Related Millions of Brits flying on holiday this w

first_img RelatedMillions of Brits flying on holiday this weekendMillions of Brits flying on holiday this weekendMore Brits prepared to splash out while on holiday this yearOver a third of British holidaymakers travelling on flights abroad this summer intend to spend more money on their break.Could the Slovenian football team reduce the cost of your holiday?Brits booking cheap flights to Slovenia this summer may see their travel plans refunded Tens of millions of Brits are booking cheap flights abroad ahead of their summer holiday this year following the recent spell of cold weather.According to Lloyds TSB, 35.6 million UK holidaymakers will be heading overseas for their main 2010 break, with a third of these citing the cold temperatures as the reason for heading to warmer climes.Despite a third of Brits having already booked their main holiday, almost 60 percent have yet to organise travel insurance.Lloyds TSB’s Andrew Piggot said that many holidaymakers simply forget travel insurance because it is so easy to do so.”With more people travelling abroad this year, holidaymakers really need to make sure they have appropriate travel cover to stop their holiday heaven from turning into a nightmare,” he warned.The bank’s poll also revealed that Brits aren’t quite ready to turn their backs on the UK – around a third are planning to embark on a domestic short break this year.According to VisitBritain, 15 percent fewer Brits travelled abroad for their holiday last year as the ‘staycation’ trend was embraced.ReturnOne wayMulti-cityFromAdd nearby airports ToAdd nearby airportsDepart14/08/2019Return21/08/2019Cabin Class & Travellers1 adult, EconomyDirect flights onlySearch flights Maplast_img read more

October 20 2003 ROAD SYNERGY October workshoppe

first_imgOctober 20, 2003ROAD SYNERGY: October workshoppers participate in a special synergy to help maintain the high road that runs from the top of the mesa into camp.[Photo: Siobhan Watts & text: kh] The dirt roads on site require regular maintenance in order to remain passable. Crewmembers from agriculture, landscaping, maintenance, planning and construction join together to accomplish this task.[Photo: Siobhan Watts & text: kh] Placing a pipe under the road will assist in diverting water away from the oxidation pond during heavy rains.[Photo: Siobhan Watts & text: kh] A rock wall is built where the pipe passes through to help deter the water. Preserving the deposited material and preventing erosion will slow deterioration of the road.[Photo: aa & text: kh]last_img

PhonetoTV video streaming service Flipps has sig

first_imgPhone-to-TV video streaming service Flipps has signed a distribution deal with web series studio Vuguru, allowing it to distribute two of the latter’s shows via its platform. Under the deal, Flipps will make Vuguru scripted series Prom Queen and Back on Topps available to stream on smart TVs and web-connected games consoles using Flipps’ iOS or Android app.Formerly known as iMediaShare, Flipps lets users stream online videos from their mobile for free over the same WiFi network – with no remote or dongle required.“Bringing online original programming to the connected home is a natural extension of the Flipps brand and Vuguru is a leader in the space. We’re excited to be the first to bring on-demand Vuguru series to the TV screen – making them available and easily accessible to millions of viewers,” said Flipps CEO, Kosta Jordanov.last_img read more

The UKbased Society for Broadband Professionals

first_imgThe UK-based Society for Broadband Professionals (SCTE) has opened nominations for its individual and technological innovation awards, which recognise individual and company success in the broadband industry.The SCTE is making three technology awards – best broadband network transmission solution, best CPE solution and best digital processing solution – while the individual awards include Technician of the Year, Richard Harris Member of the Year and the Tom Hall Award.The deadline for nominations is January 31, with information available on the SCTE website. The awards ceremony will take place at SCTE’s Annual Gala Dinner on March 22 at One Great George Street in London.last_img

French broadcaster TF1 has launched Teleshopping

first_imgFrench broadcaster TF1 has launched Teleshopping, a TV-based shopping application that runs through an HbbTV interface.European interactive services specialist Wiztivi deployed the app, claiming it is the first t-commerce application in Europe.Viewers can use the app to buy goods directly from their TV, paying using an integrated payment solution and their TV’s remote control.“For more than 20 years, Teleshopping has been offering the very best of innovations to its customers. The launch of its TV-Commerce application, one of the first in Europe, is the demonstration of the modernity of our service and of our ability to adapt to our market’s evolutions,” said Jerome Dillard, managing director of Teleshopping.last_img

Canal International has launched a new sports cha

first_imgCanal+ International has launched a new sports channel for the African market branded A+ Sport.The channel will show a variety of local and international sports, including coverage from the Jeux de la Francophonie, the final phases of the CAF Confederations Cup, and the Basketball Champions League.A+ Sport is an offshoot of the A+ entertainment channel brand that Canal+ rolled out in July 2014.A+ launched by offering both African and international content with roughly 40% of programming made in Francophone Africa, 40% elsewhere in African and 20% hailing from the Carribean or US.Canal+’s parent company, Vivendi, said that the launch of A+ Sport ensures “strategic continuity” in Africa, focused around accessibility and proximity.A+Sport will be offered exclusively on Bouquets Canal+ packages and as part of the EasyTV DTT offering in Brazzaville and Pointe Noire in Congo, and in Kinshasa and Lubumbashi in Democratic Republic of the Congo.last_img read more

Ira Gladnikoff Ira Gladnikoff head of Viaplay is

first_imgIra GladnikoffIra Gladnikoff, head of Viaplay, is leaving Scandinavia-based broadcaster MTG as the company continues to restructure its Nordic entertainment business.Gladnikoff will exit to “take on new challenges outside MTG” after less than six months in the role, with a number of other executives taking on new responsibilities.Ysterday, TBI reported on a number of changes within the MTG Norway entertainment team.These latest changes effectively bring the free on-demand service Viafree with SVOD net Viaplay.Among the moves, MTG Nordic Entertainment has handed the VP of its Play Nordic unit, Alexander Bastin, commercial and strategic responsibilities at SVOD service Viaplay and its free cousin, Viafree.In effect, he is named senior VP and head of Viaplay and Viafree, effectively replacing Gladnikoff, who had been leading streaming efforts since replacing Jonas Karlén in June.Other changes see MTG Sweden’s head of operations, Filippa Wallestam, become SVP and head of Nordic entertainment operations, which means she oversees central marketing and brands, strategy and business intelligence.Elsewhere, MTG Sweden head of finance Åsa Regen Jansson, adds CFO duties for Viaplay and Viafree.Kaj af Kleen becomes SVP of head of a new division, MTG Tech Digital, which will oversee development, technology and data management for Viafree and Viaplay.“By bringing together commercial responsibilities for Viafree and Viaplay in the same place in the organisation, we can create an even more distinctive integrated digital offering in all our markets,” said Anders Jensen.“By bringing together commercial responsibilities for Viafree and Viaplay in the same place in the organisation, we can create an even more distinctive integrated digital offering in all our markets,” he added.Jensen said the exiting Gladnikoff had been “instrumental in the development of Viaplay into the product and success we have today”.last_img read more

Oil shouldnt be rallying This month the price

first_imgOil shouldn’t be rallying. This month, the price of oil has jumped 12%. Yesterday, it closed at its highest price since early July. While this is a big move, it’s not uncommon for commodities. Remember, commodities are volatile. One day, they’re soaring. The next, they’re crashing. It’s important not to get caught up in their day-to-day swings. Still, this rally caught our eye… You may remember that oil crashed in the summer of 2014. It’s since plunged 75%. In January, it hit its lowest level since 2003. Oil tanked because there was simply too much of it. High prices and innovative techniques like “fracking” triggered a huge boom in global oil production. Over the last decade, U.S. output nearly doubled to the highest level since the 1970s. Production in other major oil-producing countries hit record highs. The global economy ended up with more oil than it needed. For the past two years, the global economy has been working through a giant oil surplus. Progress has been slow. According to International Energy Agency (IEA), the global economy is still oversupplied by more than 300,000 barrels per day (bpd). Yet, oil’s rallying. Today, we’ll show you what’s pushing oil higher. As you’ll see, it won’t cure the industry’s biggest problems… • Hopes of a production “freeze” caused oil prices to surge… Earlier this month, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), a cartel of 14 oil-producing countries, said it plans to hold informal talks in Algeria next month. The purpose of this meeting is to bring stability back to the oil market. Some analysts think OPEC could even freeze production at this meeting, meaning it would cap production at current levels. We aren’t holding our breath… • OPEC has already tried to cap output a couple times over the past year… The most recent talk took place in Qatar in April. OPEC even invited non-members like Russia. It was the first time in 15 years OPEC met non-members to discuss fixing output. Oil rallied ahead of the meeting on hopes that OPEC would reach an agreement. The talks went nowhere. Iran, OPEC’s second-biggest producer, didn’t even show up. • OPEC isn’t acting like a cartel… Right now, it’s every member for itself. And it’s not hard to see why… Oil is the economic backbone of every OPEC nation. It makes up 80% of Saudi Arabia’s exports…66% of Kuwait’s exports…and 46% of the United Arab Emirates’ exports. If these countries stop producing oil, their economies could fall apart. Last month, Saudi Arabia pumped a record 10.67 million bpd, which broke the monthly record set last June. The United Arab Emirates and Kuwait are also producing record amounts of oil. If OPEC was serious about “stabilizing” the market, it wouldn’t keep flooding the world with oil. • Even if OPEC agrees to freeze production, it won’t make much difference… As we’ve said many times, the world needs oil companies to cut production, not cap it at record highs. It’s true that production in some parts of world, including the U.S., has come down. But more cuts are needed. According to the IEA, “the massive overhang of stocks is also keeping a lid on prices, with both newly produced and stored crude competing for market share.” A huge surplus isn’t the only factor keeping oil prices low either. • The global economy is slowing… A few weeks ago, we told you oil demand was plummeting. According to the global investment bank Barclays (BCS), oil demand is growing about one-third as fast as it did a year ago. Oil is the most important commodity on the planet. It literally powers the global economy. If demand for oil is weak, it’s because the global economy is headed in the wrong direction. According to Forbes, China’s economy, which is growing at the slowest pace since 1990, is weighing on oil. The economies of Japan and South Korea, two major oil importers, are also showing signs of fatigue. Meanwhile, U.S. gasoline demand is weak. According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), U.S. gasoline stockpiles hit their highest seasonal level since 1990 last month. Gasoline, a byproduct of oil, keeps our cars running. If folks are buying less of it, it’s because they’re driving less. That’s not a good sign for the economy. And it’s bad news for oil prices. • Oil companies have two big problems right now… The world still has too much oil. And households and businesses are consuming less oil. This tells us oil prices could stay low for a long time. Some folks might read that and think they should avoid all oil stocks. But Casey readers know one of the best ways to make huge gains investing is to buy beaten-down markets. That’s because crisis investing, as we like to call it, often allows you to buy world-class businesses for dirt-cheap prices.  • For the past two years, the oil market has been a bloodbath… Major oil companies like Chevron (CVX) and Exxon (XOM) have lost billions of dollars due to low oil prices. More than a hundred smaller oil companies have gone out of business. But, remember, the oil market is cyclical. It experiences big booms and busts. And since the world isn’t about to stop using oil, oil stocks will boom again. During the 2009–2014 boom, the average U.S. oil producer gained 256%. Right now, many oil stocks are trading at deep discounts. The SPDR S&P Oil & Gas Exploration & Production ETF (XOP), which tracks major U.S. oil producers, is trading 56% below its 2014 high. • If you want to get back into oil stocks, stick with the best… Oil prices could stay low for years. So make sure you only invest in companies that can make money at low prices. We also like companies with quality assets, healthy profit margins, and little to no debt. In other words, we want companies that can “weather the storm” if oil prices fall again. In March, Nick Giambruno, editor of Crisis Investing, recommended a company that checks all these boxes. According to Nick, this company can make money at as low as $35 oil. Nick’s oil pick has returned 19% since March. But it’s not too late to invest in this elite business. The stock is trading 23% below its 2014 high. Recommended Link Recommended Link • You can learn more about this world-class oil company by signing up for Crisis Investing… To get started, watch this new presentation. It explains how to access Nick’s top investing ideas today. It also talks about the biggest crisis investing opportunity you’ll ever come across. As you’ll see, it’s only a matter of time before this crisis hits. When this crisis makes landfall, it could put millions of Americans out of work. Even more people could see their life savings disappear. This short video explains how to “flip” this crisis into an opportunity to make huge gains. If you stick to our plan, you could be part of a new class of millionaires that emerges from this crisis. The best part is that you don’t even have to do anything exotic, like trade options. All you have to do is make simple investments at the right time. This FREE video explains exactly how to do this. Chart of the Day The retail sector just flashed another warning sign. Today’s chart shows the performance of retail giant Target (TGT) since the start of August. You can see Target’s stock plunged 6.3% today. It’s headed for its second-worst day in five years. Target’s stock nosedived after it reported a 10% decline in second-quarter profits. Management blamed the bad results on a “difficult retail environment.” It doesn’t expect business to pick up anytime soon. This morning, management said this year’s sales and profits would likely come in lower than expected. Target isn’t the only major retailer bracing for tough times. Last week, Kohl’s (KSS) lowered its profit outlook for the year. And Macy’s (M) recently announced plans to shut down 14% of its stores by the end of the year. This tells us something is very wrong with the economy…and that more trouble could be ahead. You see, consumer spending makes up 70% of the U.S. economy. When the economy slows, folks will stop buying designer jeans and expensive cologne to make sure they don’t miss a mortgage payment. They’ll hold off on buying a new watch to save money for the essentials. Today, Target and many other big American retailers are trading like we’re in a recession. To learn the best way to protect your wealth—no matter what happens to the economy—click here. —center_img Regards, Justin Spittler Delray Beach, Florida August 17, 2016 We want to hear from you. If you have a question or comment, please send it to We read every email that comes in, and we’ll publish comments, questions, and answers that we think other readers will find useful. — $3,000 Gold? If the Federal Reserve makes this one move, gold could double quickly. But don’t rush out and buy physical gold. This tiny gold investment could make 6 times more than physical gold. Will this put the U.S. Mint out of business? [new gold discovery] ONE little-known loophole allows you to buy certain types of gold (of 0.9999 purity – the highest-grade gold available) for more than $100 cheaper than you can buy it from the gold dealers you see in magazines and on TV. It’s even cheaper than the best and most well-known online brokerages and the U.S. Mint. But fair warning: I have no way of knowing how long this loophole will remain open. So click here to get all the details now.last_img read more

With sensors that can collect data on body movemen

first_imgWith sensors that can collect data on body movements, heart rate, blood pressure and other metrics, the list of health trackers that go beyond activity trackers like Fitbits gets longer each year.”There’s definitely an explosion of these things,” says Dr. Joseph Kvedar, the vice president for connected health at Partners HealthCare in Boston, and an associate professor of dermatology at Harvard Medical School.Some of these devices will lead to a better health care system, Kvedar predicts, with cheaper, more efficient care. But that will take separating useful devices and data from superfluous ones — no easy task. And not everyone believes the changes that personal health trackers are bringing will be good. The clinical accuracy and privacy of many devices remain unproved.”In a practical sense the implementation of this is still quite problematic,” says Lukasz Piwek, a data scientist at the University of Bath in the United Kingdom.Still, that recent developments have made personal health tracking more powerful is undeniable, even to skeptics.”The accuracy is getting better, Piwek says. “Maybe two or three years ago it was more a problematic issue.” The machine learning algorithms are getting better at picking out complex patterns from the noise, he says.One such algorithm, according to Piwek, may be the Sleep Number’s “smart bed” technology. There are sensors embedded throughout the mattress.”The sensors detect any motion of your body,” says Pete Bils, Sleep Number’s vice president of science and research. “When your heart beats, your body actually presses on the mattress and we pick that up,” he says. “When you breathe, your chest moves and we pick that up.”The bed sends these and other data to a Sleep Number computer, Bils explains, where an algorithm crunches the numbers and sends you a smartphone alert on “how well” you slept.Does that have a bearing on your health? Maybe. Fed by user inputs from consumers who already own a bed, that algorithm has been getting smarter.”We collect 4 million biometric data points each night from hundreds of thousands of sleepers,” Bils says. The algorithm combines that information with research from the company’s sleep labs.”There are signatures that change in your sleep that are indicative of something bigger,” Bils says. “We are starting to identify what those changes represent — whether it’s a heart issue or a breathing issue or a sleep disorder.”The bed is still a ways off from telling if you have a disorder like sleep apnea with any confidence. In some cases, restless sleep and a higher heart rate might be the consequence of a night of heavy drinking, for example.Sleep Number’s algorithm “seems like a work in progress,” Piwek says. “Based on available research, it’s difficult to create sophisticated machine learning predictions like sleep apnea or heart rate conditions.”But a lot of companies are working on that, he says and “it’s probably just a matter of time,” before they find good solutions.As for Sleep Number, Bils says the company isn’t aiming to actually diagnose anything. You’d still want to ask your doctor to do a more thorough examination, he says. But the hope is that sleepers on a smart bed who have been alerted could help their doctor catch health issues before they fully develop — or at least catch such conditions earlier.Other firms are already converting more traditional health instruments — like blood pressure cuffs, weight scales and heart monitors — into consumer electronics. Many of these were created for people who are simply interested in personal metrics, but such devices are finding their way into programs designed to support patients who have chronic illnesses, such as diabetes or dementia.Boston’s Massachusetts General Hospital, which is managed by Partners HealthCare, tried one such monitoring program for patients with heart failure. The patients each got an Internet-connected weight scale and blood pressure cuff that streamed data to the medical team.”A clinician touches base with the patient if there’s a reading that’s out of parameter, and can intervene before they get sicker,” says Kvedar, who has studied the program. Already, he says, this sort of tracking has helped lower hospital readmission rates, costs and mortality for these patients, at least in the first few months of use.The real dream for evangelists of personal health monitoring is an expansion of these kinds of programs to people who aren’t sick. Kvedar envisions “a world where everything is measured, everything is proactive and preventative, and we react to it before you get sick.”With a network of smart devices collecting information on sleep, exercise, heart activity, weight and more, a clinical team equipped with powerful AI might be empowered to make more medical decisions remotely, he says, with fewer office visits.”It moves care away from the hospital and the [doctor’s] office,” he says, “and makes it a continuous function in your life.”That vision bespeaks a technological utopia of sorts, but University of Bath’s Piwek has a less rosy view. Problems still abound, he says, even in getting patients to commit to using these things.”People drop using them after a few months because they don’t find sufficient value in the devices,” Piwek says. After all, if you’re healthy and not any particular risk for a disease, monitoring yourself may not feel worth the extra effort.Many doctors, too, remain skeptical as to whether the data coming in from consumer devices are even useful, Kvedar says.”There’s a fear of data overload [among physicians] that is realistic,” he says. “And some health care providers may be skeptical that an Internet-linked blood pressure cuff is as reliable as one they’ve been using for years.”The concerns over reliability loom especially large when it comes to consumer health electronics, Piwek agrees. Many consumer devices can give information that’s reliably accurate enough to meet clinical standards, he says, but others may not.Unlike with medical devices regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, there’s no approval process requiring the makers of consumer electronics that are designed for “personal tracking” to meet a medical-grade quality standard.”Trials have been done [on consumer electronics, such as heart monitors] with varying results,” Piwek says. “Sometimes the wearables are off, and sometimes they are very close. But clinicians can’t get the wrong information from this device if they are going to use it for diagnosis or prescriptions.”How all this personal data will be distributed and protected is another cause for apprehension, Piwek says. HIPAA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, provides protection for data collected through FDA-approved medical devices and medical professionals. But it doesn’t say anything about safeguarding information from consumer health trackers.Without privacy and security provisions for data collected through consumer electronics, the door is open for companies to trade your data, Piwek says.”Even anonymized, data can be cross-referenced with other information,” which can reveal your identity, he says. “[It’s] dangerous in terms of insurance or invasive profiling of your patterns, activities and health.”In principle, he says, access to these data could enable insurers to infer something about you — such as that you have a pre-existing condition.How reliability, security and privacy will be handled with these devices are questions that need solving fast, Piwek says. Personal health electronics are quickly becoming staples of our environment. He thinks there will come a day when these devices are integrated into everyone’s health care.”That is the future we have to face,” Piwek says. “And that’s where government practices are so important.” Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit read more

The only hospital serving the community of rural C

first_imgThe only hospital serving the community of rural Callaway County, Mo. — Fulton Medical Center — was set to shut down last September. When staff arrived one afternoon for a potluck goodbye party, they were met with an unexpected guest, Jorge Perez, a management consultant from Florida. He announced he’d just bought the hospital, and planned to keep it open.When Perez spoke about the takeover four days later to a packed city council chambers in Fulton, Mo., he got a standing ovation.”We travel all over the country and we see the same thing we see here in Fulton: a town that’s fighting to keep their hospital,” Perez told the crowd.Rural hospitals, such as Fulton Medical, serve as a lifeline for health care and jobs in small towns, but they face dwindling revenues. Eighty-five of them have closed down in the last eight years and nearly 700 more, about one-third of the facilities, are at risk of closing.Yet despite their typically slim operating margins, Perez has been buying them. He and his business partners own or manage nearly 20 rural hospitals in Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Florida and elsewhere. By the end of this year, he says, he wants to own 50 of them. A serial entrepreneur with a background in IT, he’s known for coming in to rural hospitals on the brink of closure with a promise to turn them around.”Part of our secret sauce is that we will bring in new services that didn’t exist before,” Perez said in an interview following the event in Fulton last September.But an investigation by NPR and its reporting partners uncovered a pattern of controversial business practices by management companies with ties to Perez, which can lead to big profits for the management companies, but high risks for vulnerable hospitals.’A shell company’Two and half hours drive north of Fulton, another Missouri rural hospital was nearing closure when one of Perez’s companies stepped in.Putnam County Memorial hospital, a 25-bed critical access hospital, in Unionville, Mo. had struggled to stay in business for several years. It had scrambled back from the brink of bankruptcy in 2011, but budgets were still tight.Then in September 2016, Florida-based management company, Hospital Partners Inc., which Perez co-owns, took over operation of the hospital. David Byrns, co-owner of Hospital Partners, became Putnam County Memorial’s CEO.The new management had dramatic effects on the hospital’s finances, according to a report from the Missouri state auditor. In six months, Putnam Memorial generated $92 million in revenue. By comparison, the audit reported, the hospital had generated just $7.5 million the year before.But little of that revenue was staying with the hospital, according to Missouri auditor Nicole Galloway’s August 2017 audit report. “It appears that Putnam County Memorial Hospital is being used as a shell company for questionable lab activity that’s occurring across the country,” Galloway said in an interview after releasing the audit.According to Galloway’s report, Putnam hospital had started acting as a reference lab, and billing insurance for tests, including many performed elsewhere.Here’s how the hospital’s new management appear to have managed its turnaround, according to documents and hospital and court records NPR obtained:Within days of Hospital Partners’ takeover of Putnam County Memorial, a completely separate company with ties to Byrns and Perez — Hospital Laboratory Partners — was incorporated in Florida, according to the auditor’s report and claims in court records. This new lab company started billing insurers for tests through Putnam County Memorial hospital.Many hospitals have in-house laboratories to test specimens, such as blood or urine samples. But some tests are sent to specialized reference laboratories.”It’s a common practice,” says Tommy Barnhart, a health care consultant who focuses on rural health.The reference lab will bill the hospital at a negotiated rate, and then the hospital turns around and bills the patient’s insurance. “The hospital can charge whatever,” Barnhart says.The audit questioned the propriety of the lab billings at Putnam. It noted that 80 percent of the revenue did not stay in the hospital’s coffers: It went to private lab companies —some with ties to Perez—such as Hospital Laboratory Partners.”Based on our review of hospital accounts, the vast majority of laboratory billings are for out-of-state lab activity for individuals who are not patients of hospital physicians,” Galloway wrote in the audit.A public records request of the hospital revealed that between November 2016 and March 2017, Putnam County Memorial paid for over $26 million to Hospital Laboratory Partners alone.There’s another way that Perez and Byrn’s companies profited from their relationship with the hospital. Galloway noted in the audit that, during the same time period, Putnam Memorial contracted with a billing company that received 6 percent of the revenue generated by the lab program.A public records request showed Florida-based software and billings company Empower H.I.S. LLC was paid $11.8 million by the hospital between November 2016 and March 2017. Empower was registered in 2014 by Perez.In a press release announcing the audit, Galloway stated that she had turned her findings over to criminal authorities. U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill has called for a federal investigation into the billing arrangements, and the Missouri Attorney General’s office confirmed in a statement that it’s actively investigating the matter as well.A financial lifelineIn an interview at his Kansas City offices, Perez dismissed concerns about the lab billing arrangement, saying he runs similar programs at some of his other hospitals. He argued that the arrangements are legal — that there are even books on how to structure them (NPR located one such book, The Profit Machine in the Hospital Basement, published in 2016).Perez strongly defended the practice as a desperately needed lifeline for struggling community hospitals. “The only other opportunity this hospital had to survive was to put [together] a lab outreach program,” Perez said of Putnam County Memorial in an interview.Following release of Galloway’s audit, Hospital Partners issued a statement saying that since taking over the hospital’s operations, it had paid off $6 million of the hospital’s debts.Lab billing programs can sometimes be money-makers for small rural hospitals such as Putnam County Memorial — and others around the country that are trying the same strategy. Insurance companies typically cut small hospitals a deal, paying them at higher rates than other hospitals, says Michigan health care attorney Brian Bauer who advises hospitals on legal and financial matters.Bauer says he has seen several similar lab billing arrangements in the past two years. He says that while they may be legal, there’s a catch.When insurance companies make these deals with rural hospitals, he said, they aren’t anticipating a high-volume lab program, which can generate up to tens of millions of dollars a year.”It’s not uncommon to have one or more of the insurance companies come back and say, ‘this is not what we agreed to’,” Bauer says.And that can be bad news for hospitals.Legal repercussionsIn Georgia, several insurance companies are suing Perez and others, seeking to recoup more than $111 million from a similar lab arrangement at a rural hospital there. That small hospital — which has the only emergency room in Lumpkin County, Georgia — is named as a defendant in the lawsuit. Perez and the hospital have asked the court to dismiss the case.Perez is also named in a $60 million lawsuit filed by insurers in Missouri in April over the billing arrangement in Putnam County. The county’s hospital is not a defendant in that lawsuit.In addition to the lawsuit in Georgia, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Oklahoma said it would no longer include four rural hospitals in its network based on its concerns about their “questionable” lab billing practices. Those hospitals had been taken over by another company tied to Perez.In March, the board of directors at Putnam County Memorial Hospital in Unionville, Mo., ousted Perez and his team. That move has triggered a lawsuit by Perez’s company, Hospital Partners Inc., which claims it was illegally driven out and is seeking $2 million in damages from the hospital’s board of trustees and Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway, who issued the audit of the hospital back in August.The question of whether Putnam County Memorial Hospital will be able to keep its doors open without Perez and his billing program remains unanswered. It’s a reminder of the stakes for small communities like Putnam County, Mo., as well rural communities across America.This story is part of a reporting partnership with NPR, Side Effects Public Media, KBIA, KCUR and Kaiser Health News. Copyright 2018 Side Effects Public Media. To see more, visit Side Effects Public Media.last_img read more

At sixfootthree Patrick Mulvaney is a commandin

first_imgAt six-foot-three, Patrick Mulvaney is a commanding force in his busy kitchen at B&L in the Midtown neighborhood of Sacramento. As staff prepare for a large dinner crowd, the chef strides through the restaurant’s narrow back hallways, where the scent of roasted chicken wafts over dishwasher steam and clanking cookware. His gravelly speech is peppered with curse words, and he’s quick to make adjustments to a tray of hors d’oeuvres or a specialty cocktail.But even when it’s busy, he says the servers, cooks and bartenders treat each other like family. And as “captain of the pirate ship,” as he calls himself, he says it’s his job to make sure they’re staying afloat in the chaos.The chef has made a name for himself on the local and national culinary scenes, both for his widely praised farm-to-fork menus and for his leadership on causes such as homelessness and domestic violence. Now, he’s channeling some of his energy into suicide prevention.Mulvaney lost a longtime friend, 41-year-old local chef Noah Zonca, in May. Zonca’s son, Evani Zonca, said his father suffered from depression and addiction before his drowning death.A month later, celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain took his own life. Mulvaney felt compelled to act.”This is a place for me to help my people,” he says. “We are storytellers at the end of the day. And one of our stories is going to be about mental health.”Mulvaney says hot tempers in fast-paced kitchens and rampant drug use during and after business hours are often seen as the norm in an industry of “stress junkies.””You have to be [messed] up to work in restaurants,” he says. “There’s an acceptance that we’re an industry that takes misfits.”That mentality deters some people from asking for help, even when they have a serious problem.A 2016 survey of more than 2,000 restaurant workers by a national nonprofit called Chefs with Issues found that 73 percent reported suffering from multiple mental health conditions. A 2015 study from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reported that food service employees had the highest rates of illicit drug use compared to 18 other occupations.So, Mulvaney is working with Kaiser Permanente, WellSpace Health, and the Steinberg Institute to roll out resources for struggling bartenders, servers and chefs.Earlier this year, he hosted a series of mental health first aid trainings to help restaurant workers learn the warning signs for suicide. He’s hoping to create an online portal where they can take an assessment and find treatment.There are chefs working on suicide prevention all over the country, and if Mulvaney’s model gains traction, it could spread well beyond Sacramento.Katherine Miller, vice president of impact for the James Beard Foundation, has written about some of the pervasive issues in the restaurant industry — long hours in a busy environment, casual drug use, and the idea that stress is just part of the job.She said what Mulvaney is doing on the mental health front could save lives.”For a long time, it’s just not been something you talked about in this world,” she says of mental health. “Looking at a leader like Patrick, and having him stand up for this issue over all the other issues he could be using his voice for, means a lot. It shows young chefs in his own kitchens that it’s OK to talk about the issue, it shows his peers that it’s OK to talk.”Former restaurant critic Kevin Finch became concerned about the struggle of kitchen workers in Washington state more than a decade ago. He learned that employees with mental health or addiction issues were afraid to talk to their bosses. So he set up Big Table, an informal support network operating in three west coast cities.He says he wants people seeking help to “encounter another relationship rather than encounter a system.””So our first step is a cup of coffee, to sit down with you and figure out what’s going on,” he says. “We see lives changed on a daily basis, and we are working on systems that allow anyone, not just someone who’s a mental health professional or a social services agency, to find ways to engage.”In Sacramento, many restaurant workers are still grieving Zonca, and other chefs and bartenders who’ve taken their own lives over the years.Bartender Laura Bruce lost a close friend to suicide, and still struggles to talk about his death.”He was always like my big brother,” she says. “If something bad happened, he’d show up like, ‘All right, who am I fighting?’ He always took care of me.”She said his death has made kitchen staff think more deeply about their co-workers’ mental well-being.”There is this feeling you have to keep it all together, and if you can’t keep it together, there is something wrong with you,” she says. “People are becoming more comfortable asking for help when they need it. Whereas before they might wash it down, people are realizing now that mental health is important and it’s OK to be more vulnerable.”Mulvaney hopes to see this shift continue. He wants every kitchen in Sacramento to have at least one person trained to look for signs of suicide, and to be able to approach struggling co-workers.”What I want is someone to help us figure out how to have these conversations in a productive manner that increases mental health and reduces the stigma, so we talk about it more,” he says. “I want it to get better, for everybody. And I maybe want it to get better for myself, too.”Find HelpIf you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255Ben’s Friends is a food and beverage industry support group based in Georgia and North Carolina. It offers hope, fellowship and a path forward to professionals who struggle with substance abuse and addiction.Big Table, an organization in Washington State, and the Giving Kitchen, in Atlanta, help chefs and culinary professionals access community and emergency resources.Visit or call their crisis chat line at 916-368-3111.This resource list comes from the James Beard Foundation and chef Patrick Mulvaney. More chef-specific resources are available at Grunewald contributed to this story. Copyright 2019 Capital Public Radio. To see more, visit Capital Public Radio.last_img read more

Google to Stop Scanning Gmail Messages to Serve Up Ads

first_imgGmail Register Now » Google to Stop Scanning Gmail Messages to Serve Up Ads Image credit: qoppi | –shares This story originally appeared on PCMag Free Webinar | July 31: Secrets to Running a Successful Family Business June 26, 2017 Next Article center_img Add to Queue Google apparently has enough data about your online activity to serve you targeted advertisements without its controversial email scanning program. 2 min read Google already knows so much about you that it has decided it no longer needs to read your emails in order to serve up targeted advertisements.That’s not to say Gmail will now be ad-free: the search giant simply announced on Friday that it is bringing its email service in line with the rest of its free consumer web services, which display ads based on your search history, YouTube viewing history and a wealth of other data Google collects about your online activity. The move will also bring Gmail in line with the paid G Suite email service that Google offers to its corporate customers. G Suite emails are not scanned for targeted advertising, and Google said that it wanted to standardize its practices to appease its more than 3 million G Suite customers, who might be worried about the privacy of their emails.”What we’re going to do is make it unambiguous,” Google’s Senior Vice President of Cloud Diane Greene told Bloomberg.Google’s practice of scanning Gmail messages has long been controversial, with the company defending multiple lawsuits and even facing wiretapping charges in the U.S. Google argued in court in 2013 that its users should have a reasonable expectation that their emails are subject to “automatic processing,” but the judge disagreed, finding that scanning is not considered an “instrumental part of the transmission of email.”Other litigation is still ongoing, including over whether Google is required to prominently disclose its scanning policy. The company added an explanation of the scanning to its terms of service in 2014, but doing so did not satisfy a federal judge in San Francisco, who rejected a legal settlement in March that proposed to pay $2.2 million to lawyers, but nothing to consumers.There are more than 1.2 billion users of the free Gmail service, according to Google. The company said in a blog post that it will “keep privacy and security paramount” as it adds more features to Gmail. News reporter Learn how to successfully navigate family business dynamics and build businesses that excel. Tom Brantlast_img read more

Big food root cause of obesity and malnutrition worldwide

first_img Source: The commission of experts were put together by the Lancet medical journal. They highlighted the three major issues faced by the world population today. One of them is obesity and increased consumption of junk food and high calorie food combined with lack of physical activity. Another extreme is unavailability of adequate food leading to severe malnutrition and nutrition related problems. A third emerging issue is the problem of climate change linked with food production to feed the world population, waste disposal and transportation of food.  The Lancet Commission on Obesity was prepared by 43 academics belonging to 14 different countries. The commission says that politicians, when it comes to food choices and diet of the populations have been suffering from “decades of inertia”.According to the expert group it is time that both the political forces as well as the civil society hold up against the food industry that caters to only its own commercial interests. They have called for a UN treaty similar to the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) that could help develop healthy as well as sustainable food policies. This could ban food and beverage companies from discussions and faulty advertising much like FCTC has done with tobacco.The team wants that subsidies that are provided for food and agriculture transport that cater to poor diet choices need to be lifted. The civil society organizations could soon receive up to a $1bn (£760m) to campaign against food industries for reducing sugar content, imposing sugar taxes and counter strategies that promote unhealthy diet according to the panel’s recommendations. The team of experts spoke about the research from Mexican NGO El Poder Del Consumidor. He and his team, backed by the Bloomberg Philanthropies worked towards taxes on soft drinks successfully.Tim Lobstein from the World Obesity Federation was one of the members of the commission. He said that there is enormous power and financial strength of the food and beverage industry. This power is often exerted onto governments. He added that at present in the US Congress there are 294 lobbyists from the food and beverage industry and this is much more than lobbyists from tobacco and alcohol industries. He said, “Of that, two-thirds are former Congress staff, so they know what they are doing. That level of lobbying is devoted to preserving the status quo. It is a major barrier to change and must be challenged.”Related StoriesMaternal obesity may negatively affect children’s lung developmentGut-boosting food may put an end to childhood malnutrition worldwideResearchers find link between maternal obesity and childhood cancer in offspringAccording to the commission, the food industry pressure has successfully removed sustainability from national dietary guidelines. They mention that cycling, walking and using the public transport is low in the US because of the subsidies on fossil fuels that keep the petrol prices low and encourage private car use. This not only is bad for the environment but also reduces physical activity.Prof Boyd Swinburn of the University of Auckland, the co-chair of the commission was firm when he said in a statement, “Until now, undernutrition and obesity have been seen as polar opposites of either too few or too many calories. In reality, they are both driven by the same unhealthy, inequitable food systems, underpinned by the same political economy that is single-focused on economic growth and ignores the negative health and equity outcomes. Climate change has the same story of profits and power ignoring the environmental damage caused by current food systems, transportation, urban design and land use.”Professor William Dietz of George Washington University in the US, a report author in a statement said, “In 50 years, if we are not able to reduce this, we will have this incredible scourge of both obesity and undernutrition and the planet will be burning.” He explained, “Although food clearly differs from tobacco because it is a necessity to support human life, unhealthy food and beverages are not. The similarities with Big Tobacco lie in the damage they induce and the behaviours of the corporations that profit from them.”Professor Corinna Hawkes of City University in London, another member of the commission said that the commission was “not trying to put the food industry out of business.” She said, “People are just encouraged to eat too much and this means there is over-consumption in some areas and under-consumption in others.”Lobstein said poor eating choices are also associated with use of processed foods that come in plastic covers. He said that according to a survey by Ocean Conservancy seventy percent of the plastic waste in the seas comes from the food and beverage industry. “All these things are interrelated,” he said adding, “There are compounds in plastics that are endocrine disruptors, which may be contributing to obesity. If plastics in the food chain are causing weight gain, we will need win-win solutions to improve the food supply while saving the planet.”The commission in the 61 page report advocated consumption of less red meat similar to an earlier recommendation “planetary health diet” by the Lancet and Eat Forum NGO recently. By Dr. Ananya Mandal, MDJan 28 2019A new report speaks about the influence of food on worldwide obesity and malnutrition epidemic says a new report. The report states that “big food” needs to be stopped around the world in order to deal with malnutrition on one hand and obesity on the other. There is also a problem of climate change and effects on natural resources, says the report.center_img Image Credit: Trong Nguyen / Shutterstocklast_img read more

FIND launches new schistosomiasis program within neglected tropical diseases portfolio

first_imgThe program to develop the CAA RDTs is expected to be complete within 4 years, with the first milestone of feasibility testing for the disease control test anticipated in 2019. Source: Seven out of the 10 diseases identified in the London Declaration for eradication, elimination or control by 2020 lack critical diagnostic solutions – including schistosomiasis. With this addition to our neglected tropical diseases program, we are pleased to extend our long-standing commitment of bringing diagnostic excellence to the fight against these diseases, contributing to WHO goals for control and, ultimately, elimination.”Catharina Boehme, CEO, FIND Mar 14 2019The Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND) announced today the launch of a new schistosomiasis program within its neglected tropical diseases (NTD) portfolio. The program focuses on developing rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) for detection of circulating anodic antigen (CAA) in blood and/or urine, to support national control and/or elimination programs in countries where schistosomiasis is regularly found.Schistosomiasis is caused by parasitic worms carried by freshwater snails and affects over 206 million people across 78 tropical and sub-tropical countries, with most of the burden found in sub-Saharan Africa. People can become infected when they come into contact with fresh water that is infested with worm larvae, while carrying out routine activities. The infection triggers immune reactions resulting in progressive organ damage, which can lead to chronic ill-health and ultimately death, if left untreated. Current World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines for schistosomiasis diagnosis recommend examination of stool and/or urine samples by microscopy to detect worm eggs, but this can be challenging especially when the intensity of the infection is low. Analysis of multiple samples over several days by highly trained microscopists is both time-consuming and challenging to deploy; inaccurate diagnosis can lead to treatment being stopped too soon and, as a result, infections quickly returning to their original levels.CAA is secreted continuously by living schistosomes. A laboratory-based test for the antigen, with high sensitivity for all species of schistosomes that are of public health importance, is available. However, in order to achieve optimal sensitivity, the test requires complex sample processing steps and a reader for detection.FIND is leading a consortium, together with WHO, that includes Mologic, UK, and Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC), Netherlands, to develop novel RDTs for schistosomiasis infection. Two RDTs for CAA are being developed: one to support ongoing schistosomiasis control programs by providing data to estimate prevalence and intensity of infection, supporting the update of guidelines on routine use of RDTs for schistosomiasis; the other one with a higher sensitivity to support elimination efforts by identifying low infection intensities.Related StoriesHealthy blood vessels could help stave off cognitive declineMathematical model helps quantify metastatic cell behaviorIntermittent fasting shown to improve blood glucose levelsInitial work streams are being supported by catalytic funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, with additional funding from Merck, through the Merck Global Health Institute, which is amongst the scientific partners of this program. The science and technology company Merck launched its Global Health Institute in April 2017 with the mission to develop transformative health solutions to support control and elimination programs related to infectious diseases such as schistosomiasis, and to contribute to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).center_img Contributing to the schistosomiasis control and elimination agenda is a priority for Merck. This program clearly addresses the need for new sensitive diagnostics in the fight against schistosomiasis.”Beatrice Greco, Head of R&D and Access at the Merck Global Health Institute Schistosomiasis is contracted from contaminated water, putting whole communities at risk. The new diagnostic technologies will be a huge step forward, but to achieve real impact their use cannot be confined to labs. The RDT format will allow testing in community settings and enable essential surveillance and disease tracking.”Joseph Ndung’u, Head of Neglected Tropical Diseases at FINDlast_img read more

Reddit CEO says racism allowed but not welcome on the site

Now he’s backpedaling a bit.As tech companies face increasing pressure to police content on their platforms, Reddit CEO Steve Huffman said something to the equivalent of the old saying “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.”In response to a question about whether slurs are against Reddit’s rules, Huffman said: “It’s not. On Reddit, the way in which we think about speech is to separate behavior from beliefs. This means on Reddit there will be people with beliefs different from your own, sometimes extremely so. When users actions conflict with our content policies, we take action.”That resonates in 2018, in the aftermath of the fatal Charlottesville white-supremacist march last year, and as racists feel more emboldened to say what they want online and offline.Some Reddit users, aka Redditors, let him have it.”You allowed r/the—donald to advertise for a fascist rally that culminated in a deadly terror attack,” wrote a Redditor called kitten cupcakes, referring to Charlottesville.”Not all speech is ‘valuable discourse,’ and by letting it exist on your platform you are condoning its existence and assisting its propagation,” user aYearofPrompts said.And PostimusMaximus referred to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s Congressional grilling: “Zuckerberg is sitting over here getting grilled for not removing hate-speech fast enough due to AI limitations and yet you find yourself passing hate speech off as okay.”Thursday, Huffman updated his remarks, saying that “While racism itself isn’t against the rules, it’s not welcome here.”However, he seemed to stick to the spirit of his Wednesday response when he added: “I believe the best defense against racism and other repugnant views, both on Reddit and in the world, is instead of trying to control what people can and cannot say through rules, is to repudiate these views in a free conversation, and empower our communities to do so on Reddit.”Previously banned Reddit groups include ones called “CoonTown” and “raping women.” Last year, the site banned two high-profile white nationalist groups. As I wrote then, it takes a lot to be banned from the pretty-much-anything-goes site, which has become a haven for hate. But “Altright” and “Alternativeright” were engaged in doxxing, or spreading people’s personal information.Huffman, who co-founded Reddit with Alexis Ohanian, became its CEO in 2015. When he took over after Ellen Pao’s brief, tumultuous time as chief executive, Huffman pledged to ban the “dark side,” which he defined as “communities whose purpose is reprehensible.” He said then that Reddit had “no obligation to support” such communities, which provides an online discussion board that has about 330,000 monthly users, more than 138,000 communities, and an average 14 billion views according to the About page on its website. It is said to be among the most visited sites on the internet.Also this week, Reddit announced that it had banned nearly 1,000 suspected Russian troll accounts.”We also did not detect any effective use of these accounts to engage in vote manipulation,” Huffman said in a post Tuesday. Reddit has a history of allowing its users to say just about anything. On Wednesday, its CEO said racist language is just fine—officially giving license to the hatred that already lives on the site, which bills itself as the front page of the internet. Reddit updates content policy, banning a ‘handful’ of groups Explore further This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. Citation: Reddit CEO says racism allowed, but not ‘welcome,’ on the site (2018, April 16) retrieved 18 July 2019 from ©2018 The Mercury News (San Jose, Calif.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC. read more

Qualcomm aims to spark virtual reality market with its first standalone ARVR

first_img The new chip from Qualcomm, which primarily makes smartphone semiconductors today, targets virtual reality/augmented reality gear at affordable prices—in the $200 range.That is similar to the $199 pricetag for Facebook’s new Oculus Go virtual reality headset, which went on sale earlier this month.Oculus Go, a standalone VR headset that doesn’t require tethering to a smartphone or computer, is powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 821 smartphone processor.By having a dedicated virtual/augmented reality chip, Qualcomm hopes to be able to drive a better experience for untethered AR/VR devices—with longer battery life, lower temperatures and better video/audio.Qualcomm is the first major chip designer to produce a system-on-a-chip specifically for virtual realty/augmented reality. In the past, it has supplied smartphone processors that were sometimes tweaked for VR/AR customers.But other chip makers could follow suit. Both Intel and Nvidia have virtual reality programs that supply headset makers with computer processors and graphics chips.Qualcomm is calling its AR/VR chip platform the Snapdragon XR1, and it was unveiled Tuesday at the Augmented World Expo in the Bay Area. The chip is tailored for high-definition video, audio, graphics, head tracking, speech recognition, jitter reduction, low latency and controller support, among other features key to virtual reality.”We strongly believe that XR is the next mobile computing platform,” said Hiren Bhinde, director of XR product management at Qualcomm. “This is going to disrupt all these different verticals, including health care, education, military, retail, marketing and advertising.”Many virtual reality headsets, such as the Samsung Galaxy Gear VR and Google Daydream, are essentially accessories to smartphones. Users fit their smartphones into a virtual reality headset to get the VR experience.In addition, there are powerful gaming virtual reality headsets such as Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and Sony PlayStation VR. They are typically linked via cables to souped-up gaming computers or consoles and cost $400 or more. 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. Explore further Qualcomm platform poised for good times in standalone extended reality But standalone VR devices—untethered from computers or smartphones—have been gaining traction this year, said George Jijiashvili, senior analyst with CCS Insights. Oculus Go, Lenovo Mirage Solo and the HTC Vive Focus are among the new untethered devices.”In the standalone VR headset category, pricing will be a crucial determining factor of success,” said Jijiashvili. “Given the Oculus Go’s price tag of $199, I’m optimistic about its chances of sparking a new wave of growth that can help broaden the appeal of VR, particularly among businesses and in education as well.”Qualcomm will still supply more expensive, $400-plus premium gaming headsets with chips based on its latest Snapdragon 845 top tier smartphone processor. It can power eye tracking and sophisticated controller functions so gamers swinging a sword feel like their hands are part of the game, said Hugo Swart, senior director at Qualcomm and head of XR business management.The dedicated Snapdragon XR1 platform doesn’t support the same level of controller immersion. But it still aims to create a good experience for the price.”What we see is a demand from (device makers) and consumers for a product that is good, but maybe doesn’t have all the features of premium quality,” said Swart. “You still feel immersed in the experience. You still have the very low latency that is required for a good experience, but it is more affordable than the premium quality tier.”According to CCS Insight’s latest market forecast, 2 million standalone VR headsets will be shipped globally in 2019, rising to 10 million in 2022.CCS Insight forecasts 22 million virtual reality and augmented reality headsets and glasses of all types will be sold in 2018—with fivefold growth to 121 million devices by 2022.Smartphone-connected virtual reality will account for the bulk of the sales this year, but standalone devices are expected to grow quickly and account for 63 percent of the total market value of $9.9 billion by 2022, according to CCS.”We were encouraged to see in our latest consumer survey that virtual tourism, remote participation in events such as music concerts and virtual social interactions are all emerging as further uses for virtual reality,” said Jijiashvili. “Watching video is also proving popular, particularly on smartphone-based headsets.”Qualcomm’s Snapdragon XR1 chips are being tested by VR/AR device makers now. They are expected to be used in headsets available to consumers starting next year.center_img ©2018 The San Diego Union-Tribune Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC. Citation: Qualcomm aims to spark virtual reality market with its first standalone AR/VR chip (2018, June 6) retrieved 18 July 2019 from Qualcomm is rolling out a dedicated chip targeting virtual reality/augmented reality headsets in hopes of driving the nascent market into the mainstream.last_img read more

Silicon Valley eyes Africa as new tech frontier

first_imgWith its colourful hammocks and table tennis table, a new tech hub in the Lagos metropolis wouldn’t look out of place among the start-ups on the other side of the world in Silicon Valley. Some fear that the technological advances could deepen social inequality In exchange, Facebook, which currently has some 26 million users in Nigeria, gets more users and access to a massive market to test new products and strategies. “We are invested in the ecosystem. Just the fact that they are engaging… that in of itself is a goal,” she added.Cyber colonialism?Many African governments have given the tech titans an enthusiastic welcome. In California, Osinbajo said the Nigerian government will “actively support” Google’s “Next Billion Users” plan to “ensure greater digital access in Nigeria and around the world”. Citation: Silicon Valley eyes Africa as new tech frontier (2018, July 15) retrieved 18 July 2019 from But the NG_Hub office is in the suburb of Yaba—the heart of Nigeria’s burgeoning tech scene that is attracting interest from global giants keen to tap into an emerging market of young, connected Africans.In May, both Google and Facebook launched initiatives nearby.This week, Nigeria’s Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo was in California to court US tech investors for what he said could herald a “fourth industrial revolution” back home.But it isn’t just Nigeria that is piquing the interest of tech giants.Last month, Google said it would open Africa’s first artificial intelligence lab in Ghana’s capital, Accra.Demographics are a key factor behind the drive: Africa’s population is estimated to be 1.2 billion, 60 percent of them under 24. By 2050, the UN estimates the population will double to 2.4 billion.”There’s a clear opportunity for companies like Facebook and Google to really go in and put a pole in the sand,” said Daniel Ives, a technology researcher at GBH Insights in New York.”If you look at Netflix, Amazon, Facebook, Apple, where is a lot of that growth coming from? It’s international,” he told AFP.Facebook is operating from the NG_Hub as it doesn’t yet have a permanent office in Nigeria.The company’s Africa head of public policy, Ebele Okobi, said at the opening of the premises that the goal was to cultivate the nascent technology community.The social network has pledged to train 50,000 people across the country to “give them the digital skills they need to succeed”, she added. “Working collaboratively I think is a good way of technology transfer for Africa,” he said. “If they are only looking for business, that’s colonisation.”‘Epocalypse Now’As Africa’s technology sector grows, fuelled by growth in mobile phone use, so too does pressure on governments to protect its citizens’ personal data. Osinbajo told tech leaders Nigeria was keen to create the right environment for development, including for regulation.But the debate over privacy is muted in many African countries, unlike in Europe, which recently passed tougher new data protection laws.Facebook has also been at the centre of a storm for failing to protect user data in connection with claims of manipulation in the 2016 US presidential election and the Brexit referendum.Global Justice Now, an anti-poverty group, fears tech companies are being given free rein to create a global surveillance state. “We could find ourselves sleepwalking towards a world in which a handful of tech companies exercise monopoly control over whole swathes of the world economy, further exacerbating inequality between the global north and the global south,” said the activist group in a May 2018 report titled “Epocalypse Now”. Renata Avila, from the World Wide Web Foundation in Geneva that campaigns for digital equality, said that has not come to fruition but there were pressing concerns.”The message is that Africa needs investment and it needs to develop these industries, so usually it’s a pro-business narrative,” said Avila, a digital rights researcher.”But there is little oversight,” she added, warning that without regulation, people were vulnerable to exploitation. © 2018 AFP Facebook and Google have both launched initiatives in Lagos Explore further Few sectors in Africa inspire as much hope as technology, which has the potential to revolutionise everything from healthcare to farming. Examples include Ubenwa, a Nigerian start-up that has been described as “Shazam for babies”, after the application that identifies music and films from snippets.Ubenwa analyses a baby’s cry using AI to diagnose birth asphyxia, a major cause of death in Africa when babies don’t get enough oxygen and nutrients before, during or immediately after birth.Detecting the problem early could save thousands of lives.”Africans should be responsible to come up with the solutions,” said Tewodros Abebe, a doctoral student studying language technology at Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia.”Unless we are involved, no one can understand the existing problems in our continent.” Abebe dismissed fears that what Facebook and Google are doing represents a form of so-called cyber colonialism. Mobile phones driving user growth in Africa: Facebook Lagos is attracting interest from global tech giants keen to tap into an emerging market of young, connected Africans 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

Infighting weakens BJP in TripuraInfighting weakens BJP in Tripura

first_imgApril 10, 2019 General elections were a one-sided affair in Tripura till 2014. File Photo COMMENT Tripura SHARE national elections SHARE SHARE EMAILcenter_img Elections 2019 COMMENTS BJP Published on Cong in resurgent mode; CPI(M) still unpopular Traditionally Tripura and most North-Eastern States witness low public interest in Lok Sabha polls. In view of the landslide win for the BJP in the Assembly elections last year, the Lok Sabha elections in the State should have been a one-sided affair, but it is not.Indeed, general elections were a one-sided affair here till 2014 when ruling CPI(M) won both the seats by nearly five lakh margin.However, this election will be different for many reasons: First, there is a clear three-way contest between the CPI(M), BJP and a resurging Congress under the leadership of the royal scion Pradyot Bikram Manikya Debbarma, who is focussed on consolidating tribal votes following the Citizenship Bill controversy.Tribal votes to CongressTribal population constitutes 30 per cent of Tripura’s electorate.The proportion is as high as 40 per cent in reserved Tripura East constituency where ‘Princes’ Pragya Debbarma is contesting. The royal family won this seat for Congress a few times in the past.Pradyot, who became Pradesh Congress Committee President recently, is also winning over Congressmen who joined the BJP.The Congress candidate from Tripura West, Subal Bhowmick, was Vice-President of State BJP.Meanwhile the ruling BJP-IPFT (Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura) coalition is looking fragile. IPFT fielded candidates in both the seats to corner tribal votes. Party president and State minister for fishery, NC Debbarma is contesting from Tripura East.A four-way contest for tribal votes could have helped BJP but, the fact that IPFT is also looking fragile.A good part of the party’s aggressive cadres and senior office bearers, including the Vice-President, Ananta Dedbarma, fell for Maharaja’s (as Pradyot is popularly referred here), call: “community first, and then the party”.Infighting in BJPThere is a third factor which should trouble BJP. There is a section within party, including senior ministers, that fell out with Chief Minister and State party president Biplab Deb and silently waiting for him to falter.This coupled with normal anti-incumbency following one-year rule might see a flight of votes from the BJP to the Congress. Incidentally, Tripura is probably the only BJP State where both the top posts are held by the same person.The combination might have worked for the bureaucrats, who are enjoying a free run often at the embarrassment of the minister, but the party might suffer in the election.The state BJP spokesperson, Ashok Sinha doesn’t admit in-fight but he admits that a section of votes that came from the Congress will go back.Considering Congress always had 42-45 per cent votes in the State, the crucial question is how much votes will BJP lose.The party says the loss will be neutralized as many from principal Opposition CPI(M) joined BJP, over last one year.From Left to CongressWhile the CPI(M) leadership claims they would retain both the seats, the popular perception is the party’s vote share will slide this election.The only hope of the party is, siting MP Jiten Choudhury, who is contesting from Tripura-East.It is to be seen, if Choudhury, can restore some respect for CPI(M) but otherwise, their loss will be Congress’s gain.“Left is out of favour. Congress is coming up and expected to attract a section of the Left voters this election,” said a Agartala-based noted intellectual, on condition of anonymity.last_img read more

Rahul Gandhi granted bail in Ahmedabad bank defamation case on Rs 15000

first_img India Today Web Desk New DelhiJuly 12, 2019UPDATED: July 12, 2019 17:43 IST Rahul Gandhi comes out of the court after the defamation case hearing. (AP Photo)HIGHLIGHTSRahul Gandhi has been granted bail on a bond of Rs 15,000Ahmedabad District Cooperative Bank had filed a criminal defamation suit against GandhiAmit Shah is one of the directors of the cooperative bankRahul Gandhi has been granted bail in the criminal defamation suit filed against him by Ahmedabad District Cooperative Bank and its chairman Ajay Patel.During the hearing, when the metropolitan court judge asked him if he accepts his crime, Rahul Gandhi said, “I am not a criminal.”Rahul Gandhi was present for the defamation case hearing at the Ahmedabad Metropolitan Court.The court granted Rahul Gandhi bail on a bond of Rs 15,000.The defamation suit was filed last year after Gandhi and Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala claimed that the Ahmedabad District Cooperative Bank was involved in a “scam” to swap Rs 745.59 crore in swapped notes with valid currency within five days of demonetisation announcement on November 8, 2016.Union home minister Amit Shah is one of the directors of the ADC Bank.The court issued summonses to the two leaders on April 9 after finding prima facie evidence against them.The complainants said that the Congress leaders levelled “false and defamatory allegations” against the bank.The court had conducted an inquiry under section 202 of the Code of Criminal Procedure before summoning Gandhi and Surjewala.The section deals with inquiry to decide whether there is sufficient ground for proceeding against a person.Gandhi and Surjewala’s allegations were based on the reply given by the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development to an RTI query of a Mumbai-based activist.ADCB and Patel have denied that the bank exchanged such a huge amount of swapped currency as alleged.(With PTI inputs)Also Read | Have not demanded front-row seat for Rahul Gandhi in Parliament: CongressAlso Watch | Is Rahul Gandhi’s strategy now to demonise RSS and play martyr?For the latest World Cup news, live scores and fixtures for World Cup 2019, log on to 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 bySanchari Chatterjee Next Rahul Gandhi granted bail in Ahmedabad bank defamation case on Rs 15,000 bondRahul Gandhi has been granted bail in the criminal defamation case filed by an Ahmedabad bank.advertisementlast_img read more