Labyrinth of bureaucracy, paperwork leaves retired Marine feeling lost

first_imgHealth | MilitaryLabyrinth of bureaucracy, paperwork leaves retired Marine feeling lostDecember 28, 2015 by Zachariah Hughes, KSKA Share:Scott Harrison standing outside the cabin he rents in Big Lake. It’s too small inside for him to fit many of his possessions, so he keeps more durable items like clothes and dry-goods outside. (Photo by Zachariah Hughes/KSKA)The Department of Veterans Affairs in Alaska has made enormous strides the last few years connecting veterans with benefits and health care. But serious problems remain. Yesterday we brought you the first part of a story about Scott Harrison, a retired Marine who fell into poverty while stranded between operations.One hurdle for Harrison is not being able to get a copy of his service treatment record. In this second part of his story, we examine where exactly is his record.To find Harrison’s service record, I sat down with Forest E. Powell III, the perpetually cheerful program manager for the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs.That name can be confusing — though it has ‘VA’ in the title, DMVA is not part of the federal Department of Veterans Affairs. Instead, Powell and other members of DMVA’s small staff work for the state. They’re a kind of liaison between veterans living in Alaska and the national VA. As a result, they are masterful explainers when it comes to breaking down a system that might generously be described as Byzantine.“A veteran has to have a service-connected disability to be eligible for VA benefits,” Powell said, explaining start point in the claims process.If Harrison is going to prove that his injuries and disability are connected to his time in service, the Veterans Benefits Administration, the section of the VA handling benefits, needs to comb through his service treatment record. This presents problems given his time as a Marine in the 80s.“There’s a group that did not serve during the war period,” Powell said, “that was right after Vietnam and just before the Gulf War. I call it the doughnut hole.”He calls it that because the consistency in record-keeping at the time varied and now veterans are often confronted with gaps in what can look like a complete service record.After weeks of asking VA officials what could have happened to Harrison’s service record, I was finally able to verify that it does exist. The VA in Alaska has had it since at least the mid-90s.It took almost a month of looking to confirm the existence of Harrison’s service record. The request was routed through an office in Portland, Oregon. In the end, I didn’t see Harrison’s record, but was authorized to discuss it with Chad Pomelow, who manages the Veteran Service Center, part of the VBA within the Anchorage VA office.“The bigger challenge is when we can’t track down records,” Pomelow explained of difficulties facing VBA guiding veterans through the claims process.In this case, however, the record was tracked down as part of an application Harrison filed for a service-connected injury in 1996. According to the summary reportPomelow read to me, doctors didn’t find compelling evidence his back injury was service-related.“I will say that if they didn’t go get documentation of an injury then we’re not gonna have evidence of it,” Pomelow added.The caveat is an important one because if veterans suspect there are holes in their record, they have options for recourse through an appeals process. They might be able to collect “buddy statements” or provide non-official evidence like journal entries from the time. Recognizing that service treatment records are not perfect documents, the VA has expanded what doctors will look at to substantiate or deny claims. But those appeal strategies depend on knowing what exactly is in the official service treatment record.Harrison said he doesn’t remember ever seeing the denial the VA issued on his claim. He believes it would have been an essential piece of information to have.“I’ve definitely made enough noise about it; I’ve definitely called all over about it,” he said.When asked about who he speaks with at the VA about navigating the claims process, he rattled off a list: “I’ve talked with social workers, I’ve talked with doctors, and I’ve talked with members of the primary care team. My understanding is it has been voiced up to the highest levels of the VA here.”Harrison said he has spent an enormous amount of time trying to locate his record, and has never seen or held a copy of it.He’s not alone. The scale of this problem in Alaska depends on who you talk to. Steve Harrison (no relation to Scott) is chairman of the Veteran’s Party of Alaska, a political group. It took him 11 years to establish his own benefits.According to Steve, that’s not uncommon. Among his daily interactions with veterans over Facebook pages and through other websites, he estimates about 95 percent have had a problem applying for benefits. The most frequent issue cited is that a service record can’t be found.“That’s one of their favorite excuses — is to lie straight to the veteran’s face saying that they lost them, and that’s not true,” Steve said by phone. “So we wind up suffering and dying needlessly.”Steve Harrison’s take is an extreme. On the other side are Veteran Service Officers, people employed by groups like Veterans of Foreign Wars to act as intermediaries between a claim-seeking veteran and the VA. Service officer Gerry Glover said most of the vets he works with get closure on the claims they file in a reasonable amount of time.“We have a pretty high success rate,” Glover said in a phone interview.When evidence for a claim exists, the Anchorage VSOs are generally able to get him or her connected to services. When they can’t establish a connection, Glover said, they can at least explain the rationale behind the denial.This is because VSOs like Glover know what they’re doing; they know the name of forms, the right office to call, as well as the VA jargon. Glover sees capable bureaucrats getting “several thousand” Alaska vets through the claims process on the one hand, and on the other, a frustrated segment of veterans who have a poor understanding of a complicated system.Asked for a more specific count of how many veterans in Alaska have successfully worked with VSOs, Glover estimated more than 10,000 had a relationship with his office.The VA has to be rigorous scrutinizing benefit claims because every tax dollar they spend is under a microscope. And because their job is to carefully scrutinize each claim that’s made, VA staff can’t serve as impartial advocates for an individual veteran’s case. That is where the VSOs come in. Glover explained that if you’re not navigating benefit claims every single day, it can seem like an “unmanageably complex” system.“It’s very complicated, there are many different diseases or conditions or injuries,” Glover said. “So it’s not a very simple process and it’d be hard to simplify that.”Glover feels the Anchorage VA office doesn’t have enough VSOs. It can be a long wait getting a benefit claim like Scott Harrison’s seen all the way through, even with a knowledgeable advocate. In 2013, the average time to complete a disability claim was 387 days.Scott Harrison said he’ll apply again for benefits now that he knows his treatment record exists. But the timeline and complexity don’t leave him feeling optimistic. He quit smoking a month ago, but otherwise his health has gotten worse, and he says he doesn’t have much hope things will get better.Share this story:last_img read more

Health-care expenses concern Canadian investors: report

first_img Keywords Health insurance,  Financial planning Share this article and your comments with peers on social media Related news Rising costs weigh on some Canadians during Covid-19: poll Fiona Collie “Everyone focuses solely on the retirement side of the business but obviously health-care needs are becoming very, very important,” says John Cucchiella, senior vice president, head of retail, Dundee Goodman. As such, advisors need to start thinking more about the insurance and overall health-care needs of their clients. The survey also found that clients tend to appreciate firms that offer proprietary products despite being somewhat skeptical of such investments because of the potential benefits to the company. When offering these products therefore, advisors need to be prepared to provide clients with information to read before making a decision about the investment, according to Cucchiella. Survey results also show that half of respondents chose their investment advisor or portfolio manager based on a recommendation from friends or family, 39% were referred by a colleague while 11% found their advisor through business. As well, those individuals with independent non-bank firms tended to be more confident in their advisors than those working with bank-owned firms. The Strategic Counsel, a market research firm in Toronto, conducted 311 surveys on behalf of Dundee Goodman of individuals with $100,000 or more in investible assets between September 20th and 27th 2013. Dundee Goodman is a division of Dundee Securities Ltd. center_img Women may neglect financial well-being amid household juggling act: poll Research finds retirees curb spending to preserve assets Canadians view health-care expenses as an important part of their overall investment plan, according to a study released by Toronto-based Dundee Goodman Private Wealth on Wednesday, and advisors need to start doing the same. Survey results show that 46% of respondents listed health care as the second most pressing priority for their investment planning. More specifically, 50% of those participants aged 50 to 59 said it was their second biggest concern after retirement generally and 54% of individuals between 60 and 69 years of age listed it as a concern. Furthermore, 34% of participants under 50 years of age listed health care as important investment objective while 41% of individuals with investible assets of a million dollars or more felt the same. Facebook LinkedIn Twitterlast_img read more

How seg funds weathered last year

first_img The right balance was key for seg funds Share this article and your comments with peers on social media Catherine Harris Seg funds positioned to ride out the storm Facebook LinkedIn Twitter Long-term AUM in the three biggest families – London Life Insurance Co. of London, Ont., Manufacturers Life Insurance Co. (a.k.a. Manulife) and Quebec City-based Industrial Alliance Insurance and Financial Services Inc. (IA) – each dropped by almost $5 billion last year, leaving them at $34.6 billion, $31.4 billion and $20.8 billion, respectively. (All firms mentioned herein are based in Toronto unless otherwise noted.)Table: Seg fund family performance, last three yearsThese drops in AUM were primarily market-driven as opposed to reflecting large redemption volumes or weak sales.Volatility and turmoil present challenges, but they can be managed. The key is to minimize downside risk in order to preserve capital and take advantage of the investment opportunities that emerge. That’s what the top-performing families did in 2018.Primerica Life Insurance Co. of Canada had 96.6% of its long-term AUM in funds ranked in the top two quartiles as of Dec. 31, 2018. This small family uses strip bonds rather than traditional insurance contracts to meet maturity guarantees and, thus, usually holds more fixed-income vs equities than its peers. That allocation minimized the decline in returns that came with the end-of-year bear market for equities.La Capitale Insurance and Financial Services of Quebec City ranked second, with 81.1% of AUM in the top two quartiles, and Sun Life Financial Inc. third, with 74.9%. Both companies emphasize capital preservation.La Capitale picks mutual funds that it considers best in terms of long-term performance, risk-adjusted returns and low volatility, and offers them with a death benefit and no maturity guarantee.Sun Life’s seg fund philosophy is: first, protect capital; second, grow AUM cautiously in order to minimize downside risk; and third, execute. The company has a huge global investment platform to help it find investment opportunities.Achieving high performance numbers is harder for big seg fund families because they offer a wide variety of fund styles. Still, the results for London Life were very good, at 65.6% of its long-term AUM held in above-average performing funds at yearend.Winnipeg-based Great-West Life Assurance Co.’s family, with $7.9 billion in long-term AUM, also did well, at 69.6% of AUM ranked in the top two quartiles. Great-West Life, London Life and Canada Life Assurance Co. are owned by Great-West Lifeco Inc. of Winnipeg. (See story on page 14.) All three firms use portfolio managers from the same in-house investment-management company, GLC Asset Management Group Ltd., but the three families have different mixes of funds. Canada Life’s family lagged its siblings in 2018, although at 55.3%, it still had good results.The other large family is Manulife’s. The firm also had more than 50% of its AUM in the top two quartiles – barely.Winnipeg-based Investors Group Inc. and Desjardins Financial Security also had more than 50% of AUM ranked in the top two quartiles, but the rest of the families were below that threshold. Empire Life Insurance Co. of Kingston, Ont., was at the bottom, but still had 30% of AUM in the top two quartiles.Here’s a look at the seg-fund families’ performance in 2018:> Primerica Life Insurance Co. of Canada. President Jeff Dumanski accepts that the family’s performance will swing widely. Last year was excellent, but the family had only 27.6% of AUM in above-average performing funds in 2017, and just 7.3% in 2016. The funds do well when fixed-income has better returns than equities because of the amount of bonds with near-term maturity dates that the funds must hold. But that doesn’t mean they ignore equities. Stock selection is important and, Dumanski says, it helped last year.> La Capitale Insurance and Financial Services. This company is unique because it doesn’t offer maturity guarantees. Joe Tari, regional vice president of sales for Ontario and the Western Region, explains that while clients aren’t concerned about maturity guarantees, they do want to get at least the money they invested back upon death. Absence of maturity guarantees also enables the company to charge lower fees.The fund lineup is straightforward. “We keep it simple by offering a limited number of funds,” says Michel Lafrance, vice president, product development, individual insurance and financial services. He notes that the firm doesn’t offer highly specialized funds because those funds tend to be volatile.> Sun Life Financial Inc. “We look for good companies with long-term growth prospects and attractive valuations,” says Sadiq Adatia, chief investment officer (CIO) at Sun Life Global Investments (Canada) Inc. He notes that the firm’s flagship seg funds can invest in derivatives “to mitigate downside risk or generate incremental returns in sideways markets.” That was helpful in 2018.Sun Life’s seg funds also had excess cash from selling equities when prices were high last year. That cash will be redeployed, Adatia says, “as markets settle a little more.” There’s still too much uncertainty to go on a buying spree, he adds.The first quarter will be the most important of the year, says Adatia: “We’ll get some resolution of the U.S./China trade war and Brexit, and there’ll be more discussion on what the Fed and the Bank of Canada will do.” He anticipates continued volatility in the markets, which could mean returns for this year as a whole may be similar to what’s happened so far in 2019.> Canada Life Assurance Co., Great-West Life Assurance Co. and London Life Insurance Co. “There was a complete reversal in 2018 from growth- and momentum-driven markets to a sell-off and emphasis on defensive and quality stocks,” says Brent MacLellan, vice president, portfolio construction and analysis, for all three firms.This shift benefited asset-allocation and balanced funds in the three families – particularly those of Great-West Life and London Life. Canada Life holds more of its AUM in pure equity funds and thus did not fare as well, although more than 50% of its AUM was in outperforming funds.Of the three families, Great-West Life’s has had the best and most consistent performance over the past six years. MacLellan puts that down to a more diversified lineup. Both London Life and Canada Life have large funds, the performance of which can significantly affect the families’ performance.MacLellan foresees volatility picking up in 2019, which will mean more buying opportunities. “It’s hard to find quality stocks at attractive prices in bull markets,” he says, “so this bodes well for the three seg-fund platforms.”> Manulife This family has large funds, the fortunes of which tend to have a significant impact on its investment performance, says Brent Wilson, director, investment research and analysis, investment management services. In 2018, the impact was negative.Most versions of four of the six biggest funds ranked in the third or fourth quartile last year – including Manulife Monthly High Income Fund, which had $4.4 billion in AUM on Dec. 31, 2018 (13.9% of the family’s long-term AUM). Wilson isn’t worried about that fund, however, pointing out that it was overweighted in equities compared with its peers in a year in which stock prices plunged at yearend.But even with the relatively weak performance of these big funds, the family still had slightly more than 50% of its AUM in funds with above-average performance. One factor was an underweighting in energy, thereby missing the full impact of the sharp drop in oil prices in the fourth quarter of 2018. Manulife’s portfolio managers, who tend to look for high-quality companies with attractive valuations, also didn’t hold large positions in the FAANGs (Facebook Inc., Apple Inc., Inc., Netflix Inc. and Alphabet Inc. [a.k.a. Google]) and so weren’t hurt as those stocks plummeted at yearend.Like Adatia and MacLellan, Wilson anticipates continued volatility in 2019, which will provide buying opportunities.> Industrial Alliance Insurance and Financial Services Inc. This family didn’t fare well, with just 40.2% of AUM held in above-average performing funds. As was the case with Manulife, IA’s performance was affected by a number of large funds slipping below average, says Pierre Payeur, director of fund management. These included IA Bond Fund ($2.8 billion in AUM as of Dec. 31) and IA Diversified ($2.2 billion). Together, the three funds account for 23.9% of the family’s long-term AUM.Payeur notes that IA Bond Fund ranked just third-quartile, with returns for its six versions averaging -1.12% compared with an average return for all Canadian fixed-income funds of -0.89%. He attributes that underperformance to factors such as not getting the best duration at various points during the year.Reasons for IA Diversified Fund’s underperformance include an overweighting in equities, securities selection within equities and some currency hedging that didn’t work out as hoped. Payeur notes that the fund’s portfolio managers bought equities too early, when prices were dropping at the end of the year: “We could have waited a few more weeks.” But those purchases already are enhancing returns in 2019.> Empire Life Insurance Co. The family’s global funds did well, but the Canadian funds weren’t as strong, says Ian Hardacre, CIO. Empire’s Canadian equity funds were overweighted in energy, a sector affected negatively by recent drops in oil prices. In addition, the larger Canadian mandates have concentrated portfolios of 40 to 45 stocks and, for the first time in many years, had no cash buffer. He notes that the stocks in these funds rebounded nicely into mid-February.Hardacre describes the company’s investment style as “value but not deep value.” Portfolio managers look for high-quality stocks at attractive prices and usually hold for an extended period. Three small segregated fund families led investment performance in 2018, a year in which most stock prices finished lower than at the start of the year. As for bond yields, they were relatively flat for the year despite a fourth-quarter increase, as increases in the U.S. Federal Reserve Board’s overnight rate were priced in.That meant negative returns for most equity, balanced, portfolio and asset-allocation funds and even some fixed-income funds. For many seg fund families, this resulted in lower assets under management (AUM) as of Dec. 31, 2018, compared with the year previous. Seg funds targeted Business and financial report with laptop Accounting economic nonwarit/123RF Related news Keywords Segregated fundsDocuments Table: Seg fund family performance, last three years () last_img read more

Government investment in mining exploration will boost regions and create jobs

first_imgGovernment investment in mining exploration will boost regions and create jobs The Federal Government’s commitment to continue the Junior Mineral Exploration Incentive with funding of $100 million over four years will deliver lasting economic benefits for Australia’s regions and create more jobs.Exploration activity is essential to the future success of Australia’s mining industry and sustaining the economic benefits it delivers for all Australians.Mining exploration is the foundation of Australia’s mining industry and its ability to deliver export and tax revenue, jobs and royalties.Mining generates $270 billion in export revenue, directly and indirectly supports 1.1 million jobs and contributes $39 billion in royalties and taxes to Australian governments. Ongoing government support to attract greater investment in early-stage greenfield exploration programs is vital to the industry’s future success.The Junior Mineral Exploration Incentive along with the government’s recent commitment to continue funding Geoscience Australia’s highly successful Exploring for the Future program are key steps to ensuring Australia not only improves its exploration performance, but remains competitive as an investment destination.Initiatives like this provide further opportunities for regional investment and provide jobs and training opportunities in remote areas in Australia, including the Northern Territory.Coupled with yesterday’s Northern Territory Government’s budget confirmation for the funding extension of Resourcing the Territory, it will further stimulate exploration in some of the most underexplored landscape in the country.The Territory mining sector already represents nearly 28 per cent of gross state product and is recognised as the corner stone to lead the NT economy towards recovery.Funding for the JMEI also provides a boost to Victorian explorers looking for the next big gold, copper and mineral sands discoveries.Victoria has as much gold left in the ground as has been extracted since the gold rush. Support for geoscience to better understand Victoria’s geology increases the chance Victoria can develop the industry to support regional jobs. /Public Release. This material comes from the originating organization and may be of a point-in-time nature, edited for clarity, style and length. View in full here. Why?Well, unlike many news organisations, we have no sponsors, no corporate or ideological interests. We don’t put up a paywall – we believe in free access to information of public interest. Media ownership in Australia is one of the most concentrated in the world (Learn more). Since the trend of consolidation is and has historically been upward, fewer and fewer individuals or organizations control increasing shares of the mass media in our country. According to independent assessment, about 98% of the media sector is held by three conglomerates. This tendency is not only totally unacceptable, but also to a degree frightening). Learn more hereWe endeavour to provide the community with real-time access to true unfiltered news firsthand from primary sources. It is a bumpy road with all sorties of difficulties. We can only achieve this goal together. Our website is open to any citizen journalists and organizations who want to contribute, publish high-quality insights or send media releases to improve public access to impartial information. You and we have the right to know, learn, read, hear what and how we deem appropriate.Your support is greatly appreciated. All donations are kept completely private and confidential.Thank you in advance!Tags:Australia, Australian, Australian Government, council, Economy, exploration, Export, Federal, federal government, future, Government, industry, Investment, Minerals Council of Australia, mining, Northern Territory, revenue, Victorialast_img read more

Tough reforms to strengthen standards in driver training

first_imgTough reforms to strengthen standards in driver training A suite of reforms has been unveiled by the Marshall Liberal Government to address longstanding issues of corruption and misconduct by some within the driver training industry.Key industry bodies representing the driver trainer industry will soon be given an opportunity to review a draft Bill aimed at better protecting our young learner drivers and stamping out those within the industry who are taking advantage of the current system, before it is presented to parliament.The industry bodies invited to provide feedback will include the RAA, the Professional Driver Trainers Association and the Australian Driver Trainers Association.Members of the industry will also shortly receive a bulletin outlining the key aspects of the reform package contained in the draft Bill.The reforms, including mandatory cameras and GPS in all cars, and a mandatory code of practice, will strengthen standards to gain accreditation to enter the driver training industry and for the conduct of instructors and examiners as they undertake their work.Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Corey Wingard, said the sweeping changes come after three rounds of consultation on how best to improve standards in the driver training industry and stamp out corruption and inappropriate behaviour.“The Marshall Liberal Government has already responded to alarming reports of driving instructors and examiners accepting bribes, engaging in inappropriate behaviour with minors and misusing their accreditation,” Minister Wingard said.“Instructors and examiners now need to present a current working with children check as part of the accreditation application process, and with these reforms there will be cameras and GPS in all driver training vehicles.“These new measures will give greater confidence to all road users that those assessing novice drivers for a car licence are upholding the highest of standards, and will help protect the safety of young and novice drivers.“It’s vital for road safety that everyone who gets their drivers licence has gone through a rigorous and safe process.”Reforms to be implemented include:Mandatory cameras and GPS in all driver training vehiclesMandatory code of practiceHigher standards to enter the driver training industryAbility for the Registrar of Motor Vehicles to issue sanctions such as suspension and cancellation of accreditation or fines for unacceptable or inappropriate behaviourMandatory training material to be used to train learner drivers.Following successful passage through Parliament, it is expected the reform package will start to be implemented in late 2022. /Public News. This material comes from the originating organization and may be of a point-in-time nature, edited for clarity, style and length. Why?Well, unlike many news organisations, we have no sponsors, no corporate or ideological interests. We don’t put up a paywall – we believe in free access to information of public interest. Media ownership in Australia is one of the most concentrated in the world (Learn more). Since the trend of consolidation is and has historically been upward, fewer and fewer individuals or organizations control increasing shares of the mass media in our country. According to independent assessment, about 98% of the media sector is held by three conglomerates. This tendency is not only totally unacceptable, but also to a degree frightening). Learn more hereWe endeavour to provide the community with real-time access to true unfiltered news firsthand from primary sources. It is a bumpy road with all sorties of difficulties. We can only achieve this goal together. Our website is open to any citizen journalists and organizations who want to contribute, publish high-quality insights or send media releases to improve public access to impartial information. You and we have the right to know, learn, read, hear what and how we deem appropriate.Your support is greatly appreciated. All donations are kept completely private and confidential.Thank you in advance!Tags:AusPol, Australia, Australian, children, code of practice, corruption, Government, GPS, industry, infrastructure, licence, Minister, parliament, reform, road safety, SA Government, sanctions, South Australia, Transportlast_img read more

Public dialogue on whole genome sequencing for newborn screening

first_imgPublic dialogue on whole genome sequencing for newborn screening One hundred and thirty members of the public from around the UK have taken part in a dialogue about the implications for the NHS and society of using whole genome sequencing for newborn screening.The dialogue was commissioned by Genomics England and the UK National Screening Committee, co-funded and supported by UKRI’s Sciencewise programme.Come and hear what the dialogue has told us about the attitudes, aspirations and concerns of the public about genomics and newborn screening.What are the values and principles that inform these views? How do we trade off potential harms with potential benefits for the child, the parents, the wider family, the NHS and society more broadly? What might a newborn screening programme using genomics look like? What safeguards and information are needed?Register to attend the free online event, which will be from 10am to midday on 8 July. /Public Release. This material comes from the originating organization and may be of a point-in-time nature, edited for clarity, style and length. View in full here. Why?Well, unlike many news organisations, we have no sponsors, no corporate or ideological interests. We don’t put up a paywall – we believe in free access to information of public interest. Media ownership in Australia is one of the most concentrated in the world (Learn more). Since the trend of consolidation is and has historically been upward, fewer and fewer individuals or organizations control increasing shares of the mass media in our country. According to independent assessment, about 98% of the media sector is held by three conglomerates. This tendency is not only totally unacceptable, but also to a degree frightening). Learn more hereWe endeavour to provide the community with real-time access to true unfiltered news firsthand from primary sources. It is a bumpy road with all sorties of difficulties. We can only achieve this goal together. Our website is open to any citizen journalists and organizations who want to contribute, publish high-quality insights or send media releases to improve public access to impartial information. You and we have the right to know, learn, read, hear what and how we deem appropriate.Your support is greatly appreciated. All donations are kept completely private and confidential.Thank you in advance!Tags:dialogue, Family, genome, genome sequencing, genomics, Government, Internet, online, screening, Society, trade, UK, UK Governmentlast_img read more

CU-Boulder student life: Criminology Buffs

first_imgShare Share via TwitterShare via FacebookShare via LinkedInShare via E-mail Categories:AcademicsCampus Community Criminology students at CU-Boulder had the opportunity to find out what life is like on the other side of the bars when they toured the prison complex at Cañon City, Colorado.Three tours held during the fall semester took 59 students to the Territorial Correctional Facility, Colorado State Penitentiary, and Arrowhead Correctional Center to learn about the criminal justice system, prison facilities, and inmates.For prelaw senior Sarah Colburn, who wants to be a prosecuting attorney, the experience gave her a peek behind the curtain on what happens after someone is sentenced and what effect the prison system has on inmates.“You go in thinking that if they’re in prison they must be really bad people,” she said. “Many are, but some of them came from poor life situations and had made mistakes. Does punishment help? What is the most effective rehabilitation other than just punishment? Knowing what sentencing works for different people would help me in the future when I’m a prosecutor deciding what sentence to ask the judge.”The tours were arranged by Associate Professor Hillary Potter, who teaches criminology courses in the sociology program. She recently organized a new interdisciplinary student group called Criminology Buffs for students interested in pursuing a career in some facet of criminology or criminal justice, such as public safety, law, or crime scene investigation.“The goal of the tours is for students to learn what they cannot learn from a textbook,” said Potter. “To see what they cannot see in a documentary video. Seeing with their own eyes teaches them much more than they can learn just in a classroom setting.”On the tours, students saw cell blocks, the exercise yard, and the various prison work programs, which included training dogs and horses, making license plates and furniture, and agricultural work on the fish farms, dairies, and vineyards. They also had the opportunity to meet some of the inmates and hear what life in prison is like, their daily routines, and future plans.Students also had the option of going into the execution chamber. Being in the room and seeing up close the gurney where inmates could be put to death by lethal injection was a powerful experience for the students.“I tried to stay as far away from the gurney as possible,” said Colburn. “I’m anti-capital punishment and going in there underlines that reasoning for me.”Regardless of whether students plan to pursue careers in criminal justice, Potter hopes the tours will open their eyes to a world they didn’t expect.“The fact is, nearly all inmates are released back into society,” said Potter. “When students see the living conditions and the setup in prison and learn what rehabilitative programs are available for inmates to re-enter society, they will understand how we can better serve individuals who end up in prison, especially since they are going to be released into our society again.”center_img Published: Dec. 21, 2012 last_img read more

Coordinated development could help wind farms be better neighbors

first_imgCategories:EnvironmentNews Headlines Share Share via TwitterShare via FacebookShare via LinkedInShare via E-mail Published: Nov. 26, 2018 • By Trent Knoss center_img As onshore and offshore wind energy farms have proliferated globally in recent years, new research led by CU Boulder highlights a previously underexplored consequence: a wake effect from upwind wind farms that can reduce the energy production of their downwind neighbors.The study, undertaken in collaboration with the University of Denver (DU) and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), combines legal and economic analysis with atmospheric modeling to demonstrate that wake effects—which occur when groups of turbines reduce wind speed for up to several miles behind them—are measurable and predictable, yet remain largely unaccounted for in current U.S. property law.The research appears today in the journal Nature Energy.“The findings highlight the need for coordinated development and awareness of the big picture in order to maximize wind energy generation nationwide,” said Julie Lundquist, lead author of the study and an associate professor in CU Boulder’s Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences (ATOC).Wind energy developers seek out sites with reliable wind resources as well as convenient access to electrical transmission lines, leading to dense turbine deployment in choice areas with little coordination between competitors. Nearly 90 percent of U.S. wind farms are located within 25 miles of another wind farm—and often much closer.Yet much like a homeowner whose once-unimpeded views are blocked by new construction, the study shows that existing wind farms stand to lose valuable energy production if they suddenly find themselves downwind of a new neighbor and its wind- and energy-reducing wake.Using publicly-available data on monthly energy generation and dominant wind direction, the researchers modeled the wake effect on a pair of West Texas wind farms, using a third as a control. They found that wind speed reductions due to the establishment of the upwind farm reduced generation at the now-downwind farm by 5 percent from 2011-2015, an estimated revenue loss of around $3.7 million.“Just as upstream water users can knowingly or unknowingly impose additional costs downstream, the same effect is in play here,” said Daniel Kaffine, a co-author of the study and a professor in CU Boulder’s Department of Economics. “We had a general sense of this interaction before and wanted to explore it further using a mix of social science and atmospheric data.”Kaffine and Lundquist, both fellows in the Renewable and Sustainable Energy Institute (RASEI), noted that Texas made for a good case study because of its current and future stake in wind energy development, as well as historical parallels concerning usage rights for the state’s oil and gas resources. Over a century ago, oil and gas law recognized the “rule of capture,” which allows a landowner to capture a neighbor’s oil resources by sucking them from an adjacent well.  This resulted in poor well-field recoveries and waste, so states intervened to regulate production through well-spacing, pooling and other coordination measures. Similarly, states have developed water law regimes that protect rights for prior users. But current U.S. property law contains no such provisions for wind energy. “It took oil and gas and water law decades to create these legal regimes,”said K.K. DuVivier, a co-author of the study and a professor at DU’s Sturm College of Law. “It appears that wind energy has not yet reached a similar stage of maturity. I hope this research will help raise awareness about the extent of the waking problem and educate those seeking a legal remedy.”Turbine wakes have been observed to extend up to 25 miles, potentially spanning multiple state and county jurisdictions and complicating matters even further.“In the immediate future, some business incentives might change,” Kaffine said. “Energy firms might put more emphasis on securing leases upwind to ensure they have enough of a buffer.”But while legal guidance may lag behind, Lundquist emphasized that the team’s sophisticated atmospheric science simulations show the wake effect is a highly predictable atmospheric phenomenon that can be modeled and planned for in light of the new data. “It’s encouraging that the wake effects seen in the economic analysis are captured by the atmospheric simulations,” said Jessica Tomaszewski, a graduate student in ATOC who co-authored the new study.“The strongest wakes occur at night, when the atmosphere is stable and wind speeds and directions meet specific criteria,” said Lundquist. “Out of the month of wakes simulated, only 28 hours, or less than 4 percent of the time, had wakes in excess of 20 percent of the downwind farm’s capacity, suggesting this episodic issue can be predicted and managed.”“Owners and grid managers can use this information to get ahead of the issue. New research at NREL in manipulating wakes might be helpful,” said Tomaszewski. “Ultimately, however, better coordination will be necessary to maximize the public benefits of wind energy.”Taking the wake effect into account will be especially crucial for the large number of offshore wind farms currently in development off the U.S. east coast, Lundquist added.“Offshore wind farms are important, but they are expensive to build and mistakes will be equally expensive,” she said.“This project explores the links among economic, legal, and social issues and the geophysical processes in wind energy production,” said Tom Baerwald, program director for the National Science Foundation’s Dynamics of Coupled Natural and Human Systems program, which funded the research. “These findings advance our understanding of these interactions, and provide guidance for successful development of renewal energy for the future.”The researchers hope to expand their efforts to measure wind farm wake effects by incorporating aircraft measurements as well as capturing data on a more frequent timescale from other sites around the country.The National Science Foundation (NSF) provided additional funding via a Graduate Research Fellowship. NREL and the U.S. Department of Energy’s Wind Energy Technologies Office provided additional funding.last_img read more

FDA Approves New Therapy for Dravet Syndrome

first_img Read Article Menopause to become the next game-changer in global femtech solutions industry by 2025 Related Posts Fintepla labelling includes a boxed warning stating the drug is associated with valvular heart disease (VHD) and pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH)The US Food and Drug Administration approved Fintepla (fenfluramine), a Schedule IV controlled substance, for the treatment of seizures associated with Dravet syndrome in patients age 2 and older. Dravet syndrome is a life-threatening, rare and chronic form of epilepsy. It is often characterized by severe and unrelenting seizures despite medical treatment.“Dravet syndrome is a debilitating disease that takes a tremendous toll on both patients and their families,” said Billy Dunn, MD, Director of the Office of Neuroscience in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “Fintepla offers an additional effective treatment option for the treatment of seizures associated with Dravet syndrome. The FDA will continue to work with companies on drug development for Dravet syndrome and other types of epilepsy.”The effectiveness of Fintepla for the treatment of seizures associated with Dravet syndrome was demonstrated in two clinical studies in 202 subjects between ages 2 and 18. The studies measured the change from baseline in the frequency of convulsive seizures. In both studies, subjects treated with Fintepla had significantly greater reductions in the frequency of convulsive seizures during the trials than subjects who received placebo (inactive treatment). These reductions were seen within 3-4 weeks and remained generally consistent over the 14- to 15-week treatment periods.Fintepla labelling includes a boxed warning stating the drug is associated with valvular heart disease (VHD) and pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH). Because of these risks, patients must have cardiac monitoring using echocardiograms performed before treatment, every six months during treatment, and once three to six months after treatment is discontinued. If the echocardiogram shows signs of VHD, PAH, or other cardiac abnormalities, healthcare professionals must consider the benefits and risks of continuing treatment with Fintepla for the patient.The most common adverse reactions in clinical studies were decreased appetite; drowsiness, sedation and lethargy; diarrhoea; constipation; abnormal echocardiogram; fatigue or lack of energy; ataxia (lack of coordination), balance disorder, gait disturbance (trouble with walking); increased blood pressure; drooling, salivary hypersecretion (saliva overproduction); pyrexia (fever); upper respiratory tract infection; vomiting; decreased weight; risk of falls; and status epilepticus.The FDA granted this application Priority Review. Fintepla received Orphan Drug designation, which provides incentives to assist and encourage the development of drugs for rare diseases. By EH News Bureau on June 26, 2020 Clinical Research News Heartfulness group of organisations launches ‘Healthcare by Heartfulness’ COVID care app Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals releases first “Comprehensive Textbook of COVID-19” Phoenix Business Consulting invests in telehealth platform Healpha Share The missing informal workers in India’s vaccine story MaxiVision Eye Hospitals launches “Mucormycosis Early Detection Centre” Dravet syndromeFDA approvalFintepla (fenfluramine)Orphan Drug designationpulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH)rare diseasesvalvular heart disease (VHD) FDA Approves New Therapy for Dravet Syndrome WHO tri-regional policy dialogue seeks solutions to challenges facing international mobility of health professionals Add Comment Comments (0)last_img read more

Santa Monicans voted in record number in record time

first_imgHomeNewsElectionsSanta Monicans voted in record number in record time Nov. 11, 2020 at 6:05 amElectionsFeaturedNewsSanta Monicans voted in record number in record timeClara Harter7 months agoearly votingElection 2020vote by mailMost neighborhoods had at least half of their votes counted prior to election day thanks to more voting options this year. This year’s election saw historic voter turnouts across the country and Santa Monica was no exception, setting records for both voter participation and early voting.While the final number of votes cast in Santa Monica is yet to be released, vote counts already show that 68 percent of registered voters cast ballots on local measures compared to only 42 percent in 2016.“As Election Week 2020 closes, we celebrate historic participation in our democratic process, made possible by local government employees and volunteers not only here in Santa Monica but in every state across our nation,” said Interim City Manager Lane Dilg.With residents galvanized by the high stakes elections and push for vote-by-mail, Santa Monica saw widespread participation in early voting. By Election Day 53 percent of registered voters had already cast their ballot and had it recorded by the County.While high rates of early voting was a City wide trend, levels of participation varied by neighborhood.The North of Montana neighborhood led early voting with 65 percent of registered voters’ ballots being counted prior to Election Day. This was closely followed by the Northeast Neighbors neighborhood with 62 percent of registered voters’ ballots counted before Election Day. The Pico Neighborhood had the lowest percentage of early voter turnout, where 42 percent of registered voters’ ballots were counted before Election Day. The second lowest was the Mid City neighborhood with 49 percent.In general Santa Monica’s voter preferences matched those of the County and state, but there were some noticeable differences.One of the most significant differences was Prop 21, which would have given cities the option to expand rent control. In Santa Monica, a city of 70 percent renters, 57 percent of votes counted by Nov. 4 were in favor of Prop 21, however the proposition failed to pass as it only gained 40 percent of the statewide vote.Santa Monicans tended to vote more liberally than the rest of California, supporting Prop 16, which would have restored affirmative action, and Prop 25, which would have ended cash bail. Both these measures failed to pass in the state election.Santa Monicans also voted against Prop 22, which was passed by the state and gives app-based services like Uber and Lyft exemptions from providing certain employee benefits.Early voters in Santa Monica demonstrated a wide preference for vote-by-mail over early voting in person. Vote-by-mail ballots made up between 79 percent and 85 percent of ballots received prior to Election Day across Santa Monica’s seven neighborhoods, with a city-wide average of 83 percent.This preference was visible at Santa Monica’s ten vote centers, which were all noticeably quiet on Election Day. Despite fears of civil unrest, vote-by-mail issues, and technological glitches, local voting efforts went off without a hitch.“It was a very successful day of voting in Santa Monica. We had record turnout while also never exceeding 15 minute wait times at any of our polling locations,” said City Clerk, Denise Anderson-Warren. “We’re grateful to poll workers for following all health measures to create a safe space for voters to cast their ballots and to the community institutions who participated by hosting vote centers. It was an all-around smooth election season and we appreciate everyone’s contributions and participation in this vital democratic process.”[email protected] :early votingElection 2020vote by mailshare on Facebookshare on Twitteradd a commentUCLA Health nurses demand testing resourcesStates cite smooth election, despite Trump’s baseless claimsYou Might Also LikeFeaturedNewsBobadilla rejects Santa Monica City Manager positionMatthew Hall5 hours agoNewsCouncil picks new City ManagerBrennon Dixson16 hours agoFeaturedNewsProtesting parents and Snapchat remain in disagreement over child protection policiesClara Harter16 hours agoFeaturedNewsDowntown grocery to become mixed use developmenteditor16 hours agoNewsBruised but unbowed, meme stock investors are back for moreAssociated Press16 hours agoNewsWedding boom is on in the US as vendors scramble to keep upAssociated Press16 hours agolast_img read more