Universities will soon announce action against scientists who broke NIH rules agency

first_img Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), at today’s hearing of a Senate panel that oversees NIH’s budget. By Jocelyn KaiserApr. 11, 2019 , 4:35 PM Universities will soon announce action against scientists who broke NIH rules, agency head says Some U.S. universities will announce in the next week or two actions they have taken to prevent foreign governments from taking unfair advantage of research funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Maryland, NIH Director Francis Collins said today. Some researchers could be fired, Collins suggested.“There are multiple instances of faculty members who will not be faculty members anymore,” he told reporters after testifying before the Senate Appropriations Committee panel that oversees NIH’s budget.During the hearing, Senator Roy Blunt (R–MO), the panel’s chair, asked Collins about NIH’s ongoing efforts to ensure that grantees are complying with agency rules on disclosing foreign ties, protecting the confidentiality of peer review, and handling intellectual property. “Something that the research community needs to take more seriously,” Blunt said in his opening remarks, is “that foreign governments are initiating systematic ways to influence our research and frankly to take advantage of our research by stealing it.” Blunt mentioned China in particular, which he said has a “government program to recruit NIH-funded researchers” to set up shadow labs in China and steal U.S. intellectual property and confidential grant information. “I think NIH has to be sure that the research community is fully aware of the threats and more importantly, how to combat those threats,” Blunt said. In response, Collins said NIH is “deeply concerned about the evidence which has been growing and which we’ve been becoming increasingly aware of over the course of more than a year that there are instances, egregious instances where our funding of grants in this country is being taken advantage of by individuals who are not following the appropriate rules. This is utterly unacceptable.”Collins told Blunt that investigations of NIH-funded foreign scientists are underway at more than 55 U.S. institutions. The investigations appear related to letters that NIH sent to universities beginning last fall, as Science has reported. Collins said during the hearing that some scientists have been found guilty of “double dipping,” or not disclosing foreign funding for work also being supported by NIH; “diverting intellectual property” that belongs to their U.S. institution; or sending grant proposals to another country, allowing “ideas to be stolen.”Collins first wrote NIH’s 10,000 grantee institutions in August 2018 asking them to look for problems. “I think there was initially some surprise and maybe even denial,” he told Blunt. But now, “There are increasing instances where faculty have been fired, have been asked to leave the institution, many of them then returning back to their previous foreign base.” The cases are not limited to scientists from China, Collins told Blunt.“Actions are being taken and you will see more evidence of that in the press, particularly in the next week or two,” Collins said.Both Collins and Blunt emphasized that most NIH-funded foreign scientists working in the United States follow the rules and make valuable contributions to research. “We need to be careful that we don’t step into something that almost seems a little like racial profiling,” said Collins, noting that Science recently published letters from Chinese scientists expressing concern about being unfairly targeted.  Blunt told reporters that he was satisfied with Collins’s responses. “I do think that NIH has been very engaged in trying to determine where problems might be and how to prevent those same kinds of problems in the future. We’re going to continue to keep an eye on that and I believe they are, too.”center_img Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe Email Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! 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Qualcomm Rethinking AI in a 5G Quantum World

first_imgWrapping Up The idea of extended reality in the car, particularly as the car gains the ability to drive itself, is compelling. This is because it could enhance the driving experience significantly if wedded with extended reality (XR). With augmented reality glasses, you could find yourself traveling through imaginary realms and taking part in virtual battles, even fighting with the passengers of other cars while your car autonomously continues on its way.The final season of Game of Thrones began on Sunday, and I can imagine a long drive looking like a trip from Kings Landing to the Wall in order to fight white walkers using remote-controlled virtual dragons. Yes, you too could become the Queen or King of Dragons! As you can see, this Qualcomm event was a massive information dump, and I’ll be thinking about it for some time. It foretells a future when sub-$500 smartphones are better than today’s $1,300-plus iPhones, when cars will be both smarter and far more entertaining, when virtual dragon hunts on the freeway will be both safe and fun, and when quantum theory will give visual processing AIs the potential superpower of X-ray vision.We’ll see most of this come to market in the next 12-18 months, and some of the big stuff by the mid-2020s. This once again points out that we really have no idea just how massively changed the world will be in 2030. This segment opened with a smart home door lock that would use facial recognition to allow access. It not only would eliminate house keys, but also create a record of who entered your home and when, and potentially flag people who weren’t authorized (like a change in your house cleaning staff) that might create a concern.This could be even more powerful in a corporate structure, where people often wander into secure areas where they shouldn’t be. Such activity could be curtailed more effectively. (I once accidentally opened a door and walked right into a clean room — I was totally lost — likely contaminating the entire line because a side door was left unmarked and unsecured.)Qualcomm provided examples in retail cameras being used to monitor shrinkage and speed check out at scale (like Amazon Go), smart displays, smart agriculture, energy efficiency, and the implementation of smart cities. Smart tech could bring massive improvements to the effective use of existing city resources. The company showcased a number of products that use Qualcomm technology — from security cameras to digital assistants. There was an interesting session on AI research. Being Qualcomm, the big focus wasn’t on intelligence alone but on power-efficient intelligence. Much of the problem with AI at the edge is that it is very compute-intensive, and compute-intensive things pull a lot of power.Qualcomm apparently used machine learning AI to make its AI better in terms of intelligence per watt, and it got a 4x performance increase while holding down power use. It believes it can get an increase in power efficiency of up to two orders of magnitude by using Qualcomm’s unique AI execution process.It has a project in Amsterdam on using quantum field theory with deep learning AIs. Apparently, it has developed a new type of neural network based on this approach, which is far more capable of dealing with 3D objects that are perceived by 360-degree cameras.The company isn’t planning on developing a quantum computer — yet — but this is the application of quantum math to abstract a distorted image to remove the distortion. I think this could have far broader applications than we currently realize, as it could revolutionize security cameras and optical sensors on a large variety of hardware.This is potentially a massive game-changer, because it would provide a real-time way to enhance image quality and improve AI recognition significantly, while inferring unseen objects — like hidden running children — to reduce significantly the chance of some common automotive accidents.If Qualcomm can bring this to market, it would provide the firm a massive advantage in a variety of markets including defense (hidden threat defense). One of the presenters to take the stage at the Qualcomm event last week was Joe Spisak, product manager for AI at Facebook. If there’s a company that desperately needs AI more than Facebook, I don’t know of it.Facebook has to get its arms around a variety of very difficult problems quickly. Otherwise, fines, litigation and customer attrition may bury it. AI can be used to make social recommendations and machine language translations, to assist with accessibility, and to provide ever-smarter bots and assistants.In addition, machine-generated content, AR effects and VR experiences are very dependent on AI. However, I think that where Facebook truly needs to apply AI (and I know they know this) is on curating content and ensuring the security of the platform. Fortunately, AI — particularly deep learning AI — is increasingly has become able to deal with these issues at scale.One of the interesting areas Facebook has been using AI to explore is charitable giving. It has raised more than $1 billion in charitable giving using AI. (I didn’t know this.) This aggressive use of AI has caused Facebook to hit a wall in terms of its ability to build new datacenters, and the power requirements, in particular, have made its expansion unsustainable.This is clearly at the core of Facebook being on stage at the Qualcomm event, because Qualcomm’s solution leads in power efficiency. Facebook also praised its reliability (Qualcomm hasn’t had the security exposures Intel has had) and low latency.Apparently, through working with Qualcomm, Facebook has created a unique modular server that allows it to maintain its pace through an easy upgrade path to the anticipated coming technology changes, eliminating constant forklift server upgrades, which are expensive and far too risky at Facebook’s massive scale.One of the interesting technologies Facebook pointed to was PyTorch, a machine learning framework with an emphasis on eager and graph-based execution, dynamic neural networks, distributed training, hardware accelerated inference, and simplicity — because at scale, complexity is a project killer.Following its implementation, PyTorch has become the fastest-growing platform in Facebook, and it has increased production by nearly 3x. Microsoft’s Vision AI Developer Kit Microsoft took the stage with a very Azure-centric presentation — not a surprise, given Microsoft’s huge focus on the cloud. Azure currently has the largest geographic coverage of data centers in the world, according to Microsoft.This coverage creates a huge number of unique problems — for instance, Microsoft must comply with more than 90 distinct government entities in order to function in their respective countries. This has driven the company to rethink how it can provide its services through an approach that is both simple and consistent, to avoid problems with excess complexity at scale. It has been aggressively using AI to solve a multitude of related problems.Microsoft spoke to the need to address customer issues, as well as the need to use existing resources to make intelligent decisions. The demonstration presented to highlight this used an in-place security camera infrastructure in a hardhat-required area to identify workers who weren’t wearing hats, so that avoidable accidents would, in fact, be avoided. Implementation costs were minimal, because it used an existing system and didn’t require the replacement of the existing security cameras.Microsoft spoke to Windows Machine Learning (Windows ML), which is an extension of DirectX — a tool for speeding time to market, which already is familiar to many developers. Although it originated on Windows, Microsoft now runs it on Linux as well. (It is fascinating that today’s Microsoft views Linux as a peer, not really a competitor to Windows.)The company also spoke to two Microsoft products — HoloLens 2 and the Vision AI developer’s kit — that have been making a huge impact on how AI is applied to end devices.Microsoft introduced the idea of “responsible AI,” which addreses the fairness and reliability of the AI models. There is a huge focus on privacy and security; inclusiveness, so no one is left behind; transparency, so you know what is being done; and accountability, ensuring that the folks who use the tools understand they will be accountable for the results.The idea is to provide a better product serving the broadest population and having serious focus on social responsibility. Microsoft clearly gets that AIs can be dangerous, and Bill Gates has been outspoken about his concerns that AI tools without these conditions could be very dangerous to the human race. Qualcomm’s Client AI Given that Qualcomm has announced an accelerator, it doesn’t have to run an operating system — but it does have to be compliant with what is out there.However, Qualcomm has provided a full software stack to speed solutions to market so that developers can gain the benefits of this technology quickly. One of the partners making use of this is Microsoft. In short, this tool would be ideal for most of us, or our kids, if we wanted to begin to develop AI skills, but it is too basic for anyone more advanced.Let’s say, for instance, you wanted to build your own security camera solution that would notify you if your dog got out into your yard (a lot of breeds are escape artists and runners). This would be ideal for that. Or if your son wanted to be alerted when his brother or sister went into his room. In learning how to do this, you’d establish both some core skills and an interest in coding that could transform the child’s — or adult’s — life.If Microsoft Bob had been targeted properly, I think it would have brought digital assistants to the market much more quickly. Properly positioned, Microsoft’s Vision AI Developer Kit could expand vastly the number of people who understand how AIs function, and encourage them to become AI programmers or techs.Tools that help people become relevant to the coming changed world are incredibly important, and this is one of them, so Microsoft’s Vision AI Developer Kit is my product of the week. Last week I attended a coming-out event for some of Qualcomm’s latest processors, a massive update on its artificial intelligence effort (which included an innovative Quantum element), and a connection to 5G most likely didn’t see coming. I think this is a game-changer.The nature of the San Francisco event was to highlight a counterintuitive impact of the 5G-led revolution: an increase in network edge intelligence.I’ll make some observations about this revolution and then close with my product of the week: Microsoft’s Vision AI Developer kit, which was on display at this event. AI on Mobile AI Research and the Quantum Edge AI in IoT AI at Microsoft Qualcomm Cloud AI 100 Mobile presents some very unique challenges. Devices increasingly have become computing-intensive, but they have small form factors and limited power available. The Snapdragon 855 provided significant increases in performance over prior versions, while holding down the power requirements.This is Qualcomm’s 4th generation of AI with support for all of the top neural network software. (It pounded on Intel’s lack of performance, claiming it had bested its competitor by 2.5x while using significantly less power for the same load levels.)Qualcomm announced three new mobile offerings at the event. The first was the Snapdragon 665, which provides a massive improvement to low-end smartphones. Its AI engine should provide equivalent image quality to top-line phones in market today.The second is the Snapdragon 730, which targets higher-end smartphones, enhancing things like smart cropping for pictures, face recognition, augmented reality, and a vastly improved digital assistant.The third is the 730G, which has a huge focused improvement in graphics for gaming-focused mobile devices.Qualcomm spoke about its waterfalling strategy: Top features migrate down from its top line 800 platform to its less expensive products from time to time.One interesting application showcased, which should work across Qualcomm’s platforms, was the ability to take a picture of a menu in a foreign language and display a translated menu on the phone very rapidly (something that would have helped me avoid ordering a pepperoni pizza in Italy that was covered in small peppers, which I’m allergic to, or my wife ordering a fish dish that made her very sick).Another concept is a self-improving device. Imagine a smartphone that could learn how you worked with it over time and modify itself to optimize your unique practices. This phone then could then pass the learning on to future phones, or other devices that would cross-share this information, making all of them better at working with you. This is one of the huge promises of AI, devices that learn to interface with you rather than the forcing the user to learn the changes in a new device.This is a unique freedom promise — the idea that we could become the best us, rather than being forced to function in an ever more-defined world of devices that know and care nothing about our once-unique natures. center_img At the event, Qualcomm unveiled the Qualcomm Cloud AI 100, which delivers a massive performance improvement. The company claimed a 50x performance improvement over prior generations of Snapdragon technology, with more than 350 TOPS at peak performance. As expected, it uses the leading 7nm process.Sampling is expected in the second half of this year with production in 2020. Qualcomm has promised that this technology will improve AI performance massively without a corresponding massive increase in electrical power use. It is expected that 5G will move aggressively into the market, with near-complete major metropolitan coverage by the end of the year. This technology is a game-changer, but it doesn’t come without issues, one of which is the massive change in network loading. 5G will shift the bottlenecks from the wireless networks to the backhaul, where the expected massive increase in traffic will force some rather impressive network upgrades.One factor that will drive this massive traffic increase, a 10x increase over today, will be a massive jump in intelligent networked devices. To keep traffic down so the network doesn’t experience a massive bottleneck, it will be necessary to push intelligence to the network edge.This has led cloud providers to reconsider their huge centralized computing plants and to begin to distribute this technology. It has led firms like Qualcomm to drive far greater intelligence and autonomy into the devices themselves, so they aren’t as reliant on centralized resources, which hopefully will keep network loading to more manageable levels. Qualcomm shone a spotlight on the AI Engine in its Snapdragon solution, based on 10-plus years of AI research, noting that makes its solution a winner is the company’s longstanding laser focus on power containment.This is why Qualcomm’s products are in the vast majority of AR and VR solutions today, because power efficiency increases utility and potentially lowers weight. This focus is one of the reasons Qualcomm has led to the 7nm process being driven mostly by power efficiency but with some performance advantages as well.Qualcomm also has paved the way for development of a variety of mobile-related capabilities, ranging from extended reality to sound processing.This has created the potential for inferencing. The market for training and inference will grow to US$17 billion by 2025, based on Qualcomm’s estimates. (I think this is really conservative given the market need.)Qualcomm believes that the greatest volume, and thus revenue potential, is on the inference side. That likely is correct, because you need only a set number of training platforms, but once the knowledge is captured you then can spread it to huge numbers of inference products that make use of it.Put simply, you need a lot of teachers, but the numbers of students — inference — tends to be vastly larger. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ECT News Network. Automotive Tech In automotive, Qualcomm currently is the leading provider of telematics modems, allowing cars to get updated traffic; get software updates; and call home if they, or their drivers, get into trouble.The company has been moving aggressively into automotive infotainment. Given the massive performance differences in these systems, and how the poorly performing systems really hurt automotive reviews, I’m anticipating a future when car companies more aggressively call out the solutions they are using.Intel is in this space, and its solution defines the word “sucks.” I know this because I have it in my newest car, and the performance of the system really has been hurting the reviews (and my own experiences).Just as with smartphones, Qualcomm is anticipating a more-defined hierarchy of technology in cars — from entry level to super-premium — that will apply both to the cockpit of the car and to the coming wave of autonomous driving solutions. (I’m thinking I may want military-grade autonomous driving technology in my car, given that many of the autonomous driving solutions out there are not very good.)Qualcomm has a good, better, best line for cars, and that taxonomy is typically thought to be a best practice. Powering the Factory of the Future Mobile XR Experience Full Software Stack Gaming’s Influence When I first looked at Microsoft’sVision AI Developer Kit, it reminded me a bit of the widely criticized Microsoft Bob product.What Bob did well was make computers simple for those of advanced age, and it was surprisingly effective for that target demographic. It failed because some nimrod at Microsoft decided it would be the next user interface, and developers at that time weren’t fond of GUIs in general and hated Bob out of the box.Properly targeted, Microsoft’s Vision AI Developer Kit is a game-changer, but it isn’t for those who have a firm handle on AI. It starts with a smart camera based on Qualcomm technology and then helps the user create functioning machine learning solutions that use the camera.Call it an excellent AI primer for those who don’t code, making it ideal for education or sites where AI needs are focused on problems like security or obvious and recurring manufacturing defects. AI at Facebook Factories are going to go through the most massive change of any vertical over the next couple of years, largely a consequence of the disruptive influence of 3D printing.Manufacturing and quality control equipment will be able to network directly to cloud services that then can manage them effectively across the entire logistics ecosystem.All of this tied to machine and deep learning cloud services. 5G Is Here One of the big areas that 5G already has been transforming is hosted gaming. 5G not only provides higher data throughput but vastly lower latency, making gaming from the cloud not only viable but, on paper, far more scalable and lest costly than the traditional methods.However, to keep data from overcoming the networks, the graphics in large part still remain in the device, along weith some of the intelligence.I think providers are anticipating an increasingly hybrid gaming experience, so that the social and interconnected aspects of gaming on 5G will be enhanced, but the network won’t become even more saturated with massive video streams. I think this also anticipates a time when the game console may be embedded in a smartphone, tablet, Roku-like set-top box, or even in the TV itself. Rob Enderle has been an ECT News Network columnist since 2003. His areas of interest include AI, autonomous driving, drones, personal technology, emerging technology, regulation, litigation, M&E, and technology in politics. He has an MBA in human resources, marketing and computer science. He is also a certified management accountant. Enderle currently is president and principal analyst of the Enderle Group, a consultancy that serves the technology industry. He formerly served as a senior research fellow at Giga Information Group and Forrester. Email Rob.last_img read more

Researchers aim to demystify bladder immunity

first_imgReviewed by Alina Shrourou, B.Sc. (Editor)Dec 6 2018We know that the bladder is a poorly understood organ, critical for storing metabolic waste. What we don’t know is how this unique environment impacts bladder immunity to common diseases such as urinary tract infections (UTI) and bladder cancer.With UTI being second only to respiratory infection in prevalence, and bladder cancer being the fifth most common cancer in men, a deeper understanding of immunity in the bladder was needed “The EU-funding gave me the stability to build a team and focus on two of the main research priorities of the Institut Pasteur – antibiotic-resistant bacteria and cancer,” says Dr Molly Ingersoll, the Institut Pasteur-based researcher who led the EU-funded UPECBCG project. “I’m grateful to the EU for supporting my work.”Immune cells negatively impact immunity to bladder infectionThe UPECBCG project set out to study the bladder’s immune system, with the aim of advancing our understanding of UTI and bladder cancer to improve treatment of these diseases. What they discovered was unexpected. Typically, an organ’s immune cells respond to limit an infection. However, in the bladder, the opposite holds true, as a large proportion of the immune cells present seem to negatively impact immunity following an infection. “This was quite surprising to us as we think of these cells as being critical for killing bacteria and resolving infection,” explains Ingersoll. “Yet they do not appear to play this role in the bladder.”This discovery laid the foundation for additional studies – and findings – into immunity in the bladder. For example, by studying the level of inflammation that follows the placement of an indwelling catheter, researchers found that the use of such devices increases the risk for potentially multi-drug resistant UTI in the first 24-hours. “We also discovered that there are differences in how bladder immune cells respond to infections in females and males,” adds Ingersoll. “Whereas females resolve their infection, males tend to develop chronic UTI, and this could impact how treatment decisions will be made in the clinic.”Related StoriesResearch on cannabis use in women limited, finds new studyOlympus Europe and Cytosurge join hands to accelerate drug development, single cell researchTrump administration cracks down on fetal tissue researchThese studies have led Dr Ingersoll and her team to look more closely at the role of these specific immune cells and potential sex differences in the response to immunotherapy for bladder cancer. Using two new models, these studies are ongoing.New approaches are needed to fight infection in the bladderBased on the work done during the course of the project, Dr Ingersoll’s team is now working on immunotherapies for UTI as a way of treating multi-drug resistant uropathogenic bacteria without using antibiotics. “Uropathogens make up a large part of the WHO’s critical list of bacterial infections desperately needing new antibiotics due to multi-drug resistance,” says Ingersoll. “We believe that we can manipulate the bladder’s immune response to better fight these infections, thus avoiding the overuse of antibiotics. Indeed, the efficacy of antibiotics is threatened by the global dissemination of multi-drug resistant uropathogens.”Thanks to the UPECBCG project’s research, the medical field is benefiting from a better understanding of the immune response in the bladder. Ingersoll and her team of researchers believe that this understanding will soon lead to the development of new drugs capable of improving the bladder’s response to infection and cancer therapy.Source: http://ec.europa.eu/research/infocentre/printversion_en.cfm?id=/research/headlines/news/article_18_12_05_en.html?infocentre&item=Infocentre&artid=49817last_img read more

Using a health information exchange network to enhance disease surveillance

first_imgReviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Feb 12 2019How do public health officials know if there is a disease outbreak and where that outbreak has occurred?Surveillance is the cornerstone of public health practice, yet while disease surveillance has shifted toward greater use of electronically transmitted information to decrease the reporting burden on physicians, the challenge of getting the right information to public health officials at the right time has not been completely solved.Brian E. Dixon, Ph.D., of the Regenstrief Institute and Indiana University Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health at IUPUI, outlines how using a health exchange network can facilitate electronic disease reporting during the 2019 Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society’s Global Conference and Exhibition in Orlando, February 11-15. HIMSS19 is one of the largest health IT gatherings in the world, with more than 45,000 attendees.Dr. Dixon will present “Enhanced Public Health Reporting Using an HIE,” discussing how electronic health information exchange can be used to improve compliance with public health reporting laws, increase completeness of reports to public health, and make the surveillance work process more efficient while reducing the burden on clinics.”Traditionally, public health agencies wait for laboratories to initiate notifiable disease case reports,” he notes. “However, this passive approach typically yields incomplete and delayed reports, which can hinder assessment of disease in the community and potentially delay recognition of patterns and outbreaks.”In his HIMSS presentation, he will discuss a novel decision support tool — pre-populated electronic reporting forms — that he and Regenstrief colleagues designed, tested and implemented to facilitate awareness and compliance among primary care providers regarding notifiable disease reporting to county public health agencies.Related StoriesSafe sex an elusive target; STIs continue to rise in EnglandResearch sheds light on sun-induced DNA damage and repairOlympus Europe and Cytosurge join hands to accelerate drug development, single cell research”In 2019, many clinics still use fax machines to communicate patient data to public health offices, said Dr. Dixon. “Our objective is to automate the process by which primary care clinics report case information to public health following a laboratory-confirmed diagnosis of one of the many diseases that clinicians are required to report.”In addition to notifiable disease confirmatory test results, the pre-populated fields on the electronic forms include patient demographics and provider information. Seven representative, high priority diseases were included in the Regenstrief test project: chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, salmonella, hepatitis B, hepatitis C and histoplasmosis.In his HIMSS presentation, Dr. Dixon will explore how pre-populated, electronic case reporting may improve disease reporting and barriers that must be overcome to make that possible.Regenstrief Institute is a dynamic people-centered research organization driven by a mission to connect and innovate for better health. We envision a world where better information empowers people to end disease and realize true health, and we pursue this vision through research and development guided by our core values.Committed to advancing the public’s health and well-being through education, innovation and leadership, the IU Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health at IUPUI is known for its expertise in biostatistics, epidemiology, cancer research, community health, environmental public health, health policy and health administration. Source:https://www.regenstrief.org/article/do-we-have-an-epidemic/last_img read more

New identified biomarker predicts patients who might benefit from HER2targeted agents

first_imgReviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Feb 22 2019In an effort to further individualize therapy and avoid over-treating patients, researchers at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center report a new study using PET scans has identified a biomarker that may accurately predict which patients with one type of HER2-positive breast cancer might best benefit from standalone HER2-targeted agents, without the need for standard chemotherapy.An estimated 1 in 5 women with breast cancer have a mutation in their tumor cells that produces excess amounts of human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2), a protein that promotes cancer growth.”Although further studies are needed before the PET scan biomarker can be reliably used on a wide scale, the results of this study have the potential to advance the options for precision medicine in women with breast cancer,” says Vered Stearns, M.D., professor of oncology, co-director of the Breast and Ovarian Cancer Program at Johns Hopkins and senior author of the manuscript published in the February 2019 issue of Journal of Clinical Oncology. “This study, coupled with other complete and ongoing investigations at the Breast and Ovarian Cancer Program at Johns Hopkins, is at the forefront of providing true precision medicine to patients with breast cancer.”For the study, investigators fully evaluated 83 of 88 women with stage II or stage III estrogen receptor (ER)-negative, HER2-positive breast cancer recruited from nine Translational Breast Cancer Research Consortium (TBCRC) medical facilities across the United States, including The Johns Hopkins Hospital.PET scans that use radioactive tracers to detect sugar uptake in cancer cells were conducted prior to and 15 days after patients were given the first of four cycles of pertuzumab and trastuzumab (without chemotherapy) over a 12-week period. Those two drugs are monoclonal antibodies that precisely target particular proteins on HER2-positive cancer cells and are widely used to treat HER2-positive breast cancers, usually in combination with chemotherapy drugs that poison such cells and carry more toxic side effects.The researchers sought to evaluate whether early changes on a PET scan — images taken during the first stages of targeted therapy — can help determine whose tumor will disappear completely following HER2-targeted treatment.Related StoriesStudy reveals link between inflammatory diet and colorectal cancer riskTrends in colonoscopy rates not aligned with increase in early onset colorectal cancerNew protein target for deadly ovarian cancerAfter two weeks of treatment, researchers found they could predict whether a patient would respond to HER2-targeted treatment without chemotherapy. In approximately 56 percent of cases (44 patients), a predictive biomarker was identified that could have the potential to be a useful early response assessment tool.Lead author Roisin Connolly, M.B.B.Ch., M.D., associate professor of oncology at the Kimmel Cancer Center, said the change in sugar uptake on PET scans from baseline to two weeks after starting treatment, and the value at the two-week time point itself, had the best ability to predict response to HER2-directed therapy with high sensitivity and very high negative predictive value. High sugar levels two weeks after treatment, says Connolly, indicate the tumor likely will not fully respond to antibodies alone and will need chemotherapy.She said there is great interest at this time in “de-escalation” of treatment strategies in breast cancer, which aim to minimize toxicity while maintaining the efficacy.”Based on our findings, if the sugar uptake shown on the scans is below a certain level at two weeks, antibody therapy may be enough to induce a complete response, and those patients may be spared the toxic e?ects of chemotherapy.”ER-negative, HER2-positive breast cancer accounts for about 8 percent of all breast cancers. Standard treatment calls for a combination approach of surgery to remove the bulk of the tumor, and a combination of antibody therapy to cut o? the ability of the HER2 gene to support the growth of breast cancer cells and chemotherapy to directly kill the cancer cells.”So in the future, we may be able to offer this as a chemo-free approach. Further research is still required to investigate this before it can become standard practice in the clinic to make treatment decisions, but it is extremely promising,” Connolly says.The 88 women enrolled in the study were treated between January 2014 and August 2017, and 83 were evaluated for the primary study. All four cycles of targeted therapy drugs were completed in 85 percent of cases (75/88), and all 83 patients who completed follow-up had surgery after the therapy.Source: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/news/newsroom/news-releases/pet-scans-show-biomarkers-could-spare-some-breast-cancer-patients-from-chemotherapylast_img read more

Studies verify novel method of HIV transmission among injection drug users and

first_imgReviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Apr 26 2019New studies from Lawson Health Research Institute and Western University have found for the first time that HIV can be transmitted through the sharing of equipment used to prepare drugs before injection and that a simple intervention – heating the equipment with a cigarette lighter for 10 seconds – can destroy the HIV virus, preventing that transmission. The findings, used to inform a public health campaign called ‘Cook Your Wash,’ have helped reduce rates of HIV transmission in London, Ontario.The two studies published in Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (JAIDS) were initiated in 2016 to address a public health emergency in London, Ontario when HIV rates amongst injection drug users more than doubled.”This outbreak occurred despite London having Canada’s largest per capita sterile needle and syringe distribution program, a strong opiate substitution therapy program and a multidisciplinary HIV clinic,” says Dr. Michael Silverman, Lawson Associate Scientist and Chair/Chief of Infectious Diseases at the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, Western University, London Health Sciences Centre and St. Joseph’s Health Care London. “We knew there must be a novel method of HIV transmission at play.”From August 2016 to June 2017, the research team interviewed 119 injection drug users to understand their injection behaviours and risk for HIV. They discovered that those who shared equipment used to prepare drugs for injection were 22 times more likely to contract HIV than those who did not, despite not sharing needles or syringes.The equipment includes a metal ‘cooker’ used to dissolve drugs in water and a filter used to draw the mixture, known as ‘the wash,’ into the syringe. Injection drug users reported reusing the equipment when consuming controlled-release hydromorphone, one of the most commonly injected opioids.”Controlled-release hydromorphone is expensive and difficult to dissolve. After the first wash, large amounts of the drug remain in the equipment which is then saved, shared or sold for future use,” explains Dr. Sharon Koivu, Associate Scientist at Lawson and Associate Professor at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry. “While people know not to share needles, some use their own needle multiple times allowing for contamination of the equipment.”The team took their findings back to the research laboratory. They confirmed that, on average, 45 per cent of the drug remains in the equipment after the first wash. They not only confirmed the HIV virus can be transmitted between needles, cookers and filters, but also discovered that controlled-release hydromorphone has properties that promote survival of the virus.Related StoriesHIV persists in spinal fluid even after long-term treatment and is linked to cognitive deficitsStudy: HIV patients continue treatments if health care providers are compassionateAlcohol reduction associated with improved viral suppression in women living with HIV”The slow release properties in the drug can unfortunately stabilize the HIV virus,” says Eric Arts, PhD, Chair of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry. “For the first time, we were able to demonstrate that sharing equipment could lead to the type of HIV outbreak we observed in the community.”The team discovered that when the cooker is heated with a cigarette lighter for approximately 10 seconds, or until the wash bubbles, the virus is destroyed. They termed the technique ‘cook your wash.’They also confirmed that heating the cooker did not impact drug concentration. “We had to make sure that cooking your wash would not change the amount of drug being drawn into the syringe,” notes Dr. Silverman. “If too much drug was released, it could lead to overdoses. If any drug was burnt off or lost, the intervention would not be accepted by persons who inject drugs.”Partnering with local community organizations like the Middlesex-London Health Unit and Regional HIV/AIDS Connection, ‘Cook Your Wash’ was launched as a public health campaign.”The ‘Cook Your Wash’ campaign is one of the most exciting things to happen in our community,” says Dr. Koivu. “We learned from persons who inject drugs, took that information to the lab to develop a solution and then brought that solution back to the community in record time.”Dr. Silverman adds that local rates of new HIV cases fell dramatically after the introduction of the campaign. “It wasn’t the sole reason for the reduction in HIV rates as other interventions were also introduced, but the timing suggests it was part of the solution.”The studies build on previous research that shows sharing equipment can lead to the transmission of hepatitis C and controlled-release hydromorphone can promote the survival of bacteria that can cause endocarditis, which is an infection of the heart valves.The team hopes this research can be used to inform understanding and interventions in other centers facing HIV epidemics amongst persons who inject drugs. “We hope our findings can be used to reduce the incidence of HIV transmissions even further and that, one day, society will be HIV free,” says Dr. Silverman.Source: https://www.lawsonresearch.ca/researchers-verify-new-method-hiv-transmissionlast_img read more

New study pinpoints better strategies to stem arsenic poisoning in Bangladesh

first_imgReviewed by Alina Shrourou, B.Sc. (Editor)May 8 2019In what has been called “the largest mass poisoning of a population in history,” some 40 million people in Bangladesh are drinking water that contains unsafe levels of arsenic. The naturally occurring element seeps into groundwater reached by shallow wells, and from there it has a huge impact on the health and lives of Bangladeshis; chronic exposure to arsenic is estimated to be responsible for six percent of deaths in the country. It causes cardiovascular disease, cancer, infant mortality, and motor and intellectual problems in children.Bangladesh’s government is taking measures to address the problem, and plans to invest $200 million toward cleaning up water supplies. A new study, published last week in Environmental Science and Technology, could help to inform how that money would be best spent. The analysis compares four methods of dealing with the arsenic contamination, and pinpoints strategies to deliver cleaner water to the greatest number of people at the lowest cost.The study was inspired by a regional pipe water system recently built by the Bangladeshi government, said Lex van Geen, a research professor at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and a coauthor on the new study. “We saw that the pipe system cost several hundred thousand dollars, and that it was only helping a tiny part of the population.”By comparing the costs and impacts of the different mitigation strategies, the study concludes that the government’s strategies of constructing pipe systems and drilling deeper wells are the most expensive yet least effective options. Instead, the researchers recommend several strategies that could help more people at a much lower cost.Four StrategiesThe study, led by Nadia Jamil at Montclair State University, pulls from van Geen’s decades-long research in Bangladesh. Van Geen’s work has shown that simply testing well water and providing information about the risks of arsenic poisoning can get 60 percent of people, on average, to switch to lower-arsenic water sources. His team’s most recent survey of 48,790 wells in Araihazar province is estimated to have helped 132,000 inhabitants find a cleaner source of water, at a cost of just $1 per person.Because arsenic contamination is more common in shallow wells, another strategy is to drill medium-depth wells. These private wells are a bit more expensive, costing $28 per person whose exposure is reduced.Related StoriesEngineered stem cells offer new treatment for metastatic bone cancerResearchers identify gene mutations linked to leukemia in children with Down’s syndromeTrends in colonoscopy rates not aligned with increase in early onset colorectal cancer”The real shocker was that both of the government approaches were closer to $150 per person,” says van Geen. These included drilling deep tubewells and constructing piped water supply systems. The researchers calculated that these strategies cost $143 and $158 per person, respectively. In addition, the government requires households to pay 10 percent of the cost of each well; as a result, the wells are often installed on private land instead of being a public resource, so they end up helping fewer people.Wider ImplicationsAlthough the study focused on one district, called Araihazar Upazila, the authors think the results have significant implications for arsenic mitigation all over Bangladesh.”It strengthens the importance of widespread testing programs, which would work as a basis for other mitigation options,” said Jamil. “Testing is the cheapest of all mitigation methods.” She added that the study also underlines the potential of intermediate wells, which are quite low in cost, but have been “overlooked for a long period of time for unknown reasons.” The team hopes to share its village-level data on contaminated wells in order to inform where best to place these intermediate wells.Due to the high cost of piped water systems, the study recommends that this approach should be used only as a last resort in areas where not even deep wells can provide low arsenic water.However, van Geen says his conversations with government officials have indicated that they will likely continue investing in deep tubewells and piped water systems, despite the fact that cheaper and more impactful strategies exist.There may be ways to increase the effectiveness of deep wells. The authors mention that by siting the wells in a more strategic way and ensuring they are truly public, just 916 wells could bring 132,000 inhabitants with an unsafe well to within 100-meters of a safe source of water. The researchers are currently exploring strategies to help make these deep well deployments more tactical.”The government is spending the money on deep wells anyway,” he says, “so why not do it better?” Source:https://blogs.ei.columbia.edu/2019/05/05/solutions-arsenic-poisoning-bangladesh/last_img read more

Supervised fun exercise both improve psychosocial health of children with obesity

first_imgFor me the take-home message is yes, exercise has many wonderful benefits but some of that is because you are in a program run by caring adults”Dr. Catherine Davis, clinical health psychologist at MCG’s Georgia Prevention Institute and the study’s corresponding author They looked at 175 predominantly black children ages 8-11 who had overweight or obesity and were previously inactive. Children participated in either a fun-driven aerobic exercise program or a sedentary after-school program where they played board games and did artistic activities.The investigators hypothesized that they would find that the exercise intervention would be more effective at improving quality of life, mood and self-worth than the sedentary program.They found instead that, while the exercise program had the additional benefits of reducing body fat, improving fitness, and even improved brain health, there was no mood advantage from the exercise program. Fatness and fitness did not change as much in the sedentary group.In fact, in the case of the boys, those in the sedentary group reported depressive symptoms actually decreased more over time than their peers in the exercise group.About 10 percent of children in both groups had symptoms indicating depression at the start of the study. Depressive symptoms in children include things like a sad mood, interpersonal problems and inability to feel pleasure.Among participating girls, depressive symptoms yielded similar improvements whether in the exercise or sedentary group, says Celestine F. Williams, senior research associate at the Georgia Prevention Institute and first author on the study.Those sex differences might be attributable to males in the sedentary group not being under the pressure they may feel to participate and succeed in physical activities, and finding instead an opportunity to pursue more artistic and social endeavors, which children of this age tend to prefer, the investigators write.Countless studies, including some led by Davis, have shown that regular physical activity in children who are overweight or obese and inactive can yield a variety of benefits, including reducing fatness, improving fitness and insulin sensitivity — which reduces the risk of diabetes and other maladies — as well as perhaps less obvious benefits, like improved cognition and improved brain health, and reduced anger and depression.This time Davis and her colleagues wanted to more directly compare the impact of an exercise program versus a similar sedentary program on the psychosocial wellbeing of these children. While there are often control groups in this type of study, most compare the exercise program to either no program, or a less interactive and fun program. Davis and Williams agree that likely was a big part of the differences they found this time.Related StoriesWhy Mattresses Could be a Health Threat to Sleeping ChildrenRepurposing a heart drug could increase survival rate of children with ependymomaRevolutionary gene replacement surgery restores vision in patients with retinal degenerationAll the children were evaluated for depressive symptoms, anger expression, self-worth and quality of life right before starting and after finishing either arm of the study. Depressive symptoms and quality of life were measured again about a year later.In the exercise program, the instructor led fun aerobic activity for 40 minutes daily based on the interests and abilities of the children. Rather than time on a treadmill, for example, there were more entertaining strategies to get and keep the heart rate up like a version of the age-old game tag. Children wore heart rate monitors and were rewarded for an average heart rate above 150 beats per minute during the exercise — the average resting heart rate for an 8-year-old is 70 to 110 beats per minute — and they got more points for a higher average.In the other group, children participated in instructor-led activities like board games, puzzles, arts and music, and were rewarded for participation and good behavior. There were arts and crafts, challenging games like the strategy board game Connect 4, guitar music and singing popular songs, and the children were rewarded with points for being nice and cleaning up behind themselves. The children were free to talk with each other as long as it was not disruptive, which was probably a highlight for the boys, Williams says.Relationships the children built with each other over the course of both programs likely were beneficial in elevating their mood and quality of life, Williams says. The sedentary program may have given children more time to talk with each other and develop friendships with little competitive pressure.Other investigators have shown that children in the 8-11 age range may actually prefer just talking or socializing with their friends as a fun activity, rather than some form of exercise, while younger children may think it’s more fun to run around, Williams says.The fact that both programs provided psychosocial benefit to the children led the investigators to conclude that some benefits of exercise found in previous studies, including Davis’, resulted from the regular opportunity to be with attentive adults who provide behavioral structure. It also resulted from the children enjoying interacting with each other, sharing snacks and other activities, while spending less time watching television.Rates of obesity among children and the adolescents in this country have more than tripled since the 1970s, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and currently about 1 in 5 school-age children and young people has obesity. Young blacks are disproportionately affected in this country.There is plenty of evidence that obesity and overweight can impact overall quality of life and that children with these conditions can have increased problems with anxiety, bullying, fatigue, anger and general behavior problems, and that generally higher BMI, or body mass index, a ratio of weight to height, is associated with a lower self-worth in children.”Exercise is very well demonstrated to improve mood. However, I think you have to consider exercise in the context that it occurs, so the social context counts too,” says Davis. Source:Medical College of Georgia at Augusta UniversityJournal reference:Davis, C.L. et al. (2019) Exercise effects on quality of life, mood, and self-worth in overweight children: the SMART randomized controlled trial. Translational Behavioral Medicine. doi.org/10.1093/tbm/ibz015. Reviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Jul 2 2019A program with clear rules, routines and activities, attentive adults and a chance to interact with peers appears to work as well at improving the quality of life, mood and self-worth of a child who is overweight or obese as a regular exercise program, researchers report.While regular exercise is clearly beneficial to children — and adults — the psychosocial health of children may benefit as much from other kinds of adult-led after school programs, Medical College of Georgia researchers report in the journal Translational Behavioral Medicine.last_img read more

Emerging 5G networks – new opportunities for drone detection

Citation: Emerging 5G networks – new opportunities for drone detection? (2018, January 23) retrieved 18 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-01-emerging-5g-networks-opportunities-drone.html Researchers from Aalto University and Tampere University of Technology in Finland have addressed new possibilities for efficient detection of drones by relying on future 5G communication systems. There, mmWave base stations may act as multistatic radar system receivers, thus acquiring the reflected signal from nearby flying drones. Credit: Aalto University The contributors have therefore developed novel techniques for effective drone detection in urban environments where 5G networks are expected to be deployed soon. Given that 5G deployments are expected to operate at mmWave frequencies, the feasibility of drone detection improves due to shorter wavelengths, which are comparable with the size of a drone, as well as due to larger available bandwidth of the mmWave system. Governments can accordingly benefit by preventing amateur drones from unauthorized flight over restricted areas, which ultimately increases public safety in cities.”We are hopeful that our work will help protect people’s privacy and safety in urban crowded areas, where drones can pose a serious threat to the masses of people,” the authors claim. Provided by Aalto University 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. More information: Dmitrii Solomitckii et al. Technologies for Efficient Amateur Drone Detection in 5G Millimeter-Wave Cellular Infrastructure, IEEE Communications Magazine (2018). DOI: 10.1109/MCOM.2017.1700450 Credit: Aalto University Study finds drones more damaging than bird strikes to planes Today, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), or simply drones, are becoming more and more popular as they are utilized in various applications. Modern technologies and materials allow for constructing cheaper, smaller, and more functional drones, which can revolutionize many industrial sectors.The flip side of the above is a potential threat posed by drones to humans and urban infrastructure. Recent regulations are unable to fully protect against illegal actions that involve UAVs. For instance, a drone can collect information from non-flight zones or invade people’s privacy. These examples are, however, dwarfed by more offensive violations that some drones can conduct. Far more dangerous situations with devastating consequences may emerge if e.g., a malfunctioning drone is carrying hazardous payload. “To prevent dangerous situations, it is crucial to detect a violating drone as early as possible. For that purpose, integration of multistatic radar techniques with extremely high frequency 5G infrastructure has been proposed, which partly employs radio resources for early drone detection,” the researchers say. Explore further read more

Tyson Foods invests in firm trying to make meat from cells

Order is up. Who had the guilt-free, no-slaughter fried chicken wings? Tyson Foods Inc. has invested in a food-tech startup that’s developing methods to produce meat directly from animal cells. The Arkansas-based company announced Monday that its venture capital arm, Tyson Ventures, now has a minority stake in Memphis Meats. The terms of the deal haven’t been disclosed, but Memphis Meats says it expects to use the funds to accelerate product development.Tyson says the investment reflects the company’s commitment to find new, innovative ways of meeting a growing global demand for protein.Memphis Meats is based in the San Francisco Bay Area. The company is developing methods to produce meat from animal cells, which would eliminate the need to breed or slaughter animals. Citation: Tyson Foods invests in firm trying to make meat from cells (2018, January 29) retrieved 18 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-01-tyson-foods-invests-firm-meat.html © 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. 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 read more

Building the future one RoboBoat at a time

first_img Citation: Building the future, one RoboBoat at a time (2018, June 28) retrieved 18 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-06-future-roboboat.html Provided by Office of Naval Research 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 Last week, teams of students from 13 schools—representing six countries—tested their engineering skills by developing autonomous boats during the 11th annual International RoboBoat Competition, held June 18-24 in Daytona Beach, Florida.center_img The team from Institut Teknologi Sepuluh Nopember (ITSN) located in Surabaya, East Java, Indonesia, launch their autonomous robotic boat during the finals of the 2018 International RoboBoat Competition held at Reed Canal Park in South Daytona, Fla. ITSN completed all tasks and took first place in the competition. Sponsored by the Office of Naval Research, the behaviors demonstrated during the competition mimic tasks that are being developed for coastal surveillance, port security and other types of oceanographic operations. Credit: U.S. Navy photo by John F. Williams Sponsored by the Office of Naval Research and the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International Foundation, RoboBoat is an annual robotics contest, where the next generation of engineers put their autonomous surface vehicles (ASVs) through a series of advanced water-based challenges that mirror real-world maritime operations.”The challenges might seem simplistic, but before the boats even make it to the water to try and complete the course, there’s a lot complex engineering that goes into the ASVs’ development,” said Kelly Cooper, a program officer in ONR’s Ship Systems and Engineering Research Division—and a RoboBoat judge. “This competition really showcases the technical ingenuity of the students.”That ingenuity will be needed as the desire for autonomous systems continues to grow—not only for the naval service, but across the commercial sector as companies like Dominos, Amazon and Uber all want to use autonomous vehicles for deliveries.And while these companies are making strides toward autonomous services for the average consumer, the Department of the Navy (DoN) is looking to use the technology to “create fundamental shifts” in the way the Navy and Marine Corps conduct future naval operations.According to the recently released DoN Strategic Roadmap for Unmanned Systems (short version), the goal is to “transform modern warfare” by seamlessly integrating unmanned systems into the naval services and across all domains.This is something that ONR is already doing—pushing the path forward for autonomous technologies like swarming boats, aerial vehicles and unmanned surface ships and helicopters.”RoboBoat showcases the talents of future engineers and serves as a basic introduction to some of what the Navy needs its autonomous systems to do,” said Cooper. “We know there will be a strong pull from the commercial sector to have these kids come work for them, but we want the participants to know that the future is bright with the naval services as well—we have the jobs and we need their talent, too.”As in the past, this year’s teams, largely composed of university students, were evaluated on their vessel design and performance. The design component focused on innovation, quality of engineering and craftsmanship. The performance component tested a vehicle’s ability to execute specific missions on the water without any human interaction.As part of the performance challenge, the ASVs had to demonstrate their speed and navigation capabilities by passing through a set of gates before competing for any mission challenge points.The mission tasks demonstrated the maritime systems’ autonomous behavior in different scenarios, including: speed; automated docking, which demonstrated the ability to launch and communicate with an aerial drone; finding a path in a crowded area; target identification; precise navigation; and, finally, return to dock.Institut Teknologi Sepuluh Nopember (Indonesia) was this year’s biggest winner, bringing home the top prize of $6,000. Georgia Institute of Technology won second prize and $5,000; Hagerty High School (Florida) took third and $3,000; and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (Florida) came in fourth, earning $2,000.Smaller awards of $500 and $1,000 in various special award categories went to Nathan Hale High School (Washington State), Tecnologico de Monterrey (Mexico), Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, SRM Institute of Science and Technology (India), Delft University of Technology (Netherlands) and Hagerty High School. Awesome autonomy: The future force and RoboBoatslast_img read more

Washington Post launching Arabiclanguage commentary page

first_img © 2019 AFP 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. The Washington Post is to publish Arabic translations of opinion columns and editorials Explore further Citation: Washington Post launching Arabic-language commentary page (2019, January 11) retrieved 17 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2019-01-washington-arabic-language-commentary-page.htmlcenter_img The Washington Post on Thursday announced plans to publish an Arabic-language page of opinion columns and editorials. Khashoggi crisis shines light on Saudi ties to Silicon Valley The move will “expand the reach of Post journalism to readers around the world” and feature commentary “relevant to the Arabic-speaking audience,” the Post saidThe page will feature columns by writers world-wide, including some based in the Middle East and North Africa, it said.”This page will make it easier for more readers to access free and independent commentary about the cultural and political topics that most impact them,” said Fred Hiatt, the newspaper’s editorial page editor.”The importance of this has become more evident since the murder of our own colleague Jamal Khashoggi, who saw very clearly the need for a forum such as this,” Hiatt added.Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist who was a contributor to the Post, was murdered and his corpse dismembered inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2.Turkish officials have blamed Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for the killing, an accusation denied by the Saudi authorities, who have charged 11 people in connection with Khashoggi’s murder.last_img read more

Now that UK nuclear power plans are in tatters its vital to

first_img This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article. Citation: Now that UK nuclear power plans are in tatters, it’s vital to double down on wind and solar (2019, January 23) retrieved 17 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2019-01-uk-nuclear-power-tatters-vital.html There is easily enough solar and wind energy available to make up for the cancellation of the nuclear projects and to produce the low-carbon electricity required to make the UK’s 2030 carbon emissions targets achievable. Instead, however, the country’s incentives and regulations favour developing more power plants driven by natural gas. Having hacked back emissions from power by over two-thirds since 1990, progress with decarbonising the grid risks coming to an end. According to the UK parliament’s Committee on Climate Change, the UK needs to cut power emissions from about 265g of carbon dioxide per kilowatt hour in 2017 to under 100g by 2030. The government had been substantially relying on nuclear power to do this, having originally identified eight sites as viable for new plants. Six projects were taken forward, including Hitachi and Toshiba plants in Wales and Cumbria respectively. Yet despite much larger government incentives than those available for renewables, most private nuclear builders are now steering clear, having seen the problems with new plants in the likes of the US and France. The only two projects still on the slate are a joint venture by EDF of France and CGN of China – both foreign state-owned companies. They are building the UK’s first new plant in over two decades, Hinkley C in south-west England; while also planning a second, Bradwell B, in the south east. Provided by The Conversation France to close 14 nuclear reactors by 2035: Macron With offshore wind currently providing about 7% of generation, I have heard from informal soundings that the new contracts will add less than 10% more. In other words, it would at best offset the decline in nuclear. With no further contracts in the pipeline at present, it suggests low-carbon power in the UK is at a standstill. Power politicsThe reason why more renewables are not on the cards is because the Treasury is keen to limit energy incentives. It worries that the electricity price has been increasing – and hence the Treasury wants to strictly limit new incentives, the costs of which are added to electricity bills. This, however, ignores the fact that CFD prices will benefit from the falling cost of building offshore wind farms – the price has more than halved in three years. Nevertheless, the amount of money available to pay for the contracts is being limited to around half that being made available to owners of gas-fired power plants to supply capacity when the wind isn’t blowing.If all 27GW of offshore wind power schemes in various stages of planning got contracts, I calculate it would supply around one-third of the total electricity requirement. Coupled with the remaining nuclear power and the renewables that are already onstream, that would reach the 75% of power that the Committee on Climate Change reckons needs to be coming from these low-carbon sources by 2030 to achieve the emissions targets. This is not counting potential offshore wind resources which are not even being mobilised, plus large possibilities for onshore wind and solar. Instead, gas-fired power looks set to supply around half of UK electricity by 2030, compared to 40% at present.One government justification for being less generous to renewables is that unlike gas or nuclear, they do not represent “firm” power – in other words, they only generate when the wind is blowing or the sun is shining. Proponents of renewable energy counter that you can reduce the generating capacity required by increasing the use of batteries to store power on the grid and by incentivising consumers to, say, use more power overnight when demand is lower. Yet one other option that attracts less attention is that you also get spare “firm” capacity from small gas engines or open-cycle turbines. These can be built quickly and would only be sparingly needed in a system mostly supplied by renewables. Based on my calculations using Hinkley C and Wylfa, they cost around one-twentieth of the projected cost of new nuclear power. They are also nearly half the price of large gas-fired “CCGT” plants. Instead, however, the government spends the lion’s share of its incentives pot on large conventional power plants, many of which would operate whether they were subsidised or not. The underlying obstacle seems to be political opposition within the Conservative Party. My understanding from renewable energy lobbying sources is that the government’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy would like to promote renewable energy more, but is held back by the Treasury, which wants to leave it to “the market”. The upshot is that government policy is offering large incentives to new nuclear, gas-fired power and also shale gas extraction – but, paradoxically, not many are actually being developed. Meanwhile the cheapest options – onshore wind, solar and offshore wind – are being discriminated against. The collapse of the UK’s nuclear power plans should be an opportunity to think again. How frustrating that decarbonising power is instead falling off the agenda. Explore furthercenter_img Now that Japanese giants Toshiba and Hitachi have walked away from UK nuclear power projects that had previously been abandoned by others, it has forced the government to reassess the pro-nuclear bias of its energy policy. Greg Clark, the UK business secretary, has recognised that nuclear power is no longer cost competitive with renewable energy, but don’t expect any extra push into the cheaper technology. More spin less gas? Credit: Marc Stuber Nuclear and renewablesEven before the latest announcement that Hitachi’s Wylfa plant in Wales was being suspended, the Committee on Climate Change was already saying the UK needed to build more renewable capacity to reach its carbon reduction targets. Now the problem is even worse. In 2018, 19% of the UK’s electricity was generated by nuclear plants. With most existing plants due to retire over the next few years, I calculate this may now fall to 10% by 2030 when you factor in the new-build cancellations. Solar and wind generation could easily more than make up for this. For years, renewables’ share of generation has been steadily rising. It reached 30% in 2018 and is due to reach 35% in 2020. But with no new incentives for onshore wind and solar and only limited incentives for offshore wind, it looks likely to fall far short of its potential. The government incentivises renewable energy projects through so-called contracts for difference (CFD) auctions in which the most competitive bidders are granted contracts to supply electricity at fixed prices. This year, it is set to auction some new offshore wind farm contracts. Only a trickle of projects that don’t receive such incentives go ahead, so the number of contracts on offer effectively dictates how much offshore wind capacity will be built. Credit: CAT SCAPE 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

Facebook Google face House hearing on white nationalism

first_imgIn this Dec. 17, 2018, file photo, a man using a mobile phone walks past Google offices in New York. Executives from Google and Facebook are facing Congress Tuesday, April 8, 2019, to answer questions about their role in the hate crimes and the rise of white nationalism in the U.S. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File) Facebook to tighten live stream access after mosque attacks In this Jan. 9, 2019, file photo, media and guests mingle before a tour of Facebook’s new 130,000-square-foot offices, which occupy the top three floors of a 10-story Cambridge, Mass., building. Executives from Google and Facebook are facing Congress Tuesday, April 8, to answer questions about their role in the hate crimes and the rise of white nationalism in the U.S. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola, File) Executives from Google and Facebook are facing Congress Tuesday to answer questions about their role in the spread of hate crimes and the rise of white nationalism in the U.S. © 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. Citation: Facebook, Google face House hearing on white nationalism (2019, April 9) retrieved 17 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2019-04-facebook-google-house-white-nationalism.htmlcenter_img In March, Facebook extended its ban on hate speech to include white nationalists in addition to just white supremacists—a distinction civil rights groups had long called meaningless.Despite the ban, accounts such as one with the name “Aryan Pride” were still visible as of late Monday. This account’s self-description read, in part, “IF YOUR NOT WHITE friend ur own kind cause Im not ur friend.”In addition, on Wednesday a Senate subcommittee will hold a hearing titled “Stifling Free Speech: Technological Censorship and the Public Discourse.” This hearing will address the claim of perceived bias against conservatives by tech companies such as Facebook, Google and Twitter.The companies have denied any such bias. While political figures from President Donald Trump on down keep levying the accusation, none have yet presented evidence of an anti-conservative or any other political tilt. Neil Potts, Facebook’s director of public policy and Alexandria Walden, counsel for free expression and human rights at Google, will speak to the House Judiciary Committee along with leaders of the Anti-Defamation League, the Equal Justice Society and others.The hearing was prompted by the March shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand, when a gunman killed 50 people at two mosques and livestreamed the attacks on Facebook.The suspected shooter also published a lengthy post online that espoused white supremacist views.But controversy over white nationalism and hate speech has dogged online platforms such as Facebook and Google’s YouTube for years. The companies long extolled the value of free speech while trying to avoid acting as content editors, then were forced to deal with a resulting torrent of abuse directed at their users. In 2017, following the deadly demonstrations in Charlottesville, Virginia, tech giants began banishing extremist groups and individuals espousing white supremacist views and support for violence. 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.last_img read more

Navigating the winding road toward driverless mobility

first_imgCredit: Intel Citation: Navigating the winding road toward driverless mobility (2019, July 10) retrieved 17 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2019-07-road-driverless-mobility.html This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. Explore further Regulation: Regulation is an area that receives too little attention. Companies deep in the making of SDSs know that it is the stickiest issue. Beside the fact that laws for granting a license to drive are geared toward human drivers, there is the serious issue of how to balance safety and usefulness in a manner that is acceptable to society.It will be easier to develop laws and regulations governing a fleet of robotaxis than for privately-owned vehicles. A fleet operator will receive a limited license per use case and per geographic region and will be subject to extensive reporting and back-office remote operation. In contrast, licensing such cars to private citizens will require a complete overhaul of the complex laws and regulations that currently govern vehicles and drivers.The auto industry is gradually realizing that autonomy must wait until regulation and technology reach equilibrium, and the best place to get this done is through the robotaxi phase.Scale: The third factor, geographic scale, is mostly a challenge of creating high-definition maps with great detail and accuracy, and of keeping those maps continuously updated. Geographic scale is crucial for series-production driverless cars because they must necessarily operate “everywhere” to fulfill the promise of the self-driving revolution. Robotaxis can be confined to geo-fenced areas, which makes it possible to postpone the issue of scale until the maturity of the robotaxi industry.When the factors of cost, regulation and scale are taken together, it is understandable why series-production passenger cars will not become possible until after the robotaxi phase.As is increasingly apparent, the auto industry is gravitating towards greater emphasis on their Level 2 offerings. Enhanced ADAS—with drivers still in charge of the vehicle at all times—helps achieve many of the expected safety benefits of AVs without bumping into the regulatory, cost and scale challenges.At the same time, automakers are solving for the regulatory, cost and scale challenges by embracing the emerging robotaxi MaaS industry. Once MaaS via robotaxi achieves traction and maturity, automakers will be ready for the next (and most transformative) phase of passenger car autonomy.The Strategy for AutonomyWith all of this in mind, Intel and Mobileye are focused on the most efficient path to reach passenger car autonomy. It requires long-term planning, and for those who can sustain the large investments ahead, the rewards will be great. Our path forward relies on four focus areas:Continue at the forefront of ADAS development. Beyond the fact that ADAS is the core of life-saving technology, it allows us to validate the technological building blocks of autonomous vehicles via tens of new production programs a year with automakers that submit our technology to the most stringent safety testing. Our ADAS programs—more than 34 million vehicles on roads today—provide the financial “fuel” to sustain autonomous development activity for the long run.Design an SDS with a backbone of a camera-centric configuration. Building a robust system that can drive solely based on cameras allows us to pinpoint the critical safety segments for which we truly need redundancy from radars and lidars. This effort to avoid unnecessary over-engineering or “sensor overload” is key to keeping the cost low.Build on our Road Experience Management (REM) crowdsourced automatic high-definition map-making to address the scale issue. Through existing contracts with automakers, we at Mobileye expect to have more than 25 million cars sending road data by 2022.Tackle the regulatory issue through our Responsibility-Sensitive Safety(RSS) formal model of safe driving, which balances the usefulness and agility of the robotic driver with a safety model that complies with societal norms of careful driving.At Intel and Mobileye, we are all-in on the global robotaxi opportunity. We are developing technology for the entire robotaxi experience—from hailing the ride on your phone, through powering the vehicle and monitoring the fleet. Our hands-on approach with as much of the process as possible enables us to maximize learnings from the robotaxi phase and be ready with the right solutions for automakers when the time is right for series-production passenger cars.On the way, we will help our partners deliver on the life-saving safety revolution of ADAS. We are convinced this will be a powerful and historic example of the greatest value being realized on the journey. Tesla eyes ‘robotaxis’ by 2020 with new self-driving technology (Update) The answers are likely a bit of each, which makes it a timely opportunity to review the big picture and share our view of where Intel and Mobileye stand in this landscape.Three Aspects to Auto-Tech-AIThere are three aspects to automotive-technology-artificial intelligence (auto-tech-AI) that are unfolding:Advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS)Robotaxi ride hailing as the future of mobility-as-a-service (MaaS)Series-production passenger car autonomyWith ADAS technologies, the driver remains in control while the system intervenes when necessary to prevent accidents. This is especially important as distracted driving grows unabated. Known as Levels 0-2 as defined by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), ADAS promises to reduce the probability of an accident to infinitesimal levels. This critical phase of auto-tech-AI is well underway, with today’s penetration around 22%, a number expected to climb sharply to 75% by 2025.Meanwhile, the autonomous driving aspect of auto-tech-AI is coming in two phases: robotaxi MaaS and series-production passenger car autonomy. What has changed in the mindset of many companies, including much of the auto industry, is the realization that those two phases cannot proceed in parallel.Series-production passenger car autonomy (SAE Levels 4-5) must wait until the robotaxi industry deploys and matures. This is due to three factors: cost, regulation and geographic scale. Getting all factors optimized simultaneously has proven too difficult to achieve in a single leap, and it is why many in the industry are contemplating the best path to achieve volume production. Many industry leaders are realizing it is possible to stagger the challenges if the deployment of fully autonomous vehicles (AVs) aims first at the robotaxi opportunity.Cost: The cost of a self-driving system (SDS) with its cameras, radars, lidars and high-performance computing is in the tens of thousands of dollars and will remain so for the foreseeable future. This cost level is acceptable for a driverless ride-hailing service, but is simply too expensive for series-production passenger cars. The cost of SDS should be no more than a few thousand dollars—an order of magnitude lower than today’s costs—before such capability can find its way to series-production passenger cars. Provided by Intel As we all watch automakers and autonomous tech companies team up in various alliances, it’s natural to wonder about their significance and what the future will bring. Are we realizing that autonomous driving technology and its acceptance by society could take longer than expected? Is the cost of investing in such technology proving more than any single organization can sustain? Are these alliances driven by a need for regulation that will be accepted by governments and the public or for developing standards on which manufacturers can agree?last_img read more

Rays of hope Tampa Bays underdog attitude paves way for potential powerhouse

first_imgFor now, though, a few things are apparent: They have the talent. They have a window. And Monday night’s hero, Travis d’Arnaud, believes they have something else.”There’s a lot of hope.”And that’s a dangerous thing. Rather, it’s a warning – hope is delightful and comforting, but it’s also precarious. Hope can carry you great distances and propel people and teams to accomplish things previously thought unattainable – but it can also pull the chair out from underneath you.SIGN UP for a FREE trial of DAZN and watch LIVE baseball games and programming on MLB NetworkWhen we think of hope, it’s often in the positive, and we don’t attach danger to it. In 2019, the Rays embody the best of the concept: They’re en route to another 90-win season and they’re thinking October, not spoiler. They reinforced the rotation in the offseason and have fully embraced new-age pitching ideas. The organization is being rewarded for banking on hope.This year’s club is also loaded with talent – the roster is the deepest it has been in years. That’s not to say the roster isn’t flawed. The Rays have had bullpen issues. Starting pitching is wearing a bit thin. They don’t have true power in the lineup. And for all of the organization’s faults – we know them; the payroll restrictions, the stadium, the lame two-city idea – Rays players praise scouts and front-office executives for putting the team in a position to succeed. So, what’s it like being on a Rays team when the stars are arriving and aligning?”I’ve been trying my best not to look at public opinion. We’ve just got to show up and play,” rookie first baseman Nate Lowe told Sporting News.Then he made an interesting admission: “It’s nice to get a little recognition.”That recognition is coming in several forms. First, Lowe, in just his third week in the majors, was announced as the American League Player of the Week after hitting .471 with three home runs and a 1.059 slugging percentage in four games. Second, the Rays will be playing a nationally televised game Wednesday night vs. the Yankees, something that’s foreign to a franchise viewed as a perennial underdog.Needless to say, it means a lot to players in the Rays’ clubhouse.”The less attention that gets paid to you, you stay hungry,” outfielder Austin Meadows said. “You’re not always in the spotlight. You continue to play hard. You don’t get noticed a lot, but I feel like that’s kind of a good thing when you’re wanting to win, and wanting to beat really, really good teams. “The teams that get the stardom – the Yankees and Red Sox that get the stardom as they do – for us, it just keeps us hungry and more motivated to go out there and play.”Meadows, who was acquired from the Pirates last July in the Chris Archer trade, knows he’s part of the Rays’ future. Along with Nate Lowe, Brandon Lowe (no relation in bloodline or pronunciation), Blake Snell, Willy Adames and others, he’s a key piece in a new core that’s solidifying.GATTO: Incredible bulk: Why the Rays’ pitching strategy actually makes senseThe last time a Rays core ascended, the team made the World Series under Joe Maddon in 2008. Back then, Evan Longoria, Carl Crawford, B.J. Upton and Ben Zobrist played vital roles in the run and James Shields headed up a solid rotation. Since that World Series berth, Tampa Bay has finished last in the AL East once, won the division once and registered 90 or more wins in five of those seasons, most recently in 2018.Last season is proving not to be a one-off. Outfielder Kevin Kiermaier, the longest-tenured Ray and the team’s “elder” statesman, sees something different with this year’s squad.”The camaraderie that this team has had since Day 1 is unlike any other team that I’ve ever been a part of,” Kiermaier said. “We all get along, we all like each other. That’s been different in that aspect. But I also think we just have more talent in the room than I’ve ever been part of.”The talent is obvious. Brandon Lowe is a Rookie of the Year candidate. Tyler Glasnow, who came over with Meadows last year, was in the midst of a Cy Young campaign before suffering a forearm injury. Oh, and the Rays also have a top-three farm system filled with major league-ready prospects.Considering how many jokes are flung in the Rays’ direction, the amount of success they’ve had in a division that features Brinks-truck organizations in New York and Boston should earn them more praise and recognition.”We have a chip on our shoulder, honestly,” Meadows said. “We go out there, we play every single day hard for each other. We realize where we’re at. We realize who we have to compete with: the Yankees, the Red Sox, all those guys. For us, we’re hungry, each and every day. … We’re all young, and we all play for each other, and that’s a recipe for winning.”MORE: Austin Meadows talks rhinos, trades and more”Definitely, the youth movement has taken over the clubhouse,” Kiermaier, 29, said, echoing Meadows’ words. “This is an absolute joy to be a part of. It’s fun being the older guy, ’cause I can sit here and try to give guys a lot of words of advice or drop wisdom on them here or there. “People helping people is what makes the world go ’round, and the baseball world. I learned from other guys, and now I’m sitting here, giving back, teaching the younger guys. And hopefully in four or five years, they can do the same with guys being called up, as well.”And what will happen in four or five years? Should the Rays finally secure that elusive World Series victory, it’ll be the equivalent of Andy Dufresne wading through hundreds of yards of foulness you can’t even imagine. Say what you will about Tropicana Field, which bears a slight resemblance to Shawshank Prison (not in function, but in form) – the young men playing underneath that dome are playing well.The Rays enter Wednesday night’s matchup with the Yankees 1-1 in their four-game set and 5-10 vs. New York overall this season. But the head-to-head record since 2010 has been much closer than some care to admit: The Yankees have won 95 games against the Rays, while the Rays have notched 88 Ws of their own. They have an 87-90 record against Boston over the same stretch. This is a team that’s on the verge of changing the narrative. It’s time to start paying attention.Will the Rays win it all in 2019? Who’s to say? We still have to get past the trade deadline – the Rays’ front office may have to sacrifice some of that young talent to add to the bullpen and the offense. We also have to get through the late summer, when young teams have been know to hit a wall. NEW YORK – Hope is a dangerous thing.If that reads familiar, it’s because it’s an iconic quote muttered by Ellis “Red” Redding in the classic 1994 film “The Shawshank Redemption.” The line isn’t dripping with optimism or gusto. Morgan Freeman’s velvety baritone delivery doesn’t give the scene warm-hug-from-grandpa feels.last_img read more

Centre asks Andhra Pradesh to continue with existing power purchase agreements

first_img COMMENT The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy has written to the Andhra Pradesh government seeking continuity of existing power purchase agreements (PPAs).“Revisiting PPAs shakes the confidence of investors in the sector and adversely affects the future bids and investment in the State and the country. I shall be grateful if you could kindly apprise the Chief Minister of the above facts,” Anand Kumar, Secretary, Ministry of New and Renewable Energy said in a letter to LV Subramanyam, Chief Secretary at the Government of Andhra Pradesh. Kumar said he was writing this letter after reports stating that the AP government is objecting to the price at which solar and wind energy is being procured by the State. CERC norms“Various renewable energy project developers sign PPAs with the State Government either under Section 62 or Section 63 of the Electricity Act. In the first case, the tariff is fixed by the State Electricity Regulatory Commission in line with the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission guidelines and in the second case the tariff is arrived at through transparent open competitive bidding. In both cases, SERCs conduct public hearings before adopting the tariffs and signing the PPAs,” he said.Shortly after taking charge, the YS Jagan Mohan Reddy-led AP government has been reviewing infrastructure projects awarded during former Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu’s regime.“Recent projects in both wind and solar power have been awarded through transparent and competitive bids. It seems Jagan wants to take on projects that were offered on a nomination basis,” a representative at a renewable energy power generation association told BusinesssLine. “If corrupt practices are established, there are provisions within the law to scrap projects at any stage. But cancelling projects without any reason is not the way to go about things,” an MNRE official said.AP’s growthKumar spoke about the Centre’s target to achieve a total installed capacity of 175 giga watts from the renewable energy sector by 2022 and felt the move to revisit PPAs would dent confidence. Over the past five years, Andhra Pradesh has seen its renewable energy capacity going up to close to 7.5 GW, with wind power accounting for about 4.2 GW and the rest coming from solar PV installations.With inputs from Our Hyderabad Bureau June 09, 2019 SHARE SHARE EMAIL SHARE Published oncenter_img energy and resource Andhra Pradesh ‘Revisiting PPAs shakes investor confidence and affects future bids and investments’ COMMENTSlast_img read more

Karnataka urges Centre to give preference to local candidates in RRBs

first_imgJune 15, 2019 recruitment Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy may address the CLP SHARE regional rural banks Karnataka Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy, who met Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitaraman in New Delhi on Saturday, has urged Central Government to have a re-look into the clause of language proficiency to ensure candidates with proficiency in local language get preference in Regional Rural Banks (RRBs).In a memorandum submitted to the Union Finance Minister, Kumaraswamy said “RRBs have been constituted to sub-serve the banking needs of the local people with efficiency by interacting with the customers in the local language. This will not only lead to better service but also provide employment opportunities to local people.”He further said “The present policy of the IBPS has diluted the provision of proficiency in local language which states that candidates who have already studied the language of the state in standard VII (class 7) would be considered proficient in local language by adding a proviso, “that where the candidate does not meet the aforesaid requirement in local language at the time of selection will be given a time of six months from the date of joining to acquire the proficiency and later extended till the completion of probationary period.”“Thus this deviation from earlier recruitment policies is going against the very founding principles of establishment of RRBs which are meant to cater to the banking needs of rural masses. Therefore, i earnestly seek the rectification by the IBPS and other Central government recruitment agencies,” he said.Early release of performance grantsKumaraswamy in his memorandum also requested early release of performance grants of Urban Local Bodies (ULBs)and Panchyati Raj Institutions (PRIs). “I request for your kind intervention to release the performance grants of Rs 233 crore for the year 2018-19 to ULBs and PRIs of Karnataka.”Tax Exemption for Construction Workers’ Welfare BoardThe Chief Minister further sought extending exemption u/c 10(29A) of the Income Tax Act, 1961 to the Karnataka State Building and Other Construction Workers’ Welfare Board. “Karnataka State Building and Other Construction Workers’ Welfare Board constituted under section 18(1) to discharge the objectives of the Central Act is a non-income earning entity. However, it has been assessed to huge tax demands under the Income Tax Act, 1961 for AYs 2015-16 and 2016-17 with the department reckoning cess and interest earnings constituted into the Building and Other Construction Workers’ Welfare Fund as its income, resulting in deprivation of funds. The Workers’ Welfare Fund held in the bank account/deposits does not constitute their income, as they are only custodians of the fund to be employed for the functions under section 22 of the Act.”“I request your personal attention to provide similar dispensation to Karnataka Building and Other Construction Workers’ Board as has been provided to other boards such as Coffee Board, Rubber Board. as the board plays a pivotal role in nation building and employment generation both of which are top most priorities of the Central government,” he explained. Karnataka Published on SHARE SHARE EMAIL COMMENT COMMENTSlast_img read more

Cane to lead All Blacks against Pumas in Championship opener

first_imgWELLINGTON (Reuters) – Sam Cane will lead the All Blacks in their opening Rugby Championship match against Argentina next week in Buenos Aires, continuing the loose forward’s remarkable return from a broken neck.Regular captain Kieran Read and his deputy Sam Whitelock are both staying back in New Zealand to prepare for the July 27 clash with the Springboks in Wellington after they helped the Canterbury Crusaders to a 10th Super Rugby title last week. The uncapped Sevu Reece and Braydon Ennor and George Bridge, who played against Japan last year, are the only Crusaders players travelling to Argentina for the July 20 clash.The 27-year-old Cane, who broke a bone in his neck last October in South Africa, only returned to the field towards the end of the Super Rugby season. {{category}} {{time}} {{title}} Related News Rugby 07 Jul 2019 Mo’unga magic adds fuel to All Blacks flyhalf debate He has led the team on two previous occasions — against Namibia during the last World Cup and Italy in 2016.Injury-prone midfield back Sonny Bill Williams will travel with the squad but coach Steve Hansen said he would not risk the 33-year-old’s sore hamstring unless required.”He is a shot to play but we’re not going to risk him,” Hansen told reporters in Auckland before the team left for Argentina. “As much as we want him to play and he needs game time, if he’s not 100 per cent, there’s no point putting him out there and him reinjuring it.”We’ll make that decision next week.”Anton Lienert-Brown and Ngani Laumape are likely to start against the Pumas, with Ennor to provide cover for the midfield.Hansen added the Pumas would be confident they could beat the All Blacks for the first time, with the side mostly made up of players from Super Rugby finalists Jaguares.”They’re a big pack, they’ve got a lot of confidence, and they’ve just had a little bit of adversity so will be somewhat more determined,” he said. “It would be a great way to get rid of the pain of losing the final if they beat us.”The All Blacks also tend to be slow starters in their international season and with the side playing just five tests before the Rugby World Cup starts in Japan in two months, Hansen was keen they hit the ground running.”We’re always a bit rusty in the first two or three games of the season,” Hansen said.”But we’re excited about what we’re doing, we’re excited about the people we’ve got doing it and the team is going to be pretty different because the big guns from the Crusaders are staying home.”It’s giving people an opportunity to express themselves.” (Writing by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Sudipto Ganguly)center_img Rugby 10 Jul 2019 Rugby: All Blacks assistant coach Foster puts up hand for top job Related News Rugby 08 Jul 2019 Robertson hopes his fancy footwork impresses All Blackslast_img read more