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There currently is not enough scientific evidence to recommend that healthy postmenopausal women should take low daily doses of vitamin D and calcium to reduce bone fracture risk, the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) reported in guidelines published online February 26, 2013 in the Annuals of Internal Medicine. The federal government’s expert panel on preventive medicine said the combination of 400 IU of vitamin D and 1,000 mg of calcium has no effect on the risk of bone fractures in postmenopausal women who are not in nursing homes or other institutions, and evidence is lacking to support higher doses of the supplements among these women to prevent fractures. The panel’s recommendation does not apply to adults with osteoporosis or vitamin D deficiency.Clinicians and patients are likely to be confused by the absence of guidance regarding the potential value of higher doses of vitamin D and calcium, Walter Willett, chair of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH), said of the USPSTF recommendations in a video interview February 25, 2013 with MedPage Today.View/read the MedPage Today interviewRelated links Read Full Story
Since “Year of the MOOC” became a catchphrase in 2012, massive open online courses have had their fans and detractors. Some have claimed that online learning is a “disruptive revolution” and a harbinger of the end of residential colleges, while others have called MOOCs at best “mere marketing” or at worst an abject failure, singling out low completion rates.Expanded data and research about MOOC participants and evidence-based assessments of online learning trends might, however, begin to move the conversation beyond anecdotes and heated opinions.Today, a joint Harvard and MIT research team published one of the largest investigations of MOOCs (massive open online courses) to date. Building on their prior work — a January 2014 report describing the first year of open online courses launched on edX, a nonprofit learning platform founded by the two institutions — the latest effort incorporates another year of data, bringing the total to nearly 70 courses in subjects from programming to poetry.“We explored 68 certificate-granting courses, 1.7 million participants, 10 million participant-hours, and 1.1 billion participant-logged events,” said the study’s co-lead author, Andrew Ho, a professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and chair of the HarvardX research committee. The research team also used surveys to gain additional information about participants’ backgrounds and intentions.Ho and MIT’s Isaac Chuang, professor of physics, professor of electrical engineering and computer science, and senior associate director of digital learning, led a group effort that delved into the demographics of MOOC learners, analyzed participant intent, and looked at patterns that “serial MOOCers,” or those taking more than one course, tend to pursue.“What jumped out for me was the survey that revealed that in some cases as many as 39 percent of our learners are teachers,” said Chuang. “This finding forces us to broaden our conceptions of who MOOCs serve and how they might make a difference in improving learning.”Key findings The researchers conducted a trend analysis that showed a rising share of female, U.S.-based, and older participants, as well as a survey analysis of intent, revealing that almost half of registrants were not interested in or were unsure about certification. In this study, the researchers redefined their population of learners from those who simply registered for courses (and took no subsequent action) — a metric used in prior findings and often cited by MOOC providers — to those who participated (i.e., by logging into the course at least once).Participation in HarvardX and MITx open online courses has grown steadily, while participation in repeated courses has declined and then stabilizedFrom July 24, 2012, through Sept. 21, 2014, the end of the study period, an average of 1,300 new participants joined a HarvardX or MITx course each day, for a total of 1 million unique participants and 1.7 million total participants. With the increase in second and third versions of courses, the researchers found that participation in second versions declined by 43 percent, while there was stable participation between versions two and three. There were outliers, such as the HarvardX course CS50x, “Introduction to Computer Science,” which doubled in size, perhaps due to increased student flexibility: Students in this course could participate over a yearlong period at their own pace and complete at any time.A slight majority of MOOC students are seeking certification, and many participants are teachersAmong the one-third of participants who responded to a survey about their intentions, 57 percent stated their desire to earn a certificate; nearly a quarter of those respondents went on to do so. Further, among participants who were unsure or did not intend to earn a certificate, 8 percent ultimately did. These learners appear to have been inspired to finish a MOOC even after initially stating that they had no intention of doing so.Among 200,000 participants who responded to a survey about teaching, 39 percent self-identified as a past or current teacher. Twenty-one percent of those reported teaching in the course topic area. The strong participation by teachers suggests that even participants who are uninterested in certification may still make productive use of MOOCs.Academic areas matter when it comes to participation, certification, and course networksParticipants were drawn to computer science courses in particular, with per-course participation numbers nearly four times higher than in courses in the humanities, sciences, and social sciences. That said, certificate rates in computer science and other science- and technology-based offerings (7 percent and 6 percent, respectively) were about half of those in the humanities and social sciences.The larger data sets also allowed the researchers to study those participating in more than one course, revealing that computer science courses serve as hubs for students, who move to and from related courses. Intentional sequencing, as was done for the 10-part HarvardX Chinese history course “ChinaX,” led to some of the highest certification rates in the study. Other courses with high certification rates were “Introduction to Computer Science” from MITx and “Justice” and “Health in Numbers” from HarvardX.Those opting for fee-based, ID-verified certificates certify at higher ratesAcross 12 courses, participants who paid for “ID-verified” certificates (with costs ranging from $50 to $250) earned certifications at a higher rate than other participants: 59 percent, on average, compared to 5 percent. Students opting for the ID-verified track appear to have stronger intentions to complete courses, and the monetary stake may add an extra form of motivation.While engaging thousands of global learners online, a research report suggests that MOOCs, such as “Visualizing Japan,” have had equal if not greater influence on enhancing residential learning and empowering teachers with novel content and tools.Questions and Implications Based upon these findings, Chuang and Ho identified questions that might “reset and reorient expectations” around MOOCs.First, while many MOOC creators and providers have increased access to learning opportunities, those who are accessing MOOCs are disproportionately people who already have college and graduate degrees. The researchers do not necessarily see this as a problem, as academic experience may be a requirement in advanced courses. However, to serve underrepresented and traditionally underserved groups, the data suggest that proactive strategies may be necessary.“These free, open courses are phenomenal opportunities for millions of learners,” Ho emphasized, “but equity cannot be increased just by opening doors. We hope that our data help teachers and institutions to think about their intended audiences, and serve as a baseline for charting progress.”Second, if improving online and on-campus learning is a priority, then “the flow of pedagogical innovations needs to be formalized,” said Chuang. For example, many of the MOOCs in the study used innovations from their campus counterparts, like physics assessments from MIT and close-reading practices from Harvard’s classics courses. Likewise, residential faculty are using MOOC content, such as videos and assessment scoring algorithms, in smaller, traditional lecture courses.“The real potential is in the fostering of feedback loops between the two realms,” said Chuang. “In particular, the high number of teacher participants signals great potential for impact beyond Harvard and MIT, especially if deliberate steps could be taken to share best practices.”Third, advancing research through MOOCs may require a more nuanced definition of audience. Much of the research to date has done little to differentiate among the diverse participants in these free, self-paced learning environments.“While increasing completion has been a subject of interest, given that many participants have limited, uncertain, or zero interest in completing MOOCs, exerting research muscle to indiscriminately increase completion may not be productive,” explained Ho. “Researchers might want to focus more specifically on well-surveyed or paying subpopulations, where we have a better sense of their expectations and motivations.”More broadly, Ho and Chuang hope to showcase the potential and diversity of MOOCs and MOOC data by developing “Top Five” lists based upon course attributes, such as scale (an MIT computer science course clocked in with 900,000 participant hours); demographics (the MOOC with the most female representation is a museum course from HarvardX called “Tangible Things,” while MITx’s computing courses attracted the largest global audience); and type and level of interaction (those in ChinaX most frequently posted in online forums, while those in an introduction to computer science course from MITx most frequently played videos).“These courses reflect the breadth of our university curricula, and we felt the need to highlight their diverse designs, philosophies, audiences, and learning outcomes in our analyses,” said Chuang. “Which course is right for you? It depends, and these lists might help learners decide what qualities in a given MOOC are most important to them.”
The Observer General Board elected Sports Editor Douglas Farmer as the 2011-12 Editor-in-Chief Sunday. Farmer, a junior Program of Liberal Studies major with a minor in Journalism, Ethics and Democracy, is a native of La Crosse, Wisc. A resident of Alumni Hall, Farmer has led several sports beats, including football, men’s basketball, hockey, baseball, women’s soccer and men’s lacrosse. “I look forward to the opportunities and challenges this new role will bring me. Fortunately, I know I will have a talented and dedicated staff working with me every step of the way,” Farmer said. Farmer became Sports Editor in the spring of 2010 and led coverage of Irish football coach Brian Kelly’s first season as well as the Notre Dame women’s soccer team’s national championship. “Douglas has done a tremendous job this year as Sports Editor, specifically in improving the feedback given to writers and increasing the amount of quality content on our website,” outgoing Editor-in-Chief Matt Gamber said. “I have enjoyed working with Douglas over the past three years and know he will continue to serve as a great leader and example for others at the paper.” Farmer said he expects to build upon The Observer’s “strong journalistic tradition” with the help of the rest of the Editorial Board in the coming year. “I anticipate a year of great experiences thanks to this new position,” he said. Farmer will take over as Editor-in-Chief on March 7.
Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK), the nation s leading provider of entertainment, information and communications products and services, today announced that consumers switching to Comcast s Digital Voice service have made Comcast the third-largest residential phone service provider in the country. Consumers are continuing to select Comcast s low cost and rich features for phone service throughout its 39-state service area.The news marks a major milestone for the company and reinforces its commitment to reinvent home phone service and offer consumers a way to cut household expenses during a difficult economic climate.Comcast Digital Voice® now serves 6.47 million customers, which exceeds Qwest s reported residential subscriber base. The popularity of Comcast s innovative offerings with consumers has enabled Comcast to add residential subscribers in each of the last twelve quarters. Consumers are switching to Comcast s Digital Voice Service because of our low prices, reliable service and innovative features, said Pam Mackenzie, Area Vice President for Comcast in Vermont. Comcast Digital Voice is reinventing home phone service for the 21st Century and we are thrilled that millions of consumers today are choosing Comcast for home phone service. We now offer features that integrate with our video and high speed internet products and we re deploying a next generation cordless phone that lets customers do more than just make phone calls. Best of all, we can do all this with a service that is rated number one in call clarity and that helps consumers cut their home phone expenses by 20 to 30 percent or more.In addition to offering a high-quality, reliable and value-added home phone service, Comcast Digital Voice customers benefit from a number of new, innovative home phone products and features, including SmartZone ¢ Communications Center, a feature-rich online portal that enables customers to manage their emails and voice mails in one easy place, and to sync contact information from multiple sources into one universal address book. Additional products and features that are expected to launch this year in Vermont include Universal Caller ID, a free service for Comcast Digital Voice customers that allows them to view incoming caller information on their TV or PC while watching a movie or surfing the Web; and Enhanced Cordless Telephone, an innovative home phone that offers all of the popular features that come with Comcast Digital Voice® plus integrated services and advanced functionality such as the ability to view email, view/forward/manage voice mail from the phone or PC, read news, sports and horoscopes, access a universal address book and search the Yellow Pages all on the enhanced cordless phone. The competitive entrants in the residential phone market are saving consumers billions of dollars every year. A study by economic consulting firm MiCRA found that consumers saved $13 billion alone in 2007 because of phone competition from companies like Comcast. The savings for consumers is proof of the success of pro-competitive policies that ensure choice for consumers. While Comcast s Digital Voice service continues to grow and redefines home phone service, it continues to compete for customers and remains a new entrant into a market that is dominated by legacy providers AT&T, Verizon and Qwest. Since entering Vermont in November 2006, Comcast has aggressively expanded its services across the Green Mountain State, investing in its advanced fiber-optic network to bring broadband services to previously unserved homes and businesses and partnering with local communities. The company has launched a number of its advanced services in just over two years, including Digital Cable with On Demand, High-Definition Television Service, Digital Video Recorders, Comcast High-Speed Internet service and Comcast Digital Voice. In addition, Comcast has offered programming of special interest to Vermonters. Comcast also assists local non-profit organizations in Vermont with financial, in-kind and employee volunteer support. Comcast serves more than 100,000 customers in Vermont and employs approximately 300 individuals.For more information about Comcast Digital Voice visit www.comcast.com/comcastdigitalvoice/(link is external)About Comcast CorporationComcast Corporation (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) (www.comcast.com(link is external)) is the nation’s leading provider of entertainment, information and communication products and services. With 24.2 million cable customers, 14.9 million high-speed Internet customers, and 6.5 million Comcast Digital Voice customers, Comcast is principally involved in the development, management and operation of broadband cable systems and in the delivery of programming content.Comcast’s content networks and investments include E! Entertainment Television, Style Network, Golf Channel, VERSUS, G4, PBS KIDS Sprout, TV One, ten Comcast SportsNet networks and Comcast Interactive Media, which develops and operates Comcast’s Internet businesses, including Comcast.net (www.comcast.net(link is external)). Comcast also has a majority ownership in Comcast-Spectacor, whose major holdings include the Philadelphia Flyers NHL hockey team, the Philadelphia 76ers NBA basketball team and two large multipurpose arenas in Philadelphia.*Number one in call clarity based upon an independent study preformed by Keynote dated November 2008, Wave 6 Study.
April 1, 2002 Gary Blankenship Senior Editor Regular News Board sets out advance funding guidelines Senior EditorAfter months of debate, the Bar Board of Governors has adopted a proposed ethics opinion on advance funding schemes, including telling lawyers that the Bar doesn’t like those financial arrangements.The board made two changes — one of them technical — to a draft opinion proposed by the Board Review Committee on Professional Ethics and then approved it during its March 15 meeting in Tallahassee. Board members also said the Bar should explore various means, either in the courts or the legislature, to regulate or ban advance funding deals.“What we’ve been trying to do here is generate some ethical guidance for attorneys with clients who approach them with an advance funding proposition,” said BRCPE Chair Richard Tanner. “What we tried to do is focus our thinking to come up with an ethical opinion that is consistent with the sense of this body.”The board has been grappling since last fall over what to tell lawyers whose clients ask them about advance funding contracts — defined as third parties that seek to loan the clients money in exchange for part of the expected winnings in the case. Interest rates are typically high, sometimes 100 to 200 percent or more.Some board members have argued the Bar should have nothing to do with the practice. Others have said although the loans may be repugnant it is ultimately the decision of clients — who may be in desperate financial straits — whether to take the loans.An intermediate appellate court in Ohio has ruled that the transactions are loans (some industry representatives have said they are buying part of the winnings, not making a loan, since there is no repayment unless there is a recovery) and the interest rates usurious. But that has been appealed to the Ohio Supreme Court, which has accepted the case.The approved opinion says that whether the loans are legal is outside the scope of an ethics opinion, but that if the loans are held to be illegal, then the attorney may not participate in any way.While the committee’s draft said that attorneys could tell clients about the funding companies and supply company names to clients, the board added language to that section saying: “The Florida Bar discourages the use of non-recourse advance funding companies.”That language was added at the suggestion of board member Chobee Ebbets. He criticized the original draft as tacitly involving lawyers in the loans. “When it says a lawyer may advise a client about the existence of the companies and may provide the names of the company, you’re in the game,” Ebbets said. “These are never in the best interest of the client. It’s an inherent conflict. I cannot agree with it as long as we are any part of the process.”He did support the draft after the language was added.Other parts of the opinion provided that the attorney must carefully discuss the pros and cons with the client of any advance funding loan, including problems that can arise. The attorney may not co-sign the loan, guarantee the transaction, or issue a letter of credit to the lending company, although the attorney may honor an assignment executed by the client. At the client’s request, the attorney may provide information about the case to the company, but must discuss with the client implications of that action including the possible loss of confidentiality on otherwise confidential matters.If the client decides to share the information anyway, the attorney is not obligated to “provide work product material, such as the attorney’s personal notes,” the opinion says. A final version of the opinion, Ethics Opinion 00-3, is on the Bar’s Web site and can be accessed by clicking here. Board member Steve Chaykin, a member of the BRCPE, said even if all members weren’t happy with the opinion, it was important for the board to take some action because of the growth of the advance funding industry.“The argument against this opinion is we’d rather give no opinion and give no advice than engage in the process and perhaps help the client,” he said.“I think we need to pass this because our constituents are asking for advice,” board member Ervin Gonzalez said. “This particular ethics opinion is giving great advice on what they can do at this time.”He added, though, that he agreed with a call by President-elect Tod Aronovitz for the Bar to do more to prevent clients from being harmed by advance funding schemes.“These companies are in the business of charging huge fees to unsophisticated people,” said Aronovitz, who opposed the opinion before it was amended. “There are ways that we can encourage our courts to rule on this, and that’s what should be done.”He also said the board should explore a way to “support meaningful consumer-oriented legislation” during next year’s legislative session. Board sets out advance funding guidelines
Sign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York An accused drugged driver died after allegedly causing a crash that killed a 26-year-old woman in Northampton on Friday afternoon, Southampton Town Police said.Brendon McKee, 24, of Center Moriches, was driving a Toyota Scion northbound on Lake Avenue when he crossed over the double yellow lines, sideswiped a GMC SUV and then crashed head on into a Nissan Altima at 2:23 p.m., police said.The driver of the Nissan, Courtney Pivirotto, of Eastport, was pronounced dead at the scene.McKee was airlifted to Stony Brook Hospital, where he died of his injuries. He was charged with driving while under the influence of drugs before he died.Detectives are asking anyone with information about this crash to call them at 631-702-2230.
There has been a lot of buzz lately about the updates to the rules for the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). The Act has been around since 1991, but it suddenly has new teeth, thanks to the FCC’s adoption of the new rules in June. And while the vote on the updates was passed by the FCC, it was a split 3-2 vote, showing that it wasn’t a slam dunk, even for them.So, what are the main components of this new rule?1. There is a new definition of “autodialer” which now includes equipment which has the potential for autodialing capabilities in the future. Basically, any system that is not a rotary-dial phone could be considered an autodialer. This includes virtually any smartphone, tablet and apps that may store a phone number.2. If a number has been reassigned to someone other than your member, you get ONE call to that number before further contact is prohibited. There is no allowance for situations where the call was not answered and you didn’t know it was reassigned. And, let’s not forget about situations where someone sees dollar signs when receiving your call on his/her reassigned number and doesn’t tell you it has been reassigned. They then turn around and file a lawsuit against your credit union for violating the TCPA. continue reading » 8SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr
Credit unions that engage in strategic planning are committing time and valuable resources towards planning for the future. Your leadership team will likely spend hours at the table hammering out the details of your strategic plan for the next several years.One of the most important ground rules about strategic planning (and a compelling reason to use an outside facilitator to help conduct the session) is keeping the discussion at a strategic rather than a tactical level. Your strategic planning session must be geared towards discussing, understanding and deciding on a course of action that concentrates on strategic initiatives — big-picture items.It’s all too easy for a strategic planning discussion to jump the rails and plunge into the high weeds of tactical discussions. By tactical, we mean the daily tasks and jobs, the nuts and bolts of operations at your bank or credit union, that keep things moving. These are certainly important and, if not in place, can sabotage larger strategic initiatives. However, your time at the strategic planning table simply cannot be spent debating and discussing tactical issues. continue reading » 11SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr
Sign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York The former executive director of Village of Hempstead Housing Authority (VHHA) and three contractors have been arrested for allegedly stealing $500,000 in federal funds in a bid-rigging and kickback scheme, authorities said.Stacey Stackhouse, 51, was charged Tuesday with conspiracy to commit wire fraud along with 51-year-old James Alimonos of Bethpage, 47-Year-Old Demetrios Kaouris of Plainview and Michael Lambros, 48, of Queens.“The defendants here were entrusted to use federal funds to provide safe and affordable housing to senior citizens and low income residents,” said Loretta Lynch, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York. “Instead, as alleged, they bypassed the rules in order to siphon taxpayer dollars into their own pockets.”Prosecutors said Stackhouse, of Westchester, bypassed the bidding process and awarded construction contracts to companies owned or controlled by Alimonos, Lambros and Kaouris at prices several times greater than the true cost in exchange for kickbacks.In one instance, Stackhouse awarded a $273,900 roof repair contract to a construction company controlled by her alleged co-conspirators, who did the work for $23,000, pocketed the rest and gave Stackhouse and others $25,900, authorities said.Stackhouse was responsible for obtaining competitive bids on work funded through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Requests for bids on such government contracts are required to be published. Stackhouse was responsible for awarding contracts to the most qualified lowest bidder.The foursome is scheduled to appear Tuesday before U.S. Judge A. Kathleen Tomlinson in Central Islip federal court. If convicted, they face up to 20 years in prison.
Though Epitopix is the first company to win conditional USDA approval, other groups are working on E coli vaccines for cattle. In February 2008, Bioniche, a Canadian company that developed Canada’s first E coli vaccine for cattle, said it received word from the USDA that it was in a good position to secure conditional licensure. A conditional license would allow Bioniche to sell the vaccine in the United States if at least one step in the manufacturing process takes place on US soil and the company doesn’t use a trademark name for the vaccine. “We had a decrease in cattle shedding E coli by 54% in our first study,” Thompson said in the press release. “However, we increased the amount of SRP exposure in the second field study and decreased the rate of shedding by 85%.” The large-pen studies involved 20 pens and more than 1,200 head of cattle. Thompson said researchers conducted a challenge study, a natural infection trial, and two large-pen field studies of the SRP E coli vaccine at commercial feedlots. He said the trials demonstrated that the vaccine decreased the number of cattle shedding the bacteria, the concentration of the bacteria that was shed, and the number of “super shedder” cattle. Feb 2, 2008, CIDRAP News story “E coli cattle vaccine nearing US approval” See also: Dan Thompson, associate professor of clinical sciences at Kansas State University, said in a March 27, 2008, press release from the university that foodborne pathogens use siderophore receptors and porin proteins to acquire iron. “Iron is to bacteria as oxygen is to humans. Without iron consumption, the bacteria suffocate and can’t grow or replicate,” he said, adding that the vaccine keeps the pathogen from taking up iron. The company will conduct more potency and efficacy studies to gain full approval for the vaccine, which was developed by the company’s scientists along with researchers from Kansas State University and West Texas A&M University. The vaccine uses “siderophore receptor and porin” (SRP) technology developed by Epitopix. Also, GeneThera, Inc., based in Wheat Ridge, Colo., said in November 2008 that it had signed an agreement to license and distribute an E coli vaccine developed at the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center, according to a previous report. A representative from the company said that the company would launch phase 2 clinical trials soon and take the vaccine to market as soon as possible. E coli O157:H7 doesn’t sicken cattle but is potentially fatal to humans. It produces a toxin that causes diarrhea, often bloody, but usually without fever. Though most patients with E coli O157:H7 infections recover in 5 to 10 days, 2% to 7% develop hemolytic uremic syndrome, a potentially fatal form of kidney failure. Epitopix announced the granting of the conditional license on Mar 5 at the Beef Industry Food Safety Council annual meeting in San Diego, according to a company press release. “It represents a significant breakthrough in the beef industry’s ongoing effort to reduce E coli O157,” said Jim Sandstrom, Epitopix’ general manager, in the press release. Nov 3, 2008, CIDRAP News story “Canada approves E coli vaccine for cattle” Because the pathogen doesn’t sicken cattle, it’s unclear how vigorously cattle producers will embrace the vaccine, some industry experts have said. Sandstrom told CIDRAP News that Epitopix has not yet set a price for a course of its vaccine. Bioniche has said its vaccine would likely cost less than $10 per head of cattle. Mar 27, 2008, K-State press release Sandstrom credited the USDA and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association for supporting several public and private E coli preharvest and postharvest interventions. “We are confident that our E coli O157:H7 SRP vaccine will play an important role for beef producers and packers as they work together to implement E coli O157:H7 control efforts,” he said. Mar 11, 2009 (CIDRAP News) The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently granted a conditional license for the nation’s first Escherichia coli O157:H7 vaccine for cattle, allowing Epitopix LLC, a Willmar, Minn., company, to immediately offer the vaccine to the beef industry.