Posts Tagged ‘Risk

26
Jul
10

High-Def Body Scanner Spots Heart Problems Early

NEWS
High-Def Body Scanner Spots Heart Problems Early

HD Scanner Spots Flaws Before Heart Attacks: Plymouth’s Derriford Hospital Use GE Healthcare Device

Monday, July 26, 2010

••• A new high definition body scanner is giving U.K. doctors the clearest ever view inside the human body – helping them spot problems before people suffer heart attacks, Sky News reported Today.
The scanner generates pictures of diseased arteries in the heart that are twice as clear as older machines.

It means doctors at Plymouth’s Derriford Hospital in the South West of England can identify problems at an early stage, long before patients suffer a heart attack or even develop any symptoms.


It’s brilliant. It’s a relief there is no structural problem for the chest pain, so I can get on with life now.
John Hughes, after a HD scan on his heart.

“When we started doing the heart research in 2002, we used to struggle to see the blood vessels, let alone see the narrowings within them,” Professor of radiology, Carl Roobottom, said. “Now, we have a technique that can see to within a fraction of a millimeter.”
In just five seconds, the scanner takes 220 X-rays, each of them a cross section of the heart. Computers then turn the raw snapshots into a 3D image.
Doctors can add color to distinguish between different types of tissue, strip away layers that obscure problem areas, and rotate or flip the image to get the best possible view.
• Latest News & Headlines » Home «
• Source(s): Sky News / BskyB / News Corporation
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20
Jul
10

“Microneedle” Skin Patch May Replace Flu Shot

NEWS
“Microneedle” Skin Patch May Replace Flu Shot

Disappearing Needles: Vaccine-Delivery Patch with Dissolving Microneedles Eliminates “Sharps” Waste and Improves Protection

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

••• Traditional flu jabs may be rendered obsolete by a hi-tech skin patch which delivers vaccine painlessly through scores of tiny needles.

The patch could revolutionize pandemic control by allowing vaccines to be self-administered, scientists in the U.S. say.

The patch can be easily used at home by someone with no medical training.

When the patch is applied to the skin, its hundred ‘microneedles’ – each measuring just over half a millimetre – deliver the vaccine and simply dissolve away.

The needle arrays are made from a plastic-like polymer that is known to be safe for use in the body. What remains is a water-soluble backing that can safely be discarded.

The head of the research team, professor Mark Prausnitz, from the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta said: ‘We have shown that a dissolving microneedle patch can vaccinate against influenza at least as well, and probably better than, a traditional hypodermic needle.’

Tests on mice showed that vaccination with the microneedles caused a stronger immune response than an injection by syringe.

The patch could aid mass-immunization in poor parts of the world. It could help to avoid infections such as HIV and hepatitis B that are often spread by re-use of dirty hypodermic needles.

‘We envision people getting the patch in the mail or at a pharmacy and then self-administering it at home,’ said Dr Sean Sullivan, another member of the Georgia team.

‘Because the microneedles on the patch dissolve away into the skin, there would be no dangerous sharp needles left over.’

Other vaccines could be applied with the same technique, the scientists believe.

The cost of mass-produced patches are estimated to be about the same as conventional jabs. But the reduced need for personnel may bring the overall cost of immunization programmes down.

The patch will still have to undergo patient trials to assure its safety and effectiveness before being made generally available.
• Latest News & Headlines » Home «
• Source(s): Georgia Institute of Technology
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12
Jul
10

Facebook Installs Panic Button For Children

NEWS
Facebook Installs Panic Button For Children

Monday, July 12, 2010

••• Young Facebook users will be able to report suspicious online behavior with the launch of a new ‘panic button’ targeting sex offenders.

Children can use the button to report abuse to the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) and Facebook.

The application will automatically appear on the homepage of every user aged between 13 and 18.

The launch follows months of negotiation between Facebook and CEOP, the government law enforcement agency tasked with tracking down online sex offenders.

CEOP called for the panic button to be installed in November but Facebook has resisted the idea.

Bebo became the first network to add the button, followed by MySpace while Facebook maintained that its own reporting systems were adequate.

However pressure mounted on Facebook following the rape and murder of Ashleigh Hall, 17.

Ashleigh was killed by a 33-year-old convicted sex offender, posing as a teenage boy, whom she met on Facebook.

Forty-four police chiefs in England, Wales and Scotland, signed a letter backing CEOP’s call for a panic button on every Facebook page.

Users will be able to bookmark the Click CEOP service or add it as an application to find information about online safety.

Jim Gamble, chief executive of the CEOP Centre said: ‘Our dialogue with Facebook about adopting the Click CEOP button is well documented – today however is a good day for child protection.

‘We know from speaking to offenders that a visible deterrent could protect young people online.’

Facebook’s Joanna Shields added: ‘There is no single silver bullet to making the internet safer but by joining forces with CEOP we have developed a comprehensive solution which marries our expertise in technology with CEOP’s expertise in online safety.’

James Brokenshire, U.K. Minister for Crime Prevention said: ‘It’s a sad fact that we are now seeing more cases where sex offenders are using social networking sites to conceal their identities in order to contact children.’
• Latest News & Headlines » Home «
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22
May
10

Facebook preparing to make changes to privacy settings in response to criticism

NEWS
Facebook preparing to make changes to privacy settings in response to criticism

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Facebook on Saturday said it plans to simplify privacy controls at the popular social-networking service to appease critics.

‘We’ve spent the last couple of weeks listening to users and consulting with experts in California; Washington, DC, and around the world,’ Facebook spokesman Andrew Noyes said in response to an AFP inquiry.

‘The messages we’ve received are pretty clear. Users appreciate having precise and comprehensive controls, but want them to be simpler and easier to use.’

Facebook contended that members like new programs rolled out at the California-based internet hotspot but want easy ways to opt out of sharing personal information with third-party applications or websites.

‘We’re listening to this input and incorporating it into innovations we hope to announce shortly,’ Noyes said.

Facebook has been under fire from U.S. privacy and consumer groups, U.S. lawmakers and the European Union over new features that critics claim compromise the privacy of its more than 400 million members.

The features introduced last month include the ability for partner websites to incorporate Facebook data, a move that would further expand the social network’s presence on the internet.
Four U.S. senators, in a letter to Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg, said they were worried that personal information about Facebook users is being made available to third party websites.

The senators also expressed concerns that ‘Facebook now obligates users to make publicly available certain parts of their profile that were previously private’.

Sharing personal information should be an ‘opt-in’ procedure in which a user specifically gives permission for data to be shared, privacy advocates argue.

Coming Facebook refinements are not expected to include a shift to an opt-in model.

Facebook vice president of global communications Elliot Schrage has been adamant that online privacy is taken very seriously at the company.

‘These new products and features are designed to enhance personalisation and promote social activity across the internet while continuing to give users unprecedented control over what information they share, when they want to share it, and with whom,’ Schrage said.

MySpace on May 17 announced plans to simplify its privacy settings as it seeks to differentiate itself from social network rival Facebook, which has eclipsed the News Corp-owned social networking service.

‘The last few weeks have been fraught with discussion around user privacy on social networks,’ MySpace co-president Mike Jones said in a blog post without directly mentioning Facebook by name.

‘While MySpace at its core is about discovery, self expression and sharing, we understand people might want the option of limiting the sharing of their information to a select group of friends,’ Jones said.
Jones said MySpace, which was bought by News Corp. in 2005 for $580 million, is ‘planning the launch of a simplified privacy setting for our user profiles.

‘While we’ve had these plans in the works for some time, given the recent outcry over privacy concerns in the media, we felt it was important to unveil those plans to our users now,’ he said.
• Source(s): Facebook Inc. and MySpace / Digital Media Group / News Corporation
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15
Apr
10

Mazda Recall Adds To Japan’s Car Woes

NEWS
Mazda Recall Adds To Japan’s Car Woes

Thursday, April 15, 2010

••• Japan’s Mazda Motor will recall nearly 90,000 passenger cars domestically and in China due to an oil hose defect, the company said on Thursday.

The company, which is part owned by U.S. auto giant Ford, will start recalling 35,181 units in Japan and some 54,000 in China of the Mazda 3, known as the Axela in Japan, the automaker’s most popular model.

Mazda said the cars, produced from January 2006 to March 2009, have been recalled because an oil hose and a radiator shroud panel have been placed too close together and may be damaged by friction when travelling on bumpy terrain, leading to potential leaks.

‘The company has received two cases of complaints due to the problem, both in China,’ said a Mazda spokesman who asked not to be named.

‘No accident because of it has been reported.’

The Mazda 3 compact car is widely sold in Japan, China and Europe, said the spokesman, who added that no decision had yet been taken if the recall will affect the European market.
Japanese car maker Toyota has suspended worldwide sales of the Lexus GX 460 sport utility vehicle due to a roll-over risk, saying it will test all its SUVs for safety.

‘The company has decided to suspend the SUV’s sales worldwide …,’ Toyota spokeswoman Mieko Iwasaki said on Thursday.

The move comes a day after Toyota suspended sales of the GX in the U.S. and Canada after U.S. magazine Consumer Reports gave the SUV a rare ‘Don’t Buy: Safety Risk’ rating.

The report claimed that when pushed to its limits, the rear of the GX ‘slid out until the vehicle was almost sideways before the electronic stability control system was able to regain control’.

Having now suspended the SUV’s sales worldwide, Toyota said it will work on analysing potential safety risks in the model which has sold 6000 units, as well as its other SUVs.

Toyota will start testing all the other SUV models, including the Land Cruiser, Land Cruiser Prado and Rav4 but the company will continue to sell those models.

The car maker has recalled millions of vehicles worldwide since late 2009, mostly over a series of problems linked to ‘unintended acceleration’.

Toyota, which overtook General Motors in 2008 as the top-selling car maker, has been bedevilled by a series of safety issues that have raised questions about whether it sacrificed its legendary quality to become world number one.

The recalls have caused an outcry in the U.S., with Toyota executives hauled over the coals in the US Congress and the company’s previously stellar reputation for safety left in tatters.

The company faces a record $16.4 million fine in the U.S. for its failure to notify authorities quickly about vehicle safety problems.

• Customers who have any questions or concerns should contact Lexus Customer Satisfaction at 1-800-25 LEXUS or 1-800-255-3987.

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13
Apr
10

Facebook rejects suggested ‘Panic Button’ for pages

NEWS
Facebook rejects suggested ‘Panic Button’ for pages

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Facebook has announced an overhaul of its online safety measures that include the redesign of its abuse reporting system. But British users are concerned the new features still don’t go far enough.

Facebook’s “Safety Center” features new tools for parents, teachers, teens and law enforcement; it’s the first major endeavor from the social networking site and its four-month-old global safety advisory board.

Some new features of the safety center include four times more content on staying safe, such as dealing with bullying online, an interactive portal and a simpler design. But the company has not announced the installation of a panic button on every page as British officials had urged it to do.

Jim Gamble, chief executive of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre, said the social networking giant did not agree to his demands outright at a meeting in Washington but he felt they were moving in the right direction.

Speaking after a four-hour meeting yesterday, Mr. Gamble said Facebook was close to “doing the right thing” but urged the website to turn “words into action”.

“They are one small step away from doing the right thing,” he said.

“I am more optimistic than when I came. They are not saying no, that is very clear.

“There is no doubt they are looking to improve their position around child safety and we recognise that. What I am looking for is turning words into action.”

The showdown came after controversy in Britain over Facebook’s refusal to include a “panic button” on its pages after the conviction of a serial rapist who used the site to lure and murder a teenage girl.

Peter Chapman posed as a young boy to lure 17-year-old Ashleigh Hall to her death in north-east England.

Calls have since grown for the inclusion of the buttons – which allow youngsters who feel threatened online to quickly contact a number of sources of help, such as CEOP or anti-bullying helplines.

Politicians, police and anti-bullying groups have voiced outrage that the online giant will not bow to demands to include the system.

“In our view they are experts at creating a fantastic online environment but they are not experts in law enforcement, the power of deterrents and the reassurance it brings for mums and dads,” Mr. Gamble said.

The other problem with a “panic button” is that it could lead to a false sense of security. If someone truly is aware of an online emergency, they are better off calling 911 or its equivalent in whatever country they are in.

Related: U.K. pressures Facebook to install ‘panic button’ to protect kids GO
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28
Mar
10

SIDS: It’s not the parents’ fault

NEWS
SIDS: It’s not the parents’ fault

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
Sunday, March 28, 2010

••• The dusky hours before dawn may appear to be the most serene of times. For infants, whose arousal mechanisms and reflexes are not yet fully mature, they can be a time of peril. Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) strikes more babies in the early morning than at any other time.

One explanation for these mysterious and tragic deaths is that they are caused by a defect in the brain that renders the baby incapable of responding appropriately to the rising levels of carbon dioxide that result when babies breathe stale air trapped under blankets. And yet this hunch has been difficult to prove.

“By conventional histology, the brains of SIDS victims look normal,” says Hannah Kinney, Harvard Medical School associate professor of neuropathology at Children’s Hospital.

Sounding the Alarm
Kinney and her colleagues have recently uncovered a subtle but potentially fatal flaw in the brains of some SIDS babies. The defect lies in a scatter of neurons, known as the arcuate nucleus, located on the underbelly of the brain stem.

Normally, cells in the arcuate nucleus are studded with receptors for a neurotransmitter that responds to carbon dioxide in the blood. When levels of carbon dioxide rise, the receptors signal the respiratory system to increase the rate of breathing. They may also be part of a delicate alarm system in the brain that is designed to wake the sleeping baby.

It appears that the arcuate nucleus of some SIDS babies is deficient in its binding of the neurotransmitter. As a result, the carbon-dioxide warning system of SIDS babies is less sensitive to rising levels of carbon dioxide in the blood and does not sound the alarm to other systems in the body.
The arcuate nucleus, normally located on the underside of the brain stem (dark splotches in L and center images), is absent in the brains of some SIDS babies (R image).

Not all SIDS babies have this defect, Kinney says. In fact, the decreased carbon-dioxide sensitivity is probably one of several causes of SIDS. However, the discovery does help to dispel some of the apparent capriciousness surrounding SIDS. “It is not a normal baby that dies of SIDS,” Kinney says.

Knowledge of SIDS was in its infancy when Kinney first began her research. Despite an ancient and grim history-occurrences of “crib death” are well-documented throughout history and even in the Bible-it was only in 1969 that SIDS was identified as a syndrome.

When Kinney began a residency in pediatrics at Children’s Hospital in the mid-1970s, SIDS was still an ill- defined syndrome, with no discernible cause. Although some parents reported that their babies had some symptoms-such as coughs, gastrointestinal trouble and listlessness-in the 48 hours before death, most said their babies had been completely well. Some babies were found face down in their blankets, suggesting asphyxiation, and yet others were found on their backs.

“What I remember most about that is the tremendous sadness and suddenness of the death and the tremendous despair that the parents had,” says Kinney.

Nor did autopsies help alleviate the parents’ confusion. Typically, there were no signs of disease-pneumonia, meningitis or hemorrhages-in the brains or bodies of the babies.

The first clue to a possible brain defect came in 1977 when a pediatric pathologist reported subtle gliosis-or scarring-in the brain stems of SIDS patients. Gliosis, which is an overgrowth of glial cells, occurs when neurons die, leaving room for new growth. Yet it was not clear from the study what was causing the neurons to die in the first place. “It just told us something had gone on in these brains,” says Kinney.

Locating the Flaw
Suspecting an “invisible” flaw in the brains of SIDS patients, Kinney spent the next few years learning new high- tech methods for studying the chemistry of the brain at HMS. Richard Sidman, Bullard professor of neuropathology, had developed computer-based methods for imaging the brain in three dimensions that allowed subtle quantitative differences in the brain to be assessed. Frost White, who was also in the HMS neuropathology department at the time, had developed methods for labeling chemical receptors in three dimensions. Kinney spent time working in both men’s labs.

It was old-fashioned brainstorming with Jim Filiano, a postdoc in her lab, that led to the site of the hidden brain flaw. “Jim and I used to have long conversations about this. Where can the defect in SIDS be? What respiratory controlling mechanism could it be?” says Kinney.

By 1987, the arcuate nucleus had been identified, but its function was unknown. It was Filiano who first demonstrated that the arcuate nucleus in humans might be involved in the control of breathing.

Still, it was not clear what role the arcuate nucleus might play in SIDS. To find out, Kinney and her collaborators began analyzing a database of serially sectioned brain stems collected from autopsies of 41 SIDS babies and 27 controls. “We looked through it blinded, without knowledge of who the SIDS babies were,” Kinney says. They found two cases where the arcuate nucleus was absent. When they decoded the cases, they found that both had died of SIDS.

Yet other babies in the sample had died of SIDS, and they appeared to have an arcuate nucleus. Suspecting that the two cases might be the most severe from an anatomical point of view, and that the other babies might have had more subtle biochemical defects in this region of their brains, the researchers began investigating the neurochemical structure of the arcuate nucleus of SIDS babies.

They found that cells in the arcuate nucleus of some SIDS babies, though not all, were less able to bind acetylcholine than babies suffering from other acute diseases. Acetylcholine normally attaches to a particular receptor on the arcuate cells known as the muscarinic receptor.
A Lack of Receptivity
This finding suggests that the culprit, in at least some SIDS cases, is the muscarinic receptor. Babies with a full complement of muscarinic receptors are able to respond to distress signals.

“A normal infant meets a challenge during the night like hypercardia-increased carbon dioxide-or low oxygen-asphyxiation,” Kinney says. “This could happen from upper airway occlusion or from the face being down in the bedding.” Once stimulated, the muscarinic receptors, which are part of a more complex relay system, signal the respiratory system to increase the rate of breath. “The infant would turn its head to take in more air and presumably wake up.”

However, babies with fewer-or defective-muscarinic receptors would not respond to rising carbon dioxide levels in the blood and would fail to arouse.

Why there should be a scarcity of muscarinic receptors is not clear. Kinney speculates that the defect may lie in the failure of the nucleus to develop normally. “This is basically a clue. It doesn’t tell us why SIDS occurs,” she says.

Even normal infants do not respond to arousal signals very well in the early morning. This is especially true during the first six months of life when the baby is still making the transition from being a fetus. “There are many changes going on in the respiratory, autonomic and sleep- wake systems,” Kinney says. In fact, 90 percent of SIDS cases occur during the first six months of life; 75 percent occur between two and four months.

In addition to this critical developmental danger zone, there are two other factors contributing to SIDS, Kinney believes. One is that the baby has an underlying vulnerability, such as a defective arcuate nucleus. Second, there must be a stressor. Such stressors might include the prone sleeping position, infection, swaddling and fever, all of which can contribute to an overabundance of carbon dioxide in the blood.

An obvious way to reduce the number of SIDS deaths would be to eliminate the stressors. Campaigns to encourage parents to put babies to sleep on their backs have worked in countries like New Zealand, England and Australia. Such campaigns have decreased the incidence of SIDS by 50 percent. China, where babies have always been trained to sleep on their backs, has one of the lowest rates of SIDS in the world.

Women who safeguard their health while pregnant may also be protecting their babies from SIDS. Kinney believes that the defects in the brain that make a baby more vulnerable to SIDS could develop as a result of suboptimal intrauterine environments. “This may be due to smoking, drugs-such as cocaine-and also to lack of access to medical care and good nutrition,” Kinney says, adding that “these are things that come along with poverty.”

The United States, where access to cigarettes and drugs is relatively easy, has one of the highest rates of SIDS in the world. SIDS is currently the leading cause of death among American infants, killing 6,000 babies each year. The rate is especially high among the poor. The rate of SIDS among Native Americans is six times the national average.

Ultimately, there may be a way to predict clinically who is at risk for SIDS, although Kinney thinks that such tests will be a long time in coming. Developing a clinical test for a receptor system in the arcuate nucleus “would be extremely difficult,” she says. An alternative approach would be to look for some other factor that correlates with decreased binding to the muscarinic receptors in the arcuate nucleus.

Kinney and her colleagues are currently investigating whether the muscarinic defect is part of a more general neuronal defect. “The more we know about the causes of SIDS, the more ideas of how to test for it and prevent it may come to us.”
• Source(s): Harvard Medical School
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome – Also called: Crib death, SIDS
American Sudden Infant Death Syndrome Institute
Related: SIDS Research Breakthrough GO
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14
Mar
10

Chris Dodd: Wall Street reform ‘cannot wait’

NEWS
Chris Dodd: Wall Street reform ‘cannot wait’

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Senate Banking Chairman Chris Dodd will unveil a revised financial reform bill Monday that seeks to find a middle ground between the skeptical Republicans he left at the negotiating table last week and the unhappy left-wing of the Democratic caucus.
Neither side will be satisfied by what Dodd’s offering, and particularly the left.

Two Republican ideas expected to make Dodd’s final cut are creating a consumer-protection agency inside the Federal Reserve and giving a veto on the agency’s rule-making to an outside body – a far cry from President Barack Obama’s original vision for a muscular stand-alone agency, several sources said Sunday.

Still, Dodd defended his bill against the expected criticism from the left.

“At the end of the day if this is nothing more than sort of competing press conferences as to who can be more punitive to the financial services sector… we’re not legislating here. I’ve been around for 30 years, legislating.… And I have a pretty good feel of where I think the tipping points are and tolerance levels are. And unlike maybe other members [whose] only interest is whether or not they can be on the quote ‘right side of the issue,’ I’ve got to produce a product. And this is a hard product to produce.”

He also took on Republicans who are calling for more time to consider the bill.

By his calculation there are roughly 60 legislative days left in the calendar, “so getting this done cannot wait,” Dodd said. “Besides, we have spent hundreds if not thousands of hours on this subject matter. So I need to move.”

Moreover, he said “major portions” of the bill he will unveil Monday reflect the widespread consensus of committee members, including areas regarding the end of too-big-too-fail firms and the creation of a mechanism for dealing with failing financial behemoths without taxpayer money.

Dodd’s bill is sure to anger some Democrats, who say Dodd should put forth the toughest bill possible –and then effectively dare the GOP to vote against cracking down on Wall Street.

“The Republicans won’t want to face the voters in November without having lifted a finger to rein in Wall Street excesses that almost ruined the country,” said one Senate Democratic aide. House Republicans voted unanimously against the financial reform legislation there.

That line of thinking believes that the politics of the Wall Street issue are so strongly on the Democrats’ side that it’s a win-win situation. Either moderate Republicans – say, Olympia Snowe of Maine or George Voinovich of Ohio – cross the aisle and support the Democratic bill, or Democrats would accuse Republicans of being Wall Street lapdogs during the 2010 campaign.

Other members of the Democratic caucus disagree that a partisan fight will help them in November, believing instead they need to show voters they can use their majorities to govern and that an effective reform bill is possible with Republican support.

Either way, Dodd’s bill shows where he comes down on the question, committed to finding some bipartisan support for a package of reforms aimed at curtailing the practices that led to the global financial meltdown in 2008. Putting the consumer agency in the Fed, for instance, is a compromise Dodd worked out with Sens. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), who had taken the lead in bipartisan talks in recent weeks, and Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), the top-ranking GOP member on the banking committee.

Dodd abruptly decided last week to finish the draft he will unveil Monday without his Republican negotiating partners, but the legislation is nonetheless expected to contain several key concessions Dodd made to the GOP.

“This is still reasonably middle of the ground stuff,” said one industry lobbyist of the description of the bill making the rounds Sunday.

A senior administration official says formal reaction will come from the White House after Dodd releases his plan Monday, but “I think it will be very positive.” As for the chances of final passage of this measure, the official said, “I think chances are pretty solid, but we aren’t even to the seventh inning stretch.”

The bill includes some sweeteners for Democrats, too.

Dodd’s bill is expected to allow states to enact consumer protection laws that go beyond federal statute – language similar to that in the House bill. That’s a win for the White House, liberal Democrats and consumer advocates; a Dodd-Corker bill had been headed toward an almost-complete ban on tougher state laws, according to Corker. In this draft, Dodd would allow the state rules to be challenged in court.

Dodd’s draft will also contain corporate governance provisions authored by Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), according to a Senate aide, including one that would allow shareholders to nominate their own candidates using proxy ballots. Corker had said the provision wasn’t acceptable to Republicans, and industry lobbyists have fought against it. The bill will also include Schumer’s provision to give shareholders a nonbinding vote on executive compensation. Both measures will appeal to consumer advocates.

While the details could still change, Dodd’s draft also is expected to include:

– The Fed would retain supervision of big banks and bank holding companies with more than $50 billion in assets, about 40 institutions, industry sources said. That’s a big change from Dodd’s original draft in November, in which he stripped the Fed of all bank supervision.

– Investment banks such as Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley that became bank holding companies during the crisis would be blocked from reverting to their old status to avoid regulatory scrutiny.

– The bill would create a new systemic risk council comprising of a presidentially appointed chairperson and seven other existing regulators, including the Treasury secretary, Fed chairman and the director of the consumer watchdog.

– The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Office of Thrift Supervision would be merged into a new regulator for national banks with less than $50 billion in assets.

But it’s the Consumer Financial Protection Agency provision that particularly rankles Democrats, including some members of the banking committee. Many liberals feel like the Fed abandoned consumers during the global meltdown by refusing to rein in predatory lending.

The bill also would set up a veto-process over the rules the consumer body could write, by empowering the systemic risk council to take a vote on any rule that raises concerns. But Dodd’s bill would require a two-third votes to overturn a rule, rather than the majority vote proposed by Republicans.

The combination of Fed location and veto mechanism amounts to a “faux” consumer protection agency, said John Taylor, CEO and president of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition.

“If you’re an agency that has the mandate to protect consumers from financial abuse if you do not have ultimate the decision making, somebody else does, you’re not a very powerful agency,” said Taylor.

Eighty-two percent of Americans believe that “recent events have shown that Wall Street should be subject to tougher regulation,” according to a March 11 Harris poll that is bolstering a get-tough mood among Democrats. Other polls, however, indicate that Republican arguments against creating unnecessary new bureaucracies are persuasive with voters, too.

Some analysts are starting to wonder if the Obama administration would prefer to have Republicans oppose a bill so they can take full advantage of the issue for the campaign. Having broad bipartisan support for a bill in the Senate – the goal Dodd had been aiming for – would make it harder for Democrats to make a powerful political weapon out of the issue.

“[I]t is increasingly unclear whether the White House prefers a bill or a mid-term election fight with Republicans,” Hamilton Place Strategies’ Tony Fratto and Taylor Griffin, former Bush administration officials, wrote in a recent client note. “We had previously supposed that if health care was off the table, Democrats would need financial regulatory reform to avoid facing voters in November without a major legislative accomplishment. If the West Wing and Congressional leaders believe that they are going to jam a health care bill through reconciliation, then perhaps the pendulum swings the other way.”

Meanwhile, all 10 Republicans on the Banking Committee urged Dodd to give them more time to consider his bill, and not go to a committee mark-up the week of March 22.

“While we remain open to finding common ground and to working diligently toward the passage of bipartisan legislation, we believe a markup scheduled in haste would certainly prevent us from achieving that goal,” the GOP senators wrote to Dodd Friday.

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13
Mar
10

U.K. pressures Facebook to install ‘panic button’ to protect kids

NEWS
U.K. pressures Facebook to install ‘panic button’ to protect kids

Saturday, March 13, 2010

••• British officials say they’re pressuring Facebook to make a “panic button” available on its Web pages following the death of a teenager at the hands of a man she met on the popular social networking site.

British child protection authorities have been lobbying Facebook and other social networking sites to install a one-click button which can allow children to get immediate police help if they suspect they’re at risk.

Calls for Facebook to install the button intensified following the kidnap, rape and murder of 17-year-old Ashleigh Hall. Her killer, Peter Chapman, used a bogus Facebook identity to befriend her online.

Harriet Harman, the deputy leader of Britain’s governing Labour Party, said Thursday ministers were lobbying Facebook to adopt the button.
Why are we asking this now?

On Monday, Peter Chapman, 33, was sentenced to a minimum of 35 years in prison for the murder of Darlington teenager Ashleigh Hall. Chapman, a convicted sex offender, was “very active” on a stolen black Acer laptop in the period leading up to the murder; it later transpired that he had used the social networking website Facebook in order to choose his victim. While websites such as Facebook usually play a passive, benign role in crimes that headlines might suggest are entirely attributable to them, this is one case where the death of a young woman was indeed caused by the ease of constructing a false Facebook identity, coupled with a tragic ignorance of the signs we should all look for, and the rules we should all follow.

What did Chapman do?

In autumn last year he signed up to Facebook under a false identity. By using the name Peter Cartwright and a photograph of an attractive, bare-chested young man, he successfully posed as a 19-year old and began to exchange messages with Ashleigh. Within the space of a month they had arranged a weekend rendezvous; Chapman explained in a message that the father of “Peter Cartwright” would be picking her up in his car. Ashleigh’s body was found the following Monday.

What is it about these sites that’s creating such a problem?

First, they’re extraordinarily popular with young people. Facebook is second only to Google in terms of overall popularity online, and the amount of time we spend on such websites to socialise, exchange messages, post links to interesting websites, play games and arrange real-life meet-ups is increasing rapidly. Marketing research company Nielsen reported last summer that 17 per cent of all time spent online is on social networking websites – and that figure is pushed up considerably by teenagers. Second, we’re gullible. The ease with which we can be flattered into opening messages and entering into dialogue with people we don’t know is staggering; it’s known as “social engineering” and has been rampant online since the first major web virus spread around the globe behind the email subject title “I LOVE YOU”.

Is this issue restricted to children?

Certainly not. Each week sees countless examples of adults being hoodwinked online, too. Indeed, the older generation’s lack of familiarity with modern technology can put them at an even higher risk of being duped into handing over money, revealing secrets or making ill-advised arrangements to meet strangers. The most famous recent example was when Fidel Castro’s 40-year old son had his explicit email messages reprinted in newspapers worldwide; the person he thought was “gorgeous” 27-year old Columbian sports journalist Claudia Valencia was actually a 46-year old man called Luis Dominguez.

Is Facebook a particular source of concern?

Facebook is one of the few social networking sites that require you to use your real name when you sign up. “It ultimately creates a safer and more trusted environment for all of our users,” says a Facebook spokesman. “We require people to be who they are.” However, it remains very easy to pretend to be someone else – as demonstrated by Peter Chapman with tragic consequences – and Facebook’s “real name” culture might even mean that we’re less likely to spot fakery. MySpace and Bebo, by contrast, are a free-for-all with no restrictions on pseudonymity – but it’s important to realise that there are many sound, privacy-related reasons for not revealing one’s true identity online. Indeed, many children are very aware of and comfortable with the idea of managing multiple online identities.

Can we ever be 100 per cent sure who we’re talking to online?

No. But while this fact could easily prompt paranoia, it’s more useful to adopt a healthy scepticism about online relationships and to classify them very differently to real-life ones.

What could be done to prevent a repeat of the Ashleigh Hall tragedy?

The Home Secretary Alan Johnson said yesterday that both the UK and the US were working on ways to detect the presence of convicted sex offenders on the internet, but legislating effectively in the online space is incredibly difficult. An NSPCC-supported plan to extend the sex offenders’ register to include their online identities and email addresses was deemed a breach of offenders’ rights under European law in December 2008, and while it remains a government commitment, the ease with which Chapman created his online alter ego demonstrates how toothless such a law would prove. In the US, the state of Illinois saw a new law take effect on 1 January which bars known sex offenders from social networking websites, but the definition is so broad as to potentially exclude them from risk-free online zones such as job-hunting websites, Amazon and even Google. In addition, tracking offenders’ internet use from an increasing number of access points (cafes, libraries, mobile phones, Wi-Fi hotspots and much else besides) just isn’t practical.

What more could these sites do to protect children?

Given that millions of teenagers use Facebook, MySpace and Bebo as virtual platforms to socialise, raising the minimum age permitted to join (currently 13 for Facebook and Bebo, 14 for MySpace) would be a drastic and unworkable measure – and, indeed, wouldn’t have helped 17-year-old Ashleigh Hall. The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP), an arm of UK policing dedicated to child protection, is campaigning for social networking websites to incorporate a clearly visible button which would allow children to report suspicious behaviour; MSN Live Messenger and Bebo are two of many to already feature it, but Facebook is not yet on board – a fact described by Lib Dem home affairs spokesman Chris Huhne as a “glaring failure”. But the human weakness in detecting suspicious behaviour can render even that button redundant – making education the most crucial measure.

What rules should be followed?

CEOP’s website at thinkuknow.co.uk is an excellent resource for children, featuring information on how to have fun, how to stay in control and where to report anything that seems unusual. There’s also a primer for parents about social networking and other internet activities that their children might be indulging in. But three golden rules for children: don’t post material that you wouldn’t want your parents to see; keep your personal information private; and keep your internet friends as internet friends – because online identities may not always correspond to those in real life.

Is there any way of completely eliminating the risks?

Only by avoiding use of the internet altogether, but in the 21st century this is becoming an increasingly impractical option. Engagement and familiarity with the internet’s delights and menaces are a far better way for us all to stay safe.

Are sites such as Facebook as dangerous as they are made out to be?

Yes

• The internet is an unregulated space that convicted sex offenders have unfettered access to

• The ease with which we can adopt online pseudonyms can make the online landscape very confusing

• Children who have not had sufficient education about online safety may find themselves at risk

No

• The media enjoys demonising Facebook and likes to play upon existing fears of the internet

• Social networking websites are an increasingly important social tool and should be encouraged

• The vast majority of children have no more trouble in their online social lives than they do in the playground

• Source(s): U.K. Press

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08
Mar
10

SIDS Research Breakthrough

NEWS
SIDS Research Breakthrough

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
Friday, February 5, 2010

Last modification: Monday, March 8, 2010

••• Researchers from Harvard Medical School and Children’s Hospital Boston annouced today that they may have found the reason why babies are so vunerable to sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS.

Infants who died of SIDS had 26 percent lower levels of serotonin, which helps regulate automatic functions according to the study published Wednesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The study performed autopsies on 41 babies who had died of SIDS to brainstems of seven babies who died of other causes and five babies who were hospitalized with low oxygen levels before their deaths. Researchers believe a low level of serotonin may be the “fundamental abnormality” in babies who die from SIDS. If serotonin levels are too low a baby won’t wake up when breathing is disrupted.

Unfortunately, there are no tests to determine serotonin levels in infants. According to USA Today, doctors eventually hope to use their discovery to screen babies for serotonin problems and find a way to protect them, says co-author David Paterson, also of Harvard and Children’s Hospital. Those developments are still years away, he says.

The number of babies who die of sudden infant death syndrome has dropped over the last 20 years, thanks to campaigns urging parents to put babies to sleep only on their backs. To avoid the risk of SIDS, here are some important tips to protect your baby from SIDS, suffocation and accidents during sleep:

• Always place your baby to sleep on her back!

• The safest place for your baby to sleep is in a safety-approved crib with a firm mattress that fits snugly and is covered with only a sheet.

• Remove all soft and fluffy bedding and other items from the sleep area. This includes blankets, pillows, bumper pads, positioners and stuffed animals.

• Adult beds can be dangerous for sleeping babies. Bring your baby into bed to breastfeed and bond, but when it is time to go to sleep, place your baby in her own separate space alongside your bed for at least the first six months.

• Use a wearable blanket or other type sleeper instead of blankets to keep your baby warm and safe.

• Never fall asleep with your baby on a sofa or armchair.

• Make sure your baby has a safe place to sleep when visiting or traveling.

••• Serotonin: A hormone, also called 5-hydroxytryptamine, in the pineal gland, blood platelets, the digestive tract, and the brain. Serotonin acts both as a chemical messenger that transmits nerve signals between nerve cells and that causes blood vessels to narrow.
Changes in the serotonin levels in the brain can alter the mood. For example, medications that affect the action of serotonin are used to treat depression.

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome – Also called: Crib death, SIDS
American Sudden Infant Death Syndrome Institute
Related: SIDS: It’s not the parents’ fault GO
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