HERES YOUR CHANCE School Committee Vacancy To Be Filled On August 13

first_imgWILMINGTON, MA — What if I told you you could become a Wilmington School Committee member without having to spend three months campaigning and hundreds (thousands?) of dollars?The Wilmington Board of Selectmen and Wilmington School Committee will hold a joint meeting on Monday, August 13, 2018 to fill the School Committee seat recently vacated by Peggy Kane. The meeting will take place within the Board of Selectmen’s Meeting scheduled for that evening.Per Massachusetts General Law Chapter 41, Section 11, the remaining six School Committee members and the five Selectmen are responsible in appointing a resident to fill Kane’s unexpired term, which is up in April 2019. The “winning” candidate would need a simple majority — affirmative votes from at least six of the eleven officials — to secure the appointment.Residents wishing to serve on the School Committee must send a letter of interest to the Town Manager’s Office (directed to Kevin A. Caira, Chairman of the Board of Selectmen, 121 Glen Road, Wilmington, MA 01887) by Friday, July 27, 2018 at 4:30pm.The Town Manager’s Office will distribute the letters to each member of the Board of Selectmen and School Committee, giving them a couple of weeks to have conversations with candidates prior to the August 13 meeting.The joint meeting was originally eyed for July 9 — the Board of Selectmen’s next regularly scheduled meeting — but multiple School Committee members would be unable to attend.Selectmen unanimously backed the process, which was outlined by Town Manager Jeff Hull after consulting with Selectmen Chair Kevin Caira and School Committee Chair Julie Broussard.Wilmington Apple has confirmed that Jesse Fennelly, the runner-up in April’s School Committee election, intends on being a candidate for the appointment.Wilmington Apple has also heard that a former School Committee member may be interested in returning to the board.Like Wilmington Apple on Facebook. Follow Wilmington Apple on Twitter. Follow Wilmington Apple on Instagram. Subscribe to Wilmington Apple’s daily email newsletter HERE. Got a comment, question, photo, press release, or news tip? Email wilmingtonapple@gmail.com.Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:Like Loading… RelatedUPDATE: ZERO Letters Of Interest Received For Vacant School Committee Seat So Far; Deadline Is July 27In “Education”Special Education PAC Chair Jo Newhouse Appointed To Wilmington School CommitteeIn “Education”BREAKING NEWS: Peggy Kane Resigns From Wilmington School CommitteeIn “Breaking News”last_img read more

Expediaowned Trivago files for IPO worth 400 million

first_imgTrivago, a hotel booking website owned by Expedia, has filed for an Initial Public Offering (IPO) in the United States. In a regulatory filing, the company said it plans to list its depository receipts on Nasdaq.According to Bloomberg, Trivago will have two classes of shares after the IPO — Class A shares and Class B shares. It plans to sell its Class A shares to the public, while the Class B shares will be retained by Expedia. Class A shares are currently held by Trivago’s management.However, in its regulatory filing on Monday, the company did not reveal how many shares it planned to sell or its expected price.Four years ago, the US-based Expedia bought a 62 percent stake in Trivago for about $531 million. Dara Khosrowshahi, Expedia CEO, had told investors in July that the management and founders of Trivago had agreed to go public in a bid to value Trivago as a standalone firm, Reuters reported.Chances are the final size of the IPO could be different. The company plans to use the symbol TRVG for its listing.For the first nine months of the present fiscal, the Dusseldorf-based Trivago reported a net loss of $57.8 million on income of $425.6 million. Morgan Stanley, JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs are leading the deal.last_img read more

Hundreds missing after dam collapse in Laos

first_imgMap of Laos locating a dam collapse. Photo: AFPHundreds of people are missing and an unknown number believed dead after the collapse of a hydropower dam under construction in southeast Laos, state media reported Tuesday.Communist Laos is traversed by a vast network of rivers and there are several dams being built or are planned in the impoverished and landlocked country, which exports most of its hydropower energy to neighbouring countries like Thailand.Laos News Agency said the accident happened at a hydropower dam in southeastern Attapeu province’s Sanamxay district late Monday, releasing five billion cubic metres of water-more than two million Olympic swimming pools.The report added that the there were “several human lives claimed, and several hundreds of people missing”.Several houses in the southern part of the district were also swept away, the report said, and officials in the province put out a call for relief aid for flood victims.The $1.2 billion dam is part of a project by Vientiane-based Xe Pian Xe Namnoy Power Company, or PNPC, a joint venture formed in 2012.Among the companies involved in the project according to the Laos News Agency are Thailand’s Ratchaburi Electricity Generating Holding, South Korea’s Korea Western Power and the state-run Lao Holding State Enterprise.The 410 megawatt capacity dam was supposed to start commercial operations by 2019, according to the venture’s website.The project consists of a series of dams over the Houay Makchanh, the Xe-Namnoy and the Xe-Pian rivers in neighbouring Champasack Province.It planned to export 90 percent of its electricity to energy hungry Thailand and the remaining amount was to be offered up on the local grid.Under the terms of construction, PNPC said it would operate and manage the power project for 27-years after commercial operations began.When contacted by phone in Laos’ capital Vientiane an official told AFP: “We do not have any official reports about it yet. We are gathering information.”Dam projects, mainly providing power to neighbouring countries, have long been controversial as they often displace large numbers of local people.The hydroelectric project at Xayaburi, led by Thai group CH Karnchang, with a 1,285 megawatt dam-which will cost $3.5 billion according to state media-is at the heart of Laos’ plan to become “the battery of Southeast Asia”.But it has sharply divided several Mekong nations who worry it will disrupt vital ecosystems and their own river systems.Six Vietnamese workers were killed when a gas cylinder exploded at the construction site of a hydropower plant in central Laos in July last year.last_img read more

Vanier is gone but his Christian model for living alongside the disabled

first_imgYonat Shimron YonatShimron Facebook Twitter Pinterest LinkedIn ReddIt Email TagsDuke Divinity School Friendship House health care homepage featured Jean Vanier L’Arche people with disabilities Top Story,You may also like Share This! Facebook Twitter Pinterest LinkedIn ReddIt Email,FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (RNS) — At the evening prayer service at a new residential complex here, a dozen young people took turns reading a passage from the Gospel of Luke, reciting a Psalm and singing some prayers.They paid no mind as one woman tripped over the words “rebuke,” “unrighteous” and “snare” that appeared in the liturgy. They congratulated another person who, at the end of the Lord’s Prayer, blurted out, “What does ‘amen’ mean?”“Good question!” some exclaimed in unison. It means “truly,” offered one; “so be it,” offered another.These kinds of moments are common at the weekly service where a mix of graduate students and a handful of adults with developmental disabilities share living quarters in three new buildings in the city’s Haymount neighborhood.Jean Vanier. Photo courtesy of Templeton Prize, John MorrisonFriendship House, as they call their co-housing space, is in many ways an outgrowth of the thinking of Jean Vanier, the Catholic theologian and humanitarian who died earlier this month and who changed the way many Christians view disability. Insisting on the humanity of all, Vanier worked to tear down the separation between the able and disabled and between those helping and those being helped.His signature creation was L’Arche, a worldwide network of homes where people with and without disabilities live and work as peers. The influence of L’Arche can be found in Friendship Houses, which have adopted Vanier’s core principle of “Eat together, pray together, celebrate together.”READ: ‘Intrinsically worthy’: Jean Vanier’s legacy to people with disabilitiesThere are seven Friendship Houses in the U.S. and one in Scotland. The Fayetteville Friendship House, which opened late last year, is the newest and most novel. While other Friendship Houses are affiliated with seminaries or Christian universities, Fayetteville’s is intended to allow students in health care professions the opportunity to learn from disabled people.It is the brainchild of Scott Cameron, a physician and a graduate of Duke Divinity School, who realized he needed to change his own attitude about some of the diagnoses he delivers to parents of babies he cares for in the neonatal intensive care unit at Cape Fear Valley Medical Center. With Friendship House, Cameron aims to extend that insight into a larger group of health care students.“I think it will help them change the way they view disabilities, not as something that is broken, but something that can be celebrated,” he said.Cameron and his family — his wife is a public school teacher — moved into a newly constructed house next to Friendship House last year. The Camerons often lead joint activities there.Two of the three Friendship House buildings in Fayetteville, N.C. RNS photo by Yonat ShimronThe campus, with three buildings, a barn and a garden, cost about $1.5 million to build. Much of that was raised through partnerships with businesses and nonprofits. The land was given by Highland Presbyterian Church, which is located across the street.The house is meant to attract those studying to be nurses, doctors, physician assistants, physical therapists and occupational therapists at four nearby universities and a community college. At full capacity, it will house 18 students and six people with developmental disabilities.Each resident pays a monthly rent of $450, including utilities, and is provided a bedroom on a single-sex unit. Each unit includes a disabled person and three students.But the students are not caretakers or babysitters. They are there mostly to offer social support.“My job is to be a friend,” said Victor Long, 30, who graduated from Campbell University’s School of Osteopathic Medicine this month and shares a Friendship House apartment with Michael Brown, a 24-year-old man with autism.“I go about my daily living. If I go grocery shopping or out to eat with friends, I try to get Michael involved, to be social,” said Long, who begins a residency at Cape Fear Valley Medical Center next month.Michael Brown, standing right, helps plant some raised beds at Friendship House in Fayetteville, N.C. Photo courtesy of Avery CameronThat help with socialization is a key part of what draws people with disabilities to the house.“Our son loves Friendship House and I think this is the first time in his life where he’s felt like he has a network of friends,” said Brenda Brown, Michael’s mother. “That’s probably the biggest thing he’s gotten so far.”The first Friendship House opened in 2007 at Western Theological Seminary in Holland, Mich. Matthew Floding, then dean of students, said a couple approached him at church and told him they wanted their disabled son to live independently but couldn’t find a safe place for him.At the time, the seminary was looking to provide more housing for its students, and the idea of pairing students with people with disabilities was born.Floding, now director of ministerial formation at Duke Divinity School, said the need for housing may have sparked the project, but theological considerations also played a role. A co-housing arrangement would provide students entering ministry the opportunity to live among marginalized people — people like those Jesus ministered to.“How can you train people to serve all people if you don’t address it in your curriculum or experientially?” he asked.An estimated 4.6 million Americans have an intellectual or developmental disability, according to The Arc, a national organization that advocates for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.Developmental disabilities may include cerebral palsy, epilepsy, developmental delay, autism and fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. Intellectual disability generally means an IQ test score of approximately 70 or below.Unlike L’Arche homes, which welcome people with profound disabilities (and also receive federal and state support), the adults with disabilities living in Friendship Houses typically have mild delays such as autism or Down syndrome. Most have high school diplomas and some hold driver’s licenses.Participants pray together after the spring planting and dedication of raised beds at Friendship House in Fayetteville, N.C. Photo courtesy of Avery CameronLike at the L’Arche homes, faith binds the residents together. While no one has to profess a Christian faith, or any faith, residents are expected to participate in the weekly prayer service.That was something Chasity Sullivan, 26, welcomed.“I’m a Christian and had been looking for a church — and hadn’t found the right one — and this offered a faith community,” said Sullivan, who is studying at Methodist University to be a physician’s assistant.Floding said he is interested in developing an interfaith Friendship House, perhaps on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. But for now, most of the interest has come from Christian seminaries: Princeton Theological Seminary, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and Luther Seminary are all considering opening their own Friendship Houses, he said.For Cameron, who took his Friendship House residents on a hayride around town after prayer services on a recent Tuesday evening, it’s a worthy effort.“We need to be in community with folks who have disabilities more than they need to be with us,” said Cameron. “There’s something that they bring. It’s a leveling effect, where ambition and the career ladder and your bank account balance, they become silly.”The relaxing front porch of a Friendship House building in Fayetteville, N.C. RNS photo by Yonat Shimron By: Yonat Shimron YonatShimron Facebook Twitter Pinterest LinkedIn ReddIt Email Facebook Twitter Pinterest LinkedIn ReddIt Email,About the authorView All Posts News Cancel replyYou must be logged in to post a comment.,In St. Louis, ‘Grill to Glory’ deploys churches (and hot dogs) for communi … DIY Faith • News Share This! Share This!center_img News Buttigieg walks fine line in courting religious left August 29, 2019 Dinner church movement sets the table for food, faith and friendships August 29, 2019 By: Yonat Shimron YonatShimron Share This! By: Yonat Shimron YonatShimron Yonat Shimron Yonat Shimron is an RNS National Reporter and Senior Editor.,Add Comment Click here to post a comment Pete Buttigieg: Religious left is ‘stirring’ August 29, 2019 To Botham Jean’s parents, fatal shooting still feels ‘as if it just happened’ Facebook Twitter Pinterest LinkedIn ReddIt Email Share This!last_img read more

Genderbased colours in toys can spur harmful stereotypes

first_imgToymakers should avoid gender- labelling toys, and create items for both boys and girls in a wide range of colours, say scientists who found that children’s perception of what is appropriate for a gender can be easily manipulated. The study is also the first to show that a boy’s liking of blue and a girl’s preference for pink is not just a Western construct, but is also a phenomenon in urban Asian societies.The researchers from University of Hong Kong recruited 129 Chinese children aged between five and seven from two kindergartens in Hong Kong. Also Read – Add new books to your shelfFirst they assessed the children’s preference for pink versus blue by showing them cards and toys in these colours.Then the children were presented with yellow and green cards and toys.They were randomly divided into so-called label and no-label groups.Children in the no-label group were presented with coloured cards and toys which had no reference to a specific gender and these children consequently expressed no preference for a specific colour.However, preschoolers in the label group were told that yellow was a girl’s colour and green a boys’ colour, and corresponding gender differences emerged in the choices they made. Also Read – Over 2 hours screen time daily will make your kids impulsive Apart from randomly assigning children to these two groups, the children’s pre-existing preferences for yellow and green were statistically controlled, so the resulting difference between the groups speaks strongly to a causal effect of the gender labels.According to the researchers, the gender differences between preferred colours in children is noteworthy because it is so much more prominent than most other psychological differences between the sexes. “Our findings support the notion that gender-typed liking for pink versus blue is a particularly salient gender difference,” said Sui Ping Yeung from University of Hong Kong.”Moreover, our findings reveal that gender differences could be created merely by applying gender labels,” Yeung said.The findings, published in the journal Sex Role support previous research that highlighted the strong influence that gender labels such as “for boys” or “for girls” might have. Further, the observations are in line with gender schema theory that says that once children have learnt a specific gender identity, their behaviour will be guided by the standards set as being appropriate for their specific sex.These will guide them later in life on how they interact and adapt to their surroundings, for instance, when taking on chores around the house, such as cooking, cleaning or repairing things.last_img read more

Watch out for these roadworks across Stafford Borough and Uttoxeter this week

first_imgRoadworks in Newcastle Borough North Staffordshire and South Cheshire Roadworks in South Cheshire Roadworks on the M6, A500 and A50 Roadworks in the Staffordshire Moorlands A- S A34: Lane closure on A34 from Monkey Forest Island to M6 J14 Island from September 17 until October 8 Derrington: Roadworks and road closure on Long Lane between Dale Lane and Handfords Cottage from August 28 until November 19 Eccleshall: Roadworks and road closure on Green Lane from September 24 until October 19 Gnosall: Multi-way traffic signals on Knightley Road in Gnosall from September 27 until October 4 Hyde Lea: Two way traffic control on Hyde Lea Bank from October 5 until October 10 Little Haywood: Stop/go boards on High Chase Rise from September 29 until October 3 Meaford: Multi-way traffic lights on Meaford Road from September 12 until September 25 at the roundabout of Meaford Road and Tower Road until October 1 Meaford: Two way signals on Rookery Lane from September 12 until October 1 Meaford: One lane closed on A34 on Stone Road in Meaford from October 2 until October 11 Meir Heath: Two way traffic signals on Common Lane in Meir Heath until October 1 Norbury: Roadworks and road closure on A519 from September 20 until October 24 Ranton: Stop/go boards on Brook Lane outside All Saints Church on October 4 Sandon: Roadworks and overnight closures at level crossing on B5066 Sandon Bank from September 29 until October 1 (Road closed from 10pm until 6am) Saverley Green: Multi-way traffic signals on Sandon Road from September 27 until October 1 Stafford Stafford: Temporary traffic lights on Beaconside until April 2019 Stafford: Roadworks and road closure on Baswich Lane near the canal bridge from September 10 until December 14 Stafford: Two way traffic lights on Bridge Street from September 25 until October 3 Stafford: Burton Bank Lane Footway closed until October 18 (over M6). Stafford: Two way traffic signals on Lichfield Road near St Pauls Church on October 7 Stafford: Carriageway incursion on Marston Road outside number 129 from September 29 until October 3. Stafford: Carriageway incursion on Newport Road outside number 32 from September 18 until October 1 Stafford: Roadworks and road closures on Shakespeare Road, Coleridge Drive, Tennyson Road and Somerset Road from August 6 until November 9 Stafford: Carriageway incursion on Stone Road adjacent to numbers 91 and 87 from September 27 until October 4 S (Continued) – W Stone: Roadworks and road closures at Aston Roundabout (A34/A51) from August 20 until November 2. Stone: Roadworks on Eccleshall Road between Walton and the M6 from September 20 until November 1 Stone: Temporary traffic lights on Eccleshall Road from October 1 until October 8 Stone: Carriageway incursion on Granville Square from October 3 until October 9 Woodseaves: Roadworks and road closure on A519 Newport Road from August 13 until October 22center_img Get the biggest Daily stories by emailSubscribeSee our privacy noticeThank you for subscribingSee our privacy noticeCould not subscribe, try again laterInvalid Email Drivers are being warned to expect traffic and travel delays due to roadworks across Stafford Borough this coming week. Motorists hitting the roads of the area on Monday morning can expect a raft of delays and road closures waiting for them. The following roadworks are taking place in the Borough from Monday October 1 until Sunday October 7 – with this list also including Uttoxeter for those who live, work and travel through the East Staffordshire town. This list contains only the roadworks considered to be most likely to cause delays on key routes as well as those involving road closures and temporary traffic lights. It is not exhaustive and does not feature some minor or emergency repairs that come up after publication. Other roadworks may finish or start before schedule or be cancelled altogether. If you only want information about roadworks in a different area of North Staffordshire and South Cheshire, visit the links below, otherwise scroll down for the roadworks most likely to disrupt your journey in Stafford Borough in the coming week All information from Highways England, local authorities and utility companies. Read MoreRoadworks from October 1 until October 4 Roadworks in Stoke-on-Trent Roadworks in Stafford Borough/Uttoxeter A50 closed all weekendlast_img read more

Saint Lucia Tourism Authority revamps travel agent program

first_img Travelweek Group Friday, June 15, 2018 TORONTO – The Saint Lucia Tourism Authority (SLTA) has revamped its travel agent specialist program (SLEx), an online educational and loyalty program that’s open to agents in Canada.Mobile friendly and customizable, SLEx provides resources that will enable agents to better sell the destination in areas like Dive, Romance and Family Travel.Upon completion of the program, graduates will receive a certificate that unlocks features and benefits of being a Saint Lucia Expert. A combination of three status tiers will highlight the best producers and provide additional incentives and support to each tier.SLEx awards agents marketing credits based on room nights within the following tiers: Gold (50-149 room nights); Platinum (150-299 room nights); and Diamond (300+ room nights).Benefits include: three continuing education credits from ACTA or The Travel Institute; personalized certificate; and printable education packet.As an additional incentive, the top recording travel agents and their agencies will be awarded monthly prizes in the sum of US$250 cash for the agent, and $250 marketing credit for the agency (to go towards Saint Lucia business development). The new platform will allow agents to track their progress in real time.More news: TRAVELSAVERS welcomes Julie Virgilio to the teamOther benefits of the program include:Lead generation via website inclusion by zip code, agency name and contact details;Customization of collateral including package flyers and social media resourcesSpecial recognition and awards;Discounted fams and agent rates with Saint Lucia Agent Months (SLAM);Special promotions and offers;Agent’s own SLEx e-newsletter templateSpecial recognition in SLTA press releases and stories ‘Tell us about your client’s vacation experience in Saint Lucia’;Invitation to attend THE PITON INSPIRO AwardsAn SLTA logo for business cards and websiteTravel agents can enroll in the program at http://edu.recommend.com/saintlucia. Current Saint Lucia Specialists are not required to retake the course but will benefit from the new resources and status. Posted by Saint Lucia Tourism Authority revamps travel agent programcenter_img Share Tags: Agent Incentives, Saint Lucia, Saint Lucia Tourism Authority << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

Bangkok braces for weekend protests

first_imgSource = e-Travel Blackboard: P.T New security laws as BKK readies for protests this weekend. Image: Gavin Gough Thailand’s capital is preparing for mass protests, with the government adjuring police with new security laws to aid in controlling the predicted tens of thousands expected to hit Bangkok’s streets this weekend.Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said that new Internal Security Act will be implemented in three districts throughout central Bangkok from 22 November to 30 November to prevent rising violence, according to The Wall Street Journal.“I stand ready to listen to a diversity of views and offer my explanations,” Ms. Yingluck said. “Being a democracy, is not only about expressing one’s freedoms. “The rule of law must also be observed and obeyed.”Smartraveller has warned Australian’s in Thailand to exercise a high degree of caution and recommend potential visitors do not travel at this time.The motivation behind this weekend’s protests is thought to be a continuation of protests against former Thai leader Thaksin Shinawatra, who is the Prime Minister’s older sibling.Shinawatra was removed from power in the military coup 2006.last_img read more

Rep Lucido committee off to busy start in Lansing

first_img The first six months of the 2017-18 House session have been busy for state Rep. Peter Lucido, of Shelby Township, as he has submitted 55 bills for review by his fellow legislators to help move Michigan forward. The majority of his bills have been assigned to the House Law and Justice Committee, which Lucido serves as vice-chair.“Anybody who knows me knows already that I like working hard – hard and smart,” Lucido said. “And as a licensed attorney, the law and seeing justice done have been part of my everyday focus for decades. This committee works diligently in making Michigan safer, but does so in a responsible way for our fellow citizens.”Nineteen bills sponsored by Lucido have been assigned to the committee, and five have advanced to the House floor. Altogether, 102 bills have been submitted to the committee with 30 being voted out, helping decrease the number of drunken drivers on state roads, improve protections of children, give victims of human trafficking a chance to get their lives in order, add protections for courtroom and corrections officials and extend domestic violence protections to family pets.“Our committee has also had multiple presentations focusing on ‘Safe and Secure Rehabilitation,’ which has provided insight into our state’s criminal justice system especially in prisons,” Lucido said. “Our goal as a committee is to reform our criminal justice system, so gaining this added insight will help us over the coming months.”Collectively, four of Lucido’s bills have been signed into law – giving Michigan’s citizens the option of using a paper or electronic proof of registration, increasing juror pay in civil and criminal court proceedings, and allowing expert testimony in human trafficking cases.“We’re off to good start in Lansing, but that’s just it – it’s a start,” Lucido said. “We’ve got a lot to do over the next 18 months or so.” 05Jul Rep. Lucido, committee off to busy start in Lansing Categories: Lucido News,Newslast_img read more

Rep Frederick supports money saving measures for Michigan families

first_img Categories: Frederick News 16Feb Rep. Frederick supports money saving measures for Michigan families Bills provide tax relief, end driver responsibility feesState Rep. Ben Frederick this week supported two bipartisan measures that aim to ease burdens on Michigan families.The first would end driver responsibility fees effective Oct. 1 and forgive outstanding debt associated with the fees.Frederick said the fees, which were enacted by a previous administration to fill a budget shortfall, resulted in financial hardships for families across the state.“Driver responsibility fees created a huge economic barrier for many families,” said Frederick, of Owosso. “Because of the fees – which are charged on top of normal fines and court costs – many people least able to pay found themselves in increasing debt and without driver’s licenses for many years. That resulted in a Catch 22 where people couldn’t make payments to the state because their lack of a license prevented them from securing a job.”The bill package ends the fees on Oct. 1 and forgives all outstanding debt in connection to the fees. The legislation also creates a grace period from enactment of the bill thorough Dec. 31 that enables affected residents to get their driver’s licenses back without paying a $125 restoration fee. People on monthly payment plans will receive immediate forgiveness, and others may participate in workplace development training programs to regain their driver’s licenses prior to Oct. 1.Frederick also voted in support of a plan to cut taxes for Michigan residents.The plan continues and increases personal exemptions for Michigan taxpayers and their dependents on state income taxes, potentially saving families hundreds of dollars overall.“I know there are many households in Shiawassee and Saginaw counties that need and will welcome this much-deserved tax relief,” said Frederick. “That we have been able to move these measures through the legislative process in a bipartisan fashion is further proof that this is the right policy for our state.”The bills ensure Michigan taxpayers will be able to continue claiming personal exemptions on their income taxes, a necessary step after federal tax reforms signed into law in December. The measure also increases the state personal exemption from the current $4,000 to $4,900 by the 2021 tax year.The technical fix related to the federal reforms saves $170 per person per year – or $680 for a family of four – on state income taxes. The plan to raise the personal exemption to $4,900 provides an additional $102 in additional annual tax relief for a family of four.The legislation also allows taxpayers in Michigan cities with an income tax to continue to claim exemptions.Both measures were approved in nearly unanimous bipartisan votes by the House and move to the governor’s desk for consideration.###last_img read more

House approves Nobles plan allowing tax credits for donations to charities

first_img Categories: News,Noble News 13Dec House approves Noble’s plan allowing tax credits for donations to charities The Michigan House on Wednesday overwhelmingly approved a plan authored by state Rep. Jeff Noble, of Plymouth, allowing tax credits for donations to certain charitable organizations.Under the measure, House Bill 6433, for tax years beginning on and after January 1, 2019, Michiganders may credit against their charitable contributions made during the tax year to organizations that provide overnight accommodation, food or meals to the poor and homeless. Noble’s plan brings back a credit that was eliminated by changes to the Income Tax Act in 2011.“Hard-working Michigan taxpayers should be given credit for their charitable donations,” Noble said. “Our communities’ charitable organizations and causes benefit when more Michiganders financially contribute. Any government decree impeding on the act of being charitable is simply wrong.”House Bill 6433 now advances to the Senate for further consideration.#####last_img read more

In 2005 Francis Brauner was a quarter of the way

first_imgIn 2005, Francis Brauner was a quarter of the way through a 20-year prison sentence at Dixon Correctional Institute in Louisiana, when he had an accident.Brauner was imprisoned for a rape conviction, which he maintains was wrongful and part of a setup by a corrupt judge.His sentence involved hard labor, and one day he was out in the fields, cutting the grass and he bent over to pick something up from the ground. He felt a sharp pain in his back.”There’s no words to describe how bad the pain was, really,” he says. A few days later, it got worse. “It felt like I was hit by a bolt of lightning or something, I mean the pain just shot from my head to my toes.”Years before, he’d been in a car accident, so it was not the first time he had had back trouble. But this time, he could barely stand up.Prison authorities rushed him to Charity Hospital in New Orleans, but then Hurricane Katrina struck. In the chaos, Brauner found himself re-routed to Louisiana State Penitentiary, better known as Angola prison. There he was told he’d find a larger facility with better resources to treat inmates needing medical attention. But he says he was denied the surgery that might have helped.Instead, when he arrived he was left in a bed for a month, largely unattended. He developed wounds on his backside that became so infected, they nearly killed him.”My wounds got severe,” says Brauner, showing a photo of a large, circular gash on his backside. “It actually ate all of my muscle tissue and left gaping open wounds.”Brauner became paralyzed from the waist down and was stationed in the hospital ward of Angola prison.Lapses in careAngola prison is the largest maximum security prison in the country. There are over 6,000 men incarcerated there, most of them serving life sentences.The prison is more than 130 miles from New Orleans. Because of its remote location, most of the medical needs of the inmates are met by a small team of doctors, nurses and EMTs who also live on the grounds.Brauner started to notice that the medical staff were careless about their treatment. He decided to keep a journal to record what he perceived as lapses in medical care.”I started documenting,” Brauner says. “Everything that they did, that they said, day by day. I documented every day.” If a nurse gave out the wrong medication, he wrote that down. If a doctor failed to order a biopsy, he entered it in his journal.That documentation was shared with Nick Trenticosta, a lawyer who represents death penalty cases and was visiting Brauner for an unrelated case. Even though Trenticosta has been going to the prison practically every month for the past three decades, he didn’t recall ever seeing the hospital ward before. He was shocked.”There were open garbage containers,” Trenticosta recounted. “Fly tape hanging from the ceiling with a lot of dead flies on it. Over men’s beds who had open bedsores.”Taking legal actionSince then, the number of complaints about the medical care has increased. Then in 2015, a lawsuit was filed, Lewis v. Cain, accusing Angola prison of causing “needless pain and suffering.” Late last month, Judge Shelly Dick said the case could proceed as a class action lawsuit on behalf of Angola’s prisoners.After repeated requests, the prison’s lawyers would not comment. So to understand how the hospital ward works from the inside, we contacted former employees like Sandy Netherland-Roberts, a paramedic at Angola prison who later ran the hospice.”Budgetary wise, medical-wise, the place gives awesome care,” Netherland-Roberts says. “Do I feel that there is a better health care there than some people get in the outside world? One hundred percent.”According to Dr. Tobe Momah, who worked there for a year, many challenges stem from how long the men stay at Angola.”They’re going to be there for 40, 50 years, so they’re going to develop cancer, hypertension, diabetes…” Momah says. “So every time they have a need that is outside the scope of us five doctors, they have to leave the site.”Leaving the site is prohibitively expensive. And it’s costing the prison even more since Louisiana overhauled its safety net hospital system. Momah says under the circumstances, the medical staff was doing their best to care for the prison’s 6,000-plus inmates.”Well, I don’t know what he means by ‘the circumstances,’ ” says Nick Trenticosta, the lawyer, of Momah’s assessment. “If ‘the circumstances’ means, ‘We don’t have proper medication. We don’t have proper equipment. But we do the best we can,’ It’s like talking like a MASH unit. You know?”Prisoners are the only group in the United States who have a constitutional right to health care. At the core of this lawsuit is the question of what quality of health care prisoners deserve. To Dr. Momah, that is not up for debate.”The first law of medicine is, serve humanity irrespective of who they are,” says Dr. Momah. “So no doctor, as far as I know, will diminish care based on a person’s crime.”As resources have dried up, however, the prison is struggling to provide even basic care. The lawsuit demands more oversight, reforms and a bigger budget for medical care.As for Francis Brauner, he says that most of the men he was with on the chronic care ward at Angola prison have passed away. He was lucky.”I mean… I’m not sentenced to death and that’s the bottom line,” Brauner says. “I’m not sentenced to death.”Since finishing his sentence in 2015, Brauner has been living at a medical facility not far from the prison, waiting for surgery to help heal his wounds.This story was produced in collaboration with In These Times, and Katie Rose Quandt’s reporting was made possible by a grant from the Leonard C. Goodman Institute for Investigative Reporting. Copyright 2018 WNYC Radio. To see more, visit WNYC Radio.last_img read more

Why Do Founding CEOs Pass the Baton

first_imgMost founders embark on a start-up journey with aspirations to see the company through to greatness while maintaining the role of the CEO. Most founding CEOs aspire to be the Bill Gates, the Steve Jobs, and the Mark Zuckerbergs of the world.The reality is quite different. The majority of start-up CEOs recruit their replacements as the company grows beyond $15-20M in revenue.Driving Forces Behind Founding CEOs Who LeaveThe role of the growth stage CEO is completely different. Once the start-up figures out the right formula (who is the customer, what is his pain, how the solution addresses the pain, how the solution should be marketed, priced and sold), it is ready to scale. Scaling a company requires a completely different set of CEO skills. It requires the operational expertise to recruit highly experienced senior managers who have specific functional expertise. It requires the skills to establish an operating rhythm that gets the growing number of employees and managers all focused on the right set of priorities. And it requires managing through others and getting out of people’s ways.The possibility of the founding CEO having both start-up and growth stage skills is extremely rare. And founding CEOs should not feel ashamed in any way if they are not able to carry a company through the two stages. In fact, it is a brave and shrewd founder who recognizes the issue, and raises his/her hand first to point out the need for a transition. I have seen that happen in a few of our portfolio companies.The second driver (or in this case impediment to the transition) is the founding CEO’s ego. Transitioning a founding CEO can become a major issue for the company, its board and its investors when the founding CEO resists facing the reality of the need. Denial is the first reaction: things are going fine, things are not as bad as the board/investor thinks it is, etc. Blame is the second: it’s not my fault, I don’t have the right team, I don’t have enough support, I don’t have enough funding, etc. Anger is third: everyone is against me, the investors are trying to take over my company, the board is trying to screw me, etc. Shame is the fourth: I have failed myself and others.These emotions are natural, but very unfortunate and unnecessary. They are also driven by ego. The problem is that founding CEOs tend to put their own personal aspirations above those of the company. If a founding CEO starts by dispassionately assessing his/her skills against what the company really needs, he/she will likely come to the same conclusion as the board.I wrote about this before in the post, Mr. CEO: Would You Hire Yourself?Lastly, I have seen entrepreneurs blame their investors when the founding CEO is replaced. Now that I have lived on both sides of the fence, I can tell you without hesitation or bias that investors should not be blamed for forcing a transition. VCs are not stupid (at least most of them are not). A VC is not going to force an unnecessary change in leadership unless it is necessary. VCs realize that CEO transitions are super difficult and do not guarantee success (what if the new CEO doesn’t work out?). When a VC (and invariably the board of directors) decides that change is needed, it is usually very necessary and typically should have happened earlier.If you’re going to blame your VC for anything, perhaps blame him for not surrounding the founding CEO with the senior managers and the expertise that could help the founder succeed. Eventually, the buck stops with the CEO. Ultimately, no one should be blamed. Founding CEO transitions are natural and should be expected.AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to FacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterShare to PrintPrintShare to EmailEmailShare to MoreAddThislast_img read more

This Uplifting Tale of a Thrifty Woman Who Amassed a Fortune of

first_img May 8, 2018 Add to Queue 4 min read This Uplifting Tale of a Thrifty Woman Who Amassed a Fortune of Millions Is Also Kind of Discouraging Register Now » Next Article How to Become a Millionaire Entrepreneur Staff Free Webinar | Sept 5: Tips and Tools for Making Progress Toward Important Goalscenter_img –shares Peter Page The transition from wage slave to millionaire is pondered by many but successfully made by very few. One who accomplished it is the late Sylvia Bloom. Shortly before her death in 2016 at age 96 she surprised everyone who knew her by revealing a net worth of roughly $9 million, which she left mostly to scholarship funds.Bloom, the subject of a beautiful New York Times profile prompted by revelation of her $6.24 million bequest to the Henry Street Settlement, amassed her fortune through a combination of hard work, thrift and sensible investing that serves as an example for everyone struggling today for financial security. A little reading between the lines, however, reveals she got some important help along the way which once was available widely but now is not so much.Related: How Student Loans Are Crushing Millennial EntrepreneurialismBloom was born to immigrant parents in Brooklyn generations before it was cool. She grew up during the Great Depression, so everyone traumatized by the Great Recession can appreciate she had a rough start in life. She attended New York City’s public schools, eventually earning her bachelor degree attending New York’s public Hunter College at night while eking out a living working days (Bloom bequeathed $1 million for scholarships to Hunter College). In 1947, Bloom was one of the first support staff hired at the newly-founded Wall Street law firm of Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton, where she worked for 67 years as it grew to an international firm of 1,200 lawyers. Its “our practice” page lists 64 categories beginning with “Africa” and concluding with “white-collar defense and investigations.”Bloom’s niece, Jane Lockshin, told The New York Times her aunt paid attention to the stocks the Wall Street attorneys she worked for bought. When they bought, she bought (and presumably sold when they sold).Indisputably, she was thrifty. It seems no one ever saw her take a cab of any sort — yellow, Uber or Lyft. The day of the 9/11 attacks she was at work until she evacuated on foot (the Twin Towers were located near the offices of Cleary Gottlieb). She walked across the Brooklyn Bridge and took a bus home to the rent-stabilized apartment she shared for decades with her husband, a firefighter who became a public school teacher and part-time pharmacist in retirement. They had no children.Related: Loss of Net Neutrality Risks a Less Friendly Internet for EntrepreneursThis part of Bloom’s life story fits the uplifting narrative of self-determination: work hard, skimp, save, invest. Those are choices everyone can make for themselves. But many of the wise choices she made are more problematic today. A college degree is still a major asset in the job market worth working hard for, as Bloom did, but she probably graduated owing little or nothing. Today, 44.2 million Americans carry an average student loan burden of $37,000. The average monthly student loan payment for borrowers aged 20 to 30 years is $351.The rent-stabilized apartment in Brooklyn certainly had to have made it easier for Bloom to find money to invest. The median asking rent in New York City is around $2800 per month now. Like lots of young people today, Bloom went to work for a startup. Unlike lots of young people hustling in the gig economy today, she took a full-time job with an employer who provided benefits and a solid employment guarantee. Her husband was assured a pension when he retired from FDNY, unlike people today struggling to fund their own retirements.Related: 6 Regions Where Tech Jobs Boom the Housing Is Scary Expensive“She was a child of the Depression and she knew what it was like not to have money,” her niece said. “She had great empathy for other people who were needy and wanted everybody to have a fair shake.”Sylvia Bloom achieved something remarkable and rare, but you get the sense reading her story that she wasn’t smug about it. You get the feeling she would emphasize with the many thrifty people who, instead of slowly building wealthy, are hustling just to stay afloat. Maybe they can put a couple of bucks away for better times, but rent and loan payments come first. Image credit: Henry Street Settlement You can mimic her hard work and frugality but good luck finding a guaranteed cheap apartment or a college degree without student debt. Senior Editor for Green Entrepreneur Attend this free webinar and learn how you can maximize efficiency while getting the most critical things done right.last_img read more

Zenefits CEO Resigns Amid Compliance Issues

first_img The only list that measures privately-held company performance across multiple dimensions—not just revenue. Zenefits CEO Resigns Amid Compliance Issues Image credit: Zenefits Add to Queue Reuters Apply Now » 2019 Entrepreneur 360 List Next Article center_img This story originally appeared on Reuters Zenefits Zenefits, a software startup valued at $4.5 billion, said on Monday it had replaced founder and Chief Executive Parker Conrad and appointed a new leader for the troubled tech company.David Sacks, a former executive at Yammer and PayPal who joined Zenefits a year ago as chief operating officer, has taken over as CEO.”The fact is that many of our internal processes, controls, and actions around compliance have been inadequate, and some decisions have just been plain wrong,” Sacks said in a letter to employees. “As a result, Parker has resigned.”Zenefits provides software for businesses to automate aspects of their human resources services, including healthcare benefits, stock options, maternity leave and vacation time.Once considered by venture capitalists as the fastest-growing software startup, Zenefits has come under fire for allegedly flouting insurance laws and failing to deliver on promises to customers. It is the latest example of a unicorn — a venture-backed tech firm worth $1 billion or more — whose business appears far less sound than investors believed it to be.Recently, Zenefits came under investigation in Washington state for allegations it let unlicensed brokers sell health coverage. Media site BuzzFeed reported, following an investigation of the company, that it allowed salespeople without licenses to act as insurance brokers in at least seven states.San Francisco-based Zenefits said on Monday it appointed its first chief compliance officer, who is in charge of ensuring that the company complies with regulations and broker licensing requirements.”Our culture and tone have been inappropriate for a highly regulated company,” Sacks said.In a statement released by Zenefits, Conrad said he was proud of the company “but recognize that our company’s management infrastructure and policies haven’t kept pace with our meteoric growth.”Reuters could not immediately reach Conrad for comment.The company also said Peter Thiel, co-founder of PayPal and a high-profile Silicon Valley investor, would join the board.Zenefits launched as a high-tech health insurance broker, working as the middleman between businesses and healthcare providers such as Anthem Blue Cross, making money off the commission or broker fee. That sparked a turf war with traditional brokers across the country.It also waged battles with insurance regulators who argued that Zenefits could not give its free software to businesses while also serving as their insurance broker.Conrad, a survivor of testicular cancer and advocate for healthcare reform, founded the company in 2013. He raised more than $500 million from investors, including two rounds of financing from venture firm Andreessen Horowitz within four months.At one point, the company was growing 30 percent month-over-month, and it hired thousands of employees and opened offices in Arizona in 2014 and 2015.(Reporting by Heather Somerville; Editing by Peter Cooney) February 9, 2016 –shares 3 min readlast_img read more

JFK Active Shooter Chaos What a Vacationing Navy SEAL Did to Get

first_img Add to Queue JFK Active Shooter Chaos: What a Vacationing Navy SEAL Did to Get Travelers to Safety Entrepreneur Staff Next Article August 15, 2016 Image credit: SOFREP.com Business Travel This story originally appeared on SOFREP.com Free Webinar | Sept 5: Tips and Tools for Making Progress Toward Important Goalscenter_img Attend this free webinar and learn how you can maximize efficiency while getting the most critical things done right. Brandon Webb is a former Navy SEAL and CEO of Force12 Media. He stepped off his plane last night at JFK Airport just as reports of an active shooter erupted. Here is an abbreviated first-hand account of the incident. Get the full story and pictures here.“Shots fired, active shooter! Everyone run for safety, run!” the officers said last night as I deboarded Lufthansa flight 0404 from Frankfurt, Germany. I was waiting for my luggage, having just cleared customs and thought to myself, “WTF did I just step into?”Let me rewind a bit.I was in the first group off the plane with a business class ticket purchased with air miles. I started scanning my passport into the automated machine when the first alarm in Terminal 8 went up (I was in Terminal 1.) Officers said there was an active shooter loose and told us to go back into the ramp walkway area which most everyone did rather orderly. It was too few people to cause the panic that would come soon.Related: 4 Ways to Survive a Terrorist AttackI scanned two exit points, one would come with a jump and I was at least comforted that I had an out if needed. I let everyone know around me about the plan and they seemed a bit relieved that there at least was somewhat of a plan in place. Thankfully a uniformed officer came back and gave us the all clear, and back down the stairs into the passport area we went.Five impatient minutes into the baggage carousel wait, at least half a dozen officers ran into the area with guns drawn, yelling, “Shots fired, active shooter, everyone run! Run for your lives!” As you can guess, this didn’t encourage an orderly departure. Everyone waiting in the passport control area broke loose and ran. They burst through the alarmed security doors and onto the airplane ramp. I ran out onto the dark tarmac and felt relief — it was instant relief — because we all now had many options to escape and use cover. I was outside and went to speak with an officer to get a read on the situation. Nobody seemed to know anything and nobody was communicating anything to the passengers, which made for an even edgier situation. You could feel the electric panic in the air.Related: Video: The Secret Business of Training Navy SEALsTen minutes later I tried to argue with an officer against sending people back. Their idea was to herd the people back inside and off the ramp — not good. We have a term in Special Ops, “Get the fuck off the X” and it’s for good reason. Running back towards the threat, into a confined space with little options for exit was not good. After a heated exchange with the officer (I was the last one outside), I went inside with him (my only regret of the night), up the stairs and into chaos.A man was crying because he was separated from his wife and children, women and men were crying, babies and kids were in tears, people were hurt from being trampled and still nobody knew what was going on, or what to do. No communication from any official staff or uniformed officer. At the top of the crowded stairwell, I yelled “Follow me” and out we went, down the stairs which exited onto the tarmac and under the baggage area. A group of us ran for cover again. We stopped behind a wall, and at this point, I could see the expressway and the taxi cab line of terminal one and all the onlookers. It was clear there was no immediate threat here, and I wanted to get the hell out of there, too many nervous people waving guns and no plan or communication. I was thinking assault rifles, explosives, no match for the officers with 9mm handguns.Related: The One Trick This Navy SEAL Used to Turn Failure Into SuccessI was confident that I was in charge of my own destiny at this point. I told a group I was with that we could climb the fence and get out of the area. I pulled my black North Face rain jacket out of my pack and threw it over the razor wire and encouraged a lady to go up first. She insisted I climb so she could watch how I did it. Up and over I went, tearing my pant leg with a few minor cuts, no problem. I then coached that little lady over, she was on top and got nervous, she cut herself and looked down at me, I said, “Do it, now,” and she did. She was a survivor for sure, so proud of her for confronting her fear and overcoming it. Hopefully, I can hug her one day. We helped a few more over, along with some waiting bystanders, and then some officers ran over to yell at us and broke up the fence exit.I was in Manhattan 30 minutes later.Get the whole story, including Webb’s six safety measures to consider when traveling, here. Editorial Director –shares Dan Bova 5 min read Register Now »last_img read more

Connected TV is Transforming the Digital Advertising Ecosystem Extreme Reachs Latest Video

first_imgImpact of CTV’s Surging Popularity Includes Highest-Ever Completion Rate and Longer Ad LengthWith impressions increasing nearly 60 percent year over year, connected TV (CTV) advertising now accounts for nearly half of impressions served, reveals the latest Video Benchmark Report from Extreme Reach (ER), the complete creative asset management solution for the ad industry. Based on Q1 2019 performance metrics from the company’s platform, AdBridge, and specifically its proprietary video ad server, the report highlights the massive impact of CTV on multiple aspects of digital advertising.The CTV-driven transformation is accelerating in parallel with consumers’ shifting media consumption preferences. According to a report issued by Nielsen in March 2019, 68 percent of U.S. households had a connected TV device (e.g., Roku, Apple TV) by Q3 2018. At the same time, use of ad-supported streaming services like Hulu and a host of emerging entrants in the field is surging. And where the audience goes, ad dollars soon follow. While OTT advertising budgets are currently just 3 percent of TV ad budgets, Magna Global predicts a 30-plus percent growth rate for both 2019 and 2020.CTV’s Gain is Mobile’s LossWhile the advertising conversation in Q1 2018 revolved around mobile and there was optimism about the adoption of 6-second video ads, Q1 2019 reflects a near-opposite paradigm. Mobile video ads, at just 25 percent of all impressions, are at their lowest since Q1 2017 and 6-second ad impressions are negligible.CTV impressions, on the other hand, are now 49 percent of the total, or nearly double those of mobile. Because these ads are generally unskippable, they have an unprecedented 97 percent completion rate.Marketing Technology News: Selligent Marketing Cloud Study Reveal Digital Marketers Struggle to Deliver Consistent Omnichannel ExperiencesThe Rise of One- and Two-Minute Ads As noted in prior benchmark reports, the growth of CTV and its unskippable ad inventory is driving a shift to longer ad lengths. In Q4 2018, 30-second ads first displaced 15-second spots as the most common ad length, and the growth trend has continued. 30-second ads accounted for 69 percent of all ads in Q1 2019, a 20 percent increase over the prior quarter.While 30-second spots have a clear majority and 15-seconds are in second place, ER projects that ads of 60-seconds and longer will become more prevalent in the coming quarters. Still just 3 percent of all ads, the quantity of 60-second ads increased nearly 5-fold from Q1 2018 to Q1 2019. 2-minute ads registered for the first time on the ER Benchmark radar in Q1 2019 at just 0.1 percent of ads. With a growing, captive CTV audience, ER expects these longer ads to rise rapidly.Marketing Technology News: Aprimo Recognized as Winner for 2019 Microsoft Media & Communications Partner of the YearPremium Publishers Lead The rise of CTV has reached critical mass for the sell side of the media-buying equation who can now capitalize on multi-channel content consumption and optimize the value of their highly-targeted, measurable audiences. CTV inventory is almost exclusively sold by premium publishers directly to agencies and advertisers and this has driven up the percentage of overall impressions served to premium publishers, along with video completion rates and an increase in longer ads as noted above. In Q1, 82 percent of video impressions served by Extreme Reach ran on premium publisher sites and the video completion rates for those publishers hit a record high of 93 percent, a year over year increase of 8 percent from Q1 2018.“The digital advertising ecosystem is undergoing a total disruption which is driven by the growth of non-linear TV formats. The upside is significant for nearly everyone,” stated Mary Vestewig, Senior Director, Video Account Management at Extreme Reach. “Publishers are able to maximize the value of their inventory which will bring the revenue needed to create more high-quality programming. Meanwhile, audiences have an unprecedented selection of entertainment options and with new capabilities for targeting they should get more personalized and relevant advertising.”This report marks the addition of six new benchmarks for ER. Metrics for the In-View Start Rate, In-View Completion Rate, Audible Start Rate, Audible Completion Rate, Average Duration In-View and Average Duration Audible are now included. The data sheds light on how much of the actual ad can be seen or heard both when the ad starts and when it stops playing as well as the total duration, in seconds. Further insights on these trends will be provided in the Q2 2019 Benchmarks Report.Marketing Technology News: Say It Now and Booxscale win Amazon’s European Alexa Cup Connected TV is Transforming the Digital Advertising Ecosystem: Extreme Reach’s Latest Video Benchmarks Report Shows 49% of Video Ad Impressions Going to CTV MTS Staff WriterJuly 2, 2019, 11:28 amJuly 2, 2019 AdBridgeasset management solutionConnected TVMarketing TechnologyNewsVideo Benchmark Report Previous ArticleDigital Technology, Automation and Sourcing for Contact Centers the Focus of ISG Smartalks WebinarNext Article93% of Teens Are Relieved to Escape Social Media at Overnight Summer Camp, Finds Survey by Screen Education and JCC Association of North Americalast_img read more

Smart cane could one day help flag gait problems falling risks more

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 Citation: ‘Smart cane’ could one day help flag gait problems, falling risks more quickly (2018, February 13) retrieved 18 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-02-smart-cane-day-flag-gait.html A pair of Vanderbilt University engineers have developed an instrumented cane that not only provides added support, but can also analyze your gait to determine your risk of falling. Nilanjan Sarkar, professor of mechanical and computer engineering, says the “IntelliCane” can quantitatively calculate falling risk as accurately as a physical therapist can with their own eyes.If you are a senior citizen, dizziness and balance problems can be a big deal. In the United States, every year one out of three adults over 65 years of age falls and the statistic climbs to one out of two after age 80. Falls can be serious, leading to hip and other bone fractures, brain injury, loss of independence and even death. Falls are also expensive: The cost of treating injuries from falls is estimated at $34 billion annually.The problem is not restricted to the elderly. There are a number of illnesses that cause balance disorders, ranging from ear infections, head injuries and poor blood circulation to Parkinson’s, spinal stenosis and stroke, and these patients could benefit from such a device.”When I realized how big this problem was, we started searching for available solutions,” said Sarkar. “Initially, my thought was to design something to prevent falls, but after more thought and a little experimenting we quickly realized that this was not practical. The next best thing was to determine how to reliably estimate the fall risk so that intervention can be applied when a person’s risk gets so high that they could fall at any time.” Clinical trial examines care strategies for preventing falls at home Credit: Vanderbilt University Currently, physical therapists estimate falling risk by observing the patient walking back and forth between two lines under a variety of conditions—slow and fast, looking right and left, stepping over obstacles, while blindfolded, up and down steps. The therapist then employs a standardized rating scale to evaluate how steady the patient is on each task and combines the ratings into an overall risk estimate.However, this test cannot always capture a patient’s full experience throughout the day, or from day to day, or within their usual environment. Nor can it capture problems the therapist may be unable to see. Sarkar and graduate student Joshua Wade wanted to develop a tool that could help therapists collect much richer data about their patients’ gaits as they went about their everyday lives, enabling therapists to intervene more quickly if needed.Most current research into that area requires patients to place sensors on their body or in their shoes, which the researchers say isn’t ideal. “Body sensors require a significant extra effort on the part of patients. We wanted an approach that was as easy as possible for people to use,” said Wade, who decided to work on the project because of its potential health benefits. “We decided to instrument a cane because it is familiar. Most people with balance problems already use one, and the only thing extra that they have to do is plug it in at night.”The engineers rigged an off-the-shelf offset cane with inertial and force sensors connected to a wireless microcontroller that provides real-time data on how a person uses the cane while walking. The data is fed into an algorithm that analyzes the sensor data and pulls out information about the steadiness of the user’s gait.When they had a design that worked, the engineers tested the system with nine patients. First, they asked the patient to walk around using the IntelliCane. Then they were asked to participate in a standard risk assessment procedure called the Dynamic Gait Index in the presence of a physical therapist, who scored their performance. After analyzing the cane data, the researchers determined that they could predict each patient’s DGI score with a high degree of confidence.”i think it is quite innovative,” said Patricia Fleming, a physical therapist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center who participated in the test. “Many people don’t have access to a sophisticated gait lab, so a device such as this could augment what we do in the clinic. Almost everyone who comes to the neurological clinic where we work has a balance problem and many of them use a cane. So, we think it’s exciting to be part of this project.”Now that the initial study has validated the basic approach, Sarkar and Wade are convinced that it could have a number of benefits. If a person with a balance problem uses the cane regularly, for example, it may be able to detect when its user’s sense of balance begins to deteriorate and report this to his or her doctor. They also think it could be applied to other devices such as wheeled walkers and crutches.With more advanced analysis, the IntelliCane might even be capable of providing detailed enough information to enable doctors to diagnose specific diseases that affect a person’s sense of balance. For example, Parkinson’s might alter a person’s gait in a manner that is detectably different from multiple sclerosis, they speculate.Vanderbilt has applied for a patent on the technology, and Sarkar and Wade have formed a company called Adaptive Technology Consulting to commercialize it. Provided by Vanderbilt University Feeling a little unsteady and don’t know why? read more