Economy markets Tillerson exit sparks US protectionism fears global stocks fall

first_imgTraders work at the post where shares of Patheon NV is traded on the floor of the New York Stock ExchangeReutersAsian shares fell on Wednesday following a drop in the U.S. equities amidst growing fears of protectionism as President Donald Trump fired his Secretary of State in the latest White House shakeup.The sudden firing of U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson took markets by surprise less than a week after top economic adviser Gary Cohn resigned from the Trump administration.Mirroring the concerns, MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan fell 0.3 percent, retreating from a 1-1/2 month high hit on Tuesday in early morning trades.The trend followed losses on Wall Street, where the Dow was off 0.7 percent and the S&P 500 declined 0.6 percentBack home, SGX Nifty, an early indicator of the Nifty 50’s trend in India, signals a weak start for the domestic markets after the benchmark Sensex lost 61 points or 0.18 percent to close at 33,856 on Tuesday.The partially convertible rupee closed at 64.90 on Tuesday, up 0.23 percent from its previous close of 65.05.So far this year, the rupee weakened 1.6 percent, while foreign investors have bought $414 million and $212 million in equity and debt markets, respectively.Fed indicator: Headline inflation rose in line with expectations in February, signaling the Federal Reserve’s case for just three rate hikes this year.China data: China’s industrial production, retail sales and fixed-asset investment numbers will be released on Wednesday and are are likely to point to slower growth, according to Bloomberg Economics forecasts.Crude check: Brent crude, the benchmark for more than half the world’s oil, edged up 0.03 percent at $64.66 per barrel while the West Texas Intermediate crude gained 0.16 percent at $60.81 a barrel, on Wednesday morning.last_img read more

CJ quits for his corruption Law Minister

first_imgLaw minister Anisul Huq. File photoLaw minister Anisul Huq on Sunday said it was corruption that prompted chief justice Surenda Kumar Sinha to step down from his post.“The chief justice resigned as other judges refused to sit with him following 11 charges he is facing,” he said.The minister was addressing a programme at Taltala village in Kasba upazila of Brahmanbaria district after the inauguration of electrification of several villages, reports UNB.The minister claimed that SK Sinha had got angered when he told him that the Constitution is the supreme law.Mentioning that the next general election will be held in December next in a free and fair manner, he said Awami League will return to power.“No one will be allowed to create any chaos. Any attempt to foil the election will be dealt with an iron hand,” he added.last_img read more

4 get Bangla Academy award

first_img.Four personalities have been chosen for the Bangla Academy Sahitya Puroshkar 2018.Director general of Bangla Academy poet Habibullah Siraji announced the names at a press briefing at the academy on Monday afternoon.The award recipients are poet Kazi Rosy (Poetry), Mohit Kamal (Literature), Syed Mohammad Shahed (Essay and Research) and Afsan Chowdhury (Literature on Liberation War Affairs).The winners will receive a cheque for Tk 2 lakh and crests each..However, awards are not being given for translation, biography and travelogue, drama, science, technology and environment, and juvenile literature categories this time.Prime minister Sheikh Hasina will distribute the awards among the recipients at the inaugural ceremony of the month-long Amar Ekushey Book Fair on 1 February.Last year, twelve personalities were given the Bangla Academy Sahitya Puraskar 2017.Bangla Academy Sahitya Puroshkar (Bangla Academy Literary Award) is given by the Bangla Academy of Bangladesh in recognition of creative genius in advancement and overall contribution to the field of Bengali language and literature.last_img read more

KVIC to make 150 square meters mural of Gandhi

first_imgWhen the entire country celebrated 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) decided to celebrate it totally in a different but unique way befitting Gandhi’s vision of empowering villagers.While inaugurating a two days workshop-cum-training programme named ‘Technology for Modern Pottery’ at Bishampur village of Sewapuri in Varanasi district on December 21, KVIC Chairman Vinai Kumar Saxena said that in a joint effort of highly skilled 150 potters from all over the country to give a tribute to Mahatma Gandhi, the commission has decided to make 150 square meters (15 meters long by 10 meters wide) wall mural, using ‘chai kulhad’. “While each chai kulhad will be one pixel of the entire image, small terracotta parts will come together to form the entire image. As this mural will become a finite entity formed by a simple unit of larger generality, the KVIC will showcase it at some prominent place in New Delhi,” he said. Saxena revealed that KVIC has already started identifying potters from different parts of the country to produce the chai kulhads for this very purpose. He also informed that as India has a great pottery tradition and different parts of the country has diverse techniques of clay production – the selected potters will produce the kulhads in stipulated size, shape and finish them with their respective techniques. An Ahmedabad-based firm the ‘Clay Club’, which specialises in terracotta and ceramic products will design the artwork and will manage the production by engaging with the identified potters. To make the life of mural long and all weatherproof, these Kullad will be glazed and baked in high temperature at Morbi in Gujarat, which is world famous terracotta and glazed clay articles. KVIC has so far in this financial year distributed 4700 electric potter wheels in different parts of the country and has planned to distribute additional 7000 Electric potter wheels by March 31, 2019.last_img read more

Heres How to Build a Strong Security Team to Keep Your Company

first_img Free Webinar | Sept 5: Tips and Tools for Making Progress Toward Important Goals 5 min read May 5, 2016 Building any kind of team is not easy. From hiring to managing and ensuring goals are met, it can make a founder’s head spin. Adding the additional layer of finding a top-notch security team to ensure your “baby” is safe and sound adds extra stress to an already frazzled entrepreneur.But there is hope.We reached out to several industry experts who are in the know about security issues and asked what advice they had on building a strong technical team.Related: 7 Cybersecurity Layers Every Entrepreneur Needs to UnderstandHere is what they had to say:Security needs to part of the foundation of the company.Security teams are the most effective when security is baked into the entire company culture. Founders may not have the luxury of hiring someone for whom security is their only job, but it does have to be someone’s job.For founders working with lean teams, assigning different security channels to different groups can be a good strategy. For example, it makes sense for network security to stay with an IT resource, but enforcement of other security protocols — like enforcing the wearing of ID badges and escorting visitors — could fall to an administrative resource.– Cortney Thompson, Chief Technology Officer of Green House Data, an environmentally conscious data center serviceLook for people who are part of the security community.You want to hire people that are well connected to the industry, who will leverage established best practices and tools and who are comfortable leveraging services vs. trying to build everything from scratch.Also make sure you validate the credentials of a potential hire. There are many excellent, technically-skilled people out there but also many who exaggerate their experiences and expertise. The security community is fairly tight-knit, though, so there’s a good opportunity to both validate and find strong candidates by reaching out to your network of companies.– Arne Josefsberg, Chief Information Officer of GoDaddy, an Internet domain registrar and web hosting companyRelated: Why Small-Business Entrepreneurs Should Care About CybersecurityHire people who fit the company’s current needs.Most SMBs don’t have the resources for a dedicated security team, in which case the founder will need to look for technical experts who have some security experience. Seeking out this diversified background is important because security needs to be designed into the architecture and company’s solutions from the get-go, not added as an afterthought.   Once resources are available, the initial team has to be strong and trusted — people preferably from your network. Quality is especially important at this phase, because they will develop the core product, which is critical for the company’s initial success. These people will be the leaders who will be responsible for growing out the team.  — Pravin Kothari, founder and CEO of CipherCloud, an enterprise cloud security companyCulture fit matters.Ensure a cultural fit, and you’ll be well on your way.  Too often, security teams will be working at cross purposes with another team.  Everyone needs to be at the same table with the same goal: the success of the business.  If the security team is isolated, they will be less inclined to prioritize user experience and the effectiveness of revenue-producing departments will suffer. If security folks are grabbing drinks after work with sales folks, they will work better together on a day-to-day basis.  The synergy will result in more user-friendly tools, higher transparency and increased security with little hindrance to top-line revenue goals.– Ray Potter, CEO of SafeLogic, a company providing security, encryption and FIPS validation products to applicationsTurn to an architect.Founders should build a security team around an architect. Contract one from a third party or hire one, if you have the resources. They will be able to dig into and understand your organization’s unique security concerns, create a plan to keep you safe and then execute on that plan. If you hire an engineer first, they can run the technical side of security but may not be able to see things holistically. Setting up a comprehensive plan that you can expand as you grow is key to maintaining security over the long run.– Greg Kushto, Director of Security Practices at Force 3, a network security company.Look outside.The fact is many businesses today are having to turn to outside security experts and resources after they have been hit with a serious and costly cyberattack. Rather than waiting for a ransomware or spyware attack to engage added security talent, consider leveraging outsourced security to bolster and support ongoing security as a preventative measure. Outsourcing IT security offers growing businesses a cost-effective way to engage proven talent and is far less expensive than hiring expert support in the midst of a security crisis when a business is more likely to “pay whatever it takes” to restore data, service and security. In addition, outsourcing allows you to ramp up security resources during key times, such as a product launch or migration, and cut back resources and costs during quieter times.  — Anna Frazzetto, Chief Digital Technology Officer and SVP at Harvey Nash, an IT recruiting firm Related: The Biggest Cybersecurity Threat at Your Office Could Be You (Infographic)  center_img Attend this free webinar and learn how you can maximize efficiency while getting the most critical things done right. Register Now »last_img read more

Thailand to be first Asian country to host 4th UNWTO World Forum

first_img4th UNWTO World Forum on Gastronomy TourismThailand to be first Asian country to host 4th UNWTO World ForumThailand’s strategy to promote gastronomy tourism will take a huge step forward with the 4th UNWTO World Gastronomy Forum to be held in Bangkok between 30 May – 1 June 2018. It is the first time this event will be held in Asia.Organised annually by the UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) and the Basque Culinary Centre, the event is being supported by the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) and the Ministry of Tourism and Sports with more than 567 delegates registered to attend (as of 18 May 2018).This fourth edition will specifically focus on harnessing the power of technology as a driver for sustainable growth. The event will include a symposium, workshops and seminars in which leading experts in gastronomy tourism will discuss current trends and challenges in the sector, exchange best practices and inspire discussion on intercultural dialogue, gastro diplomacy, and the importance of technology for sustainable gastronomy tourism.H.E. Mr. Weerasak Kowsurat, Thailand’s Minister of Tourism and Sports said, “This is going to be a landmark event in the annals of Thai and Asia-Pacific tourism. We will take full advantage of this gathering of leading experts in the field of gastronomy tourism to strengthen the connections between Thailand’s two bedrock industries, agriculture and travel and tourism.”One unique part of the programme is on-site visits for international delegates to four Bangkok districts, each of which have their own unique culinary characteristics. These include Bang Rak, Nang Loeng, Trok Khao Mao and Phra Nakhon route. Another four route visits will help delegates enjoy the best culinary experience combined with culture and the community. These include: Talat Phlu, Talat Noi, Kudi Jeen, and Klong Bang Luang.The first edition of the event was held in San Sebastian city of Spain, the 2nd time in Lima, Peru and 3rd in San Sebastian, Spain again. Over 250 international participants attended each event.A press conference will be held on 30 May 2018 after the opening ceremony. It will be addressed by H.E. Mr. Weerasak Kowsurat, Minister of Tourism and Sports, H.E. Mr. Zurab Pololikashivili, Secretary-General, UNWTO, and Mr. Joxe Mari Aizega, Director, Basque Culinary Centre.In 2016, international visitors to Thailand spent an estimated 326 billion Baht on food and beverage consumption, representing 20 percent of the tourism revenue.TAT Governor Yuthasak Supasorn said, “TAT has made gastronomy tourism an important part of its marketing strategy under the Thailand 4.0 socio-economic development plan.”“Thai cuisine is famous all over the world. It is rare a major city in the world that does not boast a Thai restaurant, be it in the form of fine-dining or takeaway. All our culinary delights have their roots in Thai agriculture, which was our bedrock source of economic livelihood well before tourism. Now, the Royal Thai Government is more firmly linking both.”In December 2017, TAT celebrated the opening of an exciting new chapter in Thailand’s dynamic culinary evolution with the launch of the first Michelin Guide Bangkok.A total of 98 Thai, Asian and international restaurants, including for the first time 28 Thai street-food stalls, are featured in the inaugural Michelin Guide, which was launched at a gala ceremony in the Thai capital on 6 December. The selection of the Michelin Guide Bangkok 2018 features three two-star restaurants, 14 one-star restaurants and 35 Bib Gourmand restaurants.The Michelin Guide Bangkok 2018 will be followed by similar guidebooks covering the food, service and catering sectors in other popular destinations.In 2018, TAT also supported the publication of a bilingual Thailand guidebook Gault and Millau Belux 2018 edition.Source = Tourism Authority of Thailandlast_img read more

By Marin Katusa Chief Energy Investment Strategis

first_imgBy Marin Katusa, Chief Energy Investment StrategistHugo Chàvez is undoubtedly one of the most polarizing politicians in the world today. The man who has led Venezuela for 14 years is vehemently anti-American, a proud voice for Venezuela’s poor, a patriot and a poet, and a firm believer that national resources belong to the nation and no one or nothing else.That final Chàvez mainstay – that resources are best and most appropriately managed by the people for the people – has positioned Venezuela at the head of a group of Central and South American nations that are trying resource nationalization on for size as they struggle to make the most out of their oil and gas bounties. Venezuela is a global oil heavyweight – its 211-billion-barrel reserve is one of the top three national oil reserves worldwide – so Chàvez’s moves to nationalize his country’s massive oil machine gave neighboring countries the confidence to follow suit.Sometimes national control over oil and gas resources can work well. Saudi Arabia, Brazil, and Kuwait are all prime examples of well-functioning, state-controlled oil sectors. However, resource nationalization is a tricky business, and more often than not the process goes awry.Venezuela is no exception. Chàvez’s efforts to kick foreign firms out of Venezuela and use oil and gas revenues to fund social programs worked pretty well initially, but despite rising oil prices that early success has slipped away. In recent years Chàvez has demanded too much from the oil and gas sector, expecting ever-increasing revenues despite his reluctance to fund infrastructure and exploration programs. The result has been declining production, an exodus of technical expertise, and a pariah reputation in the international oil and gas industry.Now, with a presidential election looming and Chàvez struggling with a cancer that it’s rumored will take his life within months, the path forward for the country that has been a firebrand for South American resource nationalization is far from clear.Venezuela’s Love-Hate Relationship with Resource NationalizationVenezuela nationalized its oil industry in 1976, at a time when many countries in the southern hemisphere were asserting sovereignty over their natural resources. The transformation of Petróleos de Venezuela SA (PDVSA) into a state-owned company was hailed as a national victory. However, it did not take long for trouble to begin.In the 1990s global oil prices plunged and Venezuela, having based its budget on a certain level of oil income, found itself in deep economic trouble. PDVSA had 900 to 1,300 billion barrels of oil on its reserve books, but the company didn’t have the money or the technological know-how to tap into these reserves, most of which sat trapped in the geologically challenging Orinoco Belt. Seeing few other options, the country opened its oil sector to foreign investors: PDVSA started seeking out international partners willing to provide expertise and funding in exchange for a share of the profits. Big Oil arrived and started spending billions of dollars to unlock the heavy oil of the Orinoco.Then Mr. Chàvez won the 1998 presidential election on a populist ticket that promised to use the country’s vast oil wealth to benefit the poor. Venezuela’s experiment with foreign involvement in its oil sector slowly came to a halt. Despite initially adopting “orthodox” economic policies, Chàvez soon started making good on his promise to his people – he gradually closed the door on international investment, raised rents, and changed fiscal agreements to retain ever more oil revenue for Venezuela. Imagine this: at one point the government take on oil contracts was more than 100% – foreign producers would have had to pay Chàvez for the privilege of producing oil in his country.Chàvez brought a new form of politics to Venezuela. He identified with his supporters because he was one of them, having grown up poor, and he used language they understood, caring not that the elites saw such language as one of many signs that he was a buffoon with limited education and experience. His style stuck and the people grew to love him.As he gained in popularity and confidence, Chàvez grew bolder in his moves to control Venezuelan oil in its entirety. In 2002 a group of PDVSA executives kick-started a general strike aimed at ousting Chàvez that lasted for a month and cut oil production to about 30% of normal levels; in response Chàvez fired nearly half of the company’s employees – 18,000 people in all – erasing large swaths of technical know-how in one fell swoop but sending a clear message that he would not tolerate dissent against his control over Venezuela’s oil.By 2007 Chàvez had gained enough confidence to essentially complete his oil renationalization campaign – he expropriated oil assets in the Orinoco by issuing a decree that PDVSA hold at least 60% ownership in all international partnerships. What little was left of Big Oil pretty much packed up and left Venezuela. National oil production immediately fell by 25%.You could say that was the beginning of the end, or the end of what had been a great beginning. That great beginning was undoubtedly aided by rising global oil prices: when Chàvez came to power, oil prices were sitting near $12 per barrel. By 2006 prices were averaging almost $60 a barrel, Venezuela’s coffers were overflowing, and the Venezuelan president felt unstoppable.Those rising prices created such a sense of success around Chàvez’s experiment with renationalizing Venezuela’s oil and gas sector that Chàvez was able to convince his compatriot leaders in South America to follow in his footsteps. And it worked – Bolivia and Ecuador renationalized their oil sectors, and the concept of resource nationalization took hold in Argentina. As his geopolitical influence grew, Chàvez also devoted attention to the oil-needy nations in his neighborhood, implementing an oil-transfer program to energy-needy Central American and Caribbean countries. With his oil sector seemingly able to provide for so many, resource nationalization took on new life across South America, and Chavez was the movement’s proudest spokesman.But here the word “seemingly” is key. As oil prices rose, PDVSA profits also rose, and it seemed that nationalization had been a boon to Venezuelan oil. But the increased profitability stemmed only from rising prices; the company itself was being strangled by a lack of investment – Chàvez spent all of PDVSA’s profits on his domestic fuel subsidies and social programs – and its dearth of technical expertise.In short, a sector can only provide profits if it is also supplied with investment; and that is where Chàvez went wrong. Like so many other socialist leaders who nationalized resource sectors with great fanfare only to see the sectors wither away because of insufficient TLC, Chàvez failed to put money back into PDVSA.Now the country’s once-proud oil and gas sector is in disarray. Infrastructure is old and insufficient, and production volumes are declining instead of climbing. In 2005 the company launched a new six-year plan calling for investment of US$239 billion to boost oil production to 5.8 million bpd by 2012. Instead, output has fallen from 2.9 million barrels per day (bpd) to 2.5 million bpd. Things are even worse when you look at Chàvez’s tenure as a whole: from 1998 to today, production has fallen from 3.5 million bpd to 2.5 million bpd, a decline of almost 30%:(Click on image to enlarge)Global oil production is declining to such an extent that the US Department of Energy is warning the world has crossed a critical oil threshold.Not only has production declined, but PDVSA’s financials have also deteriorated dramatically, its debt increasing from US$2.7 billion in 2005 to some US$33 billion now. Yet PDVSA continues to borrow money at an incredible rate, in large part to fund those domestic oil subsidies that are so very popular among Chàvez supporters. These subsidies cost the company US$15 billion a year.The view forward is unclear. PDVSA lacks the technical expertise to take advantage of the heavy oil in the Orinoco. With foreign investment – and therefore involvement – in the oil sector banned and PDVSA drowning in debt, the prospects for turning Venezuela’s fading oil sector around are pretty dim.Unless, of course, the sector is opened up to outside investment… which could well happen if Chàvez ceases to be part of the picture.The CancerOver the last 12 months Chàvez has made regular trips to Havana for cancer treatments. The only official information about these treatments is that two malignant tumours were removed from his pelvic region. The secrecy surrounding Chàvez’s cancer and the fact that Chàvez, who rarely goes a few days without speaking directly to his people, enters radio silence during his trips to Cuba have fueled rumors of his declining health. Several times already these have ballooned into claims that the Venezuelan president had died.The latest twist in the Chàvez cancer drama came from venerated journalist Dan Rather, the former CBS anchor who now hosts and directs Dan Rather Reports, a weekly news television show on HDNet. In a report he labeled as “exclusive,” Rather revealed on May 30 that he had been told that Chàvez is suffering from metastatic rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare and aggressive cancer that has “entered the end stage.” Rather said the information came from a highly respected source who is close to Chàvez and in a position to know his medical condition and history. This source says the prognosis is dire and that Chàvez is not expected to live “more than a couple of months at most.”This is not the first time rumors of Chàvez’s pending death have surfaced. However, with his treatment having dragged on for a year already, with his uncharacteristic disappearances to Cuba growing longer and more frequent, and with Rather’s reputation for accuracy lending credence to this new information, it is time to ponder Venezuela – and South America – without Hugo Chàvez.Chàvez would be incredibly difficult to replace. His rags-to-riches story line, bold governing style, and idiosyncratic mannerisms have earned adoration from the Venezuelan population, especially the poor and working class masses who constitute his prime electoral base. He also enjoys broad support from Venezuela’s military members.This is a president who announces executive orders between readings of poetry, regularly draws families around their televisions to listen to his lengthy and often fiery speeches, and sings Venezuelan folk songs on a weekly show called Hello President. There are few people in the world who could match his charisma and earn such allegiance from a national population. That is why, even though others from Chàvez’s inner circle bear similar political views, most observers think any Chàvez successor would have a very difficult time maintaining the Chavista movement.So when Chàvez dies, what might become of Venezuela? In the immediate aftermath, Vice President Elías Jaua would take power, according to the Constitution. In fact, Chàvez recently formed a nine-member State Council headed by Jaua to assist him with executive duties, a move many interpreted as a preparation for his impending demise.In the longer term, Venezuelan political observers see five potential successors within Chàvez’s Socialist Party. All hold similar views, but none enjoy anything close to Chàvez’s recognition and support. The Party would have to hope that Chàvez’s reputation can carry one of these candidates to the presidency, but such a succession is far from assured.If Chàvez dies before the October presidential election, opposition candidate Henrique Capriles would suddenly see his odds of winning jump dramatically. Polls show Capriles currently lagging behind Chàvez by roughly 5%, but the same polls found that Capriles would win the race by double-digit margins if he were to face a Chàvez successor instead of facing Hugo himself… unless, of course, the Socialists rig the election. Given that Chàvez has proven that a high regard for democracy is not a required characteristic for someone holding the Venezuelan presidency, this is not unlikely.Capriles is a veteran politician, having previously served as governor of the state of Miranda despite being just 39 years old. He is a center-left politician who has cleverly focused on issues close to the day-to-day lives of Venezuelans: crime, corruption, declining services, inflation, and jobs. Capriles’ petroleum policies are less clear, but his rare comments on the matter indicate he would keep PDVSA as a national entity while allowing the company to engage in investment partnerships with foreign firms, much like the Brazilian national oil firm Petrobras.If Chàvez is healthy enough to run, he will almost certainly win the election in October. If he is not, we see two possible paths. The first is that Capriles finds himself president of Venezuela, and South America loses its resource nationalization ringleader. However, a desire to change how Venezuela’s oil sector operates is very different from the actual ability to do so. The biggest obstacle to change: those domestic oil subsidies. If Capriles wants to revitalize PDVSA – indeed, if he simply wants to give PDVSA a chance at economic survival – he would have to significantly reduce the domestic oil subsidies, and likely also reduce social spending to free up some oil revenues for reinvestment into the country’s oil fields. And that would cause riots. We have seen it before, most recently in Nigeria: populations that are accustomed to having access to cheap oil are highly unwilling to let go of that benefit and will riot, often violently and for extended periods, at the mere suggestion that gas prices need to increase.Oil-related riots in one of the world’s top-ten oil-producing nations would undoubtedly push global oil prices higher.The other potential path for a post-Chàvez Venezuela is that his successor within the Socialist Party wins the presidency, legitimately or with the aid of electoral fraud. This Chàvez clone would then be stuck trying to fill Hugo’s shoes, a near-impossible task in which he would only have a chance at success by promising even more in the way of social spending. These expensive programs would put even greater strain on Venezuela’s budget, which is funded in large part by revenues from PDVSA. There would continue to be no money available to finance PDVSA’s spending needs, and production would continue to decline.Guess what? This scenario – of continued production decline in a major world supplier – would also push global oil prices higher. The bottom line is that Chàvez has created a lose-lose scenario for Venezuelan oil. The country has become reliant on a one-way flow of money and cheap oil from PDVSA to society, but after a decade of neglect PDVSA is withering away and the flows are drying up. Even if Chàvez dies and a left-leaning leader like Capriles comes to power, Venezuela will have to convulse through many ugly years before a functional relationship can be reestablished between its oil riches and its social demands. In the meantime, Venezuelans and the world will have to do with only limited access to Venezuelan oil.So, for those of us positioned to gain from a long-term rising oil price, it’s heads we win, tails we win. Additional Links and ReadsOil Prices to Ease Further This Year (Reuters)The CEO of Royal Dutch Shell expects oil prices to continue easing through the rest of the year, as demand reacts to a slowing global economy and international tensions ease. Peter Voser’s statement came just as Brent crude dropped to a 16-month low – below US$96 per barrel – on the heels of further weak economic news from the US and China. In addition, concerns over the state of the European economy have taken the spotlight away from the lingering tensions between Iran and Western powers, which just three months ago helped to push Brent above US$128 a barrel.Global Gas Demand to Grow by 2.7% Annually to 2017 (Platts)Global demand for natural gas will rise by 2.7% annually for the next five years, a faster growth rate than previously expected. China and the United States are driving the additional demand by switching from coal to gas to generate electricity. In China alone consumption is expected to double to 273 billion cubic meters in 2017 from 130 billion cubic meters today, representing an average growth rate of 13% per year.King Coal Still Reigns Despite Drop in Prices (Vancouver Sun)Canadian coal companies are not slowing down exploration nor development programs despite a drop in prices in China, their main export market. Companies are generally viewing depressed prices as a transient problem and see demand from Asia remaining strong in the medium term, especially for British Columbia’s high-quality metallurgical coal.South Sudan’s $4-Billion Question Answered: Oil Revenue Stolen by Corrupt Officials (The Globe and Mail)It has been a mystery for years: how does South Sudan remain so poor and hungry when it receives billions of dollars in oil revenues every year? The answer is now clear: South Sudan’s president says corrupt officials have stolen $4 billion in oil revenues since 2005. He is asking those officials to return the stolen funds. Any returned funds would be especially useful at the moment, because a dispute with Sudan has shut in South Sudan’s oil production and thereby eliminated about 98% of the government’s official revenue.Oil Rush in the Arctic Gambles with Nature and Diplomacy (The Guardian)A small group of international scientists, politicians, and business leaders are gathered in the Ny-Alesund research station on the Norwegian island of Svalbard to discuss the path to a global low-carbon economy. Meanwhile, just outside the station an oil rush looms – one that threatens to spark territorial disputes and saber-rattling as a host of nations compete to claim rights to the Arctic seabed.Germany Plans Massive Wind Power Grid (The Globe and Mail)Germany’s utilities have tabled plans to build four high-voltage electricity lines to link wind turbines off the north coast with manufacturing centers in the south. The plan is a boost for Angela Merkel, who has been criticized for announcing an accelerated nuclear-power phase-out a year ago without producing an alternative plan. The lines are expected to cost around €20 billionlast_img read more

The tiny hand and forearm slipped out too early B

first_imgThe tiny hand and forearm slipped out too early. Babies are not delivered shoulder first. Dr. Terri Marino, an obstetrician in the Boston area who specializes in high-risk deliveries, tucked it back inside the boy’s mother.”He was trying to shake my hand and I was like, ‘I’m not having this — put your hand back in there,’ ” Marino would say later, after all 5 pounds, 1 ounce of the baby lay wailing under a heating lamp.This is the story of how that baby, Bryce McDougall, tested the best efforts of more than a dozen medical staffers at South Shore Hospital in Weymouth, Mass., one day last summer.Bryce’s birth also put to the test a new method of reducing cesarean sections that has been developed at Dr. Atul Gawande’s Ariadne Labs, a “joint center for health systems innovation” at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston.The story starts before Bryce’s birth, on the last day of August at about 9:30 in the morning.Melisa McDougall has just checked into South Shore, after a routine ultrasound. She’s in her 36th week, pregnant with twin boys. The doctors have warned Melisa that her placenta won’t hold out much longer. She’s propped up in bed, blond hair pulled into a neat bun, makeup still fresh, ordering a sandwich, when her regular obstetrician arrives.”How are you?” asks Dr. Ruth Levesque, sweeping into the room and clapping her hands. “You’re going to have some babies today! Are you excited?”The first of the twins — Brady — is head-down, ready for a normal vaginal delivery. But his brother, Bryce, is horizontal at the top of Melisa’s uterus.That’s one reason Melisa is a candidate for a C-section. Babies do not come out sideways. And there’s another reason most doctors would never consider a vaginal delivery in Melisa’s case, Levesque says. Four years ago, she delivered the twins’ sister by cesarean.”[Melisa] has a scar on her uterus,” Levesque explains, “so there’s a risk of uterine rupture — very rare, but there’s always a possibility.”And that possibility may be greater for Melisa because she’s 37 years old and having twins. But the McDougalls hope to have vaginal deliveries for both boys.”I just feel like it’s better for the kids — better for the babies,” Melisa says.How the Team Birth Project came to beAvoiding C-sections is also better for many moms. With cesareans, there’s a longer recovery period, a greater risk of infection and an association with injury and death. And most are not medically necessary, says Dr. Neel Shah, who directs the Delivery Decisions Initiative at Ariadne Labs.”We’re fairly confident that, when you look nationally, the plurality — if not the majority — of C-sections are probably avoidable,” says Shah.Those avoidable C-sections are the focus of the Team Birth Project, designed by Shah with input from roughly 50 doctors, nurses, midwives, doulas, public health specialists and consumer advocates who focus on childbirth. South Shore Hospital is one of the pilot sites for the project.In describing the collaboration, Shah begins with an acknowledgement: Childbirth is complicated. You’ve got two patients — the mother and the baby — and an ad hoc, often shifting team that at a minimum includes the mom, a nurse and a doctor.”So you’ve got three people who have to come together and become a very high-performing team in a really short period of time, for one of the most important moments in a person’s life,” Shah says.And this team has to perform at its best during an unpredictable event: labor.Shah says doctors and nurses generally agree about three things: when a mom is in active labor; when a mom can definitely try for a vaginal delivery; and when she must have a C-section.”And then there’s this huge gray zone,” Shah says. “And actually, everything about the Team Birth Project is about solving for the gray.”To avoid unnecessary C-sections when what to do isn’t clear, this hospital, in conjunction with the Ariadne project, has changed the way labor and delivery is handled from start to finish.First, women aren’t admitted until they are in active labor. Secondly, the mom’s preferences — such as whether she would like an epidural or not and whether she wants to have “skin-to-skin contact” with the baby immediately after birth — help guide the members of the labor team. The team members map the delivery plan — including Mom’s preferences and the medical team’s guidance — on a whiteboard, like the one in Melisa’s room.For the births of Bryce and Brady McDougall, the white erasable planning board gets a lot of use.Under “team,” Dr. Levesque and registered nurse Patty Newbitt write their names. Melisa and Shaun McDougall are also listed as equal partners. The names of other family members or nurses may be added and erased as labor progresses. Shah’s idea is that this team will “huddle” regularly throughout the labor to discuss the evolving birth plan.The birth plan itself is divided into three separate elements on the board: maternal (the mom), fetal (the baby) and progress (in terms of how the labor is progressing). A mom with high blood pressure may need special attention — and that would be noted on the board — but she could still have a normal labor and vaginal delivery.Good communication is keyDr. Kim Dever, who chairs the OB-GYN department at South Shore, highlights a section of the whiteboard called “Next Assessment.”That category is included on the board, Dever says, “because one of the things I often heard from patients is that they didn’t know what was going to happen next. Now they know.”Asking the mom — and the couple — about their preferences for the delivery is crucial, too, Levesque says.”It forces us to stop and to think about everything with the patient,” she explains.”It makes us verbalize our thought process, which I think is good.”Shaun McDougall walks across the room to get a closer look at the whiteboard.”Honestly, it seems like common sense,” he says. “I would always think the nurses would have something like this, but to have it out where mom and dad can see it — I think it’s pretty cool.”With Melisa McDougall’s plan in place, everyone settles in, to wait. About four hours later, Melisa isn’t yet feeling contractions. Levesque breaks the water sac around Brady.”Looks nice and clear,” Levesque reports. “Hey bud, come on and hang out with us,” she says to the baby, tickling his head.”So, you’re going to keep leaking fluid until you leak babies,” the doctor explains to Melisa. “Whenever you start getting uncomfortable, we’ll get you an epidural at that point.”Levesque moves to the board and adds updates: Melisa is 4 centimeters dilated; her waters broke at 13:26; the next assessment will be after she gets an epidural.The medical team insisted ahead of time that Melisa agree to be numbed from the waist down if she wants to deliver Bryce — the second twin — vaginally. Melissa agreed. The obstetricians may need to rotate the baby in her uterus, find a foot and pull Bryce out, causing pain most women would not tolerate.One of those doctors — Marino — peeks into the room and waves.”Just came to say hi,” says Marino, who has more experience than most obstetricians in delivering babies positioned like Bryce. Along with Levesque, Marino has been seeing Melisa regularly in office visits.Shaun McDougall asks the physicians if they’ll pose for a picture with his wife.”Can we make funny faces?” asks Levesque.”I want you to,” says Shaun. “You guys are like her favorite people on the planet.”As the hours tick by, there’s a shift change, and registered nurse Barbara Fatemi joins the McDougall team. She checks Melisa’s pain level regularly to determine when she’s ready for the epidural.Melisa says she isn’t feeling much but adds that she has a high tolerance for pain. Shaun tells Fatemi he sees the strain on his wife’s face. Fatemi acts on Shaun’s assessment and calls an anesthesiologist to prepare the epidural, something Shaun later says reinforces his feeling that they’re a team.Levesque soon arrives for the promised “next assessment.” Melisa is now 10 centimeters dilated and ready to deliver — but she must hold on until nurses can get her into an operating room.Levesque will still attempt to deliver both babies vaginally, she explains, but in the operating room, Melisa will be in the right place if Bryce doesn’t shift his position inside the uterus, and the doctor needs to do a last-minute cesarean.”I’ll see you in a few minutes. No pushing without me, OK?” Levesque says over her shoulder as she heads to the operating room to prep.”I’ll try,” Melisa says, weakly. In a minute, nurses are rolling her down the hall, following Levesque.Almost five years ago, two women who were wheeled into this hospital’s operating rooms during childbirth died after undergoing C-sections. Though state investigators found no evidence of substandard care, Dever says the hospital scrutinized everything.”When you have something like that happen, that expedites your efforts,” she says. “Exponentially.”Now, Dever says, she sees an opportunity, through the Team Birth Project, to model changes that could help women far and wide.”I would love women everywhere to be able to come in and have a safe birth and healthy baby,” she says. “That’s why I’m doing it.””They did not flinch”Dever is about to see her pilot study of the Team Birth Project pushed to new limits by little Bryce McDougall. First, though, Melisa must deliver Bryce’s brother, Brady. Even his birth, the one that was expected to be easier, is more difficult than anticipated.Bent nearly in half, her face beet red, Melisa strains for five pushes. She throws up, then gets back to laboring. And suddenly, there he is.”Oh my goodness, Brady, oh Brady,” wails Shaun. He follows a nurse holding his son over to a warmer.Marino takes Shaun’s place next to Levesque, who has reached inside Melisa to get the next twin. Levesque’s mission is to grab Bryce’s feet and guide him out. But everything feels like fingers, not toes.”That’s a hand,” she murmurs. “That’s a hand, too.”Marino rolls an ultrasound across Melisa’s belly, hoping the scan will show a foot. But Bryce’s feet are out of sight and out of reach.Marino has had more experience than most obstetricians with transverse babies, and this procedure, known as a breech extraction; she asks to try. She reaches into Melisa’s uterus while Levesque moves to Melisa’s right side and uses her forearm to shift Bryce and push him down. Dever, the head of obstetrics, has come into the room and takes over the ultrasound. At least six doctors and nurses encircle Melisa, whose face is taut. Shaun frowns.”Babe, you OK?” he asks.Melisa nods. Bryce’s heart rate is steady. But there’s still no sign of a foot. One little hand slips out and Marino nudges it back in.”Open the table,” says Marino, her voice strained.It’s open and ready, her colleagues say, referring to the array of sterile surgical instruments that Marino may soon need, to begin a C-section.For 36 seconds, this room with more than a dozen adults grows oddly quiet. Everyone is watching Marino twist her arm this way and that, determined to find Bryce’s feet. Levesque leans hard into Melisa’s belly. Shaun bites his lip. Then Marino yanks at something — and her gloved, bloodied hand emerges, clenching baby Bryce by his two teeny legs.”Oh babe, here he comes, here he comes — Woo!” squeals Shaun.Shaun is overcome with emotion again. Melisa manages an exhausted giggle. Baby Bryce keeps everyone waiting a few more seconds and then howls.Levesque starts to stitch up a small tear for Melisa, and Marino comes around to congratulate the new mom.”He was fighting you, huh?” Melisa says, and laughs.Outside the operating room, Levesque and Marino look relieved and elated. Both agree that most doctors would have delivered Bryce by C-section. But at South Shore, the McDougalls found a hospital that has challenged itself to perform fewer C-sections and a doctor with experience in these unusual deliveries — one who knew and respected the parents’ preference.”They specifically wanted to have a vaginal delivery of both babies,” Marino says — and that was on her mind during the difficult moments.Bryce was fine, says Marino, so the deciding factor for her was that Shaun and Melisa did not panic.”They did not flinch — they were like, ‘Keep going,’ ” Marino recalls. “Sometimes the patient will say ‘stop,’ and then you have to stop.”The babies’ father says he came close to requesting that, in the very last minute before Bryce was born.”That part with the arm — it was pretty aggressive,” Shaun says.But in that moment, he adds, the feeling that he and Melisa were part of the team made a difference.”It made us more comfortable,” Shaun says, and that comfort translated to trust. “We trusted the decisions they were making.”Melisa says she’s grateful for the vaginal delivery.”I did not want to have a natural birth and a C-section,” she says. “That would be a brutal recovery.”Instead, 30 minutes after Marino pulled Bryce out of her, Melisa is nursing Brady and talking with family members via FaceTime.Next assessment for The Team Birth ProjectSouth Shore began using the Team Birth approach in April. Three other hospitals are also pilot sites: Saint Francis in Tulsa, Okla.; EvergreenHealth in Kirkland, Wash.; and Overlake in Redmond, Wash. The test period runs for two years. In the first four months at South Shore, the hospital’s primary, low-risk C-section rate dropped from 31 percent to 27 percent — about four fewer C-sections each month.Experts who contributed to the development of the Team Birth Project are anxious to see whether other hospitals can lower their rates of C-section and keep them down.”Once you get past the early adopters, how do you demonstrate the benefits for others that aren’t willing to change?” asks Gene Declercq, a professor of community health sciences at Boston University School of Public Health.Declercq notes that a few insurers are beginning to force that question, refusing to include in their networks hospitals that have high C-section rates, or high rates of other unnecessary, if not harmful, care.Declercq says the project’s focus on communication in the labor and delivery room makes sense because many physicians decide when to perform a cesarean based on clinical habit or the culture of their hospital.”If you can impact that decision-making process, you can perhaps change the culture that might lead to unnecessary cesareans,” says Declercq.The federal government has set a target rate for hospitals: No more than 23.9 percent of first-time, low-risk mothers should be delivering by C-section. The U.S. average in 2016 was 25.7 percent.The target was put in place because research has shown that if a woman’s first delivery is a C-section, her subsequent deliveries are highly likely to be C-sections, too — raising her (and her baby’s) risk for complications and even death.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

Updated at 320 pmThe first of more than 1600 l

first_imgUpdated at 3:20 p.m.The first of more than 1,600 lawsuits pending against Purdue Pharma, the maker of the opioid OxyContin, has been settled. The drugmaker has agreed to pay $270 million to fund addiction research and treatment in Oklahoma and pay legal fees.Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter filed suit two years ago alleging Purdue helped ignite the opioid crisis with aggressive marketing of the blockbuster drug OxyContin and deceptive claims that downplayed the dangers of addiction. Hunter had sought $20 billion dollars in damages against Purdue and other pharmaceutical firms.The settlement comes one day after the Oklahoma Supreme Court denied Purdue’s appeal for a delay of the trial. It is expected to begin on May 28, with the remaining defendants, including Johnson & Johnson and Teva Pharmaceuticals. A judge has said the trial can be televised.”We see this agreement with Oklahoma as an extension of our commitment to help drive solutions to the opioid addiction crisis,” said Purdue Pharma CEO Dr. Craig Landau, in statement. “We pledge Purdue’s ongoing support to the National Center and the life-saving work it will do for generations to come.”Landau refers to a new National Center for Addiction Studies and Treatment to be housed a Oklahoma State University in Tulsa. It will be funded by $102.5 million from Purdue and $75 million from the Sackler family, which owns the drug company.”The agreement reached today will provide assistance to individuals nationwide who desperately need these services — rather than squandering resources on protracted litigation,” the Sackler family said in a statement. “We have profound compassion for those who are affected by addiction and are committed to playing a constructive role in the coordinated effort to save lives.”Members of the Sackler family, some of whom were expected to be called to testify at trial, are reportedly contributing to the settlement. Court documents filed in Massachusetts show the Sacklers made more than $4 billion on opioid sales between 2008 and 2016.The settlement also includes $20 million for medicines to be used by patients in the center, $12.5 million for counties and municipalities in Oklahoma and $60 million for legal fees.Some lawyers suggest the deal in Oklahoma is the beginning of many more in cases that stretch across the nation. Attorneys representing more than 1,600 lawsuits consolidated in a federal court in Northern Ohio say the resolution in Oklahoma reflects the strength of claims against Purdue.”We have long alleged that Purdue Pharma ignited today’s epidemic by starting the disturbing practice of deceptive opioid marketing, convincing both doctors and the American public to trust that these drugs were safe and virtually non-addictive,” said plaintiffs’ attorneys Paul J. Hanly Jr., Paul T. Farrell Jr. and Joe Rice, in a statement. “Purdue’s wrongdoing, however, does not stand alone.”There are nearly two dozen defendants named in the consolidated opioid lawsuits.The U.S. and individual states are beginning to tally health care, incarceration and law enforcement costs tied to epidemic. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the burden based on prescription drug misuse alone, in 2013, was $78.5 billion. Oklahoma estimated the opioid crisis would cost the state nearly $9 billion, according to the Washington Post. In Massachusetts, the costs, along with lost productivity, were $15.2 billion in 2017.The CDC says a record 47,600 people died after an opioid overdose in 2017. Purdue’s CEO has said the company is exploring bankruptcy amid rising pressures. The U.S. House Oversight Committee has asked Purdue to produce a trove of documents by April 4 about the marketing and sales strategies for OxyContin.Members of some families that lost loved ones to an opioid overdose say they are disturbed by the settlement. Rhonda Lotti, of Watertown, Mass., had planned to attend the trial with other members of an opioid overdose grief group. Lotti’s daughter Mariah suffered a fatal overdose in 2011 at age 19.”I’m disgusted,” said Lotti in an email.”How many lives were worth $270 million?”This story is part of a reporting partnership between WBUR, NPR and Kaiser Health News. Copyright 2019 WBUR. To see more, visit WBUR.last_img read more

Thousands of disabled students are being forced to

first_imgThousands of disabled students are being forced to choose between having food to eat or having the equipment they need to study, because a new government rule means they must pay £200 towards the cost of computers they need for disability-related reasons.The government introduced the new rule as part of its controversial reform of the disabled students’ allowance (DSA) system, a non-means-tested grant that assists with the extra costs a disabled student faces during higher education study.Universities minister Sam Gyimah admitted in a parliamentary answer that introducing the new rule – with disabled students in England having to pay £200 towards the cost of a computer and assistive software obtained through the DSA system – had seen the number of recipients of DSA equipment funding fall by 4,600.This appears to refer to a drop from 28,000 to 23,400 in the number of students receiving DSA for equipment, comparing those who began their courses in 2014-15 with those who began in 2015-16, when the new rules were introduced.Gyimah said the drop was “expected, because we knew the numbers would fall once students had to pay £200 towards the cost of computer equipment”, but he said that an evaluation of the impact of the change was “under way”.Marsha de Cordova (pictured), the disabled Labour MP and shadow minister for disabled people, who had asked the question, said the number of students receiving DSA for essential equipment had fallen by nearly 30 per cent since the £200 up-front fee was introduced (the latest figures show the number of students receiving DSA for equipment have fallen even further than Gyimah’s figures, to 19,700).She said the charge was “clearly preventing disabled students from accessing the essential equipment they need to further their studies” and she called on Gyimah to scrap the new rule.The minister claimed that the fall in the number of students receiving DSA for equipment did not mean they were “lacking in equipment” because he said “computer ownership is now common among all students, with students spending on average around £250 on computers”.He said: “As DSAs are not intended to cover all student costs, we think it is reasonable to ask students to contribute towards the cost of computer equipment.”De Cordova told Disability News Service (DNS) afterwards: “I thought [the minister’s] response was really weak.“It demonstrates a lack of understanding and awareness of the support needs of disabled students.”She received DSA when she was studying at university, which paid for a support worker and the assistive technology she needed.She said: “It certainly enabled me to carry out my studies effectively.“Without it, I would have been put at a disadvantage, without a shadow of a doubt.”Piers Wilkinson, from the National Union of Students’ Disabled Students’ Campaign, said they had “consistently opposed” the DSA reforms, because the union believed they would “not only put us at a greater disadvantage in accessing education but also force disabled students out of education”.He said: “Disabled students face astronomical costs of attending university, with higher accommodation costs, additional costs for transport, food and support equipment.“A laptop can be a vital piece of equipment; this £200 charge is causing hundreds of vital laptops to be locked away from the student, even after the assistive technology software and hardware has been paid for.“The Equality Act 2010 clearly states that a disabled person cannot be asked to pay for disability adjustments, and yet our government has been charging disabled students £200 for the privilege of accessing the same education opportunities non-disabled students have.“This charge is making disabled students choose between having food to eat or having the equipment essential for them to study for their £9,000-a-year course.“So disabled students are left in a paradoxical limbo, unable to study because they can’t afford the £200 charge and unable to afford the charge because they are a disabled student.”Meanwhile, The Alliance for Inclusive Education has condemned the government’s announcement that it is spending £50 million to expand places in grammar schools in England.Disabled children with education, health and care plans (EHCPs) or statements of special educational needs represent only 0.1 per cent of grammar school pupils, despite making up 1.8 per cent of the secondary school population.And disabled children without statements or EHCPs still make up only 4.2 per cent of grammar school pupils, but 12.4 per cent of all secondary school pupils.Simone Aspis, ALLFIE’s policy and campaigns coordinator, said: “The expansion of grammar school provision is another government attack on comprehensive and inclusive education and disabled pupils’ rights to a good and well-resourced mainstream school placement as set out in Article 24 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.”DNS revealed last year that the government had been forced to admit that it failed to assess the impact on disabled children and young people of its “discriminatory” plans to expand grammar schools.Aspis pointed to last year’s conclusion of the UN committee on the rights of persons with disabilities, which was highly critical of the UK government’s approach to inclusive education and the “persistence of a dual education system” that segregates increasing numbers of disabled children in special schools.Figures last year showed the proportion of pupils with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) who attend a special school in England had risen from 5.6 per cent in 2012 to 8.5 per cent in 2016, with the proportion in independent specialist settings rising from 4.5 to 6.3 per cent.ALLFIE said that the introduction of greater selection by ability in the education system through the expansion of grammar school provision meant “choice for SEND pupils and their parents is in danger of becoming non-existent”.last_img read more

Much more needs to be done to ensure that disabled

first_imgMuch more needs to be done to ensure that disabled people and other groups in fuel poverty can benefit from energy efficiency schemes, according to a new report.The report says that disabled people often have higher energy demands, because of factors such as health-related needs to keep warm and the electricity needed to use equipment such as nebulisers, stair lifts and hoists, and to charge wheelchairs.The report, published by the UK Energy Research Centre, University of York, and ACE Research, says this can lead to both higher energy costs and a greater risk of harm if energy supplies are disconnected.The report says current policy is focused too much on targets and providing work to improve the energy efficiency of homes – such as installing cavity wall insulation and replacing inefficient boilers – at the lowest possible cost.Because disabled people often live in the poorest quality homes and need extra support through the installation process, they are often side-lined by those providing schemes such as the government’s Energy Company Obligation (ECO) energy efficiency programme.They also face other barriers, such as problems caused by the disruption of the energy supply while installation is taking place, the inaccessibility of the application process and the difficulty of carrying out preparatory work, such as clearing a loft space.There are also “high levels of mistrust” of the energy sector.Among its recommendations, the report calls for the government to reinstate a taxpayer-funded scheme in England, where there has been no such programme since the demise of Warm Front in 2013, even though Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland all operate such schemes.It calls for investment in energy efficiency support in England to be “brought up to par with the devolved nations with the reintroduction of a tax-payer funded energy efficiency scheme”.It also concludes that “the trustworthiness of energy efficiency programmes needs to be improved, most notably in England”.As well as the report, Policy Pathways to Justice in Energy Efficiency, the two-year research project has also published a guide for those working in the sector on supporting disabled people, Supporting Fuel Poor Disabled People Through Energy Efficiency Measures.Disability Rights UK (DR UK), which helped deliver the project, said the research showed how current policy was “overly focused on targets and low-cost provision to the exclusion of the people living in fuel poor homes”.It said the research also shows how households in need are “difficult to find, that they do not receive adequate information that is accessible and from a trusted source, and how their needs are not always taken into consideration during the installation process”.Sue Bott (pictured), deputy chief executive of DR UK, said that delivery of energy efficiency policy was “variable and patchy”, and there was “a lack of knowledge and awareness of the specific needs of disabled people”.She said that 30 per cent of families living in poverty contain a disabled person and are at particular risk of experiencing fuel poverty.She said: “Too often fuel poverty is thought of as an issue that only impacts older disabled people, but the reality is that fuel poverty blights the lives of disabled people of any age: from children, to adults of working age, to older people.“The effects of fuel poverty can penetrate deep into everyday life and exacerbate existing impairments and health conditions.”Dr Joanne Wade, chief executive of ACE, said: “In short, the needs of older people – important though they undoubtedly are – have been prioritised above those of people with disabilities and long-term health conditions, and those of families with young children.“All these groups are vulnerable to the ill-effects of cold homes, and many people within them also have greater than average needs for energy services.“We have to stop ignoring people who don’t always have the loudest voices; we have to stop avoiding people who are harder to engage, or more expensive and more difficult to help than others.” A note from the editor:Please consider making a voluntary financial contribution to support the work of DNS and allow it to continue producing independent, carefully-researched news stories that focus on the lives and rights of disabled people and their user-led organisations. Please do not contribute if you cannot afford to do so, and please note that DNS is not a charity. It is run and owned by disabled journalist John Pring and has been from its launch in April 2009. Thank you for anything you can do to support the work of DNS…last_img read more

The Fortnite Dance Lawsuits Are Close to Falling Apart

first_img Free Webinar | Sept 5: Tips and Tools for Making Progress Toward Important Goals Documents suggest that Alfonso Ribeiro can’t copyright his signature move, the ‘Carlton Dance.’ Next Article The ‘Fortnite’ Dance Lawsuits Are Close to Falling Apart Attend this free webinar and learn how you can maximize efficiency while getting the most critical things done right. 3 min read Epic Games has found itself slapped with a flurry of lawsuits, all alleging the company of stealing people’s dance moves and selling them on for a profit. These dances are incorporated into its world-conquering game Fortnite, which are bought by players for a quantity of in-game currency (costing real money). That’s angered a number of musicians and viral video stars, who feel that they’ve been ripped off, but in one high-profile case, the law might be on Epic’s side.Alfonso Ribeiro, star of early ’90s sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, was one of the plaintiffs arguing for a slice of Epic’s cash. Ribeiro claimed to be the creator of the “Carlton Dance,” a goofy routine that Epic sold as a Fortnite emote — unsubtly named “Fresh” — inside the game. Sadly, documents uncovered by The Hollywood Reporter reveal that Ribeiro’s application to copyright his sway has been denied.According to the US Copyright Office, Ribeiro’s claim to copyright the “Carlton Dance” has failed because it is just a “simple dance routine.” That puts it beyond the protections of s102(4) Copyright Act 1976, which requires dances to be “a related series of dance movements and patterns organized into a coherent whole.” Not to mention that, if basic motions were copyrightable, nobody would be able to walk down the street without facing a potential lawsuit.Ribeiro was always on shaky legal ground to begin with, given that he often admitted that the “Carlton Dance” was inspired by others. In 2015, he told HuffPost Live (amongst other news outlets) that he was inspired by both Eddie Murphy and Bruce Springsteen’s Dancing in the Dark video. Specifically, the moment when a pre-fame Courtney Cox is invited on stage to dance, which Ribiero says he adopted.There was also the more nuanced legal fact that Ribeiro initially performed on a televised sitcom, his employer at the time. Which meant that, if the dance had been copyrightable (which it isn’t), NBC, rather than Ribiero, would be the owner. Now, while the lawsuit hasn’t been thrown out (yet), it doesn’t sound too good for the actor, or anyone else who’s trying to get a cut of Epic’s epic windfall.This week has also seen Epic Games request for another lawsuit, brought by rapper 2 Milly, to be thrown out. Kotaku reports that the company says that the allegedly infringing emote is too short to be copyrighted, as above. And Epic adds that the Swipe It dance is different enough from the Milly Rock to avoid infringement, even though fans have said that they’re pretty similar. It remains for the courts to determine the validity of that position, but it’s interesting to see what new precedent will be created. Add to Queue Daniel Coopercenter_img –shares This story originally appeared on Engadget February 15, 2019 fortnite Alfonso Ribeiro Image credit: Chris Trotman | Getty Images via engadget Register Now »last_img read more

Warby Parker CoFounder Launching Growth Equity Firm

first_img March 3, 2015 –shares Andy Hunt and Jeremiah Daly have stepped down as partners with Highland Capital Partners, in order to launch their own growth equity firm, Fortune has learned.Hunt is a co-founder and director with eyeglass upstart Warby Parker, and joined HCP back in 2011. He currently serves on the board of Scopely, and has been involved with such HCP portfolio companies as Gemvara, Harry’s and SessionM.Daly joined HCP in early 2012 as a principal, after having spent three years with Accel Partners. He was promoted to partner the following year, and serves on the board of Malwarebytes.News of Hunt and Daly’s pending departure first came earlier today in a letter sent to HCP’s limited partners. It was confirmed by HCP partner Sean Dalton in a phone call with Fortune. Both of their board seats are expected to be filled by other HCP staffers.Neither Hunt nor Daily has yet responded to requests for comment.In other HCP news, longtime chief financial officer Kathy Barry is expected to transition into an advisory role this May, while director of finance Jessica Pelletier will be promoted to senior vice president of finance. Dan Primack Add to Queue Attend this free webinar and learn how you can maximize efficiency while getting the most critical things done right. Next Article 1 min read This story originally appeared on Fortune Magazine Warby Parker Co-Founder Launching Growth Equity Firm Free Webinar | Sept 5: Tips and Tools for Making Progress Toward Important Goals Register Now » Warby Parkerlast_img read more

4 Tips for Successfully Launching a New Product From the CoFounder of

first_imgMarketing Tom Morse knows something about launching products that explode into national best-sellers. The savvy marketer is the co-founder and former president of Living Essentials, the company that put 5-Hour Energy on store shelves everywhere.Before helping to springboard the popular pocket-sized caffeine jolt to a staggering $1.25 billion in estimated yearly sales, Morse worked his product marketing magic on a different kind of pick me up — Chaser, a homeopathic hangover-helper. It, too, sold exceptionally well. Tom Morse, CEO of InstavitImage credit: InstavitNow the Detroit native is the CEO of Instavit, maker of a new line of oral spray health supplements. The flavored supplements, priced at $15.99 per bottle, are designed to enhance sleep, boost energy and fulfill daily multivitamin needs.Related: 3 Essential Stories You Need on Your Website to Attract CustomersMorse says the products are off to a promising start. Launched in the U.S. this past January, he says sales of the supplements at national drugstore chains were up 51 percent during the first two months of this year, month over month in same-store sales. He did not, however, provide specific sales dollar amounts. Here are the veteran marketing wizard’s four top tips for successfully launching a new product:1. Schmooze with retail product buyers at industry trade shows.The first step to getting your product in front of consumers is to put it directly in the hands of retailers’ buyers. They’re typically the people who have the power to sell it at big-box stores throughout the country. One of the best ways to chat your wares up with these key players is to exhibit your product at leading merchandising industry trade shows.“It’s always worth it because you never know who you’re going to meet pacing the expo aisles,” he says. “Talk to everyone because, soon enough, you’ll connect with the right people.”He should know. Soon after 5-Hour Energy’s launch, Morse attracted buyers for the buzzy drink from Walmart and a host of other major multinational retailers while rubbing elbows at back-to-back industry conferences.To find an expo that best fits your product, check out the World Alliance For Retail Excellence and Standards’ list of annual international retail trade shows.Related: 7 Ways to Get the Most Out of Exhibiting at a Trade Show2. Be sure your product solves a common, highly relatable problem.Generally speaking, products that sell like gangbusters simply make consumers’ lives easier. “To create a sales phenomenon, make sure your product fits easily into people’s lives and fixes a problem that a lot of us have,” Morse says. “Make a connection that runs deep with them.”As an example, he points to the original inspiration for Instavit. British surgeon Dr. Jatin Joshi created the product line after he was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. To combat the digestive tract disorder, Joshi had a large portion of his colon removed. Unable to absorb nutrients from food properly post-surgery and fast losing feeling in his fingertips, the doctor was forced to endure routine vitamin injections.Fed up with his painful needle regiment and sick of popping vitamin pills, he invented the micronutrient spray as an alternative. A common problem was solved and a highly marketable product was born.Image credit: InstavitRelated: The 5 Best Pitch Tactics I Heard as an Angel Investor3. Publicize your product’s inspiration story for free. Joshi’s real-life product creation backstory is something his target customers — anyone who takes vitamin supplements but doesn’t like swallowing them — can easily relate to. One way the doctor strategically shared that highly relatable story with potential customers, Morse says, was to strategically broadcast it through a myriad of publications they likely read.“The most brilliant entrepreneurs seek out ways to create demand for product,” he says, “and the most efficient and cost-effective way is to earn coverage from premiere magazines and media outlets. You don’t have to spend any money like you would on ads, yet you’ll still have a big impact.”Related: 4 Ways to Get Publicity on a Budget4. Be ready for sales to take off. It’s not enough to just create a big buzz around your product, in the media and amongst potential retailers and customers. When that buzz catches fire and your product takes off, you have to be prepared to start selling to the masses and hard.“When you have the opportunity to go big, you have to be able to act on it right away,” Morse says. “That means having the resources and know-how to scale up production and having the team to execute.” That way you can hit the ground running and sell, sell, sell.    4 Tips for Successfully Launching a New Product From the Co-Founder of 5-Hour Energy Learn how to successfully navigate family business dynamics and build businesses that excel. Free Webinar | July 31: Secrets to Running a Successful Family Business Image credit: Spencer Platt / Staff | Getty Images Register Now » –sharescenter_img 5 min read Next Article Add to Queue Kim Lachance Shandrow Former West Coast Editor March 22, 2016last_img read more

Nissan to Develop EthanolBased Fuel Cell Technology by 2020

first_img 2 min read Free Webinar | Sept 5: Tips and Tools for Making Progress Toward Important Goals Environment Attend this free webinar and learn how you can maximize efficiency while getting the most critical things done right. Add to Queue Image credit: Reuters | Issei Kato Nissan Motor Co. said on Tuesday it was developing fuel cell vehicle (FCV) technology using ethanol as a hydrogen source in what would be an industry first, and planned to commercialize its system in 2020 as part of efforts to develop cleaner cars.The Japanese company said using ethanol, produced from crops including sugar cane and corn, to generate hydrogen-based electricity inside vehicles would be cheaper than fuel cell technology developed separately by rivals Toyota Motor Corp., Honda Motor Co. and Hyundai Motor Co.”The cost and energy required to produce hydrogen can be very high, and it also requires significant investment in (fuelling and storing) infrastructure,” Nissan Executive Vice President Hideyuki Sakamoto told a media briefing. “Compared with that, ethanol is very easy to procure, it is safer to store and lower cost. These are its merits.”Nissan said its technology would be ready for use in vehicles in 2020, adding it could be used to extend the range of larger, electric vehicles such as delivery vans.It would target a cruising range of around 800 kilometers per fueling, more than the range for gasoline-powered vehicles of just over 600 kilometers.The automaker said running costs for the FCVs would be roughly similar to those of electric vehicles, while declining to give details on vehicle pricing.Ethanol is used as a fuel source for vehicles in countries including Brazil, but Nissan is planning to use it to generate electricity in fuel cell stacks to charge batteries which would power vehicle motors.In developing its FCV technology, Nissan joins Toyota and Honda in a national, government-backed drive to develop a “hydrogen society”, in which the zero-emission fuel would be used to power homes and vehicles, and reducing Japan’s reliance on imported fuel sources and nuclear power.Toyota began marketing the Mirai, its hydrogen FCV, in late 2014, while Honda earlier this year began sales of its Clarity Fuel Cell vehicle. Initial production for both models has been limited due to their relatively high cost and limited fueling infrastructure.Unlike its rivals’ offerings, Nissan’s technology does not require hydrogen to be stored in vehicles, reducing the need for expensive bulky hydrogen tanks, and would not require fueling stations, which have been slow to spread globally.(Reporting by Naomi Tajitsu; Editing by Mark Potter) June 14, 2016center_img Register Now » Next Article Nissan to Develop Ethanol-Based Fuel Cell Technology by 2020 Reuters This story originally appeared on Reuters 67shareslast_img read more

Fireside Chat with Mitch Ratcliffe Marketing Partner at Metaforce

first_img Know My TeamWhich personality trait has helped you excel as a Marketer? Skepticism is essential for a good marketer. While they need to believe what they are communicating on behalf of a client, marketers cannot be too accepting of the assumptions a client brings to customer engagements. If we don’t apply active and constructive skepticism about client assumptions, agencies reinforce the client’s worst decisions. Being ready and willing to ask questions on behalf of the customer, about the benefits customers will get from the product or service, and the best way to simplify the customer’s journey will help refine the resulting story and sharpen campaign messaging.How big is your Marketing team and what drives them to succeed in meeting small-term and long-term goals at Metaforce?Metaforce takes the same approach it does with clients when building its own marketing programs. We assembled a team of partners and associates of seven and then eight to design, produce, and launch the company, each of us contributing across several areas.For example, Co-Founder Allen Adamson, who previously was chairman of Landor, brought his branding expertise and years of management and organization-building experience that complements my entrepreneurial, editorial, technology development, and storytelling experience. David Camp, Allen’s Co-Founder, is an exemplary execution-focused former C-level leader who has launched products with Microsoft, Amazon, and his own startups. Together, we identified a set of work necessary to close our target number of clients each year, then outsourced some work while onboarding new partners to contribute creative assets, brand imagery, and a production cadence to make Metaforce a familiar name. Building on that, we use owned and earned media as the foundation of customer engagement and have never spent on paid media. We would encourage spending in targeted client campaigns when it makes sense, but the first step is making a direct connection with the customer and potential customers with your own story, straight from the heart.People work with us for brands and causes they believe in because they have the experience to work at the senior level of any marketing organization. We’re building a movement, not a traditional agency, that provides exactly the right message to the customer at the right time, based on a clear, simple brand and design language. We bring the best people to solve the client’s challenge.How tech-savvy have the Marketing, Sales and Branding teams been that you have worked with in your career? How do you rate them on a scale of 1-10?There is a large enough sample in my background that I think of the ratings as distributed on a power curve, with very few high-performing teams at 10, assuming that is best, and the rest spread on a slightly declining curve from nine to one, where most teams fall. Microsoft has some great marketers and a lot of average ones, but the good ones are among the best I’ve known. For the most part, marketing teams tend to skew toward non-technical strengths, but in an era when new channels are appearing daily, it is essential to understand how technology modulates messages. The same message in one channel may not work in another because, for instance, there is no mechanism for answering a call-to-action in a voice interaction or on the dashboard screen of an auto navigation system.Thinking past the UX we know, especially designing for interaction beyond the screen, is essential. Today we go mobile-first because mobile phones were the last big growth market. Today, Voice-assistance, In-car entertainment, and mapping, OOH, Augmented Reality, and Virtual Reality are evolving rapidly, and they don’t restrict the user’s world to a six-inch mobile screen.How do you think young Sales Professionals should train themselves to master MarTech skills?In addition to MarTech, learn higher maths to ensure you can understand and collaborate with analysts to improve the targeting of messages, optimizing interaction before, during, and after the sale to build a repeat and growing revenue. Math skills will help them keep up with Machine Learning and AI developments so that they can leverage these tools to make their skills more valuable. Learn MarTech and keep adding to your Mathematical knowledge. It is not necessary to be a savant, but now one must be able to think in models to understand what AI is doing, to the extent it can be understood.Author David Weinberger’s new book, Everyday Chaos, encapsulates what marketers need to be prepared to embrace when he writes: “We are at the beginning of a great leap forward in our powers of understanding and managing the future: rather than always having to wrestle our world down to a size we can predict, control, and feel comfortable with, we are starting to build strategies that take our world’s complexity into account.” Thinking across multiple models is the well-spring of innovation.What is Gig Economy and how should Marketing Professionals keep refining their strategies?I’ve gigged for decades. But like other adoption curves, gig work is spread unevenly and has only entered common discourse since the cloud made the model scalable. In a nutshell, the gig economy is a local on-demand marketplace facilitated by logistics and customer experience software. We all think of Uber, which unfortunately focused on commodifying the worker, but the future of gig work is about differentiating our services and delivering them for a reasonable price, not the lowest price, that fits our need to earn or passion to work toward our clients’ goals – to join projects for a while, even as an FTE. There will be no Gig Economy, the organizational model itself is fracturing and realigning, making it more important that companies have the right team composition for each project. The era relying on one fixed team trying to do everything, but inevitably a part of their time is spent on the bench waiting for the next relevant project, is ending.Think of the early online dating environment and how it blossomed from Match.com, which was one dating site for all, into myriad specialized dating sites and open markets like Tinder. These have changed the nature of dating, which has also become hooking-up and a group activity facilitated by software. Work is changing in similar ways.B2B Marketing Strategy and Customer Acquisition ModelsTell us about your role at Metaforce and how you got here.I am an early partner in the company responsible for technical and creative communications design. Throughout my career, I’ve worked at every level of the technical product stack, from explaining hardware and software to building it, organizing creative and Editorial teams using content management tools to deliver multi-channel experiences. My forte is process-solving, finding the most efficient way to deliver quality experience through text, graphics, video, aural, and information design.David Camp and I are long-time friends and have worked together several times. When he and Allen started Metaforce, we began talking about a role and I joined late last year.Are Marketing Technologies pushing the boundaries of present-day Brand Engagement and Customer Experience? How often do you measure the performance of your Marketing Analytics and Sales Reporting tools? If you are not measuring in order to adjust resources, budgets, and messages, the tools will push you into a repetitive and unproductive direction. Metrics are not simply reporting thresholds, they are the feedback that makes a conversation with the customer possible. We need to be studying our customers with the same care given to a face-to-face conversation in order to be responsive to their needs and values.Using technology today, we can customize messaging to address people personally. Eventually, we will address everyone personally and the “mass market” will become a thing of the past. Right now, marketers tend to ignore the “noise” that doesn’t fit into their campaign metrics, but I’ve worked on examples of AI-assisted content customization increasing sales rates by 60% – that noise is full of buying signs, objections, and other feedback that can be used to create an enduring relationship with customers.What are the most critical Marketing Problems that need immediate actions?We need to deal with privacy using realistic and fair policies that prevent the customer from feeling like they will be stripped of personal data like a hillside is stripped of coal. Unfortunately, the extractive thinking that got us into the climate crisis was applied to people on the Web, and the result is a depletion of trust, of the sense a company values the individual customer.We also need to embrace transparency, so that companies share more information with customers to prove that their businesses align with people’s values. This is the flip-side of the privacy debate and is essential to the sense of accountability that builds trust in any relationship. Information asymmetries due to unequal access to information about a marketplace have created huge fortunes but at the cost of social trust. I spend a lot of time evangelizing openness about supply chain environmental impacts, for instance.Why are the two important? When people can trust a company to keep their information private and use it only in service to them, they will share more information – in the form of future buying plans and the values they want to achieve with those purchases. When companies publicly disclose their CSR and environmental performance, they build confidence among consumers that they share common goals – when consumers can support a goal, such as reducing atmospheric CO2 or reducing the use of toxins in production processes, they will become customers. The circular economy will be viable when privacy and transparency are upgraded for our digital times.How can technology help to solve these problems?For the past 40 years, the internet has been adding to the volume of information we can access as individuals and organizations. Now, technology can help us filter out the dross and focus on what matters – in far greater detail than before. Experience is speciating, diverging into more specialized channels and exotic forms of interaction that allow us to be with customers, and for customers to tap into any company or service, an intimate partnership. Technology can provide automated contracts to extend trusted relationships into new channels, such as voice, AR, and VR that will allow more personalized interaction.The next 10 years will be about rebuilding trust, which is shattered like a plate glass window and still shedding shards noisily onto the floor of history. We’re going to talk about this era for centuries.What are the dynamic elements driving your B2B Customer Engagement model? How do you execute Engagement Economy vision, Strategy, Product and Corporate development at Metaforce?Here’s the basic mechanism for engagement: Questions. Not statements, though they set the stage for questions, the give-and-take that characterized face-to-face interaction for millennia. Listening closely to prospective customers, customers, and former customers can be accomplished through a variety of channels, from email and a website to the new voice and virtual environments we’re building.When we begin a branding or strategy project, we interview dozens of customers at every level of spend to understand what has captured their imagination and how they use the product or service to accomplish their goals. After that, we have a reliable map with which to start building relationships through different channels. Depending on the client’s goals, the limitations and future capabilities of each engagement channel, we design a go-to-market strategy and communication process for building relationships. We start with the message and express it through measurable interactions that help our client develop a trusted relationship with groups first, then individuals. We also coach the client’s sales and marketing teams about how to make the most of the digital engagements for campaigns and product feedback. Telling customers the story about how they changed a company is a powerful message that they are in charge of.How does Metaforce help customers to choose a reliable partner in the age of disruption?We rely on our hundreds of years of experience at the C-level and on hundreds of projects to perform a review similar to our customer engagement interview process: we identify the client’s strong suits and weaknesses, digging into how they work to connect them with the right technology partners or service providers. Our teams are built for the customer’s needs. We will provide services for the long-term or transfer the team to the client depending on what’s best for the client.Marketing and Sales Alignment: Social Media and Content Marketing StrategiesWhat are the tools and strategies you use to create effective B2B content at Metaforce? Could you provide us a sneak peek into your MarTech Acceleration strategies?Ideation and composition begin with the right data flows. We subscribe to feeds related to the customer’s industry and follow influential sources, competitors, and scientific writing that is shaping the industry. Each of these yields material that can engage customers. We either embed an editor in the organization or deliver content to support the client’s communication, but encourage internal use of the ideas we provide. At Microsoft, I worked on a project that removed a half-dozen layers of reviewers between an executive in charge of a product and the audience that ultimately consumed the executive messages. We used a blogging platform, nothing complicated, and equipped leadership to speak directly to the market.Metaforce amplifies that human-sourcing with content management, distribution, metrics, and the appropriate advanced technology to make and build relationships. We don’t encourage a client to embrace advanced technology until we can show how it will cultivate a deeper customer engagement. Our special sauce is prepared from our collective experience for each client, not served cafeteria style.What are the types of content (web and social) you prefer to read and retain/share in a day, week, month, and a quarter?I read hundreds of sources across tech, peer-reviewed journals in cognitive and Social Science, MarTech, and the general press to keep up with what’s next. As a former journalist during the rise of the Net, my skepticism about the hype applied to any new technology verges on the jaded. So, I rely on reading the experience of marketers, coders, and business leaders who have used, for example, Augmented Reality in their business. Vendor content comes last in most cases.Out of all marketing collateral, including the whitepaper, brochures, e-book, playbook, case studies, webinar, research reports, and infographics, which ones resonate the most with your customers? All of these resonate under different circumstances at points along the customer journey. An infographic can catch attention and link to a whitepaper download offer. Our clients’ customers habits, per our market explorations during the launch phase, determines which we suggest they invest in.Customer Success and Technology InsightsFrom a tactical standpoint, how often does your organization revisit the automation stack? Every project. We have different stacks that we rely on, such as WordPress and its eco-system or Adobe Experience Manager and its supporting services, but always seek to integrate with what a client has used in the past unless it is so antiquated that it is unserviceable. Why that tenacious attention to the past? It’s where the client’s existing relationships are consolidated at the beginning of a project.Tell us more about Verizon’s Customer Journey story and how Metaforce delivered its promises on Marketing Packaging, and Online Activation? Every few years, Verizon customers come into the store to upgrade or buy a new phone. Often the customer will also need new accessories to work with their new device. From cases to screen protectors to car chargers and headphones. While they wait for their new phone to be configured customers often wander around the store. Research indicated that Verizon’s own private label accessory packaging and merchandising were extremely difficult to shop.  By strengthening packaging and merchandising communications and branding, Verizon was better able to capitalize on the key accessory buying opportunity that occurs when customers upgrade their phones.How does the technology involved impact your customer building/partnership model?We compose the team differently based on the existing technology and build for marketing outcomes with the appropriate technology. My concern is always to provide the client with a path forward to integrate new capabilities and channels as they emerge.How do you see the technology you use impact the Customer Acquisition and Success Rate?Well, it’s a combination of technology and message. The right tech delivering the right messages can transform sales and customer engagement. My favorite example of how to combine content and AI, which was developed by a startup I Co-Founded, Gig Economy Group, we identified the most effective language used by salespeople when sharing branded content and propagated those suggestions to the entire sales network. Salespeople are not forced to accept the suggested language, but the coaching resulted in the adoption of more effective messaging. And as each salesperson continued to develop their customer relationships, their good ideas are made available to other members of the organization.Do you see Sales and Marketing Technologies unifying or evolving together to deliver higher ROI to CMOs? Yes. Marketing without sales is just talking to an undefined audience. Sales, however, will be more automated and I think the challenge on that side of the equation will be delivering human touches when most appropriate.What is that one piece of advice you received that you would like to pass on to the MarTech industry?I’m a convinced adherent to David Weinberger, Doc Searls, Chris Locke, and Jim Sterne’s advice in The Cluetrain Manifesto: Markets are conversations. People talking to people in our economy and society in action. Machines will help optimize, but without the people, it’s all noise.Tag a living person from the industry that you would like to read answers from, in our Fireside Chat: Doc Searls (@dsearls) and David Weinberger (@dweinberger)Thank You, Mitch, for answering all our questions. We hope to see you again at MTS, soon. Mitch Ratcliffe talks about how Sales Professionals should train themselves to master MarTech skills customer engagementcustomer experienceFireside ChatMetaforceMitch Ratcliffe Previous ArticleZendesk Expands Amazon Web Services Support to Make Customer Data More ActionableNext ArticleSharpSpring Named Top Marketing Resource Management Software by G2 Crowdcenter_img Fireside Chat with Mitch Ratcliffe, Marketing Partner at Metaforce Sudipto GhoshJuly 12, 2019, 1:30 pmJuly 12, 2019 last_img read more

Children with asthma have higher risk of obesity

first_imgReviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Oct 9 2018Toddlers with asthma are more likely to become obese children, according to an international study led by USC scientists.The finding is a turnabout for children’s health as obesity has often been seen as a precursor to asthma in children, not the other way around. The study, conducted by a team of 40 scientists including researchers at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, was recently published in the European Respiratory Journal.This is the largest study yet about early-onset asthma and obesity. It focused on more than 20,000 youths across Europe. It shows that, beyond wheezing and shortness of breath, asthma can lead to bodies that make young people more susceptible to other health problems later in life.Lida Chatzi, the senior author and professor of preventive medicine at USC, says asthma and obesity pack a one-two punch against children’s health, which raises concern about a public health crisis due to their prevalence.”We care about this issue because asthma affects approximately 6.5 million children – about one in 10 – in the United States,” Chatzi said. “It’s a chronic childhood disorder and if it increases the risk of obesity, we can advise parents and physicians on how to treat it and intervene to help young children grow up to enjoy healthy, adult lives.”For two decades, scientists have documented the parallel epidemics of childhood asthma and obesity, with focus on how obesity is a risk factor for asthma. In adults, obesity is an important risk factor for new asthma, especially among women, but the relationships appear to differ in children. Few studies look at the problem the other way around to understand how asthma contributes to obesity in kids, which prompted scientists to undertake this research.Drawing upon big data on children’s health collected across Europe, the scientists investigated 21,130 children born between 1990 and 2008 across nine countries, including Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.The children were diagnosed by physicians with asthma at 3 to 4 years old and the scientists followed toddlers into childhood up to 8 years of age. Their goal was to focus on health risks of early-onset asthma.On average, the scientists found that children diagnosed with asthma had a 66 percent higher risk of becoming obese than those without an asthma diagnosis. For children with persistent wheezing symptoms, their risk of developing obesity was 50 percent greater compared to children without such symptoms. Children with active asthma were nearly twice as likely to develop obesity than those without asthma and wheezing, according to the study. The findings are consistent with previous, but smaller, longitudinal studies conducted in the United States that observed asthma increased the risk of obesity.Related StoriesNew technique reduces postoperative deficit of oxygen in the blood in patients with morbid obesityChaos in the house and asthma in children – the connectionUranium toxicity might have caused obesity and diabetes in Kuwait, finds new studyThe causal direction between asthma and obesity is not well understood. Asthma is regarded as a barrier to children’s physical activity that might lead to accumulation of fat in the body, while higher doses of inhaled corticosteroids had been hypothesized to increase risk of obesity in children with asthma. According to the study, children with asthma who used medication had the strongest risk of developing obesity.Since both asthma and obesity have their origins early in life, it is possible that the asthma-obesity association is also established in this critical time window of child development. Previous studies have shown that in utero exposures, such as prenatal diet or maternal obesity, are associated with increased risk of both disorders.”Asthma may contribute to the obesity epidemic. We urgently need to know if prevention and adequate treatment of asthma can reduce the trajectory toward obesity,” said Frank Gilliland, professor of preventive medicine at the Keck School of Medicine, who participated in the study.According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 40 percent of Americans, or 93 million, are obese. The estimated annual medical cost of obesity nationwide was $147 billion in 2008, the CDC estimates. Obesity is linked to diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure and stroke.The CDC reports the number of people with asthma in the United States is growing every year. About one in 12 Americans is afflicted with the illness. In smoggy places, like California’s San Joaquin Valley, about 1 in 6 children suffer from asthma, the highest rate in the country.In Europe, 1 in 8 people die due to lung diseases – or about one person per minute. It includes well-known diseases like asthma and lung cancer and other less-known diseases like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which is now the third most common cause of death, according to the European Respiratory Society. Source:https://www.usc.edu/last_img read more

Treating gum disease could help people with Type 2 diabetes manage their

first_imgOur findings suggest preventing and treating gum disease could potentially be a new and important way to help people with Type 2 diabetes manage their condition, and reduce their risk of its serious complications.The improvement in blood glucose control we observed, in people who received intensive treatment, is similar to the effect that’s seen when people with Type 2 diabetes are prescribed a second blood glucose lowering drug.We now need to determine if the improvements we found can be maintained in the longer-term and if they apply to everyone with Type 2 diabetes.” Source:https://www.diabetes.org.uk/ Prof John Deanfield, senior investigator of the study at the UCL Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences, said: Oct 25 2018A study funded by Diabetes UK has found that treating periodontitis (gum disease) could help people with Type 2 diabetes manage their blood glucose levels, and may reduce their risk of diabetes-related complications.Researchers at the UCL Eastman Dental Institute recruited 264 people with Type 2 diabetes, all of whom had moderate to severe periodontitis. Half of the participants received intensive treatment for their gum disease, which involved deep cleaning their gums and minor gum surgery. The other half received standard care, involving regular cleaning and polishing of their teeth. The treatments were provided alongside any Type 2 diabetes medications being taken.After 12 months, participants receiving the intensive treatment had reduced their blood glucose levels (HbA1c) by on average 0.6 per cent more than the standard care group. This suggests that intensive gum disease treatment could help some people with Type 2 diabetes to improve their blood glucose levels.Gum disease affects almost half of the UK population and people with diabetes have a higher risk of developing it. Gum disease sets in when the levels of bacteria inside the mouth are out of balance, and it causes chronic inflammation inside the body. This inflammation has been linked to cardiovascular and kidney complications, as well as insulin resistance.The findings, published in The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology, are the first to link intensive gum disease treatment to improvements in kidney and blood vessel function and chronic inflammation. While more research is needed to explore this connection, the findings suggest that treatment may help to reduce the risk of serious diabetes-related complications, such as heart disease, stroke and kidney disease, in people with Type 2 diabetes.The researchers also observed a link between the treatment and improved quality of life.Professor Francesco D’Aiuto, lead researcher of the study, said: Currently people with Type 2 diabetes aren’t given oral health advice or treatment as part of their routine diabetes care.While more work is needed to fully understand how good oral health could help with blood glucose management, this research gives us important insights into the potential benefits of looking after your oral health if you have Type 2 diabetes.” Dr Elizabeth Robertson, Director of Research at Diabetes UK, said: Inflammation may be part of the biological pathways that lead to several health conditions including diabetes, heart disease, dementia and cancer.Our findings that reduction in periodontitis, which is a common cause of inflammation, improves vascular, renal, as well as blood glucose control, in people with Type 2 diabetes, are exciting and could lead to new strategies to improve care. Large-scale clinical outcome trials should now be designed.”last_img read more

Stevie Wonder wows crowd on smart piano at tech show

CES tech show stuffed with gadgets we don’t need – or do we? Trying to distinguish your product among the thousands at the CES gadget show is no easy feat, so it helps when music legend Stevie Wonder pays an unexpected visit. © 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. In this Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2018, photo, musician Stevie Wonder plays a so-called “smart” piano, an internet-connected device designed to teach people how to play, while piano teacher Gabie Perry stands next to him at The One Music Group’s CES booth in Las Vegas. Wonder spent about 15 minutes playing tunes as a crowd gathered at the booth. Wonder says he likes to visit the conference to see new things and meet people. (AP Photo/Matt O’Brien) Explore further Citation: Stevie Wonder wows crowd on ‘smart’ piano at tech show (2018, January 11) retrieved 18 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-01-stevie-wows-crowd-smart-piano.html Especially when your product is a “smart” piano designed to teach people how to play.Piano teacher Gabie Perry was demonstrating the internet-connected device, made by a California startup, when someone told her that Wonder asked to try it. She thought it was a joke.Wonder spent about 15 minutes playing tunes as a crowd gathered at The One Music Group’s CES booth in Las Vegas. Wonder says he likes to visit the conference to “see new things” and meet people. He’s among several celebrity musicians attending, including rapper Iggy Azalea and Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry.CES runs through Friday. read more

Private messaging apps increasingly used for public business

first_img Explore further Private messaging apps increasingly used for public business 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. Another boasts that disappearing messages “keep your message history tidy.” And a popular email service recently launched a “confidential mode” allowing the content of messages to disappear after a set time.The proliferation of digital tools that make text and email messages vanish may be welcome to Americans seeking to guard their privacy. But open government advocates fear they are being misused by public officials to conduct business in secret and evade transparency laws.Whether communications on those platforms should be part of the public record is a growing but unsettled debate in states across the country. Updates to transparency laws lag behind rapid technological advances, and the public and private personas of state officials overlap on private smartphones and social media accounts.”Those kind of technologies literally undermine, through the technology itself, state open government laws and policies,” said Daniel Bevarly, executive director of the National Freedom of Information Coalition. “And they come on top of the misuse of other technologies, like people using their own private email and cellphones to conduct business.”Some government officials have argued that public employees should be free to communicate on private, non-governmental cellphones and social media platforms without triggering open records requirements.Lawmakers in Kentucky and Arizona this year unsuccessfully proposed exempting all communications on personal phones from state open records laws, alarming open government advocates. A Virginia lawmaker introduced a bill to exempt all personal social media records of state lawmakers from disclosure.New Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer went the opposite direction in February with an executive order that requires his staff to use official email accounts for all government business. He also banned private accounts for any communications related to “the functions, activities, programs, or operations” of the office. In neighboring Missouri, Democratic lawmakers introduced a bill that would make clear that personal social media pages and messages sent through digital platforms such as Confide and Signal are public records as long as they relate to official business. The legislation arose because of a controversy involving use of the Confide app by former Gov. Eric Greitens, who resigned in June amid a series of scandals.”We need to clarify the expectations, because we should not be allowed to conduct state business using invisible ink,” said state Rep. Ingrid Burnett, who said she’s disappointed the bill didn’t advance.The proposals were captured by a new Associated Press application called SunshineHub, a digital tool that tracks bills related to government transparency in all 50 states. They point to the mushrooming challenge of defining and maintaining government records in the smartphone era.The issue exploded into public view last year amid reports that several employees in the office of Greitens, then Missouri’s governor, had accounts on Confide. The app makes messages disappear immediately after they are read and doesn’t allow them to be saved, forwarded, printed or captured by screenshot.The news prompted an inquiry from the state attorney general, an ongoing lawsuit alleging the practice violated the state’s sunshine law and the bill that would declare all such communications relating to government business to be public records.Greitens and aides have said they used Confide only to discuss logistics such as scheduling matters that were insignificant, “transitory” and therefore not required to be maintained as public records. An inquiry by Attorney General Josh Hawley found no evidence the practice as described was illegal, but investigators didn’t recover the disappeared messages.Greitens’ explanation for using the app has drawn skepticism from critics, who question why mundane messages would be sent on a platform that promotes “honest, unfiltered confidential conversations” on sensitive topics.”That’s absurd. Nobody switches out to a secret burner app to do that,” said Missouri attorney Mark Pedroli, who is suing Greitens on behalf of an open government group and using the case to investigate whether the former governor used the app to communicate with donors and political aides.”One of the motivating factors of this lawsuit is to find out—what could be the worst-case scenario of a governor or elected official using a secretive app like this?”He said government agencies should move to ban or severely restrict the use of such applications before they become commonplace. He already has obtained during the litigation a training slide that repeatedly instructed members of Greitens’ staff to never send text messages on government cellphones, an apparent suggestion to do such business only on personal phones.In Kentucky, language added to an unrelated bill in March would have exempted all electronic communications related to public business—including calls, text messages and emails—from the state open records law. Those messages would be exempt from disclosure as long as the phone or computer was paid for with private money and used non-governmental accounts.Open government advocates protested the legislation, which would have been the first of its kind in the nation. Lawmakers modified it so it would exempt only “communications of a purely personal nature unrelated to any governmental function.” Media and open government advocates called the language unnecessary, saying personal communications already aren’t subject to disclosure.A similar bill introduced in Arizona to shield all communications created, stored or received on electronic devices paid for with private money died without a hearing.The measures in Kentucky and Arizona were introduced after the states’ attorneys general issued legal opinions concluding that government agencies were not responsible for managing their employees’ personal phones, and because of that such communications are not subject to open records laws.Similar concerns arose after Gmail introduced its confidential mode, which allows senders to control who can access, forward, print or copy sensitive data and to set a time for messages to “expire.”National Freedom of Information Coalition board president Mal Leary recently wrote a letter to Google arguing that those features, which were recently launched as part of a redesign, could promote the illegal destruction of public records. Leary noted that Google’s suite of services is commonly used by state and local governments and urged the company to disable that feature from accounts and emails linked to public agencies.”Technology that allows the self-destruction of official, electronic public communications is not promoting transparency, and under most state open government laws, is illegal,” Leary wrote.Google responded that those features are similar to other tools in the marketplace, and that government administrators will be able to choose to disable them on their networks.The company noted that even after a message in “confidential mode” expires and its content is no longer available, a history of the message remains available in the sent folder and the headers and subject line remain visible in the recipient’s inbox. Citation: Private messaging apps increasingly used for public business (2018, July 22) retrieved 18 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-07-private-messaging-apps-increasingly-business.html © 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. In this Jan. 31, 2018 file photo, Republican Jeff Colyer is sworn in as the 47th governor of Kansas during a ceremony at the Statehouse in Topeka, Kan. In February, Colyer announced an executive order that requires his staff to use official email accounts for all government business. He also banned private accounts for any communications related to “the functions, activities, programs, or operations” of the office. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner, File) One app promotes itself as a way to discuss sensitive negotiations and human resources problems without leaving a digital record.last_img read more