Here I speak with Libby Weaver about URL do’s and don’ts. It’s a quick minute and a half marketing video. Enjoy!
On Friday, the OCC announced it will begin accepting applications for special purpose national bank charters from financial technology firms. Reception of this news has been generally positive, with industry organizations such as the Electronic Transactions Association and American Bankers Association issuing statements in support of such a charter.
But the early take on the news from industry insiders indicates that it is a mixed bag for individual companies. Applying for the charter may be either a smart move or a bad idea, depending on who you are and why you want it.
Sustainability Claims Riddled With Fraud, Abuse
Today Amnesty International has published a damning new report into the practices of major consumer goods multinationals. The human rights NGO unpicks the palm oil supply chain and finds evidence of forced labor, child employment and dangerous working conditions within the palm oil supply chain.
Although the company primarily under investigation is Wilmar, the world’s largest palm oil producer, it is the brand names that this firm suppliers that faces the charity’s opprobrium. Colgate, Nestlé and Unilever all come under heavy criticism for allowing conditions to emerge in their supply chains that many would regard as shocking.
Amnesty International interviewed 120 workers within Wilmar’s plantations, as well as digging deeper into their suppliers in Indonesia.
“Corporate giants like Colgate, Nestlé and Unilever assure consumers that their products use sustainable palm oil, but our findings reveal that the palm oil is anything but,”noted Meghna Abraham, Senior Investigator at Amnesty International.
“Companies are turning a blind eye to exploitation of workers in their supply chain. Despite promising customers that there will be no exploitation in their palm oil supply chains, big brands continue to profit from appalling abuses.”
Palm oil is a highly versatile product that is estimated to be in half of all consumer products, ranging from toothpaste to shampoo. It is mostly produced in Indonesia, which services over half of global demand.
The palm oil sector is rife with corporate social responsibility issues and is linked to deforestation, where its land-intensive farms denude the Indonesian jungle and deny rare species, such as orangutans, of habitation. It also is an area of alleged worker exploitation.
The Amnesty International report describes a punishing work regime with demanding performance targets. Failure to meet objectives can yield financial deductions. Penalties are levied at the manager’s discretion.
Many laborers, the reporters find, feel compelled to work 10-11 hour-long days, accumulating to exceed the legal maximum of 40-hours per week in Indonesia. Despite this grueling schedule many claim they are paid beneath the legal minimum wage.
The report finds that, such are the pressures under which workers are placed, they enlist their spouses and children to toil unpaid to avoid penalties from the employer. The charity found children as young as eight in employment, many of whom dropped out of school to meet their quota.
“I get the premi [bonus] from the loose fruit that’s why my kids help me<” said a plantation worker. “I wouldn't be able to meet the target otherwise. The foreman sees my children helping me. The foreman says it is good that my child is helping me.”
Indonesia bans child labor.
Amnesty International also finds evidence of using paraquat, highly dangerous herbicide. The chemical is banned in the European Union and Wilmar itself has made commitments to phase out its use. The report finds that suppliers are still routinely making use of the chemical.
The investigators found one instance of a worker that was splashed in the face by the chemical, leading to severe injuries. “I can’t see through the eye. I get headaches in part of my head, when I do, my eye feels really swollen. I still get a bit dizzy.”
These allegations are obviously serious and, if true, highly damaging to the brands concerned. Wilmar acknowledge the report’s findings, and urged many within the industry to help combat these issues.
Raed The Full Story About Palm Oil Abuses at http://www.forbes.com/sites/jwebb/2016/11/30/amnesty-international-slams-colgate-nestle-and-unilever-for-palm-oil-supply-chain-abuses/2/#456cd1564161
Tau, Amyloid Detection Could Improve Diagnostic Capabilities
Researchers from Aberdeen have identified changes in the brains of those suffering early signs of Alzheimer’s disease.
A University of Aberdeen study confirmed for the first time that two proteins, assumed to contribute to the disease process, are both present at very early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. Both are present in an area of the brain that is involved in memory formation and information processing–the hippocampus.
The Alzheimer’s Research UK funded the research, which will have implications for the development of new drugs, but may also provide important information for diagnosis of the disease.
The team, led by Dr Koss and Professor Bettina Platt, used human brain samples provided by the Brains for Dementia Research platform to investigate changes in the brain at different stages of the disease. The researchers developed novel ways to study two proteins (tau and amyloid), both associated with Alzheimer’s disease, and determined how each one contributed to the onset, progression and symptoms of the disease.
“The entire research community is in agreement that it’s important to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease early,” said Dr. Koss. “Our findings will go some way to help achieve this. These early-stage changes in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease highlight key biochemical processes that may not only enable improved diagnostic procedures but may also inform drug development.”
Alzheimer’s Disease Research Report via https://www.eveningexpress.co.uk/fp/news/local/study-identifies-disease-changes/
Zika Virus A Byproduct Of Infectious Waste
Published In MedScape
Zika infection can have devastating effects on the central nervous system of people of all ages. The infection can cause a wide range of brain abnormalities, including paralysis and death in adults, according to two new studies from Brazil.
“All radiologists must know about these typical symptoms because sometimes you don’t see the symptoms of Zika virus in the pregnant mother,” said Bianca Guedes Ribeiro, MD, from the Clínica de Diagnóstico por Imagem in Rio de Janeiro.
“If the microcephaly and calcifications don’t show until the third trimester, it’s late,” she said.
Microcephaly is a nonspecific term used to describe a small head circumference, and can be caused by maternal exposure to HIV, alcohol, radiation, or TORCH pathogens (Toxoplasma gondii, other, rubella virus, cytomegalovirus, and herpes simplex virus).
Most of these pathogens and toxins are found in the modern sewage stream, which is being dumped on crops, parks, golf courses and beyond. It is therefore important that radiologists know what to look for when it comes to “Zika.”
Dr. Guedes Ribeiro presented results from one of the studies here at the Radiological Society of North America 2016 Annual Meeting. She and her colleagues looked at pre- and postnatal images of the central nervous system in pregnant women exposed to the Zika virus. In their perinatal MRI and CT scans, they saw brain abnormalities presenting as multiple calcifications, both cortically and subcortically, and microcephaly. They diagnosed pachygyria, corpus callosum dysgenesis, and small anterior fontanel with premature closure of cranial sutures in their cohort.
During her presentation, Dr Guedes Ribeiro described one case in which a 27-year-old pregnant woman presented with fever, a telltale sign of Zika, and a rash at 12 weeks of gestation. In that case, the fetus did not show microcephaly or calcifications until 32 weeks. “In a case like this, the mother might only know she got the infection at the final ultrasound scanning,” Dr Guedes Ribeiro explained.
Now that Zika is showing up in many other countries around the world, radiologists in the United States should consider the Zika virus when they see these typical central nervous system findings, as they do now in Brazil, even when a pregnant woman has no clinical history of Zika, said Dr Guedes Ribeiro. “When you see these findings, think about Zika,” she advised.
“It’s important to look deep inside the brain because you will get the detailed information about brain malformations that you can’t get with clinical observations,” said Fernanda Tovar-Moll, MD, PhD, from the D’Or Institute for Research and Education in Rio de Janeiro.
Dr Tovar-Moll was involved in a recent study that showed that a number of brain abnormalities, beyond microcephaly, can affect fetuses exposed to intrauterine Zika virus infection. Radiologists need to be aware of these abnormalities so they can guide diagnoses and appropriate counseling for patients and their caregivers, the researchers explain.
All the babies she and her colleagues examined showed calcifications in the brain, “particularly between the grey and white matter junction,” Dr Tovar-Moll told Medscape Medical News. “This is not the same or common in any other congenital infection.”
In 10 percent of cases, Dr Tovar-Moll and her colleagues found that the baby’s head was a normal size at birth. However, she reported, “the brain inside was very abnormal. The MRI and ultrasound showed that they already had severe malformations – even more severe than those with a smaller head size at birth.”
It is incredibly important to look inside the brain because microcephaly is just one of the clinical signs for diagnosis, she added.
“Zika also causes neurologic damage that leads to paralysis in adults,” said Emerson de Melo Casagrande, MD, from the Federal Fluminense University in Niterói, Brazil.
“There are adults affected – who aren’t in the focus of the media – who were healthy people but aren’t now. Some of them will never recover,” he reported.
Dr de Melo Casagrande presented results from a study that looked at adults, pregnant women, and newborns. He explained that the study got its start when the hospital began sending patients to radiology to rule out common diseases because serologic testing for Zika was not available.
The researchers were surprised by the effect the virus could have in adults. Of the 16 adults with acute neurologic syndromes sent to their lab, many presented with evidence of Guillain-Barré syndrome, its Miller Fisher variant, and Bickerstaff encephalitis. All three of the patients who presented with encephalomyelitis are now paralyzed.
“They were healthy and now they can’t move their arms or legs – that’s from Zika,” Dr de Melo Casagrande explained. Some patients recovered from the infection and others have sequelae in the face – they can work “and they have a life – but three people remain in the hospital.”
They don’t have the virus anymore, he pointed out, but it is still destroying their body as an autoimmune disease triggered by the infection. A previous infection could have had something to do with the strong reaction.
“We don’t know what makes it more severe in those patients, but we know we need to move the Zika conversation away from microcephaly alone,” said Dr de Melo Casagrande.
The problem in Brazil right now is that many hospitals cannot diagnose Zika because testing is not available. “They have a fast test for dengue because people can die from dengue,” he explained. “But if it’s not dengue, then you have to go home.”
Dr de Melo Casagrande said that his team expects to continue to use radiology to exclude other infections. All people should be wary of Zika, not just pregnant women. “It can be devastating for anyone,” he warned.
Brain Disease Update via http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/872635
Here with Libby Weaver discussing things companies should and shouldn’t do with Social Media