Month: July 2019

Study investigates whether home eye tests could help patients and reduce burden

first_imgReviewed by Kate Anderton, B.Sc. (Editor)Dec 20 2018Researchers from Queen’s University Belfast, in collaboration with the University of Bristol, are leading a cutting-edge project, named the “MONARCH” study, that could benefit eye disease patients whilst saving both time and money within the NHS.The MONARCH study aims to investigate if patients with an eye condition called wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD) could test their vision at home, rather than attend a hospital appointment.The most serious type of AMD, known as wet AMD, develops when abnormal blood vessels form underneath the macula stops functioning as well as it used to. AMD patients experience blurred distorted vision, difficulty seeing in dim lighting and problems reading.Current treatment for wet AMD is a series of monthly injections which reduce the growth of new vessels which limit vision loss. Following treatment, patients attend regular hospital check-ups where clinical staff monitor the macula by taking photographs and doing vision tests, checking whether any follow-up treatment is needed.Most patients will not require follow-up treatment, but about 30% do. Hospital check-up appointments are important for preventing further loss of vision. However, these check-up appointments put a huge strain on already-stretched resources, and limit the capacity for seeing new patients who, if not seen urgently, are at high risk of losing their vision.Dr Ruth Hogg, from the Centre of Public Health at Queen’s University Belfast and Co-Chief Investigator of the MONARCH study explains: “Injections for AMD have been very successful, with about half of patients retaining vision sufficiently good for driving. However, the burden on the NHS and patients has been considerable due to the need for frequent injections and intensive monitoring throughout the follow-up period. In Belfast, evening and weekend clinics have been added, yet it’s still not enough.”We urgently need to rethink how services are offered as the current setup isn’t sustainable. AMD is a huge burden to the NHS through time spent by clinical staff monitoring patients of whom the majority do not require treatment.”The study aims to find out whether monitoring vision by patients themselves at home could potentially alleviate some of the burden of AMD on the NHS, as well as be more convenient for patients, without compromising their safety or wellbeing. If home eye tests can detect when treatment is needed, it would mean that patients might only need to attend hospital appointments to have treatment.Related StoriesEye research charity funds development of ‘organ-on-a-chip’ to fight glaucomaStudy reveals a revolutionary way to treat eye injuries, prevent blindnessAmerican Academy of Ophthalmology shares tips for staying safe around fireworksPatients participating in the study will be provided with three different eye tests for them to do at home, comprising a paper-based booklet of reading tests and two tests (“apps”) that run on an iPodtouch. Patients will be asked to do all three tests weekly at home. The results of the tests are sent automatically via the internet to the Study Management Centre in Bristol.Professor Reeves, from the Bristol Medical School and Co-Chief Investigator of the MONARCH study says: “We are excited to be collecting data from the apps automatically, via the internet. These kinds of methods, with data flowing directly from the data source to the study database, should increase both the accuracy of the data and the efficiency of their capture.”Throughout the study participants will attend their normal hospital check-up appointments and the results of the tests done at these appointments will be compared with the results from the home eye tests.Patricia Strong, an AMD patient added: “Since completing a course of treatment for wet AMD, I’ve had regular appointments to check my vision and get photographs taken and I’ve occasionally needed further injections. I spend quite a lot of time getting to the hospital and the cost of transport does add up so being able to check for myself at home would make a real difference for me, saving time and money.”The study aims to recruit 400 participants from five different hospitals around the UK, including Belfast. Patients will be provided with equipment and support to do the three home eye tests weekly over a period of one to two years. It is hoped that the data gathered will lead to a shift in services provided to AMD patients, so that only those who require treatment will be required to attend hospital appointments.Source: read more

KU researcher studies how estrogen may protect menisci between thighbone and shinbone

first_imgReviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Jan 9 2019More than 30 million Americans suffer from osteoarthritis of the knee, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The degenerative joint disease, often caused by wear and tear, is a leading cause of disability in the U.S. Partly triggered by a breakdown in the fibrocartilage between the bones of the knee joint such as the meniscus, osteoarthritis results in pain, stiffness and less range of motion.Now, University of Kansas researcher Jenny Robinson is studying how estrogen may protect the menisci, the crescent-shaped pieces of fibrocartilage that absorb shock between the thighbone and shinbone. Her work is enabled by a one-year, $125,000 grant from the Center for Molecular Analysis of Disease Pathways, an NIH Center of Biomedical Research Excellence based at KU.”In general, osteoarthritis has a predisposition for women to experience it more than men, but it’s unknown why,” said Robinson, assistant professor of chemical & petroleum engineering. “Our hypothesis is that estrogen may be playing a role in the health of the meniscus and we can use estrogen potentially as a regenerative therapy. The easiest way to think about it is if you lose estrogen postmenopause — that’s when you have enhanced chances of osteoarthritis.” Robinson said the meniscus has a complex mechanical structure, with some regions that are hard and others that are more like soft tissue. She dubbed these areas of the meniscus “microenvironments.””The meniscus is composed of fibrous cartilage known as fibrocartilage — an intermediate tissue between hard tissue like bone and soft tissue like cartilage,” she said. “It has regional properties throughout the disc including changes in the types of cell and the environment the cells live in. Some regions are closer to bone, and some are closer to soft cartilage.”The KU researcher said chances of recovery from an injury to the meniscus depend on which region sustains damage. “There are different ways to tear the meniscus,” Robinson said. “Depending on the location and severity of the tear, repair is limited. The part of the tissue that is like cartilage is avascular. Most tissue that is avascular doesn’t get the nutrients and oxygen needed to regenerate. Typically, if you get a tear in the avascular region you don’t heal. So, we’re trying to find out how to promote regeneration in this region.”Related StoriesCommon traits keep many patients with knee cartilage issues from participating in clinical trialsYoung players may need one-year rehab time after knee surgeryNew technology to harvest energy from the human kneeUsing both in vitro and in vivo studies, Robinson and her collaborators hope to determine how estrogen acts on meniscal fibrochondrocyte transcriptional changes, cell type, extracellular matrix production and response to mechanical signals.”We’re looking at what estrogen does to human cells in a cell culture dish — how do we change the genes being transcribed, and which genetic material is being increased or decreased due to estrogen?” Robinson said. “What are the changes to proteins and sugars these cells are making — that’s what these cells do to create a healthy environment.”Robinson plans to test estrogen treatments alone and in combination with changes to the mechanical microenvironment in 2D and 3D models.She said the aim of the basic science is eventually to develop targeted, estrogen-based therapies to treat people who otherwise would cope with osteoarthritis for the rest of their lives.”The goal here is to make an off-the-shelf material, specific for sex and age, that a surgeon could implant into the knee instead of or after performing a meniscectomy,” Robinson said. “I’ve talked with orthopedic surgeons who hope for something we could inject into the knee and it would interreact with tissue, provide support and give off signals for repair. The hope is that you’d get full regeneration. Depending on your status when you got this treatment, this therapy could inhibit osteoarthritis when you’re young or, if you already have osteoarthritis, reduce the rate of further degeneration.”According to Robinson, the results of her study on the meniscus could influence future treatments for parts of the body beyond the knee joint.”What we find in the meniscus will likely be analogous to fibrocartilages in other joints including the shoulder, spinal discs and jaw,” she said. Source: read more

Preliminary estimation of contaminants and aromatic substances in diapers

first_imgReviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Mar 7 2019The report “Sécurité des couches pour bébé”, published by the French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety (ANSES), deals with hazardous substances in disposable panty diapers. In the following paragraphs, the BfR provides a preliminary estimation of the levels of contaminants and aromatic substances measured in the diapers. The BfR cannot currently make a detailed estimation of the other substances mentioned in the report for which ANSES has prepared a health assessment.Estimation of the contaminants detected in diapersThe detection of ubiquitous contaminants such as dioxins and furans, dioxin-like polychlorinated biphenyls (dl-PCB) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) in the trace range is to be expected, as very small quantities of each substance can be ubiquitously detected with modern analytical methods. This also applies to residues of substances used in the manufacture of diapers or in the production of raw materials such as cotton (e.g. glyphosate). Yet, the detection of these substances does not necessarily involve a health risk.ANSES used four different test scenarios to examine potentially health-damaging substances in diapers. These scenarios serve to estimate the exposure in terms of skin contacts with the substances under consideration. In one scenario, for example, the substances were extracted from pulverized diaper parts using an organic solvent. In another scenario, the diapers were prepared with a urine simulant (artificial urine) in order to determine the transfer (migration) of the substances to the artificial urine. The approach chosen by ANSES serves as an approximation method to estimate maximum exposure. To what extent this estimation involves uncertainty cannot currently be estimated by the BfR, as some of the necessary information is still missing.Because different test and/or exposure scenarios are used, the report sometimes produces different qualitative risk statements (no risk vs. possible risk) for one and the same substance. This is partly attributable to the fact that, depending on the scenario, worst case (conservative) assumptions of varying severity were made through the intentional (risk-covering) overestimation of exposure.Mainly conservative assumptions are used as the basis of the exposure parameters in both the worst case as well as the refined exposure estimation. It is assumed, for example, that every single diaper worn in the course of infancy is contaminated with the highest concentration determined for each substance. The method of assuming conservative values for the exposure parameters is common and also used by the BfR when assessing the health risks of consumer products. The purpose of this is to ensure that a possible health risk will not be underestimated. The result of this, however, is the tendency of an overestimation of exposure and therefore of the risk too. The probability of the occurrence of an undesired effect is therefore lower in reality. Risks established in this way therefore might indicate a need for research and potential action (e.g. under REACH).Related StoriesScientists develop universal FACS-based approach to heterogenous cell sorting, propelling organoid researchLoose double-stranded RNA molecules spur skin rejuvenationComplement system shown to remove dead cells in retinitis pigmentosa, contradicting previous researchAccording to the exposure estimation in the ANSES report, the latest available knowledge indicates that the analysis values for glyphosate and/or the metabolite aminomethyl-phosphonic acid (AMPA) do not constitute a health risk.Estimation of contact allergenic aromatic substances detected in diapers Potentially contact allergenic aromatic substances were detected in one of the 19 diaper products examined (ANSES, 2019). Perfumes and aromatic substances are added to diapers during the manufacturing process for the purpose of enhancing the “aesthetics” (Kosemund et al., 2009; Rai et al., 2009), i.e. the appeal of the product. According to the information of the manufacturers, perfume is commonly used in diapers or certain parts thereof in such a way that no direct skin contact occurs (Rai et al., 2009). As the theoretical possibility of indirect skin contact still exists as a result of the backflow of urine from the absorbent diaper core (Rai et al., 2009), this was taken into consideration by ANSES. The BfR is not currently aware of any experimental examinations that go beyond this.Contact allergenic aromatic substances entail the potential of sensitization. This means that an allergy can develop if the skin comes in contact with substances of this kind. Once a person has become sensitized, it has to be assumed that the allergy will last for a lifetime and that health impediments are possible. The subsequent formation of contact eczemas can only then be prevented by avoiding contact with the allergen.No specific legal provisions exist for the use of contact allergenic aromatic substances in disposable diapers. There are no bans on use or any declaration obligations (unlike cosmetic products). If the aromatic substances used in diapers (to an allergologically relevant extent) can get into contact with the skin, the aromatic substances that are banned from use in cosmetic products, or which have a high sensitization potential, should not be used in the opinion of the BfR.Regulations on diapers The basic rule is that responsibility for compliance with legal provisions on the health safety of products lies initially with the manufacturer or distributor. Monitoring of legal regulations in Germany is the responsibility of the Federal States (“Länder”). In addition to this, the BfR published tips on the assessment of intimate hygiene products (BfR, 1996) in which it recommends that specifications should be established for the raw materials used in the manufacture of panty diapers and diaper liners.Source: read more

Peer support can lead to reductions in caregivers overall burden

first_imgReviewed by Alina Shrourou, B.Sc. (Editor)Jul 1 2019In a world first, La Trobe University research has shown how peer-led support programs for family and friends who provide regular support to an adult diagnosed with a mental health condition can significantly improve carer well-being.Family Education Programs (FEPs) – led by trained individuals with their own personal experience of caring for someone with mental health issues – provide education and support for groups of carers.Over a period of seven years, researchers surveyed 1,016 carers enrolled in 207 FEP courses operated nationally by Wellways Australia.Lead researcher, La Trobe Associate Professor John Farhall, said the study gives greater confidence to health professionals and funders – as well as to potential participants – that FEPs can be used as a critical first step in reducing carer burden.Related StoriesOnline training program helps managers to support employees’ mental health needsAMSBIO offers new, best-in-class CAR-T cell range for research and immunotherapyTAU’s new Translational Medical Research Center acquires MILabs’ VECTor PET/SPECT/CT”Until now, very little research has been done on how these programs work,” Associate Professor Farhall said.”The results show that the key ingredients of the program – increased knowledge and peer support – were associated with helpful changes reported by carers, including improved communication with the person they were caring for.”Importantly, it was the degree of peer support that explained reductions in caregivers’ overall distress.”When carers were surveyed at the completion of the eight-week program, researchers found:- Mental health knowledge in carers increased by 16.6 per cent- Communication between carers and family members improved by 11.7 per cent- Psychological distress in carers decreased by 8.6 per cent- Carer self-blame decreased by 5.7 per cent- Positive feelings between carers and family members increased by 7.6 per cent- Relationship quality between carers and family members increased by 5.3 per cent- Carer’s stigmatizing attitudes toward mental health conditions decreased by 4 per cent Emma Constantine, research co-author and General Manager of peer education programs at Wellways Australia, said that the findings strengthen the increasing evidence base for peer support.”These programs build resilience for carers and improve outcomes for the whole family – peer education needs to be part of the standard range of supports available in our mental health and disability system,” Ms Constantine said. Source:La Trobe UniversityJournal reference:Farhall, J. et al. (2019) Outcomes and change processes of an established family education program for carers of adults diagnosed with a serious mental health condition. Psychological Medicine. It’s important to note that improvements reported at the end of the main program had been maintained when we followed up with carers 10 months later.Peer-led courses such as these can help unpaid caregiving remain rewarding and effective for both the carer and their loved one.”Associate Professor John Farhall, La Trobe Universitylast_img read more

How artificial intelligence is reshaping our lives

Provided by University of Alberta Can artificial intelligence be used to study gut microbes in patients? The many faces of AIFor some, it can be hard not to see artificial intelligence as a science so advanced and complicated that it exists only in the realm of movies.For Patrick Pilarski, artificial intelligence exists on the same technological continuum as a stick.At one time, a stick was an essential tool to poke things, to lean on, and so forth. In the same way, he says, artificial intelligence is a tool that can be used to amplify a person’s abilities and allow them to accomplish tasks needed for day-to-day living.”We’ve been slowly improving our ability to interact with the world through technology since the early days of our species. We might be doing it faster than we used to … but interacting with machines remains something prominent in our daily lives,” says Pilarski, an assistant professor at the university, who holds the Canada Research Chair in Machine Intelligence for Rehabilitation.”Those machines make us smarter, they make us better able to see the world, they make us better able to interact with or change the world, and they make us better able to think about the world.”Artificial intelligence is the branch of computing science that develops machines that can act with the intelligence we normally associate with humans. It allows machines to sift through massive amounts of data to find patterns and even develop intuition through trial and error.The discipline has been developing since the 1950s, but its popularity and promise—in scientific circles and beyond—has ebbed and flowed through the years.”I’ve been working on machine learning since the 1980s,” says Russ Greiner, a computing science professor at the university. “We’d work on problems that we made up and, deservedly, the rest of the world said, ‘Who cares?’ But when we started deploying it, people paid attention.”People might pay even more attention if they understood the extent to which AI influences their lives already. In the past eight years, the capacity for computation has increased exponentially, allowing researchers to apply the research in more practical ways. At the same time, the world’s biggest technology companies have started investing heavily in the field.The result is changing how we live our lives.Artificial intelligence allows for credit card fraud detection (computer programs know when a purchase appears to be out of the normal range for a particular client); it’s the basis for our familiar friend, Siri (voice recognition and natural language processing are major branches of AI); it powers your smartphone’s ability to identify faces on your camera roll (likewise, image recognition is a common use); and it’s used to encourage people to make Internet purchases, based on their past purchasing and browsing habits.”We’re a data-rich society and we have been for years,” says Schaeffer. “What AI does is allow us to take data and turn it into knowledge. To have a billion pieces of information is useless unless you can distil it into something meaningful.”Teaching machines to learnIf artificial intelligence allows machines to act like humans, there’s no more explicit example of that than reinforcement learning.U of A professor Rich Sutton is the world-leading pioneer on the subject. More than 20 years ago, he used his psychology background to take a learning approach to artificial intelligence—but his work is perhaps having its biggest impact today.Reinforcement learning is behind the Internet advertisements that automatically appear on your computer screen, and it powers stock market trading. The basic tenets of reinforcement learning likely fuel billions of dollars in economic activity every year.At its core, the approach mimics how humans learn through trial and error.”If good things happen, you keep doing those things. If bad things happen, you stop and go on to something else. It’s that simple, that obvious, that plain,” says Sutton.”If you’re on your bike and you’re about to fall over, you turn your steering wheel and you recover … you should learn three things from that. One, that at first you thought you were fine. Two, that you hit the stone and you weren’t as safe. And three, that you did some moves and you felt safe again.”Similarly, a reinforcement learning program must decide what’s “good” or “bad” based on a final, desired outcome. It will run through millions or tens of millions of scenarios to figure out for itself what puts it in a “good” position or a “bad” position, vis-à-vis its desired outcome. It will then adjust its actions to achieve that outcome.Sutton’s work is about as close as we get to having machines that think like humans. But computers still have limitations.Schaeffer, the computing scientist and dean, describes a person’s brain as being “general purpose.” We might not know how to fix a burst pipe in our home, but we know how to deal with the problem. A computer, on the other and, will only do what a person tells it to do.”We’re building lots of idiot savants. The driverless car knows how to drive but it doesn’t know how to spell-check a document,” he says. “We’re sentient. There’s independence of thought. We do what we want. Computers only do what I tell them to do.” It’s late and probably time for bed, but—without prompting—your Netflix screen fills with promotional shots for more shows. There’s one about a female detective in Denmark and another about a British inspector who weaves between both sides of the law.It’s a familiar scenario to any Netflix watcher—when the service seems to magically suggest programs that fit your latest pop-culture craze.And it’s an instance of artificial intelligence at work.These days, the computer algorithms that allow Netflix or Amazon to make purchasing suggestions are a normal part of life. But sometimes, it’s hard not to feel a sense of awe when a machine – that square and immobile box in the room—connects with you on an intimate level. A nagging question lingers: “How did it KNOW that?”In the coming years, people will be asking that question of their cars, phones, banking systems, and virtually every piece of technology with which they interact every day. Artificial intelligence is expected to reshape all of those facets of life, and untold others.Companies such as Google, Amazon and Facebook are spending billions of dollars to develop the AI capabilities of their products and services. Meanwhile, some of the biggest breakthroughs and most consistent research in the field have been happening at a public university in Edmonton.The University of Alberta has been growing its AI team with some of the discipline’s best minds for more than a decade. Its bona fides as a top-tier school were cemented last year when Google’s DeepMind announced its first satellite campus outside of London in partnership with the U of A.It was a huge coup for the university, but not entirely surprising for the faculty who have spent years building, testing and proving concepts. Those research findings are already transforming fields from health-care research to investment banking. And the ripple effects are just starting.”Artificial intelligence has the potential to impact any industry,” says Jonathan Schaeffer, a computing scientist and dean of the university’s Faculty of Science.”Within 10 years, artificial intelligence will be extremely disruptive.” Explore further It’s Saturday night and you’ve just finished watching the last episode of a Swedish crime drama that you somehow stumbled upon, although you can’t quite remember how. Netflix’s movie recommendations, Amazon’s uncanny ability to anticipate your next shopping purchase, and the voice assistant on your tablet that understands your natural speech are all examples of how ingrained AI systems have already become in modern life. Credit: University of Alberta 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: How artificial intelligence is reshaping our lives (2018, April 17) retrieved 18 July 2019 from read more

Deep learning stretches up to scientific supercomputers

first_img Citation: Deep learning stretches up to scientific supercomputers (2018, August 14) retrieved 18 July 2019 from This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. Explore further Machine learning, a form of artificial intelligence, enjoys unprecedented success in commercial applications. However, the use of machine learning in high performance computing for science has been limited. Why? Advanced machine learning tools weren’t designed for big data sets, like those used to study stars and planets. A team from Intel, National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC), and Stanford changed that situation. They developed the first 15-petaflop deep-learning software. They demonstrated its ability to handle large data sets via test runs on the Cori supercomputer. Using machine learning techniques on supercomputers, scientists could extract insights from large, complex data sets. Powerful instruments, such as accelerators, produce massive data sets. The new software could make the world’s largest supercomputers able to fit such data into deep learning uses. The resulting insights could benefit Earth systems modeling, fusion energy, and astrophysics.Machine learning techniques hold potential for enabling scientists to extract valuable insights from large, complex data sets being produced by accelerators, light sources, telescopes, and computer simulations. While these techniques have had great success in a variety of commercial applications, their use in high performance computing for science has been limited because existing tools were not designed to work with the terabyte- to petabyte-sized data sets found in many science domains.To address this problem a collaboration among Intel, the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center, and Stanford University has been working to solve problems that arise when using deep learning techniques, a form of machine learning, on terabyte and petabyte data sets. The team developed the first 15-petaflop deep-learning software. They demonstrated its scalability for data-intensive applications by executing a number of training runs using large scientific data sets. The runs used physics- and climate-based data sets on Cori, a supercomputer located at the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center. They achieved a peak rate between 11.73 and 15.07 petaflops (single-precision) and an average sustained performance of 11.41 to 13.47 petaflops. (A petaflop is million billion calculations per second.) Artificial intelligence may put private data at risk More information: Thorsten Kurth et al. Deep learning at 15PF, Proceedings of the International Conference for High Performance Computing, Networking, Storage and Analysis on – SC ’17 (2017). DOI: 10.1145/3126908.3126916 Researchers delivered a 15-petaflop deep-learning software and ran it on Cori, a supercomputer at the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center, a Department of Energy Office of Science user facility. Credit: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Provided by US Department of Energylast_img read more

Questions loom over Tesla deal after CEO reveals Saudi link

first_img © 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. Explore further If everything falls into place, Musk plans to buy Tesla from any existing shareholders willing to sell using money raised through Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund.Until his Monday blog post , Musk hadn’t identified the source for financing a deal that analysts estimate could cost anywhere from $25 billion to $50 billion.But when he initially dropped his bombshell in an August 7 tweet , Musk stated he had “funding secured” to buy Tesla stock at $420 per share—23 percent above its August 6 closing price.That assurance caused Tesla’s stock to surge 11 percent in one day, boosting the company’s market value by more than $6 billion to the dismay investors who had been betting Tesla’s shares would decline.It now appears as if financing for the deal is far from locked up, although Musk wrote on Monday that he was encouraged to pursue the buyout in a July 31 meeting with the managing director of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund.Discussions have continued this month, Musk wrote, while adding the caveat that the deal remained “subject to financial and other due diligence and their internal review process for obtaining approvals.”That contingency contradicts the financing guarantee that Musk issued in a tweet that already has opened an inquiry by the Securities and Exchange Commission, according to published reports. At least two lawsuits seeking to become a class action also have been filed against Tesla, alleging Musk broke securities laws by making it sound like all the financing for the buyout had been lined up.”‘Funding secured’ wasn’t exactly funding secured,” said Peter Henning, a law professor at Wayne State University in Detroit and former SEC lawyer. “There are some issues here.”After reading Musk’s Monday post, former SEC commissioner Joseph Grundfest concluded the chances of regulators taking action against Musk are now “quite high.” He believes Musk, who runs cutting-edge aerospace company SpaceX in addition to Tesla, opened a “self-inflicted wound” by announcing the buyout in last week’s nine-word tweet instead of spelling out the situation like he did in Monday’s post. Citation: Questions loom over Tesla deal after CEO reveals Saudi link (2018, August 14) retrieved 18 July 2019 from Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s elaboration on his plan to engineer a buyout of the electric car maker could get the Silicon Valley maverick into legal trouble by revealing that the deal is far more uncertain than how he initially described it in his brash tweet last week. “What Elon Musk is trying to do with electric cars and rockets is hard enough without creating more problems for yourself with bad Twitter hygiene,” Grundfest said.Tesla wouldn’t comment on a possible SEC investigation or why it took a week for details to be released in the blog. The SEC also declined comment Monday. Six of Tesla’s nine board members said last week they there are evaluating Musk’s proposal, which would end Tesla’s eight-year history as a public company and relieve some of the mounting pressure to reverse its long history of losses.Besides making assurances about the deal’s financing, Musk also sent out another tweet that asserted the only uncertainty was whether the majority of shareholders would approve it.That statement also helped drive up Tesla’s stock, irritating investors such as Mark Spiegel, whose Stanphyl Capital investment firm has been a long-time “short seller” of the shares. Short sellers borrow shares in a company’s stock and sell them immediately on the premise they can be replaced at a lower price in the future.”My guess is he was fooling around,” Spiegel said of Musk’s early tweets about the buyout. “He probably was getting a good laugh out of it.”Although Musk only recently broached the possibility of buying out Tesla with its board, he wrote Monday that the Saudi Arabian fund had approached him about taking the company private multiple times during the past two years.Founded in 1971, the Public Investment Fund ranks among the world’s largest sovereign wealth funds, giving it the means to buy out Tesla. It already holds about $250 billion investments around the world, according to the Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute, including a $3.5 billion stake in the biggest ride-hailing service, Uber.Buying all of Tesla’s stock would currently cost $72 billion, but a buyout of the Palo Alto, California, company probably wouldn’t require as much money. That’s because Musk owns roughly 20 percent of Tesla’s stock and he envisions two-third of the company’s current shareholders retaining their stakes in a newly created special fund.If only one-third of Tesla’s stock is sold in a buyout offer, it would cost nearly $24 billion. Other analysts have estimated financing a Tesla buyout would cost closer to $50 billion.Investors are much more skeptical about Musk being able to pull off a buyout than they were after his first tweet about the deal. Tesla’s stock crept up 92 cents Monday to close at $356.41, well below Musk’s proposed bid.Even if the financing is in place, the deal might not come together because it would involve foreign interests buying at least one-third of a U.S. company that is trying to revolutionize the auto industry with its electric vehicles.The government’s Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States would likely would review this deal because of Tesla’s technology and the likelihood that a foreign country would get at least one board seat to gain some control over a U.S. company, said Jeremy Zucker, co-head of the international trade practice at Dechert LLP in Washington, D.C.Whether it’s technology pertaining to longer-life batteries or technology pertaining to what’s behind the dashboard in a Tesla car, “I can see CFIUS viewing these technologies as of potential national security interest,” he said. In this June 14, 2018, file photo Tesla CEO and founder of the Boring Company Elon Musk speaks at a news conference in Chicago. Musk says he’s in talks with the Saudi Arabian sovereign wealth fund about taking the electric car and solar panel maker private, but no deal has been finalized. Musk says in a blog posted Monday, Aug. 13, that most of the funding would be in stock rather than debt. (AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato, File) Tesla CEO Musk taunts short sellers amid legal scrutiny This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.last_img read more

Facebook Twitter pledge to defend against foreign intrusion

first_img Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Mark Warner, D-Va., left, and Chairman Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., center, greet Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey before he testifies before the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on ‘Foreign Influence Operations and Their Use of Social Media Platforms’ on Capitol Hill, Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana) “This hearing appears to be one more mechanism to raise money and generate outrage,” said Rep. Frank Pallone of New Jersey, the committee’s top Democrat. Other Democrats called it a “charade” and “a load of crap.”Twitter came under fire from some on the far right after suspending conspiracy theorist Alex Jones last month, as did Facebook. Jones made an angry appearance Wednesday outside both hearing rooms, telling reporters he was there to “face my accusers.”Jones railed against the government, media and social media companies for more than 40 minutes in the hallway as the Senate hearing began. Later, he heckled a reporter outside the House hearing room. Facebook and Twitter executives assured Congress on Wednesday that they are aggressively working to root out foreign attempts to sow discord in America, and they pledged to better protect their social networks against manipulation during the 2018 midterm elections and beyond. Citation: Facebook, Twitter pledge to defend against foreign intrusion (2018, September 5) retrieved 17 July 2019 from “We are even more determined than our adversaries, and we will continue to fight back,” she said.Dorsey was candid with both committees about what his company needs to improve, while defending Twitter against allegations of bias.Holding his phone throughout the hearings, Dorsey tweeted some of his opening statement to the Senate: “We aren’t proud of how that free and open exchange has been weaponized and used to distract and divide people, and our nation. We found ourselves unprepared and ill-equipped for the immensity of the problems we’ve acknowledged.”He added: “Abuse, harassment, troll armies, propaganda through bots and human coordination, misinformation campaigns, and divisive filter bubbles—that’s not a healthy public square. Worse, a relatively small number of bad-faith actors were able to game Twitter to have an outsized impact.”As the executives spoke, the Justice Department announced that it would look at whether their companies are hurting competition and “intentionally stifling the free exchange of ideas on their platforms.” Facebook, Twitter defend efforts to stop election meddling Facebook’s No. 2 executive, Sheryl Sandberg, and Twitter’s CEO, Jack Dorsey, testified before the Senate intelligence committee in the morning, but there was an empty chair for Google parent company Alphabet, which refused to send its top executive.In the afternoon, Dorsey went before a House panel alone to address Republican concerns that Twitter is censoring conservatives. Dorsey denied that is happening.The hearings come at a critical time, just two months before the midterm elections and as President Donald Trump has charged that Twitter is biased against Republican views.Senators had sharp words for Alphabet CEO Larry Page. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., suggested the company was a no-show because it was “arrogant.”Sandberg’s appearance came several months after Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified at highly publicized Capitol Hill hearings.Like Zuckerberg, she acknowledged Facebook’s lag in recognizing Russian efforts to manipulate Facebook during and after the 2016 presidential election. Sandberg detailed Facebook’s efforts to fight the problem with new technology and manpower. Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg testifies before the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on ‘Foreign Influence Operations and Their Use of Social Media Platforms’ on Capitol Hill, Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana) Justice Department spokesman Devin O’Malley said Attorney General Jeff Sessions will meet with a number of state attorneys general later this month to discuss the department’s concerns. Dorsey said Twitter has continued to identify accounts that may be linked to the same Russian internet agency cited in Mueller’s indictment. He said Twitter has suspended 3,843 accounts it believes are connected to that agency. Facebook has also taken down pages this year that it believes were tied to the agency.At the House hearing, Energy and Commerce chairman Greg Walden, R-Ore., cited recent complaints that Twitter limited the visibility of prominent Republicans on its platform—a charge echoed by Trump himself.”It takes years to build trust, but it only takes 280 characters to lose it,” Walden said.Dorsey has strongly denied that political ideology has played a part in any Twitter algorithms that determine what users see.The assertion that conservatives are being censored has also been pushed by House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and the No. 3 House Republican, Steve Scalise of Louisiana.Committee Democrats charged that Republicans were manufacturing the issue ahead of the November elections. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, accompanied by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on ‘Foreign Influence Operations and Their Use of Social Media Platforms’ on Capitol Hill, Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana) Explore further Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, left, accompanied by Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey are sworn in before the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on ‘Foreign Influence Operations and Their Use of Social Media Platforms’ on Capitol Hill, Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana) An empty chair reserved for Google’s parent Alphabet, which refused to send its top executive, is seen as Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg accompanied by Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on ‘Foreign Influence Operations and Their Use of Social Media Platforms’ on Capitol Hill, Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2018, in Washington. Google CEO did not show for the hearing. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana) © 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. Sandberg, 49, has extensive Washington experience, typically acts as her company’s public face and clearly felt comfortable answering to the senators. The bearded and tieless Dorsey, 41, is far less of a public figure and was quiet and respectful in his answers. Both contrasted with Zuckerberg’s sometimes awkward defiance during his Washington appearance in April.Thirteen Russians were indicted by special counsel Robert Mueller this year on charges of taking part in a plot to disrupt the 2016 election by creating fake social media accounts that pushed divisive issues.Both Facebook and Twitter are using artificial intelligence and other increasingly sophisticated technology to combat manipulation. Facebook is going after “inauthenticity,” or fake accounts. Twitter is focusing on analyzing behavior patterns to find suspicious activity because Twitter technically allows “fake” accounts.The companies have made many policy changes and have caught and banned malicious accounts over the past year. Still, their business models—free services that rely on attracting as many users as possible for as long as possible and finding out as much about them as possible—remain the same, and that has posed challenges in rooting out those bent on mischief.GOP Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina, the Intelligence committee chairman, commended the companies for their efforts but said Congress is concerned that not enough has been done.”Clearly, this problem is not going away,” Burr said. “I’m not even sure it’s trending in the right direction.” 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

A new carbon material with Na storage capacity over 400mAhg

first_img (a) Schematic illustration of charge-discharge voltage profiles of the carbon anode and Na0.9Cu0.22Fe0.30Mn0.48O2 cathode, respectively. Electrochemical performance of the carbon anode//Na0.9Cu0.22Fe0.30Mn0.48O2 the full cell, (b) Charge-discharge curves, (c) Rate capability and (d) Cycling performance. Credit: Science China Press Electrochemical properties of this anode in half cells. (a) Galvanostatic discharge-charge curves, (b) CV curves, (c) Cycling performance and (d) Rate capability. Credit: Science China Press Developing high-capacity carbon anode materials can further improve the energy density of sodium-ion batteries (NIBs). Recently, researchers from the Institute of Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences (IOP-CAS), reported a high-capacity carbon anode (~400 mAh g-1) for NIBs. The results are published in Science Bulletin. A lightweight carbon nanofiber-based collector Electrochemical properties of this anode in half cells. (a) Galvanostatic discharge-charge curves, (b) CV curves, (c) Cycling performance and (d) Rate capability. Credit: Science China Press (a) XRD pattern of the as-prepared sample indexed with amorphous and graphitized peaks. (b) Raman spectra of D, G, D+D”, 2D, D+G and 2D’ bands. Credit: Science China Press Since 2010, sodium-ion batteries (NIBs) have been intensively investigated because of their cost and resource advantages and possible applications in large-scale energy storage systems. However, the energy density of current NIBs remains a serious challenge, hindering large-scale commercial applications. Hard carbon is one of the most promising anodes in the early commercial NIBs for high capacity (~330 mAh g-1), good cycling stability, high initial Coulombic efficiency, reasonable cost, and the natural abundance of precursor materials.Although extensive efforts have been devoted to the development of high-performance carbon anode materials, a consistent behavour in the discharge-charge curve is often presented with two distinct regions: a slope region above ~0.1 V and a plateau region below ~0.1 V. Usually, the plateau region exhibits a higher capacity than that of the slope region, and a high-capacity carbon anode often shows a large proportion of the plateau capacity, which could further increase the energy density of a full cell in terms of the average voltage to some extent. Therefore, designing and discovering a carbon anode with a large proportion of the plateau capacity can be a potential approach to increase the energy density of NIBs.Recently, the team of Prof. Yong-Sheng Hu at the Institute of Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences (IOP-CAS) reported a bi-honeycomb-like architecture carbon material by carbonizing a kind of charcoal in a high-temperature graphite furnace at 1900 °C. This carbon anode shows a high capacity of ~ 400 mAh g-1, which is higher than the ~ 330 mAh g-1 capacity of current hard carbon materials. About 85 percent (> 330 mAh g-1) of its total capacity is derived from the long low-potential plateau below ~ 0.1 V, which differs from the curves of typical hard carbon materials of NIBs. When coupled with air-stable Na0.9Cu0.22Fe0.30Mn0.48O2 layered cathode, a high energy density of ~240 Wh kg-1 was obtained with good rate capability and cycling stability. The discovery of this promising carbon anode is expected to draw further research toward high-energy-density NIBs for large-scale electrical energy storage. Explore further (a) Schematic illustration of charge-discharge voltage profiles of the carbon anode and Na0.9Cu0.22Fe0.30Mn0.48O2 cathode, respectively. Electrochemical performance of the carbon anode//Na0.9Cu0.22Fe0.30Mn0.48O2 the full cell, (b) Charge-discharge curves, (c) Rate capability and (d) Cycling performance. Credit: Science China Press 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 Science China Press Citation: A new carbon material with Na storage capacity over 400mAh/g (2018, September 20) retrieved 17 July 2019 from More information: Chenglong Zhao et al, High-temperature treatment induced carbon anode with ultrahigh Na storage capacity at low-voltage plateau, Science Bulletin (2018). DOI: 10.1016/j.scib.2018.07.018last_img read more

Betting with a smartphone The casinos know who you are and where

first_imgWhen online gaming launches soon in Pennsylvania, bettors with a smartphone will be able to gamble from just about anywhere in the state. Two Bucks County Republican senators who were involved in the gaming legislation, Robert “Tommy” Tomlinson and Chuck McIlhinney, did not respond to calls for comment.The provision is likely to affect only a tiny amount of casino business. According to Slader, geolocation services reported that about 1 percent of New Jersey online gaming revenue is derived from players who are actually located on casino premises.The harness-racing industry acknowledged that Pennsylvania’s gaming expansion bill last year, which legalized online wagering, mini-casinos and truck-stop video gaming terminals, would likely cannibalize some business from casino slot machines, the lifeline for horse racing. But the alternative was worse: Some racing opponents had wanted deeper cuts to casino horse-racing support altogether.”When the day comes that all of these expanded gaming options are in place, it’s possible their combined impact, if negative, could actually be less than future legislative raids on the fund might have been,” the Pennsylvania Harness Horsemen’s Association said in a 2017 statement.Online gaming in Pennsylvania, which includes poker, simulated slot machines, and table games such as blackjack, is expected to be launched by year’s end.In New Jersey, where online gaming began five years ago, internet wagering generated $190 million in winnings for the first eight months this year, and is growing 16.5 percent a year, compared with nearly flat growth for casino games. Online wagering generates about 11 percent of the revenue of casino games, but it is taxed at a higher rate, so it accounts for 19 percent of $150 million in state tax revenue raised so far this year.Erecting an electronic ring-fence around Pennsylvania casinos to protect the racing industry’s market share is not particularly challenging, say regulators and industry experts.Four states that have legalized online wagering use geospatial technology to block out-of-state players, and the same technology can be fine-tuned to “geofence” specific in-state locations.Some states have considered blocking out schools, government buildings, penitentiaries or tribal reservations to protect certain communities from gaming. But Pennsylvania is the only state that has enacted such an exclusion, putting the state’s casinos into a special, electronically protected class.Geolocation services can read the unique numerical address assigned to each electronic device, and can triangulate the location within a few feet by “pinging” a player’s mobile phone, which must be turned on. In New Jersey, where online gaming was legalized in 2013, casinos block illegal out-of-state bettors with a terse warning that repeated violations will result in permanent banishment.The geolocation software also conducts a split-second scan of the player’s device to make sure no programs are running to disguise the bettor’s actual location, such as a virtual private network. Companies such as GeoComply, which is based in Vancouver, British Columbia, say they employ dozens of engineers to keep up with new spoofing software.”It’s a constant game of cat and mouse,” said Slader.Some are skeptical that online verification systems are capable of filtering out fraudsters, money-launderers or underaged gamblers.A recent study in Britain, where legalized betting is well-established, found that more than a quarter-million underage gamblers are placing bets with licensed operators, Jon C. Bruning, counsel to the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling, told a congressional subcommittee hearing on Sept. 27.”Any smartphone, tablet, or laptop can be a vehicle for online gambling, and it is virtually impossible to pinpoint players joining from isolated networks, like those typically found in a home or office,” Bruning, a former Nebraska attorney general, testified to the House Judiciary subcommittee on crime, terrorism, homeland security and investigations.But gaming regulators say online controls are so rigorous—players need to disclose their identities, their source of gambling funds, and their physical location—that gamblers who walk into a casino and place a cash bet enjoy more anonymity, even under the watchful eye of banks of security cameras.Casino executives say that geolocation technology has a stellar record, and that the software can exclude physical addresses of casinos, or even pinpoint the gaming floor within a casino.”There are various ways to implement that kind of blocking to a very accurate level, or, if the casino is paranoid, they can draw a mile radius around them to keep everybody away and then some, depending upon how sensitive they are to the situation,” Slader said.The details are still being worked out by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, which so far has approved interactive gaming licenses for 5 of 10 casinos that have applied. Before the casinos can launch online gaming, however, the gaming board needs to test the operators’ security systems, including the precision of their geolocation software.Some bookmakers, including the fantasy sports-betting giant DraftKings, were worried that Pennsylvania regulators would extend the online casino betting ban to mobile sports wagering.”DraftKings suggests dropping this requirement for sportsbook, because patrons may wish to engage in gambling on the casino floor while still monitoring sports bets placed on their mobile devices,” a company lobbyist, Sarah Koch, said in a June letter to the gaming board.No worries: Pennsylvania’s temporary sports-betting regulations do not restrict any locations inside the state boundaries, and will allow players to bet from mobile devices while inside casinos, said Douglas Harbach, a gaming board spokesman.That’s good news for the casinos. Early reports from New Jersey’s legal online sportsbooks suggests that mobile betting is concentrated on in-game bets conducted during a sporting event, and much of it originates from inside casinos. During big sporting events, mobile devices will allow casinos to accommodate surges of in-game wagering that human tellers and automated kiosks can’t physically handle.One state, recognizing the importance of mobile sports betting to casinos but wanting to protect citizens at large from the temptation of online wagering, has flipped Pennsylvania’s restrictions on their head: Mississippi law prohibits online wagering off the grounds of the state’s casinos. But inside the casinos, there are no barriers. You can gamble from work. You can gamble from school. You can gamble in a bar. You can gamble from the bleachers.You can even bow your head and gamble from a pew. Say amen.But there is one place in the commonwealth where you can’t engage in interactive wagering—and that is from inside the state’s 13 licensed casinos.Under Pennsylvania’s expanded gaming law passed last year, which legalized a range of new ways for gamblers to put their money on the line, licensed operators must prevent players from accessing interactive games while they are inside casinos, using the same cell-phone technology to determine whether they are actually within the state’s borders.Some officials say the curious exclusion, which does not apply to sports betting, was inserted into early versions of the legislation to protect tax revenue—the tax rate for betting online was originally lower than the tax rate for betting in casinos.The bill that was finally approved by the General Assembly equalized the tax rate for online gaming and land-based casinos—54 percent for slot machines, virtual or real. However, the language requiring the electronic ring-fence around casinos survived, they say.”It probably slipped through in the final version,” said Tony Ricci, chief executive of Greenwood Gaming & Entertainment Inc., the parent company of Parx Casino. “Frankly, it is quirky now when you look at it, what the point of it is. It complicates things in many ways.”Some insiders say the casino exclusion was not an oversight, but a small concession to the horse-racing industry, which receives about 10 percent of the revenue from casino slot machines—a $239 million share last year. Under the new law, the Pennsylvania Race Horse Development Trust Fund will still get its piece of the slots action, but it will receive nothing from interactive gaming, including online slots.”You won’t want anyone placing a bet on online slots while on the casino floor, and horsemen wouldn’t be getting that cut that they have been promised,” said Lindsay Slader, vice president of regulatory affairs for GeoComply, a vendor of geolocation services that online operators use to verify the exact position of online players. Explore further ©2018 The Philadelphia Inquirer Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC. Ocean Resort Casino joins New Jersey internet betting market Credit: CC0 Public Domain Citation: Betting with a smartphone? The casinos know who you are, and where you are located (2018, October 12) retrieved 17 July 2019 from This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.last_img read more

Wave power for clean drinking water

first_img Explore further Around 1.2 billion people, or almost one-fifth of the world’s population, live in areas of water scarcity, mostly in developing countries. Traditional reverse osmosis (R/O) desalination systems offer a solution but require sufficient electrical grid capacity. As part of the “Blue Growth Strategy’, the EU-funded H2020 W2O project has demonstrated the economic practicality of the world’s first wave-driven desalination system, Wave2O. This operates completely ‘off-grid’ to supply large quantities of affordable fresh water. Wave2O will be piloted in Cape Verde, an island in the Atlantic Ocean off West Africa. A location for the pilot plant has been identified and site assessment studies, including bathymetric surveys, wave energy assessments, and water quality assessments are being carried out. Project coordinator and cofounder of the SME Resolute Marine Limited, Olivier Ceberio says, “We secured a pledge from the local power and water utility to purchase a full-scale Wave2O plant after trials of a pilot-scale plant have been successfully completed.” Energy from the seaTwo wave energy converters (WECs) and two large 20-foot containers, one housing equipment for producing electricity and another for producing fresh water make up the Wave2O module. The WECs are connected to the containers by flexible hoses carrying pressurised seawater to and from the WECs. “Process seawater is sourced from an offshore well away from any sources of contamination through a multi-stage filtration system before entering a manifold system that splits its flow into two different paths,” explains Ceberio.Wave-induced mechanical energy is used by the WECs to drive two rotary actuators that increase the pressure of the intake seawater to 7 000 kPa before pumping it ashore. Here it is stabilised by a hydro-pneumatic accumulator to remove unwanted pressure pulsations before it enters the R/O system. A secondary flow of seawater is sent to an energy recovery unit (ERU). The ERU recovers energy from high-pressure brine – the by-product of the desalination process – and uses it to increase the pressure of the process seawater to 7 000 kPa. Energy recovery creates higher efficiency conversion, crucial for stand-alone operation.The pressure-stabilised intake seawater is then merged and enters a standard R/O unit at an operating pressure of 6 200 kPa. Approximately 35 percent of the feed water is processed into fresh water, which is a relatively low recovery rate that has benefits related to reduced maintenance, extended membrane life and lower brine salinity. The highly energetic brine is then used to pre-charge the feed water.Clean water with reduced carbon emissions Wave2O could provide access to low carbon energy to millions of people living in rural and isolated communities. “Each plant will produce 4 000 cubic metres of fresh water a day, enough to cover the needs of 40 000 people and reduce CO2 emission by 4 346 tons per year, the equivalent of taking 936 cars off the road,” claims Ceberio. “Our target customers are communities in developing countries and island nations that typically lack sufficient grid capacity and cannot afford the capital or time required to build and deploy grid-connected systems,” he adds.The medium-scale, grid independent, renewable energy powered water production system is aimed at developing countries and island nations outside the EU. Within Europe, W2O can benefit overseas countries and territories linked to EU Member States, like the Canary Islands and New Caledonia. Provided by CORDIS Researchers pilot system using electrodialysis to produce safe drinking watercenter_img Credit: RML Citation: Wave power for clean drinking water (2018, November 27) retrieved 17 July 2019 from This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.last_img read more

Old partner Nissan left sidelined by RenaultFiat merger

first_img © 2019 AFP “It’s an ill thought-out and badly conceived plan,” fumed one source close to Nissan, who did not wish to be identified, in response to the Fiat-Chrysler “50/50″ merger proposal that would potentially create the world’s third-largest carmaker.It is a bitter pill to swallow for Nissan, which appeared to be completely left in the dark about the project and is already battling falling sales amid reputational damage from the downfall of Ghosn, who is fighting financial misconduct charges.Behind the scenes at the Yokohama-based firm, people believe it could further damage relations with Renault, which is already pushing for a formal merger between the pair against Nissan’s wishes.”Nissan appears to be being kept out of the loop, which is unpleasant for Nissan and may create unnecessary distrust of Renault among Nissan people,” analyst Satoru Takada at TIW, a Tokyo-based research and consulting firm, told AFP.Putting a brave face on it, Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa told reporters on Monday he was “open to constructive discussions to strengthen the alliance” and the subject will surely be raised in a meeting on Wednesday with Renault boss Jean-Dominique Senard.Nissan and Renault, with headquarters 10,000 kilometres (6,000 miles) apart and very different histories and cultures, have always been seen as unlikely bedfellows and Ghosn was instrumental in keeping the alliance together.With his downfall after a Nissan-led investigation, the glue bonding the pair since 1999 has been removed and relations have quickly gone downhill.”Renault’s top priority is now FCA,” said Takada.”For Nissan, the speculated merger is not a plus. With the merger, Nissan’s position in the alliance would be relatively lowered and its independence could be flawed.”Fiat’s offer, which Renault is studying “with interest”, shows its Japanese partner that “it is no longer as important in its eyes,” relegating it into third place, according to Christopher Richter, analyst at Tokyo-based CLSA.’Important block’However, according to a well-informed source, “the door is open” for Nissan to join the tie-up, despite a recent downturn in its sales figures.”Nissan is still an important block in their puzzle, given it has good coverage of China, where neither Renault nor FCA are strong,” said one auto sector analyst who asked to remain anonymous.Nissan also brings to the party its Japanese partner Mitsubishi Motors, which has a strong presence in south-east Asia.If all firms were brought together, they would be producing nearly 16 million cars per year, well ahead of Toyota and Volkswagen which both sell around 10.6 million. And in any case, after 20 years, Nissan is too closely integrated with Renault to consider a divorce, no matter how low relations sink.”There are too many joint projects,” said one source close to the Japanese firm.”The alliance in its current form can not be defeated, it is already irreversible.”Investors however did not seem to cheer the news. While Renault and Fiat shares went through the roof, climbing 13 and 18 percent respectively at the open, Nissan stock enjoyed a muted rise of just more than one percent. Nissan, a long-time Renault partner, has been left sidelined by a potential tie-up between the French firm and Fiat-Chrysler, just as the beleaguered Japanese firm battles to recover from the arrest of former boss Carlos Ghosn. Citation: Old partner Nissan left sidelined by Renault-Fiat merger (2019, May 27) retrieved 17 July 2019 from This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.center_img Renault, Fiat Chrysler in tie-up talks Explore further Ghosn was seen as the glue keeping the Renault-Nissan alliance togetherlast_img read more

If youre traveling July 4th be careful with free WiFi and protect

first_img Explore further Citation: If you’re traveling July 4th, be careful with free Wi-Fi and protect your data (2019, July 4) retrieved 17 July 2019 from You can protect yourself during the holiday weekend if you change your passwords twice, subscribe to a VPN app, encrypt your data and avoid using public Wi-Fi in a hotel, restaurant or airport, says security expert Ted Harrington. Beef up your passcode for the phone, to ensure that your data is safe. For instance, don’t be like rapper Kanye West, who displayed his iPhone passcode, 000000, during a televised meeting with President Donald Trump. Make it a little more challenging to the hacker, by skipping on your birthday, home address or other easily Googled personal info. Remember that the keys also have letters, and a 6-character code could be your favorite song or place you’ve visited. Say you went to San Francisco in 2018, and your code could spell out San F 18, or 726318.Two-FactorApple and Google also encourage the use of two-factor authentication, which sends you a text after you log in, for the second level of security. This extra step will usually stop hackers from your case, as they move on to easier prey, says Harrington.Change passwordsIt’s a pain, but important because as Harrington notes, hackers look for simple ways to get into your account, like people who use easy to crack passwords like 123456 or their address.To ease the pain of having to remember the constantly changing passwords, try a password manager.”This adds another level of protection against passwords and data being stolen if a phone or device is hacked,” says Harrington.Popular managers, which create the new passwords for you and remember them, include LastPass (starts at $3 monthly) and Dashlane ($5 monthly.) Dashlane’s services come with a free VPN service that “encrypts your online activity on unsecure Wi-Fi networks to always keep your personal information safe and private.” However, users have to remember to open the app and turn on and off the VPN feature.Back homeHarrington says you should change passwords again, just to be safe, especially from any website where you input personal data, like social media, work, e-mail, communication and collaboration platforms.The odds are, you probably won’t do this, so just remember—when using the free public Wi-Fi, please don’t do anything sensitive like banking of financial planning, or anything that involves social security and other important numbers. Credit: CC0 Public Domain Okay, that seems rather extreme, but he does have a point.Public Wi-Fi is a great way for hackers to tap into your personal information, especially during high trafficked times like a holiday weekend.The service “may be monitored by malicious attackers, especially in airports or hotels,” says Harrington, executive partner at Independent Security Evaluators.But the fact is, you are going to use Wi-Fi over the next few days, without thinking twice about it. So how can you be safe? Let’s look at Harrington’s tips. Perhaps there are a few you’ll sign up for.Buy your own Wi-FiYou can pick up a personal hot spot device (usually known as MiFi units) from a wireless provider, which will give you your own private Wi-Fi network. The bonus is that you get to access Wi-Fi from anywhere you are. The downside is that they are very pricey. Verizon’s starts at $150 and demands a two-year $29.99 monthly contract. Retailers like Best Buy have several less costly options starting at around $29, plus $10-a-month service fees with companies like UnrealMobile.A less costly option is to turn your phone into a hot spot to connect to the computer (this bypasses the public Wi-Fi). However, if you’re on a limited data plan, you may not have enough data available to pull this off, or the costs of going over your limit may be prohibitive.An alternative: Buy a pre-paid wireless card from a big box retailer, and use that service instead. Net10, for instance, offers 4 gigabytes of data for $35, as a one-time charge. The 4 GB won’t last long but should be enough to check travel arrangements, e-mail and post on social media on a week trip.Get a VPN appA VPN (virtual private network) “allows you to create a secure connection to another network over the internet,” and shields “your browsing activity from prying eyes on public WiFi,” says Harrington. Three popular VPN apps include NordVPN ($6.95 monthly for one year), SurfShark ($5.99 monthly for one year) or TunnelBear ($4.99 monthly for one year.)Encrypt Bypassing popular passwords 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. (c)2019 U.S. TodayDistributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.last_img read more

Greenlands Superfast Ice Slides Could Be Bad News for Climate Change

first_img In Photos: The Vanishing Ice of Baffin Island Historic Photos Paint Picture of Greenland Ice Loss | Climate Central In Photos: A Conveyor Belt for Arctic Sea Ice Originally published on Live Science. Greenland’s ice sheet is sliding way more than previously thought, according to a new study. This means that the ice sheet can change faster in a warming climate, a group of researchers reported July 10 in the journal Science Advances. “Understanding ice flow is quite important to predicting future melt from Greenland,” said study lead author Nathan Maier, a doctoral candidate at the University of Wyoming. Ice flows bring ice from the cold interior regions of the Greenland ice sheet to its warmer edges, where the ice melts. [Images of Melt: Earth’s Vanishing Ice]Headbutting Tiny Worms Are Really, Really LoudThis rapid strike produces a loud ‘pop’ comparable to those made by snapping shrimps, one of the most intense biological sounds measured at sea.Your Recommended PlaylistVolume 0%Press shift question mark to access a list of keyboard shortcutsKeyboard Shortcutsplay/pauseincrease volumedecrease volumeseek forwardsseek backwardstoggle captionstoggle fullscreenmute/unmuteseek to %SPACE↑↓→←cfm0-9接下来播放Why Is It ‘Snowing’ Salt in the Dead Sea?01:53 facebook twitter 发邮件 reddit 链接已复制直播00:0000:3500:35  Ice flow happens through two different processes: the sliding of ice across the bed and deformation, which turns the ice into a kind of “flowing molasses,” Maier said. Understanding the relative scale of these two different types of movement helps scientists determine how much ice will move to high-melt areas along edges of the ice sheet. Maier and his team drilled boreholes into the ice using a large drill. They also installed 212 tilt sensors, which measure the amount of deformation and sliding. The researchers took measurements of ice movement from 2014 to 2016, finding that the Greenland Ice Sheet is sliding really, really fast over the underlying bedrock. “This is quite surprising as these regions are thought to have much slower sliding velocities than regions that are resting on slippery mud,” Maier told Live Science. “Even more surprising is that we recorded this behavior during winter, when there is no surface melt, which can further lubricate the bed and increase the rate of sliding.” What this means is that “even over these relatively boring, slow-moving regions of the ice sheet resting on rock, ice can be rapidly brought down to the high-melt zones,” he added. The researchers even found that Greenland’s main continental ice sheet slides more than parts of the incredibly fast-moving glaciers on the periphery, such as Jakobshavn in west Greenland. Past work showed that global warming has changed ice motion along the ice sheet’s edges, resulting in more thickening or thinning, which in turn causes changes in surface melt. “Now that we have essentially found high rates of sliding everywhere we have looked on the ice sheet, even in the least-likely locations, like ours, we know that ice can be moved around very efficiently,” he said. “Thus, the rates of thickening and thinning are likely to occur more rapidly than previously thought.” That means the ice might change faster in a warming climate than currently thought, he said.last_img read more

Congress demands Alpesh Thakores disqualification from Assembly

first_imgSHARE SHARE EMAIL national elections COMMENT Lok Sabha SHARE Published on April 26, 2019 With polling for the 17th Lok Sabha elections completed on April 23 in Gujarat, the Congress has demanded disqualification of the maverick legislator Alpesh Thakore from the Vidhan Sabha, after he quit all posts from the party this month and supported independent candidates from the Thakore community in North Gujarat.Ashwin Kotwal, Chief Whip of the Congress Legislature Party (CLP), accompanied by another MLA, Baldevji Thakore, called on the Assembly Secretary here on Thursday and submitted the party’s letter addressed to Speaker Rajendra Trivedi. ‘Quit party posts’ Kotwal said Alpesh had resigned from all posts from the party and is no longer a Congress member or MLA. Alpesh had won from the Radhanpur Assembly constituency in the Banaskantha district of North Gujarat in the December 2017 elections on a Congress ticket. Charging Alpesh with “anti-party” activities, Kotwal said the legislator was found campaigning for independent candidates fielded in these elections by the Gujarat Kshatriya-Thakore Sena (GKTS), of which he (Alpesh) is the Convener.While quitting the Congress along with two more MLAs on April 10, Alpesh had charged the Gujarat Congress leadership with “sidelining” and “humiliating” him and ignoring interests of the Thakore community.Refuting this charge, GPCC chief Amit Chavda said that Thakore had also been appointed AICC Secretary and co in-charge of party affairs in Bihar along with AICC General Secretary Shaktisinh Gohil. He had also been appointed on some State Congress committees.However, both the Congress and the BJP may have heaved a sigh of relief with Alpesh being sidelined even by the GKTS, which has seen splits in recent weeks. In fact, the GKTS was so annoyed by Alpesh’s flip-flops and ‘loss of credibility’, that some of its angry leaders reportedly “directed” him to take a firm decision or face consequences. Following this showdown, he quit the Congress posts, but not the Assembly.Even the BJP was cautious in handling him. Unlike other Congress MLAs who quit the party since July 2018 — two of which were inducted in the Vijay Rupani Ministry — Alpesh was allegedly trying to extract maximum mileage during “negotiations” with the saffron party since August 2018. The BJP was, therefore, in no hurry to induct him.Thakore community votesAlpesh is also Convener of the OBC-SC-ST Ekta Manch (OSSM). Since 2015, he had seen a meteoric rise with his anti-liquor and pro-OBC reservation movements. The Congress readily lapped him up. But he became an embarrassment to the party when his viral video carrying intemperate speeches against Hindi-speaking migrant labourers panicked them, leading to their exodus in thousands in October 2018.Angry party workers in Bihar burnt his effigies and virtually banned his entry in the State. Ever since, the Gujarat Congress was also keeping him at an arm’s length. OBCs account for nearly 45 per cent of all votes in Gujarat, with the Thakores forming a sizeable chunk. With Alpesh’s exit, the Congress may suffer — and the BJP may potentially gain — in three North Gujarat LS constituencies of Sabarkantha, Banaskantha and Patan, as well as in the Unjha Assembly by-poll. The Thakore votes are also important in LS constituencies of Gandhinagar, Mehsana and Ahmedabad-East and -West, and in nearly 40 of the 182 Assembly segments of Gujarat. COMMENTSlast_img read more

AIADMK manages to hold ground in bypolls

Saradha scam ExKolkata CP Rajeev Kumar moves SC seeking extension of protection

first_imgSHARE SHARE EMAIL SHARE Supreme Court of India Published on fraud May 20, 2019center_img Saradha chit fund scam COMMENTS Former Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar moved the Supreme Court seeking extension of the seven-day protection granted to him by the apex court in connection with the Saradha chit fund scam case.Kumar’s lawyer mentioned the matter for urgent listing before a vacation bench comprising Justices Indira Banerjee and Sanjiv Khanna.The counsel said the apex court had on May 17 granted seven days time to Kumar to approach the competent court for legal remedies but they want extension of time as lawyers in Kolkata courts are presently on a strike.Also read: SC vacates order granting protection from arrest to Rajeev Kumar Kumar’s counsel said four days have already elapsed and they needed time to approach the competent court in Kolkata. However, the bench said since the May 17 order was passed by a three-judge bench, they can approach the registry for listing of the matter before an appropriate bench.“You are a lawyer and you know that CJI is the master of roster,” the bench told Kumar’s counsel and asked him to approach the registry for listing of the matter.On May 17, a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi had withdrawn the protection from arrest granted to Kumar by its February 5 order. The bench, however, had said that the protection to Kumar would continue for seven days from May 17 to enable him to approach the competent court for relief. COMMENTlast_img read more

Malaysias industrial output in May exceeds forecast

first_img Related News Business News 11 Jun 2019 April industrial output exceeds forecast Economy 10 May 2019 March industrial production index exceeds forecast KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s industrial production index in May rose 4% on-yearwhich was above the Bloomberg survey of 3.5%, underpinned by electricity, manufacturing and mining.The Statistics Department said on Friday the growth was driven by the increase in all indices: electricity (5.7%), manufacturing (4.2%) and Mining (3.0%).“The manufacturing sector output rose by 4.2% in May 2019 as compared to May 2018 after recording a growth of 4.3% in April 2019,” it said. The department said major sub-sectors contributing to the increase in May 2019 were transport equipment and other manufactures products (6.9%), electrical and electronics products (3.7%) and petroleum, chemical, rubber and plastic products (3.2%).It said the output of mining sector increased by 3% from a year ago, which is the highest growth since September 2017. It pointed out the growth was contributed by the natural gas index expanded by 7.6% while the crude oil index fell by 2%.As for the electricity sector, its output increased by 5.7% in May 2019 from a year ago. AdChoices广告 Tags / Keywords: Economy 12 Jun 2019 April industrial output expands at faster pace Related News Economy {{category}} {{time}} {{title}}last_img read more

UP law panel drafts stringent law for mob lynching recommends life term

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