Fund fraud by officials HC stays proceedings against IAS officer in case

first_imgBy Express News Service |Chandigarh | Published: July 16, 2019 3:04:09 am Cabinet asks finance panel to consider securing funds for defence “Further proceedings against the petitioner, on the basis of impugned order dated July 4, 2019 shall remain stayed,” Justice Shekher Dhawan said in an order, while issuing notice to the Haryana government for October 16.Senior Advocate Jasjit Singh Bedi, appearing on behalf of Sreenivas, argued that she was a prosecution witness in the case registered in April 2012 and her statement has also been recorded in the trial, adding that it was on her complaint only that the inquiry was conducted and an audit was ordered which disclosed the scandal. The court was told that Sreenivas was working as public servant when the crime took place and no sanction for prosecution has been obtained from the State. She had been earlier found innocent in the investigation.According to the case details, Inderjeet Singh, an accountant with District Rural Development Authority, Kaithal under the Total Sanitation Campaign (TSC) scheme, was found to have committed forgery in various signed cheques between October 2008 and April 2012 and withdrawn excess amount as against the amount shown in the cash book and vouchers. Advertising Inderjeet Singh would allegedly increase the amount in words and figures after Sreenivas, who was incharge of the scheme as Chief Executive Officer of the Zila Parishad and also the Drawing and Disbursing Authority, had signed on the cheques. In at least 11 cheques, an amount of Rs 77,80,000 was withdrawn within a period of two months by making forgery in the cheques, as per the police probe.Sreenivas, who was Additional Deputy Commissioner Kaithal between June 2011 and November 2011, in the plea said that the voucher and cash book figures tally with the cheque amount before forgery in five out of 10 disputed transactions. “As far as the five remaining cheques are concerned, the corresponding vouchers and cash book entries have been destroyed by the main accused,” read the plea, adding all the 21 prosecution witnesses have been examined in the case and summoning her at such delayed stage is bad in the eyes of law.The trial court order of July 4 reveals that then DSP Tekan Raj, who was an investigating officer in the case and has also been summoned as an additional accused now, had allegedly conspired with Sreenivas to save her from prosecution.The lower court while summoning Sreenivas in the order passed on July 4 said, “A vacant space was left where the account was to be written in words and figures and amount was increased by making addition in the left over vacant space in the said cheques. But, concerned DDO signed the said cheques ignoring vacant space in cheques, for withdrawal of government money for various schemes”.It added that DDO had “facilitated” the accused Inderjeet Singh to forge the cheques. After Masood Azhar blacklisting, more isolation for Pakistan Karnataka trust vote today: Speaker’s call on resignations, says SC, but gives rebel MLAs a shield Fund fraud by officials: HC stays proceedings against IAS officer in case dating to 2012 (Representational) THE PUNJAB and Haryana High Court Monday stayed a trial court court order summoning Haryana-cadre IAS Officer Mona A Sreenivas, currently posted as Director of Election Commission of India in Delhi, as an additional accused in an alleged case of embezzlement of funds by government officers in Kaithal in 2012. Advertising Top News Post Comment(s)last_img read more

Trump organization cancels golf event with stripper caddies

first_img Advertising Post Comment(s) Advertising Trump says ‘will take a look’ at accusations over Google, China Shadow Cabaret’s marketing director Emanuele Mancuso had said there would be no nudity at the resort. After the tournament, golfers and dancers were to go to a different venue for a burlesque show.A Trump Organization statement to the Washington Post said funds raised by the tournament were to go to the Miami All Stars charity.However, the organization’s director, Carlos Alamilla, told The Associated Press that he withdrew Wednesday because he wasn’t aware a strip club was involved. The Washington Post reports the Trump Organization issued a statement saying the event would no longer take place because a children’s charity that was to benefit from it had pulled out. The statement said “all amounts paid will be refunded.”The Shadow All Star Tournament was organized by a Hialeah strip club, Shadow Cabaret. The club had advertised on Facebook and its website that the event would be held Saturday at Trump National Doral.The tournament offered golfers a choice of dancers to be their “caddy girl.” US House votes to set aside impeachment resolution against Trump US mulls increasing merit-based immigration to 57% donald trump, donald trump strippers, Shadow All Star Tournament, trump cancels golf event US President Donald Trump.President Donald Trump’s company said Wednesday it has cancelled a golf tournament with strippers serving as caddies that was to be held at Trump’s golf resort near Miami. By AP |Miami | Published: July 11, 2019 8:28:16 am Related News last_img read more

Norway says Venezuela opposition and government talks to continue

first_img nicolas maduro, venezuela president, venezuelan president nicolas maduro, norway venezuela crisis, venezuela norwy crisis, world news, Indian Express Maduro said the parties had decided to continue the dialogue process in a “permanent manner.” (File)Talks between Venezuela’s government and the opposition will continue, the Norwegian and Venezuelan governments said on Thursday, after a Socialist Party leader announced the end of a round of Oslo-backed talks to end a political crisis. Third round of Venezuela talks to start as soon as next week Advertising Advertising By Reuters |Caracas (venezuela) | Published: July 12, 2019 8:52:52 am Maduro in an evening television broadcast in the company of Hector Rodriguez, who is part of the government’s delegation, said the parties had decided to continue the dialogue process in a “permanent manner.”Venezuela is suffering a hyperinflationary economic meltdown that has resulted in malnutrition and disease and spurred a migration exodus of more than 4 million citizens. Maduro says the situation is the result of U.S. sanctions meant to force him from office.Maduro’s adversaries have for years been wary of dialogue proceedings, insisting he has in the past used them to stall for time.Opposition leader Juan Guaido, who has been recognized by more than 50 countries as Venezuela’s legitimate leader, says the opposition will not allow this round of talks to drag out like those in the Dominican Republic that ended unsuccessfully in 2018. Related News Representatives of the ruling Socialist Party met with adversaries of President Nicolas Maduro this week in Barbados as part of talks that began in Norway in May to resolve a stalemate resulting from Maduro’s disputed 2018 re-election.“We announce that the representatives of the main political actors in Venezuela are continuing the negotiations that were initiated in Oslo,” Norway’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement. “We emphasise the importance of the parties showing utmost caution in their comments and statements about the process.”Information Minister Jorge Rodriguez, who led the government’s delegation, late on Wednesday said via Twitter that the Barbados round of talks had concluded. Disappointed Venezuelans lose patience with Guaido as Maduro hangs on center_img After Masood Azhar blacklisting, more isolation for Pakistan Guaido in January invoked the constitution to assume a rival interim presidency after declaring Maduro’s re-election a fraud and insisting the country needs to hold a new vote under proper conditions.“The Venezuelan people need answers and results,” Stalin Gonzalez, a legislator and member of the opposition delegation, wrote via Twitter following the Norway statement. “Our delegation will hold consultations to advance and end the Venezuelans’ suffering.”Socialist Party Vice President Diosdado Cabello, who is influential in Maduro’s government, on Wednesday night dismissed the idea that any presidential election was in the works.“Here there are no presidential elections; here the president is named Nicolas Maduro,” Cabello said during a televised broadcast. Cabinet asks finance panel to consider securing funds for defence Venezuela opposition says it will meet Nicolas Maduro’s envoys in Norway-mediated talks Best Of Express Post Comment(s) Karnataka trust vote today: Speaker’s call on resignations, says SC, but gives rebel MLAs a shield last_img read more

Six detained for death of two persons in Ahmedabad joyride mishap

first_img Ahmedabad news, ahmedabad joyride collapse, kankaria joyride collpase, Kankaria Adventure park, ahmedabad adventure park, joyride collpase, ahmedabad joyride collapse. gujarat joyride collpase, death in ahmedabad joyride collpase, indian express People at the funeral of the victims. (Express)Ahmedabad city Monday detained six people, a day after two persons were killed and 29 injured after a joyride crashed at an amusement park near Kankaria lakefront in Ahmedabad Sunday evening. They have been charged for culpable homicide not amounting to murder. Karnataka: Supreme Court to rule today, says Speaker’s powers need relook The complainant, Chirag Patel, who has been working at the Kankariya lake as an assistant manager for the past five years and is responsible for managing and supervising the various facilities available at the lakefront, filed the FIR on Sunday, naming the six as the accused persons.As per the complainant, the AMC, looking at a public-private partnership to manage various amusement parks at the lake, had issued tenders for the same in 2012. Thereafter, Superstar Amusement Pvt Ltd was selected on December 25, 2014. Meanwhile, between the first and tenth day of every month, monthly inspection reports have to be submitted to the zoo director by the operating agency. This was submitted by Superstar Amusement on July 6, 2019. A significant aspect of this report was the remarks under structural inspection, where it was commented, “nut bolt replace”.Prima facie, as per documents accessed by The Indian Express, Superstar Amusement Pvt Ltd that had 23 rides operating at Kankariya lakefront, and all the other rides were given green light by the deputy executive engineer of the mechanical sub-division of the R&B department, Ahmedabad, on December 31, 2018. This inspection, in turn, granted the company a certificate from the mechanical division of the R&B department valid from January 1, 2019 until December 31, 2019. This is notable since the axis holding a swinging pendulum, broke off. The R&B department remained unavailable for comment despite several attempts.Elaborating the licence process, Ahmedabad City Police Commissioner A K Singh said, “While the performance licence is issued by the police, the issuance is based on prerequisite documents that include certificate from the public works department and the electrical, mechanical and civil division of the state government’s roads and buildings (R&B) department. The certificates (from various divisions of the R&B) we get is an end-product and the process that they (R&B department) follow is an internal document that we are not privy to.” Explained: Kulbhushan Jadhav case file Advertising In undecided Congress, first open call for Priyanka: She should be party chief When asked if the police have a separate wing to vet inspections conducted by the sub-divisional departments within the R&B department, Singh said, “R&B may have internally placed checks and balances. We do not have a separate wing to inspect such technical aspects. We’re duty bound to believe the department’s certification.”However, the police commissioner acknowledged that the certification in this particular case did not suffice. “We did have a discussion with the members of the R&B department today (Monday) where we wanted to know the internal procedure followed by them for such certification and we gave our suggestions as to how to make this process more robust.”One of the suggestions involved a requisite for such amusement parks/rides to fulfill a much more elaborate checklist. Singh said, “There are third-party agencies too with expertise in quality control. Either R&B can take help from such external agencies or they can build their own.”Although at present only private persons have been booked, Singh added, “If there’s any agency found in lapse of their duty or negligent of their duties, action will be taken.” More Explained Convicted in rape case, Narayan Sai’s aides move Gujarat High Court for relief The incident happened when the ‘Discovery’ joyride, in the form of a pendulum with 31 people in it, was on at the Balvatika Amusement Park. The ride was suspended on a pole-like structure that snapped and sent the pendulum crashing on to the ground.Chief Minister Vijay Rupani on Monday ordered strict action against those responsible for the accident. “Strictest actions will be taken against the offenders so that such incidents don’t happen again. There are many amusement parks in the state, and the Janmashtami fairs are also coming up but no one’s lives should be endangered. In this case, the managers and others have been detained. Inspection should be conducted from time to time. While arrests will be made in this case, in light of this incident, the state government shall take appropriate measures and stock of the situation,” Rupani said. Best Of Express Related News center_img Defamation case: Rahul Gandhi to appear in Ahmedabad court today Advertising NRC deadline approaching, families stranded in Assam floods stay home Ahmedabad amusement park ride crashes, 2 killed; probe ordered City mayor Bijal Patel emphasised that no AMC official is prima facie responsible for this incident and if the R&B report had come to the corporation on July 6, the situation could have been averted.Meanwhile, as of Monday evening, one 15-year-old boy, Tirth Bhavsar, who had been shifted to post-operative ward following amputation of his left leg, continued to be in critical condition, at the AMC-run LG Hospital. Assistant resident medical officer of the hospital, Dr Alap Shah, said, “Of the 29 who were admitted on Sunday following the mishap, one Taufik Pathan (20) was discharged on Monday. As of Monday evening, 10 patients are in the female orthopedic ward, six in the male orthopedic ward and 10 in the trauma ward. All are stable. Only two are in post-operative ward – Tirth Bhavsar and Mujammil Wajib of which only Tirth is in a critical condition.”The two who were killed in the mishap were Rajpipla resident, Manali Marwadi (23), and Danilimda resident, Zaid Rafik Memon (22).‘Parks like these should not be handed over to irresponsible managers’A day after two people died and 15 others were injured after a joyride crashed at an amusement park in Ahmedabad Sunday, 23-year-old victim, Manali Rajwadi, was laid to rest in her native village of Taropa in Narmada district.Manali’s father, Vimal Rajwadi, sought stringent punishment for those whose negligence caused the crash. He said, “My daughter was staying over in Ahmedabad at my sister’s place and they visited the theme park when the accident took place. It is a shock for us to lose our daughter in such a manner. She was a fun loving and ever smiling and happy girl. This accident is a reminder that parks like these should not be handed over to irresponsible managers. Whoever is responsible for its maintenance should be punished.” Explained Inspection process ‘opaque’ Although the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation is in the eye of a storm as Congress councillors seek accountability over the joyride mishap, amusement rides are in reality inspected and certified by the government’s Road and Buildings (R&B) Department, headed by deputy chief minister Nitin Patel who holds the portfolio. The R&B department’s duties include inspection of mechanical rides of various lok melas and private agencies/contractors during festivals. However, the inspection process is an internal document. This is an area of seeming opacity as the city police commissioner or the district magistrate’s office, which issue licences, do so simply relying on the R&B department’s reports.Of the six accused who were booked, Ghanshyam Patel, brother of a former BJP corporator in the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC), and his son, Bhavesh Patel, are two of the three directors of the Ahmedabad-based entertainment company, Superstar Amusement Pvt Ltd, which runs the park. Others booked are Tushar Chowksi, a manager, and Lala Mahendra Patel and Kishan Mahanty – two operators of the ride – and Manish Vaghela, a helper. Written by Sohini Ghosh | Ahmedabad | Published: July 16, 2019 4:57:44 am Rajwadi, who oversaw Manali’s burial rituals as per Christian faith, said he would not like to see any other family suffer a tragedy like this. “My appeal to the government is to take stern action against the management of the park. No other family should lose a daughter like this and they should not wait for a tragedy to occur to take such steps.” (Express News Service) Advertising Post Comment(s)last_img read more

Crackdown on immigrant families to start Sunday says Trump

first_imgBy Reuters |Washington | Published: July 13, 2019 7:55:19 am NRC deadline approaching, families stranded in Assam floods stay home Mexico’s government said on Friday that it would step up consular assistance for its citizens living in the United States “who may be affected by the possible migratory operations,” but did not give more details. The operation is expected to target hundreds of families in 10 cities that have recently been ordered deported by an immigration court but have not yet left the country.Trump revealed the operation on Twitter last month and then postponed it. It is unusual for the government to announce deportation operations ahead of time. “People are coming into this country illegally, we are taking them out legally,” Trump told reporters on Friday, calling it a “major operation” that would mainly focus on removing criminals.In a typical week, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrests thousands of immigrants who are staying in the country illegally, according to government data. Most of those arrests are made without any advance publicity. Advertising President Donald Trump waves as walks from Marine One to Air Force One to depart Cleveland-Hopkins International Airport, Friday, July 12, 2019, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)A nationwide wave of arrests of immigrants facing deportation will commence over the weekend, U.S. President Donald Trump said on Friday, confirming that the plan, intended to discourage a surge of Central American migrants, was on track after a delay. Advertising Donald Trump and Democrats clash over President’s ‘racist’ tweets In undecided Congress, first open call for Priyanka: She should be party chief Related News \The president, speaking to reporters at the White House on Friday, said he was not concerned that the advance notice could help targeted immigrants evade arrest. “If the word gets out, it gets out,” he said. S ince Trump first spoke of the plan, a number of city mayors, nearly all Democrats, have repeated their long-standing policies of not cooperating with ICE officials on deportations and have advertised helplines people can call to understand their rights.Democratic lawmakers, among others, have also sought to inform immigrants of their rights, telling them not to open their door for ICE unless agents present a court-issued warrant, and not to say or sign anything before speaking with a lawyer.DETERRING BORDER CROSSINGSTrump, a Republican who has made cracking down on illegal immigration a centerpiece of his administration, is trying to deal with a surge of mostly Central American families crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. Many families are approaching border officials to seek asylum.The latest planned arrests would follow widespread criticism of the crowded, unsanitary conditions in which immigrants are being detained along the southwestern border and concerns about children being separated from adults by border officials. Advertising Explained: Trump’s immigrant policy; what the ICE planned, and why Karnataka: Supreme Court to rule today, says Speaker’s powers need relook In a hearing on the subject on Friday at the U.S. House of Representatives, some Democrats said they feared the forthcoming arrests could result in more immigrant children being separated from their families.Elijah Cummings, the chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, asked a federal watchdog about its recently issued report saying detention conditions were below standards.Jennifer Costello, the acting inspector general for the Department of Homeland Security, told the congressional hearing that the government was falling short in terms of “crowding, the prolonged detention, some of the hygiene that the children are supposed to have.”Costello said it would be “impossible” to meet required standards under “the conditions that we saw there.” “It’s shocking,” she said.REPORTERS TAKEN INSIDE More Explained They’re not afraid Best Of Express Trump sent Vice President Mike Pence to visit some of the criticized detention facilities in McAllen, Texas, on Friday along with journalists, who have generally been denied access to detained immigrants.Pence visited one overcrowded and foul-smelling facility where almost 400 men are detained behind metal fences, some sleeping on concrete, after being accused of crossing the U.S. border illegally.The Trump administration has increased pressure on the governments of Mexico and several Central American countries to stem the flow of migrants reaching the U.S. border.Trump is to meet with Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales at the White House on Monday for talks on immigration and security. Morales may sign an agreement with Trump declaring Guatemala a safe destination for asylum seekers, which could prevent many from applying in the United States, according to officials in both governments.Alongside these international efforts, Trump has sought to deter border crossings with highly publicized crackdowns in the United States.The operation that Trump said would start on Sunday is an example. ICE is expected to target families whose immigration cases were handled through an expedited court process that began in 2018.The agency has notified about 2,000 of those people that they face deportation because they failed to appear in court, acting ICE Director Mark Morgan said last month.Immigration rights activists have complained that in many cases immigrants, especially those involved in expedited hearings, do not receive proper notice of their court dates.ICE has declined to discuss the weekend’s operation, including whether those families are among those being targeted.The American Civil Liberties Union and other civil rights groups sued this week to stop the arrests going ahead, asking a court to prevent the deportation of asylum-seeking families who missed their court dates until they at least get a hearing. Explained: Kulbhushan Jadhav case file Post Comment(s)last_img read more

Star Explorer Mae Jemison The Sky Connects Us

first_imgMick Brady is managing editor of ECT News Network. Alternative Adventures One of Jemison’s current passions, Look Up, began with a conversation she had with LeVar Burton and Jill Tarter following a South by Southwest panel discussion a few years back. Burton and Tarter are both on the 100 Year Starship advisory board.Burton is famous for his portrayals of Geordi La Forge in Star Trek and Kunta Kinte in Roots, among many other acting credits. He’s also well known as the host of the long-running educational program, Reading Rainbow.Astronomer Jill Tarter, cofounder of the SETI Institute, is a pioneer in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. Carl Sagan’s novel Contact and the film based on it feature a protagonist whose character is informed by Tarter’s work.That pivotal conversation involving Jemison, Burton and Tarter centered on how to connect people to space.”We were really working very hard on that,” Jemison recalled, “so we actually thought that in some kind of way we have to get back to folks thinking about the world as connected. And in fact, Jill talked about the fact that if we don’t consider ourselves as ‘Earthlings’ … that’s a major concern. All the work that I’ve ever done, since I’ve come out of NASA, is really about ‘how do we connect with each other on this planet?'”That conversation led to Look Up.”One of the things we have to do is understand that we’re inextricably connected to this planet,” said Jemison. “Our biology, our rhythms, our cycles, our knowledge is connected to this planet. Yet at the same time we’re connected to each other across this planet and the greater universe. So it was really, how do we get this sense of being? The sky is one of those things that’s a transition point. You know, it connects us. What if one day we just stopped looking down, and we looked up?” Not Lost in Space Though Jemison’s path has been far different from mine, our conversation started with an important influence in both of our young lives: many hours spent in libraries, making discoveries and imagining possibilities. Jemison shared her concern that the search engines we now rely on eliminate a crucial part of learning that can take place only in the presence of physical books on shelves.”I remember as a little kid — six years old, seven years old — going with my brother and sister and mother to the library, and there’s something that’s very special about being there with other people,” she recalled. “You really get to search through books and things that are adjacent on this side or on that side, and get to walk through rows and see all of these ideas. And it’s a little bit different — in fact, I think it’s quite different — than where the search engines are taking us these days, where search engines take you to places that they want you to see, based on their algorithms, based on their idea of ‘Did I make a profit off of this or not? Did I get paid for it?'”That’s a very, very different experience, and it’s a very truncated experience,” Jemison said.Even now, when she’s engaged in research, some of the most fundamental things happen when she starts looking for material and finds books or research articles adjacent to the volume she was looking for, she pointed out. It’s a fundamentally different process from being directed by a search engine to see what it wants you to see.Jemison is an advocate of reading as a way to explore with your mind and “create the footpath” toward achieving goals. Allowing scope for the imagination is critical to children’s learning, she said.”People always say, ‘well the kid plays with the box instead of the toy,’ right? It’s because sometimes the [toy] is too concrete,” Jemison explained. “And these days we have these experiences that are so concrete that it doesn’t challenge the individual to think about the world and to explore possibilities. I mean, I’m not saying it’s not important to have concrete ideas, and be very disciplined and know there’s factual things and all of that — but there’s also a different part of play, which allows you to expand and try new avenues.” We all can heed Jemison’s call to look up, but very few of us can travel to where she’s been. I asked her how actually being in space changed her thinking.”I’m going to get rid of the overview effect real quick,” she said. “The overview effect where people say, you know, astronauts look down and ‘everything important to me in the entire universe is on this planet.’ And that I realized that there were no borders — there’s this whole mantra about that.”That didn’t happen to me. I never thought that,” Jemison continued. “I never just thought that the Earth was the center of the universe — I don’t think it now. I never thought that those borders that people draw on maps actually existed. I knew that those are constructs they had in their mind. I never believed that people were that fundamentally different from one to the other.”What being in space did do for her, she said, “was it confirmed something that I’ve always believed — that the Earth will be here. We may not. You know, when you see this thin shimmering layer of blue light that’s our atmosphere, you recognize that we don’t have to be here. This planet that offers us so much — it will be here, but humans don’t have to be here. We just have way too much hubris in thinking that we can exist without the Earth. We can not.”Now, the other thing I felt is that I felt very connected with the rest of the universe,” Jemison said. “That was maybe the pivotal moment for me. I was thinking, would I feel lost? But I could imagine myself in a star system 10,000 light years away, and I felt connected. And that was like fundamental — that connection.”Was there ever a moment in her life as an astronaut, I wondered, when she was out there in space, when she felt fear?”I actually tried to make myself afraid while I was up,” Jemison said. “I did… because I was feeling way too jazzy. Way too mellow, right? And I couldn’t, because I really felt that connection. It was as though everything was OK. I was connected.”It was calm, and it was very centered, and you could deal with lots of things,” she recalled. One of those things was that “the world lives on, but I should always be prepared to die. Not to be here. And what would I want to be like at that time?”Jemison was in the first class of astronauts after the Challenger accident, and she noted in what I viewed as a considerable understatement, that she had done things that were not risk-free prior to ever joining the astronauts. She worked as a doctor in a Cambodian refugee camp while in the Peace Corps, to cite just one example.”You know, it was a matter of steadying yourself and feeling very comfortable about things,” she said. Look Up Although most of us won’t get to venture where Jemison has gone, we can get a taste of experiences that otherwise would be inaccessible to us through technology — virtual and augmented reality, for example.Jemison recently took part in Defying Gravity: Women in Space, a mixed-reality experience brought to life through Microsoft’s HoloLens. I asked her about the usefulness of virtual and augmented reality.One thing she worries about, she said, is “people not being freed up to use their imagination enough. So that they exercise their brain cells, right? To come up with new things — or to come up with other perceptions. So I think virtual reality and augmented reality allow you to maybe explore and walk around something that you wouldn’t be able to. And if you feel like you’re physically there, what does that capture for you? That could be really exciting.”She recalled visiting the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, when she was a young girl.”There was this exhibit … I think it was the street of yesteryear or something. It was like a turn-of-the-century street with cobblestones and silent movies and all of that. I was just absolutely fascinated by it, because it was sort of like, now I have to stop and think, what might life have been like then? What could you do? So augmented reality could bring us that as well — as long as we encourage folks to think beyond that, not just to walk through it. So I think there’s some really powerful pieces to it.” Dr. Mae Jemison and I have a few things in common. We both grew up in houses that had scary basements with cobwebs, coal bins and wringer washing machines. We both wore out our Chicago Public Library cards. We both were tormented by siblings but taught by our parents to stick up for each other, which we did. I memorized the soundtrack of West Side Story word-for-word; Jemison danced in a production of the show.The list of similarities doesn’t stretch too long, however. She was a skinny black girl who lived on the South side, and I was a chubby white girl who lived on the North side. Not to knock my own accomplishments, but I didn’t graduate from high school at 15, as Jemison did, or go on to earn an engineering degree from Stanford, or a medical degree from Cornell.I didn’t serve in the Peace Corps in Sierra Leone and Liberia, or work as a doctor in a Cambodian refugee camp.You won’t find my likeness on a LEGO figurine meant to inspire children because I didn’t become an astronaut. I liked thinking about space, but Jemison went there — and she was the first woman of color who did. To say that there just isn’t another Earthling like Mae Jemison is not an overstatement.Jemison has served on numerous boards and task forces. She founded a consulting company and a science camp. She’s been named to the National Women’s Hall of Fame, the National Medical Association Hall of Fame, the Texas Science Hall of Fame, and the International Space Hall of Fame. She has received the National Organization for Women’s Intrepid Award, and many other awards and honors.I recently had the opportunity to speak with her, and although she shared some illuminating recollections of her mission on the Space Shuttle Endeavour in 1992, her experiences as an astronaut were neither the starting point nor the ending point of our conversation. This extraordinary woman’s career is too packed with present and future endeavors to dwell very long on her stellar past.She currently leads 100 Year Starship, a nonprofit initiative to build a foundation for interstellar travel within the next hundred years.Jemison also leads Look Up, a movement that encourages people to connect with the sky above us on one day each year. Participants collaborate on weaving a global tapestry of Skyfies — sky selfies — accompanied by reflections on their feelings, thoughts, hopes and needs as they look up. This year’s Look Up day was Oct. 18. Space Settlements Although it’s still a nascent movement, Look Up picked up some steam this year. For the first time, participants could contribute their own sky images and messages using the new mobile Skyfie app. They were able to upload them to a global tapestry and then “spin the globe” to see what others were seeing and thinking.People stayed on the app, which was introduced just in time for Look Up’s designated 24-hour period, for 10-15 minutes, Jemison noted. There were contributions from every continent.Pondering the theme of connections that Jemison emphasized so strongly, I wondered about her use of the word “Earthlings” rather than, say, “humans.””Well, you know Jill came up with it” as a way to counter the human tendency to separate, she said. “So the plants are Earthlings, the microbes are Earthlings, my cat is an Earthling. We’re all tied together.”Jemison recalled a conversation she had with a group of students on Oct. 18 — Look Up day.”We were talking about Earthlings, and if you went to Mars, would you be a Martian? And they said, ‘No, you’re still sort of an Earthling, but you’re a human-ling.’ You know, you don’t change — you’re still connected.”Those connections that can be felt so strongly when we look up at the sky can have a powerful influence on the world beneath our feet. With all of the knowledge and the capabilities we have, how does an organization like the United Nations, for example, push for sustainability goals?”How do we get clean water to everyone, and those kinds of things? We already know how to do this,” Jemison said.”We have the capacity to feed everyone on this planet, right? … We have the capacity to educate all children. All of those things are possible. That doesn’t mean we can’t go to space. We can do all of this without sacrificing quality of life from one society to another. “But part of the issue is really we don’t — we don’t care about other folks.”I suggested that we don’t think of ourselves as planetary citizens. We think about little divisions and disagreements, instead of thinking in terms of how we can solve problems as a unified people.”Nature connects us,” Jemison laughed. “It really doesn’t give a damn about those ideas that we come up with — those divisions and things. It really doesn’t care. … When the distractions that separate us… the noise is louder than ever… look up at what’s common to all of us: the sky, weather, what passes through.”What’s above us unites us,” she continued. “That’s the sky, if we can just start to think that every group of people have looked up at the sky. The African proverb says, ‘No one shows a child the sky.’ It’s something that we do. It’s common. The mystery about the stars. What is the sun? … That people look up with hope. You know, it’s almost universal.” In the Library I asked Jemison about the future of human space exploration, and though she firmly rejected the use of the word “colony” to describe any settlements that might result, she did say she knew that we could do it, depending on our commitment.”What it would be like depends very much on who’s involved,” she said. “So my big task with space exploration has been to get more people involved. And my big task in science has been ‘how do we get more people involved?’ In fact, the proposal for 100 Year Starship was ‘An Inclusive Audacious Journey Transforms Life Here on Earth & Beyond.’ The first word is ‘inclusive’ because I think we come up with the best solutions and the best possibilities when we have more perspectives on board.”I wondered whether a continuing commitment to work on 100 Year Starship and other paths to advance space exploration might help solve some of planet Earth’s most pressing problems.”For 100 Year Starship … the way we look at it is that most of the major problems we have to solve very much mirror the challenges that we face on this starship — that we face on Earth today,” Jemison said. It’s crucial to bring in a variety of people, she pointed out — social scientists, physicists, material scientists, artists, storytellers.”Pursuing the extraordinary gives us something that we can build on today,” she continued, “and the other part of this is that people need an adrenaline rush. We need adrenaline as humans. And right now, all of our adrenaline — so much of our adrenaline — is being generated by fear and war. Those things are not really going to hold you in good stead in the long run, but they’re an easy way to generate adrenaline.”Because in addition to all of her other many roles, Jemison has been a dancer and an actor and a writer, I asked what she thought about the importance of melding the arts and humanities with science.”They’re all part of being human,” she said. “We see colors, we feel, we think. Anyone who tells you that science isn’t emotional is a liar. Science is creative. There’s some objectivity to it. I mean, we can look at the social sciences with some objectivity as well, right? But the reality is that what we choose to research and study is very emotionally connected. You know, the solutions that we look at many times are generated from our cultural background — generated from our experiences, which is part of our culture, right? And so… all of it… if we don’t recognize that, then we fail to come up with the kinds of solutions that make a difference.”The perception that scientists are neither creative nor intuitive is a fallacy, Jemison said.”They certainly are as well, and they use that to a large extent. And that’s the same thing with art and, I always remind people, with social sciences, which are really hard. Because if we think of the sciences as only the best and the purest are things that we can quantify easily… eh… it’s hard to do social sciences,” she pointed out.”Clearly, to be human, to be part of this universe, there’s this wealth and this range of ways we interact and ways we think we know things,” Jemison said, “and to ignore any of those is to ignore a major part of the universe and our capacity to interact with it.”last_img read more

Facebooks 2FA Security Practices Violate User Privacy

first_imgAs incidents of privacy abuse mount, Facebook could be courting risk for itself and its advertisers.”Facebook is gambling on its ability to avoid regulation, especially in the U.S.,” Carroll said.”What’s protecting them is the incredibly complex infrastructure that they’ve constructed,” he told TechNewsWorld.”You wonder if politicians in the U.S. Congress have the slightest idea of how any of this works, and the extent to which Facebook is sucking up data to sell to advertisers at an accelerating pace,” Carroll said. “If they can’t understand it, there’s no way they can engineer meaningful safeguards.”Although Facebook has been in and out of hot water with politicians and regulators in the past, this latest kerfuffle may be different.”This does stand apart from many of the concerning revelations at Facebook. It is just so clearly deceptive and wrong,”’s Green said.”I imagine regulators in Europe and even the U.S. will have far harder questions for Facebook as a result,” he continued, “and even though their quarterly advertising growth numbers are still healthy, this is definitely chipping away at the trust of advertisers.” “Two-factor authentication is usually recommended to users as a security measure to see if someone else logged into their accounts,” explained Alexander Vukcevic, director of protection labs and quality assurance at Avira, a security software company in Tettnang, Germany.”Yet when the feature is being misused by any service, it also leaves the possibility for third parties to look up users’ sensitive data, and even worse, allow them to be exposed to different threats such as phishing attacks,” he told TechNewsWorld.”Asking for something as private as your mobile number under the guise of security, and reusing it for advertising and search, is about as wily as it gets,” observed Shane Green, U.S. CEO of, a personal data management service in Washington, D.C.”It points to the complete ethical rot at the top of the company that employees and managers could ever think something like this is acceptable,” he told TechNewsWorld.Facebook’s phone number fiasco could have general consequences for consumer security, Green noted.”It absolutely hurts the willingness of people to improve their security by undermining trust,” he said. “That’s one of the great tragedies of something like this. The consequences reverberate well beyond Facebook. It could be a consumer’s bank or health data, next time, that wasn’t properly protected.”Ironically, Stamos said as much: “The last thing we want is for people to avoid helpful security features because they fear they will receive unrelated notifications.” Risky Business Facebook has undermined privacy on its network by exposing mobile phone numbers provided to secure user accounts through two-factor authentication. That’s because anyone can use the numbers to look up a user’s account. One doesn’t even have to be a Facebook member to do so.Moreover, there’s no way to opt out of the setting, although it can be limited to “friends” only.The security gaffe came to light Friday when Jeremy Burge, a UK entrepreneur, posted this tweet:For years Facebook claimed the adding a phone number for 2FA was only for security. Now it can be searched and there’s no way to disable that.— Jeremy Burge 🐥🧿 (@jeremyburge) March 1, 2019The alert triggered responses that ranged from concern to outrage, including this tweet by Zeynep Tufekci, an associate professor at the School of Information and Library Science at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill:See thread! Using security to further weaken privacy is a lousy move—especially since phone numbers can be hijacked to weaken security. Putting people at risk. What say you @facebook?— zeynep tufekci (@zeynep) March 2, 2019The settings that expose user accounts through the phone numbers are “nothing new” and they apply to any phone number added to a profile, said Facebook spokesperson Jay Nancarrow, according to a TechCrunch report.Facebook did not respond to our request to comment for this story. Two-factor authentication is a technique for securing online accounts. When a user logs into an account, in addition to their user word and password, a code is sent — typically in an SMS text message to a mobile phone — that serves as an additional security layer.After Facebook introduced 2FA, it relentlessly encouraged their users to use it. Concern over its users security apparently wasn’t the only reason for the social network’s enthusiasm for 2FA.Facebook was using 2FA numbers to target advertising at users, according to reports in TechCrunch and Gizmodo.”It was not our intention to send non-security-related SMS notifications to these phone numbers, and I am sorry for any inconvenience these messages might have caused,” Facebook Chief Security Officer Alex Stamos wrote in an online post. “This was not an intentional decision; this was a bug.”Nevertheless, if a user has 2FA enabled, anyone who obtains the number associated with 2FA can use it to look up and confirm the user’s profile. Data Mining Uber Alles Tone Deafcenter_img This latest social network contretemps is classic Facebook, said John Carroll, a media analyst for WBUR in Boston.”They will do anything to data mine their 2.2 billion users. They have absolutely no shame in manipulating people’s information to the company’s advantage,” he told TechNewsWorld.”Despite the incessant apology tours that they go on, they never essentially change the nature of what they’re doing,” Carroll pointed out.What’s more, when a gaffe is exposed, Facebook places the burden on the user — or, as in the case of 2FA phone numbers, the company acts dismissive.”Facebook didn’t even bother to mount a defense this time,” Carroll observed. “They just said this has been around for a while, as if they were a politician dismissing something as old news so they don’t have to address it head on.” John P. Mello Jr. has been an ECT News Network reportersince 2003. His areas of focus include cybersecurity, IT issues, privacy, e-commerce, social media, artificial intelligence, big data and consumer electronics. He has written and edited for numerous publications, including the Boston Business Journal, theBoston Phoenix, Megapixel.Net and GovernmentSecurity News. Email John. ‘Ethical Rot’ If the privacy flaps don’t encourage advertisers to take their business elsewhere, the changing demographics of the social network may do it.”Among young people, the group most inclined to use Facebook is lower-income young people,” said Karen North, director of the Annenberg Online Communities program at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.”Why are people leaving? Part of it is they’re seeking new experiences, but part of it is Facebook is no longer the trusted, friendly community it was,” she said.”People talk about Facebook now in terms of its advertising and exploitation,” North told TechNewsWorld.”It also seems to be tone deaf,” she added. “After being under fire for privacy and meddling issues, you’d think it would stay away from anything that had the appearance of impropriety. But it hasn’t.” Just a Buglast_img read more

Digital CBT can improve insomnia symptoms daytime functioning and overall health

first_img Source: Symptoms of depression, anxiety, sleepiness and cognitive failures all demonstrated significant differences in favor of dCBT at weeks four, eight and 24. While the degree of change was relatively small, the changes were statistically significant. The degree of change for fatigue was moderate to large at weeks four, eight and 24. Regarding productivity at work due to sleep problems, results showed a small to moderate improvement after dCBT. A small but significant effect in terms of reduced absenteeism attributed to poor sleep and increased job satisfaction was observed at week 24. There were no significant effects at any time on relationship functioning. “In clinical studies, dCBT has repeatedly achieved statistically significant and clinically meaningful results for outcomes including sleep, mental health and daytime functioning,” Espie said. “Our latest results indicate that dCBT can be an effective, inexpensive way to help insomnia sufferers achieve better health over the long term through behavior change.”center_img Reviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Sep 26 2018Treating insomnia with digital programs can improve insomnia symptoms, daytime functioning and overall health, a new study from the University of Oxford and Northwestern Medicine has found.In a year-long study involving 1,711 people, researchers found online cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) improved not only insomnia symptoms, but functional health, psychological well-being and sleep-related quality of life.The study was published Sept. 25 in JAMA Psychiatry.A major limitation of insomnia treatments is the lack of providers to deliver CBT, but this study used an online platform that made it easily accessible to users. It also automated and tailored the treatment based on the user’s sleep patterns.Study co-author Jason Ong said there is a four-to-six month wait for an insomnia patient to get an appointment in his sleep clinic.”We can reach many more patients with insomnia by using a digitally based program,” said Ong, associate professor of neurology in sleep medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.Insomnia has been identified as a risk factor for the development of mental health disorders, cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.”Sleep ranks with air, water and food as one of the essentials of life, yet 10 to 12 percent of the population doesn’t get enough of it due to insomnia,” said lead study author Colin Espie, Oxford University professor of sleep medicine and chief medical officer of Big Health, a provider of automated and personalized behavioral medicine programs for mental health. “Our study suggests that digital medicine could be a powerful way to help millions of people not just sleep better, but achieve better mental and physical well-being as a result.”The study provides new evidence that the clinical benefits of digital CBT extend beyond sleep to also improve a person’s daytime functioning.”Typically, what leads patients to seek treatment is when their insomnia begins to impact their quality of life or daytime functioning,” Ong said. “The fact that we saw improvements in both of these areas shows that the digital program has benefits around the clock.”Though insomnia has traditionally been treated with pharmaceuticals, new guidelines published in 2016 by the American College of Physicians recommend that CBT be used first-line, ahead of sleeping pills.Related StoriesSleep decline in one’s 50s, 60s increases risk of Alzheimer’s diseasePoor sleep associated with high blood pressureSleep quality and fatigue among women with premature ovarian insufficiencyStudy participants received treatment using the Sleepio program and an associated iOS app. Sleepio, a digital sleep improvement program featuring CBT techniques designed by Espie, is a product of Big Health.Delivery was structured into six sessions lasting an average of 20 minutes each, with participants having access to the intervention for up to 12 weeks. Researchers assessed the study participants online at 0 weeks (baseline), four weeks (mid-treatment), eight weeks (post-treatment), and 24 weeks (follow-up). Program content was based on CBT manuals and included behavioral, cognitive and educational components.Additional study findings were as follows:In the digital CBT (dCBT) group, 689 participants (80.8 percent) logged on for at least one session, 491 participants (57.6 percent) completed at least four sessions, and 413 participants (48.4 percent) completed all six sessions.At weeks four, eight and 24, dCBT was associated with significant improvement in global health and mental wellbeing. Improvements in insomnia mediated these outcomes.last_img read more

AutoFMT found to be safe effective way to replenish beneficial gut bacteria

first_img Source: Reviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Sep 27 2018Researchers at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center have shown that autologous fecal microbiota transplantation (auto-FMT) is a safe and effective way to help replenish beneficial gut bacteria in cancer patients who require intense antibiotics during allogenic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation. In their study, patients who underwent the procedure were randomly assigned into two groups: one group received standard care and the other received auto-FMT. The researchers found that auto-FMT resulted in the recovery of beneficial gut bacteria to near baseline levels within days, thus restoring patients’ digestive, immune and other essential functions. With standard care, beneficial bacteria typically take many weeks to recover from antibiotic treatment, leaving patients at risk of other infectious diseases, including Clostridium difficile.Related StoriesNew research links “broken heart syndrome” to cancerSugary drinks linked to cancer finds studyTrends in colonoscopy rates not aligned with increase in early onset colorectal cancerThe National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health, provided funding for part of the project. The study report appears in Science Translational Medicine.”This important study suggests that clinical intervention using auto-FMT can safely reverse the disruptive effects of broad-spectrum antibiotic treatment,” says NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, M.D. “If validated in larger studies, this approach may prove to be a relatively simple way to quickly restore a person’s healthy microbiome following intensive antimicrobial therapy.”Allogenic hematopoietic cell transplantation involves a donor–often but not exclusively a family member–who gives the recipient stem cells that re-establish bone marrow production of blood cells and immune function to combat cancer. Antibiotics are essential to prevent bacterial infections in stem cell recipients. However, antibiotics also destroy beneficial bacteria that enhance immune function and resistance to infection. The loss of beneficial bacteria increases the risk of certain life-threatening infectious diseases and graft-versus-host disease (GVHD).The study involved cancer patients who provided their own fecal sample, which was frozen and stored prior to their cell transplantation procedure. Weeks later, when physicians confirmed that the transplanted cells were growing, they assessed the status of the patients’ beneficial gut bacteria. The first 25 patients who lacked known beneficial bacteria were enrolled into the study and randomly assigned to the different treatment groups: 14 received auto-FMT by enema and 11 received standard-of-care.The patients who received auto-FMT consistently regained bacterial diversity, composition and function; recovery of beneficial bacteria in the 11 control patients was delayed.The researchers are continuing to monitor the study patients to determine if auto-FMT improves patient outcomes, such as the incidence and severity of bacterial, viral and fungal infections and the incidence and severity of GVHD. Whether FMT from a healthy donor would be as beneficial as the patient’s own fecal sample at restoring beneficial bacteria remains to be studied.last_img read more

Research examines patterns in back pain over time

first_imgReviewed by Alina Shrourou, B.Sc. (Editor)Jan 10 2019Back pain is among the most frequently reported health problems in the world. New research published in Arthritis Care & Research, an official journal of the American College of Rheumatology and the Association of Rheumatology Health Professionals, examines patterns in back pain over time and identifies the patient characteristics and the extent of healthcare and medication use (including opioids) associated with different patterns.The study included a representative sample of the Canadian population that was followed from 1994 to 2011. A total of 12,782 participants were interviewed every two years and provided data on factors including comorbidities, pain, disability, opioid and other medication use, and healthcare visits.Related StoriesBritish boys to receive HPV jabsCreating a physical and genetic map of Cannabis sativaDistractions and exercise may be key to managing chronic painDuring the 16 years of follow-up, almost half (45.6 percent) of participants reported back pain at least once. There were four trajectories of pain among these participants: persistent (18 percent), developing (28.1 percent), recovery (20.5 percent), and occasional (33.4 percent).The persistent and developing groups tended to have more pain and disability, as well as more healthcare visits and medication use than those in the recovery and occasional trajectory groups. The recovery trajectory group increased the use of opioids and antidepressants over time.”The good news is that one in five people with back pain recovered; however, they continued to use opioids and antidepressants, suggesting that people recovering from back pain need ongoing monitoring,” said lead author Mayilee Canizares, PhD, of the University Health Network’s Krembil Research Institute in Toronto, Canada. “The bad news was that one in five experienced persistent back pain, with an additional group—almost one in three—who developed back pain over time. These two groups were associated with greater pain limiting activity, disability, and depression, as well as increased healthcare and medication use.”Dr. Canizares noted that the findings suggest that people with back pain are a heterogeneous group that may benefit from different approaches to management rather than a traditional one size fits all approach.”The distinct groups identified in the study may represent opportunities for more individualized treatment and preventative strategies,” she said. Source:http://www.wiley.comlast_img read more