[vemba-video id=”van/sc/2019/05/21/bang_3319f460-0402-4e39-936e-9a97b2ee306f”]PORTLAND, Ore. – The moment usually calls for Stephen Curry to take the shot. Do we really need to explain the reasons?Curry is the best NBA shooter ever. The Warriors held only a one-point lead in the final minute of overtime. And through shooting slumps and streaks, Curry thrives in those moments.With Curry encountering double teams, though, he found it better to pass to an open teammate. Even if the ball went to …
AirlineRatings.com regularly check all 430 airlines on the site to ensure their safety and in flight product ratings are accurate and up to date. Over the past few weeks there have been some significant safety and in flight product rating changes which we highlight below:Virgin Australia: In flight product rating change from 5/7 to 6/7. This change in rating reflects the improvements across domestic economy class to include meals, snacks and non alcoholic beverages complimentary on every flight. You can read more about the change to in flight service on economy flights within Australia here.AirAsia X: Safety rating change from 4/7 to 6/7. AirAsia X, the long haul arm of AirAsia became, on April 11th 2015, the first of the AirAsia group to receive IOSA certification. Airlineratings.com’s safety rating system, explained in full here, places a large emphasis on airlines having IOSA (IATA Operational Safety Audit) certification and to see AirAsia embark on this accreditation process is a great win for the thousands of passengers that fly with this succesful carrier every day. AirlineRatings.com Editor In Chief, Geoffrey Thomas, states “The total accident rate for IOSA-registered carriers was more than three times better (1.09 vs. 3.32) than the rate for non-IOSA carriers over 2013/2014.”He continues, “Significant differences like this year after year proves that IOSA works and it is why we place so much emphasis on IOSA certification in our safety rating system.” Read: Our on board review of AirAsia XWe will continue to update the public as more divisions of AirAsia are certified with IOSA. VietJet Air: Safety rating change from 3/7 to 5/7.VietJet Air, Vietnam’s number one Low Cost Carrier, like AirAsia X, has also applied for and received their IOSA certification resulting in a jump in their safety rating. VietJet Air now has the same safety rating as national flag carrier Vietnam Airlines. Read: Our on board review of Vietjet Air. Questions or comments? Email us here
9 November 2015The African Securities Exchanges Association (ASEA) of stock exchange and brokerage professionals from 25 African countries, will hold its annual conference in Johannesburg from 15 to 17 November, with the theme of sustainability at its core.Hosted by Joburg’s stock exchange, the JSE, Africa Evermore: Growth for Sustainability is an opportunity to gauge and discuss the potential, growth, and stability of Africa’s capital markets.The theme of the conference falls in line with goals of the National Development Plan, which is intent on finding Africa’s place in the global narrative. It is also an opportunity to share skills and knowledge, with an eye on developing a capable and competitive South African stock market industry within the context of Africa and the world.“The conference is important as it features high-level discussions covering themes that are relevant to our capital markets and opportunities to network with leading industry players from across the continent,” said Oscar Onyema, the ASEA president and chief executive of the Nigerian Stock Exchange.The packed two-day programme, said Nicky Newton-King, the JSE chief executive, would provide delegates with an in-depth understanding of the strength resulting from the integration of Africa’s security exchanges. “Those who operate in the regulated market need to know that we are part of the global financial markets. We are already beginning to see this for example in East Africa, where they are driving significant regional connectivity.”One of the more significant topics to be discussed will be in-depth analysis of the Role of the Exchange as a Corporate Citizen, in which the upsurge of investment decisions driven by considerations of risk, impact and sustainability rather than just financial returns will be explored.The ASEA prides itself on the promotion and education of its members and stakeholders regarding the importance of socially responsible investments and the need to pay attention to environmental, social and governance issues.Additionally, delegates will have the opportunity to examine new trends in sovereign wealth fund investments. They will look into how this may determine the future and growth of Africa’s stock exchanges and brokerage industry.The conference played a large role in focusing attention on what was happening on African stock exchanges, said John Kamanga, the chief executive of the Malawi Stock Exchange. Kamanga will moderate some of these discussions.A number of ASEA’s member countries have already launched sovereign wealth funds, including Angola, Ghana, and Nigeria. It has been found that the funds invest surplus revenues and can act an effective fiscal stabilisation mechanism in volatile markets, while enabling governments to access liquid assets and channel investment into specific projects like infrastructure development.“The conference serves to confirm that we are open and ready to do business,” said Kamanga, adding that the gathering also had the inherent benefit of being able to network and interact with industry players from the continent, as well as international fund managers and stock exchange members where a transfer of skills and knowledge played a vital role.With the JSE being the continent’s largest exchange and a member of the World Federation of Exchanges, Newton-King agreed. “It is about finding ways to share knowledge and experiences so as to build depth and sophistication of African markets across the continent that will allow linkages to develop over time.”Onyema said that capital markets had been the key drivers of Africa’s economic transformation and continued to play a central role in the continent’s growth story.Source: African Press Organization
Share Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest By Loretta Sorensen Progressive Farmer Contributing EditorMost consider conservation practices to be a long-view payoff. Chris Hitzeman sees them as avenues to profitability.The South Dakota farmer uses soil-quality and soil-health programs as the foundation for his self-guided pheasant-hunting business.When Hitzeman purchased his 700-acre Charles Mix County farm in the early 2000s, he brought along two decades of corporate experience and the analytical skills of owning his own Minneapolis-based software business.He intended to move away from hunting pheasants on public land and develop his own private hunting location. Most of his land is made up of riparian areas, trees, sloughs and grasslands recently enrolled in public and private conservation, and habitat programs, creating ideal pheasant- or deer-hunting settings.Early in the process of identifying and evaluating his farm’s resources, Hitzeman recognized an opportunity to establish a “fair chase” pheasant-hunting business involving his land and a network of surrounding farms.What he’s developed during the past 16 years is U-Guide South Dakota Pheasant Hunting, a seven-week hunting experience that draws hunters from across the nation (www.uguidesdpheasants.com).“What I’ve learned is that hunters want that ‘typical’ South Dakota pheasant-hunting experience, where both birds and hunting locations are plentiful,” Hitzeman said. “I could see that, in order to bring hunters to my locations, I had to support production of as many naturally produced pheasants as possible.”Pheasants live out their lives within a home range of about a square mile (640 acres), requiring all habitat components (nesting cover, brood habitat, winter cover and food plots) to be in close proximity. Ideally, a minimum of 30 to 60 acres (about 5 to 10%) of this range should be nesting cover. Larger blocks of cover are preferable to narrow linear strips.Hitzeman’s challenge was to augment the need for habitat, food and shelter in an economical, sustainable manner that also contributed to the health of his farm’s ecosystem.“To begin with, I considered how productive each portion of land would be in terms of hunting, grain crops, seed crops, livestock, wind development, etc.,” Hitzeman said. “This is an age-old real estate principle, to find the highest and best use for every portion of land.”He understood production on every acre wasn’t an option, and long-term profitability would suffer if he didn’t build and maintain soil health. As a result, Hitzeman considered how conservation programs and practices fit with his pheasant-hunting business model.BUILD IT“Soil is our primary asset,” he said. “If we take care of it, it will take care of us. We can build resiliency by implementing soil-health principles but will destroy our land and ourselves if all we do is take from it.”He recognized that the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) and some Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) programs provide the necessary elements pheasants need to thrive.“In general, CRP acres give pheasants nesting habitat, meet some feeding needs and provide winter shelter,” Hitzeman said. “Around 2014, after completing a prescribed burn on some CRP acres, I realized I could reseed those acres with specific grass and native flowers designed to feed and support a large pheasant population.”With the help of his Soil Conservation District, NRCS and Pheasants Forever, Hitzeman identified grasses designed to provide high-standing winter and low-standing nesting and brooding cover for pheasants. Prescribed burns and herbicide application help suppress invasive grasses and noxious weeds.Pheasant chicks that hatch in June grow and mature rapidly through July and August, requiring massive quantities of insects. Hitzeman’s forage mix includes blooming plants, which naturally draw insects during those months. The flowering plants also provide habitat critical to the survival of pollinators.BIRD FEEDEight varieties of grass and eight native prairie flowers now flourish in the area — including white clover, Canadian milk vetch, alfalfa, Maximilian sunflower, black-eyed Susan, goldenrod, pale purple coneflower, red clover, purple prairie clover, big bluestem, little bluestem and switchgrass. Seeding rates vary on the different land segments.Hitzeman has also established 25 food plots across marginal land to help provide food and year-round shelter for pheasants, deer, songbirds and birds of prey. Grains in the food plots include corn and millet interseeded with hairy vetch and a variety of other cover-crop species, which serve as both an additional food source while contributing to soil microbiome activity.Spraying a low rate of glyphosate over the plots, also known as chemical mowing, helps set back cover crops until corn plants are established. Plot crop rotation also helps manage weeds.Additional conservation projects include planting 45,000 trees in 17 shelterbelts that are surrounded by 30-foot alfalfa/clover firebreaks. The shelterbelts are comprised of silver maples selected for their tall windbreak characteristics, plum bushes as a wildlife food supply and shelter, and eastern red cedars because of the effective winter shelter pheasants find around this tree species.A portion of Hitzeman’s acreage is enrolled in a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFW) permanent wetland easement. Restored wetlands provide water for wildlife and seasonal habitat for ducks, and preserve cattails where pheasants seek winter shelter.FAIR GAMEHitzeman’s self-guided, fair-chase hunting business won’t work just anywhere. However, the conservation practices woven into developing and managing his “pheasant farming” could provide many farmers with a skeleton plan to help diversify income and improve per-acre profit while building soil health and supporting the farm ecosystem.On his cropland acres, Hitzeman rotates winter wheat, corn and soybeans. Strip-harvested wheat, with cover crops sown into the stubble, leaves ample stubble — a winter shelter for pheasants. Any waste grain from cash crops is used by pheasants and provides desirable hunting conditions for pheasant hunters. Cash crops are cultivated with no-till practices, netting some $125 per acre.In refining how to integrate his conservation practices with his pheasant-hunting business, Hitzeman assesses his options and maximizes conservation benefits.Jim Ristau, South Dakota Corn director of sustainability, applauds the willingness to maximize soil quality and wildlife habitat rather than aiming for maximum crop production.“We need diverse landscape in our rural areas,” Ristau said. “The strategy Chris adopted addresses all five soil-health principles—maintaining soil armor, minimizing soil disturbance, maintaining plant diversity, keeping a live plant root in the ground and integrating livestock [wildlife] — which means it’s a healthy strategy for any of the landowners he works with.”Matt Morlock, South Dakota Pheasants Forever assistant director, said the state leads in pheasant harvest with some 1,000,000 roosters harvested annually. He sees efforts to bolster pheasant and other native wildlife (deer) populations as economic boosts for the state.Approximately 700 roosters (averaging $100 gross revenue per bird) are bagged on his land each year. About 40% of Hitzeman’s income is generated from his hunting business. Another 40% comes from farm program payments and the rest from cropland cash rent.“I believe the key exercise in identifying an alternative business model on the farm is to start by looking outside traditional markets like grain and livestock,” Hitzeman said. “Most of us think of farming as growing crops or raising crops. We need to expand our thinking and see ourselves as conservation farmers, pheasant farmers, precision conservationists and soil farmers.”(ES/AG)© Copyright 2019 DTN/The Progressive Farmer. All rights reserved.
A special court on Tuesday directed that advocate Sanjeev Punalekar, counsel for fringe right-wing outfit Sanatan Sanstha; and his aide, Vikram Bhave, be sent to judicial custody in connection with the murder of eminent rationalist Narendra Dabholkar.Mr. Punalekar and Mr. Bhave, who were first arrested by the CBI on May 26, were produced before court on Tuesday on expiry of their CBI custody.The court of additional sessions judge R.M. Pande denied the CBI’s plea seeking a further extension of the custody of the accused. It observed that the CBI did not make any fresh progress in the investigation when the accused were in custody.Mr. Punalekar and Mr. Bhave have been alleged by the investigating agency to have participated in the conspiracy to murder Dabholkar, in destruction of evidence and in aiding and abetting Sachin Andure and Sharad Kalaskar, named as the assailants of the late rationalist.Special Public Prosecutor Prakash Suryavanshi argued for a 14-day custodial extension, saying the CBI needed time to analySe the data retrieved from Mr. Punalekar’s laptop and mobile phone seized during his arrest.Mr. Suryavanshi submitted that Mr. Punalekar harboured one of the accused Sanstha members in the 2009 Madgaon blast in Goa. He said the CBI needed more time to probe how Mr. Bhave conducted the reconnaissance before Dabholkar’s murder and interrogate him to uncover details of the getaway motorbike used by the alleged two shooters.Arguing against the CBI’s plea, defence counsel Virendra Ichalkaranjikar said the CBI’s allegation against Mr. Punalekar of participating in the murder conspiracy was “not tenable.”“The CBI claims that Mr. Punalekar had advised alleged shooter Sahard Kalaskar in June 2018 to destroy the pistol used in a crime that occurred in 2013. This vague, ‘post-incident’ allegation does not hold water. Furthermore, despite seizing advocate Mr. Punalekar’s laptop and mobile on May 27, the CBI has made no progress to retrieve data,” he said.In September last, while seeking an extension of Kalaskar’s custody, the CBI told the court that in July 2018, the accused dismantled four country-made pistols and thrown them in the creeks of Greater Mumbai and Thane. It also suggested that one of the firearms could be the weapon used to kill Dabholkar.In his statement to the CBI last year, Kalaskar allegedly said that Mr. Punalekar, known for his defamatory statements against Dabholkar, had asked him to destroy the weapons.According to the CBI, Kalaskar further revealed that it was the Thane-based Mr. Bhave who planned the reconnaissance, pointed Dabholkar to the assailants and even planned the getaway route for the shooters after the crime.Besides the arrests of Andure, Kalaskar and Dr. Virendra Tawde – said to be the alleged mastermind of the murders of Dabholkar and veteran Communist leader Govind Pansare – the CBI has arrested Amol Kale, Amit Digvekar and Rajesh Bangera in connection with the conspiracy to kill the two rationalist-thinkers.Kale, Digvekar and Bangera, who were granted default bail in December last in the Dabholkar case, are presently incarcerated in a Bengaluru jail for their roles in the killing of activist-journalist Gauri Lankesh.
The magnitude of Spain’s opening 5-1 loss to Netherlands comes into sharper focus on Wednesday when the defending champions must fend off World Cup elimination against Chile, less than a week into the tournament.Spain and 2010 runner-up Netherlands were expected to advance from Group B, but plenty of pundits – including Brazilian great Pele – tipped Chile as a genuine contender to progress at the expense of one of the European powers.The Chileans opened with a 3-1 win over Australia, and a second straight victory by the South Americans almost would certainly knock Spain out of the competition.The Dutch play Australia, the lowest-ranked team in the tournament, in the first of Wednesday’s three matches. That is followed by Spain vs Chile and the Group A match between Croatia and Cameroon.The Change in SpainSpain coach Vicente del Bosque stuck with the core group of players who have helped deliver two European championships and a World Cup in a tremendous streak starting in 2008. But after the humiliating loss to the Netherlands, he has forecast changes. Spain needs at least a draw against Chile to remain in contention.There’s speculation that Cesc Fabregas could replace Diego Costa and Pedro Rodriguez could come in for David Silva. Captain and goalkeeper Iker Casillas’ spot is also under close scrutiny.”In life, there are solutions for everything,” Del Bosque said. “It’s still in our hands.”Chile hasn’t beaten Spain in 10 games.”A draw is not bad, but this group of players does not come with the idea to draw a game,” midfielder Marcelo Diaz said. “We came out with the idea of winning.”advertisementBig games by Arturo Vidal and Barcelona forward Alexis Sanchez are crucial to Chile’s chances. Vidal, the creative midfielder from Juventus, is recovering after knee surgery and played for an hour against Australia.
Reviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Apr 24 2019A new study suggests that Oncotype DX-guided treatment could reduce the cost for the first year of breast cancer care in the U.S. by about $50 million (about 2 percent of the overall costs in the first year). The study by Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center and National Cancer Institute researchers was published April 24, in JNCI.The landmark TAILORx (Trial Assigning IndividuaLized Options for Treatment) trial results suggested that use of the Oncotype DX® gene test can offer women valuable information about treatment options, potentially sparing 70 percent of women from needing chemotherapy if they are newly diagnosed with the most common subtype of breast cancer. The information only applied to women with early-stage breast cancer that is hormone positive (ER/PR+), HER2neu negative, and has not spread to the lymph nodes.The projected cost savings in the new study are based on two factors: about a 50 percent increased cost in gene testing assuming that it will be done for all newly diagnosed women, which would be offset by an approximately 8 percent expected drop in the overall cost of chemotherapy due to fewer women being recommended this form of treatment. Chemotherapy is considerably more expensive than gene testing, hence the 8 percent reduction in its cost is greater, dollar-wise, than the 50 percent increase in cost for gene testing.”Individual women’s decisions should not be about dollars and cents, but what is right for them based on consideration of the best evidence and personal preferences,” says Jeanne S. Mandelblatt, MD, MPH, professor of oncology and medicine at Georgetown Lombardi.Mandelblatt and her colleagues examined the monetary impact in the U.S. of providing care based on evidence from TAILORx. The researchers looked at statistics on gene testing and chemotherapy use in National Cancer Institute and Medicare databases, before and after the TAILORx trial results were announced in 2018. The periods during which costs accrue are usually grouped into three timeframes: initial costs (diagnosis and treatment), terminal costs (last year of life) and everything in between (continuing care costs). This study only estimated initial costs.The estimated individual Oncotype DX test costs in this analysis were about $3,400 and based on Medicare reimbursement rates. Many insurers, including Medicare, cover the cost for most women diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer. Another gene test that is used less often in the U.S., called MammaPrint®, has similar costs.Related StoriesSugary drinks linked to cancer finds studyHow cell-free DNA can be targeted to prevent spread of tumorsNew protein target for deadly ovarian cancerThe investigators estimated that, prior to 2018, the mean initial costs of healthcare nationwide for newly diagnosed women with breast cancer, which were fairly stable for a number of years, included two components: chemotherapy costs of $2.701 billion and Oncotype DX testing costs estimated to be $115 million, for a total healthcare cost of $2.816 billion in the first year after diagnosis. The researchers estimated that only 34.8 to 57.2 percent of women were receiving the Oncotype DX testing in this period as the clinical application of such tests was still uncertain.In 2018, the TAILORx findings showed no benefit from chemotherapy for women whose tumors had lower risks for recurrence based on Oncotype DX scores. For their modeling, the researchers projected that all women with scores of 0-25 (low to intermediate risk) would forgo chemotherapy starting in 2018, so those treatment costs would go down by 8 percent, saving $338 million in initial chemotherapy costs. The researchers also assumed 100 percent of women would get Oncotype DX testing, raising those costs by $116 million (from $115 to $231 million). The total initial costs for this period were therefore projected to be $2.766 billion.Comparing the two initial 12-month costs of care for the pre-2018 and 2018 and after periods, the researchers projected that the combined treatment and testing costs would decrease from $2.816 to $2.766 billion, for a net savings of about $50 million (1.8 percent decrease).”This study only answers the question about whether, in the first 12 months after diagnosis, costs of gene testing are likely to be offset by savings in avoided costs of chemotherapy – and the answer is yes. We did not estimate how the trial results could diffuse into medical practice, since those data will not be available for several years,” Mandelblatt says. “The gene tests are not perfect predictors of who will ultimately have a recurrence of breast cancer, so it will be important to model the long-term outcomes and costs from diagnosis to death.” Source:https://lombardi.georgetown.edu/news/Genetic-Testing-in-Women-Diagnosed-with-Breast-Cancer-Decreases-Cost-of-Care-Nationwide
Reviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Jun 29 2019Health care institutions and providers face mounting pressure to wring more value out of every dollar spent on caring for their patients.A new review shows that most efforts to decrease low-value care have based their measurement of success on how much they reduced the overall use of certain tests and treatments. Far fewer looked at whether these efforts actually ensured that patients got more appropriate care and avoided unintended negative consequences.The review, published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, looks at 117 different efforts aimed at reducing low-value care and how they measured the effects of these efforts.”Low-value” can mean many things, including care that doesn’t benefit patients and could even harm them, wastes limited health care resources or leads to unnecessary costs.Hundreds of studies over the past two decades have revealed many services that lack value for all patients, or just certain patients. Patients and clinicians now have easy-to-follow guidance on what those are, thanks to the Choosing Wisely campaign from the the American Board of Internal Medicine Foundation.The new review focuses on what happens when teams act on this evidence and guidance, and researchers try to study the effects.The bottom line? Those trying to reduce low-value care should take a bigger-picture view.The authors, led by health care researchers from the University of Michigan Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation, VA Ann Arbor Center for Clinical Management Research and the University of Toronto, performed the review at the request of AcademyHealth, a non-profit professional society focused on improving health and health care by moving researchers’ evidence into action. The study was funded by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute. A patient’s perspectiveRelated StoriesAMSBIO offers new, best-in-class CAR-T cell range for research and immunotherapyPersonalizing Nutritional Medicine With the Power of NMRSchwann cells capable of generating protective myelin over nerves finds researchNot only did most studies not look for this kind of ‘backfiring’ — very few involved a patient perspective. In all, only 8% asked patients about the impact that the change had on them — what researchers call a “patient-reported outcome.”The 16 studies still in progress were a little better at aiming to take a big-picture view than the published studies.Of these ongoing studies, 75% aim to measure a specific outcome of the effort, and 63% are looking for unintended consequences. And half include plans to measure patient-reported outcomes.The researchers also found that ongoing studies are much more likely to use methods that meet the ‘gold standard’ of research, including randomizing patients to a particular care group, or including a control group to compare with.Newer studies are also more likely to involve patients directly in efforts to reduce low-value care, mainly by educating them about whether a particular test or treatment is likely to benefit them.Says Saini, “By focusing on simple utilization, the vast majority of studies provide an incomplete picture of the impact of these often powerful and complex interventions. For example, we often do not know how interventions to reduce use of low-value care affect the patient-provider relationship or to what extent they unintentionally lead to fewer tests or prescriptions in patients who need them.”Saini is an associate professor of medicine at U-M and research scientist at the VA CCMR.Next stepsIn general, the team says, researchers and evaluators should work to incorporate more clinically meaningful and patient-centered measures into studies, to provide a more comprehensive understanding of the impact of these interventions.They call for more standardization for how health care providers evaluate their efforts to reduce low-value care.They also say more of these studies need to evaluate that the right services are being reduced in the right patients, that patient/provider relationships are assessed, and that downstream outcomes improve.Examples of interventions to reduce low-value care: Reducing use of low-value services is important, but in doing so, we need to also make sure we are assessing things that are clinically relevant, like whether appropriate care is being delivered to patients rather than only whether use of a given service is being reduced.”Jennifer Maratt, M.D., clinical lecturer in the U-M Department of Internal Medicine and the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System who led the study with Sameer Saini, M.D. and Eve Kerr, M.D. The Choosing Wisely campaign has dramatically increased the number of studies done to reduce low-value care, which is great. However, we found that the majority of these studies do not assess outcomes that are truly meaningful to patients.”Kerr, a professor at U-M and director of the VA CCMR More about the findingsThe researchers looked at 101 papers published between 2010 to 2016 about specific efforts to reduce low-value care. They also examined 16 studies that are still under way through ClinicalTrials.gov.In all, 68% of the already-published efforts focused on measuring and changing the use of a particular test or treatment, but only 41% measured an outcome — that is, what happened when they changed that use. About half tried to gauge whether a particular test or treatment was appropriate for patients — arguably the most clinically meaningful measure.But only one-third of these studies had looked for unintended consequences of their effort to wring low-value care out of their care environment.Such consequences – such as missing when an individual patient needs a particular treatment or test- can occasionally happen when an across-the-board cut in a particular medical service results in some patients not getting something that could have helped them specifically.For instance, an effort to reduce overuse of antibiotics in hospitalized patients could unintentionally lead to more of them ending up at the emergency department later if an infection flares up. Cost sharing and value-based purchasing Patient education and decision-making Quality indicators and reporting Physician performance incentives Utilization management Financial risk sharing/physician reimbursement Clinical decision support Provider education Provider feedback and peer reporting Source:Michigan Medicine – University of MichiganJournal reference:Maratt, J. et al. (2019) Measures Used to Assess the Impact of Interventions to Reduce Low-Value Care: a Systematic Review, Journal of General Internal Medicine. doi.org/10.1007/s11606-019-05069-5.
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said he hopes the recent scrutiny of US technology firms will lead to more transparency © 2018 AFP The head of a key US regulatory agency called Tuesday for Silicon Valley firms to provide more transparency about how they operate, raising the possibility of tougher regulations for technology firms. Explore further After Trump bashing, tech firms gird for congressional grilling This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. “We need to seriously think about whether the time has come for these companies to abide by new transparency obligations,” Federal Communications Commission chairman Ajit Pai said in a blog post a day ahead of congressional hearings with executives from Twitter and Facebook.Pai offered no specific proposals, but appeared to echo concerns raised by President Donald Trump, who claimed tech firms may be biased against conservatives.”Consumers interact with these digital platforms on a daily basis. We get our news from them. We interact with our family and friends on them,” Pai wrote.”But how do these companies make decisions about what we see and what we don’t? And who makes those decisions? We still don’t know.”The FCC chief repeated complaints made in recent months over the blocking or removal of content by conservative politicians and activists.Tech firms have contended their algorithms are not designed with political aims, and analysts have pointed out that many conservatives, including Trump himself, have a considerable online following.Pai said the FCC imposes “strict transparency requirements” on companies that operate broadband networks, but that the public has “virtually no insight” into tech firms’ business practices.”Are these tech giants running impartial digital platforms over which they don’t exercise editorial judgment when it comes to content?” he asked.”Or do they in fact decide what speech is allowed and what is not and discriminate based on ideology and/or political affiliation? And again, going back to the first point: where is the transparency?”The government “ shouldn’t regulate these entities like a water company,” Pai said, while maintaining that “it’s important to have a serious conversation about these issues… because these tech giants have come to have much greater influence over our economy and society.”Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey and Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg were set to appear at a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Wednesday of foreign influence operations on social media.Lawmakers were seeking a top executive from Google or its parent Alphabet, but it remained unclear if the search giant would be represented.Dorsey is due to testify at a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing on online “transparency and accountability.” Citation: Top US regulator calls for ‘transparency’ from tech giants (2018, September 4) retrieved 17 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-09-transparency-tech-giants.html