Malware and search engines: Lamar Smith goes far afield in his latest hit list of NSF grants

first_imgRepresentative Lamar Smith (R–TX) has drawn a lot of attention for publicly chastising the National Science Foundation (NSF) for funding research on, say, China’s milk supply or ancient Icelandic textiles. But in criticizing government-funded research on seemingly obscure topics, or in far-away countries, Smith was simply joining a long line of politicians who over the years have claimed to be protecting U.S. taxpayers by questioning how research agencies spend money.But last week the chair of the science committee in the U.S. House of Representatives may have crossed into uncharted territory with his new list of 13 “questionable” NSF grants. The letter, sent to NSF on 10 February, means that Smith has now asked NSF for detailed information on more than 60 grants. Most relate to climate, environmental, and social science, but the new request appears to reflect a much more ambiguous filter: For the first time, it contains several awards in the physical sciences, including one that has led to patented software to detect whether a computer has been taken over by malicious software and another that explores a long-standing mathematical puzzle.Scientists are scratching their heads and asking themselves how anyone could consider such research to be an example of wasteful government spending. “I can’t figure out which bucket this fell into: silly, obvious, or low priority,” says one university administrator whose institution is a recipient of one of the grants. “Ah, well, we’ll soldier on.”Detecting malware As chair of the science committee in the U.S. House of Representatives, which oversees NSF and several other federal research agencies, Smith has spent the past 2 years demanding that NSF explain why it funded some research projects. He and NSF have reached a temporary agreement that allows his staff to review all relevant materials in a secure room at NSF’s headquarters in northern Virginia, with one caveat: The names of the reviewers have been deleted. Smith has said the committee is simply doing due diligence on NSF’s system of merit review, which relies on comments from thousands of volunteer experts to help it decide which proposals to fund.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)NSF’s selection process is based on the project’s scientific merit and broader impacts, a catchall phrase that can include the potential economic, educational, and societal implications of the research. Smith and other legislators have taken issue with the foundation’s broad definition of that second criterion, saying that it has led to research that they believe is of lesser importance and, thus, not in the national interest.The debate is more than academic. In December, Congress passed a 2015 spending bill that required NSF to apply a small overall budget increase to only four of its six research directorates. The social sciences and the geosciences were excluded, presumably on the grounds that the research they support is less critical to the nation’s well-being.The new list contains some additional examples of research that seems related to Smith’s past concerns, such as studying atmospheric chemistry to improve climate change models. But it also breaks new ground by covering work in seemingly less controversial disciplines, including the growing threat from global cyberattacks. One grant Smith has singled out for scrutiny, for example, went in 2010 to Daphne Yao, an associate professor of computer science at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) in Blacksburg.“Say it’s in the middle of the night, and all of a sudden a computer starts sending e-mails and accessing data,” says Yao, describing her work on detecting malware, or malicious software. “If the keyboard has input and the mouse is moving, then it’s probably OK [because the user is operating the computer]. But it also might be because of malicious software.”Detecting human input is only one piece of the puzzle, Yao explains. Her software also tracks what the computer is actually doing. “If the malware is not making any external connections to its bot master or sending out attack messages, it’s not a big problem,” she says. “So we focus on outbound traffic and how to contain it.”Last year was a banner year for Yao: She received a patent for the malware detection system, earned tenure at Virginia Tech, and gave a talk at the prestigious Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing conference, which attracts thousands of scientists from academia, industry, and government. After her talk, she was mobbed by women who wanted to apply her system to secure their workplaces. “The user action seemed very appealing to females,” she noted. Richard Benson, dean of engineering at Virginia Tech, calls Yao “one of our emerging stars, and one of the best faculty hires we have ever made.”Yao’s work would also appear to be a poster child for what Smith has repeatedly described as the goal of his inquiries: making sure that NSF is funding “the highest priority research that is in the national interest.” But Yao thinks that his metrics may be flawed. “The way the House committee is treating the research,” she says, “it is really hindering national security.”Ironically, Yao also holds a grant from the U.S. Army Research Office to model the behavior of computer programs. “But it’s more traditional,” she explains. “It has nothing to do with user action.” In contrast, she says, “the NSF award gave me a chance to take risks. And cybersecurity requires a lot of out-of-the-box approach. It’s an arms race in which you’re always trying to stay one step ahead of the attackers.”Why was I singled out?The committee’s investigation is also taking a toll on her morale. Yao cites her 5-year, $562,000 award, entitled “CAREER: Human-Behavior Driven Malware Detection,” as an example. “Because it comes from a panel of established experts in the community, receiving the CAREER award really gave me this big boost in confidence,” she says. “It was a career-defining moment. And then to have members of the committee, with no technology background, judge the value of the research based solely on its title, is very disheartening.”Smith declined to answer specific questions about how the latest grants were chosen. Instead, a committee aide provided ScienceInsider with a statement identical to one given last month to another reporter who had asked about a different set of targeted grants.“The committee plans to eventually look at a broad cross-section of grants from all directorates and sub-directorates,” the statement reads in part. “Some grants for which the committee has requested information have previously attracted constituent, Member, or press questions. Others have been selected because the subject matter seems interesting. Still others are selected randomly to assure the cross-section alluded to above. Reviewing the project jackets for some complex projects in the physical sciences will help the committee to understand the potential difficulty of composing non-technical summaries that convey a project’s underlying scientific merit and national interest.”Scientists with a grant on the most recent list are struggling to figure out which category applies to their grant. “Either they made a completely random decision, or some of their staff made a decision based on superficial details which I don’t know (which is more or less random but in a different sense),” says Alexander Teplyaev, a mathematician at the University of Connecticut (UConn), Storrs, who in 2011 received a 3-year, $355,000 award from NSF. “In any case, I don’t see how I could cause this, and see even less what I can do now.”Teplyaev is trying to extend a basic tool of calculus, the partial differential equation, so that it can describe not only phenomena in ordinary continuous space, but also in a space that is a fractal—essentially a lacework filled with an infinity of ever smaller holes. He and colleagues deal mainly with abstract problems: They’ve calculated the behavior of a viscous fluid when the fluid is confined to a spongelike fractal. But the mathematical methods they’re developing could have myriad real-world applications.It may be hard for a layperson to understand his research, Teplyaev admits. But the benefits of investing in mathematical research are obvious, he says: Just think about the economic and societal payoff from the ranking algorithm used by Google in its search engine. “That work was started by Markov more than a century ago,” he says, referring to the Russian mathematician A. A. Markov. “My own research continues the work of Markov, Kolmogorov, and others.”UConn students have also figured out that math isn’t just an ivory-tower exercise. Since 2000, the share of math majors within the college of arts and sciences has doubled, Teplyaev points out, and the number of students taking math courses has grown much faster than overall enrollment. Almost half of his NSF grant goes to support research by undergraduate and graduate students, he adds.Smith has every right to question how NSF is spending tax dollars, Teplyaev says. And although he’s keeping an open mind on the committee’s latest inquiry, Teplyaev says the bottom line is clear: “If they increase funding for research, I’ll be glad. If they cut our funding, they can be criticized based on details of their decision.”last_img read more

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Illegal bar near Army area closed by police

first_imgAn illegal bar being run close to the Shikargarh cantonment area near here has been closed down on a complaint by the Army Intelligence Unit that it was being visited surreptitiously by jawans who may be blurting out sensitive information to civilians under the influence of liquor, police said on Saturday. The bar was seized on Friday midnight. The police also arrested its salesman Pemaram and confiscated 47 bottles of liquor, they said. Though there is no confirmed instance of sharing of any information by jawans with civilians, its possibility cannot be ruled out, Army intelligence sources said.last_img

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IIT Roorkee to introduce major changes across all three of its campuses

first_imgIndian Institute of Technology, Roorkee (IIT- R) has announced a “kick-off meeting” for the implementation of SAP Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) project. The project will be implemented in multiple phases and cover the end-to-end life cycle management of the operations.The institution conducted the launch function at the Multi Activity Centre Auditorium within its campus. Top management officials of IIT Roorkee and Atos India were present at the event.”It has been a constant endeavor at IIT Roorkee to manage change in our processes and systems and to ensure that they are user friendly and transparent. The Digital ERP Solution provided from Atos India would benefit in integrating our campuses spread across Roorkee, Saharanpur and Greater Noida.IIT-R has decided to implement a combination of the best-in-breed ERP solution that suits all our institute’s needs for example we can track a student from admission to being an alumni and track his movement in the future after leaving the institute too. It would help integrate hostel functions and academics of every student. It will also track a faculty member from the application process to post retirement phase. This will ensure a seamless integration of all entities across IIT-R and its campuses,” said Pradipta Banerji, Director, IIT Roorkee.With SAP Digital Solution being established and fully implemented, IIT-R will benefit from a common integrated system across different functions and processes leading to the standardization of all processes and systems across the institute. This includes enhanced monitoring of R&D activities, optimum utilization of the resources, procurement, and administrative processes among others.advertisementThe all-inclusive solution offers the scope of mapping of assets, their life cycles, data analytics of budgeting and resourceful financial forecasting techniques, augmentation of organizational scalability for future growth plans, data uniformity & integrity across various IIT-R units like departments, centres, administrative units, finance & accounts, library etc., digitization of assets enabling towards a paperless work culture, assistance with real time decision support mechanism, automation for management controls & approval systems which in turn will improve the efficiency of existing processes with seamless integration of student information across IIT-R.The EVP and CEO of Atos India, Milind Kamat, said, “We are quite excited to be in IIT Roorkee in their Digital Transformation Journey that starts with empowering of the Foundation IT that enables operational parts of the educational institutes, where all core business process are initially automated, then followed by implementation of the Student Lifecycle Management, using a robust portfolio of solutions from SAP solution by Atos.Education Sector is one of our core commitment areas and there is a huge potential for innovation through Digitization and adoption of Digital technologies. For instance, Atos’ Hyper Computing Portfolio (HPC) is widely used in many research institutions globally. Our HPC is used in areas of R&D by educational institutes that include, Mathematics, Chemistry, Flow- Modelling, 3D Modelling, Biology, Aerospace and Oil & Gas. We see a huge potential with R&D competence that our prestigious institutes like IIT’s are capable of, which can match any global standards.”Atos supports over 1,000,000 SAP end-users and have put in place over 5,000 implementations in more than 90 countries. In India Atos has been working with SAP for over 20 years.last_img read more

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Pineda Ends Slump; Yanks Top Oakland 5-4, Win 5th Straight

first_imgOAKLAND, Calif. — One month after a sluggish start dropped them into the cellar of the AL East, the New York Yankees are the hottest team in the majors.A rejuvenated offense led by red-hot slugger Carlos Beltran has paired with four consecutive strong outings from the starting rotation on the road, and that’s all it took to get manager Joe Girardi’s club going.Even Michael Pineda is feeling good these days after ending one of longest droughts of his career.Pineda won for the first time since his opening start this season, Starlin Castro hit a tiebreaking, two-out single in the sixth inning and the Yankees beat the Oakland Athletics 5-4 to extend a winning streak to five for the first time in nearly a year.“This was a big four-game sweep for us,” Girardi said. “There was a lot of frustration in our clubhouse, whether it was from pitchers or whether it was from position players who were struggling with the bat. Everyone seems to be doing their part now. The vibe is a lot better.”Brian McCann and Jacoby Ellsbury homered for the Yankees, who swept the four-game series.New York (21-22) completed a 5-2 trip that began in Arizona and is on its longest winning streak since winning seven in a row from June 1-9 last season.Pineda (2-5) had been 0-4 with a 5.61 ERA in six starts since defeating Houston on April 6. He allowed three runs and six hits in six innings, struck out six and walked one.“I threw the ball better today,” Pineda said. “All my pitches were down. The last couple of starts, I was looking to make adjustments to be better in the game. That’s what I’m looking for, to be better all the time.”Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman pitched an inning each to complete a six-hitter.Oakland scored an unearned run off Miller in the eighth after errors by Didi Gregorius at shortstop and Castro at second before pinch-hitter Khris Davis grounded out with the potential tying run at second. Chapman got three straight outs for his sixth save.All nine of New York’s position players reached base. Chase Headley, who was hit by a pitch in the sixth, was the only one without a hit.New York swept a four-game series for the first time in three years and for the first time at Oakland since 1979.“We just needed to play better baseball,” McCann said. “We needed better situational hitting, better defense, better pitching and we’re getting that. We’re happy where we’re at.”Stephen Vogt drove in three Oakland runs with an RBI single in the first and a double in the fifth that gave the A’s a 3-2 lead.Brett Gardner scored the tying run from second on Mark Teixeira’s infield single in the sixth when second baseman Chris Coghlan fielded the ball in the outfield grass, and his off-balance throw to first was not in time.Gardner rounded third and slid headfirst into home to beat the relay throw from Yonder Alonso.Castro followed with his RBI single to put the Yankees ahead. Beltran doubled in Aaron Hicks in the seventh to make it 5-3.Beltran, subbing at DH for injured Alex Rodriguez, is hitting .353 with 15 RBIs over his last 14 games.The A’s dropped to a season-high seven games under .500.“It doesn’t feel good,” Manager Bob Melvin said. “I don’t know that we could have fought much harder at the end of this game. And that shows that we’re not just saying, ‘Hey look, we’re injured.’”Oakland starter Jesse Hahn (1-2) gave up four runs and six hits in 5 2/3 innings. McCann homered leading off the second, and Ellsbury hit a two-out solo shot in the third.(MICHAEL WAGAMAN)TweetPinShare0 Shareslast_img read more

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a month agoMathias on Man Utd ace Pogba: Everyone knows Zidane likes my brother

first_imgTagsTransfersAbout the authorCarlos VolcanoShare the loveHave your say Mathias on Man Utd ace Pogba: Everyone knows Zidane likes my brotherby Carlos Volcanoa month agoSend to a friendShare the loveThe brother of Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba has hinted he’ll eventually end up at Real Madrid.Mathias Pogba, currently plying his trade for CD Manchego in the Tercera Division, works on the popular TV show ‘El Chiringuito de Jugones’.The United midfielder was heavily linked with a move to Real Madrid this summer, which Mathias touched on.”He wanted players, he didn’t get them, but I have no doubt that he’s going to do the work he needs to do in order to get the team back to the level he wants,” Mathias told Radio MARCA.”I like Zidane and he likes my brother – everyone knows it.” last_img read more

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RPF rescues 2 lost boys from Dum Dum Metro station

first_imgKolkata: Two children were recovered by Railway Protection Force (RPF) personnel at Dum Dum Metro station on Wednesday afternoon. They were later handed over to their parents after necessary paperwork.According to Metro Railway, on Wednesday at around 12:20 pm, RPF personnel at Dum Dum Metro station noticed two boys aged around 12 years in school uniform, loitering aimlessly on the platform. RPF personnel initially did not go to the duo but kept a strong vigil on them. After a few minutes, Metro RPF personnel went to them and asked why they were loitering inside the station. They were then taken to the station master’s office for questioning. After a few minutes, the boys told the Metro officials that they had left their homes to go to school. But they changed their mind midway and were roaming aimlessly. While doing so, the duo lost their way and ended up in the Metro station. They subsequently disclosed their identities and addresses, after which authorities got in touch with their parents and asked them to come to the station. After almost an hour, the parents came and identified their wards.last_img read more

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Customers raise concerns over excessive legal cannabis packaging

first_imgHALIFAX – Some cannabis buyers are complaining the bulky packaging is environmentally unfriendly, but producers say government guidelines are to blame.Greg MacLean, who picked up some newly legal cannabis at the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation last week, was shocked to see how much packaging was used for four grams of weed: two plastic containers, two cardboard boxes, and clear plastic casing, all enclosed in a brown paper bag.“My initial reaction was a bit of shock that such little amount of plant matter came with so much packaging,” he said.“I’m a medical user of marijuana as well, and I’ve been buying from different dispensaries online from certified providers, and nothing comes like that. Like, ever. Crazy. It’s unneeded.”As per Health Canada’s guidelines, packaging must prevent contamination of the cannabis, be tamper-proof, and be child-resistant — a step up from the plastic baggies the product was often sold in before legalization.“Do they really need to have that?” said MacLean, 37. “I mean, no liquor bottles that they sell at the NSLC has a childproof cap on it, and a bottle of vodka would kill a child.”Candace MacDonald also bought cannabis on legalization day and was similarly shocked when she got home and unboxed her products, which also came in layers of packaging. She bought 5.5 grams, and each strain came in different containers.Out of curiosity, she weighed the “very hard plastic container” for a single gram she bought, and was appalled to find that it outweighed the product by nearly 40 times — 38 grams of packaging for one gram of weed.“And once you open it, it’s just such overkill. There’s one itty-bitty bud in it, and I could probably pack half an ounce in there,” she said.Allan Rewak, executive director of the Cannabis Council of Canada, said the industry has been concerned about potential waste diversion problems “for a while,” but also understands Health Canada’s caution.Rewak said all packaging and warning signs have to be of certain dimensions and also childproof, which add to the amount of materials used.“It has to include real estate so to speak, to include all the warning labels and warning signs as well as an excise stamp that the federal government prescribes,” he said. “The good news is most of the product packaging is recyclable.”Rewak, whose organization represents licensed producers of medical cannabis, says the industry would like to work with the government to reduce packaging. He said warnings can be included on an insert within packaging that is already sealed with an excise stamp.“This is something that we are going to have to look at in time, particularly as sales continue to increase because we don’t want this to be a contributor to the degradation of our environment — in fact we’d like it to be the opposite.”Myrna Gillis, CEO of Aqualitas, one of three licensed cannabis producers in Nova Scotia, said the company has been aware of the environmental concerns since before customers brought them forward.While they don’t have a licence to sell yet, she said Aqualitas is working with a packaging company in an effort to design environmentally friendly containers that fit Health Canada’s guidelines.“So, packaging that meets the requirements of the regulator, but is recyclable, and has less plastic on it,” said Gillis. “We were also looking into the potential of recycling hemp, to have the packaging also incorporate some of the features of the cannabis plant itself.”Asked for comment, Health Canada spokesperson Maryse Durette provided a link to cannabis regulations, and asked that any further questions about how provinces choose to adhere to their regulations be directed to the provinces. She would not provide further comments on environmental concerns.Andrew Preeper, Nova Scotia’s cannabis legalization spokesman, said licensed producers determine their own packaging while following Health Canada rules, and the province itself has no involvement in cannabis packaging.Mark Butler, policy director for the Halifax-based Ecology Action Centre, said the issue speaks to a larger one of environmental responsibility being foisted on the customer.“I don’t want to diminish the importance of safety … but I also think, and you see it time and time again, the environment, or the recycling of the material, or the package, is the last thought that comes into the manufacturer’s, marketer’s, or producer’s mind,” he said.“And it should be one of the first thoughts, because, inevitably, what happens, it’s not the company making and selling the product that has to deal with the packaging, it’s you and me, standing in front of our blue box, trying to figure it out, or it’s the municipality having to deal with all this waste. And there’s a cost to that.”He added that over-packaging is an issue for all products, not just cannabis.MacDonald said she was also concerned because some of the cannabis packaging wasn’t resealable, meaning she needed to find another package to put it in.She said the excessive packaging will likely drive her to buy more cannabis in bulk, and she had been looking forward to trying different strains.“That’s one of the benefits of legalization, is having all of these options, and knowing exactly what the THC content is, and trying all of these different strains we didn’t have access to before,” she said.“I really want to buy one-off grams, but the fact that it comes in a box, with the plastic, really makes me think twice about it, that’s for sure.”last_img read more

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Debate swirls around whether to release young bear back into Albertas wild

first_imgChris StewartAPTN NewsA seven-month old black bear in Alberta is at the centre of a battle on whether she should be released to the wild.The bear named Maskwa (Cree for bear) was found near death by the side of the road.She has now recovered and the province of Alberta wants to release her back to nature next month.But the Cochrane Ecological Institute says at eight months, Maskwa will still be too young and the bear will not be able to survive on its own.cstewart@aptn.ca@aptnchrislast_img

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Survey predicts slower pace of economic growth

A survey of corporate economists predicts the economy will expand over the next year, although the pace of growth will decline and employers are facing pressure to raise wages, spend more on worker training and automate tasks because of the low unemployment rate.Just 53% of the economists polled for the National Association for Business Economics’ April survey, released Monday, expect the economy to grow by more than 2% this year, down from 67% who felt that way in January. The results from the survey released Monday suggest a sharp slowdown after the Commerce Department reported Friday that the economy grew at a strong 3.2% during the first quarter.The economy grew quickly during the first three months of 2019 because of a surge in company inventories and a shrinkage in the trade gap, temporary factors that are likely to fade.Businesses increased imports at the end of 2018 out of concern that President Donald Trump could further escalate tariffs against China, but the administration held off to conduct trade talks with the world’s second largest economy.However, the NABE survey found that the tariffs already imposed by Trump have been a drag. For economists involved in goods producing, 75% said the import taxes were a negative.Still, profit margins were rising in 32% of the corporate economists’ firms, up from 23% previously. More than half — 52% — say there was a shortage of skilled labour, a sign of possible wage pressures.Josh Boak, The Associated Press read more

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Level playing field key to tackling inequality in Latin America says World

Levelling opportunities will be key to development in Latin America, where 15 to 50 per cent of total income inequality is due to factors such as gender, race, place of birth and parents’ education and occupation, according to a new report released by the World Bank. The report marks the first time the World Bank has used the Human Opportunity Index (HOI), which shows the role personal circumstances play in gaining or preventing access to those services needed for a productive life, such as running water, sanitation, electricity and basic education. “Latin America and the Caribbean is one of the most unequal regions in the world, where the richest 10 per cent of the population captures 40 per cent of total income, while the poorest 10 per cent receives a mere 1 per cent,” noted Pamela Cox, World Bank Vice-president for Latin America and the Caribbean. “To a large extent, this can be attributed to the fact that not everybody has the same opportunities. This has to change. The HOI is a new tool that will help governments assign budget allocations more efficiently, and generate opportunities for all,” she said. The study, which covered 19 countries in the region, found that several nations, such as Brazil – which has a high level of income inequality between adults – have made important advances towards equalizing opportunities for children. “Latin Americans have always felt an uneven playing field beneath our feet, that our destiny is predetermined from childhood by circumstances over which we have no control,” said Marcelo Giugale, World Bank Director of Economic Policy and Poverty Reduction for Latin America. “Now that we can measure the inequality in opportunities, we are seeing that their feelings were real. But, even more importantly, now we can do something about it. We can establish public policies focused on equity,” he added. The results of the HOI show that crucial to determining access to running water, sanitation and electricity services are a person’s birthplace, followed by parents’ income. In addition, parents’ education and socio-economic status are closely related to their children’s educational achievements. 2 October 2008Levelling opportunities will be key to development in Latin America, where 15 to 50 per cent of total income inequality is due to factors such as gender, race, place of birth and parents’ education and occupation, according to a new report released by the World Bank. read more

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Kosovo UN to host Balkan forum on ways to fight cigarette smuggling

“Cigarette smugglers are stealing from the people of Kosovo, and we are talking big bucks here,” the head of the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), Michael Steiner, said Monday. Mr. Steiner had proposed holding the conference, set to get under way on Friday in Pristina, as part of UNMIK’s priority to combat organized crime and corruption and to create conditions for economic growth. “It is a problem which can only be dealt with comprehensively, at the regional level,” he added, as finance ministers and customs directors from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Montenegro, Serbia, and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia are expected to discuss practical and coordinated steps to end the region-wide practice of avoiding taxation on the transport and sale of cigarettes. Of the €105 million (euros) collected each year in excise taxes in Kosovo, at least €20 million comes from levies on cigarettes. Customs officials in the province estimate that €8 million is eluding customs control every year, an improvement over the past, when as much as €30 million may have escaped collection during 1999-2000. According to UNMIK, due to improved efforts at tax collection, as well as the reduction in the tax rate on cigarettes coming into Kosovo, the share of excise tax generated by cigarettes has grown dramatically – from 1 per cent of excise tax revenues collected in 2000 to more than 13 per cent this year. read more

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Lavender leads tourney sweep

Like a boulder gathering momentum as it barrels down the mountainside, the Ohio State women’s basketball team continued to roll this weekend with back-to-back victories in the Buckeye Classic.Jantel Lavender’s huge game fueled an 83-71 victory over the No. 15 California Golden Bears. Lavender finished with 33 points and 14 rebounds.Her 11 points in a 15-0 stretch proved to be the difference in the second half.Lavender took what the defense allowed.“I just took my time,” Lavender said. “I saw they were forcing me left and saw the advantages once the double teams were coming late.”Samantha Prahalis pitched in with a double-double, notching 14 assists to go with her 14 points. It was her fourth double-double of the young season. Sarah Schulze pitched in with five three-point baskets to give her 15 points for the day.Coach Jim Foster is happy with what he has in his floor general Prahalis.“She’s as good as there is in the open court and improving in the half court,” Foster said. “She has a good sense of the game, and as we grow she starts to find her wings.”It was California’s second loss to a Top 10 team in the span of eight days, as the Golden Bears (3-2) struggled to contain the No. 3 Buckeyes (8-0).In Saturday’s game against IUPUI, the Buckeyes won 88-33 despite Lavender’s struggles from the field. She was five of 15 and scored a season-low 12 points.Prahalis picked up the slack, scoring 12 points and dishing out 10 assists. Lavender didn’t let her struggles finding her shot frustrate her on the court.“Sometimes your shots don’t fall, and there are going to be days like that,” Lavender said. “There’s no need to panic because everybody can do great things on this team.”Foster credited a spirited practice for his team’s defensive performance in holding IUPUI to 33 points.“We played hard and had a good game defensively for 40 minutes,” Foster said. “I was encouraged by our intensity. We had a significant defensive practice [Friday], and it carried over well today.”With defense as their main focus, the Buckeyes remain perfect as they head into their ACC/Big Ten Challenge game against No. 12 Duke. read more

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Theodoropoulos takes over

first_imgDirector Vangelis Theodoropoulos has been appointed artistic director of the Athens and Epidaurus Festival following the abrupt resignation of Belgian multidisciplinary artist Jan Fabre.Born in Athens in 1953, Theodoropoulos worked as an actor until establishing the Neos Kosmos Theater in 1997.The veteran director faces the daunting task of putting together a program on a tight budget and limited timeframe before the start of Greece’s most prestigious festival which traditionally kicks off late May.Fabre resigned from his position over the weekend citing a “hostile artistic environment” for his decision. Greek artists had earlier protested to his announcement that this year’s event would focus almost exclusively on Belgian works.In a statement, Culture Minister Aristides Baltas said Fabre’s decision was “the result of a coordinated attack by political parties, the media and a section of the artistic community.”Fabre had been appointed by Baltas following the controversial dismissal of Giorgos Loukos.Source: Kathimerini Facebook Twitter: @NeosKosmos Instagramlast_img read more

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Defense unclear in hammer killing

first_imgWhat leads a woman to kill an abusive partner?When her husband punched her in the eye the night of May 13, Donna Rae Williams struck no counterblow that could be construed as self-defense, she told detectives. She said she sat on the floor, until he allowed her to stand, and then went to bed.The elapsed time between when her husband, Mark, allegedly beat her on the evening of May 13 and she killed him the morning of May 14 makes Williams’ case a rarity among women who kill their husbands, said researchers who study domestic violence-related fatalities and their subsequent trials.It also makes her defense more difficult, although not impossible, they say.An argument could be made she feared for her life at the moment she killed her husband, researchers said, noting such defenses are rarely successful.An insanity defense could also be used, depending on what psychiatric evaluations in the buildup to a trial reveal about Williams’ mental state at the time of her actions and her competency to aid her defense.What those who study this phenomenon agreed upon is there are many unknown details about the case that will likely not be known until it goes to trial. Among them is how defense attorney David Kurtz will challenge prosecutors’ assertion that Williams is a murderer.last_img read more

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Kia Stinger GTS drifts into New York with orange paint carbon fiber

first_img More From Roadshow May 29 • 2020 Ford Escape: Everything there is to know reading • Kia Stinger GTS drifts into New York with orange paint, carbon fiber Apr 19 • Acura MDX PMC Edition is a hand-assembled SUV in brilliant red paint 1 2019 Kia K900: The best luxury sedan you’ve never heard of Apr 19 • Volkswagen’s US CEO says around $25,000 would be a smart price for a small pickup 2019 Volkswagen Arteon review: VW’s CC followup is more than just a carbon copy Apr 19 • Check out the gory details in Honda’s IIHS crash-tested HR-V New York Auto Show 2019 Kia See All Tagscenter_img 2019 Genesis G70: A familiar formula, but a little bit sweeter • Orange you glad Kia’s new Stinger GTS has a drift mode? Kia New York Auto Show 2019 Comment Kia has a treat in store for driving enthusiasts in the form of the Stinger GTS, a special edition of the sporty hatchback that has bold orange paint and carbon fiber — and more exciting performance to back up the looks. The Stinger GTS debuted Wednesday at the 2019 New York Auto Show and starts production this spring.The key to the Stinger GTS’s sportier handling is a new all-wheel-drive system called D-AWD, which Kia promises splits the difference between the way a rear-drive and an all-wheel-drive Stinger drives. For starters, the system equips the car’s rear axle with a mechanical limited-slip differential. On top of that, D-AWD offers unique torque-distribution settings for different drive modes. In Comfort, 60% of the power goes rearwards, while in Sport that bias rises to 80%. Yet in Drift mode — yes, in a Kia! — you get 100% rear-biased torque.Kia also reprogrammed the car’s electronic controls to better understand when drivers might be pulling off their best Tokyo Drift impressions, adding “Counter Steer Detection” logic to the stability control and ensuring the eight-speed automatic transmission won’t upshift prematurely during said drifts.Enlarge ImageIt’s ready for hella drifts, yo. Steven Pham/Roadshow The Kia Stinger GTS uses the car’s 3.3-liter twin-turbo V6 engine, meaning you’ll have 365 horsepower and 376 pound-feet of torque with which to initiate those slides. A rear-wheel-drive GTS is also available, too, but the D-AWD model is perhaps the more interesting configuration for the way it can swap between driving four and two wheels at the push of a button.Roadshow had a chance to sample a prototype Stinger with D-AWD last September, slipping and sliding the car in Drift mode. Back then, Kia engineers told Roadshow’s Antuan Goodwin that even in Drift mode the car might send a bit of torque to the front wheels to help with stability. But as Antuan’s tire-smoking antics proved, the car will still get pretty darn sideways in that Drift mode.Aside from the mechanical tweaks, the 2020 Kia Stinger GTS gets visual upgrades in the form of “Federation” orange paint, extra exterior carbon fiber, a new GTS badge on the back and a Stinger logo in place of the usual Kia badge on the trunk. Equipment on the inside includes an Alcantara-wrapped steering wheel, a suede headliner, a sunroof, wireless phone charging and a 720-watt Harman Kardon sound system.The Kia Stinger GTS will be limited to just 800 units. Pricing will start at $44,000 before destination for the rear-wheel-drive GTS, with the D-AWD model listed from $46,500. 41 Photos Sports Cars Hatchbacks Share your voicelast_img read more

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Houston School Board Renews Controversial Charter School Contracts Despite Questionable Finances

first_imgLaura Isensee/Houston Public MediaSeveral dozen parents and students urged the HISD board to renew the contracts with their charter schools.Several controversial charter schools will continue to operate through the Houston Independent School District, as the board narrowly renewed their contracts Thursday night despite some questionable financial dealings.Three of those charters — Energized for Excellence, Energized for STEM and Inspired for Excellence Academy, Inc. — received extra scrutiny because of their finances. Trustees questioned why some of them had loaned the founder Lois Bullock’s for-profit company millions of dollars and paid excessive salaries to leadership. “The liabilities exceed the assets of this organization by a couple million dollars, and the auditor says there’s a going concern,” said Trustee Anne Sung, questioning the financials of Inspired for Excellence Academy.Still, the Houston school board renewed the contracts with the caveat that the administration strengthen the financial and academic standards, though it’s not clear if that will bar conflicts of interest. The charter schools are considered “in-district” charters, meaning that HISD has authority over them, not the Texas Education Agency.Several trustees expressed concerns about what would happen to the students enrolled in the schools.“If they’re not meeting our expectations, we are pulling the rug out from under children, in, at this point, April — even March is too late,” said Trustee Sue Deigaard. “Where are these children going to go to school? Some of the campuses that they’re zoned to are already overcrowded.”In all, eight charter schools will continue serving 11,000 students and receive about $60 million in public funds next year.Several dozen parents and students from the charter schools attended the meeting, pleading with the board not to shut them down. The vote to renew the contracts triggered cheers and applause.In March, the Houston school board decided to delay renewing the contracts, due to financial concerns. Then and Thursday, several parent advocates opposed the deal, saying children deserve better and calling on the administration to do more of their own due diligence. “Children are not cash cows and should not be viewed as such. In my research, I also found that the majority of teachers at these schools are not state certified,” said Karina Quesada in March.HISD administrators said that if the district doesn’t renew the schools and they close, then it could suffer a financial hit. They estimated that the drop in student enrollment could make HISD’s bill to the state under Robin Hood jump by $63 million. Administrators also said that it could also affect its free meal program.  Sharelast_img read more

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Headset EEG hacking gives new meaning to PINheads

first_img This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. Explore further In a small-device world, bigger may still be better “Consumer-grade BCI devices are available for a few hundred dollars and are used in a variety of applications, such as video games, hands-free keyboards, or as an assistant in relaxation training,” according to the study. “There are application stores similar to the ones used for smart phones, where application developers have access to an API to collect data from the BCI devices,” they note. As the security risks involved in using consumer-grade BCI devices have not been studied, and the impact of malicious software with device access unexplored, the team had their work cut out for them.After having a look at the devices’ security implications, they have concluded that the technology can be turned against people to reveal information the victims assume is secret. Brain-computer interfaces, or BCIs, have been used in medical settings, involving expensive equipment, but the researchers concerned themselves with cheaper, commercial devices. (For example, Emotiv offers an Emotiv EPOC described as a high resolution, neuro-signal acquisition and processing wireless neuroheadset for $299 and NeuroSky offers inexpensive BCI “neuroscience headsets” with a company motto, “brain wave sensors for everybody.”)The researchers, who are from the universities of Oxford and Geneva and University of California, Berkeley, tested their mind-reading program using an Emotiv EEG device on 28 participants.The subjects did not know their brains were being used to extract private information; they were only told that they were going to participate in an experiment involving the privacy implications of using gaming EEG devices. After carrying out a number of experiments, they showed the feasibility of using a cheap consumer-level BCI gaming device to partially reveal private information of the users. By analyzing EEG signals in their experiments, they were able to detect which of presented stimuli were related to the user’s private information—credit cards, PIN numbers, persons known to the user, and user’s residence. The team said, “We show that the entropy of the private information is decreased on the average by approximately15% to 40% compared to random guessing attacks.”Their work was supported by National Science Foundation grants, Intel ISTC for Secure Computing, and the Carl-Zeiss Foundation. More information: www.usenix.org/conference/usen … -computer-interfacescenter_img (Phys.org) — Researchers at the Usenix Security conference earlier this month demonstrated a way to get into your brain and learn facts that you don’t want to reveal. Using a commercial off-the-shelf brain-computer interface, the researchers created a custom program designed to find out personal data such as address and PIN. The study, “On the Feasibility of Side-Channel Attacks with Brain-Computer Interfaces,” is by Ivan Martinovic, Doug Davies, Mario Frank, Daniele Perito, Tomas Ros, and Dawn Song. The authors point out that it is just such a commercial off the shelf brain computer interface—costing a few hundred dollars—that can run the brain-hacking show. (c) 2012 Phys.org Citation: Headset EEG hacking gives new meaning to PINheads (2012, August 22) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2012-08-headset-eeg-hacking-pinheads.htmllast_img read more

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Everything traditional is the new contemporary

first_imgMost modern brides these days are opting for a traditional look for their wedding day rather than a contemporary one but if you want to give a modern makeover to your traditional designs, try out some evergreen pieces. Experts list down some trends:Golden Heritage: The traditional south Indian ‘Kundalavellai’ style of jewellery is being revisited by brides. Beautifully crafted in closed set 22 carat gold, these pieces showcase the beauty of rubies with accents of emeralds. Few Jewellery houses take pride in continuing this tradition which is becoming very rare. Also Read – Add new books to your shelf Brides are looking to wear traditional pieces which could be family heirlooms or new pieces crafted keeping the integrity of the design and the craft. Unusual pieces like the Talai saman (set of head ornaments), The Vanki (arm band) and the Odiyanam (waist belt) are coveted. Wearing a legacy: Going back to the roots, this style of south Indian closed set diamond jewellery is seeing a growing popularity among young brides, especially for the wedding ceremony. A new take on this would be inspiration-based collections which is a break-away from the limited designs. Whether it’s the Indian bridal Nath or the Maangtikka, no Indian wedding can be complete without these traditional elements.last_img read more

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The Suspense of Rebecca – Early Hitchcock Best Picture Winner to be

first_imgNetflix’s announcement that the network is going forward with a production of Rebecca, based on Daphne du Maurier’s classic suspense novel, has aroused a great deal of interest — and surprise over the casting of the two leads. The first film adaptation, made in 1940 and starring Joan Fontaine and Laurence Olivier, is considered a film classic.Alfred Hitchcock’s first American production, it won the Academy Award for Best Picture.Rebecca by Dapne du Maurier.In the Netflix version, Lily James will play Mrs. de Winter (her first name is never named in the book) and Arnie Hammer will play Maxim de Winter.In the novel, Mrs. de Winter is a very young, shy, awkward, and rather plain Englishwoman who is the paid companion of a rich American widow on holiday in Monte Carlo, where she meets an aloof, sardonic wealthy English landowner named Maxim de Winter, 45 years old, whose first wife, Rebecca, died within the previous year.Promotional photograph of Laurence Olivier, Florence Bates and Joan Fontaine in the film ‘Rebecca.’The two fall in love and marry, but his second wife can never escape from the feeling that the beautiful, glamorous Rebecca overshadows her.She also suffers from the age gap between the two. As Max de Winter says when courting her, “You’re young enough to be my daughter.”Laurence Olivier and Joan Fontaine in ‘Rebecca.’Lily James, one of the most prominent actresses working today with roles in Mama Mia 2, Darkest Hour and Downton Abbey, is 29 years old and celebrated for her beauty.Armand Hammer is a 32-year-old American actor best known for his roles in The Lone Ranger, The Man From U.N.C.L.E., The Social Network and Call Me By Your Name.Lily James. Photo by Eva Rinaldi CC BY-SA 2.0According to The Guardian, “In an unlikely directorial choice, High Rise’s Ben Wheatley has been hired to direct, with Woman in Black and Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children writer Jane Goldman taking on script duties.British production outfit Working Title are overseeing in collaboration with Netflix.”Armand Hammer. Photo by Martin Kraft CC BY-SA 3.0The role of Mrs. Danvers has not yet been cast, prompting intense speculation.Mrs. Danvers was the housekeeper of Manderly, de Winter’s large estate. But her loyalty was to the dead Rebecca, and as the novel progresses, she becomes more threatening to the second wife.Promotional photograph of (from left) Judith Anderson, George Sanders, Joan Fontaine, Laurence Olivier and C. Aubrey Smith in the film ‘Rebecca.’Netflix recently released an adaptation of Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House, also the subject of a beloved classic film.The new version bore little resemblance to the novel, but won mostly positive reviews.Mrs. Danvers attempts to persuade Mrs. de Winter to leap to her death.However, Rebecca is one of the most popular novels of the 20th century.Daphne du Maurier herself was surprised by the novel winning such an enduring status. She once described it as “a sinister tale about a woman who marries a widower. Psychological and rather macabre.”The young Daphne du Maurier, c. 1930.She had already written Jamaica Inn when she penned Rebecca in 1938. She followed it with Frenchman’s Creek, The King’s General, My Cousin Rachel, and the short stories The Birds and Don’t Look Now. Many of her works of fiction were made into films.“Rebecca contains elements of romance, murder mystery and the gothic novel,” wrote The Telegraph. “It defies easy categorization, but parallels with Jane Eyre are unavoidable.”Joan Fontaine in ‘Rebecca.’The novel sold 3 million copies between 1938 and 1965.Hitchcock made a very faithful adaptation of the book because he was under pressure from David O. Selznick to do so. Olivier, who was then having an affair with Vivien Leigh, lobbied for her to be cast as his wife in Rebecca, but Leigh was considered too pretty.Promotional photograph of Joan Fontaine and Laurence Olivier.In later interviews, Joan Fontaine said that Olivier was not friendly while they made the film, and Hitchcock treated her coldly, but possibly intentionally, to bring out the insecurity that was key to the character in the book.The novel has already been adapted several times since Hitchcock’s success.Read another story from us: The Master of Suspense – 5 Revealing Facts of Alfred HitchcockA 1997 television production starring Charles Dance and Emilia Fox, and Diana Riggs as Mrs. Danvers, was well received.last_img read more

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Blood Pressure Monitoring Devices Market Is Projected to Hit USD

first_imgBlood Pressure Monitoring Devices Market was valued at $ 1,981 million in 2015, and is anticipated to reach $ 2,926 million by 2022, registering a CAGR of 5.7% from 2016 to 2022. The demand for blood pressure monitoring devices is expected to increase in forthcoming years, as they can facilitate early diagnosis of a patients deteriorating health condition. In addition, advanced blood pressure monitoring devices are designed for personal use, which help to track the health status of a patient remotely.Blood pressure is considered as one of the main risk factors for chronic heart disease. Advanced blood pressure monitoring devices are used for regular remote monitoring and transmission of the blood pressure data to the physicians. Factors such as increase in geriatric population, rise in inclination towards home monitoring, and upsurge in incidence rate of chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disorders and obesity, are expected to drive the market.Download Report Sample @ https://www.alliedmarketresearch.com/request-sample/2166Moreover, innovations in blood pressure monitoring devices, (such as introduction of digital blood pressure monitors) and rise in awareness among patients regarding advanced devices are expected to fuel the market growth. However, lack of awareness about these devices in low- and middle-income economies hampers the market growth.Digital BP monitors at hospitals & clinics segment is expected to dominate the global blood pressure monitoring devices market, as these devices facilitate easy and early detection of a patients deteriorating health condition, thereby, enabling speedy intervention and diagnosis of diseases. However, the ambulatory BP monitoring devices at ambulatory surgical centers (ASCs) market is projected to be the fastest growing segment, owing to increase in the number of outpatient cases.Digital blood pressure monitoring devices segment is anticipated to dominate the global blood pressure monitoring devices market owing to the increase in the global incidence of hypertension. However, ambulatory blood pressure monitors segment is projected to be the fastest growing segment, as a result of increase in the outpatient cases and reimbursement support from the government.Get a purchase enquiry @ https://www.alliedmarketresearch.com/purchase-enquiry/2166North America was the highest revenue contributor to the global revenue in 2015, accounting for about two-fifths share, and is expected to maintain this trend. This is attributed to the increase in prevalence of hypertension, growth in awareness among patients about cost-effective blood pressure monitoring devices, and availability of advanced healthcare facilities in North American countries. However, Asia-Pacific is expected to grow at the highest rate, owing to its high population base, incomes, and improvement in patient awareness about advanced blood pressure monitoring devices.Leading industry players:A&D Company, Limited, Contec Medical Systems Co., Ltd., General Electric Company, Halma plc, Hill-Rom Holdings, Inc., Koninklijke Philips N.V., Masimo Corporation, Nihon Kohden Corporation, Omron Corporation, and Smiths Group Plc.About Us:Allied Market Research (AMR) is a full-service market research and business consulting wing of Allied Analytics LLP based in Portland, Oregon. Allied Market Research provides global enterprises as well as medium and small businesses with unmatched quality of “Market Research Reports” and “Business Intelligence Solutions.” AMR has a targeted view to provide business insights and consulting to assist its clients to make strategic business decisions and achieve sustainable growth in their respective market domain.We are in professional corporate relations with various companies and this helps us in digging out market data that helps us generate accurate research data tables and confirms utmost accuracy in our market forecasting. Each and every data presented in the reports published by us is extracted through primary interviews with top officials from leading companies of domain concerned. Our secondary data procurement methodology includes deep online and offline research and discussion with knowledgeable professionals and analysts in the industry.Contact:David Correa5933 NE Win Sivers Drive#205, Portland, OR 97220United StatesUSA/Canada (Toll Free):+1-800-792-5285, +1-503-894-6022, +1-503-446-1141UK: +44-845-528-1300Hong Kong: +852-301-84916India (Pune): +91-20-66346060Fax: +1(855)550-5975help@alliedmarketresearch.comWeb: https://www.alliedmarketresearch.comlast_img read more

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