Horse Sport Enews Email* We’ll send you our regular newsletter and include you in our monthly giveaways. PLUS, you’ll receive our exclusive Rider Fitness digital edition with 15 exercises for more effective riding. Did you have an outstanding dressage competition season? Do you know a dressage volunteer whose hard work should be recognized? The Dressage Awards & Recognition Program puts the spotlight on outstanding riders, horses, breeders and individuals.The deadline to submit scores and/or nominations for 2018 awards is coming up on October 31st.New for 2018Several changes have been made to the Dressage Awards & Recognition Program for 2018:Those who have paid the one-time Dressage Awards & Recognition Program registration fee (for horse and/or rider) and are current Equestrian Canada (EC) Sport Licence Holders with a dressage affiliate membership are eligible for multiple lifetime awards.The Dressage Achievement Award criteria and score thresholds have been updated. Learn more details here.How It WorksAll current EC Sport Licence Holders who also have a current dressage affiliate membership may qualify for the Achievement Awards. EC sport licences and dressage affiliations must be renewed annually. If you are not a current dressage affiliate or need to update your sport licence, please visit MyEC or contact the Customer Experience department.Participation is simple and easy through online registration. Once registered, participants can track and submit scores obtained at EC sanctioned dressage competitions through a user-friendly online portal.Lifetime Registration is $50 per rider and $100 per horse (horse registration fee transferable upon sale).Register today!Once registered, scores and/or nominations can be submitted for a wide range of awards:Achievement AwardsRider and Horse Achievement Awards presented to those who reach the score threshold at each level from Training Level through to Grand Prix at EC or FEI sanctioned competitionsThe “Eight” AwardRecognizes improvement of riding skills by awarding those who earn eight scores of ‘8’ for the collective marks on a test for Rider’s Position and Seat or Rider’s Correct and Effective Use of the Aids.Lauren Dilanni Rider Freestyle AwardsPresented in memory of Lauren Dilanni, this award recognizes riders who earn three scores of 67% or higher in each level of Freestyle competition from Second Level to Grand Prix.Made in Canada Breeder AwardsAwarded to breeders to recognize the achievement of performance excellence by Canadian-bred horses. A minimum of five scores must be submitted for consideration, and the recipients will be determined by the highest average of the five scores.Horse of the Year AwardsRecognizes performance excellence in all levels from Training Level to Grand Prix by awarding horses with the highest average after submitting five scores for consideration.Athlete of the Year AwardsRecognizes performance excellence in three categories – Junior, Amateur and Professional – in all levels from Training Level to Grand Prix. The awards are based on the average of five scores submitted for consideration.Horsemanship & Sportsmanship AwardsPresented to individuals who embody the integrity and true spirit of good horsemanship toward their equine partners, and good sportsmanship toward their fellow competitors. Candidates can be nominated by submitting letters of endorsement/support from five individuals.Registration in the awards program is not required for Horsemanship & Sportsmanship recognition.The Century AwardRecognizes dressage riders and horses competing at any level whose combined age totals 100 years or more.Competitors do not need to be retested in the awards program to qualify and be recognized with the Century Award.For full information on the Dressage Recognition & Awards program, visit www.equestrian.ca/sport/dressage/awards. Tags: Dressage Awards & Recognition Program, SIGN UP Subscribe to the Horse Sport newsletter and get an exclusive bonus digital edition! More from Horse Sport:Christilot Boylen Retires From Team SportAfter an exemplary career as one of Canada’s top Dressage riders, seven-time Olympian Christilot Boylen has announced her retirement from team competition.2020 Royal Agricultural Winter Fair CancelledFor only the second time in its history, The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair has been cancelled but plans are being made for some virtual competitions.Royal Agricultural Winter Fair Statement on 2020 EventAs the Province of Ontario starts to reopen, The Royal’s Board and staff will adhere to all recommendations put forward by government and health officials.Government Financial Assistance for Ontario FarmersOntario Equestrian has recently released this update of several financial assistance packages available, including those for farm business.
From left: Katerra COO Paal Kibsgaard, Softbank CEO Masayoshi Son, and Katerra CEO Michael Marks (Credit: Katerra, Getty Images, and iStock)Construction startup Katerra has announced the acquisition of UEB Builders and Fortune-Johnson General Contractors, just one month after hiring former oil-industry executive Paal Kibsgaard as its new chief operating officer.Under the acquisition, both UEB Builders, a general contractor with offices in Arizona, Washington and Texas, and Fortune-Johnson, a construction company specializing in multifamily projects in the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic, will be folded into Katerra — strengthening the startup’s reach into other U.S. markets.It is unclear how much the company paid for the acquisitions. A representative for the company declined to disclose any financial details.“The UEB and Fortune-Johnson teams share a commitment to delivering increased value to customers by embracing technology and innovative methods,” a representative said.ADVERTISEMENTFounded in 2015, Katerra is a technology company that offers general contracting, engineering, design and other building services. Since its launch, the company has secured more than $1 billion in venture capital funding from SoftBank and other investors.The company has more than 8,500 employees, according to a representative. Katerra has inherited 320 new employees in the latest acquisitions.In August, Kattera announced its new COO, Paal Kibsgaard, who was previously the CEO of Schlumberger Ltd., a major oil company.In making the announcement, co-founder Michael Marks said Kibsgaard’s role would involve organizing and better integrating the companies Kattera had recently acquired.In May of 2018, Katerra acquired Hoboken-based Fields Construction Company. This content is for subscribers only.Subscribe Now
The last time we spoke to Passenger Plus, the company was in its infancy, albeit a very successful one. Four years later, it continues to go from strength to strength. Beth Hutson visits to discuss the last four years with Managing Director Mark DruryIt’s been a busy four years for joint Directors Mark Drury and Kevin Hughes of Passenger Plus. From its inception in 2012, where 11 vehicles were bought outright with no part exchange, the company has steadily grown, acquiring more clients, staff and vehicles, along with accreditations from CoachMarque and BUSK, and two Route One Awards along the way.Passenger Plus seems naturally geared towards the corporate environment – 80% of the work Passenger Plus do is B2B, much for other coach operators who have benefitted from their location between Gatwick and Heathrow, and just 12 miles from central London. The fleet is immaculately turned out, and as Mark explains, running the newest possible vehicles is an important part of the business model, with all but four vehicles in the fleet ready for Euro 6.Today, Mark tells me that the fleet consists of ’20 PCVs and some 8 seaters, and in 2016 the company grew by £500,000 – pushing its annual turnover to £2 million. What was once 15 staff is now 38 – but it’s not all change at Passenger Plus.“The company is now four times bigger in turnover terms than it was in 2013. Vehicle-wise, we’ve basically doubled the size of the fleet, with plans for more,” he explains. “Our business model is, as it was back then, very much around providing services for corporate clients who predominately don’t have enough car parking space – that’s normally where we can add value, not just with shuttlebus services, but with train discounts, car share schemes and a range of green travel solutions. A consultancy service which formulates and reports on company travel plans is also offered which allows a client’s complete sustainable travel responsibilities to be taken care of.“We spent quite a lot of money last year replacing our 2012 Sprinter’s up to Euro 6 – we’ve got our eye on two or three years time.”The right people at the right timeWhile the Passenger Plus workforce has grown, Mark tells me that getting the right members of staff is a constant challenge for the company.“We’ve learnt from the growing pains of the last four years. It’s almost always about getting the right people in the right positions all the time. We’re constantly interviewing and trying to take people on. It’s a big issue for us,” he says. “Where we’re located, it’s an extremely expensive place to live, and it’s quite hard work getting the people that we want.”The corporate environment comes with its own set of challenges for drivers, and Mark explains how this can make finding the right people even harder.“Our clients are used to the same level of service that you get with a chauffeur, and a chauffeur will always get out and open the door, and we expect our employees to do that as a matter of course,” he tells me. “It’s not anything that most decent drivers wouldn’t do, but we need to do that every single time – even if it’s chucking it down with rain, our driver has to greet our clients with an umbrella, and a smile! When new people come to us, depending where they come from, that’s the sort of thing that we have to spend quite a lot of time on at the beginning.”Understanding the needs of the workforce is important to Mark, and he tells me that the money aspect of the job plays only a part in what his employees want. “We came to the realisation that if we want the right people, we have to start thinking about what they actually want – and it’s not all about money,” he says. “We cant’ keep paying people more, so what else can we do to make it nice to work here? To a degree, it almost feels like you’re selling the job to a driver when they come for an interview. But if you look after your employees, they hopefully stay. Instilling a sense of pride is key.”Brand recognition is important, with all vehicles bearing the same clean liveryManaging Director Mark Drury: “We are very proud of what we do”A growing client baseThe last few years for the company have been transformative, and 2016 in particular, where the company saw a growth of £500,000, has been a period of change. “We were successful in winning three sizable contracts, and the company grew by about £500,000 worth of turnover. It’s jumped really quickly.” says Mark. The success has not been without it’s challenges though, as Mark explains how the growth has highlighted the need to ‘start putting a few more management layers in place’ to deal with the increasing demand. When we last spoke to Passenger Plus, green travel was often an important consideration for their clients – and for many of them this remains the same. “For all corporates, sustainability is important,” he says. “We excel in delivering the service our clients need at an affordable cost. With Euro 6 we can demonstrate our low emission credentials and prove this by recording and reporting the CO2 emissions for our vehicles from our tracking software. As a company we like measurable and tangible results, and we find our clients appreciate hard facts when it comes to green travel.” While the core business of corporate shuttle services remains key to the company, other revenue streams have been exploited to keep this most modern of fleets working outside of the traditional business working week. Cruise terminal transfers are one such example, with the work dovetailing with the demands of contract customers. Pharmaceutical, financial services and motor industry PR companies, feature prominently in the impressive client list, but as Mark points out ‘we have a very good grasp of our costs, so we will consider any work, as long as it pays’The insides of all vehicles are high-spec and immaculately turned outChanging with technologyKeeping up-to-date with and utilising technology in order to better the experience of both the clients and the Passenger Plus workforce is incredibly important to the company. At the Surrey depot, Mark shows me the online employee resource centre, and explains how all employees must go through the company’s policies and procedures thoroughly when they first join, electronically signing each document once read and understood.Mark also walks me through Wufoo – an online form generator, introduced to him by another operator, which Passenger Plus uses for job applications, vehicle type training and post-incident report forms. “When something doesn’t go quite right, we sit the driver down and complete an online form, where we highlight how much an incident actually costs, including downtime, delivery to the repair centre and any reputational damage” he says.And it seems to be making a difference – in the first six months of 2014 the amount spent on own-fault damage was £8000, which dropped to just £200 the following six months after this system was put into place. “We’ve found this really useful. When we started doing this and sitting down with drivers and actually making them culpable for what they’ve done, very quickly it changed.” Mark explains.While Passenger Plus aims to be as tech-savvy as possible, Mark says that recognising when something just doesn’t work is important.“We’ve spent some time on some things that have been a waste of time – for example trying to get remote digital tachograph downloads via our tracking system, and it just didn’t work,” he tells me. “As with tracking, all vehicles have CCTV, but we’ve got two or three vehicles where we have remote live view so we can see images in real time, either on-line or on our smartphones. We thought this might be something we want to roll out across the whole fleet, but it doesn’t work well enough, and we still end up downloading the vehicle hard drives. We’ve learnt that some things don’t work, and we’ve not been afraid to say ‘that’s not working for us, lets stop doing it’.” The original fleet of 11 vehicles has been more than doubled since 2012Looking to the futureThere’s no time for complacency, and Mark doesn’t intend to rest on his laurels. There’s plenty in the works over the next year, including plans to increase their licence. “We are very active with bidding on contracts and we’ve got another couple on the go at the moment. We’re going to need to increase our licence, so that’s something for us to do this year,” says Mark.“We have a menu of proven, core services that our clients are able to pick from, including a comprehensive online reporting suite that allows clients to see how their service is performing in real time, against key performance indicators. This level of detail, available 24/7 is becoming something that most corporate clients expect, and we can tailor our offering to suit their wants and needs.Mark says that his eye is on Euro 6, which he feels will work in favour for the modern Passenger Plus fleet. “We invested nearly three quarters of a million pounds last year replacing our 2012 Sprinters up to Euro 6 and expanding the fleet – we’ve got our eye on two or three years’ time. We’ve got to be ahead of the game. We always buy new, getting the most favourable warranty and R&M terms we can, enabling us to operate a nearly new fleet with fixed costs.” The bottom line for both Mark and Kevin continues to be turning a profit while meeting the needs of their clients in an effective and efficient way. “We had a 5 year plan which we are delighted to say we are well ahead of, so we have just re-worked our 10 year plan based on performance so far.We have a strong, scalable brand, and we will continue to grow organically, and, if the right opportunity arises by acquisition. “You couldn’t be in this industry if you didn’t love it, but there’s no romance for us in running coaches. We are very proud of what we do, and aim to offer an industry leading service, but we’re a business, and we’re here to make money.”
A frustrated Enel then gatecrashed E.ON’s bid, taking a 25% stake in Endesa earlier this year. Enel was able to forge a bid-blocking pact with Spanish construction company Acciona, which also holds a quarter stake in Endesa. Enel and Acciona are currently organising a joint bid for Endesa. Enel’s entry into the Spanish market put it in conflict with E.ON. Since the Enel bid came after a meeting between José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, the Spanish prime minister, and his Italian counterpart Romano Prodi, it looked suspiciously like the forging of a Medi-terranean energy alliance. Italy’s collusion with Spain appeared to contradict its condemnation of the French government for trying to protect Suez from Enel.E.ON which had spent a year trying to overcome the resistance of the Spanish government (the latter supported a lower offer from the Barcelona-based Gas Natural), ended up withdrawing its bid in return for the potential acquisition of a portfolio of Endesa assets across Europe and the acquisition of Enel’s Spanish unit, Viesgo. Matthias Heck, an analyst at investment bank Sal. Oppenheim in Frankfurt, thinks that E.ON made a relatively lucky escape from its takeover attempt. “We see E.ON as a lucky loser, a loser in that they only get assets of €10bn, but a winner in that they get them for a cheap price,” he says. The big test for the markets now is whether the German government, which strongly supported E.ON’s bid for Endesa, will change its pro-consolidation tune if, as expected, national conglomerate RWE is targeted by foreign bidders. According to Heck, the German government could change tack and become more protectionist if it comes to believe its open-minded strategy has failed. At the beginning of last year, the energy market appeared to be on the verge of important cross-border consolidation. In February 2006, E.ON, the German utility group, launched a striking €29.1 billion bid for Endesa, a Spanish utility, which would have created the largest energy company in the world. Soon afterwards, the Italian firm Enel hinted at a bid for Suez, a French utility. But neither the Spanish or French government was prepared to allow a free-for-all.The Spanish authorities’ response was to hand decision-making powers over foreign takeovers to the national regulator, loyal to the government. The French administration pre-empted Enel’s expected bid with an arranged marriage between national champions Suez and Gaz de France, a merger which still hangs in the balance after the recent change in government.
Purdue and Landau deny the claims. In court filings, Landau said he had no role in overseeing sales or marketing for much of his career at the company. FILE – This June 17, 2019, file photo shows 5-mg pills of Oxycodone. The judge overseeing the bankruptcy case of OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma will consider Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2019 whether the company’s CEO should get a bonus equal to half his $2.6 million salary. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic, File) Drain said officials with the company and other interested parties should continue to discuss whether it’s appropriate for Landau, who has run the company since 2017, to receive a performance bonus on top of his $2.6 million base salary. Drain said on the bench that he wasn’t especially moved by the contention from a group of 24 states that Landau should have his pay docked because of a possibility that he could be held liable in the future. Judge Robert Drain said he would sign an order for all the employees except Landau to get bonuses next year. He said it would contain a provision that it could be withheld from anyone found liable in lawsuits over the toll of the opioid crisis linked to more than 400,000 deaths in the U.S. since 2000. Purdue, based in Stamford, Connecticut, is in bankruptcy court as part of an effort to settle more than 2,700 lawsuits it’s facing over the toll of opioids. “Dr. Landau is a star, and he is a star that Purdue should have working for it in this challenging time,” she said. But he said he was concerned when it was revealed at the hearing that the CEO’s base salary was doubled in 2018 shortly after the company hired a law firm to consult on filing for bankruptcy – and that the same year, he received $6 million of the $12 million in retention payments that he had been scheduled to get from 2020 through 2026. FILE – This June 17, 2019, file photo shows 5-mg pills of Oxycodone. The judge overseeing the bankruptcy case of OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma will consider Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2019 whether the company’s CEO should get a bonus equal to half his $2.6 million salary. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic, File) There were objections at the hearing only to payments to CEO Craig Landau and a group of nine other upper-level “insider” employees. State governments and a watchdog committee didn’t dispute the company’s contention that bonuses would be needed to keep employees working and the company running – especially after the company agreed to trim many of the bonuses. WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (AP) – More time is needed to sort out whether the CEO of OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma should receive a $1.3 million bonus next year, but the company should be allowed to pay about $35 million in bonuses to 682 other employees, the judge overseeing the company’s bankruptcy case said Wednesday. In their lawsuits, Colorado and Massachusetts allege that Landau blamed the dangers of opioids on patients rather than the drugs and that he knowingly put patients at risk by having his sales team encourage more prescribing of the drug without disclosing the addiction risks. In the hearing, Landau’s lawyer, Linda Imes, said Landau, a medical doctor who joined Purdue in 1999 and became CEO in 2017 after a stint running its Canadian sister company, was behind a decision last year to stop marketing opioids to doctors. “Purdue should not award bonus payments to Landau before resolving the allegations that Landau committed deadly, illegal misconduct,” those states and others said in a filing this week. Purdue lawyer Marshall Huenber said those changes were not a tricky move to pay the CEO more with the possibility of bankruptcy looming but rather part of bigger changes to his compensation that includes a reduced severance package if he leaves the Stamford, Connecticut-based drugmaker. In Purdue’s case, the company says two dozen employees have resigned since it filed for bankruptcy in September and that replacements are hard to find. “Purdue continues to be a difficult place to work, and retaining and motivating Employees continues to be a challenge,” chief financial officer Jon Lowne said in a court filing this week. “In recent weeks, Employees have received an unprecedented barrage of calls from recruiters.” They say he pushed opioids for elderly patients and those who had never taken them before without disclosing their risks, falsely claimed that a version of OxyContin that was reformulated to make it harder for people to break down and misuse was safe, and pushed doctors to prescribe opioids for a longer period of time. Whether troubled companies should be allowed to pay bonuses to executives and other critical employees is a common topic debated during bankruptcy proceedings. In 2009, a judge ruled that Lehman Brothers, the investment bank, could pay 230 traders bonuses totaling $50 million to keep working through that company’s bankruptcy. This year, a judge approved paying rank-and-file workers for Pacific Gas & Electric Corp. $235 million in bonuses but nixed millions in extra pay for top executives.
Vermont Business Magazine Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) and Rep Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) introduced legislation Monday to make public colleges and universities tuition-free for working families and to significantly reduce student debt. “Higher education in America should be a right for all, not a privilege for the few,” Sanders said. “If we are to succeed in a highly competitive global economy and have the best-educated workforce in the world, public colleges and universities must become tuition-free for working families and we must substantially reduce student debt.” “Our young people are forced to make untenable choices: going to college and taking on mountains of debt, or foregoing their college degree to work part-time or minimum wage jobs that simply won’t allow them to build a future,” Jayapal said. “The College for All Act renews our compact with our young people—and really, with our future. We’re going to piece back together the broken promises of a broken American Dream, and give back hope and opportunity to the middle class and working families across this country.”The legislation would eliminate tuition and fees at four-year public colleges and universities for families making up to $125,000 – about 80 percent of the population – and make community college tuition- and fee-free for all.Public colleges and universities are already tuition-free in many advanced countries including Germany, Finland, Denmark, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. The College for All Act would also reduce crushing student loan debt loads for students and parents which now exceed Americans’ credit card debt. The bill would cut all student loan interest rates for new borrowers in half; enable existing borrowers to refinance their loans based on the interest rates available to new borrowers – less than 2 percent for federal loans made to undergraduates; and prevent the federal government from profiting off the student loan program. Sanders introduced the bill in the Senate along with Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.). In the House, Reps. Bobby Scott (D-Va.), Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.), Rick Nolan (D-Minn.), Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas), Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), Nydia Velázquez (D-N.Y.), John Conyers (D-Mich.), Peter Welch (D-Vt.), Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), David Cicilline (D-R.I.) and Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) joined Jayapal as co-sponsors of the legislation.“At a time when college remains out of reach for far too many, this legislation would make college tuition-free for working families, reduce student debt and breathe new life into the American Dream. I am proud to stand with Senators Sanders and Warren as we work to combat our country’s college affordability crisis,” Blumenthal said.“Generations ago, America made a commitment to provide enough free education to every American so that they could obtain a good paying job. At the time, a 12th grade education was enough to compete for a good wage. Today, post-secondary schooling is required in order to survive, and our commitment to public education should reflect that reality,” Murphy said. “My wife and I are still paying back our student loans, but we’re some of the lucky ones who can save for our kids’ futures. Instead, too many families in Connecticut are suffocating under crushing student loan debt. We need to revolutionize the way we think about higher education and ensure colleges share responsibility for the success of their graduates. At the same time, we should make sure that cost is not a barrier to a college degree, just as it isn’t a barrier to a high school degree.”Today, the average student takes on over $30,000 in debt to get a bachelor’s degree from a four-year college or university. In addition to eliminating tuition, the College for All Act would substantially reduce student debt by allowing existing federal aid to cover the cost of books, housing, transportation and the other costs of college; require the states and tribes participating in the program to cover the full cost of college for their poorest students; and triple federal investment in work study programs.The College for All Act would also support students historically underrepresented in higher education. It would establish a dedicated grant program to eliminate or significantly reduce tuition and fees for low-income students at nonprofit historically black colleges and universities and private nonprofit minority serving institutions. It would also double funding for TRIO Programs and increase funding for the GEAR UP program so more first-generation and low-income students can enroll in and graduate college.The bill has been endorsed by the United States Students Association, the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association, the American Association of University Professors, the Asian American & Pacific Island Association of Colleges and Universities, the Service Employees International Union, the League of United Latin American Citizens, the National Nurses United and several other organizations. The estimated $600 billion cost of the legislation would be paid for by a separate bill to tax Wall Street speculation. By imposing a small Wall Street speculation tax of just 0.5 percent on stock trades, a 0.1 percent fee on bonds and a 0.005 percent fee on derivatives, the tax would raise at least $600 billion over the next decade. More than 1,000 economists have endorsed a tax on Wall Street speculation and some 40 countries have already imposed a tax.For a fact sheet on the College for All Act, click here(link is external). For a copy of the College for All Act, click here(link is external).For a fact sheet on the Inclusive Prosperity Tax, click here(link is external).For a copy of the Inclusive Prosperity Tax, click here(link is external).Source: WASHINGTON, April 3, 2017 – Senator Bernie Sanders
The Atlantic:Every Monday during the summer, some of the residents of Lyme, New Hampshire, gather up fruits and vegetables from their gardens to donate to Veggie Cares, a program that distributes local food to people living alone. Volunteers collect, sort, and package the produce, then head out in separate directions to deliver the food to some Lyme’s most vulnerable, isolated residents.While the stated goal of the program is to provide people with healthy food, Veggie Cares volunteers also deliver companionship. Visits are often more than a quick drop-off—they may involve a shared cup of tea, an offer to replace burned-out light bulbs, or a chance to check in on sick or elderly neighbors.Nine million elderly people currently suffer from food insecurity in the United States, and the produce provided by Veggie Cares is one way to safeguard the health of Lyme residents who may be at risk. But recent research supports the idea that the companionship the volunteers provide may be physically nourishing in its own way.…In other words, the results suggested that people suffering from social isolation may be more prone to inflammation and less able to fight viral infections—which could be one reason why lonely elderly people are more susceptible to illnesses ranging from the common cold to dementia, and why they have higher mortality rates than their peers.Read the whole story: The Atlantic More of our Members in the Media >
This has been a golden age for brain research. We now have amazing brain scans that show which networks in the brain ramp up during different activities. But this emphasis on the brain has subtly fed the illusion that thinking happens only from the neck up. It’s fed the illusion that the advanced parts of our thinking are the “rational” parts up top that try to control the more “primitive” parts down below. … … Lisa Feldman Barrett, of Northeastern University, also argues that a main purpose of the brain is to read the body, and to regulate what she calls the body budget. You may see a bully on the playground. Your brain then predicts your next action and speeds your heart rate and breathing to deal with it. You experience these changes as emotion — oh, this is fear or oh, this is anger — because your brain has created an emotion concept to make those physical changes meaningful. Read the whole story: The New York Times More of our Members in the Media > One of the leaders in this field is Stephen W. Porges of Indiana University. When you enter a new situation, Porges argues, your body reacts. Your heart rate may go up. Your blood pressure may change. Signals go up to the brain, which records the “autonomic state” you are in.
Mar 14, 2012Antibiotic use in 2011 German E coli outbreak may have cut sheddingDuring the large 2011 Escherichia coli outbreak linked to sprouts in Germany, use of azithromycin was associated with less frequent long-term E coli carriage and a shorter duration of bacterial shedding in stool specimens, according to a study in today’s Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). These findings contradict recommendations against prescribing antibiotics to treat infections with Shiga toxin–producing E coli (STEC) such as the O104:H4 outbreak strain, the study authors say. The study included 65 patients with STEC illness, 37 of whom had hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a potentially fatal kidney complication of STEC infection. Of those, 22 received azithromycin (on average 12 days after symptom onset), all of them HUS patients, and 43 did not, 15 of whom had HUS. They were all monitored from the day of symptom onset. Rates of STEC carriage were 31.8% in the treated group versus 83.7% in the non-treated group by day 21 of observation, 4.5% versus 81.4% by day 28, and 0% versus 74.4% by day 35.Mar 14 JAMA abstractMar 13 JAMA news releaseECDC says antibiotic resistance in Europe changed little in 2010Antimicrobial resistance in zoonotic and indicator bacteria from humans, animals, and food was common in 2010 but showed no major changes from 2009, according to an annual report from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the ECDC. The report is based on data from 26 European Union members and covers resistance in zoonotic Salmonella and Campylobacter from humans, food, and animals and in indicator Escherichia coli strains and enteroocci from animals and food. Salmonella isolates from humans showed high resistance to ampicillin, tetracyclines, and sulfonamides, but resistance to third-generation cephalosporins and fluoroquinolones remained low, the report abstract says. Salmonella and E coli isolates from poultry, pigs, and cattle were commonly resistant to tetracyclines, ampicillin, and sulfonamides, but not to third-generation cephalosporins, while Salmonella from poultry showed moderate to high resistance to ciprofloxacin, a fluoroquinolone. “In Campylobacter isolates from human cases, resistance to ampicillin, ciprofloxacin, nalidixic acid, and tetracyclines was high, while resistance to erythromycin was recorded at low to moderate levels,” the report adds. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus was found in some animal species and foods of animal origin.Mar 14 ECDC press releaseFull 233-page reportMar 5 CIDRAP News story on US report on resistant bacteria in poultry and meatFlu vaccine requirement for daycare children paid off in ConnecticutA requirement for flu vaccination of all Connecticut children in daycare led to a sharp increase in vaccination coverage and a decrease in flu in the age-group, according to a report presented today at the International Conference on Emerging Infectious Diseases in Atlanta (ICEID). The immunization requirement took effect Jan 1, 2012, for all children aged 6 to 59 months who were enrolled in licensed daycare centers, according to the study abstract. Researchers from the Yale School of Public Health and the Connecticut Department of Public Health compared flu data from the 2010-11 season and the most recent season dominated by H3N2 strains, 2007-08. Vaccination coverage in the age-group increased from 53.9% in the 2009-10 season to 85% in 2010-11, they reported. For the age-group, the proportion of all emergency department visits attributed to fever or flu in 2011 was lower than in 2008 (30.4% versus 33.5%, P = .01). Also, children 6 to 59 months old made up a smaller share of all patients hospitalized for flu in 2010-11 than in 2007-08 (2.3% versus 4.5%, P = .04)). Finally, daycare-age children accounted for a smaller proportion of all lab-confirmed flu cases in 2010-11 than in 2007-08 (10.3% versus 13.2%, P = .03).ICEID abstracts (see page 176)Ukraine, Purdue University issue measles vaccination warningsHealth officials in Ukraine say soccer fans who plan to attend the European Championship this summer should be vaccinated for measles in view of the outbreak there, the Associated Press (AP) reported yesterday. Foreigners are also advised to be immunized against tuberculosis, rubella, and other diseases if they haven’t been already, officials said. In a Feb 21 notice, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said Ukraine had had 3,000 measles cases since the start of the year. Ukraine is co-hosting the soccer championship with neighboring Poland from Jun 8 to Jul 1, the AP said.Mar 13 AP storyFeb 21 CIDRAP News itemIn other measles news, 484 Purdue University students have provided no proof of measles vaccination, which could keep them from registering for next semester’s classes, the AP reported yesterday. Mar 12 was the deadline for new students to show proof of immunization. Indiana law requires students at state-funded institutions to be vaccinated against measles, mumps, rubella, tetanus, and diphtheria. Jim Westman, director of Purdue’s student health center, said the requirement has drawn increased attention because of Indiana’s recent measles outbreak, with 17 cases since early February. If a campus outbreak occurred, students who have not met the immunization requirement would not be allowed to attend classes or participate in activities for at least a week, Westman said.Mar 13 AP storyNortheastern US may face its worst year for Lyme disease riskOwing to a bumper crop of acorns in 2010, this year could be the worst yet for Lyme disease and other tickborne infections in the northeastern United States, according to Richard S. Ostfeld, PhD, a disease ecologist at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in East Millbrook, N.Y. Speaking at the ICEID, Ostfeld said yesterday that the acorn crop sparked a 2011 population boom for white-footed mice, which store acorns for winter food and begin breeding earlier when well fed, medical writer Maryn McKenna reported on her blog, Superbug. The mouse population boom intersected with the 2-year life cycle of Lyme-carrying ticks, and this summer could bring a big crop of infected tick nymphs, Ostfeld said. He explained that for several reasons white-footed mice appear to be the best reservoir for Borrelia burgdorferi, the Lyme disease bacterium. Unusually large acorn crops could serve as an early-warning signal for increased Lyme disease risk, he said.Mar 13 Superbug entry