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first_img Your weather app may not be as reliable as you thought. Here’s why. Here are the best shows on Netflix right now (July 2019) The best Google Home tips, tricks, and Easter eggs to try The best unlocked phones you can buy PowerPoint is easier than ever with Microsoft’s new A.I. tools Synthesized voices like those used by Siri and Alexa are fine for telling us the day’s weather forecast or how many minutes remain on a cooking timer, but would you really want their flat, monotonous tones reading you audiobooks? Probably not, which is why most of us turn to human-voiced services like Audible to get our audiobook fix. Human voice actors might not get the nod for too much longer, however, due to to the pioneering work of a London-based startup called DeepZen.Using artificial intelligence algorithms, augmented by the technological firepower of IBM’s Power A.I. and Watson technologies, DeepZen has developed text-to-speech tools that not only sound human at first listen, but can also pick up on the emotional cues needed for reading text in a compelling manner. In doing so, the company claims that it could reduce the time and cost to produce audiobooks by up to 90%.“Our system is truly revolutionary,” Taylan Kamis, CEO and co-founder of DeepZen, told Digital Trends. “It works using deep learning and neural networks to understand how a human talks and reads. We then train the system so it can recognize where to apply the right emotions and intonation when reading a piece of text. The result is humanlike speech very closely resembling the real thing.”Inevitably, work like this can be cast as yet another example of cutting-edge A.I. tools threatening a human profession. In this case, that profession involves actors who, despite what a few high-profile figures are able to achieve, don’t have the most steady, stable careers as it is. It would be naive to think that software such as this won’t have an impact on the future of voice actors, but, as Kamis points out, there are plenty of scenarios in which tools such as DeepZen’s could be a net positive for humanity.For example, it could make possible the creation of audiobooks based on works by new and emerging writers, or from publishers who don’t have the luxury of big budgets. It could also be used to help develop superior text-to-speech tools for people who have dyslexia or otherwise have trouble reading.“As for the future, we are also looking at producing voice-overs for the video production industry, as well as gaming, where there is a need for real-time text-to-speech to enhance the player experience,” Kami said. “We are also looking at other languages.”You can check out a sample of the system here. Editors’ Recommendationslast_img read more

first_img Hola, Alexa. Voice assistant will soon add support for Spanish speakers Survey says Siri and Google Assistant are the most used voice assistants Amazon’s Alexa adds email updates, plus a bunch of cool new routines LG’s 2019 TVs slide Alexa next to Google Assistant, with Siri on the way The best smart speakers for 2019 It sure looks like Apple has big plans for Siri.Apple plans to hire 2,000 more employees for a new Seattle campus, the company announced Monday. A significant number of those jobs look like they’re focused on improving Siri and developing more advanced artificial intelligence.While Apple already has about 500 workers in the area, this marks a major expansion in Amazon’s hometown and is a sign that Apple plans to significantly invest in its artificial intelligence offerings. According to Apple’s jobs page, openings at the new campus include machine learning research scientists, senior software engineers dedicated to Siri, and natural-language processing experts.“Your work will advance and shape the future vision of our multilingual, multicultural Siri assistant, and Search applications used by millions across the world,” one job posting says.The 630,000-square-foot campus will be located just a block from Amazon’s headquarters. Both companies are fighting to dominate the virtual assistant space. Amazon’s Alexa is a direct competitor to Apple’s Siri. While Amazon continues to dominate the smart speaker market, Siri can live on an iPhone in your pocket.Seattle is quickly becoming something of a ground zero for the development of artificially intelligent voice assistants. Google, which has its own Google Assistant, plans to open a campus there this year. Right next door is Redmond, the home of Microsoft, which makes Cortana.“”These new jobs confirm what we already knew — we have the best talent and city anywhere,” Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan said in a statement Monday. “Apple’s expanded footprint in Seattle is another example of the growing opportunity that exists for residents of Seattle and the economic powerhouse our city has become.”Smart speakers and other voice assistants have begun to evolve past easy ways to get answers to random trivia questions. Researchers at the University of Washington have developed an algorithm that lets your smart speaker or smartphone detect cardiac arrest in your sleep.Apple will likely charge its new Seattle hires with figuring out new ways to use these voice assistants. More importantly, it’s up to them to make sure that Siri just works, without being confused by how you phrase a question — all in multiple languages. That’s no easy task, but it certainly looks like it’s one that Apple plans to take on in order to convince you to choose Siri over Alexa. Editors’ Recommendationslast_img read more

first_imgSamsung’s Galaxy S8 is barely three months old and already we’re hearing news about its successor, next year’s S9. It turns out that the latest report from Ming-Chi Kuo, the KGI analyst with an accurate track record when it comes to Apple releases, has details about the upcoming “iPhone 8” that include implications for what Samsung has planned not only for the Galaxy S9, but next year’s Note 9 as well. Essentially Kuo predicts that the Galaxy S9 will keep the S8’s rear placement of the fingerprint sensor; a likely disappointment for S8 fans, as the awkwardly placed sensor was seen as one of the few flaws on the new smartphone. The good news, however, is that the Galaxy Note 9, which will likely debut later in 2018, will see Samsung introduce a fingerprint sensor under the display.READ NEXT: On-screen fingerprint sensors aren’t coming in 2017The focus of the analyst’s report is that this year’s “iPhone 8” will ditch the use of a fingerprint sensor and Apple will instead rely on facial detection to replace Touch ID. It was reported earlier in the year that Apple was having trouble getting Touch ID to work properly when embedded under the display, and it seems they haven’t been able to implement the technology in time for this year’s release.This means that Samsung doesn’t need to take the risk of trying to get an under-display fingerprint reader to work on the Galaxy S9, which should be released in the first half of the year. The company then has a little more time to develop its solution for the Note 9, which predictably would be released in the fall, just ahead of the 2018 iPhone model.SOURCE 9to5Google Story TimelineiPhone 8 face unlock confirmation found in HomePod firmwareOn-screen fingerprint sensors are not coming this yearMore iPhone 8 HomePod hints: tap to wake, split status, no Touch IDNote 8 specs leak: The iPhone 8’s big competitioniPhone 8 concept asks how will Apple embrace OLED’s key advantagelast_img read more

first_imgWhile the OnePlus 3T almost took everyone by surprise, the OnePlus 5T ironically doesn’t have that advantage. Its existence is pretty much known even before OnePlus officially teased it. But more than that, its features are also mostly common knowledge by now. At least the ones we’ve heard about.The highlight of the OnePlus 5T will be its screen, the startup’s formal entry into the new 18:9 ratio arena. That is pretty much the only thing that has changed about, with the screen resolution still squarely in the Full HD range. FHD+ here, of course, meaning 2160×1080. Still no QHD for you, OnePlus fans.But due to taking up nearly the entire face of the phone, the screen has practically edged out the usual home button and fingerprint scanner. That is now located on the back, fortunately in a saner position than on Samsung’s latest flagships. Fortunately, those are the only design changes, and OnePlus has been quick to reassure fans that the 3.5 mm headphone jack isn’t going anywhere yet. Inside, very little has changed as well, with nearly the exact same specs as the OnePlus 5 before it. Almost. The secondary camera on the back is supposed to have a bigger aperture, which promises even better photo quality. Unfortunately, being exactly the same inside almost means that there is still no wireless charging, which OnePlus insists is still a subpar experience compared to its DASH Charge tech.VIA: phoneArena Story TimelineOnePlus 5T teasers start steeping, headphone jack includedOnePlus 5T release date and event ticket price plus specsOnePlus 5T release pricing may be wallet-friendlyOnePlus explains why it still won’t do wireless chargingOnePlus 5T leaked in full on Reddit and Twittercenter_img The OnePlus 5T is probably the company’s worst kept secret. Not that there’s much to be kept secret anyway. For all intents and purposes, it is the OnePlus 5 with a different screen and a relocated fingerprint sensor. That still didn’t stop the flood of leaks surrounding OnePlus’s first 18:9 phone. Hot on the heels of a set of photos is a nearly five-minute-long unboxing video of the OnePlus 5T that pretty much leaves nothing left to the imagination. Or for OnePlus to announce later this week.last_img read more

first_imgIt would appear that system status is in the green for all Apple server-based and general internet-based systems other than those listed. As this article is being written, various Apple systems have switched status. iTunes U went from Down (red) to Issue (yellow), while the iBooks Store went from fully operational to Issue. It’s like the issues at hand have a lot to do with the reveal of a newly updated iPad product available from Apple online. Earlier today in Chicago, Apple showed their newest amalgamation of parts that make up the new iPad with newly-minted access to the Apple Pencil. Announced, too, was a newly expanded set of tools for teachers and students. Think iTunes U, think the Volume Purchase Program (for iPad), think about everything!UPDATE: In the time it took to write this article, Apple’s downtime with iTunes U was resolved. Fun fact: Apple’s System Status page is updated in real time, and requires no refresh to see updates as they’re pushed. Head over to Apple System Status to see if these issues are still in play when you read this article.UPDATE 2: iTunes U now has one resolved outage as well as one new issue. It’s POSSIBLE the two are related. Story TimelineThe Apple TV 1st Gen is about to lose iTunes Store accessIsn’t Apple’s big secret obvious?This Apple event was about progress Apple’s iTunes U, Mac App Store, Volume Purchase Program, iTunes Store, Apple TV, and App Store all had issues this afternoon. This came after Apple’s morning event in Chicago in which the company revealed a new iPad with emphasis on school deployment. In other words, today the folks at Apple had a great morning, but a less-than-super afternoon. last_img read more

first_imgThe organization wanted Samsung to commit to providing updates for at least four years after each of its Android phones goes on sale, or for at least two years after they were last sold. Samsung was insufficiently informing phone purchasers about just how long they could expect to get software updates and security patches, the Consumentenbond argued. While Google makes those patches available, it’s up to handset-makers like Samsung to actually distribute them. The case ended up in The Hague, where Samsung argued that it was upfront about the fact that it committed to two years of software updates. New patches and updates, it insisted, were pushed out in a “reasonable” timeframe. That involved doing individual testing to make sure Google’s code played nicely with Samsung’s devices, it pointed out. In the end, the court ruled in Samsung’s favor. In particular, it disagreed with Consumentenbond’s arguments about future risks: those, it countered, were too nebulous to be acted upon now. “Future acts” can’t be quantified today, and as such “the court declared the Consumentenbond inadmissible for demanding updates in the future because this requirement would insufficiently take account of future developments,” the group said. AdChoices广告The court also agreed with Samsung that it was sufficiently communicating to buyers just what they could expect in terms of updates after purchasing an Android phone. However Consumentenbond is claiming a victory there, even if it’s not one that comes as a result of a court ruling. Samsung, it points out, now has a much larger banner on its homepage with links to the update policy. “That used to be different,” Bart Combée, director of the group, said today (via Google Translate). “Then the information – if it was already there – was tucked away on their site. With this lawsuit we have therefore set the market in motion, as a result of which consumers are in any case better informed. But we continue to contend that manufacturers not only inform consumers about their update policy, but that they also provide all devices with updates for at least 2 years after purchase.”Timely Android updates are a long-standing criticism of the platform, and a complex issue to deal with. On the one hand, very few existing Android phones ever get updates to the latest version of Google’s OS. At the same time, however, Google also issues software patches for security issues of varying severity, and it’s very much manufacturer-dependent as to whether they ever reach users. Indeed, research earlier this year found that not only were some phones going unpatched, others were reporting that they were up to date with Google’s latest security measures but, in fact, were not. With some handsets, as many as a dozen patches could be absent. Samsung won’t be forced to update older Android phones, a court has ruled in Europe, despite accusations that the company potentially leaves owners at risk of unforeseen security problems. The smartphone-maker had been dragged into the courts in the Netherlands by consumer rights group Consumentenbond, which argued Samsung was potentially leaving users unprotected. last_img read more

AdChoices广告 Google rolled out the Android Nearby set of features in response to what was then a growing interest in beacon-related features. These location-based services would mostly be used for advertising purposes, notifying customers within reach of deals and promos and other bits of information. The fanfare around beacons may have died out a bit but Android Nearby remained.Unsurprisingly, Nearby Notifications, which sent those tidbits as Android notifications, was abused. Google reports that it noticed an increase in “spammy notifications” earlier this year. Rather than try to filter and tune those, they decided that it wasn’t worth the effort and will discontinue Nearby Notifications instead.So come December 6 this year, users will no longer receive Nearby Notifications. That, however, doesn’t mean that Android Nearby is going away. It will still exist and, in fact, still has other APIs like Nearby Messages. Hopefully, abusers wont’s switch to using those next year. Android features come and go and when it’s Google involved, it happens more often than not. In some cases, it causes both developers and users to groan when a favorite feature they’ve relied on is suddenly announced to be discontinued. This time, however, Android phone owners are probably breathing a sigh of relief. Google has just announce that starting December, the Android Nearby Notifications feature will no longer be sending spam messages to users nearby. read more

first_imgIn addition, they’ll also be able to give commands to control their smart home appliances, like setting the thermostat, adjusting the lights, or control the security system.Other new features Ford announced at CES include Sync 3 integration with Samsung’s Gear S2 and S3 smartwatches, allowing users to get parking reminders from the wearable, as well as attention alerts if it detects dozing at the wheel. And select 2018 models will be getting WiFi-hotspot capabilities with LTE from AT&T, and support for connecting up to 10 devices.SOURCE Ford Amazon’s voice assistant Alexa is coming to a number of new devices this year — including the smartphone — but Ford will be the first to integrate it into their cars. The two companies announced at CES 2017 that starting later this month vehicles outfitted with Ford’s Sync 3 infotainment system will begin working with Alexa from the home, while sometime this summer drivers will be able to speak to Alexa from the road. Story TimelineAmazon Alexa now gets your follow-up questionsFord’s high-risk electrification plan is all-or-nothingAmazon Fire TV Edition hands-on: Westinghouse 4K set gets AlexaHuawei Mate 9 makes US debut with Amazon AlexaFord SYNC 3 AppLink projects apps to dash touchscreencenter_img Among the first Ford models to get Alexa integration are the Focus Electric, Fusion Energi, and C-MAX Energi. Once the first phase of the update rolls out, users will be able to speak to Alexa at home from the Amazon Echo line of speakers, giving it commands such as turning the car engine on or off, lock and unlock the doors, and check fuel levels.The second phase of the rollout will essentially bring Alexa and all its capabilities to the road. Drivers will be able to play music and audiobooks, ask for news and weather updates, add items to shopping lists, and even search for local destinations, transferring them to the car’s navigation system for directions. last_img read more

first_imgJust like with TouchWiz, Samsung isn’t just slapping on a new look with One UI, though, of course, there’s that too. Taking a cue from Android 9 Pie itself, Samsung is adopting cards with rounded corners almost a bit too wholeheartedly.One UI’s changes, however, go beyond aesthetics. In particular, it rearranges UI elements in such a way that they’re easier to reach with one hand. Or so that’s Samsung’s spiel. Unsurprisingly, those changes will once again diverge from the Android interface standards, but Samsung isn’t exactly new to being different.The Samsung One UI Beta Program, which of course also brings Android 9 Pie with it, has been confirmed in the Samsung Members app and registration has reportedly been opened in India and South Korea. If the manufacturer sticks to its earlier schedule, the final version should roll out next month. Chances are, however, it’ll take another month or even two before that happens. Even as Samsung has seemingly pushed back the rollout of the One UI update for the Galaxy Note 9 to February, it seems to have opened the door for an older model. Unlike with the Galaxy S9 and the Galaxy Note 9, it seems that Samsung is starting with the Galaxy Note 8 when it comes to the beta program. Now a select few owners of the phablet in select markets can sign up to experience Samsung One UI, both the new features and potential problems it may bring.last_img read more

first_imgIt’s been a busy couple of days for Apple. Yesterday, the company introduced a new iPad Air and a new iPad mini, opting to forgo the reveal event it typically hosts for product announcements and revealing them instead through a press release. Today, it’s doing the same thing once again, but this time around, it’s the iMac that’s getting a refresh. Story TimelineiMac Pro teardown: Modular parts, hard modularityThis iMac Pro server rack is both beautiful and powerfuliMac Pro, MacBook Pro third-party repairs still possible, confirms iFixit Unlike yesterday’s iPad reveals, this iMac refresh isn’t quite so dramatic. Essentially, Apple is simply updating the iMac with a new CPU and GPU for 2019, but beyond that new silicon, nothing else is really changing. The familiar iMac design is being left untouched, as are the displays and their resolution. In fact, it seems that the non-Retina 21.5-inch iMac isn’t being updated at all; this refresh only applies to the two Retina models Apple offers.In the case of the Retina 4K 21.5-inch iMac, we’ll see the option of either quad-core or 6-core 8th-generation Intel processors, with Apple claiming a performance boost of up to 60% over previous models. Radeon Pro Vega graphics will also feature in this new iMac, so Apple is continuing to position the iMac as a good choice for those who do a lot of graphics-intensive work.On the Retina 5K 27-inch iMac, we see upgrades to CPUs that are even more powerful. Apple’s top-of-the-line iMac is getting 9th-gen 6-core and 8-core processors from Intel, which results in “up to 2.4 times faster performance.” Just like its 21.5-inch brother, the 27-inch iMac is also being outfitted with Radeon Pro Vega GPUs, leading to as much as a 50% boost in graphics capability according to Apple.Apple has set a price of $1,299 for the 21.5-inch Retina 4K iMac and $1,799 for the 27-inch iMac. Meanwhile, Apple’s entry-level 21.5-inch iMac is still available without any refreshed hardware for $1,099. Of course, those are just starting prices that will go up depending on your configuration, so keep that in mind during checkout. These two new iMacs are going up for pre-order beginning today and will start landing in stores next week. last_img read more

first_imgStory TimelineWaymo self-driving trucks return to Arizona freewaysWaymo’s self-driving Jaguar I-PACE EVs have hit the roadWaymo inks huge Renault and Nissan deal to spread autonomous cars Waymo One is the first commercial push for the Alphabet-owned company’s driverless vehicles. Available in certain parts of Phoenix, TX, it allows users to summon a customized Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivan which can drive autonomously within a certain mapped and geofenced area. Membership in Waymo One, however, has been limited to pre-screened riders who apply to join the service. Now, some of Waymo’s cars are branching out and joining the Lyft fleet. The deal was announced back in May, and Waymo confirmed to CNBC that the first of what’s expected to be ten cars are now available to book through the Lyft app. “Once Waymo vehicles are on the platform, Lyft users in the area will have the option to select a Waymo directly from the Lyft app for eligible rides,” John Krafcik, CEO of Waymo, said at the time. “This first step in our partnership will allow us to introduce the Waymo Driver to Lyft users, enabling them to take what for many will be their first ride in a self-driving vehicle.”AdChoices广告Eligibility to use an autonomous Waymo car through Lyft will be decided via the journey input in the company’s app. If it can be completed within the geofenced operational area that Waymo’s vehicles are allowed to use, the option to book an autonomous car rather than a regular Lyft will be presented. Users will always be able to get a traditional, human-driven Lyft instead, if they so prefer. The Waymo cars will also have a safety driver behind the wheel, there to step in should something go wrong with the ride. The prospect of that human failsafe being removed will be one of the areas of feedback that Waymo is looking to focus on.For Waymo, the partnership with Lyft is an opportunity to assess reactions of everyday riders to self-driving technology. Currently, more than 1,000 riders use Waymo One, but opening things up to Lyft customers could dramatically extend that, even with only ten cars in the shared fleet. “We’re committed to continuously improving our customer experience,” Krafcik said in May, “and our partnership with Lyft will also give our teams the opportunity to collect valuable feedback.”It’s not Waymo’s only expansion in recent weeks, mind. The company announced a deal with Renault and Nissan that will set up new autonomous car projects in Europe and Japan, as the automakers weigh how they could implement driverless technology in future production vehicles. Waymo is starting its slow autonomous drive into existing ride-hailing services, with a partnership with Lyft seeing some users of the service offered self-driving minivans for their journey. The collaboration builds on Waymo’s existing pilot scheme for Waymo One, the autonomous ride-hailing service it has been offering since late last year. last_img read more

first_img This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription. Health Law Critically Important To Women; Expanding Medicaid Could Spur State Education Cuts; Misuse Of Antipsychotics In Dementia Patients The Arizona Republic: Health-Care Law Will Help Boost Women’s AccessIf we can set aside the political wrangling and focus on the benefits of the Affordable Care Act, what becomes obvious is its critically important impact on women’s health. The fact is while women are the primary coordinators of health care for families and comprise the majority of U.S. health-care workers, they also put their own health-care needs behind those of their children. Cost is too often the reason (Brenda Thomas, 8/12).Philadelphia Inquirer: Obamacare’s Opponents Just Won’t StopWill they ever give up? House Republicans have devised yet another plan to try to undermine the health reform law. This one is an attempt at an end-run around the Supreme Court ruling that upheld it. The Court found that the law’s individual mandate to maintain health insurance is constitutional. It reasoned that the penalty for failure to comply with it functions in the same way as a tax. As such, Congress has broad power under the Constitution to impose it. The end-run takes that form of an amendment to the law introduced by Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Idaho) to “clarify” that the penalty shall not be construed as a tax. The measure has four Republican co-sponsors. What’s the point? (Robert I. Field, 8/10).Baltimore Sun: The False Promise Of Dementia DrugsFederal officials are working to place compassion at the center of how our nation aims to treat elderly patients suffering from dementia. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has announced that they’ll coordinate an effort to dramatically reduce the use of antipsychotic drugs among dementia patients in nursing homes. The agency’s plan acknowledges that these powerful pharmaceuticals are often overused — and represents a valuable first step toward improving the way we treat people with this condition. But government alone shouldn’t dictate how we deal with dementia. Families and caregivers must also recognize when medication is appropriate — and when it’s not (Dr. Cheryl Phillips, 8/13).San Francisco Chronicle: As Medi-Cal Soars, Higher Education Loses Now Medicaid is split between states and the federal government. And although the federal government will pay the entire cost of the expansion beginning in 2014, three years later states will have to begin sharing the cost. That might leave less money than ever for higher education. The result: higher tuition and fees as academic institutions scramble for ever-scarcer dollars from state budgets (Maura J. Casey, 8/10).The Orlando-Sentinel: Medicaid Expansion: An Ounce Of Prevention Well Worth It”An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” Benjamin Franklin wrote in “Poor Richard’s Almanack.” Gov. Rick Scott should heed the advice of Franklin and accept the Affordable Care Act expansion of Medicaid. In this instance, federal funding serves as the “ounce of prevention,” as it will prevent death, serious injury and medical debt. The “pound of cure” offered by Scott is higher insurance premiums and rising public costs. … the expansion would provide health insurance to low-income working-class people who don’t have insurance through their employers (Michael Vaghaiwalla, 8/11).Sacramento Bee: Mental Health Spending Needs An Honest AuditTwo Republican legislators have requested an audit of the billions raised by the Proposition 63 tax on wealthy Californians to pay for mental health services. The request came late in the session, and the committee that decides whether to order audits is not scheduled to meet until a new Legislature is sworn in. But the Democratic-controlled Legislature should find a way to meet this request. Over the years, there have been many accounts of Proposition 63 money being misspent. The issue is too important to let slide (8/10).last_img read more

first_imgViewpoints: Robin Williams’ ‘Wakeup Call’; Surprise In Medicaid Growth; Tools To Stop Ebola In U.S. This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription. The New Republic: Robin Williams’ Death Is A Wakeup Call For Mental Illness Earlier this year, [Robin] Williams checked himself into a rehabilitation facility. And whether he needed help with addiction or mental illness—or, as is so often the case, with both—it’s safe to assume he got it. He had the money to afford the best and the sad truth is that, in some cases, even the best isn’t enough to save people. But Williams’ access to such assistance would have been the exception. The majority of Americans struggle to get decent mental health care, or any mental health care at all. Expansions of insurance, including those in the Affordable Care Act, are enabling more people to pay for treatments. And halting investments in facilities and programs, some the result of highly publicized tragedies, have helped countless others. But the mismatch between what people need and what they can actually get remains stark (Jonathan Cohn, 8/12).The New York Times’ The Upshot: Medicaid Rolls Are Growing Even In States That Rejected Federal Funds Call it a side effect of the Affordable Care Act: Even in states that haven’t changed their Medicaid programs, nearly a million people signed up for Medicaid this year. … But Medicaid enrollment has also increased this year in many states that chose not to accept federal funds. Data from Medicaid released Friday show that enrollment jumped in most states that did not expand their programs, including Georgia (16 percent), Montana (10 percent), Idaho (9 percent) and Florida (7 percent) (Margo Sanger-Katz, 8/11). Forbes: If Ebola Arrives In The U.S., Stopping It May Rely On Controversial Tools Considering the nature of the Ebola virus, and the medical infrastructure we have to combat its spread, the diagnosis of some cases on American soil shouldn’t be reason to panic. We have a plethora of tools and public health practices to readily combat its spread. … For most Americans, it may be the first time they glimpse the tools that our government has staked out over the last decade, as preparation for public health emergencies like a pandemic flu, or even bioterrorism. Some of these authorities are wholly necessary. Others will prove controversial and worthy of closer scrutiny. Chief among them are authority maintained by the Centers for Disease Control to quarantine Americans suspected of having a dangerous, communicable disease (Scott Gottlieb, 8/12). The Wall Street Journal’s The Experts: The Biggest Misconceptions People Have About The Medical Profession Few people know what it’s really like to be on the other side of the stethoscope. With this issue in mind, we asked The Experts: What is the biggest misconception the public has about the medical profession? (8/11).The Wall Street Journal’s Washington Wire: A Better Option Than Impeachment To Check Executive Overreach With Republicans in charge of Congress, they would be able to provide a true check on executive overreach. They would be able to stop Attorney General Eric Holder’s politicization of the Justice Department. They would be able to hold the president accountable to his own health-care law. They would be able to exercise the oversight power that comes with having the appropriations process controlled by the opposition party (John Feehery, 8/11). Reuters: What Should We Eat To Stay Healthy? Why Experts Actually Have No Idea. Have you ever wondered why nutrition experts so often change their minds about what constitutes a healthy diet? In the last six months, a variety of experts and nutrition organizations have issued at least as many major dietary guidelines proclaiming the next set of instructions on what to eat to prevent cancer, whether processed foods are really food, whether the type of fat you eat has any effect on developing heart disease, and how to control diabetes with diet. … These new guidelines have, like most dietary guidelines in the past, done little to solidify our understanding of the cause and effect relationship between diet and disease. Even worse, they’re likely to discredit nutritional science (David Seres, 8/11). Journal of the American Medical Association: Hospital Relationships With Direct-To-Consumer Screening Companies In an increasingly competitive health care environment, one [hospital] strategy to bring in new “customers” is to sponsor outreach programs that can be marketed to the general public as “lifesaving.” The screening tests offered by HealthFair and other [direct to consumer] DTC screening companies, which primarily focus on the early detection of atherosclerotic disease and prevention of catastrophic vascular events, are advertised and supported by evidence of early disease detection and emotional consumer testimonials rather than quality, outcomes-based evidence demonstrating reductions in morbidity and mortality. … Given the controversy over the values and ethics of DTC screening companies and the services they offer, hospitals should clearly and publicly explain their relationships with DTC screening companies, given the lack of evidence to support mass vascular screenings (Drs. Erik A. Wallace, John H. Schumann and Steven E. Weinberger, 8/11).last_img read more

first_imgDemand For $84,000 Hepatitis C Drug Slows This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription. Health care providers may be waiting for other, soon-to-be-released drugs to treat hepatitis C. Also, an Indian pharmaceutical company faces Justice Department questions on pricing data for Medicaid.The Washington Post’s Wonkblog: The New $84,000 Hepatitis C Treatment Is Losing Momentum, For NowAfter recording the best launch of any drug in history, it looks like the pace is starting to slow down for Gilead Sciences’ Sovaldi — the new $84,000 hepatitis C cure that’s sparking a new focus on specialty drug costs. Data released by CVS Health on Tuesday show that use of Sovaldi has slowed down since May after the drug’s record-setting start last December. The slowdown can partly be explained by the health-care industry’s anticipation of more hepatitis C treatments soon hitting the market, including another one from Gilead that could gain FDA approval any day now (Millman, 9/18).Bloomberg: Indian Pharmaceutical Drug Prices Questioned By Justice DepartmentIndian generic drugmaker Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd. (RBXY) was questioned by the U.S. Department of Justice on how it reports pricing data for medicines it sells through Medicaid, the U.S. health program for the poor. The Justice Department has requested documents and information through what is called a civil investigative demand. The inquiry doesn’t allege wrongdoing or propose a fine, the Gurgaon, India-based company said in a statement today. Ranbaxy said it would cooperate. Ranbaxy is being bought by Sun Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. It has been hurt by import bans on four of its Indian facilities and increased regulatory costs. This year it also received a subpoena from the U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey requesting documents related to its banned ingredient factory in Toansa  (Gokhale, 9/17The Wall Street Journal’s Pharmalot: Ranbaxy Faces Medicaid Pricing Probe By The Justice DepartmentManufacturing woes are not the only issue plaguing Ranbaxy Laboratories. The generic drug maker has been asked by the U.S. Department of Justice to provide documents on pricing data provided to Medicaid, according to a filing with the Bombay Stock Exchange (Silverman, 9/18).last_img read more

first_img Over the past year, prices for many generic drugs have been climbing, prompting concerns that a low-cost staple of the U.S. health care system might soon strain budgets. And two new reports indicate that prices continued to rise during the first quarter of this year, but not at the same rapid rate that was seen at times in 2014. (Silverman, 4/22) The Wall Street Journal: Meet Pharma’s Newest Movers And Shakers The Wall Street Journal: Novartis Begins To See Benefits Of Overhaul The Wall Street Journal’s Pharmalot: Generic Drug Prices Keep Rising, But Is A Slowdown Coming? This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.center_img New Generation Of Pharma Deal Makers Takes The Spotlight The Wall Street Journal reports that many of these drug industry movers and shakers are not yet household names but are clearly beginning to show their marketplace muscle. The Journal also details cost trends in generic drug pricing and reports on Novartis’s first-quarter earnings. Novartis AG on Thursday reported a huge rise in first-quarter profit as the proceeds of a series of transactions that overhauled the Swiss drug giant flattered its results. Basel-based Novartis said net profit attributable to shareholders rose more than four times to $13 billion in the quarter ended March 31 as the company recorded one-time gains of $12.8 billion on the sales of businesses to GlaxoSmithKline PLC and Eli Lilly and Co. Novartis reported $2.94 billion in net profit a year earlier. (Morse, 4/23) A few years ago, the drug companies dominating mergers-and-acquisitions headlines were largely household names, from Pfizer Inc. and Merck & Co. to Novartis AG. These days, a new generation of deal makers is making news, with names distinctly less familiar: Actavis PLC, Endo International PLC and Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc. Within the past few weeks, two other relatively under-the-radar companies, Mylan NV and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., also entered the fray. (Rockoff and Walker, 4/22) last_img read more

first_img Congressional efforts to overhaul the mental health system have more momentum than at any time since the 2012 shooting at a Newtown, Conn., school by an unbalanced young man, with leading measures introduced in the House and Senate that seek to address access, treatment and privacy. But the question of whether to tie millions of dollars in funding to states’ willingness to force some people with serious illnesses into outpatient treatment programs revives sticky questions about patients’ rights that divide advocates, complicating prospects for a consensus. (Attias, 9/8) CQ Healthbeat: Privacy Issues Complicate Mental Health Overhaul Behavioral health homes draw on two concepts that are gaining momentum in health care – the medical “home,” in which patients have a health care provider who takes on a larger role in coordinating their care, and bringing together primary care and behavioral health. But most of those efforts center on primary care practices, either as the site of patients’ medical home or where mental health services are delivered. The premise behind behavioral health homes is that, for some people with serious mental illness, it makes more sense to take the opposite approach – using the behavioral health treatment system as people’s home base and coordinating medical care from there. (Levin Becker, 9/9) The Connecticut Mirror: Mental Health Agencies Take On Larger Role Coordinating All Care center_img Mental Health Providers Step In To Coordinate Patient Care In Connecticut, “behavioral health homes” are becoming more common as efforts to control costs and improve outcomes increase. Elsewhere, congressional efforts to overhaul mental health care are complicated by privacy issues. This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.last_img read more

first_img More 13 Comments Facebook What you need to know about passing the family cottage to the next generation Sponsored By: Comment ‘Just get it fixed’: Big business plans all-out blitz on Washington to end Trump’s trade war The campaign includes an ad aimed at parents that essentially says the trade war might be endangering babies Bloomberg News January 31, 201911:22 AM EST Filed under News Economy Twitter advertisementcenter_img Share this story’Just get it fixed’: Big business plans all-out blitz on Washington to end Trump’s trade war Tumblr Pinterest Google+ LinkedIn Featured Stories Matt Townsend U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese officials are meeting this week with just a month to go before U.S. tariffs on US$200 billion of Chinese imports are slated to more than double to 25 per cent.Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images Corporate America is taking the gloves off in its campaign to end President Trump’s trade war.A coalition of more than 200 trade associations spanning agriculture, manufacturing, retail, technology, oil and even liquor will begin a new two-pronged attack next week to try to end the policies they see as damaging. The campaign, called Tariffs Hurt the Heartland, will involve blanketing Capitol Hill with farmers and other business owners, plus debuting an ad aimed at parents that essentially says the trade war might be endangering babies.The escalation comes at a crucial time: The president and Chinese officials are meeting this week with just a month to go before U.S. tariffs on US$200 billion of Chinese imports are slated to more than double to 25 per cent. It also marks a shift in strategy. After a year of struggling to directly sway Trump and his inner circle, including running ads on Fox News — his favourite cable channel — corporate lobbyists are ratcheting up pressure outside the White House.“People have to think through different strategies because the normal operating procedure doesn’t work,” said Matt Priest, chief executive officer of the Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America, which is part of the wider coalition. “Some of that strategy is paying off, but the response isn’t the response we would’ve liked.” U.S. finance chair says steel, aluminum tariffs on Canada and Mexico should go before new NAFTA passed Beijing heads to trade talks with ‘good faith’ as Trump says China’s weak economy incentive for deal Alberta, B.C. say steel safeguards are undermining infrastructure projects D.C. BoundNext week, about 100 executives and business owners from companies big and small will visit Washington to lobby Congress, especially the large freshmen class — mostly Democrats — that may still be formulating their stances on trade. Support is also needed for a bipartisan bill intended to rein in the president’s trade authority.The group descending on Washington includes people like Brent Bible, who runs a 5,000-acre corn and soybean farm in Romney, Indiana. Soybeans were hit by retaliatory Chinese tariffs last year, pushing down prices to a point where farmers no longer make money. His farm also took a hit when U.S. levies on steel and aluminum made equipment pricier.“Just get it fixed,” said Bible, who holds an economics degree. If this dispute goes on much longer, he said he worries about a “snowball effect” that could make soybeans almost worthless. Bible voted for Trump but said his support has waned in recent months. “If we don’t get a deal soon, then we are looking at a major long-term impact.”This coalition was formed in September, and its activities so far have included hosting anti-tariff events across the country that generated local media attention and publishing stats on the impact of the trade war. The new push takes that further. It will include a press conference on Feb. 6 with a bipartisan group of senators, including Democrat Mark Warner and Republican Pat Toomey, who crafted the bill to reduce presidential trade powers.Infant PleaThe coalition also had a new ad that tries to tug at the heartstrings of Americans by getting them to feel the pain it says Trump’s trade war is causing. The spot, which will first run online in Washington and swing states like Ohio and Pennsylvania, features Cribs for Kids, a Pittsburgh-based charity that sells 100,000 low-cost portable baby beds a year to local governments and hospitals. The partners then give them to low-income families, who might not have one otherwise.In the ad, the nonprofit’s executive director, Judy Bannon, says Trump’s tariffs are increasing costs for the cribs it imports from China. The charity has already seen a decline in orders after a 10 per cent levy on Chinese goods last year, Bannon said in an interview. She paints the impact in life-and-death terms, saying that getting babies to sleep in cribs and on their backs — a message reinforced on the charity’s cribs — reduces Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.“As a nonprofit, we never thought tariffs would affect us, but they do,” Bannon says in the 30-second video. The spot also tries to drive home the point that tariffs are essentially taxes on U.S. companies, despite Trump’s Twitter proclamations that China is the one paying the duties. “President Trump says that China is paying these tariffs, but I see the cost on my invoices.”Despite strong opposition from corporate America and the lobbying infrastructure it bankrolls, thwarting Trump on trade hasn’t been easy. The impact of the tariffs is still small when compared with the overall U.S. economy and hasn’t resulted in widespread price increases for consumers. Several lobbyists noted that the government shutdown ended only when airports were disrupted, and that kind of bellwether event hasn’t materialized yet with tariffs. The administration has done its part by avoiding hitting consumer products directly to blunt public outcry.And because the trade war is promoted by the White House, most of America’s CEOs have remained publicly silent, for fear of getting criticized publicly by Trump or raising the ire of the administration officials overseeing tariff exemptions. That’s a far cry from 2017, when executives complained on TV and in congressional testimony in a successful bid to kill the border-adjustment tax backed by former Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan.Little VictoriesTo be sure, there have been victories in corporate America. Lobbyists for farmers, seen as a crucial part of Trump’s base, pushed the administration to authorize US$12 billion in relief funds after Beijing retaliated with its own tariffs. Trade groups also got plenty of items taken off the final tariff lists, including car booster seats for kids. They also point to Trump delaying the next tariff hike by two months to March to allow for more negotiations.The timing of this escalated opposition could be helpful. The president just took a hit from the government shutdown. The political calendar has already turned to the 2020 presidential race, and Trump needs a strong economy for his re-election bid. That story is harder to tell with almost daily reports of U.S. companies — from Apple Inc. to Stanley Black & Decker Inc. — partly blaming weak results on the trade war.“A lot things are coming to a head,” said Gary Shapiro, CEO of the Consumer Technology Association, another coalition member. With Trump’s re-election bid looming, “do you think he’s going to risk a stock market fall over a 25 per cent tariff — at this point? But I don’t know anyone who has been right calling Trump’s moves.”Bloomberg.com Join the conversation → Reddit Email ← Previous Next →last_img read more

Source: Charge Forward Tesla Semi was announced to go into production in 2019 when it was officially unveiled in 2017.A Tesla investor now says that they were told in a Gigafactory 1 tour that “earnest” production would only start by 2020.Some media are framing it as a delay, but Tesla says that the plan hasn’t changed. more…

first_imgGetting rid of dirt is one of the largest costs of digging tunnels and Elon Musk’s Boring Company is exploring some creative ways to do that.They are launching “DIY watchtowers” with bricks made of dirt from their tunnels. more…The post Elon Musk’s Boring Company is launching DIY watchtowers with bricks from tunnel dirt appeared first on Electrek. Source: Charge Forwardlast_img

first_imgEach month InsideEVs tracks all the plug-in EV sales/deliveries for the United States by automaker. The last four consecutive months are now the top four best-selling months of all time. In addition, March 2018 completes the list, meaning all five top months have happened this year. We have no doubt November will make the list, but where will it fit in? Is there a chance it could shoot to the top?September’s results will be tough to beat since it’s so far ahead of the others. Perhaps we’ll have to wait for December U.S. EV sales to crown a new champion? But, that doesn’t mean that November sales won’t be top-notch!Top Months for U.S. EV Sales to Date (estimated):September 2018 – 45,589August 2018 – 36,380October 2018 – 34,094July 2018 – 29,514March 2018 – 26,373As of the end of October 2018, an estimated 268,729 plug-in electric vehicles had been sold in the U.S. this year. We’re two-thirds of the way through the final quarter before the record-setting year goes into the archives. There’s a chance way may see over 350k EVs delivered in the U.S. in 2018 by the time the year comes to an end.Check Out: Contributor Josh Bryant’s 2018 yearly sales predictions hereIn November 2017, an estimated 17,178 plug-ins were sold in the United States. In both September and October, we saw well over 100-percent gains from last year’s numbers. Will November be another repeat of this trend?  Will we see deliveries pass 34,500? There’s little doubt that this will be achieved. Over 34,000 EVs were sold in the U.S. in October, and November numbers are historically better.Tesla likely delivered significantly more Model S and X vehicles in the U.S. in November than it did in October, and Model 3 sales are expected to be impressive as usual. All other models — at least as a whole — should see a 10-20 percent gain over the previous month.Based on our initial estimates, we’re looking at some 40,000 electric cars sold in the U.S. for November 2018. Interestingly, Toyota has already reported U.S. sales due to the fact that it’s  past the beginning of the month. The U.S. economic calendar states that vehicles sales are to be reported on Tuesday, Dec. 4. Toyota gets us off to a solid start as it sold an impressive 2,312 Primes in November.Keep yourself locked in and continually refreshing the pages throughout the coming days as we put the numbers to the dialogue. We will begin reporting EV sales Tuesday morning (December 4, 2018) and continue through the end of week. In the meantime, below are some questions to ponder. If you have a question you think deserves to be on our list, drop it in the comment section, and we may add it to the monthly report card.What are your estimates? We really appreciate when you share them with us in the comment section.Questions entering November (with answers in italics as they come in):Will Tesla Model 3 U.S. deliveries rise or remain flat?How much was Tesla able to ramp up U.S. Model S and Model X sales due to the upcoming expiration of the U.S. federal EV tax credit?Did the Toyota Prius Prime finally make a significant delivery surge, or is 2,000 the new magic number? (Yes, Toyota upped its inventory and reported Prius Prime deliveries at an impressive 2,312 for November.)What do our estimates reveal  about Chevrolet Volt and Chevrolet Bolt EV sales, which seemed to completely flip over the last two months?While not incredible, 2018 Nissan LEAF U.S. sales have been solid in the 1,200-1500 range for eight straight months. Can the LEAF close out 2018 with a few strong months?Honda Clarity Plug-in Hybrid sales have been impressive all year, but especially over the last two months. Can November deliveries set a new record for the Clarity?As far as we understand, Jaguar sold its first five I-Pace vehicles in the U.S. in October. Will November show exponential sales growth?***InsideEVs’ journalist Wade Malone provided sales estimations and related analysis. October 2018 Plug-In EV Sales Slide Into Top Three Of All Time Does anybody doubt that November 2018 will be another chart-topping month?November 2018 will mark the 38th month of consecutive year-over-year monthly sales gains for plug-in vehicles.*IMPORTANT: Continue to refresh this post, as we already have some sales coming in early. Being that December 3rd falls on a Monday, some foreign automakers may report ahead of the U.S. calendar time. We already have Toyota Prius Prime sales in, and we anticipate a handful of others reporting ahead of schedule. There’s really no way to know, but we’ll keep a close eye and assure that you’re updated.Additional EV Sales Content: Source: Electric Vehicle News Top 5 Selling Plug-In Electric Cars: U.S. October 2018 Edition Monthly Plug-In Sales Scorecard Author Liberty Access TechnologiesPosted on December 3, 2018Categories Electric Vehicle Newslast_img read more