10 per cent drop in H1B visa approvals in 2018 US authorities

first_img 0 Comment(s) By PTI |Washington | Published: June 5, 2019 8:08:32 am Advertising US has no plans to cap H-1B work visa program: State Department H-1B Visas: Why US is cracking down on the bench-and-switch scam Related News US company to pay USD 1.1 million in back wages to H1B employees including Indians The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) approved 335,000 H-1B visas, which included both new and renewable, in the fiscal year 2018. This was 10 per cent less from 373,400 in the previous fiscal year of 2017, according to the USCIS’s annual statistical report.The approval rate of H-1B declined from 93 per cent in 2017 to 85 per cent in 2018.“This administration has aggressively pursued strategies to clamp down on use of the H-1B programme, and these efforts are now showing in the data,” Migration Policy Institute analyst Sarah Pierce was quoted as saying by The Mercury News. H-1B visa, H-1B visa approvals, US, US authorities, decline in H01B visa approval, H-1B visa approval decline, H-1B programme, Donald trump, world news, Indian express The approval rate of H-1B declined from 93 per cent in 2017 to 85 per cent in 2018.The year 2018 registered a sharp 10 per cent decline in the approval of H-1B visa, which is popular among highly-skilled Indian IT professionals, according to the US authorities. For the first six months of this fiscal year, the overall H-1B approval rate for new and continuing visas continued to plummet to 79 per cent by the end of March, down from 85 per cent last year, the daily reported.The H-1B visa programme is the main vehicle through which US employers can sponsor skilled foreign workers for admission.According to the latest statistical annual report, in 2018, the USCIS completed 396,300 H-1B application as against 403,300 in 2017. In 2018, 396,300 H-1B beneficiary petitions were processed, which is 13 per cent more over the five fiscal years and two per cent less from 2017, the report said.In 2018, the USCIS completed 850,000 naturalisation requests, a five year high and granted 1.1 million green cards.The H-1B visa, popular among Indian IT professionals, is a non-immigrant visa that allows US companies to employ foreign workers in speciality occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise. Advertisinglast_img read more

A museum struggling to help Iraqis connect with 5000 years of art

first_img Statues dating from 2800-2600 B.C. at the Iraq Museum in Baghdad on Monday, April 8, 2019. The museum has a majestic, world-class collection of ancient art dating back 5,000 years, but it struggles to connect with an audience of younger Iraqis. (Sergey Ponomarev/The New York Times)(Written by Alissa J Rubin) In a well-lit gallery, I stared up at two majestic alabaster creatures at least 12 feet tall but looking even taller because they were set on plinths.They had the bearded faces of men, four or five legs, the wide wings of eagles, and the bodies and tails of bulls. Known as lamassu in the ancient Sumerian language, they were thought to be spirit guardians, so they were set at city gates, palace entrances and the thresholds of throne rooms. The Golden Lyre of Ur, a 4,500-year-old musical instrument inlaid with gold, silver and carnelian, at the Iraq Museum in Baghdad on Tuesday, April 9, 2019. The museum has a majestic, world-class collection of ancient art dating back 5,000 years, but it struggles to connect with an audience of younger Iraqis. (Sergey Ponomarev/The New York Times)Here, they watched over two long rooms of friezes that showed ancient Mesopotamians carrying tribute or walking beside their horses, which were finely carved with muscled flanks and elaborate reins.The lamassus and friezes survived the looters because they were too heavy to haul away. LiveKarnataka floor test: Will Kumaraswamy’s 14-month-old govt survive? Advertising Related News A museum struggling to help Iraqis connect with 5,000 years of art Rocket hits site of foreign oil firms in Iraq’s Basra, two hurt If people remember anything about the Iraq Museum, it is most likely the televised images of it being looted in 2003 as US troops watched from their tanks.Statues too heavy to move were knocked from their pedestals, their 3,000- and 4,000-year-old shoulders bashed to powder. Some lost their eyes or one side of their face. Glass cases were shattered, their contents gone or thrown on the floor.One of the museum’s most treasured artworks was the Warka vase, with carvings dating back five millennia showing that even then the ancient Mesopotamians grew wheat and fruits, wove cloth and made pottery. When someone walked off with it, a bit of human history was lost. Advertising Advertising By New York Times |Baghdad | Published: June 9, 2019 8:59:32 pm Ayodhya dispute: Mediation to continue till July 31, SC hearing likely from August 2 Art historians and archaeologists know how exceptional the collection is. But despite Baghdad’s relative safety today, neither the city nor the museum has yet to become a major destination for Iraqis, much less foreign tourists. Scientists at the Iraq Museum in Baghdad work on the restoration of a winged bull found at an excavation site, on Tuesday, April 9, 2019. The museum has a majestic, world-class collection of ancient art dating back 5,000 years, but it struggles to connect with an audience of younger Iraqis. (Sergey Ponomarev/The New York Times)“There are things there that are nowhere else in the world, especially from early Mesopotamian history,” said Christopher Woods, director of the University of Chicago’s Oriental Institute, who recently visited Baghdad.“It’s a textbook collection,” he said.In addition to trying to get back the pieces that were looted (some 4,300 have been recovered), the challenge now is to make the museum accessible to as many Iraqis as possible, said Abdulameer al-Hamdani, the recently appointed Iraqi culture minister.“I’ve ordered the museum to be open every day, and I’ve asked to let graduate students and university students come for free,” said al-Hamdani, an archaeologist by training who has a doctorate from the State University of New York at Stony Brook.Still, it is hard to get visitors, especially younger Iraqis, to feel that the museum’s art is relevant to their lives, he said.While many more school classes come now than in the past, there is little to guide them — no docents or audio-guides, and scant audiovisual aids. The children rush through, stopping to touch a lamassu or another statue and then dash on.Some days the museum is almost empty as it was when I visited, except for a few teenagers and three men from Diyala province, who had come on their day off. They were eager for information but barely read the sometimes technical labels.Three of the teenagers, who had come on their own when their classes finished for the day, glanced up briefly at the lamassus’ benign faces, but seemed not to know what to make of them.“I liked the other room with the statues better,” said Amina Atiyeh, 14, as her companions nodded in assent.The museum’s collection is so comprehensive that art historians say it is daunting to try to talk about it in its entirety.“What is so striking about the Iraq Museum is the chronological span that it covers,” said Paolo Brusasco, an archaeologist and art historian at the University of Genoa, who has worked extensively in northern Iraq.“From the Assyrian period all the way to the Ottoman,” he said.The museum’s earliest pieces date to almost 4000 B.C. That is more than three millennia before the ships described by Homer plied the Aegean Sea or the Old Testament was written.The collection has painted pottery in the shape of strange creatures whose mouths double as spouts; tiny sculptures of animals thought to have been toys; fragile boats made of a light wood found in ancient graves. Historians conjecture that the boats were intended to carry souls to the next world.There are statues of men and women with large, incredulous eyes as well as fragments of beautifully carved parts of mosques that are a mere few hundred years old.While there are superb examples of Sumerian art outside Iraq — most notably at the Louvre, the British Museum, the state museums in Berlin and the Metropolitan Museum, as well as the Oriental Institute in Chicago — the Iraq Museum has it all, Brusasco said.The museum’s origins date to the early 1920s when Gertrude Bell, the British administrator and explorer who helped to establish modern Iraq, worked with King Faisal to create a museum of Iraqi art by stopping Western archaeologists from walking off with all of the country’s treasures.They pushed through legislation requiring that foreign excavators donate at least half their finds to the museum.Today, Iraqi law stipulates that anything found in Iraq, stays in Iraq. That means the museum’s collection will continue to grow since there are some 13,000 archaeological sites in Iraq and a number of continuing excavations, al-Hamdani said.But al-Hamdani sees his main challenge as figuring out how to create a culture of learning around the museum.“We have to give visitors a context,” he said.“Putting artifacts in a box is like a death,” he added, referring to the glass cases that house the collection’s smaller pieces. “In a box, art has no soul.”Great works like the 3-foot-tall Warka vase, which was recovered, are arresting sights but much more so when their history is explained.The Warka vase, for example, was found in Uruk, in present day Muthanna province, which archaeologists believe was the world’s largest city at its height, and where the earliest examples of writing were found — in cuneiform on clay tablets.The vase is a rare example of the most ancient narrative art, telling its story in four tiers.The vase shows that farmers “approached the king for the new year festival bringing grain, sheep, gold and barley,” said Brusasco, the University of Genoa archaeologist.Mesopotamians were among the earliest beer brewers, using barley as a critical ingredient. Tablets describe 30 to 40 different kinds of beer and specify different qualities, he said.There is no end to the past in Iraq, said Ali al-Nashmi, professor of archaeology and history at Mustansiriya University in Baghdad. Best Of Express “In Iraq, cities are built on top of cities,” he said. More Explained Iraq says it deserves more global support in rebuilding Post Comment(s) Schoolchildren and other visitors at the Iraq Museum in Baghdad on Tuesday, April 9, 2019. The museum has a majestic, world-class collection of ancient art dating back 5,000 years, but it struggles to connect with an audience of younger Iraqis. (Sergey Ponomarev/The New York Times)The same was true of the Golden Lyre of Ur, a 4,500-year-old musical instrument inlaid with gold, silver and carnelian.I was there in 2003 on the second morning of looting and was stopped about 150 feet from the museum entrance by crowds of Iraqis rushing by clutching clay objects I could not identify. They also carried more prosaic items — file cabinets, chairs and spools of electrical wire.This spring, 16 years later, I was back at the museum. It had reopened in 2015 after conservationists had repaired some of the damage and European countries, among others, had helped restore several galleries. Still, I expected to see bare rooms and empty niches. A scientist works to restore a piece of a decorative column from about 1500 years ago, at the Iraq Museum in Baghdad on Tuesday, April 9, 2019. The museum has a majestic, world-class collection of ancient art dating back 5,000 years, but it struggles to connect with an audience of younger Iraqis. (Sergey Ponomarev/The New York Times)Instead, I found that despite the loss of 15,000 works of art, the museum was filled with an extraordinary collection. P Rajagopal, Saravana Bhavan founder sentenced to life for murder, dies Taking stock of monsoon rain last_img read more

Flash flood govt prepared Nitish Kumar in Bihar Assembly

first_img Nitish kumar, Bihar news, flash floods, Bihar flash floods, Bihar flash floods death toll, india news, indian express Water gushes over a railway track in Madhubani on Tuesday. (PTI)DEATH toll in the Bihar floods on Tuesday reached 30 with five girls drowning in a pond in Sheohar district. However, the disaster management department has pegged the toll at 25 as it has not included the incident of drowning as a flood-related death in official figures. The Chief Minister, who has conducted aerial surveys of the affected areas in the past few days, said top officials of village development and road construction departments have been asked to personally take stock of the damage caused so that rebuilding programmes are initiated once the situation is normal.“All flood-affected districts have been allocated sufficient funds. It is being ensured that dependents of those who have lost their lives get ex-gratia within 24 hours of the deaths. It has been a standing principle of our government that those affected by calamities have the first claim to the governments coffers. Funds will not come in the way of rescue, relief and rehabilitation,” Kumar said. Bihar flood toll rises to 67; 48 lakh affected Advertising Twelve districts are affected by the floods with Sitamarhi, Madhubani and Araria being the worst-hit.Speaking in the Assembly, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar called it a “flash flood” caused by incessant rainfall in Nepal. “Generally, there are floods in Bihar in August. But it is flash flood, similar to the one in 2017. We are fully prepared to deal with it. Relief and rescue operations are on. We have arranged 199 relief camps for displaced people.”Kumar also said the government had apprehensions about drought in several districts due to inadequate rainfall. More than 1 lakh people have been evacuated, he said. Heavy rain in Nepal leads to flood in several Bihar districts Karnataka trust vote today: Speaker’s call on resignations, says SC, but gives rebel MLAs a shield Best Of Express While 11 people have died in Sitamarhi, nine deaths have been reported from Araria so far. A total of 25,71,600 people from 555 panchayats in 78 blocks are affected by the floods.The Disaster Management Department’s Principal Secretary, Pratyaya Amrit, said, “We are running 676 community kitchens and 125 motorboats are engaged in relief and rescue operations with 25 NDRF and SDRF teams being on the job.”Madhubani, Sitamarhi, Sheohar, East and West Champaran, Supaul, Darbhanga, Muzaffarpur, Katihar, Purnea, Kishanganj and Araria have been affected by the floods, the Chief Minister said.For the past three or four days, the Terai region of Nepal has been lashed by rainfall ranging between 280 and 300 mm, which was many times higher than the 50 mm which is considered normal for the area during this time of the year, and as a result, several rivers in Bihar like Kosi, Bagmati and Mahananda have been in spate, he said.center_img Bihar police seek details on Sangh Parivar, angry BJP calls it spying After Masood Azhar blacklisting, ICJ verdict in Kulbhushan case isolates Pakistan Advertising By Express News Service |Patna | Published: July 17, 2019 4:21:05 am Related News Jharkhand court drops ‘donate Quran’ condition for bail to Ranchi woman over offensive post Post Comment(s)last_img read more

Kartarpur Corridor 54 immigration kiosks seating for 2000 part of passenger complex

first_img Advertising Advertising Kartarpur Corridor: Punjab CM Amarinder Singh appreciates Pakistan’s move on visa free travel By Express News Service |Attari | Published: July 15, 2019 4:24:50 am Post Comment(s) Related News India, Pakistan move closer on Kartarpur corridor, pro-Khalistan leader dropped from panel kartarpur corridor, Kartarpur Sahib, Kartarpur Sahib pakistan, Dera Baba Nanak, Kartarpur Sahib passenger terminal, Kartarpur Sahib terminal Kartarpur Sahib (File Photo)The passenger terminal complex for pilgrims to Kartarpur Sahib at Dera Baba Nanak in Punjab will have a fully air-conditioned building of approximately 16000 sqm and will have 54 immigration counters to facilitate the travel of 5000 pilgrims per day. Kartarpur corridor: 54 immigration kiosks, seating for 2,000, on cards The government has also envisaged a landscape area with water bodies, artefacts, sculptures of local culture, shaded seating spaces, canopies and benches.Architecture schools at Amritsar have been consulted for the display of the rich Punjabi heritage, the life and works of Shri Guru Nanak Devji in the state-of-art building and for the landscaping of the complex.The government has reiterated that construction work on the Rs 500-crore complex is on in full swing. The target to complete the project is October 31, before the commemoration of the 550th birth anniversary of Sri Guru Nanak Dev in November 2019.Earlier, Punjab minister and MLA from Dera Baba Nanak, Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, had alleged that work at the site was progressing at a slow pace and may not be completed before the 550th birth anniversary celebrations. According to a government release, the complex will have adequate seating capacity for 2,000 pilgrims and all necessary amenities like washrooms, childcare, first-aid, prayer room and snacks counters will be housed inside the main building.This apart, a spacious parking lot to accommodate 10 buses, 250 cars, and 250 two-wheelers and CCTV cameras are to be put into place.A 300-ft national monumental flag will also be installed at the International Border.last_img read more

How to evaluate computers that dont quite exist

first_img To gauge the performance of a supercomputer, computer scientists turn to a standard tool: a set of algorithms called LINPACK that tests how fast the machine solves problems with huge numbers of variables. For quantum computers, which might one day solve certain problems that overwhelm conventional computers, no such benchmarking standard exists.One reason is that the computers, which aim to harness the laws of quantum mechanics to accelerate certain computations, are still rudimentary, with radically different designs contending. In some, the quantum bits, or qubits, needed for computation are embodied in the spin of strings of trapped ions, whereas others rely on patches of superconducting metal resonating with microwaves. Comparing the embryonic architectures “is sort of like visiting a nursery school to decide which of the toddlers will become basketball stars,” says Scott Aaronson, a computer scientist at the University of Texas in Austin.Yet researchers are making some of their first attempts to take the measure of quantum computers. Last week, Margaret Martonosi, a computer scientist at Princeton University, and colleagues presented a head-to-head comparison of quantum computers from IBM, Rigetti Computing in Berkeley, California, and the University of Maryland (UMD) in College Park. The UMD machine, which uses trapped ions, ran a majority of 12 test algorithms more accurately than the other superconducting machines, the team reported at the International Symposium on Computer Architecture in Phoenix. Christopher Monroe, a UMD physicist and founder of the company IonQ, predicts such comparisons will become the standard. “These toy algorithms give you a simple answer—did it work or not?” But even Martonosi warns against making too much of the tests. In fact, the analysis underscores how hard it is to compare quantum computers—which leaves room for designers to choose metrics that put their machines in a favorable light. Rigetti Computing A quantum leap With a quantum computer that relies on a superconducting chip, Rigetti Computing is seeking an application that will give it a practical advantage over conventional computers. Other companies are pushing other metrics to gauge progress. 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By Adrian ChoJun. 26, 2019 , 8:00 AM How to evaluate computers that don’t quite exist Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country Email Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) A conventional computer manipulates bits of information, encoded in transistors that can be switched on or off to represent zero or one. A qubit, however, can be set to zero and one simultaneously, say, by encoding it in an ion that can spin down for zero, up for one, or both ways at once. Qubits enable the machine to process many inputs simultaneously instead of one at a time. But the machine’s real power comes not through that massive parallelism, but in problems where possible solutions can be encoded in quantum waves that slosh among the qubits. The waves then interfere so that wrong solutions wash out and the right one emerges.A quantum computer would be able to, for example, crack internet encryption schemes based on the factoring of huge numbers—a tough problem for a classical computer. But solving such problems would require 100,000 qubits and the means to correct errors in the delicate quantum waves. Such machines are decades away, researchers say. But quantum computers with even a few dozen noisy qubits will soon best conventional computers at certain tasks, developers say, and they’re searching for the metrics to prove it. COMPANY/UNIVERSITYCOMPUTER TYPENUMBER OF QUBITSPREFERRED METRIC COMPANY/UNIVERSITYGoogleCOMPUTER TYPESuper-conducting NUMBER OF QUBITS72PREFERRED METRICQuantum supremacy COMPANY/UNIVERSITYIBMCOMPUTER TYPESuper-conducting NUMBER OF QUBITS20PREFERRED METRICQuantum volume COMPANY/UNIVERSITYRigetti ComputingCOMPUTER TYPESuper-conducting NUMBER OF QUBITS16PREFERRED METRICQuantum advantage COMPANY/UNIVERSITYUniversity of MarylandCOMPUTER TYPETrapped ionsNUMBER OF QUBITS5PREFERRED METRICBenchmark comparison Solving a problem that a conventional computer cannot—so-called quantum supremacy—is one well-publicized metric. “It’s a ‘Hello world!’ project that shows your quantum computer works,” says John Martinis, a physicist in Santa Barbara, California, who leads Google’s efforts to achieve supremacy on a machine with 72 superconducting qubits.The problem Google researchers have chosen is exceedingly abstract. Essentially, they program the quantum computer to repeatedly perform a random set of operations on the qubits. Thanks to quantum interference, the machine should spit out certain strings of zeros and ones with greater probability than others, instead of producing all strings with equal probabilities, as it would if there were no interference. What’s more, predicting this exact distribution of outcomes overwhelms classical computers once the number of qubits climbs too high. So if Google researchers can measure that telltale distribution for their 72-qubit machine, then, in a sense, it will have achieved quantum supremacy by calculating something a conventional computer cannot. However, the arcane exercise won’t usher in practical quantum computers, says Greg Kuperberg, a mathematician at the University of California, Davis. “It’s supremacy to do something completely useless.”In contrast, researchers at Rigetti aim to show that a quantum computer can perform some useful task more accurately, faster, or more cheaply than conventional computers—a metric they call quantum advantage. “What we want are things that put us on the shortest path to commercial value,” says Chad Rigetti, a physicist and founder of the startup. For example, he says, a quantum computer might be ideal for modeling the complex interplay of financial assets in a hedge fund.In September 2018, Rigetti pledged $1 million to the first user who achieves quantum advantage on its publicly available machines. The current version has 16 superconducting qubits. Because the measure includes factors like cost, quantum advantage is not so tightly defined, says Aram Harrow, a physicist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge. “If it’s a little vague, that’s not bad for Rigetti,” Harrow says.IBM researchers have defined a metric, called quantum volume, that measures a quantum computer’s performance without comparing it to a conventional machine. It involves testing a quantum computer using random calculations like those Google is using. And it depends on both the number of qubits and the number of computational cycles a machine can handle before its quantum states fuzz out.Using a machine with 20 superconducting qubits, IBM scientists have reached a quantum volume of 16 and aim to double it every year, says Jay Gambetta, a physicist at IBM’s Thomas J. Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, New York. Breakthrough applications will follow naturally, he says. “I don’t think that supremacy is something you shoot for. It’s something we’ll recognize once we’ve passed on to bigger and bigger things.”Then there are head-to-head comparisons like Martonosi’s. In her test, the 5-qubit ion-based machine solved most test problems correctly 90% of the time, compared with 50% or less for superconducting-qubit machines. That difference reflects the current states of the technologies and not their potential, Martonosi says. For example, in a superconducting machine each qubit interacts only with its neighbors, but every ion in the UMD machine interacts with all the others, giving it an edge. Bigger ion-based machines won’t share that advantage, however.Martonosi says such comparisons show that all the quantum computers performed significantly better when programmed to account for differences in qubit noise and connectivity. “Across quite a wide range of [hardware] implementations, this appears to work,” she says. “That’s quite exciting.”Harrow questions how useful any of the current metrics will prove in the long run. The main challenge in quantum computing remains finding a technology that will scale up to thousands of qubits, he says. “These metrics are only loosely related to the scaling question.”last_img read more

Centre says no to Tamil Nadu Puducherry for NEET exemption

first_img National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) for undergraduate and postgraduate medical admissions. (Express Photo)The Centre has turned down requests from Puducherry and Tamil Nadu governments to exempt students from appearing in National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) for undergraduate and postgraduate medical admissions, according to the HRD Ministry. Won’t allow people to give JNU a bad name: HRD minister Govt has initiated several steps to make varsities cashless: HRD minister Several steps taken for skill development in Higher Education: HRD Minister Advertising The information was shared by Union HRD Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ in response to a written question in the Lok Sabha.“Medical education comes under the purview of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, which has informed that requests have been received from the state governments of Puducherry and Tamil Nadu to exempt students from appearing in NEET.”“However, Section 10D of the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956 prescribes conducting of a uniform entrance examination, namely NEET for medical admissions. Since the provisions of the above Act apply across the country without exemption, no relaxation was given to the states,” Nishank said. By PTI |New Delhi | Updated: July 15, 2019 8:09:38 pm Related News Post Comment(s)last_img read more

Samsung Applies Brakes to Galaxy Fold Launch

first_imgSince the Fold is the first in a new category of mobile phones, its market performance could influence how the category does in the future.”As long as no consumers are affected, and there are zero to date — just reviewers — this won’t affect the category,” predicted MI&S’s Moorhead.”It’s a brand new category — there will be setbacks. But it is a wake-up call for any other folding-phone vendor that they need to make their phone bulletproof at launch,” Tirias’ Krewell said.”I can see Huawei now doubling down on their own testing to avoid a similar situation,” observed IHS’ Schneemann. “For most other OEMs, foldable screens are still in the future, so there is time to resolve issues.”Foldables are going to be important, so Samsung’s latest snafu won’t affect their popularity in the long run, suggested Jack E. Gold, f principal analyst at J. Gold Associates, an IT advisory company in Northborough, Massachusetts.”Foldables have a good future,” he told TechNewsWorld.”It’s the form factor — everyone wants bigger screens,” Gold said. “The notion that everyone wants a 3.5-inch phone has been gone for years. I think foldables are going to be around for a long time. The Fold’s problems aren’t going to affect the market overall — it’s a minor glitch.” However, it’s possible the delay in releasing the Fold will have little impact on its sales, suggested Patrick Moorhead, principal analyst at Moor Insights and Strategy, a technology analyst and advisory firm in Austin, Texas.”This is already a limited-production-run luxury phone, and the company will sell as many as they can make,” he told TechNewsWorld.Samsung is going after a niche of a niche users with the Fold, observed IDC’s Llamas.”This phone isn’t cheap,” he said. “For many people, it’s more than a mortgage payment.”What’s more, “the number of applications that work with the larger display is limited to a handful. You could be waiting indefinitely for your favorite apps to come on board,” Llamas pointed out. “Only a small group of people will understand and value of the Fold enough to buy it. This isn’t going to replace your Galaxy S9 or 10.” Further Improvements Needed While the delay in the Fold’s availability will disappoint some consumers, Samsung has taken the right path, said Ramon T. Llamas, senior research analyst at IDC, a market research company in Framingham, Massachusetts.”This is a very smart step on their part. They’re taking the time to address the issue and treating it with urgency,” he told TechNewsWorld.”When you delay a worldwide launch for something like this, it shows the company has standards that it’s willing to uphold,” Llamas said.The delays likely will hurt initial sales of the phone, because people will be concerned about its quality and reliability, said San Jose, California-based Kevin Krewell, principal analyst at Tirias Research, a high-tech research and advisory firm.”That’s still a better outcome than shipping the product prematurely and dealing with returns and further bad reviews,” he told TechNewsWorld. Foldable phones faced a setback on Monday when Samsung announced it was postponing indefinitely the release of its Galaxy Fold, which had been scheduled to reach retail shelves in the United States this Friday.Samsung pumped the brakes on release of the US$1,980 phone after several reviewers reported problems with their units. Black Eye for Samsung “I still don’t know how I got the bulge in my first Fold’s hinge that ultimately destroyed its flexible OLED panel, but it happened,” wrote Dieter Bohn for The Verge.Reviewers for Bloomberg and YouTube reported their units began malfunctioning after they removed an integral part of the display, mistakenly thinking it was a plastic screen protector.CNBC reviewer Todd Haselton wrote that he left the plastic film intact, but the display still started acting buggy. The left side of the flexible screen began to flicker consistently. Samsung acknowledged that the experience of the Fold’s early reviewers indicated the device needed further improvements to ensure the best possible user experience.The company decided to delay the Galaxy Fold release in order to evaluate the feedback and run further internal tests, and said it would announce the release date in the coming weeks.Initial findings from the inspection of reported issues on the display showed that they could be associated with impact on the top and bottom exposed areas of the hinge, the company noted.There was also an instance where substances found inside the device affected the display performance. Samsung said it would strengthen the display protection, and enhance guidance on care and use, including the display’s protective layer. center_img Niche of a Niche Galaxy Fold Demand for the Fold will be limited, said St. Paul, Minnesota-based Gerrit Schneemann, senior analyst at IHS Markit, a research, analysis and advisory firm.”The Fold is a super-premium, first generation device,” he told TechNewsWorld.”I don’t believe that either Samsung or Huawei, for that matter, anticipate selling large volumes of these devices,” Schneemann added.By postponing public access to the phones, Samsung is saved the embarrassment and financial repercussions of a recall, which it had to do with the Note 7.Samsung’s Note 7 made headlines in 2016 by having a proclivity to burst into flames. The company recalled some of the units and began reissuing new ones to affected buyers. When the replacement units also began catching fire, the company finally terminated production of the model. The fiasco cost Samsung billions of dollars.”It is another black eye for the company, though, as some issues clearly were not detected before sending review units to the media,” Schneemann noted. A Minor Glitch Upholding Standards John P. Mello Jr. has been an ECT News Network reportersince 2003. His areas of focus include cybersecurity, IT issues, privacy, e-commerce, social media, artificial intelligence, big data and consumer electronics. He has written and edited for numerous publications, including the Boston Business Journal, theBoston Phoenix, Megapixel.Net and GovernmentSecurity News. Email John.last_img read more

Novel method uses just a drop of blood to monitor effect of

first_imgReviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Oct 17 2018Researchers from Osaka University find that a novel method for monitoring the effect of lung cancer therapy may help guide treatment choices Dr Tasuku Honjo won the 2018 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine for discovering the immune T-cell protein PD-1. This discovery led to a set of anti-cancer medications called checkpoint inhibitors, one of the first of which was nivolumab (Opdivo).Nivolumab helps T-cells fight tumors, however, different patients respond in different ways. It now appears that monitoring the effect of nivolumab on critical immune cells with simple and novel methods may help guide decisions to optimize treatment.Dr Shohei Koyama and a team of researchers from Osaka University have devised a simple method for testing the impact of nivolumab in the body. This method measures how nivolumab binds to PD-1 on T-cells weeks after treatment and could provide information needed to monitor treatment more effectively. They recently published their findings in JCI Insight.Related StoriesTrends in colonoscopy rates not aligned with increase in early onset colorectal cancerHow cell-free DNA can be targeted to prevent spread of tumorsStudy: Nearly a quarter of low-risk thyroid cancer patients receive more treatment than necessaryThe researchers analyzed tiny samples of blood and lung fluid from patients with lung cancer. They measured the amount of nivolumab bound to T-cells, and they also isolated only those T-cells bound by nivolumab to comprehensively analyze cell activation.The researchers found that the effects of nivolumab on T-cells often persisted in patients for a considerable time after dosing.”Our simplified method was feasible in real-world patients and demonstrated that nivolumab binds T-cells for more than 20 weeks even after the patient has stopped treatment,” study co-author Atsushi Kumanogoh says. “Also, the plasma concentration at which nivolumab stops binding T-cells, and the percentage of bound T-cells, varies from patient to patient.”Their findings also confirmed that the level of T-cell binding does not indicate the functional effect of the drug. A further measure of T-cell proliferation is needed.”Our findings show that for any given patient we need more information than blood levels of the drug,” lead-author Akio Osa says. “It is now clear that we need to measure the amount of nivolumab bound to T-cells and the degree of T-cell proliferation to make treatment decisions. Our method makes this possible with just a drop of blood.”Results from two study participants illustrate the importance of measuring both proliferation and T-cell binding. The first patient showed no response when proliferation was low. In contrast, the second patient showed no tumor growth when proliferation was higher.”Our combination strategy of monitoring nivolumab binding and the proliferation status of T-cells, is a better way to determine the effect of this drug than monitoring the blood level of nivolumab alone,” says co-author Takeshi Uenami.Overall, understanding in which patients nivolumab has persisting effects over time may be useful for preventing treatment related side effects and guiding the selection of additional therapies. Source:https://resou.osaka-u.ac.jp/en/research/2018/20181004_1last_img read more

Motherdaughter conflict associated with suicide risk in abused adolescent girls

first_img Source:http://www.rochester.edu/newscenter/suicide-risk-in-abused-teen-girls-correlates-directly-with-mother-daughter-relationship-344512/ Reviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Oct 19 2018Teenage girls who were maltreated as children are more likely to entertain suicidal thoughts if the relationship with their mother is poor and the degree of conflict between the two of them high.Researchers at the University of Rochester’s Mt. Hope Family Center found that the quality of the mother-daughter relationship and their level of conflict are two direct mechanisms underlying the association between child maltreatment and suicidal thoughts during adolescence.Their study, published in the journal Suicide and Life Threatening Behavior, included 164 socio-economically disadvantaged, depressed, adolescent girls (average age 14) and their mothers. Of the adolescents, 66.3 percent were African-American, 21.3 percent white, and 14 percent Latina.The team, led by Mt. Hope research assistant professor Elizabeth Handley, used structural equation modeling to test three distinct mediating pathways that linked earlier maltreatment in childhood to suicidal thoughts for adolescent girls: 1) mother-daughter relationship quality, 2) mother-daughter conflict, and 3) adolescent depressive symptoms.”Our findings suggest that disruptions to a positive mother-teen relationship are one reason why children who experienced abuse or neglect are at risk for suicide as teens,” says lead author Handley.According to Handley, the findings highlight how important relationship-based interventions are for vulnerable youths.The researchers assessed child maltreatment and mother-daughter relationship quality by looking at the teens’ responses to a series of questions. Mother-daughter conflict was measured by using their mothers’ answers to another questionnaire.”We know from decades of research that a warm, nurturing, and consistent relationship between mothers and their children is critical for many aspects of healthy development. This continues to be true even in adolescence, when teens spend more time with their friends and less time at home with family,” says Handley.Related StoriesGuidelines to help children develop healthy habits early in lifeNew research links “broken heart syndrome” to cancerSocial media use and television viewing linked to rise in adolescent depressive symptomsMaltreatment includes emotional, physical, and sexual abuse, and emotional and physical neglect. Among the study participants 51.8% of adolescents indicated a history of at least one form of maltreatment.As expected, the researchers found that rates of suicidal thoughts and recurrent thoughts of death were higher among teenage girls with a history of maltreatment than those without: 11.7 percent of non-maltreated, depressed adolescents indicated suicidal ideation, compared to 26.8 percent of maltreated, depressed adolescents.Child maltreatment is associated with poorer mother-daughter relationship quality and increased mother-daughter conflict, both of which are linked with higher levels of suicidal thoughts among teenagers.According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), suicide is the second leading cause of death among adolescents aged 10 to 24 in the United States (accidental death is the leading cause). Adolescent girls in general are more likely than their male counterparts to have suicidal thoughts.Given the scientific evidence that the more severe and pervasive the suicidal thoughts, the greater the likelihood of suicide attempt, understanding the cause of suicidal thoughts is critical for effective youth suicide prevention and intervention design.According to the Rochester researchers, relationship-based interventions are a promising approach to depression treatment for maltreated youth, such as interpersonal psychotherapy for adolescents, which focuses on the interpersonal context of depression. Attachment-based family therapy has also proven useful in reducing suicidal thoughts among teenagers by strengthening the functioning of the family and the parent-adolescent attachment relationship.last_img read more

Universal meningitis vaccination for college students may be too costly study suggests

first_imgReviewed by Alina Shrourou, B.Sc. (Editor)Dec 19 2018A computer-generated model developed by Johns Hopkins Medicine researchers adds to evidence that providing universal vaccination against meningitis B infection to students entering college may be too costly to justify the absolute number of cases it would prevent. The study also suggests that if vaccine developers could significantly lower the price, universal vaccination might be worth requiring on college campuses.In a report on the cost/benefit estimate published in the Dec. 17 issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, researchers determined the cost per quality-adjusted life year (QALY)–a standard measure of the public policy value of medical interventions–to be $13.9 million if every entering college student in the United States were vaccinated. Historic expenditures and previous research, the investigators say, assume that society is willing to pay $150,000 per QALY. Put another way, the new study suggests that universal vaccination of the college student population would be considered cost-effective only if a vaccine series cost less than $65; the average current price is $324, according to study authors.”Despite the poor prognosis of meningitis B infection and the fairly reasonable cost of meningitis B (MenB) vaccination, the extreme rarity of this infection even amongst its peak in college-age individuals makes universal vaccination cost-ineffective,” says lead study author Ira Leeds, M.D., M.B.A., a postdoctoral research fellow in the Department of Surgery at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. “Vaccinating 100,000 college students, for example, would prevent less than five cases of MenB,” adds Leeds. “Health care systems and public health programs do not have unlimited funds and such a small benefit makes support of universal vaccination economically untenable, even when accounting for individual, payer and community outbreak costs and productivity lost by society.”Although Leeds and his colleagues say their results fail to support a formal universal vaccination program, they caution that their model assumed all college students to have a generally well state of health. They also emphasized that MenB vaccine is safe and effective, and should remain accessible and an individual option. In addition, they say, those at high risk because of compromised immune systems or other pre-existing medical conditions should consider vaccination.Meningitis B is the most common form of meningococcal infection in young adults in the United States, with about 600 to 1,000 cases reported each year. But it affects only 30 per 100,000 U.S. college students, according to 2017 data gathered by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The infection, however, is serious, and may cause severe inflammation of the brain and spine, and death in a small number of people. Each year, about 10-15 percent of Americans who contract MenB die.”Vaccines have become widely available within the past few years,” Leeds says, “but there’s very little evidence to suggest that they’re going to do much good given their high cost in a generally healthy population.”The study set out to assess cost-effectiveness and determine potentially favorable conditions for support of universal vaccination relative to the current standard of care, in which vaccination is an individual patient or parental decision. The investigators say their model considered the issue of universal vaccination from both a health sector perspective that incorporated individual and payer costs, and a societal perspective that further accounted for lifetime productivity losses among students experiencing MenB infection.Related StoriesScripps CHAVD wins $129 million NIH grant to advance new HIV vaccine approachBordeaux University Hospital uses 3D printing to improve kidney tumor removal surgeryNew shingles vaccine reduces outbreaks of painful rash among stem cell transplant patientsTo come up with their results, the investigators developed a computerized “decision tree” algorithm to trace and track the incremental cost-effectiveness and cost per case averted by universal vaccination of incoming students at a midsize U.S. four-year college. They compared those costs against an informal, “random” vaccination program designed to mimic what this population might do if left to decide on its own whether to vaccinate. Each “student” in the model was assumed to be at equal risk for MenB infection and to be entering college at age 18 in generally good health.If universal vaccination was not offered initially, it was assumed that a suspected single case would lead to a belated universal vaccination campaign of all students, and faculty and staff members.The health sector perspective included direct medical costs borne by individual- and third-party payers over a four-year period. The societal perspective included additional costs of lost productivity from premature death, and long-term disability from MenB complications over the expected 80-year lifetime of a freshman college student. Estimates of infection rates and prevalence were obtained from government data, and universal vaccination was estimated to provide a 50 percent reduction in the probability of acquiring MenB infection, which is spread mainly by close contact with an infected person’s saliva–or spit.Researchers considered four clinically significant MenB complications for their assessment: death, chronic hearing loss, chronic neurologic disorder including epilepsy and intellectual disability, and limb amputation. The probabilities of these complications and outcomes of infection were taken from historical data reports, and for purposes of the computer model, deaths from meningitis were assumed to occur at the midpoint of college enrollment (two years).Vaccine prices were estimated from publicly reported vaccine price lists; vaccine administration costs were estimated to be 10 percent. The cost of an outbreak included vaccinations and staff to inoculate all students and faculty and staff members, plus antibiotic administration to 20 close contacts of an affected person. All cases of MenB infection were assumed to be treated with an inpatient hospital admission. All costs were adjusted to 2015 U.S. dollars based on the most common dates of existing data in the medical literature; investigators applied a 3 percent per year discounting for future costs/QALYs.Overall, the computer model predicted that a nonformal vaccination program was more cost-effective than universal vaccination from both the health sector and societal perspectives. Vaccinating each entering class of college students would cost an estimated $323,810 per campus per year. By contrast, an outbreak for a campus that would universally vaccinate after a case of infection was identified would cost $2.59 million per campus. Given the low incidence of MenB infections, a universal vaccination program would reduce the number of cases in four years from an estimated 9.2 cases per 1,000 campuses to 4.6 per 1,000 campuses.Therefore, Leeds and his team calculated, the incremental cost per QALY gained with universal vaccination was $13.9 million under the health sector perspective and $13.8 million under the societal perspective, compared to an assumed social willingness to pay $150,000 per QALY.Source: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/news/newsroom/news-releases/study-suggests-universal-meningitis-vaccination-is-not-cost-effective-for-college-studentslast_img read more

Erasing memories could reduce relapse rates among drug addicts

first_imgWhile we’ve always known that the brain forms these cue-associated memories, the specific circuits have never been clearly identified. We’ve found a central piece in the cue-memory puzzle, and we also show that taking out that piece in a substance use scenario can help reverse relapse-like behaviors.”Dr. Mary Torregrossa, Senior Author For the study, the team analysed cue-associated relapse in rats. Upon pressing a lever, the animals received an infusion of cocaine and were also exposed to audio-visual cues in the form of a tone and a light.As the process was repeated, the rats learned to associate the audio-visual cues with the cocaine reward and started to display drug-seeking behavior by continuing to press the lever.The team also simulated exposure therapy by repeatedly exposing the rats to the light or tone, but without providing the cocaine high, which eventually reduced the drug-seeking behavior.However, the exposure therapy failed to work as effectively once the rats were placed in a different setting.Electrical recordings of the rat brain tissue showed that connections between an area of the brain involved in sound perception called the medial geniculate nucleus and another region called the lateral amygdala were essential to the formation of memories that link the cocaine reward with external cues.First author Matthew Rich said this made sense, since the amygdala is where emotional memories are formed: “[The amygdala] receives sensory input and associates that input with what we feel when the cues are presented to us.”To demonstrate a causal relationship between the cue-linked memories and the drug-seeking behavior, the team used optogenetics to erase cocaine-cue memories in some of the rats, which resulted in them pressing the lever significantly fewer times on exposure to the audio-visual cues.This reduction in lever pressing persisted even when the rats were subjected to a different environment, suggesting that it was removal of the cue-associated memories that dampened the tendency to relapse in a new setting.Torregrossa hopes that the findings will help the team to develop drugs or therapies such as deep brain stimulation that will target the cue-associated memories and increase the effectiveness of exposure therapy aimed at preventing relapse. By Sally Robertson, B.Sc.Jan 22 2019Reviewed by Kate Anderton, B.Sc. (Editor)Erasing memories that link environmental cues to drug use could represent a potential new treatment for drug addiction, according to researchers at the University of Pittsburgh.Fer Gregory | ShutterstockExposure therapy, which aims to break associations between cues and memories, is a well-established approach to treating conditions such as PTSD and phobias. However, it is not particularly effective at treating addiction.Although some positive effects may be seen in a controlled environment, once a person is confronted with the outside environment, the brain responds to the cues by activating the same neurons involved in the original drug-seeking behavior.center_img Source:Erasing memories associated with cocaine use reduces drug seeking behavior.last_img read more

New microchip antibiotic testing platform determines right medication in just 67 hours

first_imgReviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Feb 6 2019We rely on antibiotics to treat bacterial infections, but the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria forces doctors and patients to contend with shifting treatment plans. Furthermore, current laboratory tests to determine what bacteria is causing a particular infection takes days to complete and, in cases of serious infection, the results are often too late for the patient.Mechanical engineers from the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology recently developed a microchip antibiotic testing platform that takes only six to seven hours to determine the appropriate medication.”Trying to figure what drug to use at what dosage, in the fastest time possible, is key in successfully treating bacterial infections,” said Jessie Jeon, an author on the paper.Related StoriesStudy: Surveillance for antibiotic-resistant bacteria continues to be core focus for healthcare facilitiesStructure of bacteria responsible for traveler’s diarrhea decipheredNew methods to recognize antimicrobial resistant bacteria and how they workClinicians often treat life-threatening infections with a cocktail of antibiotics, hoping that one of the antibiotics will stop the bacterial infection. However, blanket-prescribing antibiotics contributes to the rise in bacterial resistance.”Figuring out the effect of different combinations of drugs in a simple manner is likely to have a big impact on health,” said Jeon. She explained that her team’s speedy microfluidic system was the first for which combinatorial treatments had been tested.The speed and success of the Korean team’s new antibiotic susceptibility testing system is due to two key innovative design features.The first feature was developing an antibiotic dosage range, crucial for calculating the minimum inhibitory dosage that prevents bacterial growth. By continually pumping antibiotics through the half-millimeter-wide channels in the microchip, the team establishes a dosage range through microchip within 30 minutes. A critical time saver, the dosage range enabled the team to determine the minimum inhibitory dosage within a single test.The second feature was using a convenient method to quantify bacterial growth within the microchip. Images were taken of the agar-encased bacteria and the difference in color between areas of agar at a higher antibiotic concentration, where no bacteria grew (which were dark), and the more reflective white regions, where bacterial colonies grew more easily, was quantified on a position-specific grayscale.Alignment of the five antibiotics tested in this new system with the clinical gold standard measurements suggests that the microchip system is sensitive enough for clinical application, Jeon added.”We can see that our assembly works pretty robustly with a single drug, and have also shown it can work with two drugs; now we want to further optimize the application to combinatorial drugs,” said Jeon. Source:https://www.aip.org/last_img read more

New robotguided video game may be effective and lowcost solution for caregivers

first_imgReviewed by Kate Anderton, B.Sc. (Editor)Mar 18 2019Two residents of Elmcroft Senior Living sat side-by-side facing a large screen, raising their hands in tandem as the watch-style devices on their wrists controlled the avatars in front of them. Every so often, a squat little robot off to the side would remind them the object of the game: Get your avatar’s books into the right bin, and earn extra points by helping the other player.The Fortnite crowd would find it laughably simple, but the game isn’t about talking robots or colorful books. It’s about getting seniors in the early stages of dementia out of their rooms, moving their bodies and, most importantly, working together. Isolation is a contributor to dementia’s progression, and this robot-guided video game may be an effective, low-cost solution for caregivers.Vanderbilt University’s Nilanjan Sarkar, a mechanical engineering professor, Linda Beuscher, an assistant professor in the School of Nursing, and their team recently finished testing the game in two nursing homes with a total of 15 older adults, both with and without cognitive impairments. Fourteen of them kept coming back to play the game, gradually increasing the amount of time they wanted to spend with it.Based on those positive results, which Sarkar quantified earlier this month, the Vanderbilt team is seeking grant money for a larger, more extensive study that could open doors to human therapists being assisted by robot colleagues.”There are not enough younger people to take care of our older generations, and that’s why we’re designing intelligent, social robots that can talk to them, keep them from becoming isolated, lead them in appropriate physical exercise and help them with memory and cognition,” Sarkar said. “It’s not the total solution, but it can go far in helping the world’s elder generations.”Related StoriesCaregiver depression linked to increased emergency department visits for patients with dementiaStudy paints clear picture of the staffing levels of nurses at nursing homesWhy women who work are less likely to develop dementiaA 2014 study showed nearly half of Americans age 65 or older require some sort of assistance from another person, typically an informal caregiver. The U.S. Census projects that population will double to 98.2 million by 2060.Elmcroft resident Kathryn Brown, one of the participants, said she got a kick out of hearing the robot instruct her by name. She also said she wanted to join the pilot study so she could learn more about the technology.”It took some effort, but I don’t think the game was too difficult,” Brown said. “It made me think more and be careful about my arm movements. This might very well help other senior citizens.”The fact that robot-led therapy is new and unusual has the potential to attract and entertain older users, said Beuscher, whose specialty is geriatric nursing. Elmcroft employees reported that participants in the pilot program were engaging with other residents a little more, even after a few sessions.”As we get older, we can become more isolated, and learning new skills and keeping moving is very important,” Beuscher said. “If you don’t use it, you lose it. We know that. Moving the books on the screen requires moving their shoulders, arms and wrists. And then we’re keeping their brains active as they play the game. Most importantly, they’re engaging with one another.” Source:https://news.vanderbilt.edu/2019/03/18/robot-guided-video-game-gets-older-adults-out-of-comfort-zone-learning-and-working-together/last_img read more

Calling for better police body cam design

Challenges reported by both police and the public surrounding usability issues with the vast array of body cams and recording functionality prompted a study by human factors/ergonomics (HF/E) researchers from Wichita State University. In their just-published Ergonomics in Design article, “Design Considerations in the Proliferation of Police Body-Worn Cameras,” Joel Suss and colleagues identify limitations and provide some guidelines for designers. Citation: Calling for better police body cam design (2018, April 12) retrieved 18 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-04-police-body-cam.html “Usability issues have received relatively little attention” from the media, the public, or researchers, the authors report. In the article, they summarize some of the issues with existing cameras, including positioning on the body, stability of mounts, camera visibility and activation, data transfer, and interpretability of footage. Body cam usability, they feel, is ripe for examination by other HF/E researchers and particularly by designers, which could lead to better systems.Working with the Wichita (Kansas) Police Department, Suss et al. equipped officers of various heights, weights, and body types with cameras mounted in different locations on the body to determine which locations were the most effective. The officers performed 35 different live-fire drills while wearing the cameras. Initial analysis showed that cameras mounted on the head (glasses, baseball cap) offered the most complete view of the target compared with cameras worn on the torso (e.g., shoulders, chest).In addition, the authors believe their video data “can serve as training stimuli for artificial intelligence systems that are being developed to automatically analyze, categorize, and redact body-worn camera footage.”Suss notes, “By understanding the advantages and disadvantages of different camera-mounting locations, law enforcement agencies can provide guidance to officers that will help maximize the quality of body-worn camera footage. Not only will this benefit the public and the criminal justice system, but such footage can also serve as the basis for developing cognitive training designed to enhance officers’ safety and decision-making performance under stress.” Body cameras, now gun cameras? Some police trying them out More information: Joel Suss et al, Design Considerations in the Proliferation of Police Body-Worn Cameras, Ergonomics in Design: The Quarterly of Human Factors Applications (2018). DOI: 10.1177/1064804618757686 Explore further This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. Provided by Human Factors and Ergonomics Society read more

UK MPs pressure Zuckerberg to testify on Facebook data breach

British MPs threatened Tuesday to issue a formal summons to Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg for him to testify over a major privacy row, after he declined to appear. Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg was grilled by the US Congress last month but sent one of his executives to answer questions posed by the House of Commons culture and media committee Zuckerberg was grilled by the US Congress last month but sent one of his executives to answer questions posed by the House of Commons culture and media committee.MPs are investigating the use of Facebook data by a British political consultancy, Cambridge Analytica, as well as the phenomenon of “fake news” and Russia’s involvement in spreading misinformation online.In a letter to Facebook, committee chairman Damian Collins cited unconfirmed reports that Zuckerberg would testify to the European Parliament in May and asked him to come to London during the same trip.”We would like the session here to take place by 24 May,” he wrote.”It is worth noting that, while Mr Zuckerberg does not normally come under the jurisdiction of the UK parliament, he will do so the next time he enters the country.”We hope that he will respond positively to our request, but if not the committee will resolve to issue a formal summons for him to appear when he is next in the UK.”Ignoring a formal summons could invite action by the House of Commons, although in the past, the threat has usually been enough to make a witness appear.Facebook has admitted that up to 87 million users may have had their data hijacked by Cambridge Analytica, which worked for US President Donald Trump during his 2016 campaign.Collins noted that there are more than 40 million Facebook users in Britain “and they deserve to hear accurate answers” from Zuckerberg.A spokesman for the European Parliament said last week that an invitation had been sent to Zuckerberg to appear before MEPs “but we still wait for an answer… nothing has been decided yet”. 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. UK MPs ask Facebook’s Zuckerberg to testify on data row Citation: UK MPs pressure Zuckerberg to testify on Facebook data breach (2018, May 1) retrieved 18 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-05-uk-mps-pressure-zuckerberg-testify.html Explore further © 2018 AFP read more

Investors will eye cash production in Tesla 1Q earnings

© 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. Then Tesla forecast 10,000 Model 3s per month at the end of the first quarter. As it turned out, just under 9,800 were assembled from January through March, Tesla said in April. The Fremont factory was shut down for four or five days last month to clear production bottlenecks, Tesla said.The Palo Alto, California, company predicted in April that production will climb rapidly through the second quarter and reach about 5,000 vehicles per week—which would return Tesla to its originally promised 20,000 per month rate—around the end of June. It predicted high sales and strong cash flow in the third quarter. “As a result Tesla does not require an equity or debt raise this year, apart from standard credit lines,” the company said.The Model 3 is the most important piece of Tesla’s plan to become a mainstream automaker. At one point it had more than 500,000 potential buyers on a waiting list. But in April the company conceded that some had canceled, although it refused to give numbers. Tesla said reservations “remained stable” through the first quarter.Jeffries analyst Philippe Houchois will be watching for gross orders of the Model 3 to look for growth. “If there is underlying demand, funding and manufacturing issues and therefore (stock) valuation can be addressed,” he wrote in a note to investors.Tesla also has to deal with two federal investigations into crashes of its vehicles, at least one of which was operating on the company’s semi-autonomous “Autopilot” system. In that crash on March 23 near Mountain View, California, the driver was killed when his Model X SUV hit a lane barrier. In the other crash near Los Angeles in January, a Model S sedan hit a parked firetruck on a freeway. The driver wasn’t hurt.Both the National Transportation Safety Board and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration sent investigators to the crashes.Tesla was kicked out of the Mountain View investigation team by the NTSB for making details of the probe public, adding to its troubles.Shares of Tesla have suffered on all of the bad news, falling nearly 16 percent from this year’s peak closing price on Feb. 26 to $300.82 in midday trading Wednesday. They’ll want to see how much cash the company burned during the quarter as well as its free cash flow, which is cash generated minus capital spending. Those numbers could either allay or increase fears that Tesla will run out of money this year and have to borrow more or sell additional stock.In last year’s fourth quarter, Tesla burned through $162 million, or roughly $1,200 per minute, knocking its available cash from $3.53 billion down to $3.37 billion. For the full year, Tesla burned up almost $640 million. Free cash flow in the fourth-quarter was a negative $276.8 million.Moody’s Investor Service downgraded Tesla’s debt into junk territory back in March, warning at the time that Tesla didn’t have cash to cover $3.7 billion for normal operations, capital expenses and debt that come due early next year. At the end of last year the company had a total of $9.5 billion in long-term debt.”The negative outlook reflects the likelihood that Tesla will have to undertake a large, near-term capital raise in order to refund maturing obligations and avoid a liquidity shortfall,” Moody’s wrote in a note to investors.Tesla Inc., which has had only two profitable quarters in its nearly eight years as a public company, is expected to lose millions again in the critical first quarter. Analysts polled by FactSet predict a net loss of $713 million, or $4.04 per share. That would be Tesla’s worst quarterly loss. Excluding one-time items the company should lose $3.54 per share on revenue of $3.28 billion.The key to raising cash to cover expenses is production of the Model 3 mass-market electric car, which starts at $35,000 but can easily top $50,000 with options. Tesla has had trouble ramping up its factory in Fremont, California, near San Francisco—so much so that Musk has tweeted he’s sleeping at the plant and that automation is overrated and more humans are needed to build the cars. More humans would cost more money, increasing the cash burn.The plant has wildly missed Musk’s forecasts. When production started last summer he promised to build 20,000 Model 3s during the month of December. Instead, Tesla made only 2,425 during the entire fourth quarter. Explore further Tesla raises production but falls short of Model 3 goals (Update) Citation: Investors will eye cash, production in Tesla 1Q earnings (2018, May 2) retrieved 18 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-05-investors-eye-cash-production-tesla.html When Tesla releases first-quarter earnings after the closing bell on Wednesday, investors will be scrutinizing more than the bottom line. This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. read more

UK lawmakers Wild West cryptocurrencies need regulation

first_imgIn this Dec. 8, 2017, file photo, coins are displayed next to a Bitcoin ATM in Hong Kong. British lawmakers are urging regulation for cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin in a report that describes the current situation as the “Wild West.” In a report Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2018 on digital currencies, Parliament’s Treasury Committee called for regulations to protect consumers and prevent money laundering. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung, File) US Treasury official urges regulation of crypto currencies British lawmakers have backed calls for greater regulation of cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin in order to bring an element of control to a market that more resembles the “Wild West.” Marshall Billingslea, an assistant treasury secretary who deals with terror financing, attends a OECD in Paris, Wednesday Sept.19, 2018. Billingslea says there is an urgent need for global rules to stop virtual currencies from being used by money launderers and terrorists. (AP Photo/John Leicester) In a report on digital currencies published Wednesday, the Treasury Select Committee called for regulations to protect consumers and prevent money laundering.Lawmakers highlighted a rapidly emerging industry that’s been troubled by wild price swings, allegations of fraud and worries it could be used to finance criminal or terrorist activity.Virtual currencies, also known as tokens, are electronic alternatives to traditional money. The appeal of cryptocurrencies like bitcoin lies in their use of “blockchain technology” that records all transactions in a digital database while keeping identities private, allowing users to sidestep government or banking system oversight. Speculation has also played a part in their popularity: bitcoin’s price skyrocketed late last year to more than $19,000 though it has since tumbled and is now trading at around $6,300.In the report, the committee said the British government has taken an ambiguous position on regulation and argued that the industry’s voluntary approach is inadequate. As a result, it said investors have been left open to risks including volatile prices and hacking vulnerabilities.”Bitcoin and other crypto-assets exist in the Wild West industry of crypto-assets,” committee chair Nicky Morgan said. “This unregulated industry leaves investors facing numerous risks.”Morgan said the government needs to do more than “bumble along issuing feeble warnings to investors.”The committee also said British financial authorities need more power to regulate misleading advertisements by crypto-asset exchanges and initial coin offerings, which raise money for the tokens while crypto exchanges allow investors to trade them or convert them into conventional money.The committee’s warning echo those of a senior U.S. Treasury official, who expressed similar sentiments while on a visit to Europe, saying that global rules are urgently needed to stop virtual currencies from being used by money launderers and terrorists. In Paris, Marshall Billingslea, an assistant Treasury secretary who deals with terror financing, said the Islamic State group has used virtual currencies and published instructions on Twitter on how to move bitcoin to recipients in Syria. Explore further © 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. Citation: UK lawmakers: ‘Wild West’ cryptocurrencies need regulation (2018, September 19) retrieved 17 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-09-uk-lawmakers-wild-west-cryptocurrencies.html This, he said, is “an example of a very worrisome trend-line that we see.”Billingslea, who was speaking in his capacity as president of the Financial Action Task Force, an international body that combats money laundering and other financial threats, said countries are applying differing anti-money laundering standards to cryptocurrencies and some are not applying any at all.”It is essential that we establish a global set of standards that are applied in a uniform manner,” Billingslea said.The FATF, he added, is very concerned about the emerging use cryptocurrencies by terrorist organizations.Financial regulators worldwide have been scrambling to deal with the rise of cryptocurrencies. In Asia, Japan recognizes bitcoin as a legal form of payment after enacting a strong regulatory regime while South Korea and China have also tightened regulations. Meanwhile, European Union officials said earlier this month that the bloc has been examining cryptocurrencies as it mulls regulations.The British lawmakers said there’s still room for the U.K. to become a global center for crypto-assets, if the government decides to take a regulatory approach that encourages the industry’s growth.last_img read more

With an eye on past problems Facebook expands local feature

first_imgFacebook is cautiously expanding a feature that shows people local news and information, including missing-person alerts, road closures, crime reports and school announcements. A look at Facebook’s changes over the years in what you see Called “Today In,” the service shows people information from their towns and cities from such sources as news outlets, government entities and community groups. Facebook launched the service in January with six cities and expanded that to 25, then more. On Wednesday, “Today In” is expanding to 400 cities in the U.S.—and a few others in Australia.The move comes as Facebook tries to shake off its reputation as a hotbed for misinformation and elections-meddling and rather a place for communities and people to come together and stay informed.Here are some things to know about this effort, and why it matters:THE BIG PICTUREIt’s something users have asked for, the company says. Think of it as an evolution of a “trending” feature the company dropped earlier this year . That feature, which showed news articles that were popular among users, was rife with such problems as fake news and accusations of bias.Anthea Watson Strong, product manager for local news and community information, said her team learned from the problems with that feature.”We feel deeply the mistakes of our foremothers and forefathers,” she said.This time around, Facebook employees went to some of the cities they were launching in and met with users. They tried to predict problems by doing “pre-mortem” assessments, she said. That is, instead of a “post-mortem” where engineers dissect what went wrong after the fact, they tried to anticipate how people might misuse a feature—for financial gain, for example.Facebook isn’t saying how long it has been taking this “pre-mortem” approach, though the practice isn’t unique to the company. Nonetheless, it’s a significant step given that many of Facebook’s current problems stem from its failure to foresee how bad actors might co-opt the service.Facebook also hopes the feature’s slow rollout will prevent problems.HOW IT WORKSTo find out if “Today In” is available in your city or town, tap the “menu” icon with the three horizontal lines. Then scroll down until you see it. If you want, you can choose to see the local updates directly in your news feed.For now, the company is offering this only in small and mid-sized cities such as Conroe, Texas, Morgantown, West Virginia, and Santa Fe, New Mexico. Large cities such as New York or Los Angeles have added challenges, such as an abundance of news and information, and may need to be broken up into smaller neighborhoods.The posts in “Today In” are curated by artificial intelligence; there is no human involvement. The service aggregates posts from the Facebook pages for news organizations, government agencies and community groups like dog shelters. For this reason, a kid couldn’t declare a snow day, because “Today In” relies on the school’s official page. Discussion posts from local Facebook groups may also be included.For now, the information is tailored only by geography, but this might change. A person with no kids, for example, might not want to see updates from schools.SAFEGUARDS?Facebook uses software filters to weed out objectionable content, just as it does on people’s regular news feed. But the filters are turned up for “Today In.” If a good friend posts something a bit objectionable, you are still likely to see it because Facebook takes your friendship into account. But “Today In” posts aren’t coming from your friends, so Facebook is more likely to keep it out. Explore further © 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. Citation: With an eye on past problems, Facebook expands local feature (2018, November 28) retrieved 17 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-11-eye-problems-facebook-local-feature.html This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.last_img read more

Robot probes radioactive fuel at Japans Fukushima plant

first_img Citation: Robot probes radioactive fuel at Japan’s Fukushima plant (2019, February 13) retrieved 17 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2019-02-robot-probes-radioactive-fuel-japan.html Explore further Removing the melted fuel is considered the most difficult part of the massive clean-up operation and is not expected to begin until 2021 The 2011 meltdown at the Fukushima plant was the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl A robot will attempt to examine radioactive fuel at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant on Wednesday in a complex operation seen as key to clean-up efforts after the 2011 meltdown. © 2019 AFPcenter_img The March 2011 tsunami that caused the meltdown was triggered by a massive undersea quake and killed around 18,000 people.Tens of thousands of people were forced to evacuate their homes because of the threat of radiation.Authorities have been working to rebuild the region, about 240 kilometres (150 miles) north of Tokyo, although areas near the crippled plant remain uninhabitable because of radiation dangers. The operation is intended to better assess the status of the melted fuel, including whether it is stable enough to be picked up for removal, or may crumble upon contact.”The operation began at 7:00am local time and will last around five hours. So far no problems have been reported,” a spokeswoman for the plant’s operator TEPCO told AFP.The operation is being carried out at the plant’s reactor 2, one of three that melted down after a massive earthquake and tsunami in March 2011.Robots have already peered inside the reactor to allow experts to assess the melted fuel visually, but Wednesday’s test will be the first attempt to work out how fragile the highly radioactive material is.Removing the melted fuel is considered the most difficult part of the massive clean-up operation in the wake of the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl.It is not expected to begin until 2021, and TEPCO has other issues to resolve including how to dispose of large quantities of contaminated water stored in containers at the plant site. Fuel removal device installed at meltdown-hit Fukushima reactor This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.last_img read more

Boeing conducts final test flight of 737 MAX with software fix

first_img CEO Dennis Muilenberg tweeted a video where he said the test flight was carried out on Tuesday, adding that test pilots have completed 120 flights totaling more than 203 hours of airtime with the software fix for the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS).Investigators have zeroed in on the system as a factor behind the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines crashes in October and in March respectively, killing nearly 350 people in total.In both cases, the planes nose-dived shortly after takeoff, signaling a problem in a system that was deployed to correct for an aerodynamic issue that tended to cause the plane’s nose to pitch up.”More than 85 percent of the 50-plus MAX operators around the globe also have had the opportunity to see the update in action during simulator sessions,” added Muilenberg.All 737 MAX aircraft have been banned from the world’s skies since days after the Ethiopian Airlines crash on March 10.The Federal Aviation Administration on Tuesday said a portion of the proposed modifications were “operationally suitable” but said it would not rush towards approval. © 2019 AFP Explore further Boeing 737 MAX changes deemed ‘operationally suitable’: FAA Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenberg tweeted a video where he said the final test flight prior to certification of a 737 MAX with an updated anti-stall system was carried out Tuesdaycenter_img Boeing has conducted a final test flight of a 737 MAX model with an updated anti-stall system prior to its certification by aviation authorities, the aerospace manufacturer said Wednesday. Citation: Boeing conducts final test flight of 737 MAX with software fix (2019, April 18) retrieved 17 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2019-04-boeing-flight-max-software.html This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.last_img read more