Friday, December 25, 2009
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
The next step: personalized, self-managed, timely, cost-effective care
Long-term, chronic conditions create many challenges—for the patients who have them, as well as for their immediate caregivers and the healthcare professionals responsible for their care. The Intel® Health Guide1 is designed to help address those challenges.
The Intel Health Guide is a comprehensive, next-generation remote patient monitoring (RPM) solution that combines an in-home patient device, the Intel Health Guide PHS6000, with the Intel® Health Care Management Suite, an online interface that allows clinicians to monitor patients and remotely manage care.
The benefits of the Intel Health Guide include patients who are more engaged to take a more active and positive role in their own care. For healthcare providers, it enables more informed and personalized care—which may lead to better patient satisfaction. And it helps healthcare organizations to face the challenges of chronic care, increase efficiency, and achieve organizational objectives.
In short, Intel® technology is helping to fulfill the promise of RPM, where interactive, data-rich telehealth helps to create timely, personalized, cost-effective care.
IT in Healthcare Overview Innovation for the healthcare enterprise
Integrated digital hospital
How does the integrated digital hospital streamline workflows and improve care?
- Launch video (WMV 6MB)
Healthcare IT's business value
Intel and Cerner helped Banner Health, one of the largest U.S. nonprofit healthcare systems, evaluate the bottom-line impact of a holistic-care transformation initiative.
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
France will continue to use data taken from a Geneva private bank in its drive against tax evasion, its budget minister said on Tuesday, a day after French officials agreed to share the client lists with Switzerland.
“Of course they can be used. The French judicial procedure will continue,” Eric Woerth told reporters on the sidelines of a visit to China with Prime Minister François Fillon.
Despite Swiss protests, French tax authorities have been using information secured from Herve Falciani, a former HSBC computer specialist, who has admitted stealing client data from HSBC’s private banking arm in Geneva.
On Monday, Paris agreed to return the data after Switzerland threatened not to ratify a tax treaty that would make it easier for French authorities to go after taxpayers who had salted away funds in Swiss bank accounts.
A Swiss finance ministry spokeswoman said on Monday the French move left a number of questions open and said these would have to be resolved between the two governments.
“The essential question is what France is prepared to do with the data,” she said.
By Ben Geman
Negotiators for China, the world’s biggest greenhouse gas emitter, are resisting calls to allow their pledged emissions curbs to be subject to international verification and monitoring.
But U.S. officials at the talks emphasized to reporters on Tuesday that “transparency” must be a vital part of an international climate accord, and that talks between the U.S. and China are continuing. The U.S. is right behind China as the world’s No. 2 emitter.
The stakes are high.
Several Capitol Hill lawmakers say whether and to what degree nations allow international monitoring of their efforts will influence the Senate struggle to pass climate legislation next year.
“I don’t think you can do anything without it,” said centrist Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) when asked about the need to verify China’s emissions pledges.
Several other centrist lawmakers, such as Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.), have said action by China is vital to securing their support for domestic emissions curbs.
China has pledged to curb its emissions intensity — that is, emissions per unit of GDP — by 40 to 45 percent by 2020, relative to 2005 levels.
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), a liberal who strongly backs mandatory U.S. emissions curbs, also said the China verification issue is important.
“There is a sense that we have been burned on the free trade agreements in terms of noncompliance,” Whitehouse said.
In addition to his own concerns, Whitehouse said that an absence of outside verification of China’s efforts would provide fuel for critics of climate legislation.
“It helps the opponents of the bill who argue it will lead to an exodus of jobs because of comparative advantage problems,” he said.
The House approved a sweeping climate and energy bill in June to curb U.S. emissions by 17 percent from 2005 levels by 2020 and 83 percent by 2050, and the U.S. is provisionally offering these targets at the Copenhagen talks, subject to final congressional action.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) hopes to bring a climate and energy package to the floor this spring.
They say China should live up to pledges made during a bilateral meeting between President Barack Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao last month in which both nations endorsed the view that emissions-reduction efforts should be transparent.
An American official said the U.S. wants an agreement at the talks that provides an “adequate sense of clarity about what other countries are doing and them having adequate clarity about what we are doing.”
“What we are looking for is for China and other developing countries to enter into a regime or system of transparency and verification, whichever word you want to choose, that would allow us to get a good sense of what their implementation is,” the official said on a conference call with reporters.
The official said there are ongoing “intensive” and “constructive” conversations, and that the U.S. is “hopeful” about an agreement, but hardly guaranteed it.
“I think they want to get a deal, but we will have to see how things go,” the official said.Chinese officials have said their emissions plan will be a firm and binding target domestically, but have criticized the idea of subjecting their actions to outside monitoring.
Obama’s bilateral meeting with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in November yielded a similar pledge of transparency. “This is about giving meaning and substance to those provisions they have already agreed to,” a second senior administration official said.
India subsequently pledged to reduce its emissions intensity by 20 to 25 percent by 2020.
The verification question is one of several roiling the talks, which are scheduled to culminate Friday with the participation of President Obama and scores of other world leaders.
Negotiators are seeking a broad international political accord on emissions cuts, finance from rich nations for adaptation to climate change in developing countries and other issues.
Monday, December 14, 2009
By Alan Boyle
to the world of atoms, molecules and subatomic particles.
How do you summarize the past 50 years of discoveries in science, technology, engineering, medicine and mathematics? And how do you predict what breakthroughs will be made in the next 50 years? That kind of challenge would be doubly daunting for any one person - but fortunately, we have a huge crowd of science fans to help with the task.
Coming up with the top 50 sagas in science is one of the ways that the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing plans to mark its 50th anniversary in 2010. The council began its work in 1960, in the wake of the first satellite launch, to help researchers and writers get the word out about the new era in science and technology that was dawning back then.
The end of the year is a fitting time to review the highlights of the past 12 months, and the end of the decade provides an opportunity to look back at the top stories of the previous 10 years. But the chance for a 50-year perspective doesn't come along too often, so the rules have to be different.
For this list, we're focusing on research milestones that have generated headlines through the years. You won’t find listings for events in the realm of science, space and medicine that may have generated huge headlines but did not involve advances in research - for example, the Challenger shuttle disaster of 1986 and the Columbia tragedy of 2003. However, we are including the Sputnik launch in 1957 as part of the '60s timeline, in part because it seemed to serve as a fitting start for the past five decades of discoveries.
To engineer a list of 50 science sagas that are evenly distributed over five decades, you need to combine some developments and separate others. A single item on the list encapsulates five decades of particle physics, while no fewer than eight items document the revolution in genetics.
Strangely enough, you'll find that a lot of the stories we're talking about today trace their roots back to the 1960s. The Large Hadron Collider, for example, builds upon theories and experiments that are more than 40 years old. The Internet we know and love got its start in 1969. The effort to send humans beyond Earth orbit dominated the decade, and a renewed effort is much on NASA's mind today.
This list draws upon the input of other science writers, including members of CASW's board, but it’s not set in stone. We welcome your comments about breakthroughs we may have missed. Perhaps there are some science sagas we’ve addressed in a single phrase that deserve a more extended mention. Or maybe there’s a better way to explain the significance of a particular science saga.
This week, we're going to roll the list out day by day, decade by decade. Here are the milestones we've come up with for the 1960s:
1. Satellites: Russia launches Sputnik, opening the space race. America responded with the 1958 launch of Explorer 1, the first satellite to produce a significant scientific return - namely, the discovery of the Van Allen radiation belt. The first successful weather satellite (TIROS 1) and the first communication relay satellite (ECHO) were launched in 1960. The space race and the satellite revolution kicked scientific and technological progress into high gear – and created greater demand for science news coverage.
2. ‘The Pill’: The first oral contraceptive is introduced. The Food and Drug Administration's approval of Enovid-10 ushered in the era of "the Pill." Few medications have had such a widespread impact on society and social norms.
3. The laser: First working laser is put into operation. Theodore Maiman's optical-light ruby laser followed up on earlier research by Charles Townes and Arthur Schawlow, who developed the first maser (microwave amplification by stimulated emission of radiation) in 1954. The 1964 movie “Goldfinger” may have portrayed it as a killer ray, but the device came to have user-friendly applications ranging from eye surgery to DVD players to supermarket checkouts.
4. Cracking the DNA code: Biochemist Marshall Nirenberg and his colleagues publish the first of a series of papers laying out how DNA's genetic code is translated within the cell. The cracking of the code built upon Watson and Crick's discovery of DNA's double helix almost a decade earlier, and opened the way for the genetic revolution to come.
5. Plate tectonics: Geologists Harry Hess and Robert Dietz propose that seafloor spreading and subduction are basic parts of the mechanism for plate tectonics - a finding that led to the rapid acceptance of the tectonic theory behind Earth's large-scale geologic changes. The study of paleomagnetism led scientists to conclude that Earth's magnetic poles periodically reversed, providing an important geological dating method.
6. The environmental movement: Marine biologist Rachel Carson's masterwork, "Silent Spring," is published. The environmental concerns voiced in the book helped spark a grassroots movement that led the federal government to create the Environmental Protection Agency in 1970 and phase out the use of DDT in 1972.
7. Quasars: The first quasar - quasi-stellar radio source - is discovered by Dutch astronomer Maarten Schmidt. Scientists eventually determine that quasars are compact regions in the center of active galaxies that mark the presence of a supermassive black hole. The discovery was a key turning point in our understanding of galactic development and structure.
8. Quarks and all that: The quark model of particle physics is proposed. The ideas put forth by physicists Murray Gell-Mann and George Zweig touched off a decades-long quest to find the subatomic particles that matched the theory, including the J/Psi particle (found in 1974), the W and Z bosons (1983) and the top quark (2004-2005). The quest continues today at America's Fermilab and Europe's Large Hadron Collider, where scientists hope to detect the Higgs boson, the last particle predicted by the Standard Model.
9. Big bang's afterglow: Cosmic microwave background radiation is discovered by radio astronomers Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson, an achievement that earned them a Nobel Prize in 1978. The background radiation serves as the fossil imprint of the big bang and has helped astronomers determine the geometry of the universe. The Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE), launched in 1989, was a landmark space mission that followed up on Penzias and Wilson's discovery by mapping variations in the background radiation.
10. Heart transplants: First human-to-human heart transplant is performed. Dr. Christiaan Barnard's operation in South Africa prolonged his patient's life by only 18 days, but helped set the stage for rapid progress in medical transplantation techniques. Stanford heart surgeon Norman Shumway was an early pioneer in transplant medicine, and Denton Cooley and Domingo Liotta made a significant contribution in 1969 with the first human implantation of an artificial heart.
11. Moon landing: Humans make first landing on the moon. The Apollo series of moon surface missions, beginning with Apollo 11's Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, marked the climax of the decade-long U.S.-Soviet space race and also led to fresh scientific insights into the origins of Earth and the moon.
12. Internet: First node is connected on ARPAnet, the predecessor to the modern Internet. What began as an research project to develop a nuke-proof communication system ended up revolutionizing academic exchange - and eventually modern society. Twenty years after the Internet's birth, CERN's Tim Berners-Lee brought the global network to a higher level with the invention of the World Wide Web.
We'll continue the list on Tuesday with the milestones of the 1970s. If you can't wait for future installments, you can see the full timeline on CASW's Web site.
As long as we're talking about timelines, please suggest some of the milestones we might see on a timeline stretching from 2010 to 2060. My favorites include private-sector spaceflight to Mars and beyond, hints of life (or at least livability) beyond Earth, fusion power, more widely available terrestrial solar power and space solar power, cell-based therapies and increasingly intelligent machines. What are yours?
To get the creative juices flowing, here are some additional perspectives on the 50 years (and five years) to come:
- The world in 2058
- Five frontier technologies
- Why the future goes flooey
- Edge: The next 50 years
- Popular Mechanics: Miracles of the next 50 years
- Isaac Newton's prediction for 2060: The end of the world
ABOUT COSMIC LOG
Quantum fluctuations in space, science, exploration and other cosmic fields... served up regularly by MSNBC.com science editor Alan Boyle since 2002.
Alan Boyle covers the physical sciences, anthropology, technological innovation and space science and exploration for MSNBC.com. He is a winner of the AAAS Science Journalism Award, the NASW Science-in-Society Award and other honors; a contributor to "A Field Guide for Science Writers"; and a member of the board of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing.photo credit: Jenny Moltar / NASA
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
COPENHAGEN — The United States for the first time outlined a dual path toward cutting greenhouse gases that would involve both President Barack Obama’s administration and the U.S. Congress to reduce greenhouse emissions.
Speaking Wednesday at a U.N. climate conference in Copenhagen, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson described her agency’s decision that greenhouse gases should be regulated as complementary to U.S. legislation — not an effort to supplant the work of Congress.
The EPA on Monday gave the president a new way to cut back on greenhouse gas emissions when the agency determined that scientific evidence clearly shows they are endangering Americans’ health. That means the EPA could regulate those gases without the approval of the U.S. Congress.
The EPA decision was welcomed by other nations in Copenhagen that have called on the U.S. to boost its efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
The full U.S. Senate has yet to take up legislation that cleared the Senate environment committee and calls for greenhouse gases to be cut by 20 percent by 2020, a target that was scaled back to 17 percent in the House after opposition from coal-state Democrats.
“We need legislation” to remove any uncertainty that businesses might have, Jackson added. “The reason for legislation is to take that question out of their minds. … We will work closely with our Congress to pass legislation to lower ourgreenhouse gases more than 80 percent by 2050.”
Jackson said the U.S. would take “reasonable efforts” and also “meaningful, common sense steps” to cut emissions, but didn’t provide specifics.
Negotiators on Wednesday, meanwhile, worked to bridge the chasm between rich and poor countries over how to share the burden of fighting climate change, and the top U.S. climate envoy, Todd Stern, highlighted the Obama administration’s efforts to curb greenhouse emissions.
“We are under no illusion this is going to be easy,” Stern said. “But I think an agreement is there to be had if we do this right.”
Lumumba Di-Aping of Sudan, the head of the 135-nation bloc of developing countries, said the $10 billion a year that has been proposed to help poornations fight climate change paled in comparison to the more than $1 trillion already spent to rescue financial institutions.
“If this is the greatest risk that humanity faces, then how do you explain $10 billion?” he said. “Ten billion will not buy developing countries’ citizens enough coffins.”
China, which has recently overtaken the United States as the world’s top greenhouse gas emitter, strongly protested a blunder that prevented a top diplomat from entering the vast Bella Center where the 192-nation U.N. climate conference is being held.
Su Wei, the director general of China’s climate change negotiation team, told the meeting he was “extremely unhappy” that a Chinese minister was barred from entry three days in a row.
Su called the incident “unacceptable” and expressed anger that U.N. climate chief Yvo de Boer was not informed. De Boer pledged to investigate and “make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
Meanwhile, small island nations, poor countries and those seeking money from the developed world to preserve their tropical forests were among those upset over competing draft texts attributed to Denmark and China outlining proposed outcomes for the historic Dec. 7-18 summit.
Some of the poorest nations feared too much of the burden to curb greenhouse gases is being hoisted onto their shoulders. They are seeking billions of dollars in aid from the wealthy countries to deal withclimate change, which melts glaciers that raise sea levels worldwide, turns some regions drier and threatens food production.
Diplomats from developing countries and climate activists complained the Danish hosts pre-empted the negotiations with their draft proposal, which would allow rich countries to cut feweremissions while poorer nations would face tougher limits on greenhouse gases and more conditions on getting funds.
“When a process is flawed then the outcome is flawed,” Raman Mehta, ActionAid’s program manager in India, said of the Danish proposal. “If developing countries don’t have a concrete indication of the scale of finances, then you don’t get a deal — and even if you do, it’s a bad deal.”
A sketchy counterproposal attributed to China would extend the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which required 37 industrial nations to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases blamed for global warming by an average 5 percent by 2012, compared with 1990 levels.
The Chinese text would incorporate specific new, deeper targets for the industrialized world for a further five to eight years. However, developing countries including China would be covered by a separate agreement that encourages taking action to controlemissions but not in the same legally binding way.
Poorer nations believe the two-track approach would best preserve the principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities” recognized by the Kyoto treaty.
The U.N.’s weather agency unveiled data Tuesday showing that this decade is on track to become the hottest since records began in 1850, with 2009 the fifth-warmest year ever. The second warmest decade was the 1990s.
In Rome, Greenpeace activists climbed halfway up the Colosseum at dawn Wednesday to press for a historic climate deal at the Copenhagen conference.
Friday, December 4, 2009
By ANDREW ROSS SORKIN
The biggest news story of last week?
O.K., maybe it was Oprah Winfrey announcing she was going to call it quits with her daytime show in 2011.
But it’s a close call. Though Oprah sucked up a lot of the media oxygen, last Thursday was an important day in Washington, too, with a couple of Winfrey-worthy aha! moments that could shake up the world of finance.
Representative Ron Paul of Texas won committee approval of a far-reaching amendment that would give Congress vast new authority over the Federal Reserve. The Fed has long enjoyed Lone Ranger autonomy, but that will quickly end if the final bill passes.
Representative Brad Miller, Democrat of North Carolina, and Representative Dennis Moore, Democrat of Kansas, added their own bell-ringer for voters still outraged over bailouts: the next time the government has to step in and rescue a company, secured creditors will take a hit, too.
That would be a huge shift in the way bondholders are treated. Up to now, they’ve been kept whole, even as others have been asked to share the pain. Otherwise, some feared, creditors might get spooked, and lending might seize up.
The amendment, which also was approved by the committee, already has a nickname: “The Bair-Miller-Moore Haircut” (credit goes to Ira Stoll on his FutureOfCapitalism.com blog). The Bair reference is, of course, to Sheila C. Bair, chairwoman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.
One other amendment was added, as well. Representative Paul E. Kanjorski of Pennsylvania proposed giving regulators power to undo firms deemed to be too big to fail.
All of these amendments, which are part of a 300-page bill to reform the financial industry that is making its way around the House of Representatives, are intended to help quiet some of the outrage over the bailout.
The Federal Reserve, which has printed money in exchange for assets from the nation’s banks, has long operated opaquely. It is virtually impossible to size up its balance sheet.
So on its face, the Paul amendment seems well intended. After all, who can argue with a little more sunlight?
But consider these words of caution from Senator Judd Gregg, Republican of New Hampshire: “Congress has demonstrated time and again its inability to manage the nation’s fiscal policy, illustrated by our staggering national debt in excess of $12 trillion. So how can anyone think that its involvement in monetary policy would be good for the country?”
So any unintended consequences of the amendment — what Senator Gregg calls “a dangerous move by this Congress to pander to the populist anger” — could indeed lead to less independence for the Federal Reserve, and the result ultimately may not be good for the economy.
That has been Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke’s line all along. He does not want the Fed to be a puppet of Congress. And on that score, he is probably right. Could Paul Volcker have raised interest rates in the early 1980s to nosebleed levels if Congress were pulling strings? What would happen in an election year? Interest rates would invariably go down, only to go up again later.
Representative Paul, of course, doesn’t just want oversight of the Federal Reserve, he wants to dismantle it entirely. He has a dog in this fight and it is snarling: he has a book out called “End the Fed.” In an interview with my colleague, Cyrus Sanati, Mr. Paul told him, “It’s not pandering, it’s listening.”
“The people are angry because they are finding out what the Fed is doing,” he added.
The other amendment, the Bair-Miller-Moore Haircut is potentially even more controversial.
It calls for secured creditors of banks — the top creditors on the totem pole — to be entitled to receive only 80 percent, not 100 percent, of the money they put up if a bank is taken over in receivership or a conservatorship by the government.
That is a hot-button idea because, for the last year, many critics have asked why bondholders were protected by the government. Again, at a gut level, it seems fair for secured creditors to take a haircut if the taxpayer if going to bail them out.
Again, not so simple in practice. Because of the new risk, banks would find it more expensive to raise money — especially so when they run into problems.
Who wants to lend money to a bank when there is a chance the government is going to come in and take it over, so that even a secured creditor at the top of the food chain is going to lose something?
Joseph Abate, a Barclays Capital analyst, made this point in a research report, too: “In any situation where it appears that a large firm is about to fail, secured lenders will rapidly head for the exit and terminate as many of their repo transactions as possible. No secured lender will want to be left in a trade with a bank in receivership where the regulators have converted the transaction into an unsecured loan at 80 percent of the original amount.”
In other words, Mr. Abate contends, “It would likely make secured funding to large institutions much more ‘flighty.’ ”
Indeed, there is an argument that the amendment will make the system more risky, not less so.
“Large systemically important firms would become more vulnerable to liquidity runs — of the sort seen last fall,” the Barclays report said.
All these proposals are well intentioned, and with a bit of refining, they may ultimately be the right solutions. But as we learned with the bailouts, they may come with unintended consequences.
By Hilary Potkewitz
Hottest hedgie is shorting dollar, mortgages
Paulson alum Paolo Pellegrini correctly saw the subprime mortgage collapse coming. Now he bets against the greenback and says mortgage-backed securities will fall more.The new-age Nostradamus of the hedge fund world is at it again. Paulson & Co. alum Paolo Pellegrini, who presciently predicted the subprime mortgage collapse two years ago, is foretelling an even weaker U.S. dollar and continued collapse of mortgage-backed securities.
The acclaimed investor is shorting both in his approximately $230 million hedge fund, PSQR Management, which next month will be opening to outside investors for the first time.
The Manhattan-based fund has been operating since April 2008, when Mr. Pellegrini seeded it with $100 million of his own money. The firm claims returns of 130% since inception.
During the home-buying frenzy of 2007, as co-manager of Paulson's Credit Opportunity Funds, Mr. Pellegrini started shorting mortgage-backed securities. Other investors scoffed.
A year later, Messrs. Paulson and Pellegrini emerged the victors, pocketing about $20 billion when the subprime mortgage market collapsed.
Mr. Pellegrini left Paulson last year to start PSQR. In May, he hired former Merrill Lynch Chief International Economist Alex Patelis to serve as his firm's chief economist.
The U.S. dollar fell to a 15-month low against a basket of foreign currencies early this week, yet Messrs. Pellegrini and Patelis predict it has further to fall, according to PSQR's latest investor report and marketing materials.
“We remain fundamentally skeptical about the ability of the U.S. dollar and of U.S. dollar-denominated fixed-income assets to retain their value,” they wrote, explaining their intentions to heavily short both U.S. mortgage-backed securities and the dollar.
“We can't predict which will go down, or which will go down more, but we believe [both] will go down a lot.”
Sunday, November 29, 2009
A former left-wing militant who spent almost 15 years in prison during the country's military rule appears to have won the presidential elections.
Reliable exit polls give Jose Mujica, 74, just over 50% of the vote in a run-off poll.
His main rival and former President Luis Lacalle has conceded victory.
Mr Mujica succeeds a popular head of state, Tabare Vasquez, who has been in power for the last five years as Uruguay's first left-wing president.
With his election victory, Mr Mujica has completed his transformation from left wing rebel to statesman.
A plain-speaking maverick, who lives a frugal life and enjoys gardening, Mr Mujica's election is being seen as an expression of the desire for left-wing continuity.
Mr Lacalle was a conservative former president whose administration was mired in corruption.
During military rule prior to 1985, Mr Mujica spent many years in prison.
He was often held in harsh conditions, even spending two years confined to the bottom of a well.
But Mr Mujica acknowledges that those years of imprisonment cured him of pursuing armed struggle.
He has instead sought to build political consensus, successfully bringing the Tupamaru movement into the governing Broad Front coalition.
Mujica’s victory also gave the Broad Front a narrow majority in Congress, where his wife, Sen. Lucia Topolansky, was the top-vote getter and therefore is now third in line to the presidency, after vice president-elect Danilo Astori.
Lacalle, a scion of Uruguay’s political elite, finished second with 29 percent in October’s first-round election, and picked up most of the third-place, right-wing Colorado Party voters, but it wasn’t enough to defeat Mujica.
Mujica, 74, vowed to do everything possible to build bridges and avoid creating an atmosphere of tension and drama. He said negotiation and dialogue would be his tools, and cited Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva as his inspiration.
The National Party traded power with the right-wing Colorado Party for 150 years until the Broad Front pulled enough leftist factions together five years ago to give Vazquez a presidential victory.
Many voters said the single five-year term required by Uruguay’s constitution wasn’t enough to consolidate the successes of Vazquez, a Marxist oncologist and former Montevideo mayor who enjoyed 71 percent approval ratings in a poll this month. Vazquez imposed a progressive income tax, using the additional revenue to lower unemployment and poverty, provide equal access to health care to everyone under 18 and steer the economy to 1.9 percent growth this year even as many other economies shrank.
Lacalle, in contrast, was a champion of privatization during his 1990-95 term and vowed this time to eliminate the income tax and “take a chain saw” to state bureaucracies. But he also acknowledged Vazquez’s successes, saying he would make no major changes in economic policies.
Mujica co-founded the Tupamaros, one of many Latin American leftist rebel groups inspired by the Cuban revolution in the 1960s to organize kidnappings, bombings, robberies and other attacks on U.S.-backed right-wing governments. Convicted of killing a policeman in 1971, he endured torture and solitary confinement during nearly 15 years in prison.
Topolansky also was a Tupamaro leader, and like Mujica, was tortured during more than 13 years in prison.
In the quarter-century since the dictatorship ended and they were granted amnesty, the couple transformed the guerrillas into a legitimate political movement that is now the driving force behind the Broad Front.
In a July speech, Mujica vowed to distance the left from “the stupid ideologies that come from the 1970s — I refer to things like unconditional love of everything that is state-run, scorn for businessmen and intrinsic hate of the United States.
“I’ll shout it if they want: Down with isms! Up with a left that is capable of thinking outside the box! In other words, I am more than completely cured of simplifications, of dividing the world into good and evil, of thinking in black and white. I have repented!”
But Mujica still has the appearance of an anti-politician, a gruff old man more comfortable driving a tractor on his farm than shuffling through marbled halls.
“This isn’t too exciting — at this point it’s like dancing with your sister,” he said enigmatically as he cast his ballot.
Lacalle called for national unity after casting his vote, urging Uruguayans to treat each other with respect once the results are known.
The Grove at Farmers Market 189 Grove Drive Suite K 30, Los Angeles, CA 90036, 323-525-0270
Alan Boyle is the science editor for MSNBC.com and also appears on MSNBC news. He has won multiple awards for his science writing from the the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the National Association of Science Writers, and the Space Frontier Foundation.
In support of Pluto-the cutest and most unfairly treated planet
Pity poor Pluto: It's a planet that was discovered because of a mistake, a planet that turned out not to be a planet at all, thanks to a still-disputed decision made in 2006. And yet, Pluto is the planet best-loved by Americans, especially children, one that may have contained the building blocks of life billions of years ago and may well serve as life's last redoubt billions of years from now.
In The Case for Pluto, award-winning science writer Alan Boyle traces the tiny planet's ups and downs, its strange appeal, the reasons behind its demotion, and the reasons why it should be set back in the planetary pantheon.
Tells the compelling story of Pluto's discovery and how it became a cultural icon
Makes the case for Pluto as planet, countering the books that argue against it
Comes in a small, friendly package — just like Pluto — and features a handsome design, making it a great gift
The Case for Pluto is the must-read tale of a cosmic underdog that has captured the hearts of millions: an endearing little planet that is changing the way we see the universe beyond our backyard.
Alan Boyle is MSNBC.com’s science editor and the award-winning blogger behind Cosmic Log. He’s been a talking head on NBC’s The Today Show and the MSNBC cable channel, holding forth on scientific subjects ranging from the chances of an asteroid Armageddon to the 3-D wizardry behind the “Harry Potter” movies. But he writes better than he talks.
For Plutophiles and Plutoclasts alikeby AlanBoyleI'm the author of this book (my first!), so I have to admit I'm a little bit biased. But I tried to put forth the case honestly, drawing upon centuries of history as well as Pluto's recent "demotion" ("reclassification" might be more P.C.) and even more recent discoveries about our own solar system and the hundreds of other planetary systems beyond ours.
My view isn't that Pluto should be restored as the "ninth planet," or the "littlest planet," but that Pluto and others of its tribe (as well as Ceres and possibly Vesta in the asteroid belt) should be considered planets of a sort. If you want to call that sort "dwarf planets," that's fine. In fact, I think you'll find this meshes pretty well with what a lot of experts in planetary science are saying. To rule out Pluto (and Eris, and Haumea, and all the other dwarfs) on the grounds that they're much smaller than Earth would be as silly as ruling out Earth because it's much smaller than Jupiter. And the idea of "clearing out orbits" begins to get very squishy once you look into the kinds of planets that are being discovered beyond our solar system (as well as the kinds of planets that are likely to be discovered in our own Oort Cloud).
You'll find all this laid out in the book. You'll also learn about the personalities and the peculiarities behind the Pluto story. For example, you might know that Pluto was named by an 11-year-old girl (who sadly just passed away at the age of 90) and that Pluto the Disney dog was named after the planet - but did you know that the name was almost thrown out because it reminded some people of a mineral-water laxative, or that one of the first sci-fi stories about Pluto was a pulpy tale of three sexes on the mysterious planet?
There are no villains in the Pluto story, as far as I can tell - just scientists who want to do the right thing, all in their own different ways. It's up to the wide scientific community, as well as the even wider public, to decide how the story eventually turns out. I hope you'll find that "The Case for Pluto" offers the best evidence to help you make your own decision.
Shakira and Jeffrey Sachs take the Topic of Early Childhood Development to the 2009 Iberoamerican Summit
On November 29 and 30th the topic of Early Childhood Development will take Estoril with the presence of Colombian star Shakira, founder and activist of Fundación ALAS, and Jeffrey Sachs, Economist and Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, to present in the frame of the 2009 Iberoamerican Summit the Regional Alliance for the universal coverage of nutrition, education and health for children between 0 and 6 years old.
This coming Sunday, November 29, Shakira will meet with Chile’s President Michelle Bachelet, who leads the implementation of comprehensive policies for early Childhood, and is a key member of the Early Childhood Development Secretariat for Latin America and the Caribbean, founde by ALAS and the Earth Institute at Columbia University. Other bilateral meetings will also take place with Latin American dignitaries to promote the urgency of achieving universal coverage in health, nutrition and education for children between 0 and 6 years old.
Shakira and Sachs will present the Regional Alliance for Early Childhood Development with the President of Colombia, Alvaro Uribe, and the President of Panama, Ricardo Martinelli, in a press conference that will take place Monday, November 30th at 1:45 pm in the Hotel Miragem, Room 1.The ECD Report will be presented as the first product of this unique and innovative initiative for the region’s Early Childhood.
Letter from SHAKIRA
Thank you for all your support and love! As an artist, I am constantly looking for new challenges and ways to express myself. One way is through my music - another is by giving back and doing what I can to make our world a better place.
I want to share with you an issue that I am very passionate about. I believe that every child should have the right to follow their dreams and get an education. Growing up in Colombia, I saw that education can be a child's way out of poverty and a way to fulfill his or her potential. It is a basic right, but too often poor children are shut out.
Globally, 72 million children don't attend primary school and another 226 million aren't in secondary school. In addition, hundreds of millions of children attend some inadequate version of school but can't access the type of quality education that they really need to succeed...either the teachers don't consistently show up or there aren't enough books or the kids are too hungry to focus on their lessons.
We know how to address this. Governments must abolish school fees, hire more qualified teachers and provide textbooks and meals in schools. Most important, they must decide that a child's poverty is not an excuse - that they will educate all children regardless of what family or neighborhood they are born into. And they must prioritize education funding in their budgets.
All I have to do is close my eyes and I can imagine the faces of the homeless children that lived in my neighborhood when I was a little girl. They had no hope. Many of them sniffed glue or took drugs to forget the hunger and the cold. But I have also seen how education can alter the course of a child's life forever.
Check out some of these links to learn more about education and how you can help. It's amazing how much difference each person can make, so I hope you will join me in supporting every child's right to a quality education!
Thursday, November 26, 2009
LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 26: Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina celebrates going through to the semi-final after he won his match during the men's singles round robin match against Roger Federer of Switzerland during the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals at the O2 Arena on November 26, 2009 in London, England.
By MATTIAS KAREN,
LONDON (AP) Juan Martin del Potro squeaked into the semifinals of the ATP World Tour Finals by beating Roger Federer 6-2, 6-7 (5), 6-3 Thursday - the slimmest possible margin to advance and knock Andy Murray out of the tournament.
The result means Del Potro and Federer both advance after a three-way tie in Group A, with Murray's elimination literally coming down to the last game after three rounds of group matches.
All three players finished the round-robin stage with two wins and identical 5-4 set records, but Murray had the lowest percentage of games won. Had Del Potro lost just one more game against Federer, Murray would have advanced at the Argentine's expense.
Murray beat Fernando Verdasco 6-4, 6-7 (4), 7-6 (3) earlier Thursday.
The complicated tiebreaker system left even the players uncertain about who had advanced when the last match was over.
"I asked Juan Martin myself at the net, 'Did you make it or not?'" Federer said. "He said, 'I don't think so.' ... Of course, you got to feel sorry for the guy who didn't make it. At the same time, Del Potro beat the No. 1 player in the world in the group, and I guess also deserves to go through. There's only two places, and that's the way it is."
Del Potro said he had to wait 25 minutes before getting confirmation that he advanced.
"Because nobody knows what happen," he said. "But, well, I qualified."
Federer would have been eliminated with a straight-set loss and looked in serious trouble against the U.S. Open champion. He trailed 5-4 in the second-set tiebreaker with Del Potro on serve, but the Argentine netted a simple forehand that would have set up two match points.
Federer then converted his set point with a forehand volley, and celebrated by jumping into the air with both fists clenched.
"I knew I couldn't lose in two sets because I knew that was going to knock me out," Federer said. "That's why I was very excited."
The deciding set then went with serve until 4-3, with Del Potro needing to break to keep alive his chances of advancing. He did just that, going up 0-40 before converting his second break point when Federer put a forehand wide. He then closed out the match with a second-serve ace, to repeat his victory over Federer in the U.S. Open final.
"I played good tennis today, similar to New York, a little better in some moments of the match," Del Potro said. "I served good in important moments. I take my opportunities. That's what I have to do against the best player of the world - take the opportunities and try to play the best tennis."
Like in his first two matches, Federer had a poor start.
He was broken in the first game when he sent a forehand long, and then double-faulted on break point to give Del Potro a 4-1 lead in the first set. The Swiss star also showed moments of brilliance - hitting some spectacular shots among his 28 winners - but the tall Argentine dictated the pace from the baseline and saved all three break points he faced.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Faster Internet is in the air.
Now you can get blazing fast high-speed Internet performance all over town. WiMAX-enabled Intel® processor-based devices deliver Internet speeds three times faster than 3G, making your mobile computing experience as “plugged-in” as it would be if you actually were plugged in.Look for laptops and Internet devices with optional WiMAX built-in to give you a head start.ΔWiMAX is the next-generation of wireless technology designed to enable pervasive, high-speed mobile Internet access to the widest array of devices including notebook PCs, handsets, smartphones, and consumer electronics such as gaming devices, cameras, camcorders, music players, and more. As the fourth generation (4G) of wireless technology, WiMAX delivers low-cost, open networks and is the first all IP mobile Internet solution enabling efficient and scalable networks for data, video, and voice. As a major driver in the support and development of WiMAX, Intel has designed embedded WiMAX solutions for a variety of mobile devices supporting the future of high-speed broadband on-the-go.
Laying the foundation for broad, cost-effective deployments, Intel is working to easily integrate Intel® WiMAX technology into complex designs and global networks, providing a standards-based foundation for ongoing product innovation.
Built for the future, Intel® WiMAX technology will allow you to connect in more places, more often, without being restricted to hotspots. When built into notebooks and mobile devices, you'll be able to extend your connected experience beyond Wi-Fi.
Demo: Learn how WiMAX works
Mobile WiMAX¹ is the next revolution in wireless technology that will enable pervasive, high-speed connectivity to meet the ever-increasing demand for broadband Internet on the go. Delivering the next leap in the mobile network evolution with fourth generation (4G) wireless, WiMAX will drive a wide array of devices well beyond what's available today, including notebooks, phones, consumer electronic devices, Mobile Internet Devices (MIDs) and more.
The WiMAX future
The only network optimized specifically for mobile broadband Internet, WiMAX is based on a set of global standards covering fixed, portable, and mobile deployments on an open network that will help drive and leverage the openness of the Internet, as opposed to prior generation's, closed systems, such as 3G networks.
The low-cost, all-IP network architecture and backwards compatibility with existing 2G and 3G cellular network deployments makes WiMAX easier and more cost-effective to deploy and operate than current mobile wireless data solutions. As a result, it has already garnered broad support from leading operators—both wired line and wireless—and device manufacturers around the world.
Friday, November 20, 2009
NASA sees ‘slight forward movement’ out of a Red Planet sand trap
NASA's Spirit rover has been stuck in a slanting sand trap nicknamed "Troy" since April. The problem started when golf cart-sized robot broke through a crust of soil and slipped into softer stuff beneath. Ever since then, the rover team has been trying to figure out how to get it out.
The crucial commands telling Spirit to spin its wheels were sent up this week — and before-and-after photos sent back down to Earth on Thursday revealed "very slight forward movement," NASA reported.That movement didn't come easy: For months, engineers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., have been working out a detailed strategy for extracting the rover from the fine, slippery sand in which it has been stuck. The job is more complicated because one of Spirit's six wheels broke years ago. That means the rover has had to drive backwards, dragging its front wheel behind.
The engineers finally decided the best course would be to have Spirit retrace its steps downslope by driving "forward" — rather like driving a car out of a winter snowdrift that it backed into. The driving commands that were uploaded to the rover called for making two spins of the wheels, each of which would be the equivalent of 8.2 feet (2.5 meters) of travel. NASA didn't expect the rover to move that far, but the space agency was hoping that the spins would make at least a small difference in Spirit's position.
The first time the maneuver was attempted, on Tuesday, the rover aborted the commands less than a second after the wheels started to spin. NASA said the commands set off an alarm in the rover's electronic brain because it looked as if the maneuver would change the machine's tilt too dramatically.
This time, the commands worked, as shown in the before-and-after imagery.
"Spirit's left front wheel has become slightly less buried in the soft soil in which the rover had become embedded about six months ago," NASA reported in its mission update late Thursday. "The right front wheel, which has not been usable for driving since 2006, has been pushed perceptibly forward by the drive. The amount of forward motion is less than 1 percent of the distance that would have been covered on firm ground by the amount of wheel rotation commanded in the drive."
It could take months to get Spirit out of its predicament. "Extrication drives are expected to make slow, if any, progress in coming weeks, and the probability of success in escaping from Troy is uncertain," NASA said.
Spirit and its twin rover, Opportunity, landed on opposite sides of the Red Planet in January 2004. Mission planners expected them to last at least 90 days on Mars, and the robots have far exceeded those expectations. The rovers' missions have been extended several times at a fraction of the initial cost of $820 million. Along the way, Spirit and Opportunity have confirmed that liquid water once existed on what is now a cold, dry planet, in volumes that could have sustained life as we know it.
Even Spirit's forced immobility hasn't been a loss. The rover science team has been conducting detailed observations of the area around Troy even while engineers have been working on the escape plan. If Spirit fails to make its escape, it could continue to do useful science in place.
Roberto Sanchez (aka Sandro) “will receive a transplant in the next few hours in Mendoza,” confirmed on Wednesday his press agent Nora Lafón.
The artist has been held in a Buenos Aires hospital for months awaiting for a donor.
At dawn, a donor appeared for Sandro, who had been awaiting a heart / lung transplant.
The singer is suffering from COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) for years and his health deteriorated continuously.
Sandro will be taken from the Argentine Institute of Diagnosis and Treatment (IADT) to Mendoza by an air ambulance and his arrival is scheduled for 11 am.
Once there, he will go to the Italian Hospital, where the medical team led by heart surgeon Claudio Burgos awaits.
By the Project for Excellence in Journalism
The Web in 2008 became a regular and even primary news destination for more and more Americans.
Several surveys found that the number of Americans who used the Web regularly for news jumped. And at least for some news the Internet has now overtaken most other media as a favored news delivery platform.
One poll, in December 2008, found the number of Americans who said they got “most of their national and international news” online increased 67% in the last four years.1 The presidential election was almost certainly a key factor in the growth. More than a third of Americans said they got most of their campaign news from the Internet in 2008 — triple the percentage in previous presidential election year.2
The growth in online news consumption cut across age groups, but the growth was fueled in particular by young people. Young voters and activists now rank the Internet as a news source of importance parallel to television.3
And the shift was likely not just a matter of changing audience tastes. News organizations and the political community both were also more aggressive about delivering news and information online, and giving consumers more ways to gather, organize and share it across multiple devices. From personalized news pages sent to a person’s e-mail, delivery of content on “smart” mobile phones, news-ranking sites that list the most-recommended news stories and more sharing of content among news producers, what was available from the traditional news media digitally was richer, even if much of this was the same information simply made more readily available.
Add to that social networking sites like Facebook. And the video site YouTube also became a major delivery system for people to get news posted and recommended by friends and associates, and often from political campaigns. The Obama camp reported more than a billion minutes of campaign-produced material was downloaded from YouTube. And Youtube reported that the Obama campaign’s 1800 web videos were viewed 100 million times in total.4
Internet News Use
By any number of yardsticks, the traffic to news websites jumped in 2008.
According to a PEJ analysis of comScore data, the average number of unique visitors to the top 50 news sites each month grew 27% in 2008 over the year before.5 The number of monthly unique visitors to all 700 news and information sites measured by comScore grew 7%.
Comparing one media platform to another can be complicated, given the different ways different media are measured. Often the clearest reference is found in survey data.
According to Pew Research Center data, as of August 2008 the percentage of Americans who went online regularly for news (at least three times a week) was up 19% from two years earlier to nearly four in ten Americans (37%). No other medium was growing as quickly. Most saw audiences flat or declining.
The new numbers put the Web ahead of several other platforms for the first time. In the same August survey, 29% of Americans said they “regularly” watched network nightly news, 22% watched network morning shows and 13% Sunday morning shows.
The percentage of Americans who relied on the Internet regularly, according to this data, was now roughly similar to that who regularly watched cable television for news (39%).
More people still read a newspaper “yesterday” (34%) or listened to news radio (35%) than had viewed news online “yesterday” (29%). But the gap was narrowing.6
The biggest jump came in the number of people relying on the Web for national and international news in particular. In December, 40% of Americans said they got most of their national and international news online, up 67% from 2004, the last presidential election year, when the number was 24%. That put the web ahead of newspapers (35%). Only television, cable, local and network combined, ranked higher (70%).7
Other surveys reinforced the notion of a jump in online news consumption. In November 2008, for instance, the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project found 36% of Internet users said they now used the Web for news on a “typical day,” a 16% jump from two years earlier (December 2006) when the number was 31%.
The numbers, it is important to note, refer to the platform by which people acquired their news, not the source gathering it. Virtually all of the most popular news websites are those associated with traditional news organizations, whose legacy platforms are paying for the news gathering, or are aggregators, which collect content from traditional newsrooms and wire services rather than produce their own. But given the financial implications of the Web on the news business, the numbers are no less significant.
This growth in online news consumption was not due to more people using the Internet generally. The percent of people who go online for any reason has held fairly steady at 70% to 75% of the U.S. population since 2006.
But those who go online do it more often and for longer periods of time than in the past, and they increasingly seek news. Since 2004, for instance, the percentage of online Americans saying they went online “yesterday” increased from 58% to 72%. And the number logging on multiple times a day from home jumped from 27% to 34%.8 Another study found that over the last three years, the amount of time the average user spent online increased from 14 hours a week in 2006 to over 17 hours as of January 2009.9
Consider that that in January 2009, the Digital Future Report from the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School found that 79% of adult users said the Internet was now their “most important” source of information (not just for news), higher than television (68%) or newspapers (60%). Getting news online, in other words, has become more of a reflex and a larger part of people’s daily lives.10
For all this, one other factor has remained constant in Internet news trends: the people who go online for their news tend to be more educated. That has not changed over the last decade even as the number of online news users has grown.
Ten years ago a college graduate was more than three times as likely as someone with a high school education or less to regularly go online for news. That gap remains just as large today. Fully 61% of college graduates go online for news at least three days a week, compared with just 19% of those with no more than a high school education.11
Beyond demographics, the accelerating move by audiences generally to the Web just deepens the paradox facing the news business.
As their audience migrates online, and the old media continue to build their offerings there to service them, the media are properly developing their market share in the new media environment. The more success legacy news operations have online, however, the more damaging it is to their current revenue base, since the Internet increasingly cannot pay for itself from any of the current economic models (see Online Economics).
Internet Audiences and the Election
Almost certainly a major reason for the surge in online news consumption in 2008 was interest in the election. While television remained the dominant delivery source, the percent of Americans who said they got most of their campaign news from the Internet tripled between October 2004 and October 2008. Fully a third (33%) reported getting most of their election news online, up from the 10% who did so four years earlier.12
By the last week of the election, 59% of voters said they had sought out or encountered at least some political information online.13
Young people were a major factor in that growth. Nearly three times as many people ages 18 to 29 cited the Internet (49%) as their main campaign news platform as mentioned newspapers (17%).14
Among those over age 50, nearly the opposite was true: 22% relied on the Internet for election news while 39% look to newspapers. Even with that, compared with 2004, use of the Internet for election news has increased across all age groups. Among the youngest cohort (age 18-29), television has lost significant ground to the Internet.15
Most Popular News Sites
Which news sites were enjoying this boost in traffic? The evidence suggests growth across a range.
To some extent, the biggest Web sites got even bigger. The top four news sites alone, for example, increased their audience by 22% in 2008, according to data from comScore, or a combined 23.6 million visitors a month. That rate of increase is more than twice as fast as in 2007 and more than five times the rate in 2006. At Yahoo News, the most-visited news site according to comScore, the number of visitors rose by 13% for the year. The number rose 24% at No. 2 MSNBC.com, 34% at No. 3 CNN.Com, and 20% at No. 4 AOL News.
(Tracking the exact order of which of these sites is first, second or third is complicated by the fact that the different measuring agencies use different methodologies, but all show substantial growth).
The traffic data also suggest that a host of niche sites that barely registered or did not exist during the previous presidential election also benefited. Huffingtonpost.com, a news aggregator, producer and blogging website, for example, catapulted into the 20 most-visited sites in September 2008, according to data from comScore, with 4.5 million users during the month, an increase of 474% compared with September 2007.16
Politico.com, which started in 2007 (see New Ventures Section) with a focus on national politics, increased fivefold to 2.4 million visitors between September 2007 and 2008. RealClearPolitics.com, which aggregates political news and polling, grew 489% during that period.17
Audience Growth: Top News Sites vs. Select Political Sites
September 2007 vs. September 2008
Source: comScore, Inc.
But even with those gains, traffic to those sites remained a fraction of what the leading news sites drew. As a group, HuffingtonPost.com, RealClearPolitics.com and Politico.com drew an average of 3.9 million more visitors per month in 2008 than in 2007. To put that into perspective, Yahoo News.com gained 4.5 million by itself. The evidence clearly suggests that while a variety of new sites grew, in general, the big got even bigger, extending their share of Internet traffic.
After the election, some of these niche sites were more successful than others at retaining those audiences. In December, the Huffington Post still drew 81% of the viewers it did in September and October, when interest in the campaign was highest. Salon.com, the left-leaning online magazine, retained 77%. Two newer sites, however, did not do as well. Politico’s website kept just about half its audience. And the Real Clear Politics website, which had grown in advance of the election, kept only 21%.18
Top News Sites (Nielsen)
Average monthly unique visitors, 2007 vs. 2008
Source: Nielsen Online
Top News Sites (comScore)
Average monthly unique visitors, 2007 vs. 2008
Source: comScore, Inc.
Source: Hitwise, Inc.
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