Changing the Credit Game With Personalized Counseling

first_img Credit Repair Organizations Act Credit Score PERC Policy and Economic Research Council 2016-04-28 Staff Writer in Daily Dose, Data, Headlines, News April 28, 2016 477 Views Tailored credit report and score counseling services are an effective way to reach consumers and improve their credit score, which can ultimately help them obtain a mortgage.The Policy and Economic Research Council’s (PERC’s) preliminary study of 400 consumers from a number of community development organizations on the effectiveness of personalized credit counseling services shows that 68 percent of consumers had an increase in their credit scores after receiving a credit counseling session.The report found that 30 percent of those receiving personalized credit education from a credit bureau advisor experienced a score increase between 1 and 20 points, while 38 percent experienced a score increase of 21 points or more 90 days after completing the session.“For most Americans, credit reports and scores are as mysterious as quantum physics,” said Michael Turner, Ph.D., CEO of PERC. “Consumers know their credit can have a huge impact on their future financial opportunities, but they don’t understand what their credit reports and scores mean and how they can improve them. Our research has shown that personalized credit counseling not only unlocks the credit mystery but also results in real, tangible improvements to individuals’ credit scores.According to the report, 23 percent of survey participants moved up at least one band in credit (such as from subprime to near prime or prime. Sixty-three percent said they would request an annual free credit report from the three national credit bureaus, 59 percent were more likely to review their credit report, and 58 percent were more likely to dispute any perceived errors in those credit reports.PERC also noted that 93 percent of all participants reported they have a better understanding of the actions they need to take to improve their credit score.The vast improvements in credit scores and reports supports new efforts to convince policymakers to increase consumer access to this type of credit counseling information and services, the PERC stated. However, Credit Repair Organizations Act (CROA) restrictions on the national credit bureaus make it very difficult for consumers to receive this type of personalized credit counseling, as they are required to read consumers a lengthy legal disclaimer and wait three full business days before responding to their inquiries.“CROA was intended to crack down on unregulated operations that were preying on consumer ignorance and fear,” Turner said. “Unfortunately, the courts have interpreted it to cover the already intensely-scrutinized national credit bureaus as well, thus effectively preventing them from offering this important – and  empowering – service. We believe this study reinforces the growing body of evidence that Congress should consider exempting the national credit bureaus from CROA’s onerous requirements.”center_img Changing the Credit Game With Personalized Counseling Sharelast_img read more

Stanton also spoke to the media on Wednesday I f

first_imgStanton also spoke to the media on Wednesday.“I feel good,” he said. “I feel really good. I think we’ve got a plan in place with our training staff and just trying to trend in the right direction, and that’s been the case the past couple of days.“Both days have been successful thus far. It’s just one of those things where I don’t know when it’s going to start feeling better but I don’t want to push it too hard.”Stanton added that if he’s not ready to go by Sunday, “Blaine will go out there and do a good job.”PETERS SPRAINS ANKLEArians did give a more definitive update on another ailing player, defensive tackle Corey Peters. He said the 29-year-old Peters, who has started all nine of the Cardinals’ games this year, has a high ankle sprain and could be out a while. Former Cardinals kicker Phil Dawson retires As Arizona Cardinals quarterback Drew Stanton nurses a knee injury, it’s unclear whether Blaine Gabbert will start against the Texans this week.On Wednesday, head coach Bruce Arians told reporters that Stanton has made progress in practice since spraining his knee in Thursday’s game against the Seahawks. There was no announcement on whether Stanton would be ruled out against Houston, though 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station’s Mike Jurecki reported that Gabbert will start. Top Stories Derrick Hall satisfied with D-backs’ buying and selling The 5: Takeaways from the Coyotes’ introduction of Alex Meruelo 4 Comments   Share   Arizona Cardinals quarterback Drew Stanton (5) scrambles against the Seattle Seahawks during the first half of an NFL football game, Thursday, Nov. 9, 2017, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Grace expects Greinke trade to have emotional impactlast_img read more

October 24 2002 Annual notsosecret Soleri Bell

first_imgOctober 24, 2002 Annualnot-so-secret Soleri Bell Sale at Cosanti in Scottsdale openedyesterday. This special once-a-year opportunity continues throughSunday (October 27). The sale is available at the Scottsdale locationonly, not in our online store on the web. [Photo: JAM & text: T] The Soleri Studioat Cosanti has produced a wide variety of bronze and ceramic crafts forthis occasion. [Photo: Scott Riley & text: T] All visitors arewelcome. The gift shop is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. [Photo: ScottRiley & text: T]last_img read more

Liberty Global CEO Mike Fries Liberty Global repor

first_imgLiberty Global CEO Mike FriesLiberty Global reported higher subscriber numbers and revenues in the first quarter and said it was on-track to complete its Virgin Media buyout and continue rolling out its Horizon TV platform.As of March 31, the European cable giant said that it had 19.7 million customers, a year-on-year increase of 158,800, who received 35.2 million services – up 5% compared to last year.These services consisted of 18.2 million video service subscriptions, 9.5 million broadband internet subs and 7.5 million telephony subscribers, with bundling credited as an “important driver” of subscriber growth.Total video subscribers dropped by 92,000 during the quarter. However, Liberty said it now has more than 200,000 Horizon TV subscribers, 55,000 of whom are in Switzerland, where Liberty rolled out the service in January.Liberty said it plans to launch its full Horizon TV platform – which lets viewers watch TV anywhere in their home on multiple devices – in Ireland this summer, followed by Germany later in the year.Liberty Global president and CEO Mike Fries said: “We remain on track to complete the acquisition of Virgin Media before the end of the second quarter. We recently received regulatory approval from the European Commission and both companies have scheduled their respective shareholder votes for early June to approve the transaction.“With a combined customer base of 25 million and an aggregate reach of over 45 million homes passed, we are excited about our collective growth potential and we will remain focused on delivering superior value to customers and shareholders.”In the first quarter, Liberty’s consolidated revenue increased 9% year-on-year to US$2.77 billion (€2.11 billion). Operating income increased 6% to US$525 million. The firm reported a net loss of US$1 million, compared to a net loss of US$25 million in the same period last year.last_img read more

first_img — Recommended Links – Self-made millionaire explains why he invests in Divorce, Death, and Debt Bad things happen. And self-made millionaire investor James Altucher isn’t afraid to make money when they do. Especially because he refuses to pay full price for an investment. In his latest research, he explains how he turns the “Three Ds”: divorce, death, and debt into profits. Nick Giambruno: How does the recent Brexit vote affect the future of the European Union? Doug Casey: Well, it’s the beginning of the end. The inevitable has now become the imminent. Britain has always been perhaps the most different culture of all of those in the European Union. They entered reluctantly and late, and never seriously considered losing the pound for the euro. You’re going to see other countries leaving the EU. The next one might be Italy. All of the Italian banks are truly and totally bankrupt at this point. Who’s going to kiss that and make it better? Is the rest of the European Union going to contribute hundreds of billions of dollars to make the average Italian depositor well again? I don’t think so. There’s an excellent chance that Italy is going to get rid of the euro and leave the EU. Nick Giambruno: Why should Americans care about this? Doug Casey: Well, just as the breakup of the Soviet Union had a good effect for both the world at large and for Americans, the breakup of the EU should be viewed in the same light. Freeing an economy anywhere increases prosperity and opportunity everywhere. And it sets a good example. So Americans ought to look forward to the breakup of the EU almost as much as the Europeans themselves. Unfortunately, most Americans are quite insular. And Europeans are so used to socialism that they have even less grasp of economics than Americans. But it’s going to happen anyway. Nick Giambruno: What are some investment implications? Doug Casey: Initially there’s going to be some chaos, and some inconvenience. Conventional investors don’t like wild markets, but turbulence is actually a good thing from the point of view of a speculator. It’s a question of your psychological attitude. Understanding psychology is as important as economics. They’re the two things that make the markets what they are. Volatility is actually your friend in the investment world. People are naturally afraid of upsets. They’re afraid of any kind of a crisis. This is natural. But it’s only during a crisis that you can get a real bargain. You have to look at the bright side and take a different attitude than most people have. Nick Giambruno: If you position yourself on the right side of this thing, do you think you’ll be able to make some big profits on the collapse of the EU? Doug Casey: Yes. Once the EU falls apart, there are going to be huge investment opportunities. People forget how cheap markets can become. I remember in the mid 1980s, there were three markets in the world in particular I was very interested in: Hong Kong, Belgium, and Spain. All three of those markets had similar characteristics. You could buy stocks in those markets for about half of book value, about three or four times earnings, and average dividend yields of their indices were 12–15%—individual stocks were sometimes much more—and of course since then, those dividends have gone way up. The stock prices have soared. So I expect that that’s going to happen in the future. In one, several, many, or most of the world’s approximately 40 investable markets. Right now, however, we’re involved in a worldwide bubble in equities. It can go the opposite direction. People forget how cheap stocks can get. I think we’re headed into very bad times. Chances are excellent you’re going to see tremendous bargains. People are chasing after stocks right now with 1% dividend yields and 30 times earnings, and they want to buy them. At some point in the future these stocks are going to be selling for three times earnings and they’re going to be yielding five, maybe ten percent in dividends. But at that point most people will be afraid to buy them. In fact, they won’t even want to know they exist at that point. I’m not a believer in market timing. But, that said, I think it makes sense to hold fire when the market is anomalously high. The chaos that’s building up right now in Europe can be a good thing—if you’re well positioned. You don’t want to go down with the sinking Titanic. You want to survive so you can get on the next boat taking you to a tropical paradise. But right now you’re entering the stormy North Atlantic. Editor’s note: When the fall of the European Union becomes the biggest story in America, you don’t want to be kicking yourself for not acting when you had the chance… If you’re looking to protect your wealth—and if you’re looking to make a lot more money, perhaps even an entire nest egg in one decisive move—we urge you to watch this brand-new video. It explains everything you need to know about the upcoming crisis…and why you want to circle December 4 on your calendar right now. You simply can’t ignore what will happen in Europe in the immediate future. Click here to start watching this video now. The next big bankruptcy When Britain left the EU in July, markets around the world plunged… Here in the USA, the Dow crashed 871 points in just two days. Now, another major European country is voting to leave the EU. If it leaves (and it surely will) markets could plummet again… Only this time, it’ll be much, much worse. Click here to learn more. Editor’s note: Today, we have a brand-new interview for you with Casey Research founder Doug Casey and Crisis Investing editor Nick Giambruno. Right now, the European Union is barely holding itself together. Doug says the “inevitable has now become imminent”…and that there’s an excellent chance Italy could be the next country to part ways. But like all crises, the chaos in Europe right now is creating huge investment opportunities. Read on to learn why… Nick Giambruno: Doug, you predicted the fall of the European Union a few years ago. What has changed since then? Doug Casey: Well, what’s changed is that the entire situation has gotten much worse. The inevitable has now become the imminent. The European Union evolved, devolved actually, from basically a free trade pact among a few countries to a giant, dysfunctional, overreaching bureaucracy. Free trade is an excellent idea. However, you don’t need to legislate free trade; that’s almost a contradiction in terms. A free trade pact between different governments is unnecessary for free trade. An individual country interested in prosperity and freedom only needs to eliminate all import and export duties, and all import and export quotas. When a country has duties or quotas, it’s essentially putting itself under embargo, shooting its economy in the foot. Businesses should trade with whoever they want for their own advantage. But that wasn’t the way the Europeans did it. The Eurocrats, instead, created a treaty the size of a New York telephone book, regulating everything. This is the problem with the European Union. They say it is about free trade, but really it’s about somebody’s arbitrary idea of “fair trade,” which amounts to regulating everything. In addition to its disastrous economic consequences, it creates misunderstandings and confusion in the mind of the average person. Brussels has become another layer of bureaucracy on top of all the national layers and local layers for the average European to deal with. The European Union in Brussels is composed of a class of bureaucrats that are extremely well paid, have tremendous benefits, and have their own self-referencing little culture. They’re exactly the same kind of people that live within the Washington, D.C. beltway. The EU was built upon a foundation of sand, doomed to failure from the very start. The idea was ill-fated because the Swedes and the Sicilians are as different from each other as the Poles and the Irish. There are linguistic, religious, and cultural differences, and big differences in the standard of living. Artificial political constructs never last. The EU is great for the “elites” in Brussels; not so much for the average citizen. Meanwhile, there’s a centrifugal force even within these European countries. In Spain, the Basques and the Catalans want to split off, and in the UK, the Scots want to make the United Kingdom quite a bit less united. You’ve got to remember that before Garibaldi, Italy was scores of little dukedoms and principalities that all spoke their own variations of the Italian language. And the same was true in what’s now Germany before Bismarck in 1871. In Italy 89% of the Venetians voted to separate a couple of years ago. The Italian South Tyrol region, where 70% of the people speak German, has a strong independence movement. There are movements in Corsica and a half dozen other departments in France. Even in Belgium, the home of the EU, the chances are excellent that Flanders will separate at some point. The chances are better in the future that the remaining countries in Europe are going to fall apart as opposed to being compressed together artificially. And from strictly a philosophical point of view, the ideal should not be one world government, which the “elite” would prefer, but about seven billion small individual governments. That would be much better from the point of view of freedom and prosperity.last_img read more

Did you miss last nights Cryptocurrency Ask Me A

first_imgDid you miss last night’s Cryptocurrency “Ask Me Anything” with Teeka?For the first time in ten months, crypto expert Teeka Tiwari went live on camera last night for a cryptocurrency AMA… And we’re re-airing the broadcast for a limited time for anyone who missed it. Teeka can’t give any personalized investment advice, but this is your chance to hear from a man who’s delivered recommendations that reached as high as 1,241%… 2,050%… and even 14,354%. Recommended Link Recommended Link A Mirror ImageTo understand why, let’s look at the last major bear market we had, before the most recent Crypto Winter.That was back in 2013 when bitcoin peaked around $1,200. Then it went on a massive, almost two-year-long bear market.You can see that it went down to about $175 in January 2015. That’s an 85% plunge.But then, we started to see the bottom finally come into place. And in late 2015, we got a massive move up.Now, let’s compare that to a recent chart of bitcoin. You can see the peak in December 2017 in the chart below. And the red circle is where we are now.If you look at the first chart again, in 2015, the selling was finally over. Buyers came in, and they spiked bitcoin up to a level that you hadn’t seen in months.Now look at the second chart. That move up since April is a mirror image of what we saw back in 2015, when the bear market was finally over.But it’s not the only reason I believe prices are headed higher… The article on G4 Tequila production was fantastic. I grew up in Kentucky with a ‘shine-making family. I certainly appreciate the details!– Ralph Justin’s note: The cryptocurrency market is on a tear, and bitcoin is leading the charge – up 110% since April.Yesterday, we turned to world-renowned crypto expert Teeka Tiwari, who told us that this is just the beginning. And that bitcoin won’t be the only winner of the crypto rally. Today, Teeka shares two more reasons why “Crypto Winter” is over… and why the biggest gains are yet to come.If you haven’t yet, now’s the time to take advantage… before it’s too late… By Teeka Tiwari, editor, Palm Beach ConfidentialAfter almost 18 months, “Crypto Winter” appears to be finally loosening its grip over the market.That’s why, on April 10, I sent out an update to my Palm Beach Confidential readers. Here’s what I said…Bitcoin is probably going to go anywhere from $6,000 to $7,000 before it has a little bit of a pullback to kind of consolidate that move. And then, it’ll be off to the races again.And you know as well as I do, anything that’s good for bitcoin is good for the broad market.A lot of the smaller names that we own will move much further than bitcoin will move. So another 30% move higher in bitcoin could be a 300%, 400%, or 500% higher move in some of these smaller names.Since then, bitcoin is up 64%. It’s trading around $8,700 at writing. And the broad crypto market is up 52%.But as I’ll show you in today’s issue, it’s not too late to get in… Good piece, Doug, and one with which I agree totally. Now an old fart over halfway through his eighth decade, I can testify that the economic distortions we’re seeing now are the most extreme in my lifetime, and that includes those in the nightmarish Carter years during which we had both wild inflation and record interest rates. Sadly, when the crap hits the fan it will occur on the Donald’s watch and he’ll get the blame. Just as Herbert Hoover got the blame for the Great Depression, when the real villain was the incompetent and almost cartoonish FDR, who also managed to get us involved in WWII by cutting off all oil and scrap iron supplies to Japan on which it depended heavily. But he got the war he wanted, albeit at the cost of most of our Pacific Fleet and the lives of roughly 2,500 sailors, soldiers, and Marines. Always enjoy your pieces.– JohnAs always, send your comments, questions, and concerns to Than Two Days Left……To claim your 23% discount to the second annual Legacy Investment Summit this September. If you book by Friday, you’ll spend hundreds less than everyone else for the opportunity to meet all your favorite analysts and gurus while soaking up the sun in Southern California.Don’t miss your chance to get the inside scoop on what our editors are excited about in 2019… and learn about more investment opportunities over one weekend than most financial services offer in a year. Go here to grab your deal and book your tickets now… Watch the full broadcast here Teeka Tiwari Editor, Palm Beach ConfidentialJustin’s note: Last night, Teeka went live on camera for the first time this year… and answered all your questions about the crypto market.As part of the Q&A, he took a deep dive into bitcoin and the crypto world… and explained why he’s excited for the second half of 2019.His most important takeaway: If you want to get involved in the crypto space… the time is now.You can watch a replay of the webinar – and learn how to claim a free year of his Palm Beach Confidential research service – right here.Reader MailbagReaders are raving about Strategic Investor editor E.B. Tucker’s recent dispatches from his trip to Mexico, where he toured Mexico City and visited a tequila distillery:Enjoyed the narrative. I have been to Mexico City and stayed at the Four Seasons. I was there to work. Had one day off and went for a walk down Reforma Boulevard. It has a very European feeling. Lovely stores: Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Escada, etc. Had a sandwich at Sanborns. People are very attentive to your needs. Thank you for your enthusiastic column on Mexico.– Julia Click here now for more details I really enjoyed the article. It was nice to deviate from the normal run-of-the-mill to something that was new and different.– JohnAnd our audience is still divided over Doug Casey’s thoughts on the conflict with Iran:You say Iran is a danger to no one. I say, “Baloney!” If Iran is allowed to build nuclear weapons, it is the country most likely to use them. It already supplies munitions and logistics to terrorists, so what would restrain it from providing compact nuclear weapons that could be delivered in a truck or boat? Detonating one in New York Harbor would dwarf 9/11. We can’t allow it to become a nuclear state!– Ira — — URGENT CLIP: Retirees could now see profits on Mondays at 10amClick a few buttons on Friday and have a chance to see profits waiting for you Monday morning at 10am. See for yourself in this 16-second LIVE DEMONSTRATION how easy collecting profits like $8,780, $9,100 and even $15,820 on Monday could be. That’s right! This only takes 16 seconds… but if you want to start this Monday, you must take the right steps today. The Downtrend Is Finally BrokenThe second is that the downtrend bitcoin has been in since last year is finally broken.When you break a long-term downtrend, the overall trend switches from bearish to bullish.And the way you make money from that is by taking advantage of each pullback.The pullbacks we’ve experienced in the last 18 months were making lower lows and lower highs. What will now happen is that when bitcoin prices fall back, they will make higher lows.Now, of course we don’t know that 100% until we see that next wave of selling come in.But if history is any guide, it suggests we are going to break out to a new level, and then come back a little bit. And then, we will see another resurgence of prices.I’ve been waiting for that downtrend line to be broken… and for a major move that indicates that buyers are starting to get impatient. And that’s exactly what we’ve seen take place over the last couple of weeks.Making Sure We’re PreparedDoes this mean we’re never going to have volatility again? No. Of course not.What it does mean is that we will see a series of higher lows and higher highs – the definition of the beginning of a new uptrend.Given the recent surge in volume and interest we’ve seen in cryptos, a shock of good news could completely change the game.Then, it would be like 2017 all over again. And I want to make sure we’re prepared for it.Just remember, you only need to take a small stake for the potential of life-changing gains. So position-size rationally when you’re buying cryptos… and continue to be patient.We are at the very beginning of a new uptrend in crypto prices, and it’s going to be wild. It’s going to be much bigger than what we’ve seen before.Let the Game Come to You!last_img read more

In a rare show of congressional cooperation Repub

first_imgIn a rare show of congressional cooperation, Republican and Democratic leaders in the Senate announced a two-year budget deal Wednesday that would increase federal spending for defense as well as key domestic priorities, including many health programs.Not in the deal, for which the path to the president’s desk remains unclear, is any bipartisan legislation aimed at shoring up the Affordable Care Act’s individual health insurance marketplaces. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., promised Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, a vote on health legislation in exchange for her vote for the GOP tax bill in December. So far, that vote hasn’t materialized.The deal does appear to include almost every other health priority Democrats have been pushing the past several months, including two years of renewed funding for community health centers and a series of other health programs Congress failed to provide for before they technically expired last year.”I believe we have reached a budget deal that neither side loves but both sides can be proud of,” said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., on the Senate floor. “That’s compromise. That’s governing.”McConnell said, “This bill represents a significant bipartisan step forward.”Senate leaders are still negotiating details of the accord, including the size of a cut to the Prevention and Public Health Fund, which would help offset the costs of this legislation.According to documents circulating on Capitol Hill, the deal includes $6 billion in funding for treatment of mental health issues and opioid addiction, $2 billion in extra funding for the National Institutes of Health, and an additional four-year extension of the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which builds on the six years approved by Congress last month.In the Medicare program, the deal would accelerate the closing of the “doughnut hole” in Medicare drug coverage that requires seniors to pay thousands of dollars out-of-pocket before catastrophic coverage kicks in. It would also repeal the controversial Medicare Independent Payment Advisory Board, which is charged with holding down Medicare spending for the federal government if it exceeds a certain level.Members have never been appointed to the IPAB, however, and its use hasn’t so far been triggered by Medicare spending. Both the closure of the doughnut hole and creation of the IPAB were part of the Affordable Care Act.The agreement would also fund a host of more limited health programs — some of which are known as “extenders” because they often ride along with other, larger health or spending bills.Those programs include more than $7 billion in funding for the nation’s federally funded community health centers. The clinics serve 27 million low-income people and saw their funding lapse last fall — a delay advocates say had already complicated budgeting and staffing decisions for many clinics.And in a victory for the physical therapy industry and patient advocates, the accord would permanently repeal a limit on Medicare’s coverage of physical therapy, speech-language pathology and outpatient treatment. Previously, the program capped coverage after $2,010 worth of occupational therapy and another $2,010 for speech-language therapy and physical therapy combined. But Congress had long taken action to delay those caps or provide exemptions — meaning they had never actually taken effect.According to an analysis by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, permanently repealing the caps would cost about $6.47 billion over the next decade.Lawmakers would also forestall cuts mandated by the ACA to reduce the payments made to what are called Disproportionate Share Hospitals, which serve high rates of low-income patients. Those cuts have been delayed continuously since the law’s 2010 passage.Limited programs are also affected. The deal would fund for five years the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program, a program that helps guide low-income, at-risk mothers in parenting. It served about 160,000 families in fiscal year 2016.”We are relieved that there is a deal for a 5-year reauthorization of MIECHV,” says Lori Freeman, CEO of advocacy group the Association of Maternal & Child Health Programs, in an emailed statement. “States, home visitors and families have been in limbo for the past several months, and this news will bring the stability they need to continue this successful program.”And the budget deal funds programs that encourage doctors to practice in medically underserved areas, providing just under $500 million over the next two years for the National Health Service Corps and another $363 million over two years to the Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education program, which places medical residents in Community Health Centers.Kaiser Health News correspondent Emmarie Huetteman contributed to this report. Copyright 2018 Kaiser Health News. To see more, visit Kaiser Health News.last_img read more

Drugmakers gave millions of dollars to paintreatm

first_imgDrugmakers gave millions of dollars to pain-treatment advocacy groups over a five-year period beginning in 2012, in effect promoting opioids to individuals most vulnerable to addiction, according to a new report released Monday by a U.S. senator.The 23-page report, put out by Missouri Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill, sheds light on the pharmaceutical industry’s efforts to shape public opinion and to fuel demand for such lucrative and potentially addictive drugs as OxyContin, fentanyl and Vicodin. These drugs have played a key role in the addiction crisis that has swept the U.S. in recent years, claiming hundreds of thousands of lives.Fueling an Epidemic: Exposing the Financial Ties Between Opioid Manufacturers and Third Party Advocacy Groups describes how the arrangement between pharmaceutical makers and advocacy groups “may have played a significant role in creating the necessary conditions for the U.S. opioid epidemic.””The pharmaceutical industry spent a generation downplaying the risks of opioid addiction and trying to expand their customer base for these incredibly dangerous medications, and this report makes clear they made investments in third-party organizations that could further those goals,” McCaskill said. “These financial relationships were insidious, lacked transparency and are one of many factors that have resulted in arguably the most deadly drug epidemic in American history.”The report follows a similar investigation in 2012 carried out by Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., and Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, that looked into financial ties between drugmakers and medical providers who helped establish guidelines for prescribing opioids. That investigation was ultimately shelved.”It looks pretty damning when these groups were pushing the message about how wonderful opioids are and they were being heavily funded, in the millions of dollars, by the manufacturers of those drugs,” Lewis Nelson, a Rutgers University doctor and opioid expert says, according to the Center for Public Integrity.But some of the groups and companies say they’ve changed their practices as the toll of opioid abuse has become clear.Bob Twillman, the executive director of the Academy of Integrative Pain Management, says in an email to NPR that his organization in recent years has focused on improving access to methods other than opioids to control pain. Those include physical therapy, chiropractic, massage and acupuncture.”Insurance coverage has been a big barrier to greater use of these, because patients often have to pay out of pocket,” he says. “That’s what we’ve emphasized — a position that, if anything, should DECREASE opioid prescribing.”Still, he says, some people need opioids to control their chronic pain and the AIPM also tried to ensure they are able to get the medication they need.Paul Gileno, the founder and president of the U.S. Pain Foundation, says the bulk of the money his organization received, $2.5 million, goes to a copay assistance program.”The program is designed to ensure that people with cancer pain and breakthrough cancer pain have help paying the copays for prescribed analgesics,” he says by email.The new report says that nearly all health advocacy groups accept funding from drug manufacturers, adding, “These financial relationships — and the lack of transparency surrounding them — have raised concerns regarding the information and initiatives patient advocacy organizations promote.”The report cites the Journal of the American Medical Association as saying that 8 percent of such patient groups responding to one study “reported [that] pressure to conform their organizations’ positions to the interests of industry funders is of concern.”A single company, Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, funneled $4.7 million to advocacy groups over the five-year period, according to the report.Purdue Pharma says it has stopped marketing OxyContin to doctors altogether. The company will still sell the drug, but its representatives will no longer peddle it when visiting physicians. The company has come under fire in recent years for what some say were aggressive and misleading claims about whether its drug was as addictive as other opioids.Also cited in the report are Depomed, which markets the narcotic Nucynta, the brand name of the opioid pain reliever tapentadol, and three makers of fentanyl, a powerful and potentially addictive pain reliever: Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Mylan and Insys Therapeutics, whose founder was charged in October for using bribes and kickbacks to promote unacceptable uses of the company’s flagship fentanyl spray, Subsys.The companies gave more than $10 million between 2012 and 2017 to 14 advocacy groups and affiliated doctors, the report says.In that period, Insys gave $2.5 million to the U.S. Pain Foundation for one of the group’s patient assistance programs, the report says.The U.S. Pain Foundation said, “Any funding we receive has never nor will it ever influence what we will do to help people with chronic pain,” according to a statement published in the St. Louis Post Dispatch. The Associated Press writes: “The findings [in the report] could bolster hundreds of lawsuits that are aimed at holding opioid drugmakers responsible for helping fuel an epidemic blamed for the deaths of more than 340,000 Americans since 2000.” Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit read more

Combat veterans from the Vietnamera through the w

first_imgCombat veterans from the Vietnam-era through the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan often turn to Vet Center counselors for help with post-traumatic stress or depression. And some of these counselors are themselves feeling stress – in part, they say, because of what they’re calling unrealistic productivity requirements.Ted Blickwedel, 63, is a Marine Corps veteran living in Smithfield, R.I. And recently, when he was working as a clinical social worker at his local Vet Center in nearby Warwick, he began to think about suicide.”I didn’t sit around and ruminate about how I’m going to go about taking my own life or anything,” he says, “but nonetheless, it was just this sense that I didn’t want to be here anymore.”Blickwedel says his rising sense of hopelessness about his job began a couple of years ago, when the Department of Veterans Affairs changed the way it measured counselor productivity. Instead of asking counselors to track what percentage of their time they spend with clients, the VA asked counselors to meet a minimum headcount.Blickwedel says his focus began to shift.”I’d be in session, trying to engage someone, but being more worried about getting them out the door to do notes to get the next person in on the hour, every hour,” he says.Blickwedel says if a veteran with PTSD needed an extra-long session, he’d spend more time with that veteran and see fewer clients. That would have consequences.”I simply wouldn’t have met the visit count,” Blickwedel says, “and then I would have to complete a performance improvement plan and if this would have continued and if there weren’t any adequate improvements being made, then eventually my job could have been on the line.”The VA wants counselors to have 25 visits each week to be “fully successful.” The VA says that should take about 17 hours. To achieve the “excellent” rating, counselors must log even more visits per week.The problem is that even by the VA’s own analysis, the average visit takes 77 minutes. That’s 32 hours.”That doesn’t leave adequate time to get all your administrative duties done,” says Blickwedel, “with your progress notes, your treatment plans, assessments, with staffing, consultation with other providers that are working with the veteran.”Many of the dozen Vet Center employees interviewed for this story say they worked extra hours, often without compensation, to keep up. Some say they went on medication to manage the stress. Others lost weight. And when they suffered, they say, so did services.A reasonable standard, says the VAMike Fisher, chief officer of all the VA’s Vet Centers, supports the current requirements.”When we talk about accounting for 25 encounters in a week, I think that’s reasonable given that the vast majority of our staff are already doing that,” he says.He says those who don’t make the numbers simply have to create a plan to boost them.”That plan can include increased outreach. It can include, ‘I’m going to try as a clinician this one type of group.’ There is complete flexibility in that,” he says.Group sessions can boost a counselor’s visit count, since each member of the group is counted individually. But getting enough groups can be tricky, says Rick Stouffer, a Vet Center counselor from Knoxville, Tennessee.”It would be nice to have a full caseload of clients, but I have no control over how many clients I have,” he says.Stouffer says sometimes clients don’t show up for appointments, which can hurt productivity.Demand for Vet Center services varies by locations. Some are simply busier than others, but the standards are mostly uniform.There has been no formal survey of how Vet Center social workers feel about these requirements. Ted Blickwedel tried to conduct one by email. The VA told him to stop, and when he didn’t, it cut off his email access. The VA says he was using his email in an unprofessional manner. Blickwedel disputes the idea that he acted unprofessionally.Blickwedel has chosen to retire rather than work under these requirements, which he says need to be reduced to a reasonable level.”That’s number one,” he says. “Number two: there needs to be more hiring at higher echelons of people in managerial and leadership positions that have clinical backgrounds so they can make common-sense clinical decisions.”And only then, Blickwedel says, can Vet Center employees stop worrying about metrics and focus more on their clients. Copyright 2018 New Hampshire Public Radio. To see more, visit New Hampshire Public Radio.last_img read more

In some parts of the country people are learning t

first_imgIn some parts of the country people are learning their drinking water contains pollution from a group of chemicals called Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS). These chemicals have been linked to illnesses, including cancer. But a lot of questions remain including how exactly they affect people’s health and in what doses.These chemicals have been around for decades but the issue gained urgency in recent years as water suppliers tested for and found PFAS pollution as part of an Environmental Protection Agency program.The EPA is working on a plan to manage PFAS but members of Congress are pushing the EPA to move faster. A few states already have established strict new standards to limit the compounds in drinking water. And in some places, such as the Philadelphia suburbs, PFAS pollution has become an issue in mid-term election races.As scientists and policy-makers work to limit human exposure to the compounds here are a few key points that are worth knowing.1. PFAS chemicals are useful but may be dangerous PFAS chemicals are good at repelling oil and water. That makes them useful in a lot of products including non-stick cookware, fast food wrappers, pizza boxes, water-repellent fabrics and fire-fighting foam.It’s difficult to pin down exactly how harmful these chemicals are because research is limited. There was a big health study involving one form of PFAS in the Mid-Ohio Valley. From that and other studies scientists are comfortable saying certain diseases are linked to PFAS exposure but they won’t be more definitive than that.”PFAS chemicals have been linked to a wide range of health effects, including cancer, low birth weight, thyroid disease, elevated cholesterol and effects on the immune system,” says Laurel Schaider, research scientist at Silent Spring Institute.Manufacturers have agreed to stop using two forms of PFAS in the U.S. These chemicals take a long time to break down in the environment, which is why they remain a problem now. And Schaider says newer forms of PFAS chemicals are still being used, though some people believe they are safer because they remain in the environment and in our bodies for shorter periods.2. PFAS pollution affects communities around the countryIn some communities PFAS pollution may be known by another name if a specific compound is to blame for problems there. Some of the most common are PFOS, PFOA and Gen-X. PFAS is the overall name for this group of several thousand chemicals.Among the places with PFAS pollution is Michigan where the some residents were warned not to drink the water for a month. In New Hampshire there are concerns a landfill may be polluting water. A case in New York came to regulators’ attention after a resident tested his own water. And in North Carolina high levels of a PFAS chemical were found in drinking water downstream from a manufacturing plant.A map of contaminated sites and communities where PFAS has been detected in drinking water has been compiled by Northeastern University and Environmental Working Group.Lawsuits have been filed against companies believed to be responsible for the pollution. For example, Minnesota sued 3M over PFAS pollution and settled for $850 million in February 20183. State and federal agencies are responding but not fast enough for criticsThe EPA requires most water utilities to test for a list of PFAS chemicals. In 2016 the agency lowered a non-binding health advisory limit for some PFAS compounds to 70 parts per trillion (ppt). That’s about 70 grains of sand in an Olympic-size swimming pool, says Christopher Crockett, chief environmental officer for the water utility Aqua America.But environmentalists argue that a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study indicates the numbers should be much lower. A few states have set lower standards on their own.The EPA is working on a plan to manage PFAS chemicals and expects to release it by the end of this year.”We need actions to come out of those plans that lead to clear direction for water suppliers,” says Crockett. He wants to know what level of PFAS chemicals in water is safe and when should his company install filters to remove the chemicals.The Department of Defense also has a big role to play in cleaning up PFAS pollution. The agency uses fire-fighting foam for training at air bases around the country. In places like Pennsylvania PFAS chemicals from that foam have made their way into local drinking water.4. You can take steps to protect yourself When utility company Aqua America learns it needs to treat water polluted with PFAS it installs big carbon filters. If you’re worried about this issue and want to be extra cautious, you can essentially do the same in your home.Christopher Crockett with Aqua says filters on refrigerators that dispense water or pitchers with carbon filters work pretty well—just make sure you change the filters regularly as manufacturers recommend.If you want to also limit exposure from taking showers or brushing your teeth then a whole-house filtration system might be necessary. When asked if he filters his water, Crockett says he does not. He’s comfortable that water under the current EPA health advisory level of 70 ppt is safe to drink.Water is not the only concern though. Laurel Schaider with Silent Spring Institute says it could make sense to avoid things like fast food wrappers and microwave popcorn bags that can have PFAS chemicals in them. The problem is you never know which ones to avoid because there are no labeling requirements.The state of Washington will eventually ban PFAS use for food packaging and fire-fighting foam.Finally, eating a lot of fish also can be a concern in some places. New Jersey is among states that have warned people to limit how much fish they eat from certain bodies of water Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit read more

For the first time since the Supreme Court legaliz

first_imgFor the first time since the Supreme Court legalized abortion nationwide in its 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, the House of Representatives has a majority supporting abortion rights. And that majority is already making its position felt, setting up what could be a series of long and drawn-out fights with a Senate opposed to abortion and stalling what could otherwise be bipartisan bills.Democrats have held majorities in the House for more than half of the years since abortion became a national political issue in the 1970s, but those majorities included a significant number of Democrats who opposed abortion or had mixed voting records on the issue. A fight among Democrats over abortion very nearly derailed the Affordable Care Act as it was becoming law in 2010.This new Democratic majority is more liberal — at least on reproductive rights for women — than its predecessors. “I am so excited about this new class,” Rep. Diana DeGette, a Colorado Democrat and co-chair of the Congressional Pro-Choice Caucus, told reporters at a Jan. 15 news conference. “We are systematically going to reverse these restrictions on women’s health care.”Indeed, the House has taken its first steps to do just that. On its first day of work Jan. 3, House Democrats passed a spending bill to reopen the government that would also have reversed President Trump’s restrictions on funding for international aid organizations that perform abortions or support abortion rights. As one of his first acts as president, Trump re-imposed the so-called Mexico City Policy originally implemented in the 1980s by President Ronald Reagan. But the Senate, where Republicans still hold a slim majority, is not budging. If anything, Republican Senate leaders are trying to push further on abortion. On Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called a floor vote on a bill that would ban any federal funding of abortion or help fund insurance that covers abortion costs. Congress routinely adds the “Hyde Amendment” — a rider to the spending bill for the Department of Health and Human Services to bar federal abortion funding in most cases for Medicaid and other health programs — but McConnell’s legislation would have made the provision permanent and government-wide. When the House was under GOP control, it passed similar measures repeatedly, but those bills haven’t been able to emerge from the Senate, where 60 votes are required. In the end, McConnell’s bill Thursday got 48 votes, 12 short of the number needed to move to a full Senate debate. Organizations that oppose abortion were thrilled, even though the bill failed to advance. “By voting on the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, the pro-life majority in the Senate is showing they’ll be a brick wall when it comes to trying to force taxpayers to pay for abortion on demand,” says a statement from the Susan B. Anthony List.The Senate action Thursday was clearly aimed not just at House Democrats’ boast that they would vote to overturn existing abortion restrictions, but also at the annual anti-abortion “March for Life” held in Washington on Friday.”I welcome all of the marchers with gratitude,” said McConnell in his brief remarks on the bill, noting that they “will speak with one voice on behalf of those who cannot speak for themselves.”But these first two votes are just a taste of what is likely to come. At a breakfast meeting with reporters Jan. 16, DeGette, newly installed as chair of the oversight subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said that reproductive issues would be a highlight of her agenda. Meanwhile, Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., the other co-chair of the Pro-Choice Caucus, and Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., the first female chair of the House Appropriations Committee, announced they will introduce legislation to permanently eliminate both the Hyde Amendment and the Mexico City Policy. In an odd twist, the abortion language in the Mexico City Policy bill passed by the House this month was taken directly from a version approved last June by the Senate Appropriations Committee. Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, who generally support abortion rights, joined with the committee’s Democrats to approve an amendment overturning the policy in the spending bill for the State Department and other agencies. The full Senate never voted on that bill.Still, neither side is likely to advance their cause in Congress over the next two years. The Republican leadership in the Senate can block any House-passed bills lifting abortion restrictions. But the Senate, while nominally opposed to abortion rights, doesn’t include 60 members who would vote to advance further restrictions.Where things get interesting is if either chamber tries to strong-arm the other by adding abortion-related language it knows will be unacceptable to the other side.That is exactly what happened in 2018, when the Senate was poised to pass a bipartisan bill to help stabilize the Affordable Care Act’s insurance exchanges. House and Senate Republicans proposed a version of the bill — but with the inclusion of a permanent ban on abortion funding. Democrats objected and the bill died. Sen. Patty Murray,D-Wash., who was one of the senators engineering the original bipartisan effort, said at the time, “This partisan bill … pulled the most worn page out of the Republican ideological playbook: making extreme, political attacks on women’s health care.”It is not hard to imagine how such an abortion rider could be used by either side to squeeze the other, as Republicans and Democrats tentatively start to work together on health issues such as prescription drug prices and surprise out-of-pocket bills. Abortion-related impasses could also stall progress on annual spending bills if House Democrats keep their vow to eliminate current restrictions like those limiting self-paid abortions for servicewomen or imposing further limits on international aid.Abortion fights on unrelated bills are almost a certainty in the coming Congress, said Ross Baker, a professor of political science at Rutgers University. He noted that abortion not only complicates health bills, but also sank a major bankruptcy bill in the early 2000s.”The only question is how it will emerge,” he said. “And it will emerge.”Kaiser Health News is a nonprofit news service covering health issues. It is an editorially independent program of the Kaiser Family Foundation that is not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente. You can follow Julie Rovner on Twitter: @jrovner. Copyright 2019 Kaiser Health News. To see more, visit Kaiser Health News.last_img read more

This Company Wants to Sell You Raw Water

first_img Gene Marks –shares The only list that measures privately-held company performance across multiple dimensions—not just revenue. Health and Wellness Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. Contributor 4 min read Add to Queue Apply Now » When ‘raw’ water comes out of your tap, you’re warned to boil it. But, these entrepreneurs say theirs is good for you. President of The Marks Group January 10, 2018 Next Article Image credit: Live Water | Facebook Mmmm … yummy. A big glass of unpurified, unsterilized water from a stream or other water source that may contain harmful microbes and bacteria. Does that sound like a good idea to you? For some startups, it sounds like a great one!These companies actually believe that “raw water” is even better than that horrible, filtered, disinfected stuff that comes out of our taps. And they’re out to create a new hot industry based on these ideas.Related: How Food Makers Are Convincing America to Eat BugsOne company doing this is Live Water, which sources its products — delivered of course in a reusable glass — directly from a spring in Oregon. It also sells tools to help customers do their own raw water sourcing. According to its website, raw water is a “new, yet ancient idea,” that, unlike filtered or bottled spring waters, is not subjected to UV light, ozone gas and other sterilization techniques that “destroys beneficial sources of minerals and probiotics” that helps prevent “anxiety, weight gain, fatigue, and countless other ailments (that) are linked to an imbalance of proper gut bacteria.”Does science back up these theories? Uh, not much. According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control, American drinking water supplies are among the safest in the world. The advances made in filtration and disinfection in this country have reduced water borne infections to an amount so low that it is “one of the greatest public health achievements of the 20th century.” But heck, I guess these entrepreneurs think we can do better.Live Water is not the only company promoting the benefits of raw water. Last week The New York Times did a lengthy piece on the growing industry which featured other startups who have raised tens of millions of dollars in venture capital funding to pursue the opportunity.Related: This Entrepreneur Plans to Live to 180 — Here Are His 5 Health HacksAmong the entrepreneurs behind these start-ups is Cody Friesen, who sits on the boards of LinkedIn, Netflix and OpenTable, and Doug Evans, a familiar face in Silicon Valley well-known for his failed Juicero venture last year. With a track record like his, why not follow? After Evans’s company went bust in September, he went on a 10-day cleanse and became hooked on the unfiltered stuff.Is this the start of a cool, new industry or just another passing fad that’s capitalizing on the latest desire for natural foods and “off-the-grid” living? One CEO, Seth Pruzansky of Maine-based Tourmaline Spring, touts his company’s “sacred water” and strongly believes this movement is definitely more than just a fad. “The natural food industry has been in the dark ages when it comes to water,” he told the Times. “Now there is a renaissance.”Related: 5 Ways to Turn a Crazy Idea Into an Awesome RealityIt’s crazy. It’s silly. It’s gross. And it may be really bad for you. But you know what? Good for them.Yeah, that’s right: good for the raw water entrepreneurs. They’re passionate. They’re investing their time and their money. They believe that their product is good and can genuinely help people. They’re savvy enough to embrace the trend of natural products, organic goods and back-to-nature lifestyles that is sweeping the country. They, like any good entrepreneur, are taking a shot at making some money there. So, as long as they’re in compliance with regulations and not breaking any laws, why the hell not?I don’t go to strip clubs. I don’t gamble. I don’t own a firearm. I’ve never used an abortion clinic and I will never, ever drink a glass of raw water. It’s just not my thing. But good for them. Sure, it’s fun to make jokes about stuff like raw water, but I don’t question the rights of the people who do these things and the businesses that provide these services. And neither should you. 2019 Entrepreneur 360 List This Company Wants to Sell You ‘Raw’ Waterlast_img read more

OkCupid Founder If You Use the Internet Youre the Subject of Hundreds

first_img Laura Entis Register Now » Next Article Privacy Concerns OkCupid Founder: ‘If You Use the Internet, You’re the Subject of Hundreds of Experiments’ Guest Writer Learn how to successfully navigate family business dynamics and build businesses that excel. 4 min readcenter_img July 29, 2014 Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. Last month, Facebook revealed that it had manipulated the content in the new feeds of more than 600,000 people to see whether or not the changes would affect people’s emotional state.If you weren’t actively pissed off, chances are you at least found the study – which attempted to manipulate mood by altering the number of positive or negative posts a person would see – creepy. Turns out, most people resent feeling like a lab rat (the clinical language of the study, published in The Proceedings Of The National Academy of Sciences, didn’t help on this count).That’s a shame, says OkCupid co-founder and president Christian Rudder, because if you use the Internet you are going to be the unwitting subject of hundreds of a wide range of experiments. “That’s how websites work,” he wrote in a blog post published Monday.Related: Facebook Basically Shrugs Off User Outrage Over ‘Emotional’ ExperimentFacebook’s tepid defense of its ’emotions’ study was that it was an attempt to improve “user experience.” Rudder goes a step further, arguing that any website that wants to improve its functionality needs to run experiments on its user base. “Most ideas are bad,” he wrote. “Even good ideas could be better. Experiments are how you sort all this out.”Putting his money where his mouth is, Rudder revealed in the blog post that OkCupid has been running experiments on its users for years. In light of the recent Facebook debacle, he chose to publicize the details from “a few of the more interesting” ones (which means this is likely the tip of the iceberg as far as the whole OkCupid-experiments-on-its-users thing goes).In one test, all profile pictures on the site were hidden, which led users to interact more frequently and reveal more details about themselves. In another, profile text was obscured to see how much an individual’s looks impacted his or her perceived personality (turns out, looks matter a lot). And in the third, the dating site informed users that their compatibility rating with other users was either better or worse than the site’s algorithm actually predicted. While these results are mildly interesting, what’s really fascinating is the casual, almost blasé way Rudder delivers the news that not only has his site been experimenting with uninformed users for years, but most other sites are doing the same exact thing.Related: Mushy Marketing Ploy: Pizza Hut Joins OKCupidWhile all three experiments exemplify how easy it is for sites like OkCupid or Facebook (which have a trove of data on users’ personalities, habits, likes and dislikes) to manipulate responses, the third is probably the best example.In that experiment, OkCupid altered the compatibility scores for potential daters, taking pairs of bad matches (an actual 30 percent match) and telling them they were a great match (a 90 match). The research found that if a potential dater was told another user was a good match, he or she was slightly more likely to initiate a message exchange even if the recipient was, in reality, a poor match according to the site’s compatibility metrics.Doctored compatibility ratings seem like as blatant a manipulation as Facebook’s tweaked news feeds, but so far, the public backlash over OkCupid’s experimentation appears far more subdued than it was over Facebook’s.Related: Mozilla’s CEO Resigns in Wake of Criticism Over Stance on Gay MarriageThere lots of possible explanations for this, including the fact that OkCupid didn’t publish its results in a scientific journal, the study was more “legitimately useful to users,” the tone was “self-deprecating” rather than clinical and that OkCupid, as a niche service, is less scary than omnipresent Facebook.That’s not the real issue, though. The real issue is Rudder’s argument that if you use the Internet you are, by default, the subject of a host of experiments. Companies don’t need to get your explicit approval (they just have to sneak a line into their terms and services agreement), and there is no committee that distinguishes between an ethical experiment and an unethical one that has the potential to inflict real damage. Which means morally dubious experiments like Facebook’s probably happen all the time, we just rarely find out about them because companies aren’t obligated to publish their results.If you don’t like it, Rudder is essentially saying, get off the Internet. Despite his “self-deprecating” tone, it’s a troubling message.Related: Tell Us: Will Facebook’s Unethical User Experiment Make You Quit? –shares Free Webinar | July 31: Secrets to Running a Successful Family Business Add to Queuelast_img read more

MongoDB Strengthens Mobile Offerings with Acquisition of Realm

first_imgMongoDB, Inc., the leading modern, general purpose database platform, announced it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Realm, the company behind the Realm mobile database and Synchronization Platform, for $39 million in cash, subject to certain adjustments. The acquisition is expected to close in the second quarter of MongoDB’s fiscal year ending Jan. 31, 2020, subject to the satisfaction of customary closing conditions.“Realm is incredibly popular with mobile developers because it makes it easy for them to work with data to accelerate innovation, which is very consistent with our own philosophy,” said Dev Ittycheria, President & CEO, MongoDB. “This acquisition is a natural fit for our global cloud database, MongoDB Atlas, as well as a complement to Stitch, our serverless platform. We look forward to working closely with Realm’s strong engineering talent and the vibrant developer community to capture additional share in the database market by giving developers a far more flexible, intuitive and comprehensive way to work with mobile data.”Marketing Technology News: BSI Reports Top Supply Chain Themes for 2019The acquisition of Realm will deepen MongoDB’s relationship with developer communities focused on mobile and serverless development. There are more than 100,000 active developers using Realm, and the solution has been downloaded more than 2 billion times.Marketing Technology News: Primis Awarded Recertification of TAG Certified Against Fraud Seal by Trustworthy Accountability Group“MongoDB’s guiding mission is to make working with data incredibly easy for developers,” said David Ratner, CEO, Realm. “We believe this is the perfect marriage so we can continue what we started Realm to do – helping mobile developers build better apps faster and helping both the community and enterprises support their use-cases across offline-first requirements, digital transformation, user experience and IoT. Together, we will work to deliver innovative solutions from Cloud to the Edge, providing highly responsive user interfaces and experiences to an even larger community of mobile developers.”Marketing Technology News: Shutterstock Launches “View in Room” Augmented Reality for Mobile MongoDB Strengthens Mobile Offerings with Acquisition of Realm PRNewswireApril 25, 2019, 7:24 pmApril 25, 2019 David RatnerMarketing TechnologyMongoDBNewsRealmRealm mobile databaseSynchronization Platform Previous ArticleFairleigh Dickinson University Explains the Best Strategy for Online MarketingNext ArticleQuality Data Equals Truth Sets, and Nothing Lesslast_img read more

An essential reference for diagnostic ultrasonography and biopsy of the thyroid gland

first_img Source: Reviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Jan 23 2019The book provides the reader essential information on how to 1) distinguish between normal and abnormal thyroid sonograms, 2) differentiate low suspicion for malignancy thyroid nodules from sonographically high suspicion nodules, 3) evaluate cervical lymph nodes and parathyroid glands, and 4) examine post-thyroidectomy patients with differentiated thyroid cancer. The reader is also introduced to the different thyroid nodule risk stratification systems in ultrasound imaging, when and how to perform thyroid fine needle aspiration biopsies, and the use of percutaneous ethanol injections for cystic thyroid nodules.Related StoriesStudy finds checkpoint stimulator to be safe, reliable alternative to laryngeal electromyographySurgery can be beneficial for one type of primary central nervous system lymphomaCombining expansion microscopy with VR allows researchers to ‘step inside’ biological dataKey Features: – 11 chapters which begin with an introduction to thyroid ultrasound and progressively explain relevant diagnostic imaging and biopsy procedures for different thyroid diseases (including thyroid cancer and autoimmune diseases)- multiple tables and figures which summarize and highlight important points- more than 60 ultrasound images which illustrate various ultrasound signs and artefacts from patients- a summary of the current standards for the evaluation and clinical management of thyroid nodules based on clinical practice guidelines- a detailed list of references, abbreviations and symbolsThe textbook is an essential reference for both practicing and training endocrine surgeons, endocrinologists, radiologists, cytopathologists, sonographers as well as any health care worker with an interest in managing thyroid and parathyroid diseases in their daily practice.last_img read more

Exercises and swimming goggles may reduce adverse effects on eye during long

first_imgReviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Apr 19 2019Astronauts on long missions at the International Space Station can experience changes to their eyes and vision that can last for years. This study included 20 men who on three separate days at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston completed exercises while on their back and tilted back head-first (to simulate the effect of exercise in space); 10 of the participants wore swimming goggles.Researchers found exercise was associated with decreases in pressure in the eye, while the addition of swimming goggles was associated with modestly increased pressure, which could reduce some of the adverse effects on the eye of long-duration spaceflights. These findings need to be replicated in spaceflight to determine whether increasing eye pressure with swim googles is safe and effective. Source: read more

Oral steroid use in patients with inflammatory diseases increases risk of infection

first_imgReviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Jun 24 2019Oral steroid use in patients with the inflammatory diseases polymyalgia rheumatica and/or giant cell arteritis significantly increased the risk of infection, and the risk increased with higher doses, found a study in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).In a large study of almost 40 000 adult patients with polymyalgia rheumatica or giant cell arteritis in England, researchers found higher absolute risks of infection when patients were taking oral steroids than when they were not taking them. The mean age of patients in the study was 73 years. Steroids included prednisolone, prednisone, hydrocortisone and cortisone. The risk of infection increased with higher doses and was elevated even with low daily doses of less than 5 mg of prednisolone. In periods with prescribed medication, patients’ risk was 50% higher than when it was not prescribed. Increases in risk ranged from 48% for fungal to 70% for bacterial infections.”Dr. Mar Pujades-Rodriguez, Leeds Institute of Data Analytics, at the University of Leeds, United Kingdom, with coauthors Related StoriesRetina can restructure itself following gene therapyNanoparticles used to deliver CRISPR gene editing tools into the cellNANOLIVE‘s novel CX-A defines a new standard for live cell imaging in 96 well plates for continuous organelle monitoring in cell populationsMore than half of patients (22 234, 56%) had infections during 138 412 person-years of follow up, with the most common infections being lower respiratory tract infections (27%), conjunctivitis (9%) and shingles (7%). More than one-quarter (27%) of patients were admitted to hospital and 7% died within a week of diagnosis of infection.”Patients and clinicians should be educated about the risk of infection, need for symptom identification, prompt treatment, timely vaccination and documentation of history of chronic infection (e.g. herpes zoster),” write the authors.They suggest that estimates of dose-response (i.e., the magnitude of risk related to steroid dosing) can be useful for policy-makers in assessing new glucocorticoid-sparing drugs for patients with these inflammatory diseases.”Incidence of infections associated with oral glucocorticoid dose in people diagnosed with polymyalgia rheumatica or giant cell arteritis: a cohort study in England” is published June 24, 2019. Source:CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal)last_img read more

More seniors are dying in falls Doctors could do more to reduce

first_imgReviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Jun 27 2019Older adults worried about falling typically receive general advice: Take an exercise class. Get your vision checked. Stop taking medications for sleep. Install grab bars in the bathroom.A new study suggests that sort of advice hasn’t proved to be very effective: Nearly three times more adults age 75 and older died from falls in 2016 than in 2000, according to a recent report in the Journal of the American Medical Association.In 2016, 25,189 people in this age group died from falls, compared with 8,613 in 2000.  The rate of fatal falls for adults 75 and older more than doubled during this period, from 51.6 per 100,000 people in 2000 to 122.2 per 100,000 people in 2016, the report found.What’s needed to check this alarming trend, experts suggest, is a more personalized approach to preventing falls, more involvement by medical practitioners and better ways to motivate older adults to take action.Elizabeth Burns, a co-author of the report and health scientist at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said it’s not yet clear why fatal falls are increasing. Older adults are probably more vulnerable because they’re living longer with conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease and taking more brain-altering medications such as opioids, she noted.By 2030, the CDC projects, 49 million older adults will fall each year, resulting in 12 million injuries and more than $100 billion in health-related spending.The steep increase in fatal falls is “definitely upsetting,” especially given national, state and local efforts to prevent these accidents, said Kathleen Cameron, senior director of the Center for Health Aging at the National Council on Aging.Since 2012, the CDC has tried to turn the situation around by encouraging physicians to adopt evidence-based fall prevention practices. But doctors still are not doing enough to help older patients, Burns said.She cites evidence from two studies. In one, published in 2016, researchers found that fewer than half of seniors who were considered high risk — people who’d fallen repeatedly or sought medical attention for falls — received a comprehensive fall risk assessment, as recommended by the CDC and the American Geriatrics Society.These assessments evaluate a person’s gait, lower-body muscle strength, balance, medication use, problems with their feet, blood pressure when rising from a sitting position, vision, vitamin D levels and home environment.In another study, published last year, Burns found that physicians and nurse practitioners routinely failed to review older adults’ medications (about 40% didn’t do so), recommend exercise (48% didn’t) or refer people to a vision specialist (about 62% didn’t) when advising older patients about falls.Physicians’ involvement is important because older adults tend to take their doctors’ advice seriously, said Emily Nabors, program manager of the Fall Prevention Center of Excellence at the University of Southern California.Also, seniors tend to underestimate their chance of falling.”It’s very easy for people to look at a list of things that they should be concerned about and think, ‘That doesn’t apply to me. I walk just fine. I don’t have trouble with my balance,'” said Dorothy Baker, a research scientist at Yale School of Medicine and executive director of the Connecticut Collaboration for Fall Prevention.What’s the alternative to giving seniors a laundry list of things to do and hope they pay attention? We asked experts around the country for suggestions:Get a fall risk assessment. Doctors should ask older adults three questions about falls: Have you fallen in the past year? Do you feel unsteady when walking or standing? And are you afraid of falling?If the answer is yes to any of these questions, you’re probably a good candidate for a comprehensive fall risk evaluation.Dr. Muriel Gillick, a geriatrician at Harvard Medical School, believes older patients and their families should “clamor” for these assessments. “Tell your doctor, ‘We’re really worried about falls. Can you do this kind of evaluation?'” she said.When you join Medicare, you become eligible for a “Welcome to Medicare” prevention visit, during which doctors should evaluate your chance of falling. (This is a brief screen, not a thorough examination.) Subsequently, seniors are eligible each year for a Medicare annual wellness visit, which offers another chance for a physician to assess your fall risk.If your doctor doesn’t offer these services, ask for a referral to another medical practice, said Leslie Allison, editor-in-chief of the Journal of Geriatric Physical Therapy. Physical therapists can provide an in-depth review of walking, muscle strength and balance, she noted.The CDC’s “Stay Independent” brochure lists 12 fall-related considerations for those interested in doing a self-assessment. Pay attention to the last one, about depression, which alters attention, slows responses and is often overlooked in discussions about falls.Get a personalized plan. A fall assessment should identify risk factors that are specific to you as well as ways to address them.”The goal is to come up with personalized recommendations, which older adults are far more likely to take up than generic non-tailored approaches,” said Elizabeth Phelan, a researcher of falls and associate professor of geriatric medicine at the University of Washington.Related StoriesTop four things seniors need to know to have a safe and healthy summerFive ways to help keep senior citizens safe during summerSocial Security error jeopardizes Medicare coverage for 250,000 seniorsTake programs that address balance, for example. Some are designed for older adults who are frail, some for those who are active, and still others for those in between. “If a senior goes to a program that doesn’t meet her needs, it’s not going to work out,” said Mindy Renfro, associate professor of physical therapy at Touro University Nevada.The single most important intervention is exercise — but not just any kind. Notably, simply walking — the type of exercise most older adults get — won’t help unless seniors have previously been sedentary. “If you’re walking, by all means, don’t stop: It’s good for general health and well-being,” Phelan said. “But to prevent falls, you need to focus on strength and balance.”Exercise such as tai chi or the Otago Exercise Program could improve strength and balance, advises Cameron of the National Council on Aging. She suggested asking an area agency on aging, senior center, YMCA or YWCA about classes. The center also has formed fall prevention coalitions in 43 states. Look for one near you here.A national directory of resources that can help older adults make home modifications is being expanded through a new program led by USC’s Leonard Davis School of Gerontology. Occupational therapists can evaluate homes and suggest changes to reduce your chance of falling. Ask your physician for a referral.Your doctor’s guidance will be needed to review medications that can contribute to falls. Using three or more psychotropic medications such as opioids, antidepressants, antipsychotics, benzodiazepines (such as Valium) and “Z” drugs for sleep (such as Ambien) puts seniors at substantial risk, said Dr. Donovan Maust, an assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Michigan Medical School.Be careful during transitions. Older adults coming home from the hospital or starting new medications should be especially careful about falling, because they may be weak, deconditioned, exhausted and disoriented.A new paper from researchers at the University of Michigan and Yale University highlights this risk. They looked at 1.2 million older adults readmitted to the hospital within 30 days of being discharged in 2013 and 2014. Fall-related injuries were the third most common reason for readmissions.In other studies, Geoffrey Hoffman, an assistant professor at the University of Michigan School of Nursing, has asked seniors and caregivers about their experiences during discharge planning. None remembered receiving information about falls or being advised that they might be at risk.Hospital staffers should discuss fall prevention before older patients leave the hospital, Hoffman said, calling it “a time when it’s critical to intervene on fall risk.”Consider the message. In research studies and focus groups, older adults report they don’t like negative messages surrounding falls such as “You can hurt yourself badly or die if you don’t watch out.””Telling older adults what they need to do to be safe feels patronizing to many people and raises their hackles,” Hoffman said.Instead, seniors respond better to messages such as “taking these steps is going to help you stay independent,” Burns of the CDC said.We’re eager to hear from readers about questions you’d like answered, problems you’ve been having with your care and advice you need in dealing with the health care system. Visit to submit your requests or tips. This article was reprinted from with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.last_img read more

Blood pressure medication associated with increased risk of diverticulosis

first_imgReviewed by Alina Shrourou, B.Sc. (Editor)Jul 3 2019A type of blood pressure lowering medication, called a calcium-channel blocker, may be linked with an increased risk of a type of bowel condition called diverticulosis.This condition causes small bulges or pouches to appear in the lining of the intestine. Particularly affecting the elderly (as many as 65 per cent of over 85s may be affected), diverticulosis can in some cases can lead to a medical emergency if the pouches become infected or burst.The new early-stage research finding comes from a team of scientists led by Imperial College London, who investigated the effectiveness and side effects of three common blood pressure medications: ACE-inhibitors, beta-blockers and calcium channel blockers.High blood pressure affects one in ten adults across the globe, and increases the risk of heart attack and stroke. The most common treatments for high blood pressure are lifestyle changes and medications.However, despite the three main medications being taken by millions, investigating their potential side effects (as well as studying their effectiveness for treating other diseases), can be difficult and often involves lengthy and expensive clinical trials.To overcome this problem, the research team, led by Imperial’s School of Public Health, used genetic analyses to study the effects of the drugs.By investigating versions of genes that mimic the effects of these drugs, the team were able to study the drugs’ effectiveness – and their potential side effects.First, the researchers, who published their work in the journal Circulation, identified the proteins targeted by the drugs, and which help lower blood pressure. Next, they analyzed genetic data from around 750,000 people and identified the so-called genetic variants that code for these proteins.The team, who included researchers from LMU Munich, then studied whether these gene variants – which cause increased production of these proteins – were linked to an increased or decreased risk of other diseases.Related StoriesCarbohydrate plays important role in regulating blood pressure, research suggestsScientists turn type A blood into universal type O, potentially doubling blood transfusion stocksHealthy blood vessels could help stave off cognitive declineThe good news was that, as expected, these so-called genetic variants (which coded for proteins involved in lowering blood pressure) were linked to lower heart disease and stroke risk.However after assessing the risk of around 900 different diseases – using data from the UK Biobank study – the team found that the versions of genes related to the effects of a particular type of calcium channel blocker – the non-dihydropyridine class, were linked to an increased the risk of a bowel condition called diverticulosis.The team compared their findings with further genetic data, and supported the potential link with an increased risk of the bowel condition.The link now needs further investigation with larger trials, explains Dr Dipender Gill, co-lead author of the research from Imperial’s School of Public Health: Dr Gill cautions the findings should not change current prescribing guidelines and that people should not stop taking their medication unless first consulting their doctor.He added: “These findings should not change clinical practice, but instead should act as a catalyst for further research.” Source:Imperial College London Dr Joanna Tzoulaki, senior author from Imperial’s School of Public Health added: The study of genetic variants that mimic the effect of drugs is evolving as a powerful concept to help prioritize clinical trials and design clinical trials more likely to be successful”. This is the first time that this class of blood pressure drug has been associated with diverticulosis. We’re not sure of the underlying mechanism – although it may relate to effects on the function of intestine muscles, which perform contractions to transport food through the gut.”last_img read more

How social networking sites may discriminate against women

Explore further Citation: How social networking sites may discriminate against women (2018, April 20) retrieved 18 July 2019 from Now, using the photo-sharing site Instagram as a test case, Columbia researchers demonstrate how two common recommendation algorithms amplify a network effect known as homophily in which similar or like-minded people cluster together. They further show how algorithms turned loose on a network with homophily effectively make women less visible; they found that the women in their dataset, whose photos were slightly less likely to be ‘liked’ or commented on, became even less popular once recommendation algorithms were introduced.By working out the math of how this happens, the researchers hope that their work, to be presented April 25 at the Web Conference in Lyon, can pave the way for algorithms that correct for homophily.”We are simply showing how certain algorithms pick up patterns in the data,” said the study’s lead author Ana-Andreea Stoica, a graduate student at Columbia Engineering. “This becomes a problem when information spreading through the network is a job ad or other opportunity. Algorithms may put women at an even greater disadvantage.”The researchers scraped their data from Instagram in 2014, after Facebook bought the company but before automated prompts made it easier to connect with friends-of-friends. Though women outnumbered men in their sample of 550,000 Instagram users (54 percent to 46 percent), the researchers found that men’s photos tended to be better received: 52 percent of men received at least 10 ‘likes’ or comments compared to 48 percent of women. Social media and the sharing economy have created new opportunities by leveraging online networks to build trust and remove marketplace barriers. But a growing body of research suggests that old gender and racial biases persist, from men’s greater popularity on Twitter to African Americans’ lower acceptance rates on Airbnb. As expected, homophily played a role. The researchers found that men were 1.2 times more likely to ‘like’ or comment on other men’s photos rather than women’s, while women were just 1.1 times more likely to engage with other women.When they used two widely used recommendation algorithms—Adamic-Adar and Random Walk (friends-of-friends)—the researchers found that the percentage of women connected to, or predicted to be recommended to, at least 10 other Instagram users fell from 48 percent in the original dataset, to 36 percent and 30 percent respectively. As predicted in a series of mathematical proofs in the paper, the researchers also found that the disparity was greatest among Instagram’s super-influencers—people like Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom, whose popular posts and 1.5 million followers put him in the top tenth-of-one percent for engagement. A network effect known as homophily may reduce women’s visibility on social media when recommendation algorithms are added, says a new study. Above, a selfie from study coauthor Ana-Andreea Stoica’s Instagram account. Credit: Ana-Andreea Stoica A majority of hyper-influencers in the researchers’ sample were women, but when the Adamic-Adar recommendation algorithm was introduced, men were three times more likely than women in this exclusive group;to be suggested as a new contact to others on the network. Credit: Ana-Andreea Stoica When algorithms were turned loose on this exclusive network of ultra-engaging individuals, women’s visibility plunged. Though women in the top .1 percent for engagement (with at least 320 connections) outnumbered men (54 percent to 46 percent), the men were far more likely to be suggested to new users and expand their networks rapidly. Just 26 percent and 28 percent of women in the top .1 percent were likely under the Adamic-Adar and Random Walk algorithms respectively to be recommended at least 23 times and 12 times, the researchers found.”Algorithms pick up subtle patterns and amplify them,” said the study’s senior author, Augustin Chaintreau, a computer scientist at Columbia Engineering and a member of Columbia’s Data Science Institute. “We’re not asking that algorithms be blind to the data, just that they correct their own tendency to magnify the bias already there.”The study is the latest to show that recommendation algorithms, in addition to filtering content, may influence the long-term structure of a social network. “It’s remarkable that a simple assumption of homophily leads algorithms to amplify disparities in social status,” said Amit Sharma, a researcher at Microsoft Research India who was not involved in the study but recently spoke at Columbia about his own work exploring recommendation engines and social influence.Algorithmic interventions that balance convenience with ethical goals may be one way to address the problem, he added. “Through studies like this, we’re learning that the practice of optimizing a single metric exclusively, for example, number of new friends added, is not the right way. Unfortunately, the alternative is unclear. We are still scratching the surface of understanding how algorithms affect long-term human behavior.” More information: Ana-Andreea Stoica et al, Algorithmic Glass Ceiling in Social Networks, Proceedings of the 2018 World Wide Web Conference on World Wide Web – WWW ’18 (2018). DOI: 10.1145/3178876.3186140 Snapchat challenging Facebook among US youth: survey This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. Provided by Columbia University School of Engineering and Applied Science read more