APTN National NewsThe Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation in northern Alberta is suing Shell Canada. They say Shell has failed to follow through on written promises to protect the local environment from tar sands damage, and they hope to halt a planned expansion of a nearby tar sands project. Eriel Deranger, a member of the Sierra Club, joins anchor Michael Hutchinson to talk about the legal move.
Something strange is happening with the baseball hot stove this winter. Not only is it not hot, it almost seems like it’s off.Available stars who would ordinarily have been snapped up long ago are still sitting on the shelf, which has the MLB Players Association panicking — and looking for answers. Is this simply a weak class of free agents? Have all 30 teams finally figured out that spending boatloads on veterans is usually dumb? Is the gap between contending and tanking teams to blame? Or is it just — gasp! — collusion, like the kind owners engaged in three decades ago?It’s difficult to pin down exactly why this offseason has proceeded so slowly. But the sluggish pace it has taken is quantifiable — and eye-catching. I gathered data on ESPN’s top 40 free agents1For all players ranked 40th or better on ESPN’s yearly free-agent rankings. In some years, the rankings skipped numbers, presumably because some players were ranked but did not actually hit free agency. This means that the top 40 doesn’t always include a full 40 players. for each winter going back to the 2006-07 offseason and tracked how many days it took after the end of World Series before those top players were signed. (Players technically become free agents the morning after the World Series ends.) For instance, today is Day 82 since the Astros beat the Dodgers in Game 7 of the Fall Classic, and only 43 percent of the top 40 free agents — including only two of the top 10 — have put pen to paper. How abnormal is that? Between 2006 and 2016, the average offseason saw 76 percent of the top 40 free agents inking deals by Day 82 of the offseason.Here’s what this offseason looks like so far compared to how long it usually takes for top free agents to sign: The freeze on this year’s class of free agents is alarming. For one thing, it took much longer than usual for a team to break the free-agent ice. And, aside from a brief acceleration during the winter meetings in mid-December, the pace of signings has been markedly slower than normal — particularly early in the offseason, when the biggest flurry of signings usually takes place.Only the 2008-09 offseason, when just 53 percent of top-40 players were signed by this stage of the winter, came close to lagging as much as the current slowdown. And even then, most of the biggest available names had already been signed by this point in the offseason. Granted, three of those (Mark Teixeira, CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett) were all picked up by spendthrift Yankees. By contrast, the current Yankees made their big splash in the trade market, where they acquired Giancarlo Stanton, and the team is now trying to squeak in under the luxury-tax threshold rather than adding free agents. Perhaps in the past, slow free-agent classes could always count on the Yankees to open the pocketbook and keep the money flowing — but not this year.Before we jump to any conclusions about the owners being in cahoots, it’s worth noting that many of the explanations for this year’s issues contain at least a kernel of truth. This class of free agents is indeed mediocre — in terms of wins above replacement2Using an average of the WAR metrics found at FanGraphs and Baseball-Reference. produced by top-40 players in their previous three seasons, this is the worst crop of available talent since at least 2006.3Looking only at the most recent previous season improves this group’s standing slightly, bringing it up to sixth out of the 12 free-agent classes I examined. At the top of ESPN’s free-agent rankings, ace starter Yu Darvish is as good as any prized free agent from yesteryear, but many of the names further down the list come with legitimate issues, including Jake Arrieta’s declining value, J.D. Martinez’s inconsistent defense and Alex Cobb’s durability.It’s also true that more teams are tanking now than in years past. And the proliferation of statheads in MLB front offices over the past decade could explain why teams are no longer scrambling to offer big free-agent contracts to players who are already past their primes.As Yahoo’s Jeff Passan wrote in an excellent column last week, that final point is part of a bigger issue with the fundamental way baseball’s economics works, particularly as younger players generate more and more of the game’s on-field value. But if teams are suddenly realizing the folly of free agency, it’s also worth asking why they’ve chosen to simultaneously make their stand this year. (Bad deals still got made last season, though perhaps not as many as in the past.) The alternative explanation — collusion — is notoriously difficult to prove, however, and seems like an unbelievable risk for a group of owners who are already making money hand over fist.But the simple truth is that we don’t really know why the market for free agents is so sluggish this year. We can only prove that it is indeed historically slow-moving — and that fact alone demands an explanation.
Source = e-Travel Blackboard: M.H P&O Cruises allowed to enforce ‘schoolies’ ban A ban by Carnival Australia on ‘schoolies’ cruises will continue after the Australian Human Rights Commission gave the company, operators of P&O Cruises, a two and a half year exemption from age discrimination legislation.The exemption, which covers ‘unauthorised events’ on its ships, allows P&O Cruises to apply the policy without being in breach of the Commonwealth’s Age Discrimination Act. The ban, which includes strict policies on the responsible service of alcohol and zero tolerance of excessive behaviour, is key to the company’s ‘safety-first’ approach. “Our strong stance on ‘schoolies’ cruises is part of an approach that aims to prevent unauthorised events that could compromise the health, safety and security of our passengers and crew,” Carnival Australia chief executive Ann Sherry said.“The Australian Human Rights Commission’s determination is a commonsense outcome that will be welcomed by all cruise passengers wanting to enjoy a relaxed cruise holiday without the risk of being subject to excessive behaviour. “It effectively recognises that P&O Cruises discriminates in favour of maintaining a safe and secure environment on board our vessels.” Key to Carnival Australia’s policy is the proviso that any passenger under the age of 19 travelling between 1 November and 7 January from an Australian port must be accompanied by a responsible adult.
Qvest Media has signed a partnership with video processing technology company V-Nova to integrate the latter’s Perseus video and image processing systems.The agreement, which was officially signed at Qvest Media’s stand here at IBC, will see Qvest Media offer the Perseus codec and compression technology.“With Perseus, V-Nova meets the challenge of constantly increasing amounts of data and ever higher data rates,” said Daniel Url, managing director of Qvest Media – formerly Wellen+Nöthen Group.Guido Meardi, CEO and founder of V-Nova said: “With Qvest Media we have found a strong partner for bringing our products to a large base of enterprises for professional solutions. We are convinced that we will be able to gradually expand our activities in the broadcast and media environment thanks to the extensive network that our new partner enjoys with manufacturers and users in this industry.”
Smithsonian Networks and Blue Ant Media are expanding the distribution of Smithsonian Channel in Asia-Pacific, Turkey, Israel, the Middle East and Africa.Blue Ant Media will operate the network’s HD and 4K SVOD platforms, free-to-air and pay TV linear television services and branded programming blocks in these territories.The agreement combines Smithsonian Channel’s brand and programming with Blue Ant Media’s affiliate sales, marketing and operations presence, and marks the latest partnership between the two companies.Smithsonian Networks and Blue Ant have previously worked together to launch the Smithsonian Channel in Canada and on their joint venture, Love Nature 4K, which is available via linear TV and to stream in 60-plus countries.“Blue Ant Media is uniquely positioned to seamlessly facilitate Smithsonian Channel’s entry into new territories in Asia, Africa and the Middle East,” said Tom Hayden, president of Smithsonian Networks. “We are very pleased to continue our successful relationship with Blue Ant Media in expanding the brand’s global presence.”Blue Ant Media’s CEO, kids and global networks, Ward Platt, said: “The Smithsonian Channel is an iconic brand committed to extraordinary factual storytelling through documentaries and series covering science, nature, culture, history, air and spacecraft, stemming from the Smithsonian Institute’s impressive 130-plus year history as a cultural hub.”“Blue Ant Media has a suite of global brands, with great programming, that are rapidly growing in popularity all over the world, and a strong team on the ground in multiple territories internationally, which will see Smithsonian Channel grow its footprint even further in markets such as South East Asia, India, China, Japan, Australia, Middle East and Africa.”Smithsonian Networks is a joint venture between Showtime Networks and the Smithsonian Institution, while Blue Ant Media is a privately held content producer, distributor and channel operator.
In This Issue. * Housing continues to show moderation… * Confidence at a six year high… * Brazil’s credit rating… * Trying to talk the euro lower… And, Now, Today’s Pfennig For Your Thoughts! US consumer confidence soars… Good day.and welcome to Wednesday morning. As Chris mentioned yesterday, I’ll be taking you through to the weekend and then we should be working our way back to a normal schedule next week. The combo of spring break and tax time makes it a busy stretch for many both at home and work, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. We didn’t see much drama in the markets after Chris signed off so we were led by leftovers as well as the economic data. The data here in the US yielded mixed results but I think when all of the dust settled, the markets were left feeling more upbeat. The measures of home prices were ho-hum. This report is behind the times since its giving us data from January, but the S&P/Case Shiller index on a monthly basis showed slight improvement while it actually came in lower on an annual basis. The index, which evaluates data in only 20 cities, included prices increased 13.2% compared to January 2013 and represented the smallest gain since August. Most economists are looking for home prices to continue rising, but not as much as last year. I think expectations on several asset classes, which include both real estate and equities, have been adjusted downward when compared to the large moves from 2013. Government officials have voiced concern that housing is still progressing relatively slow, but its shaping up to be an interesting dynamic as tapering continues and interest rate expectations migrate higher. Housing is a sector that is very sensitive to the interest rate environment, so as we move closer toward the unofficial end of tapering in October and assuming yields continue rising, I’m sure the Fed will be paying very close attention. In looking at the St. Louis area, I would say home prices were higher on aggregate but not by 13%. Depending where you live, results may be higher or lower, but at the end of the day, most locations have seen some kind of an increase. Since we’re already talking about housing, let’s move into February new home sales. Purchases of new homes fell 3.3% to an annual level of 440k, which was the lowest level in five months, but we are coming off a strong performance in January. This report follows the recent trend in housing as a whole where figures are showing moderation. I’m just waiting for the March and April figures to see if we have any kind of spike from pent up demand on account of the weather. Anyway, new home sales only make up a small percentage of the residential market so existing home sales carry much more weight. In fact, new homes only accounted for about 8% of the market last year and then taking it one step further, home purchases as a whole only accounts for a small part of the mortgage market. New home sales are counted when the contract gets signed instead of at close for existing homes, so they are typically used to get a current market snapshot. Its just going to be nice when we can’t use weather as an excuse so that we can get a better idea of where things actually stand. The report that stole the show really had everyone buzzing was the March consumer confidence index. It seems like there is a different confidence report for every day of the week, but the latest from the Conference Board strayed away from recent readings, which have been showing some deterioration. The current figure of 82.3 blew away both expectations and the previous reading as it was the highest since January 2008. I don’t know if those surveyed were in an extra good mood since it’s a little warmer outside or what, but it seems like this is a move that isn’t completely supported. Since consumer confidence drives consumer spending which then drives the US economy, a lot of weight was placed on this report. The measures of consumer expectations and the labor market over the next six months along with current business conditions all increased while the outlook on incomes decreased. Lynn Franco, who is the director of economic indicators at the Conference Board said that while consumers were moderately more upbeat about future job prospects and the overall economy, they were less optimistic about income growth. The measure of present conditions actually fell for the first time in five months so it just depends whether you’re talking about today or the future as to whether that warm and fuzzy feeling is present. The last report, which was the Richmond Fed index, missed by quite a bit as it came in at -7. The experts were calling for a reading of 4 and last month’s result was -6. The report indicated shipments and new orders declined while unemployment was relatively flat. So far, this is the only regional report with elevated disappointment. Moving into today’s data, we should get some market movers with durable goods and Market PMI, but that’s the extent of US data. The currency market was relatively quiet yesterday and most currencies were able to stretch a little higher against the dollar, albeit in a fairly tight range. The South African rand and Brazilian real were the only two currencies to break away from the peak as they appreciated about 0.9% and 0.5% respectively. The general risk on trading theme and higher interest rate differentials were more than enough to push the currencies higher despite shaky domestic fundamentals. We have the South African central bank meeting tomorrow and they are expected to keep rates on hold while indicating higher rates may soon be around the corner. Depending on whether you’re a glass half empty or half full kind of person, the action taken by S&P to Brazil’s credit rating will have different meanings. For the glass half empty crowd, S&P cut their credit rating one level to BBB-, which is the lowest investment grade rating. S&P said in a statement the downgrade reflects the combination of fiscal slippage, the prospect that fiscal execution will remain weak amid subdued growth in the coming years, a constrained ability to adjust policy ahead of the October elections, and some weakening in Brazil’s external accounts. They went on to say these factors underscore the government’s diminished room for maneuver in the face of external shocks. At the same time, they changed the outlook to stable from negative so this made the glass half full campers happy. The currency market decided to focus on the positive development since this indicates further downgrades will be less likely. The concern, however, is whether or not Moody’s and Fitch will decide to follow suit and cut their ratings as well. Regardless, a higher interest rate differential is here to stay in Brazil and that is what the currency market wants to see. Since the euro has been pretty sticky around 1.38, we’re starting to see more and more ECB members voicing concern and trying to do their part in jawboning the currency lower. We had one member say that negative interest rates were a tool that could be used to deal with a stronger euro. Negative rates just means that banks would be required to pay interest when parking money at the ECB instead of the other way around. We also had Bundesbank president saying that the ECB could also consider buying Eurozone government bonds or top rated private sector assets to help support the economy if needed. Part of the reason the euro has risen in value was due to its resistance to additional stimulus as the economy shows improvement, so this was a material change of stance to even consider QE. Other than that, we didn’t see many other headlines relating to the currency market. The Swiss franc finished in last place with a 0.25% loss while the euro and Norwegian krone were sitting on fractional losses as I left last night. Gold and silver were both able to hold steady and post slight returns yesterday as technical traders and those buying on dips offered some support. After the initial drop last week in the renminbi, it has remained fairly steady and put together a string of slight upward momentum. As I came in this morning, it was a mixed bag of nuts as it relates to the currency market. We have a handful of currencies higher this morning, which includes the Aussie, kiwi, rand, and loonie while the Swedish krona, Swiss franc, and euro are all lower this morning. With that said, the dollar index is marginally higher this morning. Australia’s central bank conveyed optimism about the economy and Swedish consumer confidence fell more than expected, so that’s what it looks like from the top and the bottom so far today. To recap.We had housing data give mixed signals as home prices were higher on a monthly basis while they were lower on a year over year comparison. New home sales fell but we were coming off a strong showing the previous month. The market moving report was consumer confidence as it increased to the highest level since January 2008. The currency market was fairly quiet with the rand and real the only two currencies with significant moves. S&P cut Brazil’s credit rating but upgraded the outlook. ECB members are doing what they can to talk the euro lower. Currencies today 3/26/14. American Style: A$ .9227, kiwi .86, C$ .8975, euro 1.3798, sterling 1.6538, Swiss $1.1287. European Style: rand 10.6470, krone 6.0419, SEK 6.4545, forint 226.19, zloty 3.0293, koruna 19.89, RUB 35.4250, yen 102.36, sing 1.2661, HKD 7.7581, INR 60.14, China 6.1440, pesos 13.1031, BRL 2.3054, Dollar Index 80.06, Oil $99.39, 10-year 2.75%, Silver $20.08, Platinum $1.417.50, Palladium $779.00, and Gold. $1,316.75. That’s it for today.After a cold start yesterday, it turned out to be a nice decent day and its supposed to be even better today so hopefully winter has made its last stand and we’re finally in the clear. The Cardinals open the season on the road Monday in Cincinnati so that marks the official start of spring as far as I’m concerned and I can’t wait to hear Mike Shannon’s voice on the radio. I finally made it to the gym for the first time in a couple of weeks on Monday night and I’m still sore so I definitely need to get back to the routine. With a lot of empty desks to deal with, I need to get this out so that I’m not starting the day playing catch up. Until tomorrow, Have a Great Day! Mike Meyer Assistant Vice President EverBank World Markets
Hemp, on the other hand, has almost no THC. It’s next to impossible to get high from smoking it. But it’s high in CBD, which has medicinal properties and no intoxicating effects.CBD has been proven to help epileptics control and reduce the number of seizures they have. That’s according to two peer-reviewed studies published in The New England Journal of Medicine and The Lancet.In December, I showed you the remarkable story of Charlotte Figi. After only one day of treatment using CBD oils, Charlotte went from having 40 seizures every day to going a week without one.Charlotte is 12 now. She still takes daily CBD treatments. She still has some seizures. But they aren’t nearly as frequent or as severe as they were before she started her CBD treatments. Today, she can eat, walk, talk, and live a mostly normal life.However, even with all of these incredible benefits, the feds don’t see the big picture…Why the Feds Have It All WrongEven though hemp has next to no THC, it’s a strain of the cannabis plant.That’s why the feds used to classify it – along with regular cannabis, heroin, LSD, ecstasy, and peyote – as a Schedule I substance, its most severe category.Hemp’s former classification was patently ridiculous.Even if you buy the argument that high-THC cannabis should be illegal – which I don’t – it made no sense to outlaw hemp as well. Nobody was getting high on hemp. But the CBD it contains is helping people like Charlotte Figi escape the hell of severe epilepsy.Now, hemp wasn’t always illegal. Presidents George Washington and Thomas Jefferson both cultivated it. And it used to be one of the main cash crops that American farmers grew for more than a century.Congress treated hemp like any other agricultural commodity until it passed the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937. Cannabis prohibitionist Harry Anslinger, the first commissioner of the U.S. Treasury Department’s Federal Bureau of Narcotics, drafted it. His bill put punitive taxes on hemp and cannabis production… and made it illegal to be in possession of either without a license.The feds temporarily lifted these restrictions in 1942. At the time, the industrial fibers used to produce rope, cords, and cloth were in short supply. The feds wanted farmers to grow as much hemp as possible, in order to produce more of these materials and support the U.S. military in World War II.The U.S. Department of Agriculture even produced a movie called Hemp for Victory explaining the benefits of hemp cultivation to farmers. It also highlighted the history of hemp and hemp products as well as the best hemp-growing practices.Obviously, the government was aware of hemp’s industrial uses. But it reinstituted the effective prohibition of hemp after the war ended – despite its medical and non-medical applications. It was one of the most boneheaded things the government has ever done. Click here for more details Casey Research Readers: Expiring In Less than 12 Hours [Last Chance] Gone Forever At Midnight…At midnight, your best chance to join Jason Bodner’s Palm Beach Trader research service disappears… forever. And with it, your chance to claim access to Jason’s #1 recommendation and to see gains of up to $9,385 (starting at tomorrow’s opening bell). Recommended Link — — Tech Investors Take Note: Trump Makes 5G a Matter of National ImportancePresident Trump’s message makes it clear: 5G is becoming a matter of national importance. Jeff Brown, former executive and Silicon Valley insider, has been saying this privately to his followers for the better part of a year now. “The completion of the 5G wireless network is essential if America is to maintain its economic dominance over countries like China. That’s why the president and companies are pulling out all the stops to get the network built. As 5G revolutionizes our communications networks, it will also send a handful of companies soaring.” While the early-bird 5G investor window may soon be closing, there’s one company expected to be far ahead of the rest. And you can still get a piece of it for $6 a share… Growing hemp remained illegal for the next 70 or so years… until recently.That’s because President Trump signed the Farm Bill into law this past December, which legalized hemp at the federal level. Now, hemp is treated as an agricultural commodity, not a Schedule I substance.Today, there are an estimated 25,000 non-medical products that can be created from hemp. It can be used in food and beverages, cosmetics, nutritional supplements, clothing, textiles, paper, and insulation materials… to name just a few.In fact, before legalization, nearly $700 million worth of hemp-based goods were already sold in the U.S. every year. These products were made with hemp imported from China and Canada… the latter of which legalized growing hemp in 1998.It was one of those odd legal loopholes. You couldn’t grow hemp in the U.S., but you could import certain parts of the hemp plant that weren’t illegal. In other words, the U.S. was needlessly subsidizing foreigners… not exactly an “America First” deal, which is one reason why I suspect Trump legalized hemp and will eventually legalize cannabis outright.How Big the Market for Legal Hemp Is in the U.S.Americans already spend more than $700 million on products that contain hemp every year… See the graph below for the breakdown:But that’s just a snapshot of where the market is right now. Now that hemp is legal, the market will truly explode.It’s worth noting that the oracles at Whole Foods say hemp will be a “Top 10” product this year.Drugmakers will be able to openly research other uses of CBD derived from hemp.There’s no telling what medical treatments they’ll develop. What we can be sure of is that all of this will increase demand for CBD and the plant it’s extracted from – hemp.How You Can Gain Exposure to Legal Hemp StocksNow that President Trump has legalized hemp at the federal level, the floodgates have opened for hemp production – as well as CBD oil extraction – on a massive industrial scale in the U.S.I expect the CBD oil market to explode (recall that industrial hemp is used for its rich CBD content.)Market research suggests that the U.S. CBD market was worth around $500 million last year.But it could easily skyrocket to over $10 billion within the next three years. That’s 20 times its current size.As impressive as that sounds, I think it’s probably conservative. Sales of Epidiolex, the CBD drug the FDA approved to treat epilepsy, are expected to reach $1.3 billion over a similar time frame. And that’s just one CBD product.I think the U.S. CBD market could easily grow 20 times larger in the years ahead.Shares of select publicly traded companies in the CBD industry could surge even higher.This is presenting investors with another new, huge opportunity to profit from the legal cannabis megatrend. The time to position yourself is now.You must remember to be cautious when investing in legal hemp and cannabis stocks. Some of them are quality companies. But there are also plenty of bad actors out there trying to ride a wave of the mania.Regards,Nick Giambruno Chief Analyst, Crisis InvestingP.S. Only one CBD oil stock is uniquely positioned to ride the crest of this wealth wave. This is the most lucrative opportunity I have seen in a long time. That’s why watching my new video presentation is imperative. Go here to view now.Reader MailbagDo you think legal hemp is a good thing or a bad thing? Will you be investing in the sector, or sitting on the sidelines? Let us know at email@example.com.We at Casey Research…Would like to cordially invite you to join Doug Casey, Nick Giambruno, and all of your favorite Casey Research gurus at the second annual Legacy Investment Summit.It’ll be in southern California from September 23-25… and it’s bound to be one of the most exciting investing conferences this year.For a limited time, you can get your tickets for hundreds less than everyone else will pay. Go here for your special offer. This is urgent – click here now before the deadline Recommended Link Justin’s note: President Trump has been an ally of the legal cannabis markets… He’s rolled back a bunch of restrictions and signed the 2018 Farm Bill into law. If you’ve been following the Dispatch – or any of Crisis Investing chief analyst Nick Giambruno’s work – you know this is a huge deal. Industrial hemp is legal at the federal level – for the first time in over 70 years.But people still don’t grasp how big of a deal legal hemp is… or why it’s going to send a niche market soaring. Early investors have a huge opportunity in this space.Read on for details on this money-making sector… and how you can profit.By Nick Giambruno, chief analyst, Crisis InvestingIn today’s essay, I’m going to show you another major milestone on the road to full cannabis legalization in the U.S.It centers on one of America’s forgotten cash crops…The applications for this crop greatly exceed those of regular cannabis. And the potential upside is almost impossible to calculate.I’m talking about hemp, which is now legal for the first time in over 70 years after the government legalized it last year.I’ll explain all the details about this big opportunity in a moment. But first, let me back up and explain what hemp is.What Is Hemp?Hemp and marijuana are from the same plant species, Cannabis sativa. They look similar, which leads to some confusion. But hemp and the type of cannabis that people smoke have different chemical compositions.Source: Naturescbdoil.comThe cannabis plant contains over 100 different cannabinoids. These are chemical compounds that react with cannabinoid receptors in the nervous and immune systems.The two most common cannabinoids are THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol). Regular cannabis contains a lot of THC. That’s the chemical that gets you “high” when you ingest it.
When Allison Ruddick was diagnosed with stage 3 colorectal cancer in October 2014, she turned to the world of hashtags.After her initial diagnosis it wasn’t clear if the cancer had metastasized, so she was in for a nerve-wracking wait, she says. She wanted outside advice. “But they don’t really give you a handbook, so you search kind of anywhere for answers,” Ruddick says. “Social media was one of the first places I went.”Under the hashtags #colorectalcancer and #nevertooyoung on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, other patients were sharing a fuller picture of their experience with cancer treatments.Later she found even more advice on specialized message boards. Patients posted everything from the details of their surgeries to the ice packs they liked best as they recovered. “These weren’t things that my doctor could tell me, and as much as I appreciate their expertise, it’s also really limited by the fact that they’ve never really experienced any of this themselves,” Ruddick says.Partly because of that experience gap, doctors and drug companies are keen to learn from online communities, too. They’re analyzing social networks to get a faster, wider look into how patients react to drugs, sometimes picking up information about side effects that clinical trials missed.The rule of threeStanford University dermatologist Bernice Kwong specializes in skin conditions that tag along with cancer treatments. In her practice and on patient message boards, she’s constantly on the lookout for symptoms that could be drug reactions.In January 2017, a patient came to Kwong’s office with an unusual complaint. “I’ve noticed that when I work out, I just get really hot,” he told Kwong. “I don’t sweat anymore, and I used to sweat so much.” He was taking a drug called Tarceva, or erlotinib, that’s used against lung cancer.At first, Kwong thought the problem might be hormonal. But soon after, two more of her patients at Stanford on the same drug reported that they’d also stopped sweating. “Anytime something hits three, I think, OK, I gotta look into this a little bit more,” she says.But she hadn’t seen any reports before of a lack of sweating — hypohidrosis — as a side effect for Tarceva. Her sample size of three patients was small. She’d need more data to figure things out.From talking with patients and perusing online forums, Kwong knew people discussed their treatments and side effects online. In fact, hundreds of thousands of people participate in support groups and communities she’d looked at on the website Inspire. She partnered with the site with the idea that its trove of patient reports could connect more dots between hypohidrosis and Tarceva.A sharper data setInspire’s focused groups are filled with patients’ experiences with diseases and treatment, so analyzing posts requires less filtering than Facebook or Twitter data would, says Nigam Shah, a Stanford University bioinformatics specialist who collaborated with Kwong. It also helped that the skin reactions they were interested in are relatively easy for patients to describe.Still, the posts on Inspire’s boards are less precise than insurance claims and health records typically used for studies on side effects.Take loss of sweating. Most doctors would refer to that as hypohidrosis, so a records-based study could focus on that phrase. In online message boards there’s a lot of variety. One person’s “I can’t sweat anymore” might be another’s “I’m overheating.”Kwong, Shah and their colleagues used a deep learning algorithm to process the phrases surrounding reports of symptoms, basically finding contextual clues to identify the different ways patients referred to side effects.In 8 million posts on Inspire from a 10-year period, 4,909 users mentioned Tarceva, or erlotinib generically. Although clinical reports don’t link the drug and hypohidrosis, 23 patients wrote about the medicine and loss of sweating in the same post — a statistically significant connection, Kwong says. The research group’s findings were published in JAMA Oncology in March.Using the same approach to monitor posts about a different class of immunotherapy cancer drugs, the researchers found mentions of autoimmune blistering that also predated the clinical reports of the side effect.Given the stakes of cancer treatment, Kwong says she’s inclined to help patients manage side effects instead of stopping a given drug. But earlier alerts from systems like this could have made a difference in her practice. “If we had had this program already, I would’ve been looking out for [blistering] sooner and maybe I would’ve noticed it earlier in some patients,” Kwong says.How clinical trials miss side effectsFrom numbers alone, it’s no surprise that clinical trials for drugs don’t pick up every side effect. The Food and Drug Administration first approved Tarceva in 2004 on the basis of a trial that enrolled 731 patients, 488 of whom received the drug. Uncommon effects might not show up in a group that size.On Inspire’s message boards, more than 10 times as many patients reported using Tarceva, so it’s reasonable to imagine that online posts could include reports of rarer side effects.And while drug trials do collect data on side effects, their overriding goal is to find out whether or not a drug works, says Dr. Aaron Kesselheim, a professor of medicine at Harvard University. “After a drug is approved, it is absolutely essential to continue to observe, follow and study the drug rigorously as it’s used in a larger population to try to really get a handle on the safety of the drug,” he says.Collecting data about a drug from insurance claims and health records typically happens with quite a time lag. So mining the Internet and social media for casual patient reports is tempting, Kesselheim says, because of its potential scale and speed. But the approach also has drawbacks. “You just get this tidal wave of data, and it’s hard to know how to assess it in a rigorous and thoughtful fashion,” he says.That hasn’t stopped drug companies from wading in. Roche has sampled mentions of their products from Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook and blogs to learn more about drug safety. GlaxoSmithKline has tried it too, analyzing millions of mentions of drugs from Twitter and Facebook.Much of the work published so far has focused on drug reactions. But scraping public social media data isn’t just a matter of product safety. The company Synthesio touts its social data services for drugmakers as a way to answer customer questions, conduct market research and influence purchasing.Surfing responsiblyIn terms of extending studies to mine even bigger networks, like Twitter or Facebook, for potential side effects, Kesselheim points to issues of representation and privacy. As with any analysis, a deep learning model like the one Shah used on the Inspire message boards can only make conclusions about the information it sees.And it’s hard to guarantee that message boards and social media represent all patients. In 2012, researchers gave 231 breast cancer patients in rural Michigan and Wisconsin computers, Internet access and training to use an online cancer support group. The researchers found that white women were much more likely to log on and post in the group than black women. Younger women were also more likely to post information.While the long-standing approach to post-approval drug studies — using health records and claims data — may be slower, Kesselheim says, they’re more established. “There are methodologies and tools that you can use in claims data to try to make sure that you are making conclusions that can be generalizable across different races and ethnicity and genders and parts of America,” he says.There’s also the issue of privacy — patients’ health records are protected by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, whereas public data online aren’t, Kesselheim says.For Stanford researcher Shah, this wasn’t an issue. Inspire’s privacy statement tells patients their posts may be used for research if they’re not private, and Shah feels comfortable following common sense rules when using public data. “As in, if somebody did [something] with my data and I would be upset, don’t do that with someone else’s data,” he says.But the newness of social media makes Kesselheim wary. “There are big questions that remain about how patient privacy is upheld in those social media contexts, and I think that’s a really big issue to think about moving forward as people are trying to use those outlets to provide insight into drug safety and side effects.”As a patient, Ruddick isn’t bothered by the idea of researchers and pharmaceutical companies studying data from social media and patient message boards, as long as the data are public or there’s mention of data sharing in a privacy statement.She works as a communications director in New York City, so she’s thought a lot about the nature of information online. “If I’m putting something out there on the Internet, it’s for the Internet. I know the world is going to see it,” Ruddick says.She knows other patients might feel differently, but she’s optimistic that analyzing patients’ interactions online could improve the treatments available. “It’s one thing, being in a lab and developing these drugs,” she says. “But it’s a completely different thing to see how they’re being used out there in the world, and to see how they’re affecting somebody’s life.” Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.
State officials say flu-related deaths in North Carolina have reached a modern-day record this season.The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services said Thursday that one person died from flu in the past week, bringing this season’s statewide total to 379 deaths. Most of those were among people age 65 and older.This season’s total is much higher than either the 2016-17 or 2014-15 seasons. In each of those, there were 218 confirmed flu-related deaths.Officials say it’s still not too late to get a flu shot. Although the six-month flu season officially ended March 31, flu has been known to linger several weeks into April and early May.
A disabled artist-activist’s project to “make visible the human cost of austerity” in the run-up to tomorrow’s general election has visited the prime minister’s constituency, home to one of the most high-profile victims of his government’s austerity programme.Liz Crow’s We Are Figures project has seen her sculpt 650 figures out of river mud, one for every UK constituency and each linked to an individual story about a victim of austerity.And on Saturday (2 May), We Are Figures was in Witney, a constituency that is not only represented by the prime minister, but was also home to Mark Wood.Wood starved to death four months after he was found fit for work, and subsequently had his out-of-work disability benefits and housing benefit removed. Among those visiting the travelling exhibition of clay figures were members of the local Green party, of which Wood had been a member.At one point, there were UKIP, Green and Labour supporters in the We Are Figures van discussing the austerity stories at the same time.Lizzy Maries, a tour guide on the We Are Figures tour, said: “There was a lot of empathy. These were real stories that have happened to real people and that resonated with a lot of people.”She said that all of the visitors to the van in Witney – including Conservative party members – were “really respectful” to the project.She said: “So far, nobody has wanted to argue with us and say, ‘It’s not true, it’s all lies,’ although a lot of people do say, ‘We need austerity.’”Maries said she believed the exhibition would make some people think again about who they vote for.But she said that We Are Figures was not just about the election. “It’s also about keeping an eye on the people around you. It’s about the society we live in. It is about us as people creating a society that supports one another.“I definitely think that for a few people it will make them think. I also hope it will make them think past the election.”Pictured: The We Are Figures van outside David Cameron’s constituency office in Witney
Next Article –shares Microsoft’s Tay AI is youthful beyond just its vaguely hip-sounding dialogue — it’s overly impressionable, too.The company has grounded its Twitter chat bot (that is, temporarily shutting it down) after people taught it to repeat conspiracy theories, racist views and sexist remarks. We won’t echo them here, but they involved 9/11, GamerGate, Hitler, Jews, Trump and less-than-respectful portrayals of President Obama. Yeah, it was that bad. The account is visible as we write this, but the offending tweets are gone; Tay has gone to “sleep” for now.”Tay” went from “humans are super cool” to full nazi in <24 hrs and I'm not at all concerned about the future of AI pic.twitter.com/xuGi1u9S1A— Gerry (@geraldmellor) March 24, 2016It's not certain how Microsoft will teach Tay better manners, although it seems like word filters would be a good start. The company tells Business Insider that it's making "adjustments" to curb the AI's "inappropriate" remarks, so it's clearly aware that something has to change in its machine learning algorithms. Frankly, though, this kind of incident isn't a shock -- if we've learned anything in recent years, it's that leaving something completely open to input from the internet is guaranteed to invite abuse. 2 min read Microsoft Grounds Its AI Chat Bot After it Learns Sexism and Racism From Twitter Users Image credit: TayandYou | Twitter Register Now » March 24, 2016 Artificial Intelligence Free Webinar | July 31: Secrets to Running a Successful Family Business Add to Queue This story originally appeared on Engadget Jon Fingas Learn how to successfully navigate family business dynamics and build businesses that excel.
Apply Now » If Uber Drivers Are Employees, They’re Owed $730 Million More, Say U.S. Court Papers This story originally appeared on Reuters Add to Queue Court Cases Image credit: Spencer Platt | Getty Images Next Article 3 min read –shares Drivers who worked for ride-hailing service Uber in California and Massachusetts over the past seven years would have been entitled to an estimated $730 million in expense reimbursements had they been employees rather than contractors, according to court documents made public on Monday.Uber and smaller rival Lyft are attempting to settle lawsuits by drivers who contend they should be classified as employees and therefore entitled to reimbursement for expenses, including gasoline and vehicle maintenance. Drivers currently pay those costs themselves.According to attorneys for Uber drivers, the total potential damages in the case are $852 million, when including a claim to recover tips. The figure is based on rates for mileage reimbursement set by the U.S. government and on data provided by Uber Technologies Inc.The company, meanwhile, calculates damages at $429 million, mainly due to a lower mileage rate.The figures had been redacted in the original settlement deal proposed last month, but a San Francisco federal judge ordered them unsealed. The new data reveals how much of a risk employee classification is for on-demand tech companies like Uber. The proposed $100 million settlement keeps Uber drivers classified as contractors, though U.S. regulators are still reviewing the issue.Uber drivers in California and Massachusetts were entitled to about $122 million in tips, the filings show. That means Uber made about $732 million in commissions in those two states since 2009, based on an assumed 20 percent tip rate – more than $100 million less than it would have cost to reimburse drivers for expenses and tips.An Uber representative declined to comment.The judge must decide whether the $100 million Uber settlement is fair, and the total potential damages at play will likely bear on his analysis. The deal represents about 12 percent of the potential $852 million in damages.Lyft had agreed to settle its class action for $12.25 million, but a separate federal judge rejected the deal because it represented only about 9 percent of the value of drivers’ claims.While the deal does not elevate drivers to employees, attorneys for drivers have defended it, saying they faced significant risks had the case gone to trial. They also say drivers who have worked several months could be entitled to thousands of dollars each under the settlement.Beyond the money, Uber also agreed to new policies including an appeals process for drivers terminated by Uber.(Reporting by Dan Levine and Heather Somerville; Editing by Matthew Lewis) Reuters 2019 Entrepreneur 360 List May 10, 2016 The only list that measures privately-held company performance across multiple dimensions—not just revenue.
Neongecko Inc. Launches “Neon AI SDK” – New “Software Development Kit for Artificial Intelligence” Supports AI Conversations in Multiple Languages PRNewswireJune 7, 2019, 9:41 pmJune 7, 2019 AI SDKArtificial IntelligenceNeongeckoNewsSocial Media Previous ArticleMastercard Digital Wellness Program to Enhance Transparency, Security and Choice for Online ShoppingNext ArticleBabbleLabs Raises $14 million Series A Financing from Dell Technologies Capital and Intel Capital to Accelerate Speech Technology Customizable Conversation Processing for Business, Education and Home, Supports Interactive Applications, Internet Websites, Home Automation, Voice-Controlled DevicesNeongecko.com Inc. unveiled the “Neon AI Software Development Kit for Conversation Processing” (Neon AI SDK), the most advanced system for developing conversational AI applications. By 2025 more than 50% of human-computer interactions will be by voice (a.k.a. Conversational AI).The Neon AI SDK is the first platform that is preconfigured to enable software developers and hardware designers to quickly produce a full range of voice controlled devices, home automation, smart speakers, interactive applications and conversational websites.Marketing Technology News: StarfishETL Partners with PeopleSense, Inc. The Neon AI SDK provides “Natural Language Understanding” from audio, video, speech-to-text and gestures; and provide responses using text-to-speech, playing audio files, device operations, and home controls through OpenHAB automation.Think Amazon Alexa, Google Home, Apple Siri and Microsoft Cortana – with source code. Neon AI is an “AI Assistant” with a full set of conversational skills, ready for customization. The technology is an integrated suite of services for conversation processing, natural language understanding, translation and AI capable of enabling myriad products and services. The Neon AI SDK is available on GitHub, as a Linux/Python/Java “developers stack” under Ubuntu or MS Windows, and includes skills from Mycroft AI.Marketing Technology News: How Digital Can Save Brick-And-Mortar Retail with Customer Experience ObjectivesNeon AI demonstration applications and devices include: standard websites with Neon Nano™; standard Intel based PCs for a universal smart speaker device and next-generation audio video enabled notebook PCs NeonU™ and NeonX™; and conversational AI enabled websites such as Klat.com (no app or plug-in required). Visit Neon AI Demos for videos showing use cases of the Neon AI SDK.Developers can use the Neon AI SDK for real-time speech-to-text processing for transcriptions and translations, to enable AI skills, and for participation in multiple simultaneous conversations in a single browser session. Conversation segments can be spoken or typed, and can be internal business conversations, business to end-user sales and support, end-user to end-user social media, or connections between family and friends.Marketing Technology News: StarfishETL Partners with PeopleSense, Inc.
France has rallied EU partners to draw up the tax to ensure that global tech platforms such as Google and Facebook pay their fair share © 2018 AFP France for a year has rallied EU partners to draw up the tax which Paris says is necessary to ensure that global tech platforms such as Facebook and Google pay their fair share.Paris fervently argues that the measure would be a popular accomplishment for the EU ahead of European elections next year, in which anti-Brussels populists could do well.However, Ireland leads a small group of countries that argue the tax would also punish European companies and stifle innovation. Dublin, along with Luxembourg and the Netherlands, are the European homes for several US tech giants that would face the tax. “Today is the big battle day over fairness in taxation in the digital economy,” said Hartwig Loger, the finance minister of Austria, which holds the EU’s six-month rotating presidency.”It is our clear goal to have by the end of the year.. the first steps in taxing the digital economy at the European level,” he said.Austria’s self imposed deadline leaves less than three months to get opponents on side as European tax rules require unanimous backing by all EU members. “Let’s see how far we get,” cautioned German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz, who this week was reported to be quietly working against the tax after a secret memo was leaked to the German press. “I share the ambition many have to achieve results already this year,” he added.’Sword of Damocles’Work is based on a proposal by the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, that would create a European tax on “big tech”, based on overall revenue in Europe and not just on profits. But lead opponent Ireland says a growing number of countries are grumbling about hidden problems with the tax, including that it could inadvertently snag European companies.Provoking US President Donald Trump while the threat of a EU-US trade war still looms is also a concern.”If Europe looks to deal with this issue on its own I believe that it runs the risk of… promoting a response from countries that will be affected… at a time in which global trade is under such pressure,” Irish Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe told AFP.Amid the increasing questions, Austria said countries widely backed a French compromise to introduce a sunset clause so that the EU tax would later be replaced by a worldwide deal, once one is reached at the OECD.A sunset clause could serve “as a sword of Damocles motivating the international community to come to an overall … decision,” said Latvian Finance Minister Dana Reizniece-Ozola.But the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, a club of rich nations including the US, has so far failed to reach a consensus on the matter. France urges ‘wake-up call’ on tax for US web giants EU finance ministers battled Saturday over a controversial proposal to slap a European tax on US tech giants amid rising worries that it is ineffective and protectionist. 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: EU ministers do ‘battle’ over digital tax (2018, September 8) retrieved 17 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-09-eu-ministers-digital-tax.html Explore further
The bill would require tech companies to store data in Vietnam, and remove ‘toxic content’ from websites and hand over user information if asked by the government to do so Explore further Vietnam rolls out web monitor to control ‘false information’ Vietnam may give internet companies like Google and Facebook one year to comply with a controversial cybersecurity law, according to a draft decree that outlines how the draconian bill could be implemented. © 2018 AFP The cybersecurity bill, which observers say mimic China’s repressive web control tools, is set to come into effect in January despite drawing sharp criticism from the US, the EU and internet freedom advocates.The bill would require tech companies to store data in the country, and remove “toxic content” from websites and hand over user information if asked by the government to do so.Critics of the bill say it will be a chokehold on criticism in the one-party state where activists are routinely jailed and all independent media are banned.According to a draft decree on how the law may be implemented, published by the Ministry of Public Security Friday, companies offering internet services in Vietnam may be given 12 months to comply.”Enterprises… must archive data (and) set up branches or representative offices in Vietnam,” the decree said.It did not outline the punishment for failing to comply, but any country in breach of the law could be barred from offering its services in Vietnam.An enterprise can mean internet service providers, e-commerce sites, online payment firms and social networks.The draft decree added that companies must store user data in the country for at least 36 months.Personal data required to be stored includes everything from a user’s name to passport number, medical records, credit card information and biometric data.Google declined to comment Saturday, while Facebook did not immediately respond to a request from AFP.The public has two months to provide feedback on the decree, in line with Vietnamese law, though public comments have not traditionally led to dramatic alterations to proposed bills.The law was passed by Vietnam’s rubber-stamp parliament in June, part of a broader crackdown on internet freedoms that has sparked outcry from the country’s activists.This week, the government said it had set up a web monitoring unit that can scan up to 100 million items per day to sniff out “false information”. A few days later officials said 3,000 sites featuring “inappropriate content” had been blocked. With 53 million users, Facebook is by far the leading site in Vietnam, a country of 93 million.It is a crucial platform for activists—and many have been jailed based on Facebook posts—but also a leading site for business owners.Any efforts to block access to the site are likely to spark widespread opposition across the country. Citation: Vietnam could give tech companies one year to obey cyberlaw (2018, November 3) retrieved 17 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-11-vietnam-tech-companies-year-cyberlaw.html This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.