UBS to Begin Charging Fees to Withdraw Cash » QUESTION: You do a lot of comparison to the Roman Empire. What was the size of the government relative to GDP? Can you estimate that?GYANSWER: The Roman economy was more like the USA during the mid-19th century in that it was pre-industrial. About 80% of its inhabitants worked in agriculture, which was about where we were in 1840. There was no social agenda of trying to redistribute wealth from one class to the other. Still, there were social programs. But the socialistic agenda that was adopted by modern governments has sought not merely to redistribute wealth among the classes, but it has justified bigger government on a grand scale never before witnessed in history. The tax rate in the ancient Roman Empire was about 5% with some paying as little as 2%. The actual cost of government during the Roman Empire was minimal compared to the modern standard. The Roman Emperor Trajan (98-117 AD) formalized the alimenta, which was a welfare program that helped orphans and poor children throughout Italy. It provided general funds as well as food and subsidized education. The program was supported initially out of Dacian War booty, and then later by a combination of estate taxes and philanthropy. So there were programs to take care of people who needed help.Virtually all the taxes and rents raised by the imperial government were spent on the military, which came out to be about 80% of the imperial budget in 150 AD. This military spending constituted about 2.5% of the empire’s GDP. Obviously, we do not really see separatists movement until the mid-3rd century when Valerian I (253-260 AD) was captured by the Persians. With the cost of the military coming in about 2.5%, this explains the lack of tax rebellions. The tax enforcement was nowhere near as intrusive as we see today. The US military budget comes in about 4% or twice that of the Roman Empire. The Roman Empire lasted far longer than any modern state for it seems to have been much more tolerable of a burden, whereas the U.S. military budget will be around 20% at times of total expenditure.The primary purpose of my investigation into the monetary system of the world is very simple. The political unrest ONLY rises when there is economic tension. Turn the economy down and you will get historically civil unrest. Additionally, it is interesting to see what policies produce the best and worst results. Augustus (27-14 AD) created a real land boom as he issued a tremendous amount of coinage creating a booming economy. He was followed by Tiberius (14-37 AD) who imposed austerity and issued very little coinage by comparison. That resulted in an economic depression in 33 AD and this was in part reflected in the Jewish rebellions over taxes. Remember the story that Jesus asks whose picture is on the coin and he replies to give to Caesar what is Caesar’s? So we can see the impact of austerity throughout history to extract the best policies under which we should live to promote like Rome – Pax Romanum. Categories: The Hunt for Taxes Tags: Austerity, tax rebellions, U.S. Military Budget « Polarization of the World in Trade & Taxes is Destroying Western Economies
by, Dr. Bill ThomasTweet11Share88Share23Email122 Shares The first week of the Second Wind Tour came to a dramatic conclusion with people dancing in the aisles at the Mellon Auditorium in Washington, DC. What a journey.We opened the show at the Merkin Concert Hall in New York City in front of a boisterous crowd that seemed to enjoy all that we had to offer. We brought the show off without a hitch and, in doing so, validated the theatrical truism that it’s good luck to have a bad dress rehearsal. Our dress rehearsal was pretty awful and it paid off with a pretty good premier!The bus ride to Pittsburgh which was supposed to last five hours but took 11 hours because a car crash led to the closure of Route 80. Our driver, Greg Blohm, had to cut across the median, backtrack 35 miles and then navigate the back roads of central Pennsylvania, but he got us to the show safe and sound.We played the New Hazlett theater which we all just loved. They helped us create an intimate performance environment (that seats 440 people) for the show and we were delighted to see a wide range of ages in attendance. Santi Angelelli won the prize for youngest audience member. He is four years old.After the show we explored a bit of downtown and had a great meal at a friendly neighborhood Italian restaurant.Back on the bus we had a swift and uneventful journey to Newark, NJ. We played the Victoria Theater in the New Jersey Performing Arts Center. If you haven’t seen a show there, you should. It is a splendid venue. Windsor Healthcare was our local sponsor. The house was packed and not at all shy about getting into the spirit of the event. On top of it all I was able to formally welcome two new organizations to the Eden Registry. After the show, road manager Virgil Thomas and I walked to a Spanish restaurant where we met a delegation of 12 German long-term care experts who had come to the USA to study the Eden Alternative. We had a very lively conversation and they gave me a gift of beer and a beer stein. The beer is gone. I still have the stein.It was a short hop to Baltimore where we found ourselves in the very capable hands of Jackie Harris and her firecracker EMA Communities and the Maryland AARP team. Dr. Janet Taylor and I held an early morning strategy session at the Maryland State Office. These folks are GOOD. Thanks to the collaborative vision of Terry Simonette, CEO of Capital Impact Partners, we were able to stage the event at the Hippodrome and the venue also made it possible to do a reception for community leaders including the one and only Baltimore Ravens superfan— Captain Dee-fence. This is a gorgeous downtown theater that has been meticulously restored. It offered the best of old and new. They lit the show beautifully and it looked great on their wide deep stage.After the Baltimore show we were met by Dara Padwo-Audick’s film crew. They shot the load out and rode the bus with us to DC. And that brings us to Friday. The SWT team walked into an empty auditorium (the Mellon) and in the space of just a few hours built a stage, set up a sound system, and installed lighting. Janice Lynch Schuster from the Washington Post sat down with me to do a Q&A. And I saw many familiar faces in the crowd and the show ended– as you already know— with people singing and dancing.After load out the bus carried us home to to Ithaca and I closed the front door of my house behind me at 3 am. Glad to be home and intensely grateful for all those who have and will make this extraordinary journey possible. Everyone is dancing in the Mellon Auditorium Dr. Bill Thomas signing books at the Hippodrome New Jersey Performing Arts Center Samite and Nate Silas Richardson Captain Dee-Fense backstage with Mary Lorson and Dr. Janet Taylor Dr. Janet Taylor at the Hippodrome AARP Maryland gets a tour of the bus. The view when you’re eight feet tall.Related PostsThe Final Rehearsal – Ithaca, NYToday the Second Wind Tour debuts in New York City at the Merkin Theater. Get a behind-the-scenes preview from last week’s dress rehearsal.#BookShopSelfieThings are getting real! After years of effort, Second Wind the book is out on Amazon and on the shelves of Barns & Noble book stores everywhere! The Second Wind Tour’s opening date is so close we can taste it! And for the rest of month we want our biggest…Tell Me Why…The Second Wind Tour is art, it is non-fiction theater, it is a direct challenge to the limitations imposed by ageist prejudice and it is the beginning of a new way of learning and growing– together.Tweet11Share88Share23Email122 SharesTags: AARP Care Partner Life Reimagined Second Wind Tour
The study concluded that hunger is a trigger but there are also negative stimuli around that potentiate the negative feelings of hanger. Most people are unaware that they are attributing the surroundings for their irritability rather than hunger. The results of the study were published in the latest issue of the journal Emotion.Authors of the study plan to take this theory further with tests on people with eating disorders and diabetes and how hunger affects their mood.Source: http://psycnet.apa.org/doiLanding?doi=10.1037%2Femo0000422 Lead author Jennifer MacCormack, MA, a doctoral student in the department of psychology and neuroscience at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill said that hangry is a recent term that means “bad-tempered or irritable because of hunger” and this term has been accepted by the Oxford Dictionary.There have been earlier studies that have shown that hunger can in fact affect the mood mainly because hunger is responsible for affecting hormones as well as the autonomic nervous system – both of which could have effects on mood. Hunger for example triggers the release of the stress hormone cortisol and the neurotransmitter adrenaline. Both of these are associated with stress. This makes one tense and edgy due to hunger.Researchers including MacCormack and assistant professor Kristen Lindquist, PhD, explored how hunger influenced mood and its effects on anger. The psychologists who conducted this study explain that mood of the person can temporarily give a shape to the world around a person. For example when a person is hungry, they may view the world in a negative manner compared to when they are not hungry. The researchers explain that while the person might feel angry and edgy they might not be able to focus on exactly what is affecting their mood and instead maybe blame something that is not going right around them. This is called the “affect-as-information” theory, they explained.To see if people who are hangry are not exactly focussed on their feelings, three different studies were designed by the researchers. In the first study, conducted online, the participants were asked to participate either in hungry or full state. They were first given either a negative or a positive or a neutral emotional image to view. Then they were given an ambiguous image with a pictograph or a Chinese character and asked to guess if it could mean something pleasant or unpleasant. Results showed that people who were hungry and saw the negative image first were more likely to guess that the ambiguous picture was something negative or unpleasant. Their reactions after viewing a positive or neutral image however did not end up in a guess that the ambiguous picture was something unpleasant – same as not-hungry participants. The authors of the study concluded that negative outcomes or outlook resulted when a person was faced with a negative stimulus or experience when hungry only and not when he or she faced a positive or neutral situation. This means that the hunger becomes relevant only when there are negative situations around because hunger also causes negative and unpleasant feelings.Related StoriesEarly adversity could make individuals more vulnerable to stress-related drinking during adulthoodFDA approves first drug for treatment of neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorderUTHealth researchers investigate how to reduce stress-driven alcohol useIn the next study the team recreated a frustrating situation in the laboratory. For this study two random group of 118 undergraduate students were included. One group was asked to not eat anything for five hours while the other was asked to come in after a full meal. All the students were then asked to write an essay that was either emotional or not related to feelings at all. They were then given a long and tedious computer task to do. At the end of the task the researchers made the computers to “crash” using a secret program. Now the student participant was blamed for the malfunctioning computer and was asked to re-do the task once the computer was fixed.The types of outcomes noted were: By Dr. Ananya Mandal, MDJun 13 2018There have been many instances when we have been irritable, annoyed, negative, and grumpy only because underneath we are feeling hungry. A new term “hangry” has been coined to explain this condition. Researchers have delved into why this occurs in a latest study. Not hungry people and hungry people who did not deal with emotional stories before the task were less stressed, negative and hateful Hungry people who had dealt with emotional stories before the start of the task tended to be angrier, stressed, and negative and felt judged by the researchers once their task failed. Image Credit: Kichigin / Shutterstock
Clearing your house of English ivy—even after the plant has died—can be tough, if not impossible. Patches of brick and plaster have been known to come off buildings before the green-leaved vine surrenders its grip. More than 130 years ago, Charles Darwin discovered that ivy’s sticking power is thanks to a thin yellow glue secreted from its roots. But since then, little has been known about how the adhesive works. Now, after an 8-year investigation, scientists report the mechanism today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The glue’s secret ingredients are tiny balls of sugar-coated proteins. These nanoparticles are highly uniform, allowing them to spread out and work their way into nooks and crannies of surfaces. Once the adhesive’s water evaporates, the nanoballs concentrate, and with the help of other materials, including calcium and pectin, the glue hardens. The research team thinks mimicking the approach could yield some new high-strength adhesives—and might even work in tissue engineering to stick cells to scaffolds when building artificial organs. The nanoparticles also have potential as safer targeted drug delivery systems. Unlike many of the current nanomaterials used to ferry chemotherapies into cells, the ivy nanoparticles don’t contain metal, which can be toxic.
When green monkeys spy a drone, they use their cousins’ cry for ‘eagle’ Julia Fischer Humans have long looked for the origins of language in our primate cousins. But now, researchers recording the calls of West African green monkeys have underscored how different monkey communication can be from human language. A never-before-heard call the monkeys made when researchers flew a drone overhead is nearly identical to another monkey species’s cry for “eagle.” That similarity bolsters the idea that the alarms are part of a fixed repertoire of hardwired calls, very different from the creative, open-ended vocalizations of humans.East African vervet monkeys (Chlorocebus pygerythrus) have three distinct alarm calls—one for snakes, one for leopards, and one for eagles. The West African Green monkey (C. sabaeus), the vervet’s evolutionary cousin, has alarm calls for leopards and snakes that sound nearly the same as the vervet calls. But researchers had never heard green monkeys raising the eagle alarm.To test the green monkey’s response to a new aerial threat, researchers flew a drone over a troop of the monkeys in Niokolo-Koba National Park in Senegal. Once the drone came into view, some of the monkeys produced an alarm call that the researchers had not heard in their prior 8 years of study in the park. The team recorded the calls and repeated the experiment with two other troops of green monkeys. They all produced the same unique alarm call. Days after the drone flights, the researchers played an audio recording of the drone, which caused the monkeys to sound the alarm and scan the sky. But when the researchers compared their recordings with the eagle alarm calls used by vervet monkeys (above), they found the two calls matched up almost perfectly, the researchers report today in Nature Ecology & Evolution. This uncanny similarity suggests the call’s biological underpinnings first evolved in an ancestor common to both species, researchers say. The results could lay the foundation for correlating the alarm calls with structures in the brain or segments of the monkey’s genome in future studies. By Alex FoxMay. 27, 2019 , 11:00 AM
Virat Kohli won’t have a say in choosing new coach Advertising Post Comment(s) Written by Vivek Deshpande | Nagpur | Updated: July 6, 2019 1:47:41 am The blast had taken place near Jambhulkheda village in Kurkheda tahsil when a civilian vehicle carrying 15 commandos of Gadchiroli police were headed for the Purada police station after being called there by then Sub-Divisional Police Officer Shailesh Kale following an incident of arson by Maoists a few kilometres from Purada a few hours before.Kale was first transferred and later suspended.Six persons have so far been arrested in the case following the arrest of two senior Naxal leaders Narmada and Kiran.Meanwhile, it is learnt that the sixth person arrested earlier this week, Kailash Ramchandani, was said to be the Kurkheda tahsil president of a political party. Balkawde said, “I can’t confirm. I have only heard about it.” The district president of the party didn’t respond to calls. Officials at the blast site in Gadchiroli. (Express file photo)The National Investigating Agency (NIA) will take over the probe into the May 1 IED blast in Gadchiroli in which 15 policemen and a civilian were killed. Advertising LiveKarnataka floor test: Will Kumaraswamy’s 14-month-old govt survive? Top News Kulbhushan Jadhav ‘guilty of crimes’, will proceed further as per law: Imran Khan This was revealed by Gadchiroli Superintendent of Police Shailesh Balkawde.“An NIA team is in Gadchiroli to collect documents and information about the incident,” Balkawde told The Indian Express, adding, “we will be handing over the probe to them in 2-3 days”.Asked why NIA will be taking over the probe, he said, “The NIA has decided to take up some Naxal cases for probe. They are taking up some cases from Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand too.”
Written by Pradeep Kaushal | New Delhi | Published: July 10, 2019 2:06:41 am After Masood Azhar blacklisting, more isolation for Pakistan Virat Kohli won’t have a say in choosing new coach Congress raises China transgression, Rajnath Singh says borders secure The Opposition parties were referring to the political upheaval in Karnataka after several MLAs of the ruling coalition government resigned, putting in jeopardy the future of the Congress-JD(S) combine.The Congress, from the very outset, appeared determined to raise the issue in the House. Congress Parliamentary Party leader Sonia Gandhi could be seen giving instructions to Congress floor leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury and other party MPs even before the proceedings had got underway.As Speaker Om Birla took up Zero Hour mentions of other members, Opposition members stood and started shouting slogans, wanting Chowdhury to be heard. Unable to make any headway, they trooped into the well, where they were joined by members belonging to the DMK, National Conference and the Left. Even SP member Shafiqur Rahman Barq was seen standing with them. Opposition criticises low priority to agriculture in Budget Advertising Best Of Express As Congress MP Gaurav Gogoi took the lead to shout “tanashahi band karo (end this dictatorship)” and “shikar ki rajneeti band karo (end this politics of poaching)”, Rahul Gandhi could be seen participating in the chorus of “band karo, band karo”.The Speaker warned members against bringing posters and resorting to sloganeering. “I will take action against you. The country is watching you. This is your House. Don’t make it the house of a civic body,” he said.Birla, who had earlier rejected a notice for moving an adjournment motion given by Chowdhury, told him that the issue had been discussed in the House the previous day, and Defence Minister Rajnath Rajnath Singh had also responded to it.Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi said that as far as the government at the Centre was concerned, “we do not have any role” in the Karnataka issue.Ultimately, Birla relented and allowed Chowdhury to speak. Advertising The Congress, from the very outset, appeared determined to raise the issue in the House.The Congress, the DMK and the National Conference on Tuesday protested in the well of the Lok Sabha and later staged a walkout, alleging that the BJP was effecting “politics of poaching” in Karnataka. Related News Chowdhury said: “There are two issues. The politics of poaching should be stopped. The politics of targeting should be stopped. Today, it is Karnataka and tomorrow it will be Madhya Pradesh. If MLAs are tempted with money and lured away, it is not correct…”Rejecting Chowdhury’s accusations, Rajnath Singh argued that the Karnataka issue was an internal matter of the Congress. “The Congress cannot get its own house in order and is disrupting the Lower House,” he said.Thereafter, Chowdhury announced a walkout and hurriedly left the House. He was followed by Sonia, Rahul, NC’s Farooq Abdullah, DMK member TR Baalu, and other opposition members. What steps taken to tackle patriarchy in farm sector: BJD MP Bhartruhari Mahtab Karnataka trust vote today: Speaker’s call on resignations, says SC, but gives rebel MLAs a shield Post Comment(s)
NRC deadline approaching, families stranded in Assam floods stay home Explained: Kulbhushan Jadhav case file 62 US Border Agents are linked to degrading Facebook posts This bill increases the per-country cap on family-based immigrant visas from seven per cent of the total number of such visas available that year to 15 per cent and eliminates the seven per cent cap for employment-based immigrant visas.It also removes an offset that reduced the number of visas for individuals from China.Lifting the per-country cap would mainly benefit professionals from countries like India, for whom the wait for Green Card is more than a decade. Some of the recent studies have said the waiting period for Indian IT professionals on H-1B visas is more than 70 years.The bill which was championed by Sunayana Dumala, the wife of Indian engineer Srinivas Kuchibhotla who was shot dead in a hate crime shooting, said that it was an important day and “a moment we have been waiting for years. Finally, our hard work and tireless efforts have come into fruition,” The Kansas City Star reported. Kuchibhotla was killed in a shooting at restaurant in Olathe in Kansas in February 2017. His wife Sunayana Dumala made multiple visits to Washington to advocate for the legislation.“After the tragic murder of my husband, Srinivas Kuchibhotla, I lost my status to stay in the country and the immigration struggle took over my grief,” Dumala said in a statement on Wednesday.“And today, with HR 1044 getting passed, I can finally find peace and no words can express my happiness.”The bill also establishes transition rules for employment-based visas from Financial Year 2020-22 by reserving a percentage of EB-2 (workers with advanced degrees or exceptional ability), EB-3 (skilled and other workers), and EB-5 (investors) visas for individuals not from the two countries with the largest number of recipients of such visas. With Iran deal teetering on brink, Europeans assess next steps By PTI |Washington | Updated: July 11, 2019 12:37:27 pm A Green Card allows a non-US citizen to live and work permanently in America.Indian IT professionals, most of whom are highly skilled and come to the US mainly on the H-1B work visas, are the worst sufferers of the current immigration system which imposes a seven per cent per country quota on allotment of the coveted Green Cards or permanent legal residency.The bill titled ‘Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act of 2019’ or ‘HR 1044’ was passed on Wednesday by an overwhelming 365-65 votes in a 435-member House. A Green Card allows a non-US citizen to live and work permanently in America. (Source: File)The US House of Representatives has passed a legislation that removes the seven per cent country-cap on Green Card applicants, a development which signed into law could end the agonizing wait of thousands of talented professionals from countries like India who have applied for permanent residency in America. Related News Best Of Express In undecided Congress, first open call for Priyanka: She should be party chief More Explained “It is now up to the Senate to ensure that fairness is delivered to high-skilled immigrants who have been stuck in a decades-long backlog waiting for their chance to become full-fledged contributors to the American economy. The time to act is now,” said Jay Kansara from the Hindu American Foundation. Tropical Storm Barry nears New Orleans, raising flood threat Advertising Karnataka: SC to rule today, says Speaker’s powers need relook Of the unreserved visas, not more than 85 per cent shall be allotted to immigrants from any single country, Congressional Research Service (CRS) said.The bill, however, has to be passed by the Senate, wherein the Republicans enjoy a majority, before it can be signed into law by the US President Donald Trump.A similar bill being supported by a bipartisan group of senators, including Indian-origin Senator Kamala Harris, is slated to come up for consideration soon.Congressman John Curtis, speaking on House floor, said that bill will create a first-come, first-serve system providing certainty to workers and families and enabling US companies to flourish and compete in a global economy as they hire the brightest people to create products, services, and jobs—regardless of where they were born.“This bill would do nothing to move the current employment-sponsored system toward a more merit-based system,” said Joseph S Joh, Assistant Director and Senior Advisor in the Office of Legislative Affairs, Department of Homeland Security.The passage of the bill was welcomed by Indian professionals from across the country, in particularly in the Silicon Valley in California, Seattle area in Washington State, the Greater Washington DC Area and the tri-State area of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.Top American IT companies also welcomed the passage of the bill and urged the Senate to pass it at earliest so that the US President can sign it into law.“Today the US House passed legislation to ensure people from all countries are treated the same in the green card process. This promotes a fair high-skilled immigration system that’s good for business and our economy,” said Microsoft president Brad Smith.Todd Schulte, President FWD.uS, an advocacy organisation representing top Silicon Valley companies, including Facebook, Google, Microsoft and DropBox, said that “this bill will help ensure that those seeking permanent residency will not have to face extraordinary wait times — projected at 50 years or more for people from countries like India and China — simply because of their country of origin.”“Eliminating ‘per-country’ caps for employment-based green cards and raising caps for family-based green cards will make the system fairer for immigrant families while also strengthening the United States’ ability to recruit and retain top global talent by establishing a fair and predictable path to permanent legal status,” he said.Hindu American Foundation welcomed the passage of the bill by the House. Advertising Advertising 2 Comment(s)
This week we have two interviews from the annual meeting of AAAS in Washington D.C.: one on the history of food and one about our own perceptions of food and food waste. First up, host Sarah Crespi talks with Christina Warinner from the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Jena, Germany, about the history of dairying. When did people first start to milk animals and where? It turns out, the spread of human genetic adaptations for drinking milk do not closely correspond to the history of consuming milk from animals. Instead, evidence from ancient dental plaque suggests people from all over the world developed different ways of chugging milk—not all of them genetic.Next, Host Meagan Cantwell speaks with Sheril Kirshenbaum, co-director of the Michigan State University Food Literacy and Engagement Poll, about the public’s perception of food waste. Do most people try to conserve food and produce less waste? Better insight into the point of view of consumers may help keep billions of kilograms of food from being discarded every year in the United States.This week’s episode was edited by Podigy.Download the transcript (PDF)Ads on the show: Columbia University and Magellan TVListen to previous podcasts.About the Science Podcast[Image: Carefull in Wyoming/Flickr; Music: Jeffrey Cook] Carefull in Wyoming/Flickr
Source:https://www.ucl.ac.uk/swc/sainsbury-wt-news-pub/neurons-that-fire-together-dont-always-wire-together Reviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Nov 9 2018As the adage goes “neurons that fire together, wire together,” but a new paper published today in Neuron demonstrates that, in addition to response similarity, projection target also constrains local connectivity.Researchers from the Sainsbury Wellcome Centre have been looking to elucidate the rules of connectivity of neurons in the neocortex with the long term goal of building models to understand how the brain makes computations and how properties of neurons arise from the structure of their connections.Traditionally, neurons that project within the cortex have been thought to be homogeneous, particularly in comparison to neurons that project from the cortex to other areas of the brain, but it is becoming clear that these cortical-cortical cells are actually quite diverse.In the study, Kim, Znamenskiy et al. examined the connections between different types of excitatory neurons in the primary visual cortex (V1) that project to two higher visual areas, anterolateral (AL) and posteromedial (PM), in mice.Building on previous research, the study found biases between the cell populations: one population preferred fast moving, coarser visual stimuli and the other population preferred slow moving, finer-scale visual stimuli. But many neurons in both populations shared their preference for visual stimuli.Importantly, the researchers found that cells with the same projection target (e.g. the AL-projecting neurons) made connections with one another but rarely made connections with their PM-projecting neighbours. “Cells projecting to different targets are excluded from interacting with each other, despite being neighbours. This new ‘exclusion’ principle of connectivity is puzzling given that these neurons frequently respond together to the same sensory stimuli”, says Tom Mrsic-Flogel, a senior author on the study.Related StoriesGenetic contribution to distractibility helps explain procrastinationScientists develop universal FACS-based approach to heterogenous cell sorting, propelling organoid researchHow an orchestra of neurons control hunger pangsWhy might it be that there is very little cross-talk between these two output channels within visual cortex? Previous work from the Mrsic-Flogel lab showed that you can predict which cells in visual cortex connect by looking at their responses. Cells that are active at the same time and respond to similar types of visual stimuli are much more likely to connect to each other. However, this does not hold for AL- and PM-projecting cells which are functionally quite similar but somehow avoid making connections with one another. One possibility is that the signals transmitted by these cell populations are kept separate to allow independent control of these output pathways.If they fire together but are not wiring together, how are these parallel channels to AL and PM are set up? One future avenue is to explore whether there are molecular mechanisms that dictate these specific wiring rules. The researchers will also explore how widespread these ‘hardwired’ patterns of connectivity are in the brain.Petr Znamenskiy, joint first author on the paper, commented on the importance of the work: “The flow of information in the brain is defined by where individual neurons get their inputs and where they send their outputs. To gain a mechanistic understanding of neural computations, we need to know these rules of connections.”Future research will focus on the functions of these independent output channels and how individual neurons decide what inputs to select and where to send their axons. Through further understanding of the molecular mechanisms of these rules, the researchers hope to piece together the processes that govern the brain’s intricate wiring.
Source:https://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm634469.htm Reviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Mar 27 2019The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today approved Mayzent (siponimod) tablets to treat adults with relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis (MS), to include clinically isolated syndrome, relapsing-remitting disease, and active secondary progressive disease.”Multiple sclerosis can have a profound impact on a person’s life,” said Billy Dunn, M.D., director of the Division of Neurology Products in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “We are committed to continuing to work with companies that are developing additional treatment options for patients with multiple sclerosis.”MS is a chronic, inflammatory, autoimmune disease of the central nervous system that disrupts communications between the brain and other parts of the body. Most people experience their first symptoms of MS between the ages of 20 and 40. MS is among the most common causes of neurological disability in young adults and occurs more frequently in women than in men.For most people, MS starts with a relapsing-remitting course, in which episodes of worsening function (relapses) are followed by recovery periods (remissions). These remissions may not be complete and may leave patients with some degree of residual disability. Many, but not all, patients with MS experience some degree of persistent disability that gradually worsens over time. In some patients, disability may progress independent of relapses, a process termed secondary progressive multiple sclerosis (SPMS). In the first few years of this process, many patients continue to experience relapses, a phase of the disease described as active SPMS. Active SPMS is one of the relapsing forms of MS, and drugs approved for the treatment of relapsing forms of MS can be used to treat active SPMS. Later, many patients with SPMS stop experiencing new relapses, but disability continues to progress, a phase called non-active SPMS.The efficacy of Mayzent was shown in a clinical trial of 1,651 patients that compared Mayzent to placebo in patients with SPMS who had evidence of disability progression in the prior two years and no relapses in the three months prior to enrollment. The primary endpoint of the study was the time to three-month confirmed progression in disability. The fraction of patients with confirmed progression of disability was statistically significantly lower in the Mayzent group than in the placebo group. Mayzent also decreased the number of relapses experienced by these patients. In the subgroup of patients with non-active SPMS, the results were not statistically significant.Related StoriesResearchers study link between childhood viral infections and cerebral autoimmune diseaseEndogenous retrovirus type W found to be a major contributor to nerve damage in MSMice study suggests potential treatment approach for MS in humansMayzent must be dispensed with a patient Medication Guide that describes important information about the drug’s uses and risks. Mayzent may increase the risk of infections, so patients should have a complete blood count taken before treatment is initiated. The drug may cause macular edema, so patients should contact their physician if they experience a change in vision. Mayzent may cause transient decreases in heart rate and may cause a decline in lung function. Liver enzymes should be checked before initiation of the drug and health care professionals should closely monitor patients with severe liver impairment. Health care professionals should monitor the patient’s blood pressure during treatment. Women of childbearing potential should use effective contraception during and for 10 days after stopping the drug due to the potential risk of fetal harm. Health care professionals should monitor patients for posterior reversible encephalopathy syndrome and monitor patients that had treatment with immunosuppressive/immune-modulating therapies because there may be unintended additive immunosuppression with Mayzent.The most common adverse reactions reported by patients receiving Mayzent in the clinical trials include headache, high blood pressure and liver function test increases.The FDA granted approval of Mayzent to Novartis.
Source:https://www.thelancet.com/ Reviewed by Kate Anderton, B.Sc. (Editor)Apr 4 2019Blood pressure and stroke risk increase steadily with increasing alcohol intake, and previous claims that 1-2 alcoholic drinks a day might protect against stroke are dismissed by new evidence from a genetic study involving 160,000 adults.Studies of East Asian genes that strongly affect how much alcohol people choose to drink show that alcohol itself directly increases blood pressure and the chances of having a stroke, according to a new study published in The Lancet. It was known that stroke rates were increased by heavy drinking, but it wasn’t known whether they were increased or decreased by moderate drinking.Although people who have one or two alcoholic drinks a day had previously been observed to have a slightly lower risk of stroke and heart attack than non-drinkers, it was not known whether this was because moderate drinking was slightly protective, or whether it was because non-drinkers had other underlying health problems (eg, being former drinkers who had stopped because of illness). At least for stroke, the genetic evidence now refutes the claim that moderate drinking is protective.In East Asian populations, there are common genetic variants that greatly reduce alcohol tolerability, because they cause an extremely unpleasant flushing reaction after drinking alcohol. Although these genetic variants greatly reduce the amount people drink, they are unrelated to other lifestyle factors such as smoking. Therefore, they can be used to study the causal effects of alcohol intake.As the genetic factors that strongly affect drinking patterns are allocated randomly at conception and persist lifelong, this study is the genetic equivalent of a large randomised trial, and can therefore sort out cause-and-effect relationships reliably – a method called “Mendelian randomisation.”Lead author Dr Iona Millwood, from the Medical Research Council Population Health Research Unit at the University of Oxford, UK, says: “Using genetics is a novel way to assess the health effects of alcohol, and to sort out whether moderate drinking really is protective, or whether it’s slightly harmful. Our genetic analyses have helped us understand the cause-and-effect relationships.”Researchers from Oxford University, Peking University, and the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences led a large collaborative study of over 500,000 men and women in China who were asked about their alcohol intake and followed for ten years. In over 160,000 of these adults the researchers measured two genetic variants (rs671 and rs1229984) that substantially reduce alcohol intake.Among men, these genetic variants caused a 50-fold difference in average alcohol intake, from near zero to about four units (drinks) per day. The genetic variants that decreased alcohol intake also decreased blood pressure and stroke risk. From this evidence, the authors conclude that alcohol increases the risk of having a stroke by about one-third (35%) for every four additional drinks per day (280 g of alcohol a week), with no protective effects of light or moderate drinking.Related StoriesRecreational cannabis legalization could impact alcohol industry, research showsStroke should be treated 15 minutes earlier to save lives, study suggestsStem cell stimulation shows promise as potential stroke treatmentProfessor Zhengming Chen, co-author from the Nuffield Department of Population Health, University of Oxford, says: “There are no protective effects of moderate alcohol intake against stroke. Even moderate alcohol consumption increases the chances of having a stroke. The findings for heart attack were less clear-cut, so we plan to collect more evidence.”Of the men with genetic measurements, about 10,000 had a stroke and 2,000 had a heart attack during about ten years of follow-up, so more information is needed on heart attacks.Few women in China drink alcohol (less than 2% of women in the study drank in most weeks, and when they did drink they consumed less than men), and the genetic variants that cause alcohol intolerance had little effect on blood pressure or stroke risk. Women in this study therefore provide a useful control group, which helps confirm that the effects of these genetic variants on stroke risk in men were caused by drinking alcohol, not by some other mechanism.The authors highlight that it would be impossible to do such a study in Western populations, where almost nobody has the relevant genetic variants. However, these findings about the effects of alcohol in Asia should be applicable worldwide. Because the study was conducted in China, the alcohol consumed was mainly spirits, but they expect the findings to apply to alcohol in other drinks.In China, more years of life are lost to stroke than to any other disease. This study estimates that, among Chinese men, alcohol is a cause of 8% of all strokes from a blood clot in the brain and 16% of all strokes from bleeding into the brain.Co-author Professor Liming Li, from Peking University, says: “Stroke is a major cause of death and disability. This large collaborative study has shown that stroke rates are increased by alcohol. This should help inform personal choices and public health strategies.”Writing in a linked Comment, Professor Tai-Hing Lam and Dr Au Yeung, from the University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, China, call for a WHO Framework Convention for Alcohol Control (FCAC), similar to the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC): “Alcohol control is complex and stronger policies are required. The alcohol industry is thriving and should be regulated in a similar way to the tobacco industry.”
Around a quarter of those surveyed (27.4%) stated that they suffered from allergies, with 7.7 percent reporting perennial, 6.1 percent seasonal, and 13.6 percent other forms of allergic reactions.Proven influence of psychological factorsIt turned out that people with generalized anxiety disorders also suffered more often from pollen allergies, but not from year-round allergies. Statistically, these were actually less frequent in the group of anxiety sufferers. A possible explanation for this might be that people with persistent allergies develop different coping strategies to deal with stress, which protect them from anxiety disorders.On the other hand, there was a positive correlation between perennial allergies and depression or depressive episodes. However, the structure of the study did not allow for clarification of whether allergies increase susceptibility to depression or whether depression itself is a risk factor for allergies. What surprised the research team was the fact that psychological factors had little – if any – influence on the occurrence of food and drug allergies.Further investigation plannedRelated StoriesResearch reveals important brain mechanisms for action of psychotherapy in panic disorderIndividual variation in genes alters our ability to regulate emotionsDrinking Matcha tea may reduce anxious behavior, research showsPossible mitigating factors that could compromise causal relationships were statistically excluded in this study. These included age, smoking/non-smoking status, gender, and family predispositions (e.g. to allergic asthma). However, Harter also outlines the study’s weaknesses: “We have a relatively high average age of 61 years, so younger people are rather underrepresented here. The findings are also based on personal reports rather than official allergy diagnoses. But we have blood samples from all participants and intend to scientifically verify this point,” she confirms. According to Prof. Traidl-Hoffmann, what this study particularly underscores is the importance of devoting sufficient time to patients. This is the only way to complement clinical evaluations with psychosocial aspects to support an integrated therapeutic approach, such as that practiced by the University Outpatient Clinic for Environmental Medicine at UNIKA-T.The study data was collected in the second follow-up to the KORA S4 study. Based in Augsburg, Germany, the University Center for Health Sciences at University Hospital Augsburg, UNIKA-T, is a research association jointly supported by the University Hospital Augsburg, the University of Augsburg, the Technical University of Munich (TUM), and the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich (LMU). The current study was supported by the Chair of Epidemiology at UNIKA-T.Source:Technical University of Munich (TUM)Journal reference:Harter, K. et al. (2019) Different Psychosocial Factors Are Associated with Seasonal and Perennial Allergies in Adults: Cross-Sectional Results of the KORA FF4 Study, International Archives of Allergy and Immunology. doi.org/10.1159/000499042 Reviewed by Alina Shrourou, B.Sc. (Editor)May 28 2019Seasonal allergies to different types of grass or tree pollen are more common in people with anxiety disorders, while patients with depression are more likely to suffer from perennial allergies triggered by allergens such as animal hair. These are the findings of a team of researchers from the Technical University of Munich (TUM). Conversely, food and drug allergies were unaffected by these psychosocial disorders.The team interviewed over 1,700 people from the Augsburg area of Germany about their allergies. Led by Claudia Traidl-Hoffmann, Director of the University Center for Health Sciences at University Hospital Augsburg (UNIKA-T) and Professor of Environmental Medicine at TUM, the team differentiated between perennial or non-seasonal allergies – such as those triggered by house dust mites or animal hair, seasonal allergies caused by grass pollen for instance, and allergies to other substances such as food.The study participants also answered questions about their psychological health. The focus here was on depression, generalized anxiety disorders – which affect all aspects of daily life – and acute mental stress. There are studies that focus on the psychological components of skin diseases or allergic asthma. For the first time, we are now able to show a connection with seasonal allergies.”Katharina Harter, the publication’s lead author
Artificial intelligence and robotics combined with material sciences and other advanced methods could dramatically speed up development of new materials for all clean-energy technologies. The proposed integrated Materials Acceleration Platforms (MAPs) could cut the average time for developing a useful new material from 20 years down to one or two years.The Expert Workshop Report, “Materials Acceleration Platform: Accelerating Advanced Energy Materials Discovery by Integrating High-Throughput Methods with Artificial Intelligence,” was released in Mexico City today. This work is the result of a September 2017 workshop that convened more than 55 leading scientists from around the world to define the challenges, opportunities, and fundamental research needs related to materials discovery. The workshop was sponsored by the Mexican Ministry of Energy (SENER), the U.S. Department of Energy, and CIFAR.This Report is an important milestone of the Clean Energy Materials Innovation Challenge of the global initiative Mission Innovation (MI) of 22 countries and the European Union that aims to accelerate global clean energy innovation. The Report calls for integrating material sciences with next-generation computing (high-throughput), artificial intelligence (machine learning) and robotics to accelerate the pace of materials discovery. Among the recommendations are development of “self-driving/autonomous laboratories” that automatically design, perform and interpret experiments in the quest of new high-performance, low-cost materials.”The performance, efficiency and affordability of clean energy technologies can be increased by finding materials with the properties you need. At the moment, we’re very much like Edison looking for filaments for his light bulb, testing them one by one in a sequential fashion, by trial-and-error, until we find the one that works. This report lays out a road map for methods that will let us quickly discover and design materials with exactly the properties we need. The key is to create fully integrated MAPs from beginning to end that enable humans to accelerate their pace of discovery,” said Alán Aspuru-Guzik from Harvard University, co-chair of the workshop and lead author of the report. 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: Integration of AI and robotics with materials sciences will lead to new clean energy technology (2018, January 25) retrieved 18 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-01-ai-robotics-materials-sciences-energy.html More information: Copies of the report can be downloaded at: www.cifar.ca/wp-content/upload … ovationIC6Report.pdf Drug discovery could accelerate hugely with machine learning Provided by Canadian Institute for Advanced Research The panel’s recommendationsThe workshop makes six recommendations that will lead to what it calls materials acceleration platforms (MAPs) that would integrate automated robotic machinery with rapid synthesis and characterization of materials and artificial intelligence that would accelerate the pace of discovery.The platforms would help researchers transition from a largely trial-and-error method of materials discovery to one of “inverse design,” in which materials with desired properties could be easily searched for and developed.The workshop report recommends six key areas which will need to be developed to create these materials acceleration platforms. They are:1) “Self-driving laboratories” that design, perform and interpret experiments in an automated way; 2) The development of specific forms of AI for materials discovery;3) Modular materials robotics platforms that can be assemblies of modular building blocks for synthesis and characterization;4) Further research into computational methods for inverse design;5) New methodologies for bridging the length and timescales associated with materials simulation; and6) Sophisticated data infrastructure and interchange platforms.The report emphasized the need to develop multidisciplinary international teams of scientists and engineers with expertise in chemistry, materials sciences, advanced computing, robotics and AI, among other disciplines.”I’m pleased that CIFAR was able to contribute to Mission Innovation’s important work,” said CIFAR President & CEO Alan Bernstein. “CIFAR and MI share similar goals, and our emphasis on excellence, global participation and tackling tough questions is the best strategy for creating the disruptive technologies needed to address the world’s growing demand for energy.”Dr. Hermann Tribukait, of Mexico’s Energy Innovation Funds and a report co-author, stated that “The private-sector stakeholders that join this initiative early will presumably have a first-mover advantage, that is, they will cultivate the know-how to adjust and gain a larger share of the growing benefits from these new technologies.” Materials are the foundation of essentially all clean energy technologies including advanced batteries, solar cells, low-energy semiconductors, catalysts for capturing and storing CO2, and more. But discovering new materials is currently a time consuming and expensive process: to determine whether they will be useful, newly discovered molecules are run through simulation, synthesis, and testing in an expensive process that can take 10 to 20 years.
English-speaking AI robots will be helping out in some 500 Japanese classrooms from next year as the country seeks to improve its English skills among both children and teachers. The education ministry plans a pilot project costing around 250 million yen ($227,000) to improve Japanese students’ notoriously weak oral and written English, an official told AFP.”AI robots already on the market have various functions. For example, they can check the pronunciation of each student’s English, which is difficult for teachers to do,” added the official in charge of international education, who asked not to be named.AI robots “are just one example of the trial and we are planning other measures” such as using tablet apps and having online lessons with native speakers, he said.The move comes ahead of a change in the national curriculum in two years that will require children from the age of 10 to learn English.Japanese schools struggle to find qualified teachers for English classes and generally lack the cash to hire trained language assistants.Some primary and middle schools have already turned to technology to bolster English teaching, introducing English-speaking AI robots in the classroom.English classes are currently compulsory for Japanese students aged between 12 and 15 but the starting age will be lowered to primary school children in 2020. Japan hopes to use tech to boost education © 2018 AFP Early English exposure prepares Spanish-speaking children for academic success Citation: Must do better: Japan eyes AI robots in class to boost English (2018, August 21) retrieved 18 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-08-japan-eyes-ai-robots-class.html Explore further 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.
Airlines will not fly when there is volcanic ash in the air above Bali’s Mt Agung. Credit: Joe Le Merou/flickr, CC BY Bali volcano spews ash in new eruption Provided by The Conversation Mount Agung volcano in Bali, Indonesia, has been erupting intermittently since November 2017. The volcano erupted six times in the last month and resulted in the cancellation and delay of some flights in and out of Bali’s Ngurah Rai International Airport. Explore further Example summary of the volcanic ash advisory from the Darwin VAAC at the beginning of the Agung eruption in November 2017. Ash polygons shown in red. Each picture shows the forecast of ash movement over a period of hours. Credit: OCHA/ReliefWeb/Pacific Disaster Centre using Darwin VAAC data An ash particle just over 0.1mm long erupted during the 18 May 1980 eruption of Mount St Helens (magnified 200 times). Credit: USGS Intrusion of molten rock (magma) between the neighbouring volcanoes of Agung and Batur on Bali that was responsible for 2017 pre-eruptive seismic swarm at Agung. Credit: Albino et al., 2019, CC BY How airlines manage riskQantas’ Mike Galvin said he makes safety decisions based on information gathered by his team using all available sources.With regards to Bali’s Mt Agung, Galvin said getting the timing right is an important aspect of the process. “Here in Australia we might be 5-6 hours away from the ash in Indonesia so we need to make decisions several hours before the plane departs,” he said.Galvin works closely with the Darwin and Tokyo VAACs.”But we also have our own team of five meteorologists on constant shifts, who utilise information from other sources such as satellite images from the Japanese Himawari satellite,” he said. This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article. Map showing the nine volcanic ash advisory centres (VAACs) and the regions they are responsible for. Credit: Bureau of Meteorology “If a polygon of ash lies over the destination airport or on its approach or departure path, then we will not land.”How science can helpSince the Icelandic eruption there has been increased research into volcanic ash impacts on aeroplane engines and how much ash they can tolerate. While it is possible engines can tolerate low concentrations of ash, experts don’t yet know what the precise limit of ash that a particular engine can withstand. Further research is needed to determine this. “Science can also assist the aviation industry though better assessment of the concentrations of ash at different altitudes such as at 20,000 and 30,000 feet,” Galvin said.In the longer term, volcano science can help airlines understand more about volcanic ash hazards and risks to particular regions. For the Asia-Pacific region, average recurrence intervals have been calculated for each magnitude of volcanic eruption. This is measured by a Volcanic Explosivity Index (VEI). Flight BA009 en route to Perth from Kuala Lumpur flew through ash from the eruption. This caused sulfurous fumes to enter the cabin and the failure of all four engines, which fortunately restarted after a dive to lower altitude. To put VEI in context, the eruptions in the current phase of activity at Agung have been attributed a VEI of 3 on a logarithmic scale that runs from 0 to 8. It’s estimated we have 1.4 eruptions per year of this magnitude in the Asia-Pacific region.The 1883 Krakatau eruption in Indonesia and 1991 Pinatubo eruption in the Philippines were significantly larger, VEI 6 eruptions, which have been estimated to recur every 111 years in the region.This raises the question of how well prepared the aviation industry is, and countries as a whole, for the next even larger VEI 7 eruption, such as that at Tambora in Indonesia in 1815, which erupted 175 cubic km of fragmented volcanic material in just 24 hours.Recent scientific research on Agung suggests that the molten rock (magma) feeding Agung volcano below may also be connected to the neighbouring volcano, Batur. The connectivity of magma plumbing systems may explain the joint eruptions of both Agung and Batur in 1963 and may present an additional volcanic hazard to consider for Bali. “Engine and aeroplane manufacturers will not certify any level of ash tolerance,” Galvin said.Ash is a serious problem for planesMt Agung is just the latest example of volcanoes interrupting flights in Indonesia and other countries. In April 2010, an eruption of Eyjafjallajökull volcano in Iceland caused disruption to European air traffic for several days and cost the aviation industry an estimated US$250 million per day. Volcanic ash is made up of volcanic glass, crystals and other rock fragments less than 2mm in size. Ash from explosive eruptions can reach into the stratosphere—10-20km above the volcano, which is within the cruising altitude of commercial aircraft—and be dispersed by winds up to thousands of kilometres away.The 1982 eruption of Mt Galunggung in Java, Indonesia, clearly demonstrated the potential impact of volcanic ash to aircraft. Keeping watch on volcanic ash in the skiesFollowing several aviation encounters with volcanic ash in the 1980s, the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), in collaboration with the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), established nine volcanic ash advisory centres (VAACs), in Anchorage, Buenos Aires, Darwin, London, Montreal, Tokyo, Toulouse, Washington, and Wellington.The role of the VAACs is to provide advice to the aviation industry about the location and movement of volcanic ash within their region. The VAACs gather information issued from local volcano observatories, satellite imagery and other available information such as volcano webcams, pilot reports, and online news.VAACs perform detailed modelling for individual eruptions and issue images in the shape of a polygon (“ash polygon”) showing current ash-affected air, and where ash is predicted to move over the next few hours.The Darwin VAAC covers the volcanically active regions of Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and the southern Philippines. Citation: How Qantas and other airlines decide whether to fly near volcanoes (2019, June 10) retrieved 17 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2019-06-qantas-airlines-volcanoes.html Calculated average return periods for volcanic eruptions of various magnitudes in the Asia-Pacific Region. Eruption data from Smithsonian Volcanoes of the World Catalogue (volcano.si.edu) and LaMEVE database of large explosive eruptions (www.bgs.ac.uk/vogripa/view/controller.cfc?method=lameve). Data completeness analysis carried out for each Volcanic Explosivity Index (VEI) category by Stuart Mead and Christina Magill (2014). Credit: Christina Magill, Author provided Such continuous but sporadic volcanic activity is a challenge for local emergency management. But it’s also an issue for planes.Captain Mike Galvin, head of fleet operations at Qantas Australia, told us volcanic ash in the air is a concern for airlines. “The primary issue of volcanic ash for aeroplanes is the melting of ash in the engine turbines and the blocking of sensors that measure air speed and altitude. This can result in differences in flight information displayed to each pilot,” Galvin said. “Qantas pilots are trained in these procedures during simulator training.”Additional problems arise from reduced visibility due to the opacity of windscreens, and contamination of air entering the cabin.”Currently the airline industry adopts a “no fly” policy for any visible or discernible volcanic ash. 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.
City services in Baltimore, Maryland, were paralyzed earlier this year when a ransomware attack locked up computer networks and made it impossible for residents to make property transactions or pay their municipal bills. © 2019 AFP Global losses from ransomware amounted to some $8 billion in 2018, according to a recent study Ransomware attacks have crippled many municipal and corporate networks and created difficult choices on whether to pay the hackers to unlock data Prevention is bestVictims often fail to take preventive measures such as software updates and data backups that would limit the impact of ransomware.But victims may not always be aware of potential remedies that don’t involve paying up, said Brett Callow of Emsisoft, one of several security firms that offer free decryption tools.”If the encryption in ransomware is implemented properly, there is a zero chance of recovery unless you pay the ransom,” Callow said.”Often it isn’t implemented properly, and we find weaknesses in the encryption and undo it.”Callow also points to coordinated efforts of security firms including the No More Ransom Project, which partners with Europol, and ID Ransomware, which can identify some malware and sometimes unlock data.Analysts point out that ransomware attacks may be motivated by more than just money. Two Iranians were charged last year in the attack on Atlanta that prosecutors said was an attempt to disrupt US institutions.”Attackers which aren’t such big fans of the US might want to cause economic disruption,” Falco said.”Instead of trying to take down the whole electric grid, they may try to create chaos in a number of cities.” Health care institutions have been frequent victims, and Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center revealed in 2016 it paid $17,000 to hackers to decrypt important data. The French Interior Ministry said in a recent report authorities responded to some 560 ransomware incidents in 2018 but also noted that most incidents are unreported.The same ministry report said hackers have shifted their strategy from attacking many systems with demands for small ransoms to more targeted attacks with higher potential payout. A global cyberattack in 2017 infected more than 200,000 victims in more than 150 countries with ransomware, including Britain’s state-run National Health Service Pay or resist?While the FBI and others warn against paying ransoms, some analysts say there is no clear answer for victims when critical data is locked.”You have to do what’s right for your organization,” Falco said. “It’s not the FBI’s call. You might have criminal justice information, you could have decades of evidence. You have to weigh this for yourself.”Josh Zelonis at Forrester Research offered a similar view, saying in a blog post that victims need to consider paying the ransom as a valid option, alongside other recovery efforts.But Randy Marchany, chief information security officer for Virginia Tech University, said the best answer is to take a hardline “don’t pay” attitude.”I don’t agree with any organization or city paying the ransom,” Marchany said.”The victims will have to rebuild their infrastructure from scratch anyway. If you pay the ransom, the hackers give you the decryption key but you have no assurance the ransomware has been removed from all of your systems. So, you have to rebuild them anyway.” Officials refused to meet hacker demands for a ransom of $76,000 to unlock the systems, but have been saddled with an estimated $18 million in costs of restoring and rebuilding the city’s computer networks.The dilemma in Baltimore and in a similar case in Atlanta a year earlier highlight tough choices faced by cities, hospitals and corporations hit by ransomware, which can shut down critical services for organizations with dated or vulnerable computer networks.Two Florida cities reportedly paid a total of $1 million in ransom this year, after which a new attack by the same group hit the state court system in Georgia.Globally, losses from ransomware rose by 60 percent last year to $8 billion, according to data compiled by the Internet Society’s Online Trust Alliance.At least 170 county, city or state government systems have been hit since 2013, with 22 incidents this year, according to the US Conference of Mayors, which adopted a resolution opposing ransomware payments.”We’re seeing more attacks against cities because it’s clear cities are ill-prepared, and even if they know what’s going on they don’t have the funds to fix it,” said Gregory Falco, a researcher at Stanford University specializing in municipal network security. Explore further Epidemic proportionsFrank Cilluffo, head of Auburn University’s Center for Cyber and Homeland Security, said the attacks have reached epidemic levels.”The scale and scope of the problem is striking, affecting everywhere from relatively robust states to major metropolitan areas to smaller cities and counties,” Cilluffo told a congressional hearing last month.”Targets include police and sheriff departments, schools and libraries, health agencies, transit systems, and courts… no jurisdiction is too small or too large to go unaffected.”Ransomware has been a thorny cybersecurity issue for several years in the US and globally, marked by global ransomware attacks known as “WannaCry” and “NotPetya.” Citation: As ransomware rages, debate heats up on response (2019, July 14) retrieved 17 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2019-07-ransomware-rages-debate-response.html Some analysts say ransomware attacks may have political motivations as well as financial ones Florida city pays $600,000 ransom to save computer records 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.