Spotify Captures Half Of British Teens Streaming Hours

first_img Email Spotify Captures Half Of British Teens’ Streaming Hours U.K. Teens Prefer Streaming Over Radio spotify-captures-half-british-teens-streaming-hours Research reveals young U.K. music listeners rely on playlists, Spotify and YouTube more than radioPhilip MerrillGRAMMYs Sep 6, 2017 – 4:50 pm Research firm AudienceNet revealed fascinating findings from a June 2017 survey of music consumption in the U.K., showing radio still has a place in young people’s lives but streaming playlists, Spotify and YouTube have replaced passive listening with an on-demand culture giving listeners the power to navigate.The “Audiomonitor” survey shows the 16–24 age group has diverged from the UK’s national average, signaling a new stage as streaming services become dominant with youth. This divergence towards on-demand listening is strongest among 16–19 year-olds.Albums versus playlists: Brits over 65 spend 41 percent of their time listening to albums, but time spent listening tilts in favor of playlists among 16–24 year-olds. The 16–19 segment spent only 20 percent of their time on albums and 35 percent of their time listening to playlists.Radio: The average British listener spends 43 percent of their time listening to radio and three-quarters of 16–24 year-olds listen to some radio each week. But among 16–19 year-olds radio listening has dropped down to just 10 percent of their time.Streaming: While only 24 percent of UK listeners use streaming, in general, this rate rises to 62 percent among the 16–19 age group.YouTube versus Spotify: YouTube has a 31 percent weekly reach on average, almost double Spotify’s 16 percent. But among the streaming hours of the 16–19 demographic, Spotify dominates with 51 percent of their streaming time while YouTube accounts for 33 percent. AudienceNet estimates that Spotify accounts for a total of 30 percent of 16–19 year-olds’ listening hours.More changes are inevitable as streaming audiences supply real-time data detailing their listening habits to music services, artists, and across social media.Spotify For Artists Promises Closer Connection To Fan BasesRead more Twitter News Facebook last_img read more

OBITUARY Maureen A Sullivan 43

first_imgWILMINGTON, MA — Maureen A. Sullivan, age 43, of Wilmington, passed away unexpectedly on May 20, 2018.Maureen was the cherished daughter of Ronald D. and Claire L. (Gagnon) Sullivan of Wilmington, dear sister of Ronald D. Sullivan, Jr. & his wife Sherry of Manchester, NH, Robert Sullivan & his partner Christine Brady of Lowell, Christopher Sullivan & his wife Rhonda of Derry, NH and Richard Sullivan & his partner Mary Hunt of Raymond, NH, loving aunt of Jewell, Jade, Daniel, Nicholas and Caleb. Maureen is also survived by many aunts, uncles and cousins.Family and friends will gather for a Funeral Service at the Nichols Funeral Home, Inc., 187 Middlesex Ave., (Rte. 62), Wilmington on Friday, May 25th at 11:00 a.m. Interment to follow in Wildwood Cemetery, Wilmington. Visiting hours will be held at the Funeral Home on Thursday, May 24th from 4:00 – 8:00 p.m.Memorial donations in Maureen’s name may be made to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, 262 Danny Thomas Place, Memphis, TN 38105.Maureen A. Sullivan(NOTE: The above obituary is from Nichols Funeral Home.)Like Wilmington Apple on Facebook. Follow Wilmington Apple on Twitter. Follow Wilmington Apple on Instagram. Subscribe to Wilmington Apple’s daily email newsletter HERE. Got a comment, question, photo, press release, or news tip? Email wilmingtonapple@gmail.com.Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:Like Loading… RelatedOBITUARY: Maureen F. (McKenna) McHugh, 80In “Obituaries”OBITUARY: Ronald D. “Herman” Sullivan, 71In “Obituaries”OBITUARY: Marie J. (Ciampa) Cummings, 81In “Obituaries”last_img read more

Tata Global Beverages may sell its China operations

first_imgTata Global Beverages on Wednesday said it might sell its loss-making China subsidiary. The company’s Chinese subsidiary, called Zhejiang Tata Tea Extraction Company, reported a net loss of Rs. 15 crore in the previous financial year.  “For China, we are exploring different options, which could be restructuring or a sale,” Cyrus Mistry, the Tata Group Chairman, said at Tata Global Beverage’s (TGB) annual shareholder meeting in Kolkata on Wednesday.The Indian non-alcoholic beverage company holds 81 percent in Zhejiang Tata Tea Extraction (ZTTECL). According to TGBL’s balance sheet, the Chinese subsidiary reported losses of over Rs. 100 crore in the financial year that ended on Dec. 31 Dec, 2015.”We continue to have those challenges and will take a call on the business there in the coming year. It is significantly a B2B business over there. It is not a consumer business. That’s not the reason that business is getting impacted. The reason is more from a productive prospective,” Mistry added. Various options have been considered for “restructuring” the Chinese business. The joint venture recorded liabilities of Rs. 115.54 crore and loss after tax was pegged at Rs. 15.34 crore as of December 31, 2015, according to TGBL’s annual report. “Delays continue in stabilisation of the China business. While prospective customers have shown interest in our instant tea products, the final conversion to orders will be dependent on meeting the product profile requirements. Going forward, stabilising the production process and establishing a pipeline of external customers and successful scaling of technology will be key to the success of the project,” the annual report said.The joint venture between Zhejiang Tata Tea Extraction and TGBL was inked in 2007. TGBL holds 70 percent stake while ZTTECL holds the rest. The TGBL stock was trading at Rs. 141.75 at around 2.31 p.m. on Thursday, up 1 percent from its previous close on the Bombay Stock Exchange.last_img read more

Grabbing groceries at the last moment

first_imgShoppers throng at the groceries in Kawran Bazar on Friday, the eve of Eid. Photo: Abdus SalamPeople have been thronging at the grocery stores in different markets of the capital, doing their last moment shopping ahead of Eid.Krishi Market at Mohammadpur on Friday was teeming with people buying essentials for Eid to be celebrated on Saturday.Buyers lined up at the grocers, with the shopkeepers keeping up with demands of the buyers.Salesman Omar Faruk said, “Yesterday wasn’t so busy. Today I opened my shop at 8:00am and will continue till midnight”.He said there was a demand for spices, fine rice, semai (vermicelli), and noodles.Laccha semai is being sold at Tk 150 a kg and  plain semai at Tk 60 a kg. Polau rice is being sold at Tk 95 to 110 a kg.Buying ingredients for the Eid delicacy semai, at Karwan Bazar in the capital. Photo: Abdus SalamList in hand, Saima Begum arrived at the market. “I have to entertain guests on the day after Eid and will cook a number of dishes.” Saima Begum said.Mohamamd Sabuj, a shopkeeper at Mohammadpur Town Hall, said the sale of spices, including cumin, cardamom and black pepper, had gone up.Buyers alleged that the sellers at Karwan Bazar, Mohammadpur Krishi Market and Town Hall market, had raised the prices. A hundred gram of cumin is being sold at Tk 50 while 100 gram cardamom is being sold between Tk 150 and Tk 180. The sellers, however, claimed that prices had not increased.*This report has been rewritten in English by Rabiul Islam.last_img read more

JaPa trying to exploit AL weaknesses

first_imgHM ErshadRuling Awami League is now in a shaky position in view of its declining popularity, according to former military ruler HM Ershad’s Jatiya Party (JaPa).If the principal opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) joins the electoral race with full strength, JaPa leaders believe, the AL will fall into further vulnerability.In such a situation, the JaPa, which is both in the AL’s cabinet and the official opposition party in parliament, will bargain hard with the AL for increasing the number of seats for contesting the 11th parliamentary polls.”The Jatiya Party will demand 100 seats to contest from the Awami League-led alliance,” a senior leader of JaPa told Prothom Alo, adding that Ershad would soon talk to the alliance leader and prime minister, Sheikh Hasina, to raise the matter.The JaPa policymakers believe the AL-led government would not have got legitimacy, nor could it have stayed in power in its full term after the one-sided polls on 5 January 2014, had the JaPa not been with the AL government.The party is at the same time the ‘determinant of power’ and a ‘safeguard’ for the AL camp, according to JaPa leaders.The AL will desperately need JaPa, no matter whether the BNP joins the election or boycott it, they added.”If other parties including the BNP contest the elections, it would be tough for the Awami League alone to overcome the challenge. And if the BNP boycotts the election, JaPa’s participation is a must to show the elections as an inclusive one,” said one of them.So, the JaPa leaders said, they have taken the decision in principle to demand more seats. The top leaders held several meetings on the matter.”We will raise the demand for 100 seats. We know as the Awami League is a big party, they have some limitations. We have formed an alliance as well. The election must be held with all. The question is: If the Awami League cannot win or if the election is not possible without us, why will we be deprived of [more seats]?” JaPa general secretary ABM Ruhul Amin Hawlader said.The JaPa top leaders feel the party will be more benefitted if they win more seats than securing two or three cabinet portfolios. Leaders and activists of the party at the grassroots may get higher facilities in the respective constituencies, than they receive three cabinet members from the party, the party leaders said.However, some JaPa leaders think the party should bargain for higher number of cabinet portfolios, should the AL-led grand alliance win the next general elections.A senior presidium member of JaPa, who preferred not to be named, said the party had a written agreement with the AL for giving 80 seats for JaPa in 2014. But many of the candidates withdrew their nomination following Ershad’s sudden announcement to boycott the polls, the leaders recalled. As section of the party candidates under Rowshan Ershad’s leadership were still in the race, the party’s candidates were eventually declared winners in 34 seats.The scenario is completely different this time around as the AL government is in trouble with allegations of corruption and killing, apart from challenge arising out of any decision of the BNP.The government’s isolation from the people was exposed in the recent movements for quota reform and road safety, the JaPa leader pointed out.They observed that the joining an alliance with the AL involves certain risks for the JaPa. So, they feel, they should be rewarded.The JaPa policymakers no longer want to play the role of a ‘domestic’ opposition party in the next parliament.The leaders want to become a strong coalition partner if it joins the AL-led government, winning more seats in parliament.Accordingly, the JaPa is trying to expanding its political alliance to enhance negotiation power. The JaPa chairman, Ershad, has already negotiated with the 59-party Sammilito Jatiya Jote including two registered Islamic parties.The JaPa will field candidates in 300 seats if the BNP boycotts and try to exploit the anti-incumbency factor for changing the regime, JaPa co-chairman GM Quader said.He added that the JaPa will form electoral alliance with the AL in case the BNP joins the race.*This piece, originally published in the print edition of Prothom Alo, has been rewritten in English by Nusrat Nowrinlast_img read more

Abbott Officially Calls Special Session Allowing Lawmakers To Begin Filing Bills

first_imgMarjorie Kamys Cotera for The Texas TribuneGov. Greg Abbott lays out items for a special session at a press conference on June 6, 2017.Gov. Greg Abbott issued a declaration for a special session of the Texas Legislature Monday, formally inviting lawmakers back to Austin to pass “sunset legislation” that will keep several key state agencies open.The long-awaited procedural move allows lawmakers to begin filing bills for the special session set to begin on July 18. In addition to the formal declaration, Abbott also released a draft version of 19 additional items he plans to add to the special session agenda later on. Last month, Abbott announced that lawmakers would consider 20 total legislative items during the special session.Lawmakers’ failure to pass “sunset” legislation during this year’s 140-day regular session forced Abbott to call the special session. Absent that measure, government agencies including the Texas Medical Board, which licenses doctors across the state, will have to shut down.“With today’s proclamation, and with bill authors already lined up for all special session items, I look forward to working with the House and Senate to finish the people’s business,” Abbott said in a statement.During the special session, lawmakers will return to several controversial issues that deeply divided the state’s Republican leadership, including a so-called “bathroom bill” that seeks to restrict which bathrooms transgender Texans can use. In his unofficial supplemental call, Abbott described that issue as “legislation regarding the use of multi-occupancy showers, locker rooms, restrooms, and changing rooms.”Abbott also wants legislators to take on school finance reform, school choice for special needs students and several local control measures.Secretary of the Senate Patsy Spaw said her office received a copy of the proclamation around 11:00 a.m., which she forwarded to senators to alert them that they could begin filing bills. A physical copy of the proclamation was also delivered to senators’ offices in the Capitol building. No senate bills have yet been filed for the special session.Meanwhile the House, which has had an e-filing system in place for years, received over two dozen bills before 1:00 p.m.Robert Haney, the House chief clerk, said the first bill filed Monday, House Bill 41 from state Rep. Mike Schofield, R-Katy, was received at 11:42 a.m. The bill aims to change how the state calculates the constitutional spending limit, which restricts how much the budget can grow from one biennium to the next. Sharelast_img read more

Republicans Looking To Avoid A Runoff In Sleepy Special Election To Replace

first_img Share U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Corpus Christi. Official House portraitsVoters in the 27th Congressional District are preparing to go to the polls for a third time this year on Saturday for a sleepy special election in which both parties are working to rally their fatigued troops behind a single candidate in the nine-person field to replace former U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Corpus Christi.Farenthold abruptly resigned in April amid the fallout from sexual harassment allegations and an ethics investigation by the House Ethics Committee. He had announced four months earlier that he wouldn’t run for re-election, creating an open race to succeed him.Saturday’s election is to determine who completes Farenthold’s current term, which ends in January, and it’s separate from the November election, the winner of which will take over the seat for a full two-year term after that.Despite nine candidates on the ballot, Republicans are hoping their general election nominee, Michael Cloud, can win outright Saturday and avoid a runoff that would keep the seat empty for at least two more months and leave the counties with the bill for yet another election this year. Democrats, meanwhile, believe the crowded race provides an opening for their consensus candidate — Eric Holguin, also his party’s pick for the fall — to advance to a second round.Even if Holguin makes the runoff, few are predicting the solidly red district could flip. Still, Democrats view it as an opportunity to at least build some momentum in the run-up to the November elections, and Republicans acknowledge there is an inescapable element of uncertainty in the low-turnout environment. “I think the odds are highly favorable of [Cloud] winning the special election at least in a runoff, but the turnout’s so low, anything can happen,” said Michael Bergsma, the Republican Party chairman in Nueces County. Gov. Greg Abbott announced the special election two months ago following Farenthold’s resignation, and it was not without drama. Before calling the special election, he sought — and received — clearance from Attorney General Ken Paxton to suspend state law to speed up the timeline to fill the seat, citing the Coastal Bend-area district’s urgent need for representation as it recovers from Hurricane Harvey.Farenthold has been dogged for months over his refusal to pay back $84,000 in taxpayer money used to settle a 2015 sexual harassment claim, after originally promising to refund it late last year.  Once Abbott picked a date for the special election, he pressed Farenthold to pay back the $84,000 directly to local taxpayers by covering the costs of the special election, a request Farenthold rejected.In addition to the three Democrats and three Republicans on the ballot Saturday, there is Libertarian Daniel Tinus and independent candidates Judith Cutright, a Corpus Christi communications consultant, and Chris Suprun, a Dallas paramedic. Suprun is best known as the Texas elector who voted against Donald Trump in 2016.Early voting for the special election started June 13 and ends Tuesday.GOP leaders back CloudIn making the case for an outright win Saturday, Cloud, a former Victoria County GOP chairman, is echoing Abbott’s argument that the district needs new representation as soon as possible to deal with the Harvey aftermath. The sprawling district covers a large portion of the Gulf Coast and reaches northwest toward Austin. “Much of our district’s still recovering from Hurricane Harvey and the burden really is on county government,” Cloud said in an interview. “If we can pull out 50 percent and gets things moving and get our district represented, I think that would be a big win for the district.” The GOP unity push kicked into high gear Thursday, when Abbott endorsed Cloud, saying in a video that Cloud will fight for post-Harvey resources for the district and — in a thinly veiled reference to Farenthold — “restore integrity to the office.” The governor did not get involved in the primary or runoff. Weeks before Abbott weighed in, Cloud picked up the support of his primary runoff rival, Bech Bruun, who appeared with Cloud at a news conference in Corpus Christi and said he hoped his endorsement would help Cloud dodge a runoff. Cloud’s campaign has sent out mailers highlighting the endorsement by Bruun, the former chairman of the Texas Water Development Board, under the headline “Republicans Unite Behind Michael Cloud.”Cloud’s campaign has also aired a TV ad urging Republicans to coalesce behind him — and warning of the consequences if they do not. “Don’t let liberals win this seat,” a narrator says over ominous images of Nancy Pelosi, the U.S. House minority leader, and Hillary Clinton, the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee. Still, there is a third Republican in the special election, and he remains something of a wild card. Marty Perez, a Corpus Christi doctor, has injected almost $130,000 in to his campaign, mostly using it to run unpolished TV ads emphasizing how the district has been left without representation and asking voters to “let him come in and drain the swamp so that we can have a clean slate.”In one of Perez’s ads, he rehashes attacks against Cloud from last month’s runoff, alleging Cloud “has sold his very soul to the devil” as the beneficiary of support from the Club for Growth, a national conservative group. Its super PAC arm unloaded hundreds of thousands of dollars helping Cloud win the runoff, though Cloud had no formal control over the spending, much of which targeted Bruun. Democrats also seek unityA unity movement is also afoot on the Democratic side. Holguin, a former staffer at the New York City comptroller’s office, has collected support from some of the top Democrats in the state, including gubernatorial nominee Lupe Valdez and state party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa — as strong of a signal as possible to Democratic voters in TX-27 that there is no other viable option for them.Also on the ballot Saturday is Holguin’s runoff opponent, Raul “Roy” Barrera, but he appears to have stopped campaigning after May 22.“We’re just letting everyone know that we need to unite our Democratic vote behind my candidacy so that there isn’t any spoilers” Saturday, Holguin said in an interview, adding that if he makes the runoff, he believes it will be a “completely different race” that will draw much more attention and enthusiasm.Holguin emphasizes that opportunity in a TV ad where he says the communities of TX-27 have been “forgotten” and voters have a “true shot at reversing” that Saturday. The commercial also alludes to the GOP frontrunner, telling voters their support is “vital to ensuring our district doesn’t get stuck in the clouds.”Pat Tally, who chairs the Victoria County Democratic Party, said there has been “a lot of pressure for people to please consolidate and get behind one person so that we cannot have all of our numbers” spread across different candidates. Democrats, she added with a chuckle, are not always good at that. The third Democrat on the ballot Saturday, Mike Westergren, is a Corpus Christi lawyer and former state district judge who unsuccessfully ran for Texas Supreme Court in 2016. Westergren said he got in the race out of a desire to help Harvey victims, realizing there are “still a lot of unmet needs, and they need a congressman.”Westergren is not a fan of the push to fall in line behind Holguin, particularly the state party’s involvement in the race.“I’ve been a Democrat all my life, and they’re not supposed to get involved, but they are,” Westergren said. “I don’t think that’s right.”(A party spokesman said Hinojosa endorsed Holguin due to the “overwhelming support” he received in the May 22 runoff, when he defeated Barrera by over 20 points. There is no law or party rule that prevents a party official from endorsing a campaign, the spokesman added.)With candidates scrambling to educate voters about the special election, there has been little discussion about the issues since the runoffs. Holguin and Cloud have exchanged statements over the family separation crisis at the border, with Holguin first offering an “effort to unite” with Cloud in opposition to the situation. Cloud, who regularly notes on the campaign trail that his wife is a Mexican immigrant, said in a statement there needs to be a “solution that keeps the family unit together without compromising on enforcing our law.”Still, the candidates’ top focus in the final days before Saturday remains simply getting their voters to the polls one more time.“I was at church Sunday morning and even my best-est friends were coming up to me,” Cloud recalled, “and saying, ‘How many times do I have to vote for you?’”last_img read more

Blocked from Giving Away 3DPrinted Gun Blueprints Texas Man Says Hes Selling

first_img Share Bob Daemmrich for The Texas TribuneCody Wilson, whose Defense Distributed is selling blueprints for 3D-printed guns, in his company’s Austin headquarters.An Austin resident and self-described “crypto-anarchist” said Tuesday he’ll begin selling blueprints that would allow users to 3D print their own plastic guns, a day after a federal judge extended a temporary block preventing him from making the plans available on the web for free.In other words: If he can’t be the “Napster” of crypto-guns, he’ll be the “iTunes,” Cody Wilson told reporters at a press conference Tuesday in Austin.The decision may put Wilson, currently at the center of a slew of court disputes across the country, on shaky legal footing. Wilson has argued in court that preventing him from publishing the blueprints infringes on his First Amendment rights. But Monday’s injunction said the potential harms to Wilson’s First Amendment rights “are dwarfed by the irreparable harms the States are likely to suffer” if he was permitted to post the blueprints for free. Nearly two dozen states that lined up against Wilson in court have said the untraceable plastic guns made using the blueprints would pose an enormous security risk.Wilson called the injunction “hysterical,” saying that the order allows his company to sell the designs and distribute them to customers through the mail, over email and with secure downloadable links. Wilson said he has already received 400 orders, according to the Associated Press.Josh Blackman, Wilson’s lawyer, said in an interview Tuesday that selling the blueprints directly to people within the United States is perfectly legal.“It’s not about distribution, it’s about posting them,” Blackman said. “There’s no prohibition on distributing these files — the prohibition is on doing it in a way that foreign persons can access.”But the Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson, who is leading a 19-state challenge to Wilson, has characterized the block differently.“I am very concerned about 3-D printable guns, wherever they are,” Ferguson said earlier this month. Thanks to the federal judge in Seattle, he said, “federal firearm import and export laws once again prohibit the distribution of these downloadable gun files. Anyone who posts downloadable guns to the internet is violating federal law. It is the federal government’s job to enforce those laws, and I urge it to enforce them aggressively as to these prohibited items.”Wilson’s organization, Defense Distributed, is allowing customers to set their own price for any of 10 gun designs posted on his website. The guns appear to be available for as little as one cent.Wilson’s legal woes stretch back to 2013, when he posted blueprints for the 3D gun. The State Department ordered him to stop, arguing he was illegally exporting sensitive arms technology. Wilson sued in 2015, and Defense Distributed reached a settlement with the State Department earlier this summer, seemingly clearing the way for him to begin posting the designs online. But he was stalled by a flurry of lawsuits across the country.last_img read more

Weighing The Costs of Pay Parity for Houstons Firefighters

first_img To embed this piece of audio in your site, please use this code: Share Andrew Schneider/Houston Public MediaOne of the biggest decisions facing Houston voters next month falls at the bottom of the ballot. Proposition B would require the city to start paying its firefighters the same as its police officers. The issue has driven a wedge between the firefighters and the mayor they once considered their ally.“The city of Houston has had pay parity between the fire department and police department since 1975,” says Marty Lancton, president of the Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association. “That was broken by the ex-police chief and then-Mayor Lee Brown in 2001.”Since then, the pay gap has grown wider under successive mayors. Houston is currently the largest city in the United States in which firefighters and police do not have pay parity. Lancton says his union campaigned hard for Mayor Sylvester Turner because they thought he’d change that.“We had a longtime, 26-year friend in [then-State] Representative Sylvester Turner,” Lancton says. “We went out and we helped Mayor Turner get elected. We put 1,200 firefighters on the streets, block walked 75,000 homes, just so that we could get somebody that would equally value the service and sacrifice. Unfortunately, that’s not what happened.”Turner spent much of his first two years as mayor working to overhaul the city’s pension system to keep Houston out of bankruptcy. The mayor argues all that work will be undone if Proposition B passes.“You cannot add another $100 million to the bottom line under the revenue cap and expect to absorb this particular item,” Turner says.Lancton says Turner is just trying to scare voters. He points to the Fiscal Year 2016 budget on the city’s website. It’s the last budget that includes a breakdown for the fire department’s payroll. The firefighters haven’t had a raise since.“The mayor talks about a 20 percent base salary increase, 5 percent incentives,” Lancton says. “If you take what the mayor is out there telling the public, and you do the math, it’s nowhere near what the mayor is saying it costs.”The City Controller’s office, which acts as Houston’s financial watchdog, prepared its own analysis. Controller Chris Brown presented it to the City Council earlier this month.“We demonstrate the annualized cost due to pay parity could be as high as $85.1 million beginning in Fiscal Year 2020, and this $85 million does not include the proposed 7 percent raise for the Houston Police Department,” Brown said. Later that day, the council approved the raise negotiated with the police, driving up the projected cost of pay parity to more than $100 million a year.The cost argument is a familiar one for Lee Adler of Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations. Adler advises firefighter unions from upstate New York to Los Angeles.“It just gets tiring to see these explanations advanced all over the country – north, south, east, and west – about why people who risk their lives every day are not entitled to get a wage that they believe they’re entitled to,” Adler says.Jay Aiyer disagrees. Aiyer teaches public affairs at Texas Southern University and served as chief of staff to former Mayor Lee Brown. He says that concept of fairness must account for the changing nature of what firefighters do.“About 85 percent of what [Houston firefighters] do now is EMT calls for service,” Aiyer says. “They spend as much time doing rescue work as they do fighting fires. So from a public safety perspective, they’ve changed dramatically. Police have largely stayed the same.”That’s one reason Houston police oppose Proposition B as strongly as the firefighters support it.“This is a self-imposed crisis on their part,” says Joe Gamaldi, president of the Houston Police Officers’ Union. “They voted down a 4 percent raise in 2014. They now refuse to accept a 9.5 percent raise from this mayor. So they have been treated fairly. They just refuse to accept the pay raises because they don’t want to take any concession.”Both Mayor Turner and Controller Brown say the only way to meet pay parity will be to lay off thousands of city employees. That’s what worries Gamaldi the most.“They’re going to have to lay off a minimum of 850 firefighters,” Gamaldi says, “and then they’re going to have to start laying off our cadets and our young police officers, and we simply cannot afford to lose a single police officer.”Police officers and firefighters both have critical, life-saving roles in Houston, but voters will decide next month whether their pay should be equal. Listen X 00:00 /03:58last_img read more

Introducing Deon a tool for data scientists to add an ethics checklist

first_imgDrivendata has come out with a new tool, named, Deon, which allows you to easily add an ethics checklist to your data science projects. Deon is aimed at pushing the conversation about ethics in data science, machine learning, and Artificial intelligence by providing actionable reminders to data scientists. According to the Deon team, “it’s not up to data scientists alone to decide what the ethical course of action is. This has always been a responsibility of organizations that are part of civil society. This checklist is designed to provoke conversations around issues where data scientists have particular responsibility and perspective”. Deon comes with a default checklist, but you can also develop your own custom checklists by removing items and sections, or marking items as N/A depending on the needs of the project. There are also real-world examples linked with each item in the default checklist. To be able to run Deon for your data science projects, you need to have Python 3 or greater. Let’s now discuss the two types of checklists, Default, and Custom, that comes with Deon. Default checklist The default checklist comprises of sections on Data Collection, Data Storage, Analysis, Modeling, and Deployment. Data Collection This checklist covers information on informed consent, Collection Bias, and Limit PII exposure. Informed consent includes a mechanism for gathering consent where users have clear understanding of what they are consenting to. Collection Bias checks on sources of bias introduced during data collection and survey design. Lastly, Limit PII exposure talks about ways that can help minimize the exposure of personally identifiable information (PII). Data Storage This checklist covers sections such as Data security, Right to be forgotten and Data retention plan. Data Security refers to a plan to protect and secure data. Right to be forgotten includes a mechanism by which an individual can have his/her personal information. Data Retention consists of a plan to delete the data if no longer needed. Analysis This section comprises information on Missing perspectives, Dataset bias, Honest representation, Privacy in analysis and Auditability. Missing perspectives address the blind spots in data analysis via engagement with relevant stakeholders. Dataset bias discusses examining the data for possible sources of bias and consists of steps to mitigate or address them. Honest representation checks if visualizations, summary statistics, and reports designed honestly represent the underlying data. Privacy in analysis ensures that the data with PII are not used or displayed unless necessary for the analysis. Auditability refers to the process of producing an analysis which is well documented and reproducible. Modeling This offers information on Proxy discrimination, Fairness across groups, Metric selection,  Explainability, and Communicate bias. Proxy discrimination talks about ensuring that the model does not rely on variables or proxies that are discriminatory. Fairness across groups is a section that cross-checks whether the model results have been tested for fairness with respect to different affected groups. Metric selection considers the effects of optimizing for defined metrics and other additional metrics. Explainability talks about explaining the model’s decision in understandable terms. Communicate bias makes sure that the shortcomings, limitations, and biases of the model have been properly communicated to relevant stakeholders. Deployment This covers topics such as Redress, Roll back, Concept drift, and Unintended use. Redress discusses with an organization a plan for response in case users get harmed by the results. Roll back talks about a way to turn off or roll back the model in production when required. Concept drift refers to changing relationships between input and output data in a problem over time. This part in a checklist reminds the user to test and monitor the concept drift. This is to ensure that the model remains fair over time. Unintended use prompts the user about the steps to be taken for identifying and preventing uses and abuse of the model. Custom checklists For your projects with particular concerns, it is recommended to create your own checklist.yml file. Custom checklists are required to follow the same schema as checklist.yml. Custom Checklists need to have a top-level title which is a string, and sections which are a list. Each section in the list must have a title, a section_id, and then a list of lines. Each line must include a line_id, a line_summary, and a line string which is the content. When changing the default checklist, it is necessary to keep in mind that Deon’s goal is to have checklist items that are actionable. This is why users are advised to avoid suggesting items that are vague (e.g., “do no harm”) or extremely specific (e.g., “remove social security numbers from data”). For more information, be sure to check out the official Drivendata blog post. Read Next The Cambridge Analytica scandal and ethics in data science OpenAI charter puts safety, standards, and transparency first 20 lessons on bias in machine learning systems by Kate Crawford at NIPS 2017last_img read more

Schools almost out Celebrate with Sunwings Family Vacation sale

first_img TORONTO — With summer school break just around the corner, Sunwing is giving parents some much-needed vacation inspiration with a new promotion on all-inclusive vacation packages.Available to book from now until May 25, these packages are available at top-rated resorts across the Caribbean, Mexico and Central America. Depending on the resort they select, families can make their summer travel budget go even further with Kids Stay, Play and Eat FREE deals, special teen pricing, rooms that sleep families of five and more.Included in the promotion is the new Royalton Bavaro Resort and Spa in Punta Cana, situated on the legendary Bavaro Beach. There’s also the Jewel Runaway Bay Beach and Golf Resort in Montego Bay, Jamaica, a family-friendly property that’s home to Montego Bay’s largest water park, on-site kids clubs and the 18-hole Runaway Bay Golf Club.One of the tour operator’s most consistently popular resorts is Family Club at Grand Riviera Princess All Suites & Spa Resort in Riviera Maya, Mexico, which offers spacious rooms for families, some of which include bunk beds for kids. Other amenities include an on-site water park, Mini and Teen Clubs, 12 pools, tennis, basketball, soccer and more.More news:  Help Princess Cruises break the world record for largest vow renewal at seaAll vacation packages include return flights on Sunwing Airlines, which include a welcome sparkling wine toast, buy-onboard Sunwing Café menu with selections inspired by Food Network Canada Celebrity Chef Lynn Crawford, and backpacks for children filled with games and toys. Travelweek Group Posted by Share Tags: Sunwingcenter_img << Previous PostNext Post >> Friday, May 18, 2018 School’s (almost) out! Celebrate with Sunwing’s Family Vacation salelast_img read more

ShareTweet

first_imgShareTweet Music fans queuing outside Cool Discs in Foyle Street in the hope of getting MTV Crashes Derry ticketsTickets for next month’s MTV concerts in Derry sold out in record time – despite the acts not being confirmed.Twenty thousand tickets were available for the “MTV Crashes Derry” concerts at Ebrington Square on September 19 and 20.Hundreds queued overnight outside Ticketmaster outlets at Cool Discs in Foyle Street and at Foyleside Shopping Centre to get their hands on tickets when they went on sale this morning at 9am. crashesDerrymtvticketscenter_img Thousands more went online in the hope of securing some of the sought-after tickets.The lucky fans who were able to obtain tickets now face an anxious wait to see who will be appearing.MTV DERRY GIG TICKETS SELL OUT IN RECORD TIME was last modified: August 9th, 2014 by stephenstephen Tags:last_img read more

The band were due on stage around 830 pm at the S

first_imgThe band were due on stage around 8.30 pm at the SSE Arena, formerly the Odyssey Arena, in front of fans who had queued all day to get in.In a statement, Aiken PR said: “The show tonight has been cancelled as Liam has taken ill, and whilst not serious, he is unable to perform tonight.”Fans have been asked to hold on to their tickets and await information.Audience members had already gathered inside the concert venue when the cancellation announcement was made The promoter’s spokeswoman added: “A further statement will be made in the morning [Wednesday].“The band apologise to the fans and wish Liam better.”Band member Louis Tomlinson tweeted tonight: “We’re so so sorry for what happened tonight, it was out of our control!“Lots of love to Liam and thank you for being so understanding!”Belfast’s Deputy Lord Mayor Guy Spence fumed on Facebook: “Devastated, the band need to take a good look at themselves!“I know that’s no reflection of the promoter who did a great job to get them here, but to leave 9,000 people standing was a disgrace!“I don’t understand how one member takes ill and if isn’t ‘serious’ they cancelled, the other members should at least have had the decency to appear!“We’ll see what the band say, and why they left so many of their young fans and our Citizens heartbroken!“Just not good enough!”DERRY FANS LEFT DEVASTATED AFTER ONE DIRECTION CANCEL GIG was last modified: October 20th, 2015 by John2John2 Tags: NINE thousand fans were left devastated when pop band One Direction cancelled a Belfast concert at the last minute tonight.Hundreds of Derry fans had travelled the 75 miles plus to Belfast for the gig only to have return home severely disappointed.The gig was cancelled after one of the band members, Liam Payne, became ill, said the promoter. ShareTweet AIKEN PRDERRY FANS LEFT DEVASTATED AFTER ONE DIRECTION CANCEL GIGlast_img read more

One thing that I did notice was that January open

first_imgOne thing that I did notice, was that January open interest in silver had been sneaking up slowly during the week, with 102 contracts added yesterday.It was a very quiet trading day for both gold and silver yesterday.In gold, the high tick came shortly after 3:00 p.m. Hong Kong time…and from there, the gold price wandered around within five bucks of the $1,640 spot price for the rest of the Wednesday trading day.Gold closed at $1,643.00 spot…up $10.80 on the day. Volume, net of all roll-overs out of the February contact, was around 130,000 contracts…almost the same as Tuesday’s volume.  This is quite big volume considering the lack of price movement.The silver price didn’t do too much either.  It was pretty steady until 2:00 p.m. Hong Kong time…and then rose to its high of the day at 10:00 a.m. in London, before getting sold off to its low of the day about five minutes after Comex trading began in New York.The subsequent price rally ended around 11:40 a.m. Eastern time…and then declined about 30 cents going into the close of Comex trading.  From there it traded pretty flat until the close of electronic trading at 5:15 p.m. Eastern.Silver closed just under the $30 mark for the second day in a row, at $29.97 spot…up 3 whole cents.  Net volume was 35,000 contracts…a few thousand less than Tuesday.As I mentioned in ‘The Wrap’ yesterday, the U.S. dollar index rose and fell about 25 basis points between the New York open on Tuesday evening…and 5:00 a.m. Eastern time on Wednesday morning, which was 10:00 a.m. in London.Then it blasted 50 basis points higher in two hours flat, crawling up to its high of the day around 11:30 a.m. in New York.  From there it declined gently into the close.  The dollar index closed up about 45 points on the day.The approximately ten dollar decline in the gold price [that accompanied the 50 basis point rally in the dollar] between 10 a.m. and noon in London is pretty obvious on the Kitco gold chart above…but it wasn’t much of a decline for such a big dollar move.  And by the time the dollar rally was done around 11:30 a.m. Eastern, the gold price had rallied back to within a few bucks of its starting point at 10:00 a.m. in London…5:00 a.m. Eastern time.  That’s a bullish sign in my books.On the bad news of out of Hecla Mining yesterday, the HUI gapped down at the open.  The low came at 10:30 a.m. Eastern…and then the rest of the gold stocks spent the day crawling higher.  I’m sure that if it hadn’t been for the 21% pounding in Hecla’s stock price, the HUI would have finished in positive territory yesterday.  As it was, the HUI finished well off its low, closing down only 1.02%.With the odd exception, the silver stocks didn’t do overly well…and with Hecla Mining being one of the major components of Nick Laird’s Silver Sentiment Index, it got hit for a 2.77% loss yesterday.  BIG GOLD editor Jeff Clark informed me that Hecla will lose about 3.5 million ounces of silver production because of the closure of the Lucky Friday mine…if it stays closed all year, that is.(Click on image to enlarge)The CME’s Daily Delivery Report was a bit of a surprise.  Only 8 gold contracts were posted for delivery on Friday…but a very chunky [for this time of month] 125 silver contracts were also posted for delivery.  As usual, it was Jefferies on the short/issuer side…and the Bank of Nova Scotia and JPMorgan as the only long/stoppers.  The link to the action is here.There was a very minor withdrawal from the GLD ETF yesterday…13,239 troy ounces…which was probably a fee payment.  There were no reported changes in SLV.There was no sales report from the U.S. Mint yesterday, either.The Comex-approved warehouses are still busy places these days.  Tuesday’s report showed that 701,831 troy ounces were shipped in…and 426,528 troy ounces were shipped out. The link to that action is here.Silver analyst Ted Butler posted his mid-week commentary for his paying subscribers yesterday…and here are the usual two free paragraphs…“The main issue with the CME is the inherent conflict between its role as a for-profit corporation…and as a self-regulator. Let’s face it, allowing any for-profit entity to essentially regulate itself, is just asking for trouble. And that is the problem. This conflict is at the heart of the new criticism…yet, curiously, is not mentioned often enough. Instead, observers of the current drama involving the CME and MF Global are misled by sound bites and clutter that fail to mention any inherent conflict of interest on the CME’s part. That’s because the CME is a master at spin-doctoring.”“Because the CME is more interested in profit at any cost, not only has its self-regulatory role been compromised, it has actually enacted and encouraged developments which are downright hostile to the efficient functioning of its markets. You need not look further than the scourge of High Frequency Trading (HFT) for an example of what the CME has done wrong. HFT does nothing to enhance our markets, except generate excessive trading fees for the CME. HFT works against the very purpose for our futures markets of legitimate hedging because HFT is nothing more than day trading gone mad. Legitimate hedgers have no use for frantic day trading. High Frequency Trading also allows for markets to be manipulated easier.”I have a decent number of stories for you today…and most of them are precious metals related. I hope you have the time to spend on them.The first panacea for a mismanaged nation is inflation of the currency; the second is war.  Both bring a temporary prosperity; both bring a permanent ruin.  But both are the refuge of political and economic opportunists. – Ernest HemingwayIt was pretty much a nothing sort of day in both gold and silver on Wednesday, as both metals didn’t do much of anything.  The preliminary open interest numbers were down a couple of thousand contracts in gold…and a few hundred contracts in silver.One thing that I did notice, was that January open interest in silver had been sneaking up slowly during the week, with 102 contracts added yesterday.  That was certainly associated with the fairly large delivery notice in silver [125 contracts] that was reported by the CME last evening…which I mentioned close to the top of this column.Not much happened during the Far East trading session during their Thursday…and not much is going on during the first hour of trading in London, either.  As of 3:40 a.m. Eastern time, gold is up about four bucks…and silver is up about 15 cents.  Volumes in both metals are very light…and the dollar index is flat.About ninety minutes has gone by since I wrote that last paragraph. It’s now 10:10 a.m. in London…5:10 a.m. Eastern time…and both gold and silver are showing some signs of life.  Gold is now up about eight bucks…and silver is up a hair over 40 cents.  Volume has picked up a bit as well…and the dollar index is now down about 20 basis point.  It’s nothing to get excited about, but it’s more price action than there’s been since the New York open at 6:00 p.m. Eastern last night.Tomorrow we get the new Commitment of Traders Report…and based on the price activity of the reporting week that ended on Tuesday, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if there was deterioration in the Commercial net short positions in both gold and silver, as I’m sure that the technical funds were covering their short positions…and the small commercial traders were selling out to them and taking profits.This is not what either Ted Butler or myself is hoping for, but that’s the most plausible outcome at the moment.  We’ll see how much truth there is to this speculation tomorrow at 3:30 p.m. Eastern time.That’s all I have for today.  I hope your Thursday goes well…and I’ll see you here tomorrow. Sponsor Advertisement Great Panther Silver Limited (TSX: GPR) is one of the fastest growing primary silver producers in Mexico.  The Company’s organic growth strategy will see output from mining operations increase by 30% in 2011 to 3.0 million ounces silver equivalent and again by 27% in 2012 to 3.8 million ounces silver equivalent, providing strong leverage to rising silver prices. The Company has also been growing its resource and reserve base at both 100% owned operations.  A new resource/reserve estimate was released for the Guanajuato Mines in late December 2010 and a new resource/reserve estimate for the Topia Mines is expected during the first quarter is 2011.  The Company is also advancing drilling activities at its new discovery at the San Ignacio property in Guanajuato.  Great Panther continues to replace mined ounces, grow resources and reserves at both operations, and is targeting a 10 year mine live at each.Great Panther is committed to becoming a leading primary silver producer by acquiring, developing and profitably mining precious and base metals in Latin America. For more information, please visit the website or contact Erick J. Bertsch, VP Corporate Development, toll free at 1-888-355-1766 or by email at ebertsch@greatpanther.comlast_img read more

Da boyz are after silver in a big way The gold pri

first_imgDa boyz are after silver in a big wayThe gold price rallied a hair in Far East trading on their Monday morning, but that all ended at 9 a.m. Hong Kong time as the HFT boyz and their algorithms took an eight or nine dollar slice off the golden salami.  After that, the price didn’t do much until shortly after 11 a.m. EDT—and the rally that began at that time got dealt with in the usual manner at one minute before noon, before it got too far into positive territory—and it wasn’t allowed to close there.The low and high tick were reported as $1,208.80 and $1,221.00 in the December contract.Gold closed in New York on Monday at $1,214.80 spot, down $1.40 from Friday’s close.  Net volume was 131,000 contracts.Silver opened flat on Monday morning in the Far East but, like gold, the HFT traders and their algorithms showed up at 9 a.m. Hong Kong time as well—and within an hour had silver down over 50 cents.  From there it rallied in fits and starts back to just above unchanged by noon in New York—and at that time met the same fate as the gold price—getting closed down on the day.The low and highs were reported by the CME Group as $17.865 and $17.325 in the December contract.Silver finished the trading session on Monday at $17.73 spot, down 6 cents from Friday’s close.  Net volume was a stunning 74,000 contracts.Platinum and palladium had charts very similar to the gold charts, but mini versions—and both metals, like gold and silver, were closed at a new low for this move down. Platinum was closed down 12 bucks—and palladium was closed down 9 bucks, but was briefly below $800 during the day.  Here are the charts. And as I write this paragraph, the London open is 15 minutes away.  With the exception of silver, the other three precious metals are all up a tiny amount on the day.  Gold volume is a bit over 15,000 contracts, which isn’t overly heavy—but silver’s volume is very brisk at 7,700 contracts.  The dollar index is flat.Today is the cut-off for this Friday’s Commitment of Traders Report—and I would guess that we’ll see new records pretty much across the board in gold and silver—and close to records in platinum and palladium as well.  Of course that depends on today’s price action, so we’ll see how things turn out as the trading day progresses, particularly in New York.And as I fire this out the door to Stowe, Vermont at 5:00 a.m. EDT, I see that the prices of all four precious metals went vertical shortly after 9 a.m. BST in what had all the hallmarks of a ‘no ask’ market—and it remains to be seen how long JPMorgan et al allow these rallies to last.  Judging by the volumes in both gold and silver at the moment, they are hard at work as sellers of last resort.  Right now [4:50 a.m. EDT] net gold volume has exploded to a bit over 35,000 contracts—and silver’s net volume is 14,000 contracts.  So unless a black swan of some type shows up, it’s a pretty good bet that these rallies will meet the same fate as every other rally.Here are the gold and silver charts as of 4:45 a.m. EDT—9:45 a.m. BST in London. The dollar index close late on Friday afternoon in New York at 84.78—and then climbed to its 85.85 ‘high’ tick of the day around 11:20 a.m. EDT.  From there it slid lower—and closed at 84.70, which was down 8 basis points from Friday.The gold stocks gapped down—and then stayed down for the remainder of the day, except for a small rally around noon when gold rallied as well.  Even though gold made it into positive territory for a bit—and only closed down a dollar or so, the HUI closed down another 2.89%.The silver equities headed for the basement the moment that trading began in New York.  The noon rally didn’t last—and the stocks continued lower—and Nick Laird’s Intraday Silver Sentiment Index closed down a chunky 3.64%.The CME Daily Delivery Report showed that zero gold and 220 silver contracts were posted for delivery on Wednesday.  The biggest short/issuer was Jefferies by far with 188 contracts.  There were about 10 long/stoppers, none which really stood out—and the link to yesterday’s Issuers and Stoppers Report is here if you wish to check it out.The CME Preliminary Report for the Monday trading session showed that there are 16 gold and 387 silver contracts still open in September, from which you can subtract the 220 silver contracts in the prior paragraph.There was 57,698 troy ounces of gold withdrawn from GLD yesterday—but it was totally different over at SLV, as there was another monster deposit.  This time there was 2,397,570 troy ounces were added by an authorized participant.I forgot all about Joshua Gibbons, the “Guru of the SLV Bar List” while was in San Antonio, so I’ll make amends here.  As of the close of trading last Wednesday, this is what he had to say: “Analysis of the 17 September 2014 bar list, and comparison to the previous week’s list—4,844,010.2 troy ounces were added (all to Brinks London). No bars were removed or had a serial number change.The bars added were from: Solar Applied Materials (2.8M oz), Henan Yuguang (1.4M oz), Nordeutsche (0.3M oz), and 4 others.  As of the time that the bar list was produced, it was over-allocated 594.3 oz.  All daily changes are reflected on the bar list, except the 959,072.0 oz deposit last night (17 September 2014).About 2.5M oz of the deposits were bars that had been in SLV before, with another 2.3M oz of fresh bars.”There was a decent sales report from the U.S. Mint.  They sold 3,700 troy ounces of gold eagles—500 one-ounce 24K gold buffaloes—660,000 silver eagles—and 100 platinum eagles.There wasn’t much activity in gold at the Comex-approved depositories on Friday, as only 3,407 troy ounces were shipped out—and nothing was reported received.The silver activity was off the charts once again, as 2,656,293 troy ounces were reported received, with all the action at Brink’s, Inc.—CNT—and Canada’s Scotiabank.  Only 165,152 troy ounces were shipped out.  The link to that activity is here—and it’s worth a look.Nick Laird sent us this chart on the weekend.  It’s the weekly deliveries from the Shanghai Gold Exchange right up until September 12, 2014—and as you can tell, the chart is doing what it’s supposed to, moving from lower left to upper right.I’ve kept the stories down to as few as possible, but there’s still a lot.  The final edit is yours.Certainly, the signals in silver from everywhere I look are much different than the prices being set on the COMEX. Despite the pronounced price weakness, investment holdings in the big silver ETF, SLV, have grown and not shrunk, both on an absolute basis and relative to the big gold ETF, GLD.  Even though the price of silver has gone down—and has gone down relative to gold’s price, there are no indications of investment selling of physical silver, only indications of buying.  There is no compatibility between price action and the holdings in the two largest public investment vehicles in silver and gold. One would appear to be wrong, either the collective behavior of silver and gold investors when it comes to physical metal holdings or the price-setting mechanism on the COMEX. This is a disconnect that demands an eventual re-connection. The easiest re-connection must involve a radical change in the price of silver and not a change in collective investment behavior. The price of silver is wrong, not public reaction to a price thought too cheap. – Silver analyst Ted Butler: 20 September 2014Another slice out of the salami in all four precious metal yesterday, particularly in silver, as all hit new lows for this move down.  And as you already know, da boyz are after silver in a big way, as it’s the problem child for both JPMorgan and Canada’s Scotia bank.  I would guess that between them, they hold a bit over half of the entire short position of the ‘Big 8′ traders in the Commercial category of the Commitment of Traders Report.Here are the 6-month charts for all four precious metals.  Platinum is most likely at its most oversold position in many years—and that goes for the other three precious metals as well.center_img I’m back home in Edmonton now that the Casey conference is done.  I was amazed at the quality of not only the speakers, but also the calibre of the attendees.  After talking with many—and I’m happy to report that the “can do” spirit is still very much alive in America.  I was delighted to meet so many readers while I was there—and I was humbled by their kind words.  So a profound “thank you” hardly seems adequate.After flying for a good chunk of Monday, I must admit that I’m a pretty tired puppy.I’m off to bed—and after watching the early morning action in London, nothing will surprise me when I power up my computer later this morning.See you tomorrow.last_img read more

A simple question at the pharmacy could unlock sav

first_imgA simple question at the pharmacy could unlock savings for millions of Medicare beneficiaries.Under a little-known Medicare rule, they can pay a lower cash price for prescriptions instead of using their insurance and doling out the amount the policy requires. But only if they ask.That is because pharmacists say their contracts with drug plans often contain “gag orders” forbidding them from volunteering this information.As part of President Trump’s blueprint to bring down prescription drug costs, Medicare officials warned in a May 17 letter that gag orders are “unacceptable and contrary” to the government’s effort to promote price transparency.But the agency stopped short of requiring insurers to lift such restrictions on pharmacists.That doesn’t mean people with Medicare drug coverage are destined to overpay for prescriptions. They can get the lower price, when it’s available, simply by asking, says Julie Carter, federal policy associate at the Medicare Rights Center, a patient advocacy group.”If they bring it up, then we can inform them of those prices,” says Nick Newman, a pharmacist and the manager at Essentra Pharmacy in rural Marengo, Ohio. “It’s a moral dilemma for the pharmacist, knowing what would be best for the patient but not being able to help them and hoping they will ask you about the comparison.”For consumers inclined to price-shop, details may be hard to find: Medicare’s website and annual handbook don’t mention it.”If you don’t know that there are a bunch of different prices that could be available at any given pharmacy, you don’t know what you don’t know,” says Leigh Purvis, the AARP Public Policy Institute’s director of health services research.Researchers analyzing 9.5 million Part D prescription claims reported in a research letter to Journal of the American Medical Association in March that a patient’s copayment was higher than the cash price for nearly one in four drugs purchased in 2013. For 12 of the 20 most commonly prescribed drugs, patients overpaid by more than 33 percent.Although the study found that the average overpayment for a single prescription was relatively small, Newman says he has seen consumers pay as much as $30 more than the cash price.And many beneficiaries may not know that if they pay a lower cash price for a covered drug at a pharmacy that participates in their insurance plan and then submit the proper documentation, insurers must count it toward their out-of-pocket expenses. The total of those expenses can trigger the drug coverage gap, commonly called the doughnut hole. (This year, the gap begins after the plan and beneficiary spend $3,750 and ends once the beneficiary has spent a total of $5,000.)Daniel Nam, executive director of federal programs at America’s Health Insurance Plans, a trade group, agrees that “patients should have access to the lowest price possible at the pharmacy.” But, he says, Medicare’s warning takes aim at an increasingly rare occurrence. Gag order clauses are “not something they are incorporating into their contracts,” he says.UnitedHealthcare, whose popular prescription drug plans dominate the market, does not include such clauses in any of its Medicare, Medicaid or commercial insurance contracts, says Matt Burns, a company spokesman.Pharmacy benefit managers also say gag orders are not typical. “If it is happening, it is very much an outlier,” says Mark Merritt, president and CEO of the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association.Some pharmacists disagree. Kala Shankle, policy and regulatory affairs director for the National Community Pharmacists Association, which represents 22,000 independent pharmacies, says insurers have punished pharmacists who violate gag orders by dropping them from the plan’s network.In Ohio, one of several states that have banned gag orders in insurance contracts, including some Medicare drug plans, officials responded to complaints about the problem.”The Department has received inquiries related to entities withholding cost-saving information from consumers, which sometimes results in an insured paying more for pharmacy benefits than the actual cost of such pharmacy benefits,” the Ohio Department of Insurance wrote last month.Illinois and Ohio state legislators are considering bills making these restrictions illegal, and similar legislation has been introduced in the U.S. Senate.”If we didn’t have these gag clauses, there would not be a need for the legislation and policy changes movement that’s going on in the country,” says Garth Reynolds, executive director of the Illinois Pharmacists Association.Kaiser Health News, a nonprofit news service and editorially independent program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, is not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente. You’ll find Susan Jaffe on Twitter: @SusanJaffe Copyright 2018 Kaiser Health News. To see more, visit Kaiser Health News.last_img read more

Many American teenagers try to put in a full day o

first_imgMany American teenagers try to put in a full day of school, homework, after-school activities, sports and college prep on too little sleep. As evidence grows that chronic sleep deprivation puts teens at risk for physical and mental health problems, there is increasing pressure on school districts around the country to consider a later start time. In Seattle, school and city officials recently made the shift. Beginning with the 2016-2017 school year, the district moved the official start times for middle and high schools nearly an hour later, from 7:50 a.m. to 8:45 a.m. This was no easy feat; it meant rescheduling extracurricular activities and bus routes. But the bottom line goal was met: Teenagers used the extra time to sleep in. Researchers at the University of Washington studied the high school students both before and after the start-time change. Their findings appear in a study published Wednesday in the journal Science Advances. They found students got 34 minutes more sleep on average with the later school start time. This boosted their total nightly sleep from 6 hours and 50 minutes to 7 hours and 24 minutes. “This study shows a significant improvement in the sleep duration of students, all by delaying school start times so they’re more in line with the natural wake-up times of adolescents,” says senior author Horacio de la Iglesia, a University of Washington researcher and professor of biology. The study also found an improvement in grades and a reduction in tardiness and absences.Seattle’s switch to later start times is still unusual for school districts around the country, where school typically starts around 8 a.m. In 2014, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a policy statement calling on school districts to move start times to 8:30 a.m. or later for middle and high schools so that students can get at least 8 1/2 hours of sleep a night. But according to the National Center For Education Statistics, only 17 percent of public middle and high schools, including some school districts in Minnesota and Kentucky, start at 8:30 a.m. or later. Getting a little extra sleep in the morning can be vital for teens, explains de la Iglesia. Once children reach puberty, their biological clock changes. “They fall asleep later than older adults and young kids,” he says. Teens’ biological bedtime is more like midnight, he says, and if parents expect them to go to sleep at 10 p.m., it often doesn’t work. “They’ll just lay in bed and not fall asleep,” he says. Of course, this means teens need to sleep later in the morning. “To ask a teen to be up and alert at 7:30 a.m. is like asking an adult to be active and alert at 5:30 a.m.,” says de la Iglesia.In the study, researchers compared two separate groups of sophomores enrolled in biology classes at two Seattle high schools, Franklin High School and Roosevelt High School. The first group of 92 students, drawn from both schools, wore wrist monitors to track their sleep for two-week periods in the spring of 2016, when school still started at 7:50 a.m. The wrist monitors collected information about light and activity levels every 15 seconds so researchers could determine when students were awake and when they were asleep. In 2017, after schools changed start times to nearly one hour later, researchers looked at a group of 88 students taking the same biology classes. They also wore wrist activity monitors and kept a sleep diary. You might think that when school starts later, teens will just stay up later. But that’s not what researchers found. Bedtimes stayed relatively constant and kids caught some extra sleep in the mornings. “We’ve put them in between a rock and a hard place where their biology to go to bed later fights with societal expectations,” says lead researcher Gideon Dunster, a graduate student studying sleep at the University of Washington. “Thirty-four minutes of extra sleep each night is a huge impact to see from a single intervention,” says de la Iglesia. The study also shows a link between getting more sleep and better academic performance. Students who took the biology class after the later start time got final grades that were 4.5 percent higher than students who took the class when it started earlier. That could be the difference between an A and a B, says de la Iglesia. He says sleep deprivation makes it more difficult to learn and to retain new information. Even though researchers can’t be sure that more sleep gave students an academic edge, the school’s biology teachers say the difference was striking. “When we started at 7:50 a.m. there would always be stragglers who were having a hard time getting here,” says Cindy Jatul, who teaches biology at Roosevelt High School. Students were groggy and noticeably different from students who took her class later in the day. “For example, if I gave them a project in the lab, they would be the most likely class to mess up,” she says. Franklin High School science teacher A.J. Katzaroff says “there was lots of yawning” when school started at 7:50 a.m. Students had a hard time engaging in the work or in brief discussions, which is extremely unfortunate. “Some of the best practices in science education have students talk, discuss and investigate together and those are all very hard when the brain is not fully powered,” Katzaroff says. After the time switch, many more kids were able to engage in deeper thought and scientific discourse. Katzaroff says. The number of students who were tardy or absent also decreased significantly, putting Franklin High School — which is in a low-income neighborhood — on par with students from a higher-income neighborhood. The later school start time gave them a better opportunity to make it to school on time. “We need to give every bit of equity we can for kids in lower socio-economic families,” says Dr. Cora Collette Breuner, spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics and professor of pediatrics at the University of Washington School of Medicine. Breuner was not involved in the study.Breuner calls the findings “exciting” and says that while an extra 34 minutes of sleep might not sound like a lot to the average person, when it comes to sleep “every minute counts.” Breuner says that while only a handful of school districts nationwide have switched to later start times, that is changing “as counties and cities like Seattle make changes and see positive benefit.” Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.last_img read more

A food delivery man in India has been fired after

first_imgA food delivery man in India has been fired after a video that showed him eating a customer’s order went viral. The video shows a balding man dressed in a red T-shirt with a red delivery bag on his motorbike. The T-shirt reads “Zomato,” a popular online food delivery company in India.The man is parked at the side of a road. He uses a spoon to skim a few bites from a container of food he’s opened, puts the lid back on, then picks another container and does the same thing. He puts the containers back in a plastic bag and reseals the bag with tape. This happened in the southern Indian city of Madurai.The incident prompted outrage and jokes on social media. People lambasted the company for having poor standards and shared the video as a cautionary tale against using online food delivery services. But after news broke that Zomato had sacked the delivery man, the online discussion turned sympathetic. It sparked a debate about exploitation of workers by India’s burgeoning online food delivery industry. Rajyasree Sen, who writes columns on food, pop culture and politics for several Indian newspapers and online publications, says the incident highlights a larger problem in Indian society: socioeconomic disparity.For folks who “have more food than we know what to do with,” she says, it’s easy to ask: Why on earth would a delivery man do something like this?To answer that question, you need to take a look at the life of India’s delivery personnel.Companies call them delivery “executives” but their wages and working conditions tell a different story.According to popular job search sites, food delivery companies say they’ll pay an employee around $250 a month. That may put them in the top 20 percent earners in the country but it’s barely enough to live in cities (where most food delivery apps operate) as the cost of living is also higher. In media interviews, delivery persons have described how they have to work long hours, since they are typically paid per delivery — roughly $1 per order.And if they need to take a break, they lose out on potential income. There are plenty of other delivery persons to step in. Zomato has a fleet of more than 150,000 drivers. Swiggy, an app-based food delivery service, has 100,000 active delivery people.Swiggy delivery “executives” went on strike in December to protest a proposed drop in the per-delivery fee they earn.What’s more, customers don’t always appear to appreciate the delivery person. “It is a horrible job because of the way people treat you,” says op-ed columnist Sen. Even in the height of summer, she says, a lot of customers would not even offer a glass of water to a delivery man. As to the video: In an official blog post, Zomato called the occurrence “highly unusual and a rare case.” “We take this very seriously and will soon introduce tamper-proof tapes and other precautionary measures to ensure we add an extra layer of safeguard against such behaviour,” the company said in its statement.Companies need to understand that delivery people often ferry food that they themselves may not be able to afford, says Sen. “[Companies] either need to give food coupons or need to give [delivery agents] one meal a day,” she says.Commentators noted that the outrage against the video exposes a lack of empathy among India’s elite. “Instead of insisting that Zomato, Swiggy and the other delivery services protect our precious parcels from ravenous riders, perhaps we should take to Twitter and ask them to give their employees better working conditions and quality of life,” wrote Dushyant Shekhawat, who comments on political and social issues, in an op-ed piece.Online food delivery companies like Swiggy and Zomato are fairly new — they launched within the last 5 years — but have transformed how Indians eat. Zomato boasts 21 million orders a month and is available in 38 cities across India as of September. The value of the company Swiggy crossed the $1 billion mark this year. It caters to customers in 57 towns and cities.Online food delivery in India is a $7 billion industry. Sushmita Pathak is NPR’s producer in Mumbai. Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.last_img read more