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Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Brazilian soldiers conduct an operation against drug traffickers in a favela in Rio de Janeiro. FIOCRUZ has asked a special arbitration office of the Attorney General of Brazil for authorization to release the study; a decision is pending but the funding call does give SENAD a clear prerogative to keep it under embargo. The survey cost 7 million reais (about $2 million at the current exchange rate) and was fully funded by SENAD.Regardless of who made the call to hold the study, “There is a strong impression of political interference” in the process, says Luís Fernando Tófoli, a mental health and drug policy researcher at the University of Campinas in São Paulo state in Brazil, who didn’t participate in the survey but is familiar with the study. He criticized Terra for “attacking the institution” rather than discussing the data. “If FIOCRUZ has a political bias one way or another it doesn’t matter; the methodology is the methodology, and in this case it is very solid,” Tófoli says. “Bolsonaro’s government clearly doesn’t believe in scientific evidence.”A preliminary version of the study that leaked to the media reveals that less than 1% of Brazilians have ever made use of crack-cocaine—Terra’s main topic of concern—compared with almost 3% who have taken opioid prescription drugs illegally at least once in their lifetime. Marijuana was the most commonly used illicit drug, but still, only 2.5% admitted to having used it in the previous 12 months. Cocaine came next, at 0.9%. “The research really deconstructs the panic that the government is trying to create around crack and illicit drugs,” Dartiu Xavier da Silveira, a medical psychiatrist and drug specialist at the Federal University of São Paulo here, said in a 1 June interview in O Globo.Meanwhile, the Bolsonaro government has changed the national drug policy to favor abstinence as a preferred treatment strategy, rather than the standard harm reduction approach, and Congress approved a bill in May—originally authored by Terra when he was a congressman—authorizing the involuntary hospitalization of people with substance abuse problems, something experts say should only be used in extreme situations, and not as a general public health policy. SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL—Is Brazil experiencing a drug epidemic? The answer to that question has spiraled into a legal battle between scientists and government officials over the release of a national drug use survey done by the renowned Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (FIOCRUZ) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Researchers familiar with the study accuse government officials of suppressing publication of the survey because it contradicts a political assertion that drug abuse is a growing and widespread problem in Brazil.Commissioned in 2014 by the National Secretariat for Drug Policies (SENAD), the third National Survey on Drug Use by the Brazilian Population interviewed 16,000 people in more than 350 cities about their consumption of legal and illegal substances. FIOCRUZ concluded the study in late 2017, but SENAD never authorized public release of the results, leaving scientists and public health officials in the dark about the current landscape of substance abuse in Brazil. The previous national survey is from 2005. SENAD’s official justification for withholding the data is that FIOCRUZ didn’t follow the sampling methodology specified in the funding call, making the results incomparable with previous surveys—a claim that FIOCRUZ strongly contests.The dispute started during the administration of Brazil’s previous, very conservative president, Michel Temer, and has continued under current, far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, a fierce defender of the “war on drugs” and the criminalization of drug use. Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country Email Brazilian government accused of suppressing data that would call its war on drugs into question There is a strong impression of political interference … Bolsonaro’s minister of citizenship, Osmar Terra, recently called FIOCRUZ’s scientific integrity into question. “I don’t trust FIOCRUZ research,” Terra, a physician by training, told O Globo newspaper on 28 May. “If you tell the mothers of these drugged boys around Brazil that FIOCRUZ says there is no drug epidemic, they will laugh at you,” he said. “Unfortunately, FIOCRUZ today is institutionally mobilized in favor of the liberalization of drugs in Brazil; and for that to happen, it cannot admit to the existence of an epidemic,” Terra added in a long statement posted on Twitter on 2 June.His statements fueled widespread speculation that officials are suppressing the report to protect their political ideologies. But Terra denied being responsible for blocking release of the results, claiming he had no authority to do so.“FIOCRUZ is proud of the work carried out by its researchers and ensures that [the survey] complied with what was proposed in the public notice, respecting all the methodological, scientific and ethical rigor pertinent to this type of study,” says a statement released by the foundation on 21 May. Created in the early 1900s, FIOCRUZ is a leading research institution in public health and vaccine development, supported by the Ministry of Health. FABIO TEIXEIRA/AFP/Getty Images By Herton EscobarJun. 13, 2019 , 1:35 PM Luís Fernando Tófoli, University of Campinas last_img read more

first_imgReviewed by Alina Shrourou, B.Sc. (Editor)Nov 27 2018A new study has drawn a direct link between the amount of stigma men with HIV report experiencing and their scores on cognitive tests, measuring abilities such as memory and attention.The study, by researchers from the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital (The Neuro), McGill University, and the McGill University Health Centre tested 512 older Caucasian men living with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), drawn from clinics across Canada and part of the Positive Brain Health Now cohort.The participants filled out a questionnaire asking how much stigma they experience. Their answers were related to their results in cognitive testing and mental health questionnaires.Related StoriesScripps CHAVD wins $129 million NIH grant to advance new HIV vaccine approachTwo new studies develop algorithms to identify patients at risk of acquiring HIVPatients with HIV DNA in cerebrospinal fluid have high risk of experiencing cognitive deficitsResearchers found that HIV-related stigma had direct effects on cognitive test performance and anxiety. There was also a direct but weaker link between stigma and depression. Through its effects on cognition, stigma was found to reduce participation in social activities and impair function in everyday life.This study is the first to draw a direct connection between stigma and cognitive performance in people with HIV. The mechanisms through which stigma affects cognition are unclear, but might range from the impact of chronic stress on the brain, to psychological effects such as internalized negative beliefs.AIDS has become a chronic illness. With effective anti-retroviral therapy patients’ life expectancy has risen and many are or will soon become seniors. It is important to understand how the virus and related factors such as stigma affect patients later in life. This finding opens the door to new treatment approaches for cognitive impairment in this population, and provides yet another reason to address stigma in HIV.”Our research shows that the neurological impact of HIV goes beyond pure biology,” says Dr. Lesley Fellows, a researcher at The Neuro and the study’s senior author. “The psychological and social environment in which the patient lives also plays a role. This study underscores the need for interventions that reduce social stigma and support resilience against its toxic effects on brain health.” Source: read more

first_img Source: Reviewed by Alina Shrourou, B.Sc. (Editor)Jan 17 2019The new research from the National Centre for Register-based Research at Aarhus BSS is the first of its kind to offer a comprehensive description of the risks of double diagnosis within the ten major groups of mental disorders – also called comorbidity. Based on register data from 5.9 million people living in Denmark from 2000 to 2016, the study is the most detailed study of comorbidity ever conducted in the field of mental health.The results have just been published in JAMA Psychiatry, which is one of the world’s most prestigious scientific journals in the field of psychiatry. The researchers have also developed an interactive webpage that offers professionals and the general public access to examine the risks of double diagnoses according to age, sex and type of mental disorder.Related StoriesSchwann cells capable of generating protective myelin over nerves finds researchAMSBIO offers new, best-in-class CAR-T cell range for research and immunotherapyEffective stop smoking treatments less likely to be prescribed to people with mental health conditions”This is the first study to provide a comprehensive description of all possible associations between pairs of mental disorders using national registers available for a whole population. We knew from previous smaller studies that some types of disorder tended to occur together. But now we can confirm that comorbidity is the rule, not the exception. Those who receive a diagnosis of a specific major mental disorder are more likely to receive diagnoses for all other types of mental disorders,” says Oleguer Plana-Ripoll, who is a postdoctoral researcher at the National Centre for Register-based Research at Aarhus BSS and the main author of the study.In the study, the researchers uncovered how different types of mental disorders accumulate across a lifespan. Due to the size of the study, the researchers were able to measure the absolute risks of people developing more than one mental disorder later in life. The study showed that people who are diagnosed with one mental disorder are not only more likely to be diagnosed with other mental disorders, but also that this risk persists for many years after the first diagnosis.The study partly originates from the national psychiatric project, iPSYCH, and partly the Niels Bohr Professorship research programme at Aarhus University, which is led by Professor John McGrath and explores new innovative methods related to psychiatric epidemiology.”It is a large and comprehensive study that provides never-before-seen details of the relationship between the different mental disorders. We have provided the field with fine-grain details – for example that the risk of developing more than one mental disorder is not constant over time,” says Oleguer Plana-Ripoll.In addition to the scientific publication, all the results of the study are available on an interactive webpage that can be used by physicians and the general public.”We want to ‘democratice’ the results so that they are more widely understood by clinicians and people with mental disorders and their caregivers. We hope that this new information will help the clinicians to monitor the development of mental disorders. This is especially important for people who develop a mental disorder when they are young,” says John McGrath.last_img read more

first_img Source: Reviewed by Alina Shrourou, B.Sc. (Editor)Jan 28 2019A team from the George Washington University (GW) Cancer Center has engineered a nanoimmunotherapy that combines the advantages of nanotechnology and immunotherapy to treat cancer. The goal of this nanoimmunotherapy combination is to increase the potency of immune checkpoint inhibitors, a class of immunotherapy that elicits dramatic benefits in only a modest subset of cancer patients, to a significantly larger proportion of patientsRohan Fernandes, PhD, assistant professor of medicine at the GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences, received more than $1.6 million from the National Institutes of Health for the study. The grant is a R37 award, which is a MERIT — Method to Extend Research in Time — Award for early stage investigators to give them the flexibility and opportunity for creativity and innovation, as well as, additional time to successfully launch their careers.Related StoriesAdding immunotherapy after initial treatment improves survival in metastatic NSCLC patientsUsing machine learning algorithm to accurately diagnose breast cancerTrends in colonoscopy rates not aligned with increase in early onset colorectal cancerThe researchers will work with Prussian blue nanoparticles (PBNPs) coated with immunological signals, used in combination with checkpoint inhibitors.Prussian blue is a mixed valence, inorganic nanoparticle that has been historically used as a dark blue pigment. It exhibits unique electrical, optical, and magnetic properties, which make Prussian blue a candidate for several biological, medicinal, and other applications, including photothermal therapy.”We believe that the ensemble approach to targeting tumor cells and neighboring immune cells using PBNPs hold the key in converting non-responsive, immunologically ‘cold’ tumors into responsive ‘hot’ tumors,” Fernandes said.After elucidating the effects of PBNPs used for photothermal therapy on the tumor and adjacent immune cells, Fernandes will test the efficacy of the ensemble nanoimmunotherapy on tumor eradication and relapse prevention, and will evaluate the success of nanoimmunotherapy in treating disseminated cancer.”If we are successful, this study will provide an impetus for clinical translation of our nanoimmunotherapy,” said Fernandes. “We could then achieve our goal of extending lasting benefits to a larger population of cancer patients.”last_img read more

first_img Source: Reviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Jan 29 2019In the last decade, there has been a growing body of experimental data confirming that neural networks are the minimal functional unit of the nervous system. It is the neural networks rather than individual neurons (as previously thought) that are responsible for the key functions of the brain: information processing, storage and transmission.The neural networks of the brain are formed at the stage of intrauterine development and immediately after birth. It is a complex process involving a number of critical stages, and irregularities at any of these stages result in the development of a functionally deficient structure. In an adult organism, the formation of new synaptic contacts between neurons, as well as active rebuilding of neural networks in response to external stimuli (including stress) continues throughout life. Currently, one of the leading trends in neurobiology is the search for compounds that are synthesized in the human body and are responsible for the formation of the correct spatial and functional structure of the neural network.Within the framework of this problem area, researchers at the Institute of Biology and Biomedicine of the Lobachevsky University in Nizhny Novgorod (Russia) have studied the characteristics of the development and functioning of murine brain neural networks under chronic activation and blockade in cell culture (in vitro) of one of the most significant systems for neurons, namely, the tropomyosin-related kinase B receptors (TrkB receptors).These receptors are necessary to realize the functions of the endogenous signaling molecule, the brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). These functions are related to the development and adaptation of brain cells to adverse factors and have an effect on the neural network architecture and its functional restructuring. According to Professor Maria Vedunova, Director of the Institute of Biology and Biomedicine at the Lobachevsky University, it is important to understand the principles of neural networks formation and the adaptive capabilities of the nervous system. This will help to create in the near future a fundamental platform for developing an effective method for correcting various pathologies of the central nervous system, including ischemia and neurodegenerative diseases.Related StoriesNew therapy shows promise in preventing brain damage after traumatic brain injuryAntioxidant precursor molecule could improve dopamine levels in Parkinson’s patientsStudy provides new insight into longitudinal decline in brain network integrity associated with agingBy performing a complex of functional and ultrastrructural studies of neural networks in brain cell cultures in vitro and by using mathematical methods for the analysis of biological data, researchers have been able to reveal significant changes in the structure of the neural network when the TrkB receptor system was affected. They have also predicted the effects of this neurotrophin’s endogenous dynamics on neural networks.Nizhny Novgorod scientists have shown that activating the TrkB receptor system by adding the neurotrophic factor BDNF to a cell culture on a daily basis leads to the formation of more complex functionally active neural networks exhibiting a high level of transmission efficiency of nerve impulses over the network. Researchers suggest that the TrkB receptor system may play a key role in the realization of higher nervous system functions, such as learning and memory.”We have shown that the neurotrophic factor of the brain is a molecule that is synthesized by our body. Its concentration differs from individual to individual, and this molecule is required to form neural networks, the structures that are necessary for memory, consciousness, and higher nervous activity,” notes Maria Vedunova. The results of the studies were published in the article “Features of neural network formation and their functions in primary hippocampal cultures in the context of chronic TrkB receptor system influence” in the journal Frontiers in Physiology (journal impact factor 4.18).The results obtained in the course of this research have an indisputable commercial potential and provide an important groundwork for future comprehensive research to develop new methods for diagnosing and treating central nervous system disorders under stress.last_img read more

first_img Source: Reviewed by Alina Shrourou, B.Sc. (Editor)Jan 30 2019Rising temperatures stemming from global climate change may increase the number of infants born with congenital heart defects (CHD) in the United States over the next two decades and may result in as many as 7,000 additional cases over an 11 year-period in eight representative states (Arkansas, Texas, California, Iowa, North Caroline, Georgia, New York and Utah), according to new research in the Journal of the American Heart Association, the Open Access Journal of the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association.”Our findings underscore the alarming impact of climate change on human health and highlight the need for improved preparedness to deal the anticipated rise in a complex condition that often requires lifelong care and follow-up,” said study senior author Shao Lin, M.D., Ph.D., M.P.H., professor in the School of Public Health at University of Albany, New York. “It is important for clinicians to counsel pregnant women and those planning to become pregnant on the importance of avoiding extreme heat, particularly 3-8 weeks post conception, the critical period of pregnancy.”Congenital heart defects are the most common birth defect in the United States affecting some 40,000 newborns each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”Our results highlight the dramatic ways in which climate change can affect human health and suggest that pediatric heart disease stemming from structural heart malformations may become an important consequence of rising temperatures,” said the leading author Wangjian Zhang, M.D., Ph.D., a post-doctoral research fellow at the University of Albany.The projected increase in children with congenital heart disease will pose greater demand on the medical community caring for newborns with heart disease in their infancy and well beyond.While previous research has found a link between maternal heat exposure and the risk for heart defects in the offspring, the precise mechanisms remain unclear. Studies in animals suggest that heat may cause fetal cell death or interfere with several heat-sensitive proteins that play a critical role in fetal development, the researchers say.Related StoriesSmoking triples the risk of death from cardiovascular diseaseRNA-binding protein SRSF3 appears to be key factor for proper heart contraction, survivalImplanted device uses microcurrent to exercise heart muscle in cardiomyopathy patientsThe estimates in the current study are based on projections of the number of births between 2025 and 2035 in the United States and the anticipated rise in average maternal heat exposure across different regions as a result of global climate change. The greatest percentage increases in the number of newborns with CHD will occur in the Midwest, followed by the Northeast and South.In their analysis, the researchers used climate change forecasts obtained from NASA and the Goddard Institute for Space Studies. They improved the spatial and temporal resolutions of the forecasts, simulated changes in daily maximum temperatures by geographic region and then calculated the anticipated maternal heat exposure per region for spring and summer. For each pregnancy and region, they defined three exposure indicators: 1) the count of excessively hot days (EHD) as the number of days exceeding the 90th (EHD90) or 95th (EHD95) percentile for the same season of the baseline period at the same region; 2) the frequency of extreme heat events (EHE) as the number of occurrences of at least three consecutive EHD 90 days or two consecutive EHD 95 days; and 3) the duration of EHE as the number of days for the longest EHE within the 42-day period.To obtain a parameter for congenital heart defect (CHD) burden projections, the investigators used data from an earlier study, also led by Lin, which gauged the risk of congenital heart defects based on maternal heat exposure for births occurring between 1997 and 2007. The researchers then integrated the heat-CHD associations identified during the baseline period with the projected increases in maternal heat exposure over a period between 2025 and 2035 to estimate the potential changes in CHD burden.”Although this study is preliminary, it would be prudent for women in the early weeks of pregnancy to avoid heat extremes similar to the advice given to persons with cardiovascular and pulmonary disease during heart spells,” said Shao Lin, M.D., Ph.D., M.P.H., associate director of environmental health services, University at Albany, State University of New York.last_img read more

Explore further Is Apple the shining knight when it comes to privacy collection, as it wants us to believe? A different business model than Facebook and Google gives it some ground to claim a tighter fortress around your data. But that’s not the whole story, and some changes are coming.In the wake of the disclosure that nearly 90 million Facebook users’ information were passed on to political ad targeting firm Cambridge Analytica without their consent, tech companies are on the defensive. Consumers and lawmakers want to know how much they’ve collected of their choices and movements, and what they do with their personal information.Apple has made a point of trying to differentiate its approach to consumers’ information. On its website, it notes that it collects less data about us than the other big tech companies, and then bumps up the security by scrambling it so it doesn’t identify who it comes from. Additionally, it says it keeps most of the data on our devices, as opposed to Apple servers, and it’s encrypted on those devices and only accessible via your passcode.And it says it will make it easier to track the information the company collects about us, and to download or delete it, later this year. Currently, getting the data back from Apple is cumbersome and slow.The new tools are to comply with new privacy rules, called General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), that go into effect in the European Union in late May. In a nutshell, the rules look to get the user more controls over how their data is used.The major tech companies are all beefing up their privacy stance to deal with these new rules and consumer blowout over the Facebook data scandal.Apple’s approachSo how is Apple different? The iPhone and Macbook maker can make some claims to privacy that stem from a hardware, not advertising, based-business model. It sells products to us, primarily hardware like phones, computers, watches and tablets.Remember that with Facebook and Google, we are the engines that enable the companies to sell advertising. When we like a post, check in to a restaurant, ask for directions to a business or search for a hotel to visit, Facebook and Google learn more about us, and coupled with our demographic and location information, can help advertisers to reach us—making the two companies the juggernauts of digital advertising. Credit: CC0 Public Domain Apple co-founder protests Facebook by shutting down account ©2018 USA Today Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC. Apple insists that it “doesn’t gather your personal information to sell to advertisers or other organizations.” Such a statement only goes so far—Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg makes a point of saying Facebook doesn’t sell users’ data to advertisers, either. What the social network sells advertisers’ access to users, who brands can target with all the information it’s gleaned from their activity on the network.As for Apple, our always-on iPhones gather up a lot of information, too. When we turn on our phones, the GPS knows where we are, what we do and where we go. When we ask Siri for directions or a recipe, Apple takes note. But Apple mostly isn’t trying to show us advertising based on our interests.The iPhone maker tries to differentiate itself further. Unlike Facebook and Google, Apple says it scrambles this information, and looks at patterns of usage, not at who it’s coming from.Apple says that once scrambled, it combines it with the data of millions of others. “So we see general patterns, rather than specifics that could be traced back to you. These patterns help us identify things like the most popular emoji, the best QuickType suggestions, and energy consumption rates in Safari,” the company says.The company does admit that it freely collects information about what music we listen to, what movies, books and apps we download, which is “aggregated” and used to help Apple make recommendations.Also, it does sell ads, but on a much smaller scale.If you want to see your Apple dataAs we discovered when we downloaded our data directly back from Facebook and Google, the social network had made copies of every photo I’d ever posted and held onto phone numbers, addresses and names of my friends. Google had kept copies of every search made, including ones conducted in “Incognito,” mode, which is advertised as private searching.What Apple won’t do, at least for now, is make it easy for you to get your data so you can check out what exactly Apple has held onto. Facebook and Google offer this service, via a download request that can take a few hours to generate. Then you get an e-mail link to download it yourself and get shocked at just how much the social network and search giant has held onto.Apple hides the data request deep inside the privacy section of the website. To get there, it’s four clicks from the main page, and buried in the 11th sub-head on the page.You can also call Apple Care at 1-800-692-7753 to request that Apple deletes your data, if that’s your choice.Apple says it will streamline the process to make it more user friendly soon, making it easier to get a copy of your data and tools to deactivate and/or delete your account beginning in May, in Europe. It will roll out the more consumer friendly privacy page here later this year.Apple does sell adsMeanwhile, Apple also does sells ads as well, on a far smaller scale. These appear in the News app and App Store, based on your interests. By default, on the iPhone you’ve allowed Apple to serve you ads based on what it thinks are your interests.”To ensure ads are relevant, Apple’s advertising platform creates groups of people, called segments, who share similar characteristics and uses these groups for delivering targeted ads,” reads the policy.Want to stop Apple from doing this? Go to the settings section on the iPhone, click Privacy, and click advertising at the way bottom. Click the LIMIT AD TRACKING tab. You’ll also need to click AD INFORMATION to opt out of ad targeting in the Apple News app and the App Store. Citation: Is Apple really better about privacy? Here’s what we found out (2018, April 18) retrieved 18 July 2019 from This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. read more

Explore further Where’s the cheese?The government could lower taxes on the income of companies applying AI, but how would they identify such companies, even after the fact? AI is a general purpose technology. It may be used anywhere. Creating an incentive would be like promoting Canadian cheddar, but subsidising thousands of other cheese types.The second way to improve maze performance is to make the mouse stronger. If a mouse is starving, it may not be equipped to make it through the maze. So, you might fatten the mouse a bit and make it stronger. For AI, this is the world of tax breaks for expenditures on AI, government subsidies for basic AI research and subsidising the training of AI talent to ensure that Canadian companies can get the talent they need.Canada is showing itself to have some advantages. Just this month, the Canada 150 Research Chair program led the University of Toronto to hire Alan Aspuru-Guznik, an expert in machine learning, quantum computing and chemistry, from his tenured position at Harvard. He saw Canada as a country consistent with his values. More critically, he joins a growing scientific ecosystem fuelled by initiatives such as the Vector Institute for Artificial Intelligence.Removing barriersThe final way to improve the maze is to remove barriers. While some barriers are the nature of innovation, others are placed there by government policy. The very first proposal of the French AI report deals with this —ensuring data is available to train AI.Most computer-related projects are hungry for data and knowledge. After all, the web is just a big data transfer engine. But as I outline in my new book, Prediction Machines: The Simple Economics of Artificial Intelligence, when it comes to AI, data is critical. The better, more comprehensive and richer the data, the better the performance of the AI at its main job—prediction.Just as our ability to predict the weather depends on weather data acquired all over the globe, and our experience in identifying objects comes from a lifetime of experience stored in our memories, AIs need data to build their capabilities.The problem is that data may be locked down in various silos created for reasons other than AI. This is currently a topical issue with regard to Facebook’s user data. A few years ago, Facebook was freer with its data, which led to a variety of uses—some creative and productive and others unsavoury.In response to the current crisis, Facebook has now locked this down. You may feel comforted by the privacy that affords, but at the same time, it is just another barrier to data being available for researchers and creators outside of Facebook.In actuality, if we want to promote AI, we need to encourage rather than discourage companies from sharing data. And in some cases, that data—for instance, health data—rests with governments.Making data availableThe sooner governments find a way to make that data available for research and creative applications in a manner that suitably protects the privacy of Canadians, the easier the maze navigation will be for Canadian businesses to leverage this powerful prediction technology to enhance their products and services, making them more globally competitive. The French approach is to choose key sectors where they will make things easier for businesses —something they call “sandboxes.” They are exploring the removal of certain regulations to encourage development in health (predictive diagnostics, personalized medicine), transport (autonomous vehicles), defence (predicting cyber-attacks) and the environment (predicting problems in the food supply chain).There is, of course, more to the French report than just encouraging AI development. Regardless of whether they or others develop AI, the report reflects thinking about how to protect French workers from disruptions and ensure that AI does not lead to biases that humans engender—particularly on the dimensions of gender and race.The Canadian government would benefit from carefully reviewing the French proposal, including the speculative sections that only apply when the mouse finally reaches the cheese.For the moment, I urge the Canadian government to think about whether that mouse is Canadian or not. New developments in artificial intelligence are proceeding apace. As an economist who has researched the AI revolution, I see 2018 as similar to 1995 when the commercial internet was born. The technology is advancing rapidly, but most businesses are only just starting to figure out how to put it to work. 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. Finding the optimal route to benefiting from AI is like navigating a maze for most governments. Credit: Shutterstock This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article. Citation: Navigating the AI maze is a challenge for governments (2018, May 1) retrieved 18 July 2019 from France prepares 1.5 billion euro push to foster AI research While much of the media attention is focused on corporate applications of AI, governments are also increasing their focus on this prediction enabling technology.In late 2016, just as President Barack Obama was leaving office, his administration published four reports on how best to prepare the American economy for the development and arrival of AI.Last month, France released a comprehensive report on AI chaired by Fields Medalist Cédric Villani. President Emmanuel Macron stressed the immediacy of government policy choices to ensure that France is well positioned to benefit from AI innovation.Navigating a mazeTo consider the main policy options available to Canada, let’s consider an analogy. Finding the optimal route to benefiting from AI is like navigating a maze. Most countries are just waking up to the size of the prize for navigating the maze quickly and in a manner consistent with their values.Mazes have sharp and surprising turns. Just because a mouse is close to the cheese, doesn’t mean it will get there first. This is shorthand for saying that it is hard to know what the correct path is —it’s not necessarily the shortest.What can we do to increase the chance that the mouse (country) will successfully navigate the maze? One option is to increase the size of the cheese. That increases the incentive to move quickly and work hard at navigation.For AI, this means ensuring that innovators can profit from AI development. To achieve this, we have policy levers such as competitive grants for compelling research proposals, prizes for research results and the removal of trade barriers so that products can be sold worldwide.Interestingly, the French report does not spend much time on such possibilities. And we should consider why that is. Put simply, profit-oriented companies already know there is cheese at the end of the maze but they do not know what type of cheese it is. Provided by The Conversation read more

first_img This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. Explore further © 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. Justin Denison, SVP of Mobile Product Development, shows off the Infinity Flex Display of a folding smartphone during the keynote address of the Samsung Developer Conference Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2018, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg) A potential catalyst is coming with the introduction of phones featuring flexible screens that can be folded in half without breaking. That feat could make the devices more versatile for work and pleasure, by increasing screen space without making phones too big.On Wednesday, Samsung provided a glimpse at a foldable-screen device that it will release next year. It’s expected to compete against several other flexible-screen phones.But it’s unclear whether the flexibility will have mass appeal, especially when the bendy devices are expected to cost more than $1,000. Samsung is working on laptop with foldable display The smartphone industry has been searching for a breakthrough to revive a market mired in an innovation lull and a sales slump. Citation: Smartphone makers bet on foldable screens as next big thing (2018, November 7) retrieved 17 July 2019 from Justin Denison, SVP of Mobile Product Development, talks about the Infinity Flex Display of a folding smartphone during the keynote address of the Samsung Developer Conference, Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2018, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)last_img read more

first_img Citation: Stronger buildings could delay wildfire destruction, but not stop it, professor says (2018, November 19) retrieved 17 July 2019 from “Two possible strategies to mitigate a structure’s vulnerabilities to wildfire damage include incorporating better building materials, and creating a defensible space around the structure where a fire can be stopped,” says Julio Ramirez, the center director for the National Science Foundation’s Natural Hazards Engineering Research Infrastructure Network Coordination Office, and Purdue’s Karl H. Kettelhut Professor of Civil Engineering.”But no building material is completely fire-proof,” he says.The majority of wildfire damage so far is concentrated on buildings with wooden frames and flammable roof material.To delay damage, Ramirez says that the frames should be substituted with concrete reinforced by steel, and the roofs with clay tiles. The type of windows is also important, as single-pane windows are vulnerable to glass breakage due to high temperatures.A defensible space adds extra protection. Buildings in these regions should be farther apart from each other – since human activity in highly populated areas increases risk of fires – and as far away as possible from wooded areas or shrubbery.When fire reaches a reinforced concrete structure, the heat has to first cause the concrete to separate and fall off, exposing steel. Then the steel eventually melts and the structure can potentially collapse.Despite its shortcomings, reinforced concrete combined with a defensible space could still buy time for people to evacuate along identified routes.”The biggest problem with wildfires is how quickly they spread,” Ramirez says. “Even though reinforced concrete can be more expensive than wood, it’s not unreasonable for areas commonly stricken by this type of natural disaster.”Cities should also evaluate power distribution, such as risk of a transformer spark initiating a fire, and further educate residents on preventative measures in a dry environment. Provided by Purdue University Memory steel—a new material for the strengthening of buildings Explore furthercenter_img Low humidity and strong winds in California mean that this month’s wildfires could strike again. Unfortunately, better building materials and planning can only offer so much protection, says a Purdue University natural hazards engineering expert. Even though no building material is fire-proof, a few strategies could still allow more evacuation time during a future wildfire. Credit: Purdue University This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.last_img read more

first_img Provided by The Conversation This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article. Citation: Study sheds light on scourge of “fake” news in Africa (2018, November 21) retrieved 17 July 2019 from Our findings suggest that African audiences have low levels of trust in the media, experience a high degree of exposure to misinformation, and contribute – often knowingly – to its spread.FindingsThere are five takeaways from our study.First, media consumers in Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa perceive that they are exposed to “fake news” about politics on a fairly regular basis. Almost half of Kenyan respondents said they often encounter news stories about politics that they think are completely made up. More alarmingly, only a small fraction (ranging from 1 to 3%) say they have never come across fabricated news. In the US, that figure is much higher (12%).Second, surveyed Africans said they shared “fake news” with a much higher frequency than Americans do: 38% Kenyans, 28% Nigerians and 35% South Africans acknowledged having shared stories which turned out to be made up. In the US only 16% did so. When asked whether they had shared stories that they knew were made up, one-in-five South Africans and one-in-four Kenyans and Nigerians said “yes”.Third, the public is seen as bearing the largest responsibility in stopping the spread of misinformation. More than two-thirds of respondents in all three countries said members of the public have a lot or a great deal of responsibility. Next came social media companies and, in last place, the government.Fourth, we found that Nigeria has the lowest level of overall trust in the media of the three countries. On a scale from 0 to 100, average values were consistently below 50. Declining levels of media trust are not exclusive to sub-Saharan Africa, but are a trend across the globe. By type of news organisation, Nigerian and Kenyan audiences said they trust international media more than any other. In South Africa, local media are the most trusted. A consistent pattern across countries is the lowest degree of trust in social media.Fifth, we found that those respondents who believe they are exposed to “fake news” more regularly, have lower levels of trust in the media. Because misinformation and disinformation appear to be contributing to the erosion of media trust, it is important that strategies to address the fake news phenomenon look beyond media literacy. Rebuilding trust in mediaEducating audiences about the dangers of fake news is not enough. Media literacy should form part of a larger, multi-pronged approach to restore trust in the media. The findings suggest that media organisations would have to work hard at rebuilding relationships with audiences.Our data comes with some limitations. While we tried to sample different segments of society, because data was collected online, it is more likely to represent the point of view of urban middle classes, than those living in rural areas or with lower income levels – or both. The results of this study, which is the first to explore misinformation and disinformation in multiple African countries, provide some initial evidence that can be used in designing strategies to limit the spread of fake news, and to mitigate the declining trust in the media.In sub-Saharan Africa, mainstream media have long struggled to gain their independence and freedom. State control, either through ownership or suppression, over media remains strong. The high levels of perceived exposure to misinformation and disinformation, if left unaddressed, could further undermine the precarious foothold of independent media on the continent. The term “fake news” itself is controversial because it’s poorly defined. The panic created by the spread of misinformation in general has led to introspection by journalists and a reassertion of professional values and standards.The rise of false information has complex cultural and social reasons. Until now, though, the phenomenon has been studied mostly as it happens in the US and Europe, with relatively little attention to the situation in African countries. This is despite the fact that disinformation on the continent has often taken the form of extreme speech inciting violence or has spread racist, misogynous, xenophobic messages, often on mobile phone platforms such as WhatsApp.To fill the gap in information about “fake news” in sub-Saharan Africa, we conducted an online survey in Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa earlier this year. Our study had three goals: to measure the prevalence of disinformation, to learn who people believe is responsible for stopping fake news, and to understand the relationship between disinformation and media trust.Our survey, in which 755 people took part, reused questions from another study on the topic conducted in 2016 by the US-based Pew Research Centre. In this way we are able to compare our results with those in the US. Explore furthercenter_img Social media manipulation rising globally, new report warns Credit: CC0 Public Domain Concerns about “fake news” have dominated discussions about the relationship between the media and politics in the developed world in recent years. The extraordinary amount of attention paid in scholarship and in public debates to questions around truth, veracity and deception can be connected to the role of “fake news” in the 2016 US presidential election, and US President Donald Trump’s use of the term to dismiss his critics. 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

first_img Citation: Cladding fire risks have been known for years. Lives depend on acting now, with no more delays (2019, February 8) retrieved 17 July 2019 from Credit: CC0 Public Domain Provided by The Conversation Following the Grenfell fire, states conducted further audits. In October 2018, an update by the Victorian Cladding Taskforce stated: “Our investigations found dangerous materials are widely used on buildings throughout Victoria, a finding that is consistent with inquiries carried out interstate and internationally.”We now know that hundreds of residential buildings are rated as either a moderate or high risk by the New South Wales and Victorian governments. Over 350 buildings in Melbourne alone are rated “high risk”. Neo200 was regarded as only a “moderate risk”. Residential buildings are particularly vulnerable to the effects of a cladding fire because people can be asleep and windows are often left open. The amount of smoke generated by the recent Neo200 fire is frightening.In the UK, the central government has given local authorities the power to replace risky cladding. We should do the same here. Governments should take rectification out of the hands of dithering strata committees and, if necessary, carry out the necessary work directly and recover the costs from the responsible parties. The fire at the Neo200 building on Spencer Street in the Melbourne CBD this week has eerie similarities to the Grenfell Tower disaster. Fortunately, instead of 72 people dead as at Grenfell, only one person was hospitalised for smoke inhalation. This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article. 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. Nevertheless, the building industry has responded straight from the Grenfell song sheet. Rydon, the main contractor for the Grenfell Tower cladding, said the work: “… met all required building regulations – as well as fire regulation and Health & Safety standards – and handover took place when the completion notice was issued by Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea building control.”Rydon chief executive Robert Bond said: “I will do all I can to assist in this investigation in order to establish what caused this tragedy.”The Neo 200 architect, Hayball, stated: “Neo 200 achieved certification and approval from the building certifier and relevant authorities at the time. We welcome the opportunity to support any investigation into the incident by authorities.”This appears to be the property sector’s version of “thoughts and prayers”. We’re very sorry, but there’s nothing we can do. Sadly, this is far from the truth. We have known of the risk for years and the problem can be rectified. Governments must act to ensure the cladding identified as a fire risk on hundreds of buildings is replaced. Further delay in fixing an identified threat to life is unacceptable. Before the Grenfell and Neo200 fires, Melbourne had a cladding fire at the Lacrosse building in 2014. This led to an audit of external wall cladding on buildings by the Victorian Building Authority. Cladding tests show moisture may have sped up Grenfell flames Explore further Combustible cladding allowed the fire to spread rapidly up the Neo200 building. How did we get to this point?Polyethylene-cored aluminium sandwich panels – often referred to as aluminium composite panels (ACP), PE or PU panels – were developed 50 years ago, patented in 1971 and marketed as Alucobond. When the patent expired in 1991 other manufacturers entered the market, including products marketed as Reynobond (originally Reynolds Aluminium) and Alpolic (Mitsubishi Chemicals). Now, it is estimated over 200 manufacturers around the world produce ACP panels. By the 1990s, ACP was gaining a level of acceptance in the Australasian construction market. This was aided by the introduction of performance requirements to replace a previous blanket ban on combustible materials being used on tall building facades. The timing of the relaxation of the Building Code of Australia and the introduction of ACP panels to the Australian market by multinational companies could be a coincidence. By the end of the 1990s, there was growing evidence that the performance-based approach to facade fire protection was not working. Combustible cored sandwich panels were implicated as contributors to serious injuries and death. A notable example was a 1993 fire in the Sun Valley food-processing factory in Hereford in which two firefighters died. In 1997, the Museum of New Zealand (Te Papa) experienced a cladding fire during construction. The general and technical press, including architectural magazines with wide circulation, reported cladding fires in various types of materials, including ACP. What can be done to reduce the risk?Clearly, a facade fire has serious consequences. The bedrock of all modern fire regulations is that a fire in a tall building must be confined to a single storey. A fire spreading from one floor to the next completely undermines all the elements of protection and control that make egress routes and firefighting viable. As we saw at Grenfell, a fire that spreads up the facade and involves nearly every storey in the building can’t be brought under control. By 2000, there was widespread concern among fire professionals and some regulators that ACP was a bomb waiting to go off. A paper by Dr. Gordon Cooke clearly outlined the risks. It makes chilling reading in the light of the Grenfell disaster. Luckily, most tall residential buildings in Australia with combustible ACP cladding have internal sprinkler systems – unlike Grenfell. We might also be able to buy some time by banning barbecues and smoking on balconies, but it is doubtful this will be 100% effective. Another possibility is to physically secure balcony doors shut, but many owners and tenants might strongly resist this draconian measure. These measures still will not eliminate the risk of arson highlighted by the Victorian government. As the Neo200 fire demonstrates, even a moderate risk is still quite risky. It is extraordinary that a fire allegedly lit by a single smouldering cigarette could spread so quickly across seven floors and generate so much potentially deadly smoke. An urgent cladding replacement program certainly has its challenges. A campaign that involves working on several hundred buildings at once in Melbourne and Sydney might overload the industry. Nevertheless, the situation has been created by a lack of action by governments. Only decisive government action can rectify it. No more “thoughts and prayers”, enquiries or investigations; just replace the cladding now.last_img read more

first_img Citation: Honda recalls 1.2M more vehicles with dangerous air bags (2019, March 12) retrieved 17 July 2019 from © 2019 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. Explore further Honda recall affects 2016 CR-Vs over potential air bag issuecenter_img A type of Takata air bag inflator once thought to be safe has now come under scrutiny after a crash and explosion in Maryland injured the driver of a Honda minivan. The incident forced Honda on Tuesday to recall about 1.2 million vehicles in North and Central America from the 2001 to 2016 model years that were not included in the massive string of Takata recalls for air bags that can hurl shrapnel into the passenger compartment.Takata used ammonium nitrate to create a small explosion and inflate air bags in a collision. But the chemical can deteriorate when exposed to high temperatures and humidity and blow apart a metal canister, spewing out shrapnel. At least 23 people have been killed by the company’s inflators and hundreds more injured.The inflators in the Tuesday recall contain a moisture-absorbing chemical called a desiccant that was added to keep the ammonium nitrate stable. They were believed to be safe and were never part of the broader recall. They had even been used to replace older inflators under recalls that began in 2014.But Honda and the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said that a crash on Jan. 19, 2018 involving a 2004 Honda Odyssey initiated an investigation and Tuesday’s recall when investigators discovered that the driver’s air bag inflator ruptured. The probe determined that inflators made at Takata’s Monclova, Mexico, factory were faulty due to a manufacturing defect, Honda said. The driver suffered an arm injury.It’s unclear how many Takata inflators with the desiccant were used by other automakers. NHTSA, the government’s highway safety regulator, said in a statement Tuesday that at this time, it believes the safety defect in Honda air bags is isolated to a manufacturing issue in Mexico.The recall covers certain Honda and Acura models largely in the U.S. and Canada. Included are the 2001 to 2007 and 2009 Honda Accord, the 2001 to 2005 Civic, the 2002 to 2007 and 2010 and 2011 CR-V, the 2003 to 2011 Element, the 2007 Fit, the 2002 to 2004 Odyssey, the 2003 to 2008 Pilot, and the 2006 to 2014 Ridgeline pickup. Also included are certain 2003 Acura 3.2CL cars, as well as the 2013 to 2016 ILX, the 2003 to 2006 MDX, the 2007 to 2016 RDX, the 2002 to 2003 3.2TL, the 2004 to 2006 and 2009 to 2014 TL, and the 2010 to 2013 ZDX.NHTSA said not all vehicles that received replacement air bag inflators are affected. Some had replacement parts from other manufacturers that are safe. The agency urged owners to check for open recalls by keying in their 17-digit vehicle identification number on the NHTSA website .Honda said in a statement that owners will be notified by mail in early April, but replacement parts from manufacturers other than Takata are available to begin the recall immediately. Honda is offering free loaner cars while vehicles are being repaired.A NHTSA investigation into Takata air bag inflators remains open. Under the terms of an agreement with the agency, Takata has until the end of this year to prove that inflators with the moisture-absorbing chemical are safe or they all will have to be recalled.The Takata recalls together are the largest series of automotive recalls in U.S. history, with as many as 70 million inflators to be recalled by the end of next year. About 100 million inflators are to be recalled worldwide. In this Feb. 14, 2019, photo, this photo shows the Honda logo on a sign at the 2019 Pittsburgh International Auto Show in Pittsburgh. Honda will be recalling about 1 million older vehicles in the U.S. and Canada because the Takata driver’s air bag inflators that were installed during previous recalls could be dangerous. Documents posted Monday, March 11, 2019, by Canadian safety regulators show that Honda is recalling many of its most popular models for a second time. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)last_img read more

first_img Jet shares nosedive after flights grounded, lenders ‘hopeful’ Lenders to crippled Jet Airways said Monday they would start bankruptcy court proceedings after failing to find someone to take over the Indian carrier. Explore further Citation: Jet Airways lenders to go to bankruptcy court (2019, June 17) retrieved 17 July 2019 from © 2019 AFPcenter_img Once India’s biggest private airline, Jet stopped operating in April after it ran out of cash and its planes were grounded. Doubts have mounted since over whether the carrier will fly again. The airline’s creditors, who are owed more than $1 billion, said after a meeting in Mumbai that only one “conditional” offer has been received for Jet Airways.That is believed to have come from Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways, which already had a 24 percent stake in Jet.The creditors, led by State Bank of India, said the meeting decided to turn to India’s insolvency and bankruptcy code (IBC).”After due deliberations, lenders have decided to seek resolution under (the) IBC since only a conditional bid was received,” the lenders said in a statement.They added the bidder had sought “exemptions” on pricing from the Security and Exchange Board of India, the market regulator, which was only possible under the insolvency code.Indian media quoted sources as saying the creditors could still try to arrange a sale under the code.Jet Airways shares fell by another 17 percent on the Bombay Stock Exchange on Monday as the lenders’ meeting was on. The shares are now worth less than $1.The airline once employed more than 16,000 people but many pilots and flight staff have already gone to other carriers, which have built up their operations since Jet was grounded.On top of its debts to creditors, Jet Airways has accumulated losses and salary arrears worth another $1 billion. 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. The airline once employed more than 16,000 people but many pilots and flight staff have already gone to other carrierslast_img read more

first_img COMMENT Published on COMMENTS Rafale deal is the biggest defence scam ever: Shourie, Yashwant Rafale allegations unsubstantiated, reprocessed lies: Jaitley A French made Dassault Rafale jet fighter (file photo) Reliance Defence & Engineering Ltdcenter_img August 08, 2018 SHARE SHARE SHARE EMAIL Responding to charges of impropriety levelled against it by former Union ministers Arun Shourie and Yashwant Sinha, and lawyer-activist Prashant Bhushan, Reliance Defence on Wednesday said the company denied it had bagged a ₹30,000 crore deal as part of the Rafale contract.The company said it had not received any contract from the Defence Ministry till date, related to the 36 Rafale aircraft. “This is absolutely unfounded and incorrect,” it said in a statement.It also claimed that State-run Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) or any other agency could not produce the Rafales in India as they are to be bought in “fly-away” condition from France, and are not to be made in India.It also claimed that the Ministry of Defence had no role in the selection of Indian partners by the foreign vendors such as Rafale-maker Dassault Aviation. “No company in India, except HAL, has the experience of making fighter aircraft. If we were to follow the above logic, would that mean that we will never create any new capability beyond what exists and will continue to import more than 70 per cent of our defence hardware?” it asked. RELATED last_img read more

first_imgOur Bureau Former RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan’s note to the Estimates Committee of Parliament is being used by both the BJP and the Congress to blame each other for the burgeoning NPAs in banks. While the BJP said the UPA’s mismanagement was the reason for the NPAs, the Congress alleged that despite a warning from Rajan, the Centre failed to take any action. Quoting Rajan, Textiles Minister Smriti Irani said the UPA attacked the very core of the nation’s banking system. Rajan’s note revealed that between 2006 and 2008, the functioning of the UPA led to increased NPAs, she added. “The note is very revealing. The Congress is the only reason for the NPAs,” she said. She further claimed that the economy was on a sound footing during the Vajpayee regime and the UPA’s policies destroyed it. The Congress countered her, saying the Narendra Modi government did nothing to address the NPA issue. “When UPA demitted power in 2014, NPAs were at ₹2,83,000 crore. This was containable. Up to March 2018, under this government, the NPAs have reached a staggering ₹12,00,000 crore. Who is responsible for this?” asked the Congress’ media in-charge Randeep Singh Surjewala. ‘Loot and scoot’Surjewala added that Rajan, in 2016, had set up a fraud monitoring cell and sent a list of high profile cases to the PMO urging action. “He indicted the PMO but no action was taken,” he said. Citing the Mehul Choksi case, he said “loot and make them scoot” is the prime policy of the Modi government. Why did the External Affairs Ministry provide a clean chit to Choksi in the ₹23,484-crore PNB scam in May 2017 despite the complaints and evidence being available two years earlier, Surjewala asked. “Why did SEBI give a clean chit to Choksi to help him secure the citizenship of Antigua? Why did the CBI/ED not move Interpol for a warrant against Choksi or provide the requisite evidence of criminal fraud against him? Is it not correct that this deliberate failure on the part of the CBI/ED in providing evidence to Interpol led to Interpol giving a clean chit to Choksi?” he asked. SHARE COMMENTS Published on September 11, 2018 SHARE SHARE EMAILcenter_img COMMENT NPAs politics bankinglast_img read more

first_imgnational politics national elections BJP Indian National Congress Defending electoral bonds, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Sunday said they are aimed at checking the use of black money for funding elections, as was sought to be achieved through electoral trusts proposed during the UPA-II regime.“Surprisingly the attack is against the bonds and not the electoral trusts because the earlier was brought by the NDA and the latter was by UPA. The underlying principle of both is the same,” Jaitley said in his blog titled ‘The Choice of Political Funding – Cheque, Electoral Bonds or Blackmoney from Contractors and middlemen’He further said in the absence of the electoral bonds, the donors will have no option but to donate only by cash after siphoning monies from their businesses.“The recent Election Commission and IT raids have shown that it is taxpayers/ Government’s money, which, through PWD and other Departments of the Government, is being siphoned out and round-tripping into politics.“Is that a better option or the reformed system of all white money and improved, if not a perfect transparency? NGOs and commentators must look beyond their nose, he added.Read More: Will cut taxes further if voted back to power: JaitleyThe Income Tax Department Sunday searched at least 50 locations in Delhi and Madhya Pradesh against people linked to state Chief Minister Kamal Nath, officials said.The searches are linked to suspected movement of hawala money during the ongoing poll season and tax evasion, they added.Last month, the tax department searched premises of aides of a JD(S) minister in Karnataka, leading to the state government dubbing the raids as politically motivated.Similarly, searches were conducted at the premises of senior DMK leader Duraimurugan in Vellore district over suspected use of unaccounted money for electioneering and Rs 10 lakh of alleged “excess” cash was seized.What are electoral bonds ?The government had in 2018 brought in the electoral bond scheme as an alternative to cash donations made to political parties as part of its efforts to bring transparency in political funding. Under the scheme, the name of the donor is known only to banks.Jaitley said both the electoral trusts, proposed by the then finance minister Pranab Mukherjee in 2010, and electoral bonds assured total white money and improved transparency but masked the identity of the link between the donor and the party.“This obviously has been done to encourage donors to donate white money without fear of consequences,” he said.Steps taken to curb black moneyThe minister said the past few days have witnessed several cases where the Election Commission and the revenue authorities, both separately and acting jointly, were trying to curb the use of black money in elections.“These actions have been particularly significant in States like Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, North-East and Madhya Pradesh. The Election Commission and the Income-tax authorities work in close tandem during elections. In many cases, monies have been coming from Government contractors and beneficiaries,” Jaitley said.He said in one state, contractors passed on monies to engineers who were to distribute it to the candidates.“In another State, which only four months ago elected a new Government, 50,000 Government transfers became a revenue generating exercise. Reports have also indicated that an amount of about Rs.1500 crore has already been seized,” Jaitley added. Published on SHARE SHARE EMAIL electoral bonds April 07, 2019 SHARE Finance Minister Jaitley said Rs 1,500 crore has been seized as a result of initiatives taken by the Election Commission and revenue officials. Union minister and BJP leader Arun Jaitley   –  PTI politics COMMENT state politics Elections 2019 COMMENTSlast_img read more

first_imgSHARE Published on SHARE SHARE EMAIL COMMENT Suresh Angadi, a four-time Parliamentarian who hails from Belagavi in North Karnataka, has been associated with the Yeddyurappa camp in the State’s political sphere.He came up the ranks in the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and later moved over to the BJP, shooting to fame after securing his first win from the Belagavi Lok Sabha seat, breaching through the Congress’ stronghold. He has been consistently winning, much before the ‘Modi wave’ since 2014.A law graduate from the Raja Lakhamgouda Law College, Angadi ran his own private business and later became an educator before entering politics.In the 14th Lok Sabha, he served as a Member of the Standing Committee on Food, Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution, Consultative Committee, Ministry of Finance.In the 15th Lok Sabha, he served as a Member of the Standing Committee on Human Resource Development, Joint Committee on Pension Salaries and Allowances of Members of Parliament, Advisory Committee on Central Direct Taxes.In 16th Lok Sabha, he was the member of House Committee on Petitions, Standing Committee on Defence, Consultative Committee, Ministry of Finance and Corporate Affairs and Chairperson, Committee on House. May 30, 2019center_img Elections 2019 ministers (government) 0 COMMENTSlast_img read more

first_img Nation 18 May 2019 Leaders pay last respects as CAP’s S.M. Mohamed Idris laid to rest Nation 19 May 2019 Final farewell to CAP president Related News Prominent businessman and Malaysian-Pakistani League Penang president Datuk Abdul Rafique Abdul Karim was also conferred the DGPN together with Unimech Group Bhd founder Datuk Lim Cheah Chooi.Criminologist and Universiti Sains Malaysia security director Assoc Prof Dr P. Sundramoorthy and Penang Lay Buddhist honorary president Yeoh Beng Foo were conferred the Darjah Setia Pangkuan Negeri (DSPN), which carries the title Datuk.State secretary Datuk Seri Farizan Darus said there are a total of 877 recipients this year with 170 of them receiving their honours during Abdul Rahman’s birthday.“The presentation of awards will continue for next three days on July 15, 16 and 17,” he said during a press conference at Dewan Sri Pinang here yesterday. A hi-tea to mark the celebration will be held today at the Setia SPICE Arena and attended by Abdul Rahman, recipients and state dignitaries.The ceremonial dinner will be held on July 15 at the Setia SPICE Convention Centre.Farizan said a hi-tea will also be held at the SP Arena in Seberang Jaya on July 18. GEORGE TOWN: Chief Justice Dat­uk Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat heads the honours list to mark the 81st birthday of Yang di-Pertua Negeri Tun Abdul Rahman Abbas today.Tengku Maimun was conferred the state’s highest honours, the Darjah Utama Pangkuan Negeri (DUPN), which carries the title Datuk Seri Utama.Two others who are getting the Darjah Panglima Pangkuan Negeri (DPPN), which carries the title Datuk Seri, are Inspector-General of Police Datuk Seri Abdul Hamid Bador and Royal Malaysian Air Force chief Jen Tan Sri Affendi Buang.Kek Lok Si Temple trustee and Malaysia Buddhist Association honorary life president Datuk Steven Ooi Teik Heng was conferred the Darjah Gemilang Pangkuan Negeri (DGPN), which carries the title Datuk Seri.center_img Nation 17 Jun 2019 Rozali is Seberang Prai mayor {{category}} {{time}} {{title}} Related Newslast_img read more