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Wyss Institute, Sony Corporation create tennis ball-sized surgical robot

first_img Comments (0) By EH News Bureau on August 27, 2020 The missing informal workers in India’s vaccine story Heartfulness group of organisations launches ‘Healthcare by Heartfulness’ COVID care app Share Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals releases first “Comprehensive Textbook of COVID-19” Harvard Universitymedical robotics engineeringMinimally invasive laparoscopic surgerySony CorporationWyss Institute Related Posts Wyss Institute, Sony Corporation create tennis ball-sized surgical robot MedTech News Read Article Menopause to become the next game-changer in global femtech solutions industry by 2025 Phoenix Business Consulting invests in telehealth platform Healpha Origami-inspired miniature manipulator improves precision and control of teleoperated surgical proceduresMinimally invasive laparoscopic surgery, in which a surgeon uses tools and a tiny camera inserted into small incisions to perform operations, has made surgical procedures safer for both patients and doctors over the last half-century. Recently, surgical robots have started to appear in operating rooms to further assist surgeons by allowing them to manipulate multiple tools at once with greater precision, flexibility, and control than is possible with traditional techniques. However, these robotic systems are extremely large, often taking up an entire room, and their tools can be much larger than the delicate tissues and structures on which they operate.A collaboration between Wyss associate faculty member Robert Wood, Ph.D. and robotics engineer Hiroyuki Suzuki of Sony Corporation has brought surgical robotics down to the microscale by creating a new, origami-inspired miniature remote center of motion manipulator (the “mini-RCM”). The robot is the size of a tennis ball, weighs about as much as a penny, and successfully performed a difficult mock surgical task, as described in a recent issue of Nature Machine Intelligence.“The Wood lab’s unique technical capabilities for making micro-robots have led to a number of impressive inventions over the last few years, and I was convinced that it also had the potential to make a breakthrough in the field of medical manipulators as well,” said Suzuki, who began working with Wood on the mini-RCM in 2018 as part of a Harvard-Sony collaboration. “This project has been a great success.”A mini robot for micro tasksAccording to a release from the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University, to create their miniature surgical robot, Suzuki and Wood turned to the Pop-Up MEMS manufacturing technique developed in Wood’s lab, in which materials are deposited on top of each other in layers that are bonded together, then laser-cut in a specific pattern that allows the desired three-dimensional shape to “pop up,” as in a children’s pop-up picture book. This technique greatly simplifies the mass-production of small, complex structures that would otherwise have to be painstakingly constructed by hand.The team created a parallelogram shape to serve as the main structure of the robot, then fabricated three linear actuators (mini-LAs) to control the robot’s movement: one parallel to the bottom of the parallelogram that raises and lowers it, one perpendicular to the parallelogram that rotates it, and one at the tip of the parallelogram that extends and retracts the tool in use. The result was a robot that is much smaller and lighter than other microsurgical devices previously developed in academia.The mini-LAs are themselves marvels in miniature, built around a piezoelectric ceramic material that changes shape when an electrical field is applied. The shape change pushes the mini-LA’s “runner unit” along its “rail unit” like a train on train tracks, and that linear motion is harnessed to move the robot. Because piezoelectric materials inherently deform as they change shape, the team also integrated LED-based optical sensors into the mini-LA to detect and correct any deviations from the desired movement, such as those caused by hand tremors.Steadier than a surgeon’s handsTo mimic the conditions of a teleoperated surgery, the team connected the mini-RCM to a Phantom Omni device, which manipulated the mini-RCM in response to the movements of a user’s hand controlling a pen-like tool. Their first test evaluated a human’s ability to trace a tiny square smaller than the tip of a ballpoint pen, looking through a microscope and either tracing it by hand, or tracing it using the mini-RCM. The mini-RCM tests dramatically improved user accuracy, reducing error by 68 per cent compared to manual operation – an especially important quality given the precision required to repair small and delicate structures in the human body.Given the mini-RCM’s success on the tracing test, the researchers then created a mock version of a surgical procedure called retinal vein cannulation, in which a surgeon must carefully insert a needle through the eye to inject therapeutics into the tiny veins at the back of the eyeball. They fabricated a silicone tube the same size as the retinal vein (about twice the thickness of a human hair), and successfully punctured it with a needle attached to the end of the mini-RCM without causing local damage or disruption.In addition to its efficacy in performing delicate surgical maneuvers, the mini-RCM’s small size provides another important benefit: it is easy to set up and install and, in the case of a complication or electrical outage, the robot can be easily removed from a patient’s body by hand.“The Pop-Up MEMS method is proving to be a valuable approach in a number of areas that require small yet sophisticated machines, and it was very satisfying to know that it has the potential to improve the safety and efficiency of surgeries to make them even less invasive for patients,” said Wood, who is also the Charles River Professor of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Harvard’s John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS).The researchers aim to increase the force of the robot’s actuators to cover the maximum forces experienced during an operation, and improve its positioning precision. They are also investigating using a laser with a shorter pulse during the machining process, to improve the mini-LAs’ sensing resolution.“This unique collaboration between the Wood lab and Sony illustrates the benefits that can arise from combining the real-world focus of industry with the innovative spirit of academia, and we look forward to seeing the impact this work will have on surgical robotics in the near future,” said Wyss Institute Founding Director Don Ingber, M.D., Ph.D., who is also the the Judah Folkman Professor of Vascular Biology at Harvard Medical School and Boston Children’s Hospital, and Professor of Bioengineering at SEAS. MaxiVision Eye Hospitals launches “Mucormycosis Early Detection Centre” WHO tri-regional policy dialogue seeks solutions to challenges facing international mobility of health professionals Add Commentlast_img read more

NYU’s social-distance fix for dorms? Leasing hotel rooms

first_imgNew York University may lease thousands of hotel rooms near its Greenwich Village campus to maintain social distance between students. (iStock, Wikipedia Commons)Colleges across the country sent students home in March because of the coronavirus. Now, they’re debating when to bring them back — and how.New York University is considering renting thousands of hotel rooms near its Greenwich Village campus to serve as dorms, Bloomberg reported. The rooms would allow for more social distancing between students, who NYU expects will return to campus in the fall.Other universities are also weighing hotel rooms as an option to keep students socially distant. Northeastern University will use an additional 2,000 beds in hotels and apartments near its Boston campus to reduce density in its residency halls.The move would alleviate two problems at once: empty hotels, deprived of revenue, and the logistics of bringing students back safely to college campuses. Hotels have seen occupancy rates plummet amid stay-at-home orders. In recent weeks, hotel occupancy has recovered somewhat, but remains at roughly half of normal levels.In March, some of the most expensive hotels in the country housed emergency workers and non-critical Covid-19 patients. In April, New York City moved some homeless persons into additional hotel rooms to prevent the spread of coronavirus in crowded shelters.[Bloomberg] — Georgia Kromrei This content is for subscribers only.Subscribe Nowlast_img read more

Stimulus to extend eviction moratorium, provide $25B in rent relief

first_imgThe measure would revive the Paycheck Protection Program, a federal loan program for small businesses that expired over the summer. The $284 billion allocation would allow nonprofits and local media to apply for aid, and it would allocate $15 billion to performance venues, independent movie theaters and other cultural institutions devastated by lockdowns.Still, economists had warned that the size of the stimulus would fall short of the level of assistance needed to support the economic recovery. James Whelan, president of the Real Estate Board of New York, said the same is true for New York in part because local and state governments, which had petitioned the federal government to provide funds to balance their Covid-ravaged budgets, apparently will get nothing in the package.“State and local aid is needed to account for the ongoing loss of billions in city and state tax revenue that fuels basic government services,” Whalen said in a statement. “More rental assistance is needed to protect residential and commercial tenants and property owners who will still struggle to pay their rent or mortgage over the months to come. More infrastructure and transit funding is needed to help kickstart our economy and create more good jobs for New Yorkers.”The package included $4 billion for the cash-strapped Metropolitan Transportation Authority, according to NY1. The agency previously said that without as much as $12 billion in federal aid, it would need to implement fare hikes and massive service cuts. [NYT, WaPo] — Akiko MatsudaContact Akiko Matsuda Email Address* Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (Getty)UPDATED Dec. 21, 2020, 12:25 pm: It’s smaller than some people had hoped, but another federal aid package to help boost the pandemic-ravaged economy is finally on its way.Congressional leaders on Sunday reached an agreement on a $900 billion stimulus package that would provide direct payouts of $600 to qualifying Americans, as well as revive a loan program for small businesses, according to the New York Times.The deal, likely to be finalized Monday, would continue the eviction moratorium, which is set to expire at the end of this year. It will be extended through Jan. 31, at which time the Biden administration could choose to continue it. Additionally, $25 billion would be allocated for rent relief (including $1.3 billion to New York), but it’s not yet clear how that will be distributed, according to the Washington Post.ADVERTISEMENTRead moreMitch McConnell signals limited aid package by end of yearSanta Monica hotel operator accused of misusing PPP moneyMTA crisis could be catastrophic for New York real estate Full Name*center_img This content is for subscribers only.Subscribe Now Message*last_img read more

The Value of Compassionate Offboarding

first_imgAs HR professionals, we pay a lot of attention to first impressions. We create positive candidate and employee experiences. We work hard to set our employees up for success from their first day. We put well thought-out strategies in place, strategies that often involve time and money we believe to be well worth our investment.But what about an employee’s last day?Some studies show that the last impression is actually the most important one—one that’s more impactful and lasting than the first. First impressions are based just on cursory assumptions, before we really have a clear knowledge of the person or company. The last impression, on the other hand, is one that comes after you develop a relationship based in trust and mutual respect—and thus are more deeply remembered.This is why we need to pay attention to how our employees feel when they leave our company, even in the case of difficult events like a layoff. The great Maya Angelou said it best: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”Layoffs or reductions in force aren’t uncommon these days, but involuntary separation still bring up difficult emotions. After all, we are talking about the act of letting someone go. As HR practitioners, we make hard choices every day. But as we do so, are we making a conscious effort to preserve the dignity of those who are exiting the organization involuntarily? Are we making a conscious effort to practice kindness and compassion?As Brené Brown said, “Compassion is not a virtue—it is a commitment. It’s not something we have or don’t have—it’s something we choose to practice.”So what does compassionate off boarding look like?It starts with a plan. Having a well thought-out plan in place will help you prepare for the unexpected. Think through the logistical details ahead of time so you can be truly present in the moment during the notification meeting. Train the employee conducting the meeting so the process goes as smoothly as possible, both for the impacted associate and the person delivering the news. And provide outplacement services for exiting employees, so they have access to personalized coaching and other career transition support and can land new jobs faster.Finally, don’t forget about those employees who are “left behind.” Consider how layoffs impact their engagement. Develop a plan to move forward together that offers clear direction and reduces the ambiguity of the situation.Developing and using a comprehensive and compassionate plan for your layoffs will help you, your company, your remaining employees, and your exiting employees move into a brighter future, faster.last_img read more

Userfly: Get Usability Insights with One Line of Code

first_imgTop Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting Related Posts rick turoczy 1 When it comes to Web design and development, one thing trumps the latest technology and cool features: usability. Why? Because all of the features and functions in the world are completely worthless if a human user is unable to figure out how to use them. But testing against human factors, creating use cases, and observing focus groups can prove to be a costly endeavor for even the largest of companies. Now, there’s a cost-effective means of seeing how usable your pages are: Userfly, a simple way to test your site’s usability for free – with one line of code.Simply add the Userfly code to your site, and you’ll soon be a fly-on-the-wall as users walk through your pages. That one line of code allows Userfly to record a screencast of your users’ behavior, providing some very interesting feedback on how they are interacting with your site, from simple mouse tracking to complex interactions with AJAX elements. Tags:#web#Web Development 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Market from Chris Estreich on Vimeo.The user behavior is recorded for the entire site visit, following the user from page to page. Once the user leaves the site, the capture ends.Reviewing the walkthroughs is just as easy. Userfly provides information on the user’s browser, each page visited, and time spent on each page. Clicking on a particular page plays back the interaction, showing where the user moved his or her mouse and where he or she clicked. Once you’re finished watching, you’re prompted to rate the usefulness of the capture. Then, you can decide to keep it or discard it.Even during a short test, I found Userfly incredibly helpful – given that a number of users stopped by as I was testing the app. In fact, the only complaint I had was that the walkthrough fails to automatically pan as the user scrolls. Meaning? Meaning you have to manually scroll to keep up with the mouse movements – which I found to be nearly impossible on lengthy posts. When the user didn’t scroll, however, I found myself replaying the walkthroughs over and over. It was invaluable to see how other users see and use the pages that I find so familiar. Suffice it to say, I immediately noticed areas for improvement.Userfly will allow you to record 10 users per hour, monitoring basic events for free. Those who are interested in more users per hour and more advanced events can contact Userfly for a quote.How are people using your site? Wouldn’t you like to know? Grab the code at Userfly and take a look at your site through someone else’s eyes. A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai… Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic…last_img read more

NYC Waterfalls: How Real-Time Cellphone Data Can Impact Local Economies

first_imgTop Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting Tags:#Features#NYT#Real World#web Last week we looked at the emerging world of real-time cellphone data, via the projects of the MIT SENSEeable City Lab. This lab has been producing interesting analysis and visualizations of cellphone data in urban centers, a.k.a. “digital footprints.” We also spoke to Andrea Vaccari, a research associate at SENSEable City Lab, about a project as yet unpublished on their website. This project analyzed the economic impact from tourists, via cellphone data, of a huge art project the city of New York helped sponsor in 2008: four man-made waterfalls hosted around NYC from June to October. From June 26 to October 13, 2008 there were four man-made waterfalls in New York Harbor. It was part art exhibit (conceived by the Danish/Icelandic artist, Olafur Eliasson) and part research project by MIT SENSEeable City Lab in collaboration with AT&T Research Labs. The project wascommissioned by the Public Art Fund and was supported by the city of New York, which paid an estimated $20 million for it. The return was said to be about $69 million in total economic impact in New YorkCity, due to tourists and other benefits of the waterfalls. Nearly 1.4 million people viewed The New York City Waterfalls from an official vantage point or from a ferry or tour boat between June 26 and October 13.From a research point of view, the point of NYC Waterfalls was to map the distribution of visitors to the exhibit, and reveal where they took photos and communicated with their mobile phones. So the scope of this project was more than the previous research in cities such as Florence and Rome, where only the presence and movements of tourists was mapped. It’s important to note too that only aggregate cellphone data was used – so no individually identifiable data was recorded. Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… Related Posts richard macmanus A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai… This time the lab analyzed two types of digital footprints generated by peoplein proximity to the New York City Waterfalls: cellular network activity via AT&T and photo activity via Flickr publicly available photos. There’s a surprising amount of data about people that the lab can gather via Flickr. In 60% of the photos uploaded to Flickr that the lab studied, users had disclosedtheir nationality. This enabled the lab to infer whether they were citizens of New York or visitors, which is a valuable statistic to assess the economic impact of the waterfalls. Also the lab studied geographical coordinates, date and time, and other data Flickr revealed – e.g. description of the photo provided by the photographer. The Flickr API was used too. From all of this, the lab was able to determine popularpoints of interest, and the chronologically ordered set of photos showed the movements of different individuals (again, note it was anonymized data).What Can Be Gained From This Data?The lab’s findings were many. While the results may not be surprising (the waterfalls attracted more visitors!), what’s important is that cellphone data provided quantifiable data about how much of an increase in activity the waterfalls generated. For example, the number of phone calls showed an increase of the “attractiveness” of waterfall vantage points by 39.1% in comparison to other points of interests in the vicinity – such as the WTC site, City Hall and Wall Street. This was based on historical cellphone data of the area, as well as the waterfall time period.Not only did the waterfall vantage points gain in popularity, but other points of interest on the waterfront in the vicinity also improved – e.g. Main Street Park, Brooklyn Bridge and South Street Market.Overall the analysis of digital footprints showed the impact of the waterfalls, and how they drove people to new parts of the city over time. MIT says that this type of information can feed tourism studies and help a city to understand the behavior of people (tourists) who can have a large impact on the local economy. This type of data would also be useful for urban planning, of future events and attractions. 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Marketlast_img read more

Facebook will prioritize news from ‘trusted’ publishers while de-emphasizing news overall

first_img Related postsLytics now integrates with Google Marketing Platform to enable customer data-informed campaigns14th December 2019The California Consumer Privacy Act goes live in a few short weeks — Are you ready?14th December 2019ML 2019121313th December 2019Global email benchmark report finds email isn’t dead – it’s essential13th December 20192019 benchmark report: brand vs. non-brand traffic in Google Shopping12th December 2019Keep your LinkedIn advertising strategy focused in 202012th December 2019 Facebook will prioritize news from ‘trusted’ publishers while de-emphasizing news overallYou are here: HomeDigital MarketingFacebook will prioritize news from ‘trusted’ publishers while de-emphasizing news overall Posted on 20th January 2018Digital Marketing FacebookshareTwittertweetGoogle+share A week after Facebook said that it will reduce the amount of news in people’s News Feeds, the company has announced that it plans to increase the quality of the news that does appear.Facebook will prioritize news posts from publishers that certain users have flagged as trustworthy, the company announced on Friday. Facebook will start this test in the US next week and plans to eventually expand it internationally.To compile its list of trusted publishers, Facebook will rely on surveys asking “a diverse and representative sample of people” using the social network whether they are familiar with a particular news source and, if so, whether they consider the source trustworthy, according to a company blog post.Facebook will not publicly share a list of trusted publishers nor will it label posts from these publishers, according to a company spokesperson.In attempting to identify and prioritize trusted news sources, Facebook continues to try to stem the spread of fake news on its social network. Facebook was revealed to be an effective conduit for misinformation during the 2016 US presidential election and has been trying to filter out the falsehoods ever since. In December 2016, the company adopted a two-step system to have users flag fake news posts and independent fact-checkers evaluate their veracity, though that program proved unsuccessful and led Facebook in December 2017 to discontinue the “disputed” tags that it had the fact-checkers append to false stories. Nonetheless, Facebook has decided to once again turn to its users to validate the information distributed on its platform.“This update will not change the amount of news you see on Facebook. It will only shift the balance of news you see toward sources that are determined to be trusted by the community,” wrote Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in a Facebook post published on Friday.Of course, the amount of news people see on Facebook will change. Last week, the company said that it will begin to prioritize posts from a person’s friends over those from people or companies they follow, including brands and publishers. As a result of that change, “we expect news to make up roughly 4 percent of News Feed — down from roughly 5 percent today,” per Zuckerberg.From our sponsors: Facebook will prioritize news from ‘trusted’ publishers while de-emphasizing news overalllast_img read more

India look for right balance in Oz warm-up tie

first_imgIndia begin their tour of Australia with a two-day warm-up game against Cricket Australia Chairman’s XI in Canberra on Thursday with the focus on acclimatising to conditions ahead of the gruelling Test series beginning later this month.India are high on confidence after their 2-0 and 4-1 wins in the Test and ODI series against the West Indies and they would straightaway get down to the task of getting a feel of Australian conditions which would be very different from what they had faced at home.The Indian cricket board had sent seven players, including the trio of Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman five days in advance to train in Melbourne and prepare for what would certainly be their last tour of Australia.The remaining players, including skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni and coach Duncan Fletcher landed in Australia on Tuesday and left for Canberra for the first warm-up game.It is to be seen if India will roll out a star-studded team for the first warm-up match at Manuka Oval, given that there is a threeday game starting on Monday against another CA Chairman’s XI boasting of Australian players like David Warner, Usman Khawaja and Phil Hughes.Dhoni, on Wednesday, said the tourists would use the game to introduce the less experienced players to Australian conditions while also aiming for a strong performance to start the tour on a positive note.”We would like to give our youngsters an opportunity to start off of course, some of them haven’t played much cricket over here,” said Dhoni.advertisement”You don’t really want to lag too much behind right from the very start, so going with a good start is very crucial,” Dhoni said. “We are here close to 12 days early and if 12 days are not enough then one month wouldn’t be enough so we have to adapt to the conditions.” One concern though would be the fitness of pacer Zaheer Khan, on whom the Indian team would rely on heavily in the tour in the bowling department.From what coach Fletcher had said in Chennai before departing for Australia, Zaheer could be rested for the first game and fielded in the second game starting on Monday.Dhoni had also said that remaining injury-free would be crucial, more so after pacers Praveen Kumar and Varun Aaron have been ruled out due to injuries after being named in the touring squad.Most of the batsmen were among the runs in the Test and ODI series against the West Indies with the likes of Virender Sehwag and Virat Kohli fresh from impressive shows.Tendulkar, who is still one short of 100 international tons, was below-par against the West Indies and would be eager to get into his groove before Boxing Day. The same would be the case for Laxman, who was not in the best form against the West Indies. Dravid, who was the stand-out performer against the West Indies and in England, would want to straightaway be in the thick of things.Teams: India: MS Dhoni (captain), V Sehwag (vice-captain), S Tendulkar, R Dravid, VVS Laxman, G Gambhir, Z Khan, V Kohli, A Mithun, R Ashwin, P Ojha, A Rahane, W Saha, I Sharma, R Sharma, V Kumar, U Yadav.CA Chairman’s XI: Ryan Broad (captain), Joe Burns, Tom Cooper, Alex Doolan, Peter George, Jake Haberfield, Josh Lalor, Tim Ludeman, Glenn Maxwell, Joe Mennie, Wes Robinson, Dean Solwaylast_img read more

10 months agoSchalke coach Tedesco: No need to be nervous facing Man City

first_imgAbout the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your say Schalke coach Tedesco: No need to be nervous facing Man Cityby Paul Vegas10 months agoSend to a friendShare the loveSchalke coach Domenico Tedesco insists they have nothing to fear facing Champions League opponents Manchester City.S04 are rank outsiders for the round of 16 clash.But Tedesco says: “We cannot wait to face the Citizens.”City is the most fascinating adversary for us and for our fans, we are not nervous about this double challenge, we want to do everything possible to pass the turn and honor the competition.” last_img read more

13 days agoEngland management delighted with Chelsea winger Hudson-Odoi return

first_imgAbout the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your say England management delighted with Chelsea winger Hudson-Odoi returnby Paul Vegas13 days agoSend to a friendShare the loveEngland management are delighted with Chelsea winger Callum Hudson-Odoi’s return from rupturing his Achilles.He operated centrally as England Under-21s drew in Slovenia on Friday night, with manager Aidy Boothroyd keen to experiment.Hudson-Odoi’s peers have remarked that the 18-year-old appears to have evolved physically during his five months out.”Players can get quite down about serious injuries but he’s come back stronger,” Boothroyd said.”He’s certainly lost none of his explosive power, which can be a worry with an Achilles. He has to make sure he looks after himself. Doing that stuff off the pitch allows them to flourish.”I can’t say anything but positive things about him. He’s got a brilliant approach to life.”His attitude has been first class. His enthusiasm has been infectious. It gets everybody going, they raise their levels. Hopefully we can’t hold on to him and he gets in the first team.” last_img read more

House Approves Second Supplementary Estimates

first_img Recurrent (housekeeping) expenses have moved from $572.46 billion to $582.5 billion, for an additional expenditure of $9.65 billion. Story Highlights The House of Representatives on Tuesday (January 15) approved the Second Supplementary Estimates, which show that the Administration is to spend an additional $11.45 billion for this fiscal year.The Estimates reveal that the Budget has been increased from $791.11 billion to $802.56 billion.Recurrent (housekeeping) expenses have moved from $572.46 billion to $582.5 billion, for an additional expenditure of $9.65 billion.In terms of capital (development) spending, this is proposed to be increased by $1.36 billion, moving from $218.64 billion to $220.04 billion.In his remarks, Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Dr. the Hon. Nigel Clarke, said the fiscal profile for the period ending October 2018, is consistent with the achievement of the Primary Balance target of seven per cent of gross gomestic product for Financial Year 2018/19.“Provisional data indicate that Central Government operations to end October 2018 generated a fiscal surplus of $1.3 billion, reflecting an improvement of $11.6 billion relative to the deficit of $10.3 billion projected in the First Supplementary Estimates. The Primary Surplus amounted to $78.8 billion, which was $9.7 billion or 14.1 per cent higher than the $69.1 billion targeted in the First Supplementary Estimates,” Dr. Clarke noted.He said this favourable fiscal performance resulted from a confluence of higher than projected revenue and grants and below programmed expenditure.Revenue and grants were ahead of the First Supplementary Estimates by $5.4 billion or 1.6 per cent.Dr. Clarke noted that this performance was driven mainly by the strong performance of Tax Revenue, which was $8.2 billion better than the revised Budget.“The revised projection for revenue and grants for financial year 2018/19 is $623.8 billion, representing an increase over the First Supplementary Estimates of $14.8 billion or 2.4 per cent. Tax revenue is projected to provide the largest contribution to the surplus, with an over performance of $10.5 billion relative to the First Supplementary Estimates of $526.9 billion,” the Minister said.Meanwhile, Dr. Clarke noted that as a demonstration of the Administration’s commitment to fiscal responsibility, the Government has continued to take steps to manage and prevent public expenditure arrears.He pointed out that tremendous progress has been made in reducing not only the arrears of the central government, but also the arears of the local authorities, as was evident in the First Supplementary Estimates.Some $2.6 billion has been set aside in the Second Supplementary Estimates to assist ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs), in clearing domestic expenditure arrears.The Finance Minister said of the $2.6 billion provided, $1.388 billion is for public utilities, of which $711 million will go towards addressing chronic arears to the National Water Commission; and $663 million for electricity, including $118 million for the local authorities, and $544 million related to MDAs. Another $14 million is to address arrears in telecommunication services.Other legacy arrears that the Government has taken a decision to address in the second supplementary estimates are $425 million to clear outstanding vacation leave payments to employees of the former Jamaica Customs Department and Tax Administration Department; and $325 million for outstanding refund to the Spectrum Management Authority (SMA).“This outstanding amount goes back to 2013 when the then Cabinet gave approval for the retention by the SMA of 10 per cent of the proceeds of the auction of the 700 megahertz spectrum licence fee to improve technical capacity to monitor the use of the spectrum and to ensure that the licensees have unencumbered access to the spectrum,” Dr. Clarke said.“The SMA has programmed the outstanding amount as capital expenditure towards the upgrade of the spectrum monitoring capabilities of the Authority in financial year 2018/19,” he added.Other areas of significant increases include $2.6 billion provided to the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation to undertake mitigation and road maintenance works; $2.069 billion to the Police Department; and $963 million in increased subvention to the University of the West Indies, University Hospital of the West Indies and the Norman Manley Law School. The Estimates reveal that the Budget has been increased from $791.11 billion to $802.56 billion. The House of Representatives on Tuesday (January 15) approved the Second Supplementary Estimates, which show that the Administration is to spend an additional $11.45 billion for this fiscal year.last_img read more


first_img LEAVE A REPLY Cancel replyLog in to leave a comment Advertisement TORONTO, ON (April 8, 2019) — Seasoned labour lawyer Marie Kelly has been tapped to helm ACTRA, the national union of professional performers working in the English-language recorded media sector in Canada, as National Executive Director and Chief Negotiator.“On behalf of ACTRA performers we are thrilled to announce Marie Kelly as our new National Executive Director and Chief Negotiator,” said David Sparrow, ACTRA National President. “Recognizing Marie’s long-standing career and vast leadership expertise in the labour movement, our union will continue to set the standards for collective bargaining in the arts, to be a leading voice for Canadian culture and to fight for the rights of professional performers.”Marie Kelly is a veteran lawyer with a long history of representing workers’ rights within Canada’s labour movement. Ms. Kelly comes to ACTRA after six years at the Ontario Nurses’ Association (ONA) where she most recently held the role of CEO/CAO. Prior to ONA, she worked for the United Steelworkers where, over the course of 22 years, she served in various capacities including as executive director, legal counsel and became the first woman in North America to be appointed to the position of Assistant Director. Facebook Login/Register With: Advertisementcenter_img Advertisement Ms. Kelly officially assumes her role at ACTRA today upon Stephen Waddell’s retirement with Waddell staying on with the union in an advisory role until fall 2020.“For almost 40 years, Stephen Waddell has been a champion for Canadian performers and has led us in the creation of some of the most ground-breaking collective agreements not just in our industry but in the world,” added Sparrow. “For always demanding fair compensation and credit for the work of our members and for always encouraging us to stand our ground and stick together, we thank Stephen for his devotion to our union.”Stephen Waddell began his career in 1970 as a Toronto-based staff representative for the International Woodworkers of America. In 1972, Stephen left the IWA to work as Assistant General Secretary of ACTRA where he remained until 1984 when he was recruited by the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and moved to Los Angeles where he became SAG’s Assistant Hollywood Executive Director. Leaving SAG in 1988 to return to Canada, Stephen became a talent agent at a national talent agency based in Toronto where he successfully represented leading performers, writers and directors. In 1992, Stephen was enticed back to work for ACTRA as National Executive Director where he remained until now as chief negotiator and chief of staff of the national performers’ union.In 2007, Stephen led ACTRA members through their first strike in the union’s history which ultimately led to the first collective bargaining agreement in the world to contain provisions for Digital Media production and Use. In 2015, Stephen headed negotiations that resulted in another ground-breaking achievement – the establishment of a Prepayment for Use of all Digital Media productions, which allows Canadian performers to enjoy the best contractual minimum fees and Use rights for Digital Media production in the world.About ACTRAACTRA (Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists) is the national union of professional performers working in the English-language recorded media in Canada. ACTRA represents the interests of over 25,000 members across the country – the foundation of Canada’s highly acclaimed professional performing community. Marie Kelly Twitterlast_img read more

Alberta going to court accused of breaking trade rules on 482M road

first_imgEDMONTON – Five Alberta road contractors are taking the province to court over a new $482-million highway maintenance deal for a B.C.-based firm.The contractors say the government broke tendering and free-trade rules by entering into a deal last week with Emcon Services to plow snow from and maintain 43 per cent of Alberta’s highways.They say the province has been procedurally unfair and have asked a Court of Queen’s Bench judge to review the matter on Sept. 7.“The fundamental concern is about value and fairness,” Laurie Stretch, speaking for the companies involved, said Wednesday.“What the government has done in this case is bound to make this more costly for Albertans.”The dispute surrounds the road maintenance contract that had been handled by Carillion Canada, which was placed under creditor protection earlier this year.Carillion Canada handled road maintenance in Alberta, along with contracts in Ontario.Last week, a bankruptcy court ruled that those three contracts will now go to Emcon.The five contractors, in their court application, said that rather than simply let another firm assume the old Carillion contracts, the government instead secretly made an add-on deal with Emcon that included longer timelines and more money.Those changes, they said, mean the contract should have been re-tendered, with everyone getting a chance to bid.“(Transportation Minister) Brian Mason violated his government’s legal requirements by granting contractual concessions and extensions in favour of one company, effectively sole-sourcing contracts,” wrote the companies in a release.Alberta Transportation spokesman John Archer said when Carillion Canada entered into creditor protection earlier this year, Emcon came forward to bid for the Carillion contract, but asked for other concessions.Archer said any company could have made an offer, but that Emcon was the only company that did so.“Our overall interest here is ensuring that there is maintenance done on Alberta’s highways and that there is road clearing equipment and personnel in place to do this without a gap in service,” he said.“And in an effort to try to get the best deal possible for Alberta taxpayers we dealt with the bid that was on the table.”Archer also said the province could not re-tender the individual Carillion contracts under the terms of the bankruptcy negotiations.The province and Emcon have agreed to extend one maintenance contract, due to expire in 2019, by two years at the same price.It will also pay out $2.75 million more for each of two other contracts that are to expire in 2022 and 2023.The deal also honours existing labour agreements, which include 300 jobs in the winter and up to 500 in the summer, many of them with the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees.The five firms involved are: Alberta Highway Services, Carmacks Maintenance Services, LaPrairie Works, Ledcor Highways and Volker Stevin Highways.United Conservative transportation critic Wayne Drysdale said the public needs to know more about how the deal went down.“We share many of the concerns articulated today by Alberta’s remaining five highway maintenance contractors,” said Drysdale in a release.“This entire process has lacked transparency and accountability, both with other maintenance contractors and Alberta taxpayers.”last_img read more

Landowners oppose oil pipeline before Iowa Supreme Court

first_imgDES MOINES, Iowa – A group of Iowa landowners and an environmental group asked the Iowa Supreme Court Wednesday to declare a crude oil pipeline permit illegal under the Iowa Constitution, a decision that could force the pipeline in operation for more than a year to be turned off.The attorney for a group of landowners who opposed construction of the Dakota Access oil pipeline through their property told the court since the pipeline provides no direct use to Iowans the decision of the Iowa Utilities Board to grant a permit should be reversed.“The pipeline crosses the state with no oil wells, no refineries, this pipeline has no onramps and no offramps,” said Bill Hannigan. “Iowans have no direct use.”The farmers’ land was taken through eminent domain approved by the state utilities board, which concluded that the $4 billion, 1,172-mile underground pipeline transporting over 450,000 barrels per day of domestic crude oil from North Dakota to Illinois provides was necessary.An Iowa court judge in February 2017 concluded the board properly considered public benefits of the pipeline. The landowners and the environmental group Sierra Club of Iowa appealed. Sierra Club wants the entire pipeline closed down. The landowners want the sections taken by eminent domain removed from their land.“I want them out. I want them gone. They had no right to come do this,” Fairfield farmer Steven Hickenbottom said after the court arguments.The company took about eight acres across a 170-acre tract of his land, which totals about 1,000 acres in southeast Iowa.The pipeline has been carrying oil since June 2017.The state utilities board concluded that since pipelines are safer than rail transportation and there are economic benefits to the pipeline, the use of eminent domain was justified.“The board position is there is substantial evidence in the record to support their decisions,” said board lawyer Cecil WrightThe high court may choose to use the case to determine whether the state eminent domain laws are lawful under the Iowa Constitution.Justice Brent Appel challenged the Dakota Access argument.“It seems to me your argument is whenever the state decides that there’s some remote or incidental benefit they can come and take your property,” he said. “You might as well just say your right to property is not a constitutional right but subject to the legislative dictate.”Dublinske said there are legislative limits to the power through the utilities board process in which a permit applicant must prove there will be a public use to the project.The Sierra Club also argued that because the pipeline risks contaminating drinking water for thousands of Iowans, the permit should be overturned.The Iowa case isn’t the only legal challenge to the pipeline.The Standing Rock Sioux tribe continues its federal court lawsuit in the District of Columbia and is joined by three other Dakotas tribes seeking to shut down the pipeline.___Follow David Pitt on Twitter: read more

Wilmington Kids Invited To Meet Santa His Elves At Town Hall On

first_imgWILMINGTON, MA — Santa and his elves have reserved Thursday, December 6, 2018, from 6pm to 7:30pm, to receive wish lists and pose for a quick photo with Wilmington boys and girls.  Join us in Wilmington Town Hall (Room 9) as we welcome this holiday season with the 47th Annual Santa’s Workshop. Don’t forget your camera to capture this special moment!(NOTE: The above announcement is from the Wilmington Recreation Department.)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 [email protected] this:TwitterFacebookLike this:Like Loading… RelatedWilmington Kids Invited To Meet Santa & His Elves At Town Hall On December 7In “Community”WILMINGTON REC REMINDERS: Registration Now Open For Upholstery Workshop This FallIn “Community”Wilmington Kids Invited To Meet Santa & His Elves At Town Hall On December 1In “Community”last_img read more

Budget 2015 RBI Governor Rajan Supports Strong Action Against Black Money Holders

first_imgOn the eve of the Budget, Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor Raghuram Rajan has called for simplifying laws to enforce them more effectively on black money holders who hide their money in India or stash it away.  “We also have to ensure that if somebody is hiding, why only outside, even internally there is a lot more black money, we punish him and enforce the regulations, and laws. For this we need to streamline laws, so that we enforce them better,” Rajan told PTI. ReutersRajan said that smart implementation of laws holds the key to delivering a strong message to black money holders. “If we have a lot of regulations and don’t enforce them, then there is a culture which says these regulations are for fun, a culture where impunity builds up. It is difficult to break that culture, but we have to break it”.Tough message to tax evadersRajan also said that with a gradual reduction in taxation rates over the years, there is no excuse for evade tax and those doing so must be conveyed a tough message. “Let people pay, but if they don’t pay, go after them. That message has to get out. People have to know if they evade, they will be penalised. We need to strengthen the tax administration as part of the government”, Rajan said.India suffers from lack of revenues as tax revenues continues to remain poor. India sees tax collection account for only 10% of the GDP, limiting the government’s ability to afford capital expenditure. Rajan also voiced his disapproval of inheritance tax, noting that the focus should be on uplifting people and not pulling down those who are economically well off.   On education loans, Rajan said there is a ned to improve the student loan scheme to reduce incidence of non-payment, which has gone up in recent years.last_img read more