Month: July 2019

New report explores the wideranging questions on death

first_img Source: Are brain-dead organ donors dead? (“A Conceptual Justification for Brain Death”) by James Bernat, emeritus professor of medicine and neurology at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth, upholds the longstanding view that brain death quickly leads to the disintegration of the body, regardless of medical support. But (“Brain Death: A Conclusion in Search of a Justification”) by D. Alan Shewmon, emeritus professor of pediatrics and neurology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, discusses several cases in which the bodies of patients pronounced brain dead did not “disintegrate” but were maintained by mechanical ventilation and tube feeding. (“DCDD Donors Are Not Dead”) by Ari Joffe, clinical professor in the department of pediatrics at the University of Alberta, argues that a subset of organ donors – those whose death is declared five minutes after the onset of pulselessness – are not dead because their condition could be reversed with medical intervention. Ethical conundrums: saving patients vs. saving organs. Potential organ donors who have undergone unexpected cardiac arrest outside of the hospital pose ethical challenges because their preferences concerning life-sustaining interventions and concerning organ donation may be unknown. When a patient’s chances of survival and recovery are extremely uncertain, first responders have a limited window of opportunity to act to preserve potentially viable organs. In some cases where organ preservation protocols were initiated after CPR failed, patients have recovered to some degree. (“Uncontrolled DCD: When Should We Stop Trying to Save the Patient and Focus on Saving the Organs?”) by Iván Ortega-Deballon, associate professor of health law and medical ethics and resuscitation at the Universidad de Alcalá in Spain, and David Rodríguez-Arias, Ramón y Cajal researcher of moral philosophy and bioethics in the philosophy department at the Universidad de Granada in Spain, examines whether current protocols prematurely consider as potential donors patients who have some chance of meaningful survival. They propose a pathway for first responders to uphold the best interests of patients even as they are being assessed and treated as potential donors. The future of organ transplantation. Two essays explore ethical questions associated with using pigs and other animals as organ donors for humans: (“The Other Animals of Transplant’s Future”) by Leslie A. Sharp, the Barbara Chamberlain and Helen Chamberlain Josefsberg ’30 chair in anthropology at Barnard College, and (“Bodies in Transition: Ethics in Xenotransplantation Research”) by Sheila Jasanoff, Pforzheimer professor of science and technology studies at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. The case of Jahi McMath. The concept of brain death was prominent in conflicts arising after McMath, an African-American teenager, was declared brain dead in a California hospital in 2013 after complications from elective surgery. Rejecting this determination, her family moved her to New Jersey, whose brain death statute includes a religious exemption and where a patient covered by this exemption can be enrolled in Medicaid to pay for long-term care. For nearly four years, McMath was kept biologically alive, until she was declared dead from cardiac arrest in New Jersey in 2018. Three essays explore the medical, ethical, and social questions that the case raised and reconsider the situation of Jahi McMath and her family in light of recent findings on the health consequences of implicit bias: (“Lessons from the Case of Jahi McMath”) by Robert D. Truog; (“The Case of Jahi McMath: A Neurologist’s View”) by D. Alan Shewmon; and (“Revisiting Death: Implicit Bias and the Case of Jahi McMath”) by Michele Goodwin, a chancellor’s professor at University of California, Irvine, and the founding director for the Center for Biotechnology and Global Health Policy. Reviewed by Kate Anderton, B.Sc. (Editor)Jan 6 2019Should death be defined in strictly biological terms — as the body’s failure to maintain integrated functioning of respiration, blood circulation, and neurological activity? Should death be declared on the basis of severe neurological injury even when biological functions remain intact? Or is it essentially a social construct that should be defined in different ways?These are among the wide-ranging questions explored in a new special report, (“Defining Death: Organ Transplantation and the Fifty-Year Legacy of the Harvard Report on Brain Death,”) published with the current issue of the Hastings Center Report. The special report is a collaboration between The Hastings Center and the Center for Bioethics at Harvard Medical School. Editors are (Robert D. Truog), the Frances Glessner Lee professor of medical ethics, anaesthesiology & pediatrics and director of the Center for Bioethics at Harvard Medical School; (Nancy Berlinger), a research scholar at The Hastings Center; Rachel L. Zacharias, a student at the University of Pennsylvania Law School and a former project manager and research assistant at The Hastings Center; and (Mildred Z. Solomon), president of The Hastings Center.Until the mid-twentieth century, the definition of death was straightforward: a person was pronounced dead when found to be unresponsive and without a pulse or spontaneous breathing. Two developments prompted the need for a new concept of death, culminating in the definition of brain death proposed in the Harvard report published in 1968.The first development was the invention of mechanical ventilation supported by intensive care, which made it possible to maintain breathing and blood circulation in the body of a person who would otherwise have died quickly from a brain injury that caused loss of these vital functions. The second development was organ transplantation, which “usually requires the availability of ‘living’ organs from bodies deemed to be ‘dead’,” as the (introduction) to the special report explains. “Patients determined to be dead by neurologic criteria and who have consented to organ donation . . . are the ideal source of such organs, since death is declared while the organs are being kept alive by a ventilator and a beating heart.”While the legal determination of death in all 50 states includes death by neurological criteria – the irreversible cessation of all functions of the entire brain – the concept of brain death remains contested, most recently by the case of Jahi McMath, who was declared dead by neurological criteria but continued to have unexpected biological development. In the new special report, leading experts in medicine, bioethics, and other fields discuss and debate areas of continuing and new controversy, including:last_img read more

Worryingly long wait for NHS cancer patients

first_imgJanuary 2019 marks five years since the 62-day cancer target was first missed and, despite the best efforts of hard working NHS staff, more than 127,000 people have been left waiting too long to start vital treatment throughout that time.” Dr  Fran Woodard, Macmillan Cancer Support The backlog of patients waiting to start treatment continues to grow. There are now over 100,000 more patients waiting longer than 18 weeks to start treatment when compared with the same time last year.”Professor Derek Alderson, President, Royal College of Surgeons. By Dr. Ananya Mandal, MDMar 20 2019Around a fourth of NHS cancer patients have to wait a worryingly long amount of time to start treatment, according to a new NHS England report.The new figures reveal that the health service has not been meeting targets of on-time health care delivery to cancer patients for over 1000 days. Similar figures have emerged from the A&E department performance.For patients diagnosed with cancer, the UK government recommends that treatment should begin within 62 days. At least 85 percent of the patients should be seen during this time. January figures, however, reveal that only 76.2 percent of the patients are seen within this time frame. Labour’s shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth in a statement said, “Today’s statistics will do little to allay frontline concerns that targets will be changed not on the basis of clinical consensus, but because of political pressure from Tory ministers.” He called the situation “shameful”. A spokeswoman from the NHS said, “More people than ever before are coming forward for cancer checks, with a quarter of a million more people getting checked for cancer this year and thousands more being treated within the two-month target. NHS England is investing an additional £10m this year to treat extra people and the NHS Long Term Plan sets out a range of ambitious measures to catch more cancers earlier, which will save thousands of lives every year.”Waiting time has not been looking good for the A&E department as well says the report. Only 84.2 percent of the patients are seen within the four hour target time. The recommended numbers of 95 percent have not been met since July 2015, says the report.Related StoriesHow cell-free DNA can be targeted to prevent spread of tumorsStudy reveals link between inflammatory diet and colorectal cancer riskLiving with advanced breast cancerAn NHS spokeswoman said to this, “Despite significant increases in demand, almost a quarter of a million more people have been seen and treated within four hours in A&E this winter compared to last year. Ambulance services are responding to life threatening calls faster, with fewer ambulance handover delays at A&E, and significantly more people have got the support they needed to avoid a long stay in hospital.”The Royal College of Surgeons has issued a statement saying that 227,569 patients are kept waiting for over six months for a planned procedure. At present 4.16 million people are waiting to start on their treatment says the report.last_img read more

Sugary drinks may soon face stricter restrictions

first_imgImage Credit: Monkey Business Images / Shutterstock The organizations have called these artificially sweetened drinks a “grave health threat to children and adolescents”. They have said that if their use is not restricted there could be an alarming rise in heart disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer, obesity and other diet related illnesses among young people exposed to these drinks. They explain that tens of thousands of premature deaths could be prevented and annual health care costs could be cut by billions of dollars if these drinks are regulated.The team says in the recommendations that there should be stiffer taxing on these beverages and stricter rules against their advertising to the young population. Experts have speculated that these may face opposition from the billion dollar beverage industry. They have also called for public awareness campaigns in preventing inclusion of sugary drinks in diets of children and providing healthier diet choices. They have urged healthcare institutions and schools to stop hosting vending machines and stores that sell these drinks. The medical groups said, “As with the ban on tobacco, leadership by hospitals and health plans to eliminate the sale of sugary drinks can improve the health of their employees, increase public awareness about the contribution of sugary drinks to obesity, and thereby change social norms.”Related StoriesResearchers identify gene mutations linked to leukemia in children with Down’s syndromeChaos in the house and asthma in children – the connectionNew protein target for deadly ovarian cancerThe organizations call upon the American public to adhere to the dietary recommendations that are in place. These guidelines clearly say that added sugars should make up for less than 10 percent of the total calories consumed by kids and teenagers. At present the average added sugar consumed is 17 percent of the diet, they explain. The added sugars come from carbonated sodas, sports drinks and fruit flavoured drinks, say the experts. On the other hand 100 percent fruit juices do not contain added sugars but contain natural sugars.Dr. Sheela Magge, a pediatric endocrinologist at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center was part of the team that drew up the new recommendations. She said, “Sugary drinks are empty calories and they are the low-hanging fruit in the fight against childhood obesity.” Dr. Natalie Muth, a Californian paediatrician and a lead author of the recommendations added, “For children, the biggest source of added sugars often is not what they eat, it’s what they drink.” She said, “I’ve seen 2-year-olds with fatty liver disease and teenagers with Type 2 diabetes. These are diseases we used to see in their grandparents. It’s frustrating because as paediatricians we feel like we’re doing everything we can, but it’s hard to compete with a $800-million-a-year marketing strategy by the soda industry.”Regarding taxes on sugary drinks, the organizations note that in U.S. cities including Berkeley, Calif., and Philadelphia, such taxes are already in place. Muth says that this strategy has worked in those regions to decrease the sugary drink consumption.William Dermody, a spokesman for the American Beverage Association called the blaming of sugary drinks for these health conditions unfair. He said in a statement, “Today, 50 percent of all beverages sold contain zero sugar as we drive toward a goal of reducing beverage calories consumed by 20 percent by 2025…America’s beverage companies believe there’s a better way to help reduce the amount of sugar consumers get from beverages and it includes putting parents in the driver’s seat to decide what’s best for their children.” Source: By Dr. Ananya Mandal, MDMar 27 2019Two leading Medical organisations have called for stricter regulations for sugary drinks marketed for children and young adults. The regulations could include enhanced taxing, warning labels and restrictions in advertising for young people, the spokespersons from the American Academy of Paediatrics and the American Heart Association explained this Monday. The reason behind this call for action is due to the increasing evidence of these drinks associated with obesity and chronic diseases.last_img read more

Effective engagement of corporations with communities improves outcomes in sport sector

first_imgReviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Apr 26 2019A new book co-written by a University of Kent sports scientist recommends corporations and organizations engage more effectively with communities – rather than taking a ‘top down’ approach – to improve relationships and outcomes in the sport sector.Such outcomes include approaches to the financial resourcing of schools and community groups, shared development of sport-based educational material, and the general promotion of sport and physical activity.Dr Geoffery Kohe, Lecturer in Sport Management and Policy in the School of Sport and Exercise Sciences, makes the recommendation after research into strategic alliances forged between sports, education, social development, charity, political and corporate sector stakeholders.Related StoriesOlympus launches next-generation X Line objectives for clinical, research applicationsAMSBIO offers new, best-in-class CAR-T cell range for research and immunotherapyAXT enhances cellular research product portfolio with solutions from StemBioSysHis book, entitled Sport, Education and Corporatisation: Spaces of connectivity, contestation and creativity (Routledge, 2019), looks at global, regional and local places where stakeholder connections are made, sport and physical activity initiatives are produced, and community action and engagement takes place.The book considers key organizations, including the International Olympic Committee, international and European football associations, the United Nations and its affiliated agencies, companies like Nike, Adidas, Coca Cola and McDonalds as well as philanthropic entities such as the Gates and Aegon Transamerica Foundation.Dr Kohe and co-author Dr Holly Collison, of Loughborough University London, argue that large multinational companies are in a powerful position to shape sports education. However, not enough is known about corporate interventions in sport and sport policy development.Alliances between commercial entities and sport for educational purposes have become increasingly normalized, and are used frequently to demonstrate a shared commitment to a ‘greater good’, the researchers argue.Dr Kohe, a member of Kent’s Sport Legacies and Communities Research Group, said: ‘Ultimately, we need more space for critical dialogue and local ownership in these partnerships and improved transparency, accountability and democracy at all levels. Organizations that lead initiatives and control resource provision have moral responsibilities and a duty of care to ensure their presence is not exploitative and agendas do not supplant existing liberties and freedoms.’ Source: read more

Epileptic patients experience ecstatic aura on stimulating brains dorsal anterior insula

first_imgReviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Jun 25 2019The epileptic “aura” is a subjective phenomenon that sometimes precedes the visible clinical features of a seizure. Investigators tested three epileptic patients prior to potential surgery to try to determine where their seizures originate. They observed that these patients reported an ecstatic aura only when the dorsal anterior insula of the brain was stimulated. Their findings in the journal Brain Stimulation, published by Elsevier, provide additional support of a major role played by the dorsal anterior insula in ecstatic experiences.Throughout history some people have experienced states of ecstasy. In these moments they describe a blissful altered consciousness with a sense of hyper-reality, a hyper awareness of the present moment, and a feeling of union with the Universe. Attaining or producing these states is a key component of many religious traditions.”An important modern question is whether these states arise from activity in specific brain regions and if so, where,” explained lead investigator Fabrice Bartolomei, MD, PhD, Aix-Marseille University, INSERM, INS, Institute of Neuroscience Systems, and APHM, Timone Hospital, Clinical Neurophysiology and Epileptology Department, Marseille, France. “A better understanding of the network mechanisms underlying this fascinating subjective experience may help to unravel some mysteries of human consciousness. The insula, a lobe in the brain behind the ears that is insulated because it is hidden deep in the brain, has recently been proposed to be a key region to elicit these symptoms.”Some patients with epilepsy experience a type of aura referred to as “ecstatic.” Patients use terms like “hyper-reality,” “clarity,” “evidence,” “certainty,” “understanding,” “insight,” “enlightenment,” or “epiphany” to describe this state. The Russian writer Fyodor Dostoevsky, who experienced such seizures himself, gave a famous description in his novel The Idiot, in which one of his characters reports feeling “overflowing with unbounded joy and rapture, ecstatic devotion, and completest life.”Investigators describe three patients with refractory focal epilepsy, who had probes inserted into their brains to try to determine where their seizures originated, potentially to remove those regions surgically and cure their disease. They studied functional connectivity changes in several brain areas during the induction of ecstatic auras by direct electrical stimulation of the dorsal anterior insular cortex in patients implanted with intracerebral electrodes (stereotactic-EEG, SEEG) during their pre-surgical evaluation. These patients were selected on the basis of the occurrence of ecstatic symptoms triggered by direct intracerebral electrical stimulation of the antero-dorsal part of the insula.Related StoriesRush University Medical Center offers new FDA-approved treatment for brain aneurysmsResearch team to create new technology for tackling concussionStudy offers clues about how to prevent brain inflammation in Alzheimer’sElectrical stimulation was performed in a bipolar fashion to each contact in the gray matter during a three-second period to map functional cortices and trigger habitual seizures. One stimulation inducing ecstatic changes in each patient was analyzed. Functional connectivity analysis was performed by measuring interdependencies between SEEG signals before and after stimulations.Each patient reported an ecstatic aura only when the dorsal anterior insula was stimulated. Investigators measured brain wave activity (EEG) during periods of ecstasy and found that the anterior insula was serving as a critical node or hub in the network activity, suggesting that in some way this region can produce or release this feeling. The field of brain stimulation is still in its infancy. While these patients had to have wires inserted into their brains in order to produce ecstasy, in the future it may be possible to stimulate this spot non-invasively.”Fabrice Bartolomei, MD, PhD, Aix-Marseille University “Science routinely progresses through hypothesis-driven research conducted by large teams of researchers,” added Mark George, MD, Editor-in-Chief of Brain Stimulation. “However, accidental ‘discoveries’ are also important. These serendipitous observations can help us understand the world around us, particularly the world within our skulls, the human brain. Perhaps in the near future we can use noninvasive brain stimulation methods to stimulate this region and determine if it truly is the seat of ecstasy.Dr. George cautions that, while this is an important clue for the field, it is important to remember that these results were observed in patients with epilepsy, so we do not yet know if this effect is generalizable to people without epilepsy. Understanding the brain networks involved in consciousness and altered states is important for many reasons, some therapeutic and others philosophical and cultural. Source:ElsevierJournal reference:Bartolomei, F. et al. (2019) The role of the dorsal anterior insula in ecstatic sensation revealed by direct electrical brain stimulation. Brain Stimulation. read more

Bordeaux University Hospital uses 3D printing to improve kidney tumor removal surgery

first_imgThe deployment of the J750 has been enabled thanks to funding from three partners: the European Union, the Regional Council of Nouvelle Aquitaine and the Bordeaux University Foundation, of which the CHU is a part. Source:Stratasys Jul 15 2019Bordeaux University Hospital (CHU) in France is leading the charge to improve success rates of complex kidney tumor removal surgery, thanks to unique full-color, multi-material 3D printing technology. The CHUis currently one of the only hospitals worldwide to use a Stratasys J750– the world’s only full-color, multi-material 3D printer – for complex kidney tumor removal cases. The 3D printed models are also used to enhance the explanatory process towards patients, as well as improve surgeon training.Support from patientsRelated StoriesStratasys’ new J720 Dental 3D printer sets new standards for digital dentistryStratasys advanced FDM 3D printing helps Biodonostia to improve treatment for thoracic wall tumorsStratasys and Materialise bring 3D printed medical models to lifeOne such patient is Carole Ridel, who recently underwent surgery at the CHU. “I was shown a 3D printed model of my kidney prior to my operation and instantly felt more reassured than I had been before surgeries I had undergone in the past,” she explains. “Seeing such a realistic representation allowed me to understand the process much better than an MRI scan. I noticed that the tumors were on the external wall of the kidney, rather than inside the organ itself, so I was comforted by realizing the situation wasn’t as bad as I had imagined.”Collaborative project to improve communication with patientsUsing its J750 3D Printer, CHU also recently created a collaborative research project entitled Rein 3D Print, which aims to determine whether boosting patient understanding of their surgical procedure can improve ambulatory care (same-day surgery that doesn’t necessitate an overnight stay). According to Prof. Bernhard, 3D-printed model shave contributed to the success of this pilot protocol and have reduced patient hospitalization times during pre-surgery planning. The surgical team at the CHU’sDepartment of Urology and Kidney Transplantationis3D printing life-like transparent and color models of the patient’s anatomy to help perform precise and successful kidney-sparing surgery and improve patient outcomes.Jean-Christophe Bernhard, Urology Professor at Bordeaux University Hospital, says the clearer view offered by the 3D printed model helps identify and avoid damage to the delicate nearby arteries and vessels which, in the case of complex or high-volume tumors, can result in a patient’s kidney being completely removed.Sparing the patient’s kidney is important because it reduces the chance of subsequently suffering from chronic kidney disease. Having a 3D-printed model comprising the patient’s kidney tumor, main arteries and vessels – each in a different color – provides an accurate picture of what we will see during operations. The ability to visualize the specific location of a tumor in relation to these other elements, all in three dimensions, greatly facilitates our surgical planning and is not easily achievable from a 2D scan.”Jean-Christophe Bernhard, Urology Professor, Bordeaux University Hospital The clearer view offered by a transparent, full-color 3D printed model increases the ability to perform precise and successful kidney-sparing Describing kidney tumor removal with a 2D scan or diagram will invariably leave most patients somewhat bewildered. Presenting them with a 3D printed model that clearly shows the tumor puts them at ease and enables the patient to grasp exactly what we’re going to do. Indeed, initial research from patient questionnaires shows that having 3D printed models increases their understanding of the surgery by up to 50%, so it’s a considerable benefit in terms of overall patient care.”Prof. Jean-Christophe Bernhardlast_img read more

UM partnership paves way for new method to treat acute aortic dissection

first_imgIt’s a difficult condition and the traditional method of immediate open repair had limited outcomes. We needed to try something else.”Bo Yang, M.D., Ph.D, Michigan Medicine cardiac surgeon Reviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Jul 17 2019When a patient comes to the hospital with acute type A aortic dissection (ATAAD), a tearing of the inner lining of the aorta, surgeons typically perform an immediate open repair to prevent death from aortic rupture.However, 20 years ago, G. Michael Deeb, M.D., a cardiac surgeon at Michigan Medicine’s Frankel Cardiovascular Center, noticed some patients were still dying after their successful open repair. They thought this subset of aortic dissection patients might be succumbing to a different problem: malperfusion syndrome (MPS), which was causing organ failure due to inadequate blood supply.In cases of malperfusion, a patient experiences inadequate blood flow to their end organs, such as the heart, because of obstruction of the aorta and its branches, which can be caused by aortic tearing. Malperfusion develops into a syndrome when this inadequate blood flow causes cell, tissue and organ death, with the consequence of functional failure in vital organs. That led U-M cardiac surgeons to a discussion with interventional radiologists about improving aortic dissection patient outcomes. David Williams, M.D., a vascular and interventional radiologist at Michigan Medicine, brought up the idea of opening a vessel to perfuse the organ again before the cardiac surgeon performs an open repair. Yang and other surgeons continue to optimize this approach by including aggressive blood pressure control, better ICU care and carrying out earlier open aortic repairs.In a recent Circulation study, which spanned two decades and included 597 participants with ATAAD, Yang and colleagues reported a 12 percent decrease (from 16 percent to 4 percent) in the risk of death from aortic rupture for MPS patients using this updated protocol.”The idea was radical because immediate open repair was considered the gold standard of treatment for patients with aortic tear,” says co-author Elizabeth Norton, M.S., a student at Creighton University School of Medicine.Weighing the risksYang and his team hypothesized that endovascular reperfusion (fenestration/stenting) as the first intervention before definitive operative repair would be more beneficial than upfront open aortic repair in stable patients diagnosed with both ATAAD and MPS.Endovascular reperfusion, Norton says, involves “percutaneous access in the groin to allow vascular access without an incision, from which catheters are inserted into the artery allowing access to the aorta and the ability to resolve the malperfusion with fenestration and stenting.””Fenestration creates a large opening in the aortic flap that could be causing the malperfusion, allowing blood flow on both sides of the flap,” she adds. “Stenting involves inserting a metal stent into the aorta and/or branch vessels to open the vessel, similar to stent placement in the coronary arteries in a heart attack; essentially opening the vessel to permit blood flow.”Surgeons have to balance the 30 percent risk of operative mortality and the 4 percent risk of aortic rupture.”The premise of the approach is that not every untreated ATAAD patient will rupture, but every untreated MPS patient will result in death,” Yang says. A premise that, Williams says, epitomizes the philosophy shared by cardiac surgery and interventional radiology.Related StoriesNanoparticles used to deliver CRISPR gene editing tools into the cellStroke should be treated 15 minutes earlier to save lives, study suggestsAlternate cell growth pathway could open door to new treatments for metastatic cancers”The stakes of a missed diagnosis are high, so the threshold for evaluating and, if appropriate, treating MPS in stable patients is low,” Williams says.In this study, physicians treated 135 patients with upfront endovascular reperfusion followed by open repair. The operative mortality was 4 percent at Michigan Medicine compared to 30-40 percent reported in the literature.After the study the research team concluded that immediate open repair is still the best strategy to prevent death from aortic rupture for the majority of patients with ATAAD. However, they report that relatively stable patients with MPS benefit from a staged approach: upfront endovascular reperfusion followed by aortic open repair after the patient recovers from malperfusion.U-M method advantagesCompared to the traditional method of upfront open repair for every patient, Yang says this new method of care came with several advantages.The approach resolves the arterial obstruction immediately and completely, through the skin. This is significantly less invasive than open repair and the average time to resolve the obstruction is 30 minutes.The Michigan Medicine approach also gives borderline operative candidates with MPS time to recover and avoid pointless open repair in those with progressed organ failure, Yang says. Patients with MPS are critically ill and operative mortality has been reported to be as high as 45 percent if upfront open repair is performed.Clinical implicationsAfter patients were treated with endovascular reperfusion and had recovered from MPS, the operative mortality of open repair was six to eight times lower than the expected mortality calculated from all five literature models compared in the study. The long-term survival (80 percent at five years; 63 percent at 10 years) was similar to patients with ATAAD without MPS.In other reports, patients with MPS treated with upfront open repair had worse long-term survival rates when compared to patients without MPS.Researchers say this new approach could change the algorithm for treating patients with acute type A aortic dissection and MPS.”We worked to decrease the risk of rupture for MPS patients by using aggressive blood pressure control after malperfusion recovery and before their open repair surgery,” Yang says. “High blood pressure can cause rupture if the aorta is dissected because the aortic wall becomes paper thin.”Ninety-six percent of patients either survived to discharge or underwent delayed open repair (69.5 percent) or died from end-organ failure (26.5 percent) before delayed open repair. Even after the arterial obstruction was resolved with endovascular reperfusion, the risk of dying from end-organ failure due to severe organ damage from malperfusion was approximately seven times higher than the risk of aortic rupture, proving Yang’s hypothesis.”This method is a landmark. It’s changing lives. It will take us into the future of healthcare,” says Yang, who is already talking with other institutions about the strategy. “I want every physician to know about it.” Source:Michigan Medicine – University of MichiganJournal reference:Yang, B. et al. (2019) Endovascular Fenestration/Stenting First Followed by Delayed Open Aortic Repair for Acute Type A Aortic Dissection With Malperfusion Syndrome. Circulation. read more

3D scanners can help young women focus on body appreciation

first_imgRelated StoriesBiden calling ACA ‘breakthrough’ for mental health parity highlights gapsPerinatal depression screenings may overlook women having suicidal ideationOlympus Europe and Cytosurge join hands to accelerate drug development, single cell researchIn her study, young adult women between the ages of 18 and 25 were scanned in a 3D scanner used by researchers and students in MU’s Department of Textile and Apparel Management. The researchers used modeling software to convert the scans to 3D avatars. Participants then digitally “painted” body parts that they appreciated for various reasons such as their utility or role in their relationships.”In digitally painting their avatars, women could think about how, for example, their thighs help them run or how their arms can help hold others in an embrace,” Ramseyer Winter said. “It provided the participants a way to visual their bodies in a completely different way. It allowed the participants to recognize how our bodies are much more than a size or a number on a scale.”Immediately and then again three months after digitally painting their avatars, participants reported increased body appreciation over time. Moreover, participants reported lower depressive and anxiety symptoms.”While more research still needs to be done on the relationship between the 3D image intervention we used and its impact on mental health, we did see a significant effect on body appreciation,” Ramseyer Winter said. “Prior research has shown that body appreciation is related to depression and anxiety, which leads us to think that we are on the right track in creating an intervention that can improve not only body image, but mental health as well.”Future research will look at how painting the 3D avatars impacts young women with more severe depression.Antoinette Landor, co-director of the Center for Body Image Research and Policy, co-authored the study. Other MU researchers who worked on the project were Michelle Teti, Kristen Morris, Erin Schliep, Danielle Pevehouse-Pfeiffer and Emily Pekarek.The study is part of the newly created Center for Body Image Research and Policy, an interdisciplinary research center housed in the MU College of Human Environmental Sciences. The center was built around the goal to improve body image, health and wellness for individuals, families and communities. Source:University of Missouri-Columbia 3D body image scanning is a relatively new tool in social science research, and the research on using 3D tools for improving body image is scant. We wanted to see if it could provide a way to help young women shift their focus away from appearance and toward function.”Virginia Ramseyer Winter, Director of the MU Center for Body Image Research and Policy Reviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Jun 21 20193D technology has transformed movies and medical imaging, and now it might be able to help young women better appreciate their bodies.Virginia Ramseyer Winter, assistant professor in the School of Social Work and director of the MU Center for Body Image Research and Policy, is a nationally recognized body image expert. In a new study, she found that images from 3D scanners can be used to help young women focus on body appreciation, which might in turn improve mental health.last_img read more

Microsoft stops fixing security flaw on PCs with AMD chips

Explainer: Who’s affected by computer chip security flaw The suspension will delay efforts to protect the AMD machines from potential intrusions caused by security bugs known as “Spectre” and “Meltdown.” The problem primarily threatens devices running on processors from AMD’s larger rival, Intel, but also could cause trouble on devices running on other chips.Microsoft began offering updates to its Windows operating system to address the flaw last week, but is withholding the repair from some AMD-powered machines that have been rendered inoperable by its fix. The company said in a notice Tuesday on its website that it’s working with AMD to resolve the problem so people can resume installing the recommended repairs.After the bugs were announced last week, AMD declared there is “near zero risk” to its own processors, partly because of Microsoft’s security patches.In other developments, Microsoft also warned that some computers powered by older processors probably won’t work as well as they once did after the antidotes to Spectre and Meltdown are installed. Citation: Microsoft stops fixing security flaw on PCs with AMD chips (2018, January 9) retrieved 18 July 2019 from Explore further © 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. Microsoft has temporarily stopped fixing a serious security flaw on personal computers powered by certain chips from Advanced Micro Devices because the repair is crippling the affected machines. 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. read more

General Electric shares rise despite 1Q loss on hefty legal charge

The logo of US company General Electric is seen at a factory of the group in Montoir-de-Bretagne, western France This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. Citation: General Electric shares rise despite 1Q loss on hefty legal charge (2018, April 20) retrieved 18 July 2019 from Slumping industrial conglomerate General Electric won a reprieve on Wall Street Friday after reporting strong results in some divisions even as it suffered a quarterly loss due to a hefty legal charge. Explore further © 2018 AFP GE reports 4Q loss of $9.8 bn on insurance, tax charges GE, which has been hurt by weakness in its power and oil and gas businesses, reported a first-quarter loss of $1.2 billion, due to $1.5 billion in reserves to cover legal settlements connected to a subprime lending unit it exited.However, investors took heart after GE reaffirmed its full-year financial targets and avoided fresh negative surprise announcements that have plagued recent results. Revenues increased 6.7 percent to $28.7 billion.”The first quarter is a step forward in executing on our 2018 plan and we are seeing signs of progress,” said chief executive John Flannery. GE has been signaling for months that its encumbered power division would be an earnings vulnerability for some time to come, but Flannery said Friday that the outlook was even worse than previously thought.The company now expects the overall market for new gas turbine orders to be less than 30 gigawatts, compared with the prior estimate of 30 to 34. Factors driving the weakness include the rising share of renewable energy, energy efficiency efforts and some delays in orders, Flannery said. Since Flannery became CEO last summer, GE has trimmed costs, streamlined its board, cut its dividend and revamped employee compensation. The company also has announced plans to sell $20 billion in industrial assets. Flannery reaffirmed he is open to further overhauling GE, raising speculation of a breakup of the company.”There’s no sacred cows,” he said during a conference call with analysts. “We’re reviewing a number of structures. We’re working through this right now in great detail with the board, including new board members.”GE was the biggest gainer in the Dow, rising 2.8 percent to $14.38 in midday trading.Oil rebound?GE’s other problem division of late, oil and gas, could be poised for a turnaround in the foreseeable future due to strengthening oil prices. Major producers including Saudi Arabia and Russia signaled Friday they plan to extend a production accord to defend higher oil prices.Baker Hughes, an oil services company in which GE holds a majority stake, offered an upbeat outlook when it reported results Friday, saying “market fundamentals remain supportive” due to stable oil prices.GE scored higher profits compared with the year-ago period in four divisions, including healthcare and aviation, which have been the strongest businesses.GE has previously signaled that it expected additional legal costs connected to WMC. In a February US securities filing, the company said it believed the US Department of Justice would assert the company violated US law “in connection with WMC’s origination and sale of subprime mortgage loans in 2006 and 2007.”GE chief financial officer Jamie Miller said the company set aside the $1.5 billion in reserves “based on our discussions with the DOJ and a review of settlements by other banks.”CFRA Research analyst Jim Corridore praised some aspects of GE’s performance and noted that it exceeded its cost-cutting targets. But he cut his earnings estimate and share price target.”Given the severity of the downturns at oil & gas and power, and ongoing losses from GE Capital, we do not think it’s worth wading into the shares despite the below-market valuation,” Corridore said in a note. read more

Selfassembling 3D battery would charge in seconds

first_img A cross-campus collaboration led by Ulrich Wiesner, professor of engineering in the at Cornell University, addresses this demand with a novel energy storage device architecture that has the potential for lightning-quick charges.The group’s idea: Instead of having the batteries’ anode and cathode on either side of a nonconducting separator, intertwine the components in a self-assembling, 3-D gyroidal structure, with thousands of nanoscale pores filled with the elements necessary for energy storage and delivery.”This is truly a revolutionary battery architecture,” said Wiesner, whose group’s paper, “Block Copolymer Derived 3-D Interpenetrating Multifunctional Gyroidal Nanohybrid for Electrical Energy Storage,” was published May 16 in Energy and Environmental Science, a publication of the Royal Society of Chemistry.”This three-dimensional architecture basically eliminates all losses from dead volume in your device,” Wiesner said. “More importantly, shrinking the dimensions of these interpenetrated domains down to the nanoscale, as we did, gives you orders of magnitude higher power density. In other words, you can access the energy in much shorter times than what’s usually done with conventional battery architectures.”How fast is that? Wiesner said that, due to the dimensions of the battery’s elements being shrunk down to the nanoscale, “by the time you put your cable into the socket, in seconds, perhaps even faster, the battery would be charged.”The architecture for this concept is based on block copolymer self-assembly, which the Wiesner group has employed for years in other devices, including a gyroidal solar cell and a gyroidal superconductor. Joerg Werner, Ph.D. ’15, lead author on this work, had experimented with self-assembling photonic devices, and wondered if the same principles could be applied to carbon materials for energy storage.The gyroidal thin films of carbon—the battery’s anode, generated by block copolymer self-assembly—featured thousands of periodic pores on the order of 40 nanometers wide. These pores were then coated with a 10 nm-thick, electronically insulating but ion-conducting separator through electropolymerization, which by the very nature of the process produced a pinhole-free separation layer.That’s vital, since defects like holes in the separator are what can lead to catastrophic failure giving rise to fires in mobile devices such as cellphones and laptops.The next step is the addition of the cathode material—in this case, sulfur—in an amount that doesn’t quite fill the remainder of the pores. Since sulfur can accept electrons but doesn’t conduct electricity, the final step is backfilling with an electronically conducting polymer—known as PEDOT (poly[3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene]).While this architecture offers proof of concept, Wiesner said, it’s not without challenges. Volume changes during discharging and charging the battery gradually degrade the PEDOT charge collector, which doesn’t experience the volume expansion that sulfur does.”When the sulfur expands,” Wiesner said, “you have these little bits of polymer that get ripped apart, and then it doesn’t reconnect when it shrinks again. This means there are pieces of the 3-D battery that you then cannot access.”The group is still perfecting the technique, but applied for patent protection on the proof-of-concept work. , Energy & Environmental Science Researchers create first self-assembled superconductor Explore further The world is a big place, but it’s gotten smaller with the advent of technologies that put people from across the globe in the palm of one’s hand. And as the world has shrunk, it has also demanded that things happen ever faster—including the time it takes to charge an electronic device. More information: J. G. Werner et al. Block copolymer derived 3-D interpenetrating multifunctional gyroidal nanohybrids for electrical energy storage, Energy & Environmental Science (2018). DOI: 10.1039/C7EE03571C A rendering of the 3D battery architecture (top; not to scale) with interpenetrating anode (grey, with minus sign), separator (green), and cathode (blue, plus sign), each about 20 nanometers in size. Below are their respective molecular structures. Credit: Wiesner Group Provided by Cornell University Journal information: Energy and Environmental Science Citation: Self-assembling 3-D battery would charge in seconds (2018, May 17) retrieved 18 July 2019 from 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

Tesla shares tumble after Musk tweet controversy

first_img © 2018 AFP Tesla shares stumbled Monday as chief executive Elon Musk faced criticism over a public spat with a British diver who worked on the Thai soccer team rescue. Tesla shares were in a tailspin after CEO Elon Musk got into a Twitter spat with a British diver over the Thai cave rescue Elon Musk says in Thailand with mini-sub Explore furthercenter_img Shares of the electric car maker were down 3.5 percent in late-morning trading at $307.82 on news that Musk could face a libel suit over the episode.Musk attacked British diver Vern Unsworth, who had dismissed the Tesla chief’s efforts to help the rescue mission for the 12 boys as a “PR stunt” in a widely seen interview on CNN.Musk, without providing any justification or explanation, referred to Unsworth as “pedo guy” in a since-deleted tweet on Sunday. “Pedo” is short for pedophile. Unsworth told AFP on Monday he had not reviewed the tweets in full and had only heard about them. But asked if he would take legal action against Musk over the allegation, Unsworth said: “If it’s what I think it is yes.”Unsworth, who lives part of the year in Thailand, took part in the gargantuan 18-day effort to retrieve the 12 boys and their coach, a mission that ended on July 10 when the last five members were extracted.Unsworth had dismissed an offer from Musk for a miniature submarine as useless to the mission.The episode is the latest controversy surrounding Musk, who has occasionally rattled Wall Street with erratic behavior.Shares were pummeled in May after Musk abruptly cut off questions from Wall Street analysts over Tesla’s spending plans.But Musk also has many champions on Wall Street, who believe his plans for disrupting autos could remake the transportation sector and have helped Tesla achieve a market value greater than Ford and only slightly below that of General Motors. Citation: Tesla shares tumble after Musk tweet controversy (2018, July 16) retrieved 18 July 2019 from 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

LA to become first in US to install subway body scanners

first_img Citation: LA to become first in US to install subway body scanners (2018, August 14) retrieved 18 July 2019 from This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. Explore further Body scanners being piloted in Los Angeles subway system In this Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2018 file photo ThruVision suicide vest-detection technology reveals an suspicious object on a man, at left, during a Transportation Security Administration demonstration in New York’s Penn Station. Los Angeles is poised to have the first mass transit system in the U.S. with body scanners that screen passengers for weapons and explosives. Officials from the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the Transportation Security Administration have scheduled a Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2018, news conference. The TSA has been working on the experimental devices, known as standoff explosive detection units, since 2004 with transit agencies. They hadn’t been deployed permanently at any transit hub. (AP Photo/Richard Drew,File)center_img © 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the Transportation Security Administration had been testing several different types of body scanners for about a year.The scanners that are being deployed are portable, and project waves to do a full-body screening of passengers walking through a station without slowing them down.The machines, which scan for metallic and non-metallic objects on a person’s body, can detect suspicious items from 30 feet (9 meters) away and have the capability of scanning more than 2,000 passengers per hour, said Brian Haas, a spokesman for the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority.The TSA tested body scanners in New York’s Penn Station in February and has also conducted tests at Union Station in Washington, D.C., and at a New Jersey Transit station during the 2014 Super Bowl.In December, a Bangladeshi immigrant injured himself by setting off a crude pipe bomb strapped to his chest in a subway passageway near Times Square in New York City.Metro has previously tested several different types of body scanners, including airport-style screening systems where passengers walk through a scanner. The pilot program was meant to evaluate the accuracy and capacity of the portable machines.About 150,000 passengers ride on Metro’s Red Line daily and the subway system counted more than 112 million rides last year. The Los Angeles subway system will become the first in the U.S. to install body scanners that screen passengers for weapons and explosives, officials said Tuesday.last_img read more

Geographic location biggest indicator of mobile app preferences

first_imgCredit: CC0 Public Domain Provided by University College London Across the globe smartphones and mobile apps have become an integral part of everyday life, but what determines the apps you use? Socio-economic factors also play an important role when considering mobile usage. The study shows that occupation, education, and how much a person has in savings, are the next most important factors in determining what apps a person will use. Socio-economic factors are more important than age and gender.People of similar socio-economic status tend to use their smartphones in a similar way across the globe. This is particularly true for people of similar household status, living with or without children, and is also true for professionals and well-educated people.Dr. Ella Peltonen, lead author on the study and postdoctoral research fellow at the Insight Centre for Data Analytics, Ireland, said: “The results of our work show that there is a strong relationship between the type of apps people use and their geographic and socio-economic factors, suggesting that these different factors should be taken into account when studying mobile data. In addition, our results can be used to better target mobile apps in different countries, and for personalisation.”Dr. Musolesi concluded: “The findings of this research can be exploited in many contexts, not only commercial ones. We can use this information for better targeting applications for positive behaviour intervention or civic participation. One specific application domain is digital health, where understanding which applications are popular in a certain region for a specific socio-economic group is of fundamental importance for effective and systematic actions such as for disease prevention, vaccination campaigns or mental health interventions at local and national level.” This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. More information: Ella Peltonen et al. The hidden image of mobile apps, Proceedings of the 20th International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction with Mobile Devices and Services – MobileHCI ’18 (2018). DOI: 10.1145/3229434.3229474center_img App usage soars as smartphones take hold A new study involving UCL reveals that the country you live in rather than your demographic data is actually the biggest indicator of the types of apps you download and use. The study, conducted in collaboration with the Insight Centre for Data Analytics, Ireland, University of Helsinki, Finland, and Lancaster University, UK, will be presented at the MobileHCI 2018 conference in Barcelona, Spain, September 3-6. Researchers found that English-speaking countries, including the UK, USA, Australia, Canada and New Zealand, as well as Japan and South Korea had the highest app usage, with the lowest app usage being found in Argentina, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Pakistan and India.Dr. Mirco Musolesi, who leads the UCL Intelligent Social System Lab (UCL Geography), said: “Previously studies have not focused on geographic and cultural factors behind app usage, instead choosing to focus on usage patterns and behaviour.”Our research highlights that even if mobile communications and hyper-connectivity are a global phenomenon, the country we live in plays a huge part in determining our app preferences. Understanding how and when people use phones, and which apps they engage with, is important for the study of individual behaviour and society at large.”The team applied large-scale analysis of geographic, cultural, and demographic factors in mobile usage, using data from 25,323 Android users who used 54,776 mobile applications in 44 countries across Europe, Americas, Asia and Oceania.While Hofstede’s Value Survey Model was used to determine cross-cultural preferences, finding that masculine cultures, as determined by the model, with more pronounced gender roles, like Japan prefer Personalization apps that help users to more easily customise their device, while collectivist cultures and those with more fluid gender roles such as Russia seem to value Family related categories, such as Education and Parenting applications. “Individualist” cultures such as the US favoured Entertainment apps and other leisure related categories, such as Travel & Local, Sports, Health and Fitness, and Music and Audio. The most popular categories for the UK are Communication apps, Social, Travel & Local, and News & Magazines. The researchers also observed that the UK is characterised by an application usage pattern that is closer to other English-speaking countries and more distant from that observed in countries in continental Europe. Explore further Citation: Geographic location biggest indicator of mobile app preferences (2018, September 5) retrieved 17 July 2019 from read more

Mass tax trickery cost Europe 55 bln euros report

first_img German software giant SAP raises dividend So-called “cum-ex” and “cum-cum” deals—complex stock transactions around the days when companies pay out dividends—have cost taxpayers as much as 55 billion euros ($63 billion) in lost revenue or outright fraud since 2001.The schemes were first uncovered in Germany in 2012.But beyond Europe’s largest economy, Thursday’s investigation found evidence of the practices in France, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, Denmark, Belgium, Austria, Finland, Norway and Switzerland.Accounting for the bulk of the total at 46 billion euros, technically legal “cum-cum” tax avoidance exploits varying treatment of domestic and foreign shareholders.Foreign investors holding shares in a company temporarily sell the stock to a bank based in the same country as the firm ahead of the day dividend gets paid out.This allows them to escape higher taxes on the dividend charged to shareholders from abroad, before buying back their holdings quickly afterwards.Such deals deprived Germany of 24.6 billion euros in tax revenue, France 17 billion and Italy 4.5 billion, according to the investigation led by investigative journalism website Correctiv with big-name outlets like German public broadcaster ARD and French newspaper Le Monde.Criminal investigationsMeanwhile, clearly fraudulent “cum-ex” deals draw in more parties in a complex dance around the taxman.Reportedly conceived by well-known German lawyer Hanno Berger, the cum-ex method relies on several investors buying and selling shares in a company amongst themselves around the day when the firm pays out its dividend.The stock changes hands so quickly that the tax authorities are unable to identify who is the true owner.Working together, the investors can claim multiple rebates for tax paid on the dividend and share out the profits amongst themselves—with the treasury footing the bill.This practice cost Germany 7.2 billion euros, Denmark 1.7 billion and Belgium 201 million, the investigation found.Since 2012 six criminal investigations have been opened in Germany, including against tax lawyer Berger and several stock market traders.Norway’s tax authority told AFP that it had uncovered a fraud worth 580,000 crowns ($70,533 or 61,304 euros) in 2013 and blocked several later attempts after a warning from Denmark.The country has since strengthened its surveillance, it added.Meanwhile Danish prosecutors have been studying tax practices around dividends since 2015 and are examining “whether there is a basis for criminal proceedings against people or companies involved,” spokesman Simon Gosvig said.Pierre Moscovici, European Commissioner for economic and financial affairs, tweeted in response to the investigation that European tax authorities should share more information and improve transparency.”If the fraudsters’ imagination is limitless, my determination is as well!” he wrote. Two closely-related tax schemes have helped banks and investors avoid tax or even syphon cash directly out of European treasuries totalling billions more than previously thought, an investigation by 19 media revealed Thursday. So-called “cum-ex” and “cum-cum” deals were first uncovered in Germany in 2001, while a 2018 media investigation found evidence of the practices in France, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, Denmark, Belgium, Austria, Finland, Norway and Switzerland © 2018 AFPcenter_img Explore further Citation: Mass tax trickery cost Europe 55 bln euros: report (2018, October 18) retrieved 17 July 2019 from This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.last_img read more

Facebook stops requiring arbitration of sexual harassment claims

first_img © 2018 AFP Google reforms sexual misconduct rules Citation: Facebook stops requiring arbitration of sexual harassment claims (2018, November 10) retrieved 17 July 2019 from Explore further The change of workplace rules at the world’s leading social network will allow complaints of such improprieties to be aired openly in court.”Today, we are publishing our updated Workplace Relationships policy and amending our arbitration agreements to make arbitration a choice rather than a requirement in sexual harassment claims,” Facebook corporate media relations director Anthony Harrison told AFP.”Sexual harassment is something that we take very seriously and there is no place for it at Facebook.”The Silicon Valley-based internet firm’s policy about workers dating one another was also modified to require executives of director level or higher to tell the human resources department when they are dating another employee at the company.Google on Thursday outlined changes to its handling of sexual misconduct complaints, hoping to calm outrage that triggered a worldwide walkout of workers last week.Arbitration of harassment claims at Google will be optional instead of obligatory, according to chief executive Sundar Pichai, a move that could end anonymous settlements that fail to identify those accused of harassment.”Google has never required confidentiality in the arbitration process and it still may be the best path for a number of reasons (e.g. personal privacy, predictability of process), but, we recognize that the choice should be up to you,” Pichai said in a memo shared with AFP.Pichai promised that Google will be more transparent with how concerns are handled, and provide better support and care to those who raise such issues with the company.A section of an internal “Investigations Report” will show numbers of substantiated sexual harassment concerns as well as trends and disciplinary actions, according to the California-based company.He also said Google is consolidating the complaint system and that the process for handling concerns will include providing support personnel and counselors.Google will update its mandatory sexual harassment training, and require it annually instead of every two years as had been the case.center_img Facebook on Friday said it will no longer require employees to resolve sexual harassment claims via arbitration, mirroring a move by Google. A change of Facebook workplace rules will allow sexual harassment compalints to be aired openly in court 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

Fit to drive The car will judge

first_img Sweden has the safest roads in the EU, with 25 deaths per million inhabitants, whereas Romania has almost four times as many with 99. Credit: Horizon 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. When you’re sleepy, stressed or have had a few drinks, you’re not in the best position to drive – or even make that decision. But automated cars could soon make that call for you. Provided by Horizon: The EU Research & Innovation Magazine Many drivers are unfit to drive from the beginning of their journey, say researchers. Credit – Takahiro Taguchi/Unsplash This could be alleviated by allowing an automated bus to support the driver – for example through automated docking at bus stops – while ensuring the driver still has control in unforeseen circumstances. Helping the vehicle and the driver to work together can lead to safer roads, she says.IndividualShe also notes that each person varies and reacts differently in both normal and impairment states, such as sleepiness, and therefore the systems should work on an individual level. To measure heart rate variability accurately, for example, information such as age and gender should be included or the initial state of the driver should be used as a reference.”It’s important to develop systems where your individual preferences and behaviours are incorporated,” said Dr. Anund. “So we will also focus on individualising the detection system but also the HMI (human-computer interaction).”If the user can design how they want the communication between human and vehicle to be done, then there’s more trust and acceptance, she explains.Another problem in road safety is driving under the influence of alcohol. About 25% of all road deaths in Europe are alcohol-related. As alcohol concentration in the drivers’ blood increases, the crash rate does too.One of the recommendations to the EU suggested in a 2014 report by Ecorys, a research and consulting company, is to make alcohol interlock devices—in which drivers have to take a breathalyser test before they can start the ignition—mandatory for certain categories of drivers or vehicles, such as repeated drink-driving offenders, professional drivers or commercial good vehicles.Previous studies have shown that alcohol ignition interlock devices are 40%-95 % more effective in preventing drink-driving recidivism than traditional measures such as licence withdrawal or fines. The risk of reoffending is reduced by 28%-65 % when these devices are installed, and rises again if they’re removed.Julian Sofroniev, CEO of Bulgarian company Global Technology Biodit, which manufactures biometric security products, said: “These devices are really important. We could save more than 25,000 lives by preventing car engines to start when people have high levels of alcohol in their blood.”Biodit is developing a device that combines alcohol detection with biometric identification to prevent a drunk driver from starting a vehicle, through a project called PREVENT.The idea is that the ignition lock would replace the start/stop button and would be pressed by the driver when they get into a car. The device would use a laser to measure different physiological parameters – such as heart beats or sweat, for example – and if they’ve had too much to drink then the car’s ignition would simply not start.”In these cases you could call a taxi, but you definitely can’t use your car,” said Sofroniev.To avoid the risk of someone other than the driver taking the test, the device will also use finger vein recognition, where vein patters are matched to records, to confirm the driver’s identity. Blood vessel patterns are unique to each individual and are almost impossible to fake because they are located beneath the skin’s surface.In its first stage of research, PREVENT confirmed a market need for such a device. Consequently, Sofroniev and his team are continuing to develop their device and hope it will hit the market by the end of next year. Explore further Citation: Fit to drive? The car will judge (2019, March 4) retrieved 17 July 2019 from In Europe, more than 25,000 people lose their lives on the road every year, while another 135,000 are seriously injured. The main culprits are speed, alcohol or drug driving, non-use of seat belts, distraction, and fatigue. Europe is the world’s safest region with 49 deaths per million inhabitants, but given that the EU aims to bring road safety deaths down to almost zero by 2050, there is still more to be done.The type of automated cars on the road today provide steering, brake and acceleration support while the driver is still at the wheel and constantly monitors the driving. These are known as level two on the autonomy scale, but cars could reach up to level five on the six-level scale in the future—becoming a completely driverless car.However, we are not there yet and we have to take it step-by-step, says Dr. Anna Anund from the Swedish National Road and Transport Research Institute (VTI).She and her team are developing sensor-based systems as part of the ADAS&ME project to move towards level three, in which the driver can rest and would only be expected to drive when the car requests it.These systems would also automatically transfer control between vehicle and driver to ensure road safety, especially when the driver is sleepy, stressed, distracted or anxious.”We want to make sure that we don’t give the control back to drivers that are not fit to drive, and also that we can use the automated functionality to take over the control if the driver is not fit to drive,” said Dr. Anund. “What we would like to achieve is a safe and acceptable transition in order to avoid severe crashes with people being severely injured or even killed.”UnfitA lot of drivers are unfit to drive from the beginning—sometimes they’re fatigued, sometimes they fall asleep as they drive in the middle of the night, sometimes they’re worried, stressed or inattentive, she explains. A driver’s state, but also other factors, such as their health, what road they are driving on, the weather conditions and what time of the day it is, influence driving and increase the risk of crashes. According to information published by the European Commission, driver fatigue is a major factor in 10%-20% of road crashes. However, because it is hard to measure fatigue or sleepiness, it has received relatively little attention over the years in conjunction with traffic and traffic accidents, says Dr. Anund. The ADAS&ME team are looking specifically at seven different driving scenarios in various vehicles, including cars, trucks, buses and motorcycles.In one scenario, a car needs to take over emergency braking when a driver on a motorway is on their mobile phone and the car in front brakes abruptly. In another, a motorcycle is able to detect that a rider has fainted and turns on the hazard lights, decelerates and pulls over to the side of the road.The systems use many types of sensors to monitor the drivers’ state, such as eye trackers and sensors to measure heart rate and changes in voice or face images, most of which are on the vehicle’s dashboard, wheel or seat. These sensors exist and is matter of using them together in a driving context, says Dr. Anund.Dr. Anund and her team have found that one group of drivers at risk of fatigue are bus driver, whose split shifts affect their sleepiness and performance during afternoon drives.”We know that about 40% of bus drivers in the city have to fight to stay awake 2-4 times a month or more often due to high levels of stress,” said Dr. Anund. Autonomous driving – hands on the wheel or no wheel at alllast_img read more

Amazon tries to prove its not a Dickensian workhouse opinion

first_img Tech News 04 Jul 2019 Amazon exec fires back at John Oliver after HBO segment on warehouses: ‘He is wrong’ You can identify companies’ sore spots by what gets them angry.   Last week, the executive in charge of Inc’s logistics operation tweeted a rebuttal to a television show. Comedian John Oliver had devoted one of his trademark scathing and hilarious HBO segments to the working conditions in warehouses that handle e-commerce orders. Amazon was not the only company pilloried, but it was the most prominent.   “I am proud of our team and to suggest they would work in an environment like the one portrayed is insulting,” Dave Clark, senior vice-president of operations for Amazon, tweeted to Oliver’s TV series.  Clark last year also punched back against criticisms from Bernie Sanders, the US senator and presidential candidate, who had repeatedly taken Amazon to task for what he said were low wages and poor treatment of warehouse workers. Soon afterward, Amazon essentially capitulated to Sanders by announcing it would increase the minimum wage for its US workers to US$15 (RM62) an hour.   Tech News 10 Jul 2019 Amazon workers in Minnesota plan six-hour strike during Prime Day event Related News {{category}} {{time}} {{title}} World 27 Jun 2019 Bernie Sanders seeks U.S. voters on live-streaming gaming site Related News Nothing happens by accident, not even tweets. It’s clear from Amazon’s public relations efforts that it is sensitive about the perception that the company’s warehouses – where a material portion of Amazon’s more than 630,000 full- and part-time employees work – are Dickensian sweatshops that trap people in low-wage jobs until they can be replaced by robots.  This perception is not new, but there’s a sharper edge now to Amazon’s refutations of these claims. Amazon also seems anxious at the mere idea floated by outsiders that its cashier-less technology for retail stores might spread beyond its experimental Go convenience stores.   That is important context for Amazon’s announcement on Thursday that it plans to spend more than US$700mil (RM2.87bil) over the next few years to train its US employees to move into more highly skilled jobs inside or outside of Amazon.  The company already offers employee-advancement programmes such as college tuition reimbursement, as do many other businesses. Amazon’s newly disclosed training initiatives aren’t limited to warehouse workers and have multiple elements. Non-technical Amazon workers can learn software engineering or information-technology support skills, technical ones can receive on-site training in more advanced software, and Amazon pledged to expand its existing training certification programme for warehouse workers to get qualified for in-demand fields such as nursing.  Of course, it remains to be seen how useful these new or expanding training programmes will be, but it’s both a good thing to do and a pragmatic step. As the labour market tightens in the US, it’s sensible for companies to sweeten pay, benefits and perks to attract new employees and keep them from leaving. (Full disclosure: One of my family members works for a labour union that advocates for higher wages and other employee benefits.)  It’s also useful for tackling that sweatshop perception, which gets more attention as Amazon’s heft and profile grow. The company’s stock market value is hovering again near that symbolic US$1tril (RM4.11tril) level. Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s founder and chief executive officer, is the wealthiest person in the world thanks largely to his holdings of Amazon stock.  And Amazon is unique among US technology superpowers in its reliance on a large number of blue-collar workers. The median annual total compensation for Amazon’s full-time US workers last year was nearly US$35,100 (RM144,348), which reflected two months of the minimum wage increase. The median wage of one of the company’s peers, Google parent company Alphabet Inc, was about US$247,000 (RM1.01mil).(1)  There are other things Amazon gets mad about now. Amazon is punchy at claims from some politicians that it doesn’t pay its fair share in taxes, or that it’s a muscular corporate giant swallowing America’s retail industry. It’s not clear that Amazon has changed how it behaves in reaction to those types of criticisms. But when it comes to the perception of Amazon as a sweatshop, the company’s rebuttals are more than just words.   (1) The Alphabet and Amazon figures are not comparable. Amazon singled out a pay figure for full-time US workers, for example, while Alphabet’s pay number is global. Amazon says the annualised median total compensation of all its employees was less than US$29,000 (RM119,262) last year. – Bloomberg(Shira Ovide is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering technology. She previously was a reporter for the Wall Street Journal.) It’s clear from Amazon’s public relations efforts that it is sensitive about the perception that the company’s warehouses – where a material portion of Amazon’s more than 630,000 full- and part-time employees work – are Dickensian sweatshops that trap people in low-wage jobs until they can be replaced by robots. — AFPlast_img read more

Kolkata Metro passenger dies as train starts moving with his hand stuck

first_img Indo-Asian News Service July 13, 2019UPDATED: July 13, 2019 23:14 IST Eyewitnesses said victim lay in tunnel for quite some time before security personnel ran and removed him | Photo from Twitter for representationHIGHLIGHTSEyewitnesses said the victim – a middle-aged man – tried to board the Kavi Subhas-bound trainAfter the train had moved some distance, the passenger fell down in the tunnelThe victim was taken to SSKM hospital where he was declared brought deadA passenger on the Kolkata Metro railway died a horrific death after the train started moving with his hand stuck between the doors and his body hanging outside on Saturday.Eyewitnesses said the victim — a middle-aged man — tried to board the Kavi Subhas-bound train around 6.40 p.m. at Park Street station, but could not get in fully due to a heavy rush of passengers.He had only got his hand inside the compartment when the doors closed, and his hand got stuck. To the horror of onlookers, the train started moving towards Maidan station with the man’s body hanging outside.After the train had moved some distance, he fell down in the tunnel.A passenger Sudip Roy said soon after the train started moving towards Maidan there was a burning smell and the train came to a halt.Eyewitnesses said the victim lay in the tunnel for quite some time before security personnel ran and removed him.The victim was taken to SSKM hospital where he was declared brought dead.A Kolkata Metro spokesperson described the incident as “unfortunate” and said a three-member inquiry committee has been formed. The committee will view the CCTV footage and the circumstances leading to the incident.Also Read | Man commits suicide by jumping in front of metro at Civil Lines Metro Station, body severedAlso Read | Muslims fear displacement from Jama Masjid area as Agra Metro project moves forwardAlso Watch | Unmanned Magenta line Metro train collides with wall during test run in DelhiFor the latest World Cup news, live scores and fixtures for World Cup 2019, log on to Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter for World Cup news, scores and updates.Get real-time alerts and all the news on your phone with the all-new India Today app. Download from Post your comment Do You Like This Story? Awesome! Now share the story Too bad. Tell us what you didn’t like in the comments Posted byMohak Gupta Tags :Follow KolkataFollow Kolkata Metro Kolkata Metro passenger dies as train starts moving with his hand stuck between doorsThe passemger only got his hand inside the compartment when the doors closed, and his hand got stuck.advertisement Nextlast_img read more