wateringly high since these are low-volume customs offering bespoke customization on an already near-$300,000 SUV.Bengala, we’d like to be among the first to submit our candidacy to drive one. Get at us, seriously. 2020 Bentley Continental GT V8 first drive: A more athletic grand tourer 30 Photos Bentley’s first SUV is a 187-mph, all-terrain luxocrat Post a comment Bentley 0 2019 Bentley Bentayga V8: Where less is morecenter_img More From Roadshow 2020 Bentley Bentayga Hybrid first drive: One posh plug-in Tags Share your voice SUVs Superluxury Cars Bentleylast_img read more

Man killed in Kushtia gunfight

first_img-A man was killed in what the police called a ‘gunfight’ with them at Boalia in Daulatpur upazila early Friday, reports UNB.The deceased was identified as Arman Ali, son of Achan Ali of Thakur Soulatpur village of Bheramara upazila.The police claimed that Arman Ali was a member of militant outfit Neo-JMB.Tipped off, a team of police conducted a drive at Bottola in Boalia area when Arman along with his associates was holding a clandestine meeting there around 3:00am, said Shah Dara Khan, officer in-charge of Daulatpur police station.Sensing the law enforcers’ presence, the criminals opened fire on them, forcing the police to fire back that triggered a gun battle.Arman was caught in the line of fire and got injured, while his associates managed to flee the scene.Arman was taken to Daulatpur Upazila Health Complex where doctors declared him dead.Police said the deceased was accused in several cases filed under firearms and explosives acts.last_img read more

Tremor felt in Dhaka

first_imgA short and minor tremor has been felt in capital Dhaka and its surrounding areas.The tremor which occurred at 10:55am on Tuesday was measured 4.1 on Richter scale, according to Bangladesh Meteorological Department.Shamsuddin Ahmed, director of the department, told Prothom Alo that the tremor was felt only for two seconds and its epicentre was near Gazipur.last_img

Most accurate measurements of bigcity pollution

first_img Explore further More information: aura.gsfc.nasa.gov/Paper: Megacity Emissions and Lifetimes of Nitrogen Oxides Probed from Space, Science 23 September 2011: Vol. 333 no. 6050 pp. 1737-1739. DOI: 10.1126/science.1207824AbstractMegacities are immense sources of air pollutants, with large impacts on air quality and climate. However, emission inventories in many of them still are highly uncertain, particularly in developing countries. Satellite observations allow top-down estimates of emissions to be made for nitrogen oxides (NOx = NO + NO2), but require poorly quantified a priori information on the NOx lifetime. We present a method for the simultaneous determination of megacity NOx emissions and lifetimes from satellite measurements by analyzing the downwind patterns of NO2 separately for different wind conditions. Daytime lifetimes are ~4 hours at low and mid-latitudes, but ~8 hours in wintertime for Moscow. The derived NOx emissions are generally in good agreement with existing emission inventories, but are higher by a factor of 3 for the Saudi Arabian capital Riyadh. © 2011 PhysOrg.com Citation: Most accurate measurements of big-city pollution (2011, September 23) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2011-09-accurate-big-city-pollution.html (PhysOrg.com) — One of NASA’s satellites has provided the most detailed map yet of the pollution generated by some of the world’s biggest cities, and given an indication of the volume of emissions of the nitrogen oxides from direct measurements rather than relying on computer models and a range of assumptions. The scientists, from Germany and the Netherlands, led by Steffen Beirle of the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in Mainz, Germany, combined the data from NASA’s Aura satellite with data on known wind patterns. The satellite is equipped with four measuring instruments, including an Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI), which measures a range of atmospheric particles such as dust, smoke, and chemicals such as the nitrogen oxides. It also measures cloud cover and pressure, which enables tropospheric ozone to be calculated. The OMI was built by the Agency for Aerospace Programs in the Netherlands and the Finnish Meteorological Institute.The focus of Beirle’s study was the nitrogen oxides (NOx, comprising nitric oxide, NO, and nitrogen dioxide, NO2), since they contribute to smog, acid rain, and ozone depletion, and have been linked to health problems in human populations.Nitrogen oxides form part of vehicle emissions, and in the past have tended to be estimated from data on traffic volumes, fuel consumption, and NOx lifetimes, rather than by direct measurement. The satellite data gave the researchers a direct measurement of the emissions, and the data on wind patterns enabled them to identify the sources, resulting in the most accurate information available to date.The study, published in the journal Science, found that the emissions of nitrogen oxides from Riyadh (the capital of Saudi Arabia) were three times greater than previous estimates, while those of megacities such as Tokyo, Madrid, and Moscow were more similar to previous estimates. Some megacities, such as Hong Kong and New York, yielded less useful data because they are so close to other large metropolitan areas producing pollution, which makes the situation more complex.The results of the research could help scientists obtain more reliable information that does not depend on models, which can introduce biases. The results could also lead to the development of better pollution control measures, especially for large cities in the developing world.The Aura satellite was launched in 2004 as part of a program aimed at monitoring the Earth’s atmosphere and effects such as the depletion of the ozone layer. Among the other atmospheric measurements made are changes in levels of aerosols, carbon dioxide, water vapor, and methane. The satellite also monitors cloud cover around the globe. Aura detects pollution in the Great Lakes region Sequence of mean NO2 column densities around Riyadh (white cross) for different wind conditions. Credit: Steffen Beirl 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

Woman held for killing toddler in Bengal

first_imgKolkata: A woman was held on Sunday on charge of strangling her one-year-old son due to frequent family quarrels in West Bengal’s West Midnapore district, police said. Kajol Hembrem, 28, of Kharagpur’s Jakpur village killed her son in the morning when other family members were not present and also tried to commit suicide but failed, police added. She later went to the Kharagpur police station with the boy’s body and surrendered. “Her questioning revealed that she bore a grudge against her husband and in-laws due to frequent quarrels in the family. She strangled her child after a heated argument with her family,” an officer from the police station said. Police said the child was rushed to the Kharagpur Medical College where he was declared dead. “We are questioning her. Other family members will also be quizzed,” the officer added.last_img read more

State rolls out cash dole for women empowerment

first_imgKolkata: Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee announced that her government will be providing a subsidy of Rs 1.5 lakh to encourage women in rolling out vehicles under theGatidhara scheme. Banerjee flagged off 20 electric buses, 20 CNG buses and 10 pink taxis that are owned and driven by women from Nabanna on Wendnesday. “We provide a subsidy of Rs 1 lakh under the Gatidhara scheme for unemployed youth who want to roll out vehicles. To encourage women and to make them self-dependent we will be giving Rs 1.5 lakh to women who will roll out vehicles under the Gatidhara scheme. It will be a major stride towards women empowerment. We have plans to introduce another 1000 pink taxis in the city,” Banerjee said. Also Read – Bose & Gandhi: More similar than apart, says Sugata BoseIt may be mentioned that more than 36000 youths has already been provided subsidy under the scheme. “Today (Wednesday) we have rolled our 20 electric buses. We will be introducing 60 more electric buses within a period of three months. Our schemes such as Gatidhara and Jaladhara have provided employment to a number of youths in the state.” Banerjee said. The Jaladhara scheme that was introduced in April 2017 provides financial assistance to convert semi-mechanised boats to mechanised ones to avert accidents. Also Read – Rs 13,000 crore investment to provide 2 lakh jobs: MamataThe state government provides financial assistance of around 30 per cent of the total cost of bringing in the mechanised boats in place of semi-mechanised ones. The amount for the scheme is maximum Rs 1 lakh. According to a senior official in the state Transport department, the electric buses that have been introduced will be running in three routes from Airport to Joka, Shyambazar to Nabanna and Tollygunge to Bidhannagar. “We will have more routes with the introduction of more electric buses. Charging of electric buses will not be a problem with our department already putting up facilities of 55 charging stations in the city,” state Transport minister Suvendu Adhikari said. The CNG buses will presently ply in Asansol Duragpur area where there is a supply of CNG gas. Banerjee also inaugurated the renovated Jadavpur 8B bus stand through remote control. The total cost for revamp has been Rs 4.54 crore. “We are taking up renovation of more bus stands in the city for the benefit of the passengers that includes the one at Joka and Baruipur,” she said.last_img read more

ChromeOS is ready for web development – A talk by Dan Dascalescu

first_imgAt the Chrome Web Summit 2018, Dan Dascalescu, Partner Developer Advocate at Google provided a high-level overview of ChromeOS and discussed Chrome’s core and new features available to web developers. Topics included best practices for web development, including Progressive Web Apps, and optimizing input and touch for tablets while having desktop users in mind. He specified that Chromebooks are convergence machines that run Linux, Android, and Google Play natively without emulation. He explained why ChromeOS can be a good choice for web developers. It not only powers devices from sticks to tablets to desktops, but it can also run web, Android, and now Linux applications. ChromeOS brings together your own development workflow with a variety of form factors from mobiles, tablets, desktop, and browsers on Android and Linux. Run Linux apps on ChromeOS with Crostini Stephen Barber, an engineer on ChromeOS described Chrome’s container architecture which is based on Chrome’s principle of safety, security, and reliability.  By using lightweight containers and hardware virtualization support, Android and Linux code run natively in ChromeOS. Developers can run Linux apps on ChromeOS through Project Crostini. Crostini is based on Debian stable and uses both virtualization and containers to provide security in depth. For now, they are starting out targeting web developers by providing integration features like port forwarding to localhost as a secure origin. They also provide a penguin.linux.test DNS alias, to treat a container like a separate system. For supporting more developer workflows than just web, they are soon providing USB, GPU, audio, FUSE, and file sharing support in upcoming releases. Dan also shared how Crostini is actually used for developing web apps. He demonstrated how you can easily install Linux on your Chromebook. Although Crostini is still in development, most things work as expected. Developers can run IDEs, databases like MongoDB, or MySQL. Anything can be installed with an -apt. It also has a terminal. Dan also mentioned Carlo, which is a Google project that is essentially a helpful node app framework. It provides applications with Chrome rendering capabilities. It uses a locally detected instance of chrome and it connects to your process pipe and then exposes the high-level API to render in Chrome from your NodeScript. If you don’t need low-level features, you can make your app as a PWA which works without a LaunchBar once installed in ChromeOS. Windows Chrome desktop PWA support will be available from Chrome 70+ and Mac from Chrome 72+. Dan also conducted a demo on how to run a PWA. These were the steps: Set up Crostini Install the development environment (node, npm, VSCode) Checkout a PWA (Squoosh) from GitHub Open in VSCode Run the web server Open PWA from Linux and Android browsers He also provided guidance on optimizing forms, handling touch interactions, pointer events, and how to set up remote debugging. What does the future look like for ChromeOS? Chrome team is on improving the desktop PWA support. This includes support for keyboard shortcuts, badging for the launch icon, and link capturing. They are also working on low-latency canvas contexts which are introduced in Chrome 71 Beta. This context uses OpenGLES for rastering, writes directly to the Front Buffer, which bypasses several steps of the rendering process but risks tearing. It is used mainly for high-level interactive apps. View the full talk on YouTube. Read Next Day 1 of Chrome Dev Summit 2018: new announcements and Google’s initiative to close the gap between web and native. Meet Carlo, a web rendering surface for Node applications by the Google Chrome team. Google Chrome 70 now supports WebAssembly threads to build multi-threaded web applications.last_img read more

Will we finally be able to dislike something on Facebook

first_imgRelated posts:Facebook topped $1.5 billion in quarterly profit at end of last year Brazilian police detain Facebook executive on court order Apple unveils streaming music, improvements to iPhones, Watch software Comcast’s NBCUniversal invests $200 million in BuzzFeed How many times have you wanted to dislike something on Facebook, only to reluctantly “like” it for lack of other options. Well,Facebook Inc. is working on options besides the “like” button for users to weigh in on their friends’ postings, Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg said in a public Q&A.The alternatives would help people express sympathy or empathy, and will start being publicly tested on the social network soon, he said in the session at Facebook’s headquarters in Menlo Park, California.“People have asked about the dislike button for many years,” Zuckerberg said. “We’ve finally heard you and we’re working on this and we will deliver something that meets the needs of the larger community.”The “like” feature was originally conceived in 2007 as an “awesome” button, before rolling out to users in 2009 as “an easy way to tell friends that you like what they’re sharing on Facebook with one easy click.” The button and its thumbs-up icon have since become a universal symbol for Facebook itself, helping the company’s 1.49 billion users acknowledge friends’ milestones or express their affinity for a brand or cause. Still, the button doesn’t provide an appropriate response for sadder content often shared on Facebook, such as death, Zuckerberg said.He didn’t elaborate on what the other options would be. But we can only hope we’ll be able to dislike something on Facebook soon.“We’ve been working on this for a while,” Zuckerberg said.© 2015, Bloomberg News Facebook Commentslast_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

Vision is one of the most important elements of ou

first_imgVision is one of the most important elements of our life, if not the most important one. A 2010 survey by Surge Research found that 60% of Americans are more afraid of blindness than of heart disease, the primary killer of both men and women in the United States. For a massive 79% of the surveyed, other than their own death or the death of a loved one, losing their eyesight is “the worst thing that could happen to me.” Unfortunately, this is a scenario that’s all too real for a growing number of people, due to macular degeneration, a progressive eye condition that affects as many as 16 million people in the US and millions more around the world. The fastest-growing form of the disease is age-related macular degeneration, or AMD. It is the number-one cause of severe vision loss and legal blindness in adults over 60 in the United States; and as baby boomers advance into their 60s and 70s, we’ll see a virtual epidemic of the disease. Current estimates show that AMD affects between 14% and 24% of the US population aged 65 to 74 years and as much as 35% of people over 75. AMD itself can be separated into two types: the wet form and the dry form. Wet AMD is the more severe type of the disease; and while only 10% of AMD patients suffer from it, it accounts for 90% of the severe vision loss caused by macular degeneration. According to the NIH’s National Eye Institute, more than 1.6 million Americans suffer from wet AMD—a figure that’s expected to climb to just under 3 million by 2020. Wet AMD involves the growth of an abnormal bundle of blood vessels (called a “lesion”) behind the macula, the central part of the retina at the back of the eye that allows us to see fine details clearly. When the macula doesn’t function correctly, we experience blurriness or darkness in the center of our vision. In wet AMD, the abnormal blood vessels that have grown behind the macula tend to be very fragile and often leak blood and fluid into the region, raising the macula from its normal place and distorting vision. There’s No Cure, and Current Therapies All Suffer from the Same Drawbacks Today, the condition is treated primarily with one of three macromolecular drugs: Lucentis, Eylea, and off-label Avastin. All of them work by directly inhibiting vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), and all of them have been shown to be essentially clinically equivalent—meaning each of them works as well as the others. Annual worldwide revenue for Lucentis and Eylea is about $5.3 billion, though off-label use of the much cheaper Avastin (estimated at 60% by volume) has severely eaten into their market share. This global market is expected to grow to $8.2 billion by 2016. The current treatments are somewhat effective, but they only address part of the problem. According to Dr. Peter Kaiser, the editor in chief of the Retinal Physician journal and one of the thought leaders in the industry: For the past 7 years, we focused our attention on blocking VEGF in order to reduce angiogenesis in wet-AMD patients. But as more and more data appeared, it seemed that the VEGF inhibitors largely worked by reducing the leakage, not by eliminating choroidal neovascularization. It is this neovascularization, otherwise known as the lesion, that causes the leakiness. Therefore, we have been patching leaks all these years and not fixing the problem. What’s more, a substantial number of patients with wet AMD do not respond well to anti-VEGF treatment, and more than 10% of patients don’t respond at all. Plus, the therapy, which involves frequent injections in the eye, holds associated risks such as retinal tear or detachment. Thus, there’s a clear need for a wet-AMD drug that gets to the actual source of the leakiness (i.e., the lesion itself)—and does so with fewer injections at a comparable cost. Lpath Inc. (LPTN)—Savior from Blindness? That’s where San Diego, California-based Lpath Inc. (LPTN) and its lead drug candidate iSONEP come in. iSONEP is a genetically engineered protein that acts as an antibody against the bioactive lipid called sphingosine-1-phosphate (S1P). Bioactive lipids in general make for interesting drug targets. S1P in particular is a well-validated target that plays a key role as a signaling mechanism in many pathologic conditions. A growing body of evidence suggests that inhibiting the action of S1P could be an effective therapeutic treatment for wet AMD that may offer distinct advantages over the anti-VEGF drugs currently on the market. The data so far seem to bear this out. In 2009, Lpath completed a Phase I trial of iSONEP in patients with wet AMD. The results showed that patients tolerated the drug well in various doses, with no serious side effects. It also showed lesion regression in a number of patients. Of the five patients in the study who had occult-type disease—an earlier-stage wet AMD that affects about 80% of the newly diagnosed patients worldwide—four of them showed a 30%-plus reduction in lesion size from a single injection of iSONEP. Over the course of the treatment, scientists observed an average 76% reduction in lesion size, with two of the patients showing complete (100%) regression of their lesion. What’s more, neither of those patients required any more injections for the entire 12-month follow-up period. (In contrast, Lucentis and Eylea are typically administered once a month and once every other month, respectively.) Is there risk? Of course. Trying to assess efficacy from a Phase I trial always has its dangers—but the limited data we have on iSONEP so far are intriguing. More data are coming soon, too: the results from the Phase II Nexus trial are expected in the second half of 2014. Positive results from the trial will no doubt send the company’s stock price higher—maybe much higher. If the trial is unsuccessful, however, LPTN could lose much of its value. This is not a play for the faint of heart, but if you’re looking to add to the speculative portion of your portfolio, LPTN might be a great place to start. To see our full analysis of Lpath Inc. and get our ongoing, up-to-date guidance on this and our other promising stocks, try Casey Extraordinary Technology risk-free today. At 25% off and with a 6-month money-back guarantee, this should be a no-brainer. But hurry, this offer ends on May 26. Click here to get started now.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