Indoor Public Smoking Banned In Alaska Starting Today

first_imgThose who step outside to smoke must been at least 10 feet away from an entrance to a bar or restaurant; and 20 feet of an entrance, open window or heating or ventilation system intake. Smoking in pretty much any workplace whether it’s a public-facing business like restaurants, bars and music venues or more closed to the public like an office or hotel room is also banned. Sen. Micciche: “Senate Bill 63 does not prohibit outdoor smoking except near where it affects others.The bill does not legislate the employment of smokers or non smokers, and local government will retain their ability for more restrictive local provisions.”  Senate Bill 63, commonly called the “Take it Outside Act,” was sponsored by Senator Peter Micciche (R-K-Pen), to protect Alaskans working indoors from secondhand smoke. The ban refers to tobacco, marijuana and e-cigarettes in public places, including bars and restaurants. The new law also bans smoking outdoors at open-air venues like the seating area of outdoor concerts and sporting events, as well as near entrances to buildings affected by the ban and near playgrounds when children are present. Smoking on public transportation or in shared work vehicles is also banned. Governor Bill Walker signed the statewide smoke-free workplace bill into law in July at the Lucky Wishbone, reportedly the first restaurant in Alaska to go completely smoke-free. If a community decides it wants to allow smoking in those environments, they can choose to “opt out” by putting the question on the ballot for the residents of the area to vote on. Businesses affected by the ban are required to put up signs that reads “Smoking Prohibited by Law–Fine $50.” Businesses that fail to post these signs will be liable for a fine between $50 and $300. Facebook0TwitterEmailPrintFriendly分享Workers and customers of Alaska businesses who smoke will now need to ‘take it outside’ starting today, October 1.last_img read more

The Wilmington Insider For September 30 2018

first_imgWILMINGTON, MA — Below is a round-up of what’s going on in Wilmington on Sunday, September 30, 2018:Happening Today:Weather: Sunny, with a high near 67. Northwest wind 3 to 8 mph.In The Community: The Wilmington Farmers Market continues its season from 10am to 1pm on the Swain Green (across from the Town Common). See this week’s lineup HERE.Next Door: U.S. Congressman Seth Moulton, who represents Wilmington and the rest of the the 6th Congressional District of Massachusetts, is holding a Town Hall from 1:45pm to 2:45pm at Tewksbury Town Hall (1009 Main Street, Tewksbury).Next Door:  The Tewksbury Public Events and Celebrations Committee (TPEC) will host its fifth annual Fall Harvest Festival from noon to 5pm at Livingston Fields. TPEC is bringing a variety of food, fun and entertainment for this year’s harvest festival. If you have attended in years past, you will see some familiar faces in Rattlesnake Alley, Wicked Cornhole, and Wicked Cheesy. In addition to live musical entertainment and a couple of wicked Tewksbury businesses, the festival will include a number of craft and food vendors. Carnival rides include round-up, super slide, train ride, and moonwalk. Unlimited-ride bracelets can be purchased for $10 per person — cash only. Kids can ride any ride as often as they like with these bracelets. There will also be pie-eating contests, kids’ crafts, and additional live entertainment. Parking is available at Tewksbury State Hospital with free shuttle buses to the festival. Parking on Livingston Street is limited to vendors, volunteers, handicapped-placarded vehicles.In The Community: The Middlesex Canal Museum and Visitors’ Center (71 Faulkner Street, North Billerica) is open from noon to 4pm.  Learn about the canal, which travels through Wilmington.MBTA Reminder: There will be no weekend commuter rail service on the Lowell Line (Wilmington Center) until December. A free shuttle bus will be available. Learn more HERE.Food Shopping: Food shopping in town this week?  In case you haven’t seen this week’s circulars, Wilmington Apple has you covered:This week’s circular from Market Basket (260 Main Street) can be found HERE.This week’s circular from Lucci’s Market (211 Lowell Street) can be found HERE.Elia’s Country Store (381 Middlesex Avenue) does not have an online circular, but the store posts its hot entree schedule and other specials on its Facebook page HERE.(NOTE: What did I miss? Let me know by commenting below, commenting on the Facebook page, or emailing wilmingtonapple@gmail.com. I may be able to update this post.)Like Wilmington Apple on Facebook. Follow Wilmington Apple on Twitter. Follow Wilmington Apple on Instagram. Subscribe to Wilmington Apple’s daily email newsletter HERE. Got a comment, question, photo, press release, or news tip? Email wilmingtonapple@gmail.com.Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:Like Loading… RelatedThe Wilmington Insider For August 23, 2018In “5 Things To Do Today”The Wilmington Insider For October 17, 2018In “5 Things To Do Today”The Wilmington Insider For September 11, 2018In “5 Things To Do Today”last_img read more

US gay mayor to launch presidential bid

first_imgSouth Bend, Indiana mayor Pete Buttigieg speaks during a meet-and-greet at Madhouse Coffee on 8 April in Las Vegas, Nevada. Photo:AFPPete Buttigieg, the gay, liberal mayor of a small American city in the conservative bastion of Indiana, was expected to officially launch his presidential bid Sunday, joining a crowded field of Democrats vying for their party’s nomination in 2020.The 37-year-old Rhodes scholar and Afghanistan war veteran is the two-term mayor of his hometown of South Bend — a left-leaning bubble in America’s so-called “Rust Belt” region, where the decline of industries such as steel and automobile manufacturing has hurt local economies.Voters in states such as Michigan and Wisconsin helped hand Republican US President Donald Trump his victory in the 2016 election.Buttigieg, who is credited with helping turn South Bend around, has couched himself as a can-do reformer who can speak to voters across the political spectrum.”Here you have this moment, probably the only moment in American history, where it just might make sense for somebody my age, coming from experience in the industrial Midwest, non-federal, different background, bringing something that will actually help Americans,” Buttigieg told NBC’s “Meet The Press” last weekend.Buttigieg was expected to officially launch his candidacy Sunday afternoon in South Bend, giving his already surprisingly strong campaign an additional boost.In the three months since he declared an exploratory committee to test a presidential run, he has gone from relative obscurity to drawing large crowds at campaign stops.He has raised $7 million dollars, more than most other candidates, and jumped to third place in the latest polls of voters in Iowa and New Hampshire — the earliest states to vote in next year’s primary elections.Buttigieg versus PenceThe popular mayor who speaks eight languages and plays classical piano has been the focus of countless news stories and profiles.The fascination has been in no small part due to his background: he would be the youngest, first openly gay, first millennial, and first mayor to become president.He has had headline-grabbing moments, the most recent being his faith-based challenge of Vice President Mike Pence’s views on same-sex marriage and LGBT rights.Former Indiana governor Pence, a religious conservative, infamously supported a 2015 law that was widely interpreted as codifying discrimination against LGBT people. It was quickly changed after nationwide outrage.”Speaking only for myself, I can tell you that if being gay was a choice, it was a choice made far, far above my pay grade,” Buttigieg said in a 7 April speech.”And that’s the thing I wish the Mike Pences of the world would understand, that if you’ve got a problem with who I am, your problem is not with me. Your quarrel, sir, is with my creator.”It was a soundbite-ready moment — like several others he has enjoyed — that replayed throughout the week in American media.Destined for national politicsButtigieg’s Sunday launch event was scheduled to take place at an expansive South Bend building that once housed an assembly plant for defunct auto manufacturer Studebaker.The plant’s closure in 1963 still reverberated in the city in 2011 when he was elected mayor. He set out to tear down decaying, abandoned homes and restore the blighted Studebaker complex to make it suitable for new high-tech companies.In an unlikely feat, the city has reversed decades of population decline and attracted new businesses and development, with the mayor’s popularity growing in the process.”His appeal, for many people in South Bend, is his ability to look forward and to focus on better days ahead,” South Bend-based political science professor Elizabeth Bennion of Indiana University told AFP.”Once people looked at his resume and heard him speak, many started talking about the fact that he was destined for national politics.”last_img read more

7 policemen killed in jihadist attack in Egypt

first_imgMap of Egypt locating El-Arish, near where seven police officers have been killed in a jihadist attack. Photo: AFPSeven police officers have been killed in a jihadist attack in restive North Sinai, Egypt’s interior ministry said Wednesday.The attack near the regional capital El-Arish targeted an “assembly centre” for police, according to the ministry.Four assailants died “during clashes” following the attack, one when he detonated an explosives belt, it said.North Sinai has long been a centre of insurgents and Egyptian authorities last year launched an offensive against the jihadists.Hundreds of militants have been killed along with dozens of soldiers, according to official figures which cannot be verified as Sinai is largely cut off to journalists.Egypt is currently on high alert as it hosts the Africa Cup of Nations, although none of the games are taking place in Sinai.A month before the tournament kicked off, a tourist bus was hit by a roadside bomb near the famed pyramids of Giza.A similar attack in December killed three Vietnamese holidaymakers and an Egyptian tour guide.The country’s security forces and Christian minority have also been targeted by jihadist attacks.last_img read more

As AM Chancellor And Hurricane Recovery Czar John Sharp Balances Two Intensely

first_img Share Bob Daemmrich for The Texas TribuneTexas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp, chosen to head the Governor’s Commission to Rebuild Texas, speaks at a meeting of officials in Victoria, Texas after Hurricane Harvey on Sept. 8, 2017.As Hurricane Harvey washed onto the Texas shore last month, flooding streets and toppling buildings, John Sharp stayed up late into the night working the phones. The chancellor of the Texas A&M University System had no official role to play at that moment. But in his usual restless manner, he wanted to check on his old friends and his childhood home in Victoria County.The friends were safe, and the woman who lives in his old house told him it survived, even though “the wind went right through it,” Sharp recalled.But Harvey will still likely keep him up late in the coming months and years.Last week, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott named Sharp the leader of his newly-formed Commission to Rebuild Texas, giving Sharp a key role in the state’s efforts to rebuild a region close to his heart. Sharp will pile that unpaid job on top of his current position overseeing the university system that includes his beloved alma mater in College Station.Those two jobs will make him one of the busiest and highest-profile non-elected officials in Texas over the rest of this decade. That might seem surprising, given that he’s a longtime Democrat in one of the most conservative states in the nation. But the former legislator, railroad commissioner and state comptroller has emerged as the Democrat that Texas Republicans seem to love.His folksy but hard-charging style have earned him a reputation as an astute and effective shepherd of government bureaucracy. Members of both parties say he’ll need those skills over the long-term recovery process.“In looking for someone to lead this effort, I needed someone with a very unique skill set,” Abbott said. “Someone who knows how to work with local officials, state officials and federal officials. Someone who has a natural, intuitive feel for the people of these communities. Someone who has mastered the complexity of budget issues at state and federal levels. Someone with a comprehensive understanding of our state agencies and the resources that come to bear.“I found all those attributes in one person: John Sharp.”Sharp’s continued standing in the state after his party’s fall from power probably wasn’t hurt by the fact that he has a habit of living near future Texas governors. While attending A&M, from which he graduated in 1972, he lived on the same dorm floor as Rick Perry. They became fast friends, scheming practical jokes together and helping each other get elected to student leadership positions — Sharp was student body president; Perry was a yell leader, an esteemed cheerleader-like position that leads students in organized chants during football games.After graduation, Sharp worked for the Legislative Budget Board and quickly became a rising star in Texas politics — which was then dominated by Democrats. He was elected to represent Victoria in the Texas House in 1978, moved on to the Senate four years later, then won a statewide race for a spot on the Railroad Commission four years after that. He made the biggest name for himself after being elected Comptroller in 1990. Sharp initiated regular performance reviews of state agencies designed to cut costs and streamline operations. Sharp later claimed that the reviews saved $8.5 billion and helped the state stave off the need for an income tax. Vice President Al Gore later used the strategy as a model for a similar initiative in the federal government.But his political rise ended there. In 1992, when President Bill Clinton appointed Texas’ U.S. Senator Lloyd Bentsen as Treasury Secretary, Sharp was a favorite to be named Bentsen’s replacement. The job went to Bob Krueger instead. In the meantime, the political tides turned in Texas, and Democrats’ electoral prospects faded. In 1998, Sharp ran a fierce campaign for lieutenant governor against his old friend Perry, but lost 50 percent to 48 percent. Two years later, Gov. George W. Bush was elected president, and Perry rose to the top elected office in the state.  After what he calls his “involuntary retirement from elected office,” Sharp moved to the private sector, working as a consultant in Austin and living in a house across the street from Abbott, who was attorney general at the time.But even as Republicans tightened their hold on state politics, Sharp remained prominent. In 2005, Perry named him to chair the Texas Tax Reform Commission, which was tasked with cutting property taxes while finding a sound way to fund public schools. The commission’s work led to major property tax cuts, but also the creation a new tax on businesses that turned out to be unpopular both because of its complexity and because it didn’t bring in as much money as its creators predicted.Abbott cited all those roles as the reason Sharp was right for the job.“He is known for his ability to cut through red tape,” Abbott said.Not your usual chancellorAt A&M, Sharp rarely acts like an academic. When he arrived in College Station in 2011, many on campus were skeptical. Some faculty and staff were leery of his relationship with Perry, who appointed all of the regents who voted to hire Sharp. And some were put off by his unconventional style.Sharp is aggressive and not enamored with the belabored pace at which decisions get made in higher education. He often refers to people by their last names, and it isn’t unheard of for him tell an off-color joke during a meeting.While he stays closely attuned to the wants and needs of powerful Texans, he also doesn’t shy from a public fight — and can sometimes have a short fuse. Last year, an article hinting at financial problems at A&M written by University of Texas at Austin sports fan website reporter Chip Brown prompted Sharp’s office to release a statement calling the story a “fairy tale.” The statement ended with the sentence, “we hereby nominate “Cowchip” Brown for sleaziest reporter in Texas, with full confidence he will win hands down.”Sharp also has aggressively fought Texas Tech University’s plans to open a new veterinary school in Amarillo — which would end the A&M veterinary school’s status as the only one in Texas.But even his skeptics admit that Sharp has had a transformative impact on the A&M System. He lured the president of the University of Washington to head A&M’s flagship school in College Station, and attracted the former president of Brown University to temporarily oversee Prairie View A&M. He has massively expanded engineering enrollment, and spearheaded a $485 million renovation of A&M’s football stadium. And in his trademark search for efficiency, he outsourced janitorial and food service work, saving A&M tens of millions of dollars.“At the A&M System, I have never seen anything like it,” said Phil Adams, who became an A&M System regent in 2001. “He gets things done. He executes, he moves the ball down the field. He is a tremendous leader and a tremendous administrator.”He’s also overflowing with school spirit. For the 2013 holiday season, he decorated his official chancellor’s residence with more than 40,000 lights flashing in sync with a rotation of six Christmas carols and Aggie marching band staples. And this month, at the request of Sharp, the Texas Department of Transportation installed a series of rumble strips on a road adjacent to the A&M campus that sound out the first few notes of A&M’s fight song when cars drive over them.Two jobsAt A&M, Sharp is known to work late into the night — he reportedly came up with the rumble strip idea at 2 a.m. But he insists that his new role in hurricane relief won’t get in the way of his paid job.“When Abbott told me to do this — it wasn’t a request, by the way — I said, ‘Do I get to keep my job?’” Sharp said.“He said, ‘Yeah, you probably only work 10 to 12 hours per day at that job. There’s 24 hours in a day. You have another 10 or 12 left.’”Sharp said he’ll lean heavily on A&M System staff to help with the recovery. Many of his top aides have accompanied him to meetings along the coast. And he plans to use agents from the A&M Agrilife Extension Service assigned to every county in the state to set up a network of people on the ground in affected areas.Last weekend, he joined Abbott on a listening tour through affected regions and gained his first hints about the scope of the task at hand. He visited areas that were decimated by Harvey’s winds, and spoke with officials from Houston, where thousands of homes were flooded.The federal government and the Texas General Land Office will be in charge of helping repair much of the damaged housing from the storm and flood, with Sharp’s commission helping in any way it can. Sharp said his focus will be on infrastructure — repairing sewer systems, school buildings and the Refugio County Courthouse, which was practically destroyed in the storm.He said he’ll work with Houston and Harris County, but knows that those areas have big, experienced staffs that know how to navigate the challenges they face. A lot of his time will be spent with the smaller cities and counties that don’t have the resources to respond to the disaster they have experienced.And officials say they have already seen how he will work. State Sen. Paul Bettencourt, R-Houston, who represents many of the most damaged areas in the state, said Sharp shared his cell phone number with numerous people in the region, saying they could call at any time. The only rule: They can’t call to ask about A&M’s struggling football team.Bettencourt took advantage recently to pass along an offer by a local church to set up a Federal Emergency Management Administration office on its grounds.“It wasn’t even five minutes before he responded,” Bettencourt said. “That is one of John’s great strengths.”Bettencourt said he has no worries about whether Sharp can handle the job while also being chancellor.“With John, I always worry that he’s going to be bored,” Bettencourt said. “Now I know that he won’t.”last_img read more

New theory to explain why suns surface rotates slower than its core

first_img Explore further Citation: New theory to explain why sun’s surface rotates slower than its core (2017, February 6) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2017-02-theory-sun-surface-rotates-slower.html Scientists have known for some time that the surface of the sun spins more slowly than its interior but have no good explanation for it. In this new effort, the researchers were able to take a better look at what was occurring and by doing so discovered what they believe is the source of the slowdown.To gain a better understanding of what is happening with the sun, the researchers started with images collected by the Solar Dynamics Observatory—a probe that has been circling the sun since 2010. By processing three and a half years of images using filters, the researchers were able to get a detailed look at multiple layers of sun depth, which allowed them to calculate the circulation speed of each. In looking at their overall results, they found that the outermost layer spun more slowly than all of those below it, which spun approximately 5 percent more than the rest of the photosphere.Taking a cue from prior research that has shown that space dust is slowed as it collides with solar photons due to losses from angular momentum, the researchers created a model of the sun in which photons moving outward through interior layers of plasma eventually encounter plasma that is much less dense at its outermost layer. As those photons collide with the plasma, which is moving, angular momentum is exchanged, which results in a net loss of plasma angular momentum. That net loss results in the plasma slowing as the photons that cause the slowdown escape into space. The massive number of such collisions over the course of 4.5 billion years, the team theorizes, has resulted in the slower rate of spin of the outer layer that we observe today. More information: Poynting-Robertson-like Drag at the Sun’s Surface, Phys. Rev. Lett. 118, 051102 – Published 3 February 2017 , doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevLett.118.051102 , On Arxiv: arxiv.org/abs/1612.00873AbstractThe Sun’s internal rotation {Omega}(r,{Theta}) has previously been measured using helioseismology techniques and found to be a complex function of co-latitude, {theta}, and radius, r. From helioseismology and observations of apparently “rooted” solar magnetic tracers we know that the surface rotates more slowly than much of the interior. The cause of this slow-down is not understood but it is important for understanding stellar rotation generally and any plausible theory of the solar interior. A new analysis using 5-min solar p-mode limb oscillations as a rotation “tracer” finds an even larger velocity gradient in a thin region at the top of the photosphere. This shear occurs where the solar atmosphere radiates energy and angular momentum. We suggest that the net effect of the photospheric angular momentum loss is similar to Poynting-Robertson “photon braking” on, for example, Sun-orbiting dust. The resultant photospheric torque is readily computed and, over the Sun’s lifetime, is found to be comparable to the apparent angular momentum deficit in the near-surface shear layer. Journal information: Physical Review Letters , arXiv The Sun by the Atmospheric Imaging Assembly of NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory. Credit: NASA (Phys.org)—A small team of researchers with the University of Hawaii, Ponta Grossa State University in Brazil and Stanford University has found what they believe is the reason that the surface of the sun rotates more slowly than its core. In their paper published in the journal Physical Review Letters, the team explains how they used a new technique to measure the speed of the sun’s rotation at different depths and what it revealed about the speed of the sun’s outer 70km deep skin. Researchers report possible solution to a long-standing solar mystery © 2017 Phys.org 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

New mirror reflects light differently than conventional mirrors

first_img Journal information: Nano Letters Comparison of microscopic images of the chiral meta-mirror illuminated by right circularly polarized, linear, and left circularly polarized light waves. Credit: Kang et al. ©2017 American Chemical Society When a regular mirror reflects circularly polarized light, it reverses the spin state of the light. In contrast, the chiral meta-mirror preserves one of the two spin states when reflecting circularly polarized light, while absorbing the other spin state. Credit: Kang et al. ©2017 American Chemical Society Breaking metamaterial symmetry with reflected light “We offer the ability to preserve spin states of an optical wave upon reflection from a chiral meta-mirror,” Cai told Phys.org. “In sharp contrast to a regular reflective surface, the chiral meta-mirror operates by absorbing one spin state, while allowing the other to be reflected back with the same spin state as that of the incident wave.” While most conventional mirrors are made of common metals, such as a thin silver film covered by a thicker piece of glass, no known natural material has the chiroptical property exhibited by the new mirror. For this reason, the researchers fabricated the new mirror from an artificial material—a metamaterial with a nanoscale geometry designed specifically to exhibit this property. The meta-mirror consists of a thin film perforated by an array of asymmetric holes, and this asymmetry contributes to the unconventional chiroptical response.”Metamaterials, which offer light manipulation on the nanoscale, can achieve polarization alteration in propagation lengths of just a couple hundred nanometers,” Cai said.The researchers note that the chiral meta-mirror is relatively easy to fabricate, and they expect that it will have applications in optical data transmission and other technologies that they plan to further investigate in the future.”Some of the most common ways to send data via optical means is by time-division or wavelength multiplexing,” Cai said. “However, as the demand for increasing data bandwidths grows, a higher degree of multiplexing is needed. In terms of optical communications, polarization control opens another paradigm for multiplexing and data handling. The ability of our meta-mirror to preserve an incident spin state will aid in the development of these polarization-sensitive systems.”Chiral meta-mirrors can also be used for applications in chiroptical sensing, chiral signal analysis, and may even play a part in the next generation of 3-D movies. Most 3-D movies rely on the left and right handedness of the circularly polarized light that passes through the glasses that we wear in the theaters. With this polarization distinction at hand, chiral meta-mirrors could even find utility in this industry.” Citation: New mirror reflects light differently than conventional mirrors (2017, November 14) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2017-11-mirror-differently-conventional-mirrors.html Explore further More information: Lei Kang et al. “Preserving Spin States upon Reflection: Linear and Nonlinear Responses of a Chiral Meta-Mirror.” Nano Letters. DOI: 10.1021/acs.nanolett.7b03882 © 2017 Phys.org The researchers, led by Wenshan Cai at the Georgia Institute of Technology, have published a paper on the chiral meta-mirror in a recent issue of Nano Letters.The unconventional reflective properties of the new mirror arise from the way in which the mirror responds to light that is circularly polarized. Light waves are composed of electric and magnetic fields, and when the electric field travels slightly behind the magnetic field or vice versa, the light wave moves along a helical path through time, and this is called circularly polarized light. Most of the light around us, such as light from the sun and lightbulbs, is unpolarized but can become polarized by passing through a polarization filter.A circularly polarized light wave can travel in either a clockwise (right) or counterclockwise (left) fashion, which is determined by an intrinsic physical property of light called the spin angular momentum and, consequently, is called the spin state of light. The main difference between the new mirror and conventional mirrors is how each responds to the spin states of circularly polarized light.When a circularly polarized light beam reaches a conventional mirror, the mirror reverses the beam’s spin state, so that the light it reflects back out has the opposite spin as the light that enters. For many applications, this property does not pose any problems, and in fact mirrors are one of the most important components of many optical devices. However, for certain new applications such as photonic information processing in which the spin states of light carry data, it is important to maintain and control the spin states when reflected by mirrors.The new chiral meta-mirror does almost the opposite of a conventional mirror with respect to spin states. Instead of reflecting the opposite spin state, it reflects the same spin state of an incident circularly polarized beam, but only for one spin state. When a beam with the opposite spin state arrives at the mirror, the mirror completely absorbs that light. So the final result is that the mirror reflects only light with one spin state—either left or right circularly polarized beams, but not both. (Phys.org)—Researchers have designed a new type of mirror that reflects light in a completely different way than conventional mirrors do. The new mirror, called a chiral meta-mirror, has potential applications for information processing with light, next-generation 3-D movies, and other technologies that manipulate light in novel ways. 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

Fire breaks out at factory in N 24Pgs no casualty reported

first_imgKolkata: A major fire broke out at a plastic goods factory near Ghola in North 24-Parganas on Sunday morning. As the factory was filled with inflammable materials the fire took a devastating shape.About 25 fire tenders were pressed into action. According to local residents, the fire was brought under control around 9 pm on Sunday, but fire fighters could not enter the factory as some of parts of the unit were still ablaze. Also due to the heat, getting inside the factory was impossible till Sunday night. Also Read – Bose & Gandhi: More similar than apart, says Sugata BoseAround 11:30 am on Sunday, thick black smoke was seen coming out of the factory. Due to panic staff and labours rushed out of the factory. Later, it was found that some of the labours were trapped inside. The New Barrackpore police station and fire brigade were informed. Primarily 10 fire tenders were pressed in to action. But soon fire fighters realised that the fire is spreading fast. Immediately more fire tenders were requested. By 2 pm, 15 more fire tenders were sent. Also Read – Rs 13,000 crore investment to provide 2 lakh jobs: MamataAs the fire already took a devastating shape, fire fighters had no other way than to spray water from a safe distance. Upon receiving the news, fire minister Sujit Bose rushed to the spot. According to the fire fighters, as inflammable materials were on fire, the unit would be ablaze till these materials melt. Thus the fire fighters had targeted to prevent the fire from spreading fast. Around 9 pm fire was brought under control but fire fighters could not enter the factory due to the heat. Fire fighters are continuously spraying waters to douse the flames. As the building got seriously damaged due to the fire, it is feared that it may collapse anytime. It is suspected that an electrical short-circuit might had triggered the fire. Till Sunday night no one was found dead or alive in the factory as none could enter the premises. According to fire fighters if anyone is trapped inside, chance of survival is nil.last_img read more

ITE dept bats for use of tech to boost business prospects of

first_imgKolkata: The state Information Technology & Electronics (IT&E) department is pushing for the organised industries to adopt MSME clusters so that they can use technology to improve the latter’s business prospects.”We need to give these clusters basic enterprise management through standard software, e-commerce platform and design creation. I will urge the industrial bodies to adopt at least one cluster and provide them the technology to make a change in their standard of living,” state Additional Chief Secretary IT Debashis Sen said, while speaking at an event organised by CII recently. Also Read – Bose & Gandhi: More similar than apart, says Sugata BoseElaborating on the objective of the state government, a senior official of the IT department said that the government is coming up with an export hub in Phulia at Shantipur in Nadia, for upliftment of the weavers who make beautiful cotton sarees. “The weavers still suffer from financial constraints and don’t even have a website. If we can provide basic technology enterprise to them so that they can have stock management and create an e-commerce platform for marketing or integrate some sort of creative design in their products, they will be able to tap the global market in a much better way,” the official said. Also Read – Rs 13,000 crore investment to provide 2 lakh jobs: MamataThe same concept can be applied for clusters like the Bankura horse in Panchmura, the Dokra craft of Guskara, Burdwan, the guitar strings of Howrah, the Kansa of Murshidabad and the fan manufacturing hub of Uluberia to name a few. “We have already reached out to NASSCOM and will urge other industrial bodies in the state to come forward and adopt at least one such cluster which will bring a significant change in the living conditions of the weavers associated with these clusters,” the official added.last_img read more

Spring is coming in hot with Sunwing savings of up to 50

first_imgSpring is coming in hot with Sunwing savings of up to 50% off Share Posted by Travelweek Group TORONTO — In celebration of the first day of spring, Sunwing is offering value added ‘Spring Loaded Savings’ on top-rated resorts across Mexico, the Caribbean and Central America.Clients who book by midnight on March 24 can take advantage of up to 50% off vacation packages. The tour operator encourages clients to book quickly to avoid disappointment.The promotion applies to a wide range of resorts and destinations, including Grand Memories Varadero, an all-inclusive beachfront property where kids can meet Toopy and Binoo at the Memories Fun Club and where parents can lounge by the pool or relax at the on-site spa. Other perks include catamaran rides, windsurfing and a selection of à la carte restaurants serving varied cuisines.Also included in the promotion is Tropical Princess Beach Resort and Spa on Bavaro Beach, which is consistently popular among families. Features include spacious accommodations that can sleep a family of up to five, complimentary water sports and an on-site ‘Calle Caribeña’ for avid shoppers.More news:  Hotel charges Bollywood star $8.50 for two bananas and the Internet has thoughtsAll Sunwing packages include return flights on Sunwing Airlines where passengers can sit back and relax while onboard, with award-winning inflight service that includes a sparkling wine toast, complimentary non-alcoholic beverage service and buy-onboard selection of light meals and snacks with choices inspired by Food Network Canada Celebrity Chef, Lynn Crawford. Passengers also benefit from a generous complimentary 23kg checked luggage allowance.center_img Monday, March 20, 2017 Tags: Sunwing << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

Rep McCready hosts local office hours

first_img State Rep. Mike McCready, of Bloomfield Hills, invites local people to join him for office hours in Bloomfield Township on Friday, March 10, from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. at Bloomfield Township Library, 1099 Lone Pine Road in meeting room 3.Office hours are an opportunity for residents to meet face-to-face with the representative and ask questions, offer ideas, or share thoughts.“I look forward to meeting with constituents to discuss our state’s pertinent issues,” McCready said.No appointments are necessary to attend office hours. Those who are unable to attend, but would still like to speak with the representative, may contact his office at (517) 373-8670 or MikeMcCready@house.mi.gov.### 23Feb Rep. McCready hosts local office hours Categories: McCready Newslast_img read more

Bruce Leichtman The thirteen largest pay TV provid

first_imgBruce LeichtmanThe thirteen largest pay TV providers in the US, representing roughly 95% of the market, lost some 385,000 net video subscribers in 2015, according to Leichtman Research.The new report claims that the number of subscribers dropping their pay TV packages more than doubled in 2015 from a loss of about 150,000 subscribers in 2014, and around 100,000 subscribers in 2013.“2015 marked the third consecutive year for pay TV industry net losses, yet the total number of subscribers for major pay TV providers – including Dish’s Sling TV – has declined by less than one million since the industry peaked in Q1, 2012,” said Leichtman Research Group’s, president and principal analyst, Bruce Leichtman.“2015 also saw significant shifts for cable and telco providers. The top cable providers cumulatively had their best year since 2006, and had about 870,000 fewer losses than in 2014. Telcos had about 1,170,000 fewer net additions than in 2014, and had their worst year since they began providing video services in 2006.”last_img read more

AE Networks is looking to grow its presence in So

first_imgA+E Networks is looking to grow its presence in South Korea, launching History and Lifetime in the region as well as setting out further production and distribution goals.A+E execs announced that the launch of A+E channels History and Lifetime in South Korea today and described intentions to invest further in the region through local production opportunities.Original productions will feature prominently across the two channels and the company announced an initial slate of original content, which will premiere between this month and March 2018.A+E has also signed an agreement with Korean talent management and production company iHQ, in which it owns a stake, for format development. The partnership aims to sell and distribute projects in the global market.Two projects, Man vs. Child and Alone, have already been shortlisted and aim to begin production by the end of the year through the partnership. A+E joined the ranks of iHQ’s shareholders in March this year.Content produced in Korea will be represented by A+E for global distribution of both original content and remake opportunities, which the company says will contribute significantly to the promotion of Korean content worldwide.A+E will also look to collaborate with local studios and further reinforce South Korea’s position as a global hub for media content.Youngsun Soh, general manager of A+E Networks Korea said, “A+E’s venture into the Korean market is particularly meaningful in that it is the first case in which a global media company not only operates channels in Korea, but also invests directly in the content production and distribution as well.“We expect that the cooperative work between Korea and A+E, which has a global network, will have a positive influence on local companies including platform companies and content production agencies, in their expansion to the global market.”last_img read more

Heres another two photos I took on Sunday  Its

first_imgHere’s another two photos I took on Sunday.  It’s our old friend, the double-crested cormorant.  It’s the same bird sitting in the same spot that I presented in this column about a month ago—and that I photographed in early summer as well, so I would think that it’s a non-breeding adult.  Since I already had all the photos of this fellow I could ever want, I thought it would fun to see how close I could get.  The first photo is from about 8 meters at bird-eye level, which is point blank range for a 400mm telephoto lens for an object this size, so I didn’t have to crop it much.  Here he/she is, standing on one leg, pretending to sleep, but with at least one eye wide open.  The second photo was taken from a bit further away and from a slightly elevated position on some stairs as I left.  I spent half an hour at that spot—and it didn’t move an inch. Are we done to the downside?  Beats the hell out of me.  JPMorgan et al along with their HFT buddies can do anything they want.  But there are limits to how low these prices can be driven—and as Ted Butler said in his Saturday column—and again on the phone yesterday—if we’re not there already, we aren’t far off.  I’m sure he’ll have more to say about this to his paying subscribers in his mid-week commentary later today.And as I write this paragraph, the London open is less than 15 minutes away—and prices did absolute nothing in Far East trading on their Wednesday.  Of course silver had it’s obligatory down spike at the 6 p.m. open in New York on Tuesday evening—and it’s still down as of this writing.  Net gold volume is around 15,000 contracts—and silver’ net volume is 4,500 contracts.  The dollar index is basically unchanged.As I said in The Wrap yesterday, I was kind of hoping that JPMorgan et al would get this over with on Tuesday, as I would like all the data in Friday’s Commitment of Traders Report, as yesterday at the close of Comex trading was the cut-off for that report.  And whether it was the bottom or not, there’s an excellent chance that all of it should be reported in a timely manner.And as I send this off to Stowe, Vermont at 5:20 a.m. EDT, I note that all four precious metals are being guided lower—and are below yesterday’s closing prices in New York—and palladium is once again at a new low for this move down.  It wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest if ‘da boyz’ had the other three precious metals at new lows before the trading day is done in New York today.  Gold’s net volume is now 25,000 contracts—and silver’s volume is up to 6,500 contracts net.  The dollar index is still up a tiny amount.Based on what I see here, nothing will surprise me from a price perspective when I check out the Kitco charts after I fire up my computer later this morning.And before heading out the door, I’d like to point out that the Casey OnePass has been opened for a very brief period of time.  You have until this Friday to sign up to save $1,749 on the full subscription package.As you know, with the Casey OnePass, you get ALL of Casey’s newsletters (no CIA or CEC alert services) at a significant saving of $1,749 per year.  But more importantly, we’ve got some good opportunities across all sectors—and what better way to keep track of them, then to sign up for a service that includes them all?You can find out all you need to know by clicking here—and it costs nothing to have a look.I’m off to bed.  See you here tomorrow. There are limits to how low these prices can be drivenIt was a very quiet day on Tuesday with not much happening during Far East and London trading session.  That all changed starting at 11:40 a.m. EDT when the HFT boyz showed up with their algorithms—and it appeared that a new low for this move down was set at, or very close to, the 1:30 p.m. Comex close.  From there it rallied a few bucks before rallying anew starting around 3:15 p.m.  A thoughtful non-for-profit seller put a pin in that rally balloon a few minutes after 4 p.m.—and  the price didn’t do much after that.The high and low ticks were reported by the CME Group as $1,258.90 and $1,248.10 in the December contract.Gold finished the Tuesday trading session in New York at $1,255.80 spot, up 30 cents from Monday’s close.  Net volume was around 113,000 contracts.Here’s the New York Spot Gold [Bid] chart on its own so you can see the finer details of the Comex and electronic markets in New York yesterday.Brad Robertson sent us the 5-minute gold tick chart—and you can see the associated volume that went with the price action.  Remember to add 2 hours for EDT.After the obligatory down tick at the open on Monday night in New York, the silver price made quite a few attempts to break above its Monday closing price in New York, but didn’t quite make it.  Once Comex trading began however, there was some price pressure—and ‘da boyz’ printed a new silver low as well for this move down shortly after 12 o’clock noon in New York.  After that, it traded almost the same as gold, including the nifty rally that began at 3:15 p.m. EDT—which also got cut off a the knees minutes after 4 p.m. by a willing seller.The low and high ticks were reported as $18.89 and $19.155 in the December contract.Silver finished the Monday trading session at $19.055 spot, up 3.5 cents from Monday.  Net volume was 30,500 contracts.And here’s the New York Spot Silver [Bid] chart.Platinum and palladium weren’t spared by the HFT algorithm yesterday, either.  Platinum, which is now hugely oversold, was closed down 12 bucks, but well off its low tick.Palladium really got it in the neck yesterday starting at the London p.m. gold fix—and by 12:15 p.m. EDT, most of the damage had been done—and ‘da boyz’ closed it down by 24 bucks.  It was a dollar or so lower than that on the day as well.The dollar index closed late on Monday afternoon in New York at 80.30.  From there it chopped to its 84.56 high, which occurred at precisely 9:00 a.m. BST in London on their Tuesday morning.  Then it drifted unsteadily lower, closing at 84.17, which was down 13 basis points on the day—and 39 points off its high tick.The gold stocks rallied slightly into positive territory at the open—and then slowly began to sink back into the red, hitting their lows just before the 3:15 p.m. EDT rally began in both gold and silver.  They popped back into positive territory in no time—and the HUI closed up 1.48%.The silver equities followed a similar path, except their time in positive territory didn’t last long—and they got sold down much harder than the gold shares.  They were down by almost 3 percent at their 3:15 p.m. EDT low—and the subsequent rally in Nick Laird’s Intraday Silver Sentiment Index cut the loss to only 0.86%.The CME Daily Delivery Report showed that zero gold and 227 silver contracts were posted for delivery within the Comex-approved depositories on Thursday.  In silver, the two largest short/issuers were ABN Amro and R.J. O’Brien with 138 and 77 contracts respectively.  There were 11 different long/stoppers. The link to yesterday’s Issuers and Stoppers Report is here—and it’s certainly worth a quick look.The CME Preliminary Report for the Tuesday trading session shows that there are still 24 gold contracts left open in the September delivery month, which is unchanged from Monday’s report.  But the number of silver contracts left open in September rose by 90 yesterday, so there are now 977 contracts left to deliver in September—from which you can subtract the 227 contracts mentioned in the prior paragraph.There were no reported changes in GLD yesterday—and as of 9:40 p.m. EDT yesterday evening, there were no reported changes in SLV, either.  But when I was editing today’s efforts at 3:55 a.m. EDT, I was shocked to see that there was another addition to SLV.  This time it was 1,438,770 troy ounces.  Was this deposited to cover an existing JPMorgan short position?  Since the beginning of the month, 3.12 million ounces of silver have been added to SLV—and 9.7 million troy ounces were added in August—and since August 1, silver prices have been engineered lower to the tune of almost two bucks.  During the same time period, GLD has shed about 320,000 troy ounces.We should get the new short positions for both GLD and SLV this evening sometime—and that will be up until the end of August.  The 3.12 million ounces added so far this month, won’t show up in shortsqueeze.com‘s numbers until almost the end of September.There was another sales report from the U.S. Mint.  The sold 1,000 troy ounces of gold eagles—500 one-ounce 24K gold buffaloes—200,000 silver eagles—and 100 platinum eagles.Once again there was big movement at the Comex-approved depositories on Monday.  In gold, nothing was reported received, but 56,748 troy ounces were shipped out, with most of it coming out of Scotiabank’s vault.  The link to that activity is here.In silver, there was 601,494 troy ounces received—and 1,222,262 troy ounces shipped out the door.  All the activity was at the CNT Depository—and Brink’s, Inc.  The link to that action is here.Happily, I don’t have all that many stories for you today—and that suits me just fine.  You as well, I would assume.Let me take another shot at trying to highlight why this COMEX physical turnover, unique to silver among all commodities, has captured my attention. There are six COMEX-approved silver warehouses—four in the vicinity of New York City and two not that far away in Delaware and Massachusetts. There is not a lot of silver mining or smelting occurring in this narrow area of the Northeastern US, although this is clearly a hub for distribution and transportation. This year some 900,000 oz of silver on average have moved into or out from these six warehouses on a daily basis.Converting world annual silver mine production to the same five day work week as COMEX inventories are reported (800 million oz divided by 250 days), the daily world mine production of silver comes to 3.2 million oz each business day. The daily average movement of silver into and out from the COMEX silver warehouses at 900,000 oz is equal to 28% of total world daily mine production, even though the world mines and refines silver in areas far from the narrow area where the COMEX silver warehouses are located. – Silver analyst Ted Butler: 06 September 2014[And as an aside to what Ted say above, it’s a very good bet that just about every good delivery bar that’s been received or shipped out of these six Comex-approved depositories during the last three years or so, has some pretty awesome ‘frequent flyer’ points attached to them. – Ed]I don’t have much to add to my prior comments about any of the four precious metals, as JPMorgan et al took all four of them to new lows yesterday in these ongoing engineered price declines.Here are the 6-month charts for all four metals.last_img read more

The Trump administration announced a plan Friday t

first_imgThe Trump administration announced a plan Friday that would affect about 40 percent of the payments physicians receive from Medicare. Not everybody’s pleased.The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services calls its proposed plan a historic effort to reduce paperwork and improve patient care. But some doctors and advocates for patients fear it could be a disaster.The CMS plan, published in Friday’s Federal Register, is now open for public comment until early September. It would combine four levels of paperwork required for reimbursement, and four levels of payments, into one form and one flat fee for each doctor’s appointment (although there would still be separate filing systems for new and established patients).In a letter previewing the plan to doctors earlier this month, CMS administrator Seema Verma said that physicians waste too much time on mindless administrative tasks that take time away from patients.”We believe you should be able to focus on delivering care to patients,” Verma wrote, “not sitting in front of a computer screen.”Initially, that sounded pretty good to Dr. Angus Worthing, a rheumatologist in Washington, D.C. Then he tested the claim with his own analysis.During a typical 15- to 45-minute appointment with a patient, Worthing figures, “I might spend one to two minutes less in front of the computer, documenting and typing.”Dr. Kate Goodrich, CMS’ chief medical officer, notes that “saving one to two minutes per patient adds up pretty quickly over time.”But Worthing says the small savings in time is not worth the reduced payment he’d get. The CMS plan would offer a flat fee for each office visit with a patient, whether the doctor is a primary care physician or a specialist.Rheumatologists, in general, could expect a 3 percent reduction in Medicare’s reimbursement because they typically see and bill for more complicated patients, says Worthing, who chairs the government affairs committee for the American College of Rheumatology.And he notes that his personal net income from Medicare patients would drop even more — by about 10 percent. That’s because 70 percent of his costs — for rent, payroll and other expenses — are fixed or rising.Worthing is leading efforts by rheumatologists to persuade CMS to adjust its funding formula before the plan goes into effect in January.”The proposal is well-intentioned, but it might cause a disaster,” he says, if it leads to fewer medical students going into rheumatology and other specialties that require doctors to manage complex patients. And physicians might stop taking Medicare patients altogether, or avoid those with more difficult problems.Al Norman, a 71-year-old Medicare patient, says he can see that disaster coming.If you’re frail or if you are very healthy, you’re worth the same to a doctor [under the proposed plan], and obviously that means that the people who are more disabled or frail are less desirable patients,” says Norman, who worked on elder care issues in Massachusetts before retiring last year.Many doctors predict that the proposed payment changes would establish a financial incentive to see fewer Medicare patients. Goodrich disagrees.”That’s an unintended consequence we wanted to mitigate on the front end and avoid,” Goodrich says. Under the proposed system, doctors who need more time with patients could file for an “add-on” payment of $67 per appointment. That would require a small amount of additional documentation, she admits, but would still reduce a doctor’s keyboard time, according to CMS estimates.This “add-on” payment is “intended to ensure that physicians are being appropriately compensated for seeing the most complex patients,” Goodrich says.Still, critics of the plan say there are other unintended consequences CMS may not have anticipated.Dr. Paul Birnbaum, who has been practicing dermatology in the Boston area for 32 years, says he’s worried that paying doctors a reduced fee per appointment would translate to lots of short visits.”You would just see more people,” Birnbaum says. “You’d move people through faster. And so you have somebody come back for repeat office visits. And that, over time, would be inflationary.”More frequent trips to the doctor would mean more copays for patients and higher costs for Medicare, he says.The Trump administration is not suggesting the payment changes would save Medicare money. In her letter to doctors, Verma said some physicians would see their Medicare payments increase.And it’s not just doctors who treat elderly patients who are likely to be affected. If the Medicare payment changes take effect, private insurers might follow suit, in part because it’s easier for all insurers to use common billing procedures.Theoretically, obstetrician-gynecologists would be among the biggest winners; they treat fewer complex Medicare patients. Still, many OB-GYNs are worried about the coming changes, too.”There will be winners and losers and my real fear is it’s not the physicians [who will lose the most.]. My real fear is that it’s the Medicare beneficiaries,” said Dr. Barbara Levy, vice president for health policy at the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.Some Medicare advocates are urging CMS to postpone these changes and consider a trial run.”If we’re going to talk about this kind of wholesale, large-scale reconfiguration of the way reimbursement is given to doctors,” says Joe Baker, president of the Medicare Rights Center, “it’s probably best to do that in a demonstration project where we can closely study the ramifications.”CMS hopes to enact any changes to Medicare fee schedules on Jan. 1, 2019.The main challenge remains convincing patients and physicians that the changes are worth doing in the first place.This story is part of NPR’s reporting partnership with WBUR and Kaiser Health News. Copyright 2018 WBUR. To see more, visit WBUR.last_img read more

Nearly a third of households in the United States

first_imgNearly a third of households in the United States have struggled to pay their energy bills, the Energy Information Administration said in a report released Wednesday. The differences were minor in terms of geography, but Hispanics and racial minorities were hit hardest.About one in five households had to reduce or forego food, medicine and other necessities to pay an energy bill, according to the report. “Of the 25 million households that reported forgoing food and medicine to pay energy bills, 7 million faced that decision nearly every month,” the report stated.More than 10 percent of households kept their homes at unhealthy or unsafe temperatures. The data come from the federal agency’s most recent energy consumption survey in 2015. That year, expenditures for energy were at their lowest in more than decade, according to the agency. “We only conduct the Residential Energy Consumption Survey every 4-5 years,” survey manager Chip Berry told NPR by email. “This is the first time in the history of the study (goes back to late ’70s) that we have [measured] energy insecurity across all households, so there’s not much in the way of historical comparison.”The study found that about half of households experiencing trouble reported income of less than $20,000. More than 40 percent had at least one child. And people of color were disproportionately affected: about half of respondents who reported challenges paying their energy bills identified as black. More than 40 percent identified as Latino.”It’s not shocking, because the communities of color disproportionately face all the highest burdens, whether it’s housing, lack of jobs or education,” Tracey Capers, executive vice president of the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation, a community development initiative in New York, told The Associated Press. A 2016 study by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy and Energy Efficiency for All found that African-American and Latino households “paid more for utilities per square foot than the average household.” Housing for the low income also tended to be less energy efficient, researchers found. Families in that group were at higher risk for respiratory diseases and stress. “Households can spend more than 20 percent of their total income on their electricity needs,” George Koutitas, CEO and co-founder of Gridmates, a crowdfunding platform told NPR. Gridmates funnels donations to utility companies for struggling customers’ energy bills.Low-income heat assistance programs, he says, only go so far. Weatherization programs that insulate a home “take a lot of time and they are not very responsive.” Bill assistance alternatives, he says, are underfunded and have been canceled. Citing lack of need and fraud, the Trump administration called for an end to the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program last fall and winter.”Please I beg you to bring back this assistance with electricity,” a woman in northern Texas wrote, after a state assistance program called Lite-Up Texas ran out of money, according to The Texas Tribune. “I am going to freeze during this cold season.” Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.last_img read more

Marijuana it seems is not a performanceenhancin

first_imgMarijuana, it seems, is not a performance-enhancing drug. That is, at least, not among young people, and not when the activity is learning.A study published Tuesday in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry finds that when adolescents stop using marijuana – even for just one week – their verbal learning and memory improves. The study contributes to growing evidence that marijuana use in adolescents is associated with reduced neurocognitive functioning.More than 14 percent of middle and high school students reported using marijuana within the last month, finds a National Institutes of Health survey conducted in 2017. And marijuana use has increased among high schoolers over the past 10 years, according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. At the same time, the percentage of teens who believe that regular marijuana use poses a great risk to their health has dropped sharply since the mid-2000s. And, legalization of marijuana may play a part in shaping how young people think about the drug. One study noted that after 2012, when marijuana was legalized in Washington state, the number of eighth graders there that believed marijuana posed risks to their health dropped by 14 percent. Researchers are particularly concerned with use of marijuana among the young because THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, most sharply affects the parts of the brain that develop during adolescence.”The adolescent brain is undergoing significant neurodevelopment well into the 20s, and the regions that are last to develop are those regions that are most populated by cannabis receptors, and are also very critical to cognitive functioning,” says Randi Schuster. Schuster is the director of Neuropsychology at Massachusetts General Hospital’s Center for Addiction Medicine, and the study’s lead author.Schuster and the team of researchers set out to determine if cognitive functions that are potentially harmed by marijuana use in adolescents – particularly attention and memory – improve when they abstain from marijuana.They recruited 88 pot-using teens and young adults, ages 16 to 25, and got some of them to agree to stop smoking (or otherwise consuming) marijuana for the month. Schuster says the researchers wanted to recruit a range of participants, not just heavy users or those in a treatment program, for example. Some of the young people smoked once per week; some smoked nearly daily. The researchers randomly assigned the volunteers into an abstaining group and a non-abstaining group. They delivered the bad news to those chosen to be abstainers at the end of their first visit, and Shuster says, they took it surprisingly well.”People were generally fine,” she says. “We kind of went through what the next month would look like and helped them come up with strategies for staying abstinent.”One motivation for the non-tokers to stick with the program? They received increasing amounts of money each week of the month-long study.The researchers urine tested both groups on a weekly basis to make sure that the THC levels for the abstinent group were going down, but that the levels for the control group were staying consistent as they continued using.Also at each visit, the participants completed a variety of tasks testing their attention and memory through the Cambridge Neuropsychological Test Automated Battery, a validated cognitive assessment tool. The researchers found that after four weeks, there was no noticeable difference in attention scores between the marijuana users and the non-users. But, the memory scores of the non-users improved, whereas the users’ memories mostly stayed the same.The verbal memory test challenged participants to learn and recall new words, which “lets us look both at their ability to learn information the first time the words were presented, as well as the number of words that they’re able to retrieve from long-term memory storage after a delay,” Schuster says.Verbal memory is particularly relevant for adolescents and young adults when they’re in the classroom, says Schuster.”For an adolescent sitting in their history class learning new facts for the first time, we’re suspecting that active cannabis users might have a difficult time putting that new information into their long-term memory,” Schuster says.While this study didn’t prove that abstaining from cannabis improves adolescents’ attention, other studies have found that marijuana users fare worse in attention tests than non-users. Schusters hypothesizes it might take more than four weeks of abstinence for attention levels to improve.Interestingly, most of the memory improvement for the abstinent group happened during the first week of the study, which leaves the researchers feeling hopeful.”We were pleasantly surprised to see that at least some of the deficits that we think may be caused by cannabis appear to be reversible, and at least some of them are quickly reversible, which is good news,” Schuster says.One weakness of this study is its lack of a non-marijuana-using control group, says Krista Lisdahl, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee who was not involved with the study, but also researches the neuroscience of addiction. Because of this, it’s difficult to conclude whether the improvements in memory brought the participants back to their baseline levels prior to using marijuana.Also, because the study lasted only four weeks, it’s impossible to draw conclusions about the long term effects of marijuana usage for young people, such as how marijuana directly affects academic performance or sleep patterns or mood.Lisdahl says that longitudinal studies like the NIH’s Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development Study, could provide more information about what marijuana does to the adolescent brain. It might also reveal what happens if adolescents stop using marijuana, and if their brain functioning can completely recover.Lisdahl is helping with the NIH study, which has, to date, enrolled over 11,000 children ages nine and 10, and will follow them over into young adulthood. It’s the largest long-term research study on child brain development in the U.S., and it assesses how everything from screen time to concussions to drugs affect adolescents’ brains.In the meantime, Lisdahl says the findings from the new study – that abstinence from marijuana is associated with improvements in adolescents’ learning and memory – sends a positive message.”I remain optimistic that we can show recovery of function with sustained abstinence,” she says.Rachel D. Cohen is an intern on NPR’s Science Desk. Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.last_img read more

Updated July 19 at 1225 pm ETMark Morgan actin

first_imgUpdated July 19 at 12:25 p.m. ETMark Morgan, acting head of Customs and Border Protection, said on Thursday that his agency is rolling out the Trump administration’s new asylum rule as a small “pilot” for now but that officials expect it to be blocked in court.The rule is a major change in U.S. asylum law. It effectively denies asylum protection to most migrants arriving at the Southern border unless they first apply in a country they passed through on the way.”Although the new federal regulation allows us to apply that all 2,000 miles along the Southwest border, we’re not going to do that. We’re really piloting it in just one location,” Morgan said during an interview on All Things Considered.In a statement on Friday, Morgan said that he was not referring to implementation of the new rule “as a whole.” He said the rule applies to all migrants who didn’t previously apply for asylum in another country but for now his agency is only putting it into place in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas at two CBP stations.”That location is briefed, and they know what to do and how to do that now,” he said. “It’s very limited,” he said.Morgan said he doesn’t expect the policy to be in place for long.”We’re actually anticipating the … regulation will be enjoined. And then we’ll have to go from there, as unfortunately, many times, this happens,” Morgan said.Two federal lawsuits that have been filed in California and Washington, D.C.Lee Gelernt of the American Civil Liberties Union’s immigrant rights project said the administration hadn’t presented the rule as limited in court where the rule is being challenged.”It may be that the government is backtracking given the plain illegality of the rule. But whether it applies across the southern border or only in two places, it will cause serious harm and we will continue to challenge the new rule,” Gelernt said.U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, whose officers interview asylum seekers, did not respond to requests for comment. That agency issued guidance earlier this week, saying the rule applies to migrants who cross the southern border and took effect Tuesday.Morgan, who has been on the job for two weeks after spending just a month as acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, also addressed an internal CBP investigation into a private Border Patrol Facebook group that circulated obscene images of Democrats in Congress and ridiculed people who have crossed the border illegally. “It was horrendous,” Morgan said.”Some of the images that were out there, absolutely horrendous, wrong and not consistent with the way CBP, or specifically, Border Patrol conducts themselves.””We’re going to hold these people responsible,” Morgan said, adding that offenders could face criminal charges.”I don’t know whether the actions will satisfy any of the elements of criminal charges, but that has been talked about just to show how serious we’re taking that,” Morgan said.Nearly all high-level immigration officials at the Department of Homeland Security are serving in an acting capacity. Morgan acknowledged “that any time you have turnover, there is some impact.”But he said it doesn’t affect his job.”We do the same job, we have the same authority, same responsibilities whether acting is in front of our name or not. I don’t wake up the morning changing anything I do because I have ‘acting’ in front of my name,” he said.On Thursday, acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan testified to Congress that there has been a 28% drop in the number of migrants taken into custody at the Southern border in the last month.Morgan credited Mexico for helping to slow the flow of migrants.”The support that they’ve shown now in the recent couple of weeks is unprecedented. And we’re seeing it there. They’re … tightening up their Southern border. They’re sending more troops to the U.S. Mexico border. And it’s definitely having an impact,” Morgan said. Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.last_img read more

Levels of satisfaction among claimants of the gove

first_imgLevels of satisfaction among claimants of the government’s new disability benefit are far lower than for other benefits, according to new Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) figures.The survey found that only two-thirds (68 per cent) of personal independence payment (PIP) claimants were satisfied with the service they received from DWP, compared with an average of 82 per cent across all 10 benefits surveyed.The report covered the period from summer 2014 to summer 2015.PIP, which is gradually replacing working-age disability living allowance (DLA), has been mired in controversy, delays and backlogs ever since its launch in April 2013.Government documents have previously estimated that the number of working-age claimants would be cut by as much as 28 per cent by 2018, with 900,000 fewer people receiving PIP than if DLA had not been replaced.Some disabled people had to wait more than a year just to be assessed, while Atos – one of two government contractors carrying out the assessments – had to fend off claims that it misled the government over how many assessment centres it would provide across London and the south of England.And earlier this month, research by Caroline Richardson, Stef Benstead and Emma Nock for the user-led Spartacus online network concluded that DWP had failed to provide “adequate” or “robust” evidence to justify changes set to tighten eligibility for PIP, through changes to how assessments take account of the way a claimant uses independent living aids and appliances.In the survey, one in five PIP claimants (19 per cent) believed they had received incorrect or contradictory information, while only two-thirds (69 per cent) said that DWP had done what it had said it would do (compared with an average of 87 per cent across all 10 benefits).And more than a quarter (26 per cent) of PIP claimants reported some difficulties or problems in their dealings with DWP, compared to 12 per cent overall, and as low as four per cent for attendance allowance and five per cent for state pension claimants.Overall levels of satisfaction were lower and levels of dissatisfaction were higher for PIP than for any of the other nine benefits.But there was some good news for DWP, as the survey showed that, for each of the 10 benefits, more than 90 per cent of staff encountered in person were polite.For all but three of the benefits, this level of satisfaction was at least 96 per cent, while for PIP it was 97 per cent, although based on a sample size of just 38.The report, commissioned by DWP, concluded that PIP claimants were “more likely to report their calls left unanswered; explanations of decisions inadequate; information incorrect or contradictory; timings unclear; and progress updates lacking”.A DWP spokeswoman said: “The survey results show the significant progress made since the PIP rollout began in 2013.“The vast majority of claimants have been satisfied with the service they were provided with, but we’re not complacent and are making improvements.“Crucially, PIP decisions are now made in 11 weeks – three times faster than in January 2014.“Since the introduction of PIP we have continued to make improvements to the system.“We accepted the majority of the recommendations of the first independent review of PIP, carried out by Paul Gray, and have also recently changed the process for providing support to terminally-ill people, meaning they now receive their payments at an earlier point than ever before.”last_img read more

A council has been accused of being vindictive a

first_imgA council has been accused of being “vindictive” and trying to “silence” a disabled people’s organisation (DPO) by withdrawing funding for its advice service, just months after the DPO published a critical report about social care provision in the borough.Labour-runMerton council, in south-west London, has been accused of discriminatingagainst disabled people by withdrawing funding from the only advice service inthe borough that provides welfare rights experts who will visit disabled peoplein their own homes.Thecouncil’s equality impact assessment of the decision to withdraw funding from Merton Centre for Independent Living (MCIL)* concluded that it provided “high qualitycasework support” and was “serving a small number of vulnerable disabled peoplevery well”.It alsoconcluded that the loss of funding would mean “potentially a negative impactidentified for deaf and disabled residents”.But thecouncil decided not to offer funding of £75,000 a year to replace an existing£80,000-a-year grant, arguing that MCIL’s high-intensity service was helpingtoo few people.MCIL willcontinue to provide advice and advocacy services in welfare rights and socialcare, and visit service-users at home, but it has had to close its housingadvice service.The loss ofthe funding may also impact other services, including the advice and support itprovides to victims of disability hate crime.Last October, MCIL published a 96-page report intothe flaws and failings of Merton council’s adult social care provision.That report concludedthat a growing number of disabled people were resorting to legal action againstthe council to secure the support they needed, and warned that Merton council appearedto be carrying out reassessments and reviews of people’s care packages with theaim of cutting their support.RoyBenjamin, MCIL’s chair, said he believed the council was now being “vindictive”in the wake of the social care report.He said: “Itis very much about settling scores. I feel angry… because we are a strong voiceand it’s an attempt to silence us, and clearly any decision to cut ourresources is going to impact on our ability to meet the needs [of disabledpeople in the borough].”He added: “Wealready were not in a position to meet all the need that was identified. Thisis only going to exacerbate [that].”Last year,MCIL supported 332 individual Deaf and disabled people with advice andcasework, and provided information, signposting and guidance in another 170cases, leading to a contribution of nearly £700,000 to the local economy in2017-18.Benjaminsaid it was an “irrational decision” and “discrimination” to cut the funding, becauseof its impact on disabled people who find it difficult to access mainstreamservices.MCILprovides a high-intensity advice service, often following disability benefitscases right through to the appeal stage.Benjaminsaid: “We are the only pan-disability organisation in the borough. We are theonly organisation that offers any sort of domiciliary service for those peoplewho can’t get to [Citizen’s Advice] or other advice providers.”MCIL wasoriginally one of six partners that put together a joint bid for funding.When thatbid was unsuccessful, the council asked the six individual organisations to putin individual bids for funding. MCIL said itwas the only one of the six that was unsuccessful in its bid for funding.The councilnow provides no funding at all to MCIL.A Mertoncouncil spokesperson refused to answer a series of questions about whether itwas being “vindictive” and “settling scores”, if it was discriminating againstdisabled people, and why it ignored the conclusions of its equality impactassessment.But EdithMacauley, the cabinet member for community safety, engagement and equalities,said in a statement: “Merton is one of only a few London boroughs not to havecut overall funding for the voluntary sector and we are spending around£4million between 2019 and 2022.   “All bidsfor funding of the information and advice element of the Strategic PartnerProgramme 2019-22 were scored against the funding criteria, but not everyorganisation’s bid was successful. “MertonCentre for Independent Living’s two bids, the first of which was as part of aconsortium and the second bid in a round which was only open to unsuccessfulbidders from the first round, scored less highly than the other bids which werereceived. “Merton CILchallenged their score, which was upheld after their bid was reviewed by acouncil officer who was unconnected to it.     “Theprogramme has commissioned a wide range of high quality and accessible supportthrough this funding, including a central information and advice offer,complemented by a range of services, including specialist legal support andservices with proven outreach to communities with some of the most challengingneeds. “We havebeen actively working with Merton CIL and our new providers to ensure thatanyone who needs advice and support has access to it.”*To donate money to Merton CIL, visit this pagePicture: Roy Benjamin (with guide dog) at a sponsored walk to raise funds for MCIL in 2015last_img read more