“Our team creates bespoke marketing programs in collaboration with our partners, designed to deliver great value travel choices to our customers. We help build excitement about our partners’ destinations and drive customers to book by creatively communicating across a variety of channels.” Michael Bettridge, Wotif Group’s General Manager said that the deal would help Wotif customers to use Hong Kong as their gateway to Asia. “People have turned to Wotif.com first for their domestic travel needs for many years. This campaign allows us to showcase our extensive range of international product, and tempt our customers to book trips a little further afield, based on our fantastic flight and accommodation deals to Asia’s ‘world city’,” Mr Bettridge said. As part of the deal, Wotif will support Hong Kong’s City Spectacular campaign which will promote Hong Kong from 21 June to 31 August. The new deal means that Wotif will be able to take advantage of a destination in the world’s largest market. Australia’s largest travel website, Wotif, has signed a marketing partnership with the Hong Kong Tourism Board. Source = ETB News: Tom Neale
February 13, 2014 434 Views Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Demand Home Prices Housing Supply Investors Lenders & Servicers Mortgage Rates Redfin Service Providers 2014-02-13 Krista Franks Brock The year started off with relatively strong homebuyer interest, but that interest has not translated into actual home purchases, according to the latest “”Real-Time Demand Pulse””:http://www.redfin.com/research/reports/real-time-demand-pulse#.Uv0VvvldVe8 released Thursday by “”Redfin””:http://www.redfin.com/, a national online real estate brokerage. [IMAGE]After a normal lull during the holiday season, the number of consumers taking home tours increased 53.8 percent in the first month of the year. This monthly increase is similar to that recorded last year–a 50.9 percent increase in home tours over the month of January 2013, according to Redfin’s survey. However, the showing of Redfin customers who made offers at the start of the year is not as strong as last year. The number of offers made in January is up 28.7 percent over the month compared to an increase of 42.6 percent over the same month last year. [COLUMN_BREAK]Redfin takes the misalignment in the comparison between home tours this year and last and home offers this year and last to signify that “”people are still interested in buying, but fewer of them are finding homes they want to make offers on, or perhaps more importantly, that they can afford.”” Rising home prices and interest rates have taken a toll on affordability over the past year, according to Redfin. The brokerage pointed out that a $350,000 home last year with a 30-year fixed-rate loan at 3.41 percent would require a monthly payment of $1,554, whereas the same home would sell for $400,050 today with an interest rate of 4.43 percent and a monthly payment of $2,010. This represents a 29 percent increase in monthly payments for the homebuyer last year versus this year. Another obstacle for both buyers and sellers is low inventory, which declined 9.4 percent year-over-year to its lowest level in four years as of January, according to Redfin. Low inventory provides limited options for potential buyers and discourages some potential sellers from listing their homes. “”Sellers don’t want to put their home on the market until they’re confident there will be something in their price range to move up to,”” said Redfin agent Paul Stone in Denver, Colorado. “”The housing market feels stuck,”” Stone said. Despite Heightened Interest, Home Offers Decline in Data Share
May 16, 2011Congratulations to the April 10th, 2011 workshop graduates:back from left: Charles Griffin, Riccardo Milletari [Italy, planning internship], Elliot Wells [scholarship]front from left: Elfriede Jeller [Canada], Saki Oba [Japan], Cristina Freni [Italy, planning internship], Logan Bier [scholarship]
23Sep Walker business awarded development assistance for site expansion, job creation The Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) announced last week that auto components manufacturer Plasan Carbon Composites, Inc. will receive economic assistance through the Michigan Business Development Program to facilitate job creation and expansion in the City of Walker, which state Rep. Rob VerHeulen, R-Walker, said should come as no surprise.“Michigan is growing, businesses want to be here, people are returning to work in our state and the economy is at its strongest since the recession,” VerHeulen said. “My colleagues and I in the Michigan House know how important it is to welcome new economic investments with open arms to set the stage for Michigan’s bright future.”The manufacturer was once headquartered in Bennington, Vt., but since 2013 chose to relocate all manufacturing, people and production to Michigan. The City of Walker was chosen as company headquarters—beating out locations in Ohio, Indiana and Vermont—and has offered reduced property taxes to support the project.“Our state is a great state to live and work, and I’m grateful to the MEDC for helping companies like this make a sound economic decision by investing in Michigan,” VerHeulen said. “Bringing jobs and opportunity to Michigan is one reason I work for the people, so I’m thrilled to share this good news for Walker.”Plasan’s expansion will create more than 600 jobs and generate investments upwards of $29 million, resulting in $6 million of performance based economic assistance from the MEDC.### Categories: VerHeulen News
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.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.
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.
Reviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Jan 16 2019Schizophrenia is a serious, chronic mental disorder involving a series of symptoms. It is one of the leading causes of disability worldwide. Various symptoms of this disorder, such as delusions and hallucinations, have been shown to be very adequately treated by means of antipsychotics, and its symptomatology can be improved. Yet patients experience many difficulties on a social and functional level, in other words, “they have severe problems in carrying out everyday life activities ranging from personal hygiene or managing their finances to maintaining a stable social network, having a partner or holding down a job. And there is no treatment for this”, explained Arantzazu Zabala, a Doctor in Psychology specializing in neuropsychology.Since the year 2000, explained Zabala, one of the authors of the work, “it has emerged that it is the cognitive impairments that correlate most with functional deficits, and since then, to combat these deficits, the scientific community has been developing a broad range of interventions, including cognitive enhancers. These are drugs which when added to the routine, antipsychotic treatment, could reverse or, to a certain extent, reduce the cognitive impairments displayed by patients”.Related StoriesRevolutionary cancer drugs that target any tumor to be fast-tracked into hospitals by NHSAn active brain and body associated with reduced risk of dementiaExploring how schizophrenia and depression are related to drug consumptionMethodological improvements in the interests of progressNine clinical trials from across the world were analyzed in a study conducted by researchers from the UPV/EHU, the University of La Rioja, the BioCruces Health Research Institute and Cibersam (Centre for Biomedical Research into Mental Health). The trials involved patients with schizophrenia and used three acetylcholinesterase inhibitors (deonepezil, galantamine and rivastignine)that are very effective in improving the cognitive impairments of patients with Alzheimer’s. As the researcher explained, “right now there is insufficient evidence to be able to recommend acetylcholinesterase inhibitors as a cognitive enhancer for patients with schizophrenia”. In fact, numerous limitations in the nine trials studied have emerged in this meta-analysis, and various improvements that need to be applied to studies of this type have been proposed.Doctor Zabala is nevertheless optimistic: “Much work remains to be done, but it’s heading in the right direction.” The researcher insists that the trials analyzed “are original pieces of work, are among the first ones, but right now the therapeutic targets have expanded greatly. Our work draws attention to the need for studies that will offer sufficient methodological quality to be able to guarantee the effectiveness of the compounds”. In this respect, the research conducted at the UPV/EHU proposes a series of improvements in studies of this type, which the scientific community should bear in mind “so that in addition to demonstrating the effectiveness of a drug on the patient’s functionality, aspects such as the safety and tolerance of it are also studied,” concluded Zabala.Source: https://www.ehu.eus/en/-/avances-en-el-estudio-de-farmacos-contra-el-deficit-cognitivo-de-pacientes-con-esquizofrenia
View of a beach from a condo building in Florida, where bitcoin fever has hit the real estate market © 2018 AFP As of the end of last year, the digital currency was listed as a way to pay for some 75 properties for sale, especially in south Florida and California, according to the real estate firm Redfin.”Bitcoin accepted” is a message now seen in the description of homes for sale in the Miami area.One seller is going even farther, saying he will take only bitcoin (33 of them to be exact) for his half-million-dollar downtown condo in the Florida metropolis.Bitcoin has been on a roller coaster ride of late, shooting up to nearly $20,000 a piece in mid-December and then dropping sharply around Christmas. It started the year at around $14,000.Its use in real estate transactions is novel, and agents are wary because of its high volatility.”I’d be blown away if a year from now we see hundreds of real estate transactions in bitcoins,” said Jay Parker, Florida CEO for the Douglas Elliman brokerage agency.Still, such transactions can be useful for foreigners who want to invest in the United States and cannot otherwise do so, said economist and bitcoin expert Charles Evans of Barry University. “This seems to be driven by international investors who are circumventing inefficient banking and currency controls at home, and by US cryptocurrency enthusiasts,” Evans told AFP.”The governments in those countries restrict the amount of money that their residents are allowed to transfer abroad through the banking system. Bitcoin enables individuals there to bypass such restrictions,” he added.This could be a draw for investors, who even before the bitcoin rage were already hot on the real estate market in south Florida.Nearly half of all foreign buyers of property in south Florida are from Latin America.According to the National Association of Realtors, over the past five years, investors from Venezuela, Brazil and Argentina—in that order—have led purchases in this part of the state.Money laundering?Bitcoin offers another advantage for some foreign investors: it lets them dodge US economic sanctions.Evans cited the example of Venezuela, which imposes strict currency controls and is enduring runaway inflation that surpassed 2,600 percent in 2017.What is more, many senior officials in the government of Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro have been hit by sanctions imposed by Washington, which considers his administration a dictatorship.Evans said there is also a lot of interest in bitcoin among Iranians, whom he described as “doubly hit” with restrictions in Iran and international sanctions.It is an open secret that money laundering fuels the real estate market in south Florida. But instead of hiding the practice, bitcoin could have the opposite effect.The crypto currency “is a terrible medium for large-scale money laundering, because all bitcoin transactions are recorded in the publicly available transaction record known at the Blockchain,” said Evans.Although bitcoin has been associated with the drug trade and cyber attacks, Blockchain “leaves a lot of fingerprints,” former Florida representative Jose Felix Diaz told Politico.”So if you’re using it for illegitimate reasons, the state and the federal government should have every tool at their disposal to go after you,” Diaz said.Last year, Diaz sponsored a bill-turned-law that includes bitcoin in Florida’s laws for fighting money laundering.Real estate agent Parker also said money laundering via bitcoin is far from posing a risk because “the beneficial owners of the real estate are always going to be able to be traced.”Parker said the fad of doing real estate deals in bitcoin could be as volatile as the currency itself.”I think it’s a gimmick. There’s not much risk. The only risk is if the currency crashes before you can liquidate it,” said Parker.”I think the people that are using bitcoins to try to market their properties are doing it with the very purpose of getting you to write about it, getting their properties exposure,” said Parker. Citation: Bitcoin fever hits US real estate market (2018, January 14) retrieved 18 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-01-bitcoin-fever-real-estate.html Explore further Bitcoin fever has hit the US real estate market, especially that of Florida, offering foreign investors a way to dodge currency controls at home and US economic sanctions. 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. Bitcoin and cryptocurrency for n00bs
Amazon upbeat on Prime Day, despite early glitches Citation: Amazon pokes fun at glitches, says tech gadgets popular (2018, July 17) retrieved 18 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-07-amazon-fun-glitches-tech-gadgets.html Explore further Gary Liu, vice president of marketing at Boomerang Commerce, said he believes shoppers got a “vanilla” experience when it came to personalization. He said Amazon heavily promoted its own devices and its own brands but he wanted to see heavier promotions on national-label fashions.”Shoppers are looking for something more familiar,” he added.While Amazon doesn’t disclose sales figures for Prime Day, Deborah Weinswig, CEO of Coresight Research, had estimated before it began that it will generate $3.4 billion in sales worldwide, up from an estimated $2.4 billion last year. Prime Day also lasts six hours longer than last year and is four new countries.In Europe, Amazon employees were using Prime Day to draw attention to their complaints against the company. Unions in Spain said most of the company’s 2,000 permanent staff there were on a three-day strike on Tuesday.Amazon created Prime Day in 2015 to mark its 20th anniversary, and its success has inspired other e-commerce companies to invent shopping holidays. Amazon disclosed for the first time this year that it had more than 100 million paid Prime members worldwide.It’s hoping to keep Prime attractive for current and would-be subscribers after raising the U.S. annual membership fee by 20 percent to $119 and to $12.99 for the month-to-month option. United Parcel Service employee Liz Perez scans an Amazon Prime package for delivery in Miami, Tuesday, July 17, 2018. Amazon Prime Day was launched July 16. The event is in four new countries this year and will be six hours longer than last year’s. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky) 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. © 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. In this Tuesday, July 17, 2018 photo, a FedEx employee delivers packages in Miami. Amazon Prime Day was launched July 16 and and will be six hours longer than last year’s and will launch new products. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky) Early problems Monday sent shoppers to social media to complain after their attempts to click on Prime Day deals returned only images of dogs with an apologetic message. The snags were an embarrassment for the tech company on the much-hyped shopping holiday it created.”It wasn’t all a walk in the (dog) park, we had a ruff start—we know some customers were temporarily unable to make purchases,” Amazon said in a statement.But Amazon touted Prime Day growth and said shoppers still found lots to buy, with tech gadgets in particular among the most popular. It said top sellers included some of its own devices—the Fire TV stick with Alexa Voice Remote, Echo Dot and Fire 7 tablet with Alexa. Others included a water filter for hiking and the multi-use Instant Pot.The hiccups, though, could have sent shoppers elsewhere during a key period for Amazon to sign up new Prime members. It recently announced that the cost of Prime membership would go up, and the shopping day is a way to prove the value. Many other chains offered sales and promotions to try to capitalize on the day. And industry observers said Amazon could have done a better job in several areas, such as offering personalized recommendations.”For all the hype about Whole Foods, the grocery stuff on sale was less appetizing,” said Sucharita Mulpuru-Kodali, an analyst at Forrester Research. “No Prime Day specials at the store.”She also said some of the products Amazon’s site was pushing were a little odd, like urinal splash guards in the health section. She also believes Amazon should have started the sale at midnight instead of the middle of the day to reduce the rush of traffic on the site. Amazon poked fun at the early glitches it saw with Prime Day, though it said shoppers still found plenty to buy. Analysts, meanwhile, saw other things Amazon could have done better, like discounting more fashion brands and taking more advantage of its acquisition of Whole Foods.