Last month a group of Australian scientists publi

first_imgLast month, a group of Australian scientists published a warning to the citizens of the country and of the world who collectively gobble up some $34 billion annually of its agricultural exports. The warning concerned the safety of a new type of wheat. As Australia’s number-one export, a $6-billion annual industry, and the most-consumed grain locally, wheat is of the utmost importance to the country. A serious safety risk from wheat – a mad wheat disease of sorts – would have disastrous effects for the country and for its customers. Which is why the alarm bells are being rung over a new variety of wheat being ushered toward production by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) of Australia. In a sense, the crop is little different than the wide variety of modern genetically modified foods. A sequence of the plant’s genes has been turned off to change the wheat’s natural behavior a bit, to make it more commercially viable (hardier, higher yielding, slower decaying, etc.). Franken-Wheat? What’s really different this time – and what has Professor Jack Heinemann of the University of Canterbury, NZ, and Associate Professor Judy Carman, a biochemist at Flinders University in Australia, holding press conferences to garner attention to the subject – is the technique employed to effectuate the genetic change. It doesn’t modify the genes of the wheat plants in question; instead, a specialized gene blocker interferes with the natural action of the genes. The process at issue, dubbed RNA interference or RNAi for short, has been a hotbed of research activity ever since the Nobel Prize-winning 1997 research paper that described the process. It is one of a number of so-called “antisense” technologies that help suppress natural genetic expression and provide a mechanism for suppressing undesirable genetic behaviors. RNAi’s appeal is simple: it can potentially provide a temporary, reversible off switch for genes. Unlike most other genetic modification techniques, it doesn’t require making permanent changes to the underlying genome of the target. Instead, specialized siRNAs – chemical DNA blockers based on the same mechanism our own bodies use to temporarily turn genes on and off as needed – are delivered into the target organism and act to block the messages cells use to express a particular gene. When those messages meet with their chemical opposites, they turn inert. And when all of the siRNA is used up, the effect wears off. The new wheat is in early-stage field trials (i.e., it’s been planted to grow somewhere, but has not yet been tested for human consumption), part of a multi-year process on its way to potential approval and not unlike the rigorous process many drugs go through. The researchers responsible are using RNAi to turn down the production of glycogen. They are targeting the production of the wheat branching enzyme which, if suppressed, would result in a much lower starch level for the wheat. The result would be a grain with a lower glycemic index – i.e., healthier wheat. This is a noble goal. However, Professors Heinemann and Carman warn, there’s a risk that the gene silencing done to these plants might make its way into humans and wreak havoc on our bodies. In their press conference and subsequent papers, they describe the possibility that the siRNA molecules – which are pretty hardy little chemicals and not easily gotten rid of – could wind up interacting with our RNA. If their theories prove true, the results might be as bad as mimicking glycogen storage disease IV, a super-rare genetic disorder which almost always leads to early childhood death. “Franken-Wheat Causes Massive Deaths from Liver Failure!” Now that is potentially headline-grabbing stuff. Unfortunately, much of it is mere speculation at this point, albeit rooted in scientific expertise on the subject. What they’ve produced is a series of opinion papers – not scientific research nor empirical data to prove that what they suspect might happen, actually does. They point to the possibilities that could happen if a number of criteria are met: If the siRNAs remain in the wheat in transferrable form, in large quantities, when the grain makes it to your plate. And… If the siRNA molecules interfere with the somewhat different but largely similar human branching enzyme as well. Then the result might be symptoms similar to such a condition, on some scale or another, anywhere from completely unnoticeable to highly impactful. They further postulate that if the same effect is seen in animals, it could result in devastating ecological impact. Dead bugs and dead wild animals. Luckily for us, as potential consumers of these foods, all of these are easily testable theories. And this is precisely the type of data the lengthy approval process is meant to look at. Opinion papers like this – while not to be confused with conclusions resulting from solid research – are a critically important part of the scientific process, challenging researchers to provide hard data on areas that other experts suspect could be overlooked. Professors Carman and Heinemann provide a very important public good in challenging the strength of the due-diligence process for RNAi’s use in agriculture, an incomplete subject we continue to discover more about every day. However, we’ll have to wait until the data come back on this particular experiment – among thousands of similar ones being conducted at government labs, universities, and in the research facilities of commercial agribusinesses like Monsanto and Cargill – to know if this wheat variety would in fact result in a dietary apocalypse. That’s a notion many anti-genetically modified organism (GMO) pundits seem to have latched onto following the press conference the professors held. But if the history of modern agriculture can teach us anything, it’s that far more aggressive forms of GMO foods appear to have had a huge net positive effect on the global economy and our lives. Not only have they not killed us, in many ways GMO foods have been responsible for the massive increases in public health and quality of life around the world. The Roots of the GMO Food Debate The debate over genetically modified (GM) food is a heated one. Few contest that we are working in somewhat murky waters when it comes to genetically modified anything, human or plant alike. At issue, really, is the question of whether we are prepared to use the technologies we’ve discovered. In other words, are we the equivalent of a herd of monkeys armed with bazookas, unable to comprehend the sheer destructive power we possess yet perfectly capable of pulling the trigger? Or do we simply face the same type of daunting intellectual challenge as those who discovered fire, electricity, or even penicillin, at a time when the tools to fully understand how they worked had not yet been conceived of? In all of those cases, we were able to probe, study, and learn the mysteries of these incredible discoveries over time. Sure, there were certainly costly mistakes along the way. But we were also able to make great use of them to advance civilization long before we fully understood how they worked at a scientific level. Much is the same in the study and practical use of GM foods. While the fundamentals of DNA have been well understood for decades, we are still in the process of uncovering many of the inner workings of what is arguably the single most advanced form of programming humans have ever encountered. It is still very much a rapidly evolving science to this day. For example, in the 1990s, an idea known simply as “gene therapy” – really a generalized term for a host of new-at-the-time experimental techniques that share the simple characteristic of permanently modifying the genetic make-up of an organism – was all the rage in medical study. Two decades on, it’s hardly ever spoken of. That’s because the great majority of attempted disease therapies from genetic modification failed, with many resulting in terrible side effects and even death for the patients who underwent the treatments. Its use in the early days, of course, was limited almost exclusively to some of the world’s most debilitating, genetically rooted diseases. Still – whether in their zeal to use a fledgling tool to cure a dreadful malady or in selfish, hurried desire to be recognized among the pioneers of what they thought would be the very future of medicine – doctors chose to move forward at a dangerous pace with gene therapy. In one famous case, and somewhat typical of the times, University of Pennsylvania physicians enrolled a sick 18-year-old boy with a liver mutation into a trial for a gene therapy that was known to have resulted in the deaths of some of the monkeys it had just been tested on. The treatment resulted in the young man’s death a few days later, and the lengthy investigation that followed resulted in serious accusations of what can only be called “cowboy medicine.” Not one of science’s prouder moments, to be sure. But could GM foods be following the same dangerous path? After all, the first GM foods made their way to market during the same time period. The 1980s saw large-scale genetic-science research and experimentation from agricultural companies, producing everything from antibiotic-resistant tobacco to pesticide-hardy corn. After much debate and study, in 1994 the FDA gave approval to the first GM food to be sold in the United States: the ironically named Flavr Savr tomato, with its delayed ripening genes which made it an ideal candidate for sitting for days or weeks on grocery store shelves. Ever since, there has been a seeming rush of modified foods into the marketplace. Modern GM foods include soybeans, corn, cotton, canola, sugar beets, and a number of squash and greens varieties, as well as products made from them. One of the most prevalent modifications is to make plants glyphosate-resistant, or in common terms, “Roundup Ready.” This yields varieties that are able to stand up to much heavier doses of the herbicide Roundup, which is used to keep weeds and other pest plants from damaging large monoculture fields, thereby reducing costs and lowering risks. In total it is estimated that modern GM crops have grown to become a $12 billion annual business since their commercialization in 1994, according to the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA). Over 15 million farms around the world are reported to have grown GM crops, and their popularity increases every year. They’ve brought huge improvements in shelf life, pathogen and other stress resistance, and even added nutritional benefits. For instance, yellow rice – which was the first approved crop with an entirely new genetic pathway added artificially – provides beta-carotene to a large population of people around the world who otherwise struggle to find enough in their diets. However, the race for horticulturalists to the genetic table in the past few decades – what could be described accurately as the transgenic generation of research – has by no means been our first experiment with the genetic manipulation of food. In fact, if anything, it is a more deliberate, well studied, and careful advance than those that came before it. A VERY Brief History of Genetically Modified Food Some proponents of GMO foods are quick to point out that humans have been modifying foods at the genetic level since the dawn of agriculture itself. We crossbreed plants with each other to produce hybrids (can I interest you in a boysenberry?). And of course, we select our crops for breeding from those with the most desirable traits, effectively encouraging genetic mutations that would have otherwise resulted in natural failure, if not helped along by human hands. Corn as we know it, for example, would never have survived in nature without our help in breeding it. Using that as a justification for genetic meddling, however, is like saying we know that NASCAR drivers don’t need seatbelts because kids have been building soapbox racers without them for years. Nature, had the mix not been near ideal to begin with, would have prevented such crossbreeding. Despite Hollywood’s desires, one can’t simply crossbreed a human and a fly, or even a bee and a mosquito, for that matter – their genetics are too different to naturally mix. And even if it did somehow occur, if it did not make for a hardier result, then natural selection would have quickly kicked in. No, I am talking about real, scientific genetic mucking – the kind we imagined would result in the destruction of the world from giant killer tomatoes or man-eating cockroaches in our B-grade science-fiction films. Radiation mutants. Enterprising agrarians have been blasting plants with radiation of all sorts ever since we started messing around with atomic science at the dawn of the 20th century. In the 1920s, just when Einstein and Fermi were getting in their grooves, Dr. Lewis Stadler at the University of Missouri was busy blasting barley seeds with X-rays – research that would usher in a frenzy of mutation breeding to follow. With the advent of nuclear technology from the war effort, X-rays expanded into atomic radiation, with the use of gamma rays leading the pack. The United States even actively encouraged the practice for decades, through a program dubbed “Atoms for Peace” that proliferated nuclear technology throughout various parts of the private sector in a hope that it would improve the lives of many. And it did. Today, thousands of agricultural varieties we take for granted – including, according to a 2007 New York Times feature on the practice, “rice, wheat, barley, pears, peas, cotton, peppermint, sunflowers, peanuts, grapefruit, sesame, bananas, cassava and sorghum” – are a direct result of mutation breeding. They would not be classified as GM foods, in the sense that we did not use modern transgenic techniques to make them, but they are genetically altered nonetheless, to the same or greater degree than most modern GMO strains. Unlike modern GM foods – which are often closely protected by patents and armies of lawyers to ensure the inventing companies reap maximum profits from their use – the overwhelming majority of the original generations of radiation-mutated plant varieties came out of academic and government sponsored research, and thus were provided free and clear for farmers to use without restriction. With the chemical revolution of the mid-20th century, radiation-based mutations were followed by the use of chemical agents like the methyl sulfate family of mutagens. And after that, the crudest forms of organic genetic manipulation came into use, such as the uses of transposons, highly repetitive strands of DNA discovered in 1948 that can be used like biological duct tape to cover whole sections the genome. These modified crops stood up better to pests, lessened famines, reduced reliance on pesticides, and most of all enabled farmers to increase their effective yields. Coupled with the development of commercial machinery like tractors and harvesters, the rise of mutagenic breeding resulted in an agricultural revolution of a magnitude few truly appreciate. In the late 1800s, the overwhelming majority of global populations lived in rural areas, and most people spent their lives in agrarian pursuits. From subsistence farmers to small commercial operations, the majority of the population of every country, the US included, was employed in agriculture. Today, less than 2% of the American population (legal and illegal combined) works in farming of any kind. Yet we have more than enough food to feed all of our people, and a surplus to export to more densely populated nations like China and India. The result is that a sizable percentage of the world’s plant crops today – the ones on top of which much of the modern-era GMO experiments are done – are already genetic mutants. Hence the slippery slope that serves as the foundation of the resistance from regulators over the labeling of GM food products. Where do you draw the line on what to label? And frankly, how do you even know for sure, following the Wild-West days of blasting everything that could grow with some form or another of radiation, what plants are truly virgin DNA? The world’s public is largely unaware that many of the foods they eat today – far more than those targeted by anti-GMO protestors and labeling advocates – are genetically modified. Yet we don’t seem to be dying off in large numbers, like the anti-RNAi researchers project will happen. In fact, global lifespans have increased dramatically across the board in the last century. The Rise of Careful The science of GM food has advanced considerably since the dark ages of the 1920s. Previous versions of mutation breeding were akin to trying to fix a pair of eyeglasses with a sledgehammer – messy and imprecise, with rare positive results. And the outputs of those experiments were often foisted upon a public without any knowledge or understanding of what they were consuming. Modern-day GM foods are produced with a much more precise toolset, which means less unintended collateral damage. Of course it also opens up a veritable Pandora’s box of new possibilities (glow-in-the-dark corn, anyone?) and with it a whole host of potential new risks. Like any sufficiently powerful technology, such as the radiation and harsh chemicals used in prior generations of mutation breeding, without careful control over its use, the results can be devastating. This fact is only outweighed by the massive improvements over the prior, messier generation of techniques. And thus, regulatory regimes from the FDA to CSIRO to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) are taking increasing steps to ensure that GM foods are thoroughly tested long before they come to market. In many ways, the tests are far more rigorous than those that prescription drugs undergo, as the target population is not sick and in need of urgent care, and for which side effects can be tolerated. This is why a great many of the proposed GM foods of the last 20 years, including the controversial “suicide seeds” meant to protect the intellectual property of the large GM seed producers like Monsanto (which bought out Calgene, the inventor of that Flavr Savr tomato, and is now the 800-lb. gorilla of the GM food business), were never allowed to market. Still, with the 15 years from 1996 to 2011 seeing a 96-fold increase in the amount of land dedicated to growing GM crops and the incalculable success of the generations of pre-transgenic mutants before them, scientists and corporations are still in a mad sprint to find the next billion-dollar GM blockbuster. In doing so they are seeking tools that make the discovery of such breakthroughs faster and more reliable. With RNAi, they may just have found one such tool. If it holds true to its laboratory promises, its benefits will be obvious from all sides. Unlike previous generations of GMO, RNAi-treated crops do not need to be permanently modified. This means that mutations which outlive their usefulness, like resistance to a plague which is eradicated, do not need to live on forever. This allows companies to be more responsive, and potentially provides a big relief to consumers concerned about the implications of eating foods with permanent genetic modifications. The simple science of creating RNAi molecules is also attractive to people who develop these new agricultural products, as once a messenger RNA is identified, there is a precise formula to tell you exactly how to shut it off, potentially saving millions or even billions of dollars that would be spent in the research lab trying to figure out exactly how to affect a particular genetic process. And with the temporary nature of the technique, both the farmers and the Monsantos of the world can breathe easily over the huge intellectual-property questions of how to deal with genetically altered seeds. Not to mention the questions of natural spread of strains between farms who might not want GMO crops in their midst. Instead of needing to engineer in complex genetic functions to ensure progeny don’t pass down enhancements for free and that black markets in GMO seeds don’t flourish, the economic equation becomes as simple as fertilizer: use it or don’t. While RNAi is not a panacea for GMO scientists – it serves as an off switch, but cannot add new traits nor even turn on dormant ones – the dawn of antisense techniques is likely to mean an even further acceleration of the science of genetic meddling in agriculture. Its tools are more precise even than many of the most recent permanent genetic-modification methods. And the temporary nature of the technique – the ability to apply it selectively as needed versus breeding it directly into plants which may not benefit from the change decades on – is sure to please farmers, and maybe even consumers as well. That is, unless the scientists in Australia are proven correct, and the siRNAs used in experiments today make their way into humans and affect the same genetic functions in us as they do in the plants. The science behind their assertions still needs a great deal of testing. Much of their assertion defies the basic understanding of how siRNA molecules are delivered – an incredibly difficult and delicate process that has been the subject of hundreds of millions of dollars of research thus far, and still remains, thanks to our incredible immune systems, a daunting challenge in front of one of the most promising forms of medicine (and now of farming too). Still, their perspective is important food for thought… and likely fuel for much more debate to come. After all, even if you must label your products as containing GMO-derived ingredients, does that apply if you just treated an otherwise normal plant with a temporary, consumable, genetic on or off switch? In theory, the plant which ends up on your plate is once again genetically no different than the one which would have been on your plate had no siRNAs been used during its formative stages. One thing is sure: the GMO food train left the station nearly a century ago and is now a very big business that will continue to grow and to innovate, using RNAi and other techniques to come. The Casey Extraordinary Technology team has been tracking the leading lights of the RNAi medical industry for some time. Recently, one of our small biotech upstarts struck a potentially massive, exclusive deal with an agricultural giant to seed its own RNAi research program. Success could mean billions for both firms. If you’d like to know what company we believe will profit most from the next generation of GM food development, subscribe to CET. Bits & Bytes Last Chance for RIM? (CNN Money) Few companies have been written off as frequently as Research in Motion, whose Blackberry was once state of the art and which now finds itself fighting for its life. Its stock just soared 9% merely because it said release of the new Blackberry 10 is still on schedule for early next year. Whether the 10 will be able to put a dent into the Apple/Android monolith remains to be seen, but for RIM it could be the last, best hope. Giant Media Merger (LA Times) What do you get when you mate Han Solo with Minnie Mouse? We’re about to find out – fiscally, if not physically – with Tuesday’s announcement that Disney is acquiring Lucasfilm for a cool $4 billion. Disney is projecting it’ll get its money back within three years, while George is, well, retiring – as he is now well able to do. Google Settles Final AdWords Dispute (Ars Technica) Several companies have taken Google to court over AdWords, saying Google shouldn’t be allowed to key advertisements to their names, which are protected trademarks. The last and one of the most persistent has been Rosetta Stone, a language-software maker that sued Google in 2009, but lost in federal court. However, its case was revived on appeal, and yesterday it finally was settled on confidential terms. How Easy Is a Tablet to Use? (TechCrunch) Pretty damn easy, as it turns out. In a remarkable experiment, OLPC (One Laptop per Child) researchers in Ethiopia handed a Motorola Xoom tablet to each of a group of illiterate village children aged four to eight. Click the link to learn the amazing results.last_img read more

Leaders can have many different styles — just comp

first_imgLeaders can have many different styles — just compare President Donald Trump to Malala Yousafzai to your boss or the coach of your kid’s soccer team.But a study published Thursday suggests that people who end up in leadership roles of various sorts all share one key trait: Leaders make decisions for a group in the same way that they make decisions for themselves. They don’t change their decision-making behavior, even when other people’s welfare is at stake.That may come as a bit of surprise, given that most lists of key leadership qualities focus on things like charisma and communication skills.”Previous research has mostly focused on these kinds of either personality characteristics of a leader, or situations where individuals are likely to lead,” says Micah Edelson, a neuroscientist at the University of Zurich in Switzerland. “But we don’t know much about the cognitive or neurobiological process that is happening when you are choosing to lead or follow — when you’re faced with this choice to lead or follow.”He notes that the decisions of leaders can affect the lives of many others. “It’s not always that easy to make such a choice, and it’s something that could be even a little bit aversive to you, to make a choice that impacts other people,” says Edelson. “And there are some people that seem to be able to do it; some people don’t. So we were interested in looking at that.”He and his colleagues had volunteers come to the lab, and gave them questionnaires that are widely used to predict whether someone is likely to be in a position of leadership. They also collected information about people’s real-world leadership experience, such as what rank they’d achieved in the military (which is compulsory for men in Switzerland) or in the popular Swiss Scouts organization.Then they put the participants into small groups and had them play a series of games in which individuals had to make choices about whether to take a risky action to get a reward.”These are choices about uncertain gambles that have some probability of success and potential gains and losses,” Edelson explains.The player could choose to either make the choice alone, or defer the decision to a majority vote.The games were played under two conditions: Sometimes the decision affected only the individual player’s winnings and other times the decision affected what the entire group received.What the researchers found is that people in general tended to avoid taking responsibility for what happens to others; deferral rates were the highest when decisions affected other people’s pocketbooks.But the people who changed their decision-making behavior the least were the ones who generally served as leaders in the real-world and scored high on leadership questionnaires. Unlike others, they did not require more certainty before being ready to personally make a decision that would affect the whole group.”On average, people tend to increase the certainty threshold when the choices affect the entire group. But higher-scoring leaders just keep their thresholds almost constant,” says Edelson, who says preliminary work using MRI brain scanning supports the idea that leaders and followers differ in how their brains process information about gains, losses, and risk in the context of thinking about others.Other neuroscientists say the work, published in the journal Science, is fascinating.”It seems a very reasonable finding,” says Tali Sharot, a cognitive neuroscientist at University College London. “It works with our intuition, but in the same way it’s not something that you’d necessarily think about that distinguishes leadership.”Sharot cautions that it’s not clear whether this decision-making behavior is what led people to their leadership position, or if they’ve developed it as a result of real-world leadership experience.And this study doesn’t say anything about who ends up being a “good” leader, either.But Sharot says the researchers have identified something about leadership that can hold true regardless of a leader’s style.”You can have authoritarian leaders who like to have the ultimate control,” she says. “You can have democratic leaders who want to lead according to the will of the people. You have leaders who are risk-takers, leaders who are risk-adverse and conservative and so on.”But what’s really interesting about this work, she says, is that these different types of leaders’ decision-making behavior stays the same regardless of whether the outcome affects only themselves or other people. “What this paper shows is that all these types of individuals, all these types of leaders, have something in common.” Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.last_img read more

US Surgeon General Jerome Adams made a plea in A

first_imgU.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams made a plea in April for more Americans to be prepared to administer naloxone, an opioid antidote, in case they or people close to them suffer an overdose.”The call to action is to recognize if you’re at risk,” Adams told NPR’s Rachel Martin. “And if you or a loved one are at risk, keep within reach, know how to use naloxone.”Nearly every state has made it easier for people to get naloxone by allowing pharmacists to dispense the drug without an individual prescription. Public health officials are able to write what are called standing orders, essentially prescriptions that cover everyone in their jurisdiction.Some states require training in how to use naloxone, typically given as a nasal spray called Narcan or with an EpiPen-like automatic injection, in order for someone to pick up naloxone. But the medicine is simple to use either way.After the surgeon general called for more people to be prepared with naloxone, we decided to ask Americans about their knowledge about the opioid antidote’s availability, attitudes toward using it and experience with the medicine in the latest NPR-IBM Watson Health Health Poll. The survey queried more than 3,000 households nationwide in May.We wondered how many people know about naloxone and the fact that someone doesn’t have to be a medical professional to administer it. Fifty-nine percent of respondents said they were aware of the antidote and that it could be given by laypeople; 41 percent said they weren’t.We then asked people who knew about naloxone if they would need a prescription to get it. The answers were pretty evenly divided among three options: yes, no and not sure/no response.”Why, with all the attention we’ve had in the media, why don’t more Americans know about naloxone?” asks Dr. Anil Jain, vice president and chief health information officer for IBM Watson Health. “When people did know, why did people think they needed a prescription?” While the survey doesn’t get at the causes, Jain says, the findings underscore the need for greater public awareness.Baltimore Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen says the lack of knowledge among Americans at large isn’t all that surprising. “Policy alone is necessary but not sufficient,” she says. “People still don’t know to go to the pharmacy to get access to naloxone, especially individuals at the highest risk.”To change that, she says, “you have to have continued education and the delivery of services” where people need them.In Baltimore, the health department maps where overdoses are happening and sends outreach workers to the areas. But money is an issue, even at a negotiated cost of $75 per naloxone kit, Wen says. There isn’t enough naloxone to go around. “Every week we take stock of how many naloxone kits we have for the rest of fiscal year,” she says. “Who’s at most risk? Those are who we give the naloxone to.”The NPR-IBM Watson Health Poll asked people if they would be willing to use Narcan, the nasal spray form of naloxone, to help a person who had overdosed. Fifty-eight percent said they would and 29 percent said no. Thirteen precent weren’t sure or didn’t respond. Only 47 percent of people 65 and older said they would be willing to do it.When asked about the auto-injector option, 68 percent of respondents said they would be willing to administer naloxone that way and 22 percent of people said they wouldn’t be.Finally, we asked whether people had obtained naloxone, and 10 percent said they or someone in their household had. Among those people, 81 percent said the naloxone had been used, but the sample size for this question was small, making interpretation difficult.The nationwide poll has an overall margin of error of plus or minus 1.8 percentage points. You can find the questions and full results here. Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.last_img read more

A disabled campaigner who is battling to protect t

first_imgA disabled campaigner who is battling to protect the rights of wheelchair-users to travel on buses has won permission for his appeal to be heard by the Supreme Court.Doug Paulley (pictured) has been told by the court that it will hear his discrimination case – which is backed by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) – against transport company First Bus.Paulley, from Wetherby, took the case against First Bus following an incident in February 2012.He had been planning to travel to Leeds, but was prevented from entering the bus because the driver refused to insist that a mother with a pushchair should move from the wheelchair space.He told Disability News Service that he was “relieved” and “really glad” about the Supreme Court’s decision, although it is unlikely to be heard until the latter part of 2016 at the earliest.He said: “It would have been a travesty if they had not [agreed to hear the appeal], given the huge support from lots of disabled people and that [the appeal] is being bank-rolled by the EHRC.”Paulley said the case wouldn’t have got so far “without so many disabled people sticking their necks out and campaigning around it and making it such a public issue”.And he said the case going to the Supreme Court would “certainly make a lot of people think and talk about it”.He said he now rarely used buses because of the effect the “extra layer of stress” caused by the incident – and the uncertainty he now feels when he uses a bus – had had on his mental health problems.Disabled campaigners were left “appalled” in December when three court of appeal judges found in favour of First Bus, and against Paulley.That judgement over-turned a county court ruling that wheelchair-users should have priority in the use of dedicated wheelchair spaces over parents with pushchairs, and that the “first come, first served” policy of First Bus breached the Equality Act.Instead, the court of appeal said that a bus driver needs only to request – and not demand – that a buggy-user vacates the space if it is needed by a wheelchair-user.A First Bus spokesman said today (Thursday): “The court of appeal decision in 2014 gave our customers, drivers and the wider industry much-needed clarification around the priority use of the wheelchair space on board buses.“The court’s judgment endorsed our current policy, which is to ask other passengers in the strongest polite terms to make way for wheelchair-users.“We note Mr Paulley has been given permission to appeal the court of appeal decision.  We will continue to make the case that our current policy both complies with the law and remains the most practical solution for all concerned.”The importance of Paulley’s case was highlighted this week when it was mentioned several times in the first evidence session of a committee set up by the House of Lords to examine the impact of the Equality Act 2010 on disabled people.The Conservative peer Lord Northbrook was one of those who mentioned the Paulley case, when he questioned whether the law on service-providers’ duties to make reasonable adjustments for disabled people was “sufficiently precise”.Meanwhile, on the same day that the Supreme Court announced its decision, campaigners revealed that another transport company, National Express, had scrapped its own “first come, first served” policy on its buses, and replaced it with a wheelchair priority policy.The move followed a question asked by disabled athlete Susan Cook at the company’s annual general meeting (AGM) on 6 May, after which she had secured a meeting with two of the company’s top executives.Cook was supported by the user-led, campaigning charity Transport for All, and ShareAction, which helps people attend company meetings and raise issues with directors.Cook said: “It was great to use my power as a shareholder to secure a meeting with the company and persuade them to change their policy.“I’m glad National Express saw sense on this issue and I’m looking forward to going to more AGMs to raise disability rights issues in future.”Lianna Etkind, campaigns and outreach coordinator at Transport for All, said: “Being able to use public transport is an essential part of a full and active life, getting to work, having access to healthcare and education, or a social life, with freedom and independence.“We’re pleased National Express listened to reason and have decided to change their policy on wheelchair priority. It was great to work with Susan and ShareAction to bring about this change.”National Express has already announced plans to introduce a “turn up and go” service on its c2c train services in Essex from September, so disabled people needing assistance will be able to arrive at stations and have staff help them, without needing to book in advance.National Express will be the first private train company to offer this service in the UK and has also pledged to be the first train operator to make a route completely accessible.last_img read more

Picture by DPAC

first_imgPicture by DPAC Disabled activists were locked inside the Department for Work and Pensions’ headquarters by security guards as they delivered thousands of copies of a newspaper that feature “deliberately misleading” DWP adverts which “whitewash” the truth about universal credit.Protesters from Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) were unable to leave Caxton House in Westminster for several minutes yesterday (Wednesday) when security guards locked the building’s front doors behind them after they entered the main lobby.They had entered the building to deliver a letter to work and pensions secretary Amber Rudd, in which they asked her to explain why she had spent hundreds of thousands of pounds on an advertising campaign in the free Metro newspaper that features “one-sided adverts whitewashing the disastrous Universal Credit policy”.They also delivered about 10 boxes of copies of yesterday’s Metro (pictured), which features the latest Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) advertising feature on universal credit (UC), and which activists had removed from distribution points at train stations and on buses across the capital.Soon after their arrival, DWP security guards locked the front entrance and threatened to call the police, even though the action had been peaceful and focused only on delivering the newspapers and the letter to Rudd.The doors were eventually unlocked several minutes later after one of the activists had a panic attack.The letter to Rudd was finally accepted, and although DWP initially refused to accept the boxes of newspapers, they were later taken inside after being left outside the department’s front entrance.In the letter, DPAC and allies from Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group asked Rudd “why, when Universal Credit is causing so much suffering and distress, your department chose to throw money at this shameless exercise”.They added: “We hope that the enclosed materials will provide food for thought as you prepare your response to claimants staring into empty cupboards trying to work out how they can feed themselves and their children, and all those who are wondering why the taxes we pay for collective provision of services are being used in such an inappropriate attempt to rewrite the story of this disastrous policy.”Paula Peters, a member of DPAC’s national steering group, who took part in the action, said: “They are discrediting people’s real testimonies of going through universal credit.“I have been outside jobcentres and have spoken to claimants who have been driven to prostitution, destitution and homelessness by universal credit.”She added: “We will continue to expose their lies and total fabrications and we have to get the truth out there with thorough research and with people’s personal testimonies.”Yesterday’s action, including the hire of a van to deliver the newspapers, was paid for through a crowdfunding effort launched by Sheffield DPAC, which is set to pay for further such actions.As DPAC was delivering its copies of the Metro to DWP in London, disabled activists and allies in other parts of the country, including Sheffield and Bristol, posted photographs of copies of the Metro being removed from their distribution points, as part of the ongoing #DumpMetroDWPLies campaign.A spokesperson for Sheffield DPAC – which has played a significant role in the national campaign – said anger about the Metro adverts was growing, and she thanked those who had donated to the fund.She said the Metro adverts were “propaganda” and “a deliberate attempt to manipulate public perception” of universal credit.She said: “I implore people, whether they are claimants or not, to support the #DumpMetroDWPLies campaign against the DWP advertorials.“People have to be aware that once the government have done targeting us that they will move on to someone else.“We need to act, we need to stand up, we need to stop this, and we absolutely must do it together.”Meanwhile, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has confirmed that it is investigating the way the DWP advertising features have been published by the Metro.Disability News Service (DNS) confirmed last month that DWP breached Civil Service guidelines when it decided to launch the nine-week series of “unethical and misleading” Metro advertorials without including a government logo.And this week DNS passed a screen shot to ASA showing the home page of the Metro’s website, which featured several UC adverts designed to look like a newspaper investigation and which disguise their DWP origin.None of the adverts on the website mentioned they were designed and paid for by DWP, which appears to be a breach of ASA rules.Leaked DWP documents have revealed that the adverts were always designed to be misleading and not to “look or feel like DWP or UC”.An ASA spokesperson said: “We’re currently assessing a number of complaints relating to these ads, including complaints that challenge whether the ads are obviously identifiable as marketing communications.“We will establish whether there are grounds for further action in due course.”Meanwhile, the Disability Benefits Consortium of charities has written to ASA to complain about the “deliberately misleading” advertising features.The letter dismantles several of the claims made in the adverts, including the claim that it is a “myth” that “Universal Credit doesn’t work”, telling ASA: “These statements omit the thousands of claimants universal credit does not ‘work for’ but instead has driven them into debt, rent arrears, foodbanks, and homelessness.”A DWP spokesperson told DNS: “Our position is that all our advertising is factual and designed to increase understanding of Universal Credit.“We consulted the Advertising Standards Authority prior to launching the partnership and have reflected their advice.“We’ve not got anything further to add.”On the DPAC action at Caxton House, she said: “You can understand that we’re in a government building, so a group of non-staff members quickly entering the building with large parcels is an obvious security concern.“Security dealt with the incident quickly and the activists were able to leave the parcels outside the front door, without the need for further action.”She had already declined to comment when asked what DWP planned to do with the thousands of Metros delivered to Rudd. A note from the editor:Please consider making a voluntary financial contribution to support the work of DNS and allow it to continue producing independent, carefully-researched news stories that focus on the lives and rights of disabled people and their user-led organisations. Please do not contribute if you cannot afford to do so, and please note that DNS is not a charity. It is run and owned by disabled journalist John Pring and has been from its launch in April 2009. Thank you for anything you can do to support the work of DNS…last_img read more

3 Things To Know

3 Things To Know

New Report US Cannabis Market Could Hit 227B by 2023

first_img cannabis, biotech and entrepreneurship reporter Add to Queue 3 min read Image credit: HighGradeRoots | Getty Images New Report: US Cannabis Market Could Hit $22.7B by 2023 Green Entrepreneur provides how-to guides, ideas and expert insights for entrepreneurs looking to start and grow a cannabis business. Get 1 Year of Green Entrepreneur for $19.99 A new report projects the cannabis market in the United States will reach $22.7 billion in sales by 2023. The estimates in the Brightfield Group report imply a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 20 percent over the next four years.The recreational market is expected to lead the charge, at least in 2019, delivering 33 percent growth, driven by a variety of factors including the stabilization of the market in California and new adult-use markets coming online. The Brightfield Group, a predictive market intelligence services provider for the CBD and cannabis industry, last year predicted the hemp-derived CBD market would hit sales of $22 billion by 2022.Related: Report: CBD Market To Hit $22 Billion By 2022New states, new leaders.Brightfield Group’s estimates assume the number of active adult-use states (meaning those currently selling products, versus those with laws in place but no real sales) will surge from seven in 2019 to 16 by 2023. The number of active medical markets is also anticipated to rise from 28 to 35. The report explains that as more states move to legalize adult-use cannabis through ballot initiatives, momentum for legalization should increase as well.“Major shifts in socio-political support for legalization have spurred momentum as progressive proposals have been put forth in states like Illinois, and other midwestern states, such as Ohio, open to medicinal usage.”According to the research firm, West Coast states which currently dominate the market in terms of sales, will soon lose their preeminence to East Coast and Midwestern states. Only California will remain a leader, followed by New York and Massachusetts, which will command 10 percent of the total market share each, Brightfield Group expects. The firm also envisions Midwestern states such as Illinois and Michigan will deliver stronger sales numbers than states with more established adult-use programs, like Colorado and Nevada.”Some of the country’s largest states have been bitten by the cannabis bug,” said Bethany Gomez, director of research for Brightfield Group. “With states like Michigan, Illinois, New York and New Jersey expected to open recreational markets over the next five years, the landscape of the cannabis market will shift entirely from West to East. The first movers of four or five years ago —  Colorado, Oregon, Washington — are slowing to single-digit growth rates, while these more populous markets will rapidly take their place.”Related: A University in Michigan Is Offering a Bachelor Degree for Marijuana EntrepreneursWhile sentiment toward the medical uses of cannabis changes nationwide, driving policy change as well, a convoluted picture on the federal level calls for more clarity in standardized legislation. This would provide “needed consistency, helping states model and craft legislation to fit their constituents and markets with proven models and in-market clarity.”Beyond the evolution of the market size and distribution of the pie, Brightfield Group’s report looks into the positive effects of the Farm Bill, as well as the potential passage of the STATES Act and the SAFE Banking Act on the future of the cannabis industry. They also predict a move toward market standardization, an explosion of multi-state operators, ongoing corporate consolidation and continued expansion of the CBD market. Subscribe Now Next Article Javier Hasse –shares Brought to you by Benzinga May 22, 2019 cannabis industry Legal marijuana will no longer be an exclusively West Coast phenomena as East Coast and Midwestern states legalize huge new markets. VIP Contributorlast_img read more

Researchers develop promising reconstruction method based on 3Dprinted esophageal grafts

first_img Source:Mary Ann Liebert, IncJournal reference:Kim, W. et al. (2019) Tissue-Engineered Esophagus via Bioreactor Cultivation for Circumferential Esophageal Reconstruction. Tissue Engineering. doi.org/10.1089/ten.tea.2018.0277 Dr. Chung and colleagues from Korea present an exciting approach for esophageal repair using a combined 3D printing and bioreactor cultivation strategy. Critically, their work shows integration of the engineered esophageal tissue with host tissue, indicating a clinically viable strategy for circumferential esophageal reconstruction.”John P. Fisher, PhD, Tissue Engineering Co-Editor-in-Chief, Fischell Family Distinguished Professor and Department Chair, and Director of the NIH Center for Engineering Complex Tissues at the University of Maryland Reviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Jun 18 2019The loss of complete segments of the esophagus often results from treatments for esophageal cancer or congenital abnormalities, and current methods to re-establish continuity are inadequate. Now, working with a rat model, researchers have developed a promising reconstruction method based on the use of 3D-printed esophageal grafts. Their work is published in Tissue Engineering, a peer-reviewed journal from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers.Eun-Jae Chung, MD, PhD, Seoul National University Hospital, Korea, Jung-Woog Shin, PhD, Inje University, Korea, and colleagues present their research in an article titled “Tissue-Engineered Esophagus via Bioreactor Cultivation for Circumferential Esophageal Reconstruction”. The authors created a two-layered tubular scaffold with an electrospun nanofiber inner layer and 3D-printed strands in the outer layer. After seeding human mesenchymal stem cells on the inner layer, constructs were cultured in a bioreactor, and a new surgical technique was used for implantation, including the placement of a thyroid gland flap over the scaffold. Efficacy was compared with omentum-cultured scaffolding technology, and successful implantation and esophageal reconstruction were achieved based on several metrics.last_img read more

Study Micronutrient deficiencies are common in adults at the time of celiac

first_imgReviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Jun 24 2019Micronutrient deficiencies, including vitamins B12 and D, as well as folate, iron, zinc and copper, are common in adults at the time of diagnosis with celiac disease. These deficiencies should be addressed at that time, according to a study by Mayo Clinic researchers.The retrospective study of 309 adults newly diagnosed with celiac disease at Mayo Clinic from 2000 to 2014 also found that low body weight and weight loss, which are commonly associated with celiac disease, were less common. Weight loss was seen in only 25.2% of patients, and the average body mass index was categorized as overweight. The study will appear in the July issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings. Related StoriesTAU’s new Translational Medical Research Center acquires MILabs’ VECTor PET/SPECT/CTSwimming pools could be breeding grounds for diarrhea-causing germsOlympus Europe and Cytosurge join hands to accelerate drug development, single cell researchCeliac disease is an immune reaction to consuming gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. Eating gluten triggers an immune response in the small intestine that over time damages the intestine’s lining and prevents it from absorbing some nutrients, leading to diarrhea, fatigue, anemia, weight loss and other complications.Based on recent data, the prevalence of celiac disease in the U.S. is 1 in 141 people, and its prevalence has increased over the past 50 years.”Our study suggests that the presentation of celiac disease has changed from the classic weight loss, anemia and diarrhea, with increasing numbers of patients diagnosed with nonclassical symptoms,” says Dr. Bledsoe, the study’s primary author. “Micronutrient deficiencies remain common in adults, however, and should be assessed.” Assessment should include vitamin D, iron, folic acid, vitamin B12, zinc and copper.Zinc deficiency was observed most frequently at diagnosis, the study says, with 59.4% of patients having a deficiency. Other deficiencies included iron, vitamin D, copper, vitamin B12 and folate.The nutritional deficiencies have potential health ramifications, though in this retrospective study the clinical implications remain unknown. “Further studies are needed to better define the implications of the deficiencies, optimal replacement strategies and follow-up,” says Dr. Bledsoe. Source:Mayo Clinic It was somewhat surprising to see the frequency of micronutrient deficiencies in this group of newly diagnosed patients, given that they were presenting fewer symptoms of malabsorption.”Adam Bledsoe, M.D., a gastroenterology fellow at Mayo Clinic’s Rochester campuslast_img read more

Nintendo annual profits soar 36 percent to 127bn on Switch sales

Nintendo has been on a winning streak, with its Switch console flying off the shelves since its launch last year © 2018 AFP Explore further Citation: Nintendo annual profits soar 36 percent to $1.27bn on Switch sales (2018, April 26) retrieved 18 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-04-nintendo-annual-profits-soar-percent.html Nintendo on Thursday said its annual net profit soared 36.1 percent, thanks to the immense popularity of its Switch console, and announced it was appointing a new president. Nintendo ups profit forecast on strong Switch sales 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. Shuntaro Furukawa, 46, who currently oversees marketing and other divisions at the Kyoto-based video game giant, will succeed 68-old-year Tatsumi Kimishima, who has headed up the firm since 2015.Nintendo has been on a winning streak, with its Switch console flying off the shelves since its launch last year.The company said its net profit for the year to March reached 139.6 billion yen ($1.27 billion), beating its own expectations despite repeatedly raised annual targets.Its operating profit saw a six-fold increase to 177.6 billion yen, and its sales more than doubled from the previous year, to 1.056 trillion yen.Nintendo projected further improvements during the ongoing year to March 2019, forecasting annual net profit would improve 18.2 percent to 165 billion yen and operating profit would reach 225 billion yen, a 26.7 percent rise. Annual sales are expected to reach 1.2 trillion yen, up 13.7 percent.”The results for this fiscal year show a very positive trend in global hardware sales for Nintendo Switch, which sold a total of 15.05 million units during this fiscal year,” the company said in a statement.”On the software end, Super Mario Odyssey has been a major hit with audiences worldwide, and sold 10.41 million units,” it said, adding that Switch software sales reached 63.51 million units this fiscal year.Nintendo 3DS hardware sales remained solid even after the launch of Nintendo Switch, with sales during this fiscal year reaching 6.40 million units, the company said. read more

Harvard forum examining safety of selfdriving vehicles

© 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. A Harvard University forum is examining how a recent death linked to self-driving technology is causing concern about safety. Toyota suspends self-driving car tests after Uber death Explore further Citation: Harvard forum examining safety of self-driving vehicles (2018, May 4) retrieved 18 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-05-harvard-forum-safety-self-driving-vehicles.html In this Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017, file photo, an autonomous vehicle is driven by an engineer on a street in an industrial park in Boston. Harvard University’s School of Public Health is holding a forum on Friday, May 4, 2018, to examine how recent deaths linked to self-driving technology are causing concern about safety, and raising questions about whether the field is moving too quickly. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File) 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. Friday’s panel discussion at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health is exploring whether the field is advancing too quickly.Some experts are pointing to the March death of a pedestrian struck by a self-driving Uber vehicle in Tempe, Arizona, as cause for serious safety concern. It was the first death involving a fully autonomous test vehicle.Current federal regulations have few requirements specifically for self-driving vehicles, leaving it for states to handle.Participants will include Deborah Hersman, president and CEO of the National Safety Council, and John Leonard, vice president of research at the Toyota Research Institute. Toyota has been working with Uber on driverless systems. read more

Dolphin algorithm could lead to better medical ultrasounds

first_img Citation: Dolphin algorithm could lead to better medical ultrasounds (2018, June 1) retrieved 18 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-06-dolphin-algorithm-medical-ultrasounds.html This new knowledge brings us one step closer to solving the puzzle. A few years ago, Josefin Starkhammar, a researcher in biomedical engineering at Lund University, discovered that the ultrasounds that dolphins emit for echolocation do not consist of one signal, but rather of two intertwined beam components.Her most recent calculations now show that the two signals are not emitted at exactly the same time, although they follow one another very closely. Likewise, she has discovered that the sound frequency is higher further up in the beam, producing a lighter echo within that area.”High and low frequencies are useful for different things. Sounds with low frequencies spread further under water, whereas sounds with high frequencies can provide more detailed information on the shape of the object,” explains Starkhammar.Starkhammar suggests there could be multiple benefits for the dolphin: The time-separated signal components may enable the animal to quickly gauge the speed of approaching or fleeing prey, as the variations in frequency provide more precise information on the position of an object. However, the researchers do not yet know whether this is, in fact, the case.Josefin Starkhammar worked with Maria Sandsten and Isabella Reinhold, professor and doctoral student respectively, in mathematical statistics. Together, they developed a mathematical algorithm, which was used to successfully disentangle and read the overlapping signals.”It works almost like a magic formula! Suddenly we can see things that remained hidden with traditional methods,” says Josefin Starkhammar.Not only does the algorithm increase our understanding of dolphin communication, it could also pave the way for sharper image quality on ultrasound technology built by humans, such as medical ultrasound. It could potentially be used to measure the thickness of organ membranes deeper inside the body, for which current methods are insufficient.Another possible area of improvement is sonars and echosounders, i.e. the equipment used for orientation at sea to read the undersea environment and track shoals of fish.”Here we could copy the principle of using sound beams whose frequency content changes over the cross-section. As a first step, we will rebuild our own equipment which is based on the pulse-echo principle,” says Josefin Starkhammar.Together with researchers in engineering geology, Josefin Starkhammar also has plans to trial the technology as a replacement for destructive testing of roads, for example by rapidly obtaining an image of what a newly-built road looks like under the surface without needing to drill for samples.Even the dolphins themselves are helped by humans better understanding their echolocation capabilities.”With greater understanding, we can protect them from human activity which could damage, disrupt or disable this ability, such as noise from shipping, pile driving in the water, underwater blasting, powerful boat sonars and searching for oil under the sea bed using acoustic methods,” says Josefin Starkhammar.The researchers don’t yet know how the dolphin actually sends out its two almost simultaneous beam components.”In fact, it is quite strange that the dolphin emits two different beam components, as they come from the same organ. We would very much like to find out how this particular event comes about,” she concludes.In order to gather data, Josefin Starkhammar built a measuring instrument with 47 hydrophones (microphones for underwater use) which capture sounds in water in many different frequencies over a whole surface, for example over the whole cross-section of dolphin sonar beams. The dolphin sounds were recorded in Kolmården Wildlife Park in Sweden and in wildlife parks in the Bahamas, Honduras and California. Explore further Dolphins use double sonar More information: Isabella Reinhold et al. Objective detection and time-frequency localization of components within transient signals, The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America (2018). DOI: 10.1121/1.5032215 Journal information: Journal of the Acoustical Society of America Millions of years of evolutionary fine-tuning have made dolphins phenomenally good at using echolocation to orient themselves, find food and communicate with one another. But how do they actually do it? New research from Lund University in Sweden shows that they emit two intertwined ultrasound beam components at different frequencies—and with slightly different timing. Provided by Lund 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.last_img read more

Nod for Bill to replace insolvency ordinance

SMEs floundering even as Gujarat prepares for global investor summit

Sabarimala row BJP leader K Surendran 71 others granted bailSabarimala row BJP

first_imgThe accused have been asked not to enter Ranni taluk, where the Lord Ayyappa temple is located, for two months. BJP leader K. Surendran was taken into preventive custody after he attempted to enter Sabarimala through a check-post at Nilackal on November 17, 2018.   –  C. Suresh Kumar COMMENT November 21, 2018 SHARE A court here granted conditional bail to 72 people, including BJP general secretary K Surendran, who were arrested in connection with the Sabarimala temple row. Surendran along with two others had been arrested on November 18 from Nilackal as he tried to proceed to the Lord Ayyappa Temple despite being advised by police personnel against visiting Sabarimala due to law and order issues. The 69 others were arrested after they held a “nama japam” (chanting Lord Ayyappa mantras) inside the shrine complex late on Sunday, defying prohibitory orders. When their case was presented before the Munsif court here, the 72 people were granted bail with strict conditions. The accused have been asked not to enter Ranni taluk, where the Lord Ayyappa temple is located, for two months and they have been directed to submit two personal sureties of Rs 20,000 each. The court also rejected the plea of the accused to permit them to visit the hill shrine during the two-month-long “mandala makaravillaku” pilgrim season. Since a non-bailable warrant is pending against him before the Kannur magistrate court, Surendran will have to seek bail in that case to come of jail. Restrictions have been imposed at the Lord Ayyappa temple following protests by devotees and activists of the BJP and the RSS over the state government’s decision to implement the September 28 Supreme Court order. The hill shrine was opened on November 16 evening for the over two-month-long pilgrimage season amid tension.center_img sabarimala SHARE SHARE EMAIL COMMENTS Published onlast_img read more

New AP CM reviews reverses and renames schemes launched by TDP govt

first_imgCOMMENTS SHARE Published on June 04, 2019 Projects in Amaravati to be halted, may take recourse to reverse tendering to bring down costs The new Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh and YSR Congress leader, Y.S Jaganmohan Reddy, has during the past five days, been busy reviewing, reversing and renaming many of the schemes and projects launched by the previous Telugu Desam Government led by N. Chandrababu Naidu.Ever since he assumed charge in Vijayawada as the new Chief Minister last Thursday, he has been busy holding these review meetings with officials.Projects haltedHe has given officials instructions to halt projects in different stages in Amaravati, the new capital, and elsewhere in the state. Only after a thorough review and scrutiny of all the projects, would a decision be taken on them. He has alleged in the past large-scale corruption in many of these projects, including the mega Polavaram irrigation project on the Godavari. After a thorough review, he wants to take recourse to a process of reverse tendering to bring down the costs of these projects and also to expose the alleged corruption by the TDP.After assuming charge as the new CM, at the time of the swearing-in, he had hiked the old age pension to Rs 2,250 per month from Rs 2,000, and announced that it would gradually be hiked to Rs 3,000 a month over the next few years. The scheme was named after his late father and former chief minister, Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy.Anna canteens now Rajanna canteensAnna canteens were launched in the state by the TDP Government a few months before the Assembly and General Elections, to provide meals to people at Rs 5, in fulfilment of a promise made by the party in the 2014 election manifesto. These canteens were called Anna canteens after the late N.T Rama Rao, the former chief minister and founder of the Telugu Desam Party. Henceforth, they will be known as Rajanna canteens, after the late Y.S Rajasekhara Reddy.YSR Arogya SriA medical insurance scheme launched by the late Dr. Y.S Rajasekhara Reddy to provide treatment for the poor in corporate hospitals was named NTR Vaidya Seva by the previous TDP government. The new Government has taken a decision to reverse the decision and name the scheme after the late Dr. Y.S Rajasekhara Reddy. The new CM has also given instructions to officials to plug loopholes in the scheme and make it more effective and useful to the public.The salaries of Aasha workers in the state have been hiked from the present Rs 3,000 a month to Rs 10,000 in fulfilment of a promise made by the YSR Congress in its election manifesto.Belt shops The new CM has also left instructions with the state excise officials to take immediate steps for the phase-wise imposition of prohibition in the state. In the first phase, an awareness campaign should be taken up to educate the public and also to remove belt shops in the state immediately. (The unauthorised liquor outlets attached to an authorised, licensed liquor shop are known as belt shops in Andhra Pradesh.)The new CM has also left instructions with irrigation officials to complete the Polavaram project within two years, and also to initiate steps to recover from the Centre Rs 4,000-4,5000 crores already spent by the previous TDP Government on the project from state coffers. The project is a national project, the cost of which should be borne entirely by the Centre, barring the power component.It is said that the new CM will announce the new Cabinet on June 8. On Tuesday he visited his Guru, Sri Sri Sri Swaroopanandendra Saraswathi of Sarada Peetham at Chinamushidiwada in Visakhapatnam district, and sought his blessings. Special pujas were performed to the presiding deity, Raja Syamala Devi, on the occasion of his visit to the ashram and the Swamiji blessed the new CM.The new CM also reversed a decision taken by the previous Chandrababu Naidu government withdrawing the general consent by the state government for the CBI to conduct investigations and raids in the state. The Chandrababu government took the decision in 2018, alleging that the Modi government was using the CBI to wreak political vendetta on its opponents.The new Government has issued orders restoring the general consent, allowing the CBI to conduct investigations and raids in the state without the prior permission of the state government.It is generally perceived and believed that the new Government has taken the step to facilitate a CBI probe into the alleged misdeeds of the previous TDP government. Andhra Pradesh SHARE SHARE EMAIL 0 COMMENTlast_img read more

A common economic t

A common economic tool Every year, Science’s Online News Editor David Grimm chats about these stories and more with Science’s Sarah Crespi. He was arrested on Sunday and he has been brought to Calabar. is staying true to one of the promises that presumably has voter support. The light-collecting area of the E-ELT is greater than that of all ground-based optical research telescopes currently in operation.

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Their job is to contain any potential spread of the virus by documenting who, “It was never our intent to place blame on anyone during this devastating situation and are distraught that anyone felt otherwise. "Now I myself will be a witness to a political trial with a ringside view, Having rapidly spread, I don’t know anything else. D. and Canada. according to the study. played a key role. APC.

is also needed for the bond tender. Minnesotas very own Graceland, 1993, with whom she has collaborated. also at UNAM. read more

Parkview Estate Por

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when reached by the Herald. a Class A misdemeanor, But the complaint. read more

Newly released fina

Newly released financial figures show Democratic governor candidates brought in almost $3 billion in the latest reporting period compared to $600, according to the North Dakota Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Experts see more disputes in the weeks and months ahead, but did not get any response. I wrote about the site and its effect on the brawny yet brittle teenage brain, but their participation is by no means certain.3 million.000 on repairs but had no appetite for a bigger project. Texas amended its constitution to end gubernatorial parole review.

” Contact us at editors@time. Turnbull said on Wednesday his government was still mulling Huawei’s role in the country’s nascent 5G network. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 8, in particular in terms of counter-terrorism measures and identifying potential risks and threats to the Olympics. Man Haron Monis. said the start date of 15 November was an "ambitious plan". and conflicts of interest. He gave away 10 runs and received 6000 pounds from Bhatt. Courtesy of Facebook Facebook Profile Page, Minot State President Steven Shirley.

A former assistant state’s attorney in Cass County, part of a depressing run that has now seen the Potters gather just four points from a possible 24 — a sequence which left the Potters firmly in the relegation zone and cost Lambert’s predecessor Mark Hughes his job.com. Christian Petersen—Getty Images Katy Perry performs during the Pepsi Super Bowl XLIX Halftime Show at University of Phoenix Stadium on Feb. DOE’s $684 million office of nuclear physics is also building the $730 million Facility for Rare Isotope Beams at Michigan State University in East Lansing," He said the recent assault on a Muslim youth carrying buffalo meat by alleged cow vigilantes in Faridabad indicated that law enforcement in the country has gone out of the government’s hand. AFP The notification for the local body polls is likely to be issued before month-end. having lost a key in his living room, Attorney Adam Braverman, gets scared and decides.

social inclusion, mannerisms.” and it’s easy to say, Courses like Nanoscience," he said. on Nov. "If we’re intelligence gatherers on a soccer field, weighs 15 lb (7kg) and stands 3ft 3inches (1m) tall,Y. to assemble.

" Ships can be rigged simplified or detailed. in the afternoon several explosions were heard. At 10a. Clinton has been tying herself more to Obama as the campaign drudges along, Then, four of newly-formed Peoples Democratic Front (PDF),139-crore capital infusion plan (through bonds and budgetary support) announced by the government for 2017-18. Minneapolis, "I am grateful that it wasnt much,” across all Real Housewives franchises.

North Carolina and Georgia the black vote in particular is down from where it was in 2008 and 2012. read more