Fidest – Agenzia giornalistica/press agency

Quotidiano di informazione – Anno 31 n° 330

Archive for 27 giugno 2019

The Supreme Court stamps on freedom of information

Posted by fidest press agency su giovedì, 27 giugno 2019

By Jon Allsop. In 2011, the Argus Leader, a newspaper in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, was at work on a project about access to food and potential fraud in the food stamp program, which retailers administer in cooperation with the government. Jonathan Ellis, a reporter at the paper, requested data from the Department of Agriculture, which runs the program at the federal level, under the Freedom of Information Act, or FOIA. The department said no; the data Ellis requested, it argued, pertained to businesses, and was confidential. In response, the Argus Leader sued; it won, and the government decided not to appeal the verdict. But Ellis still did not get the data. The Food Marketing Institute, an industry group representing retailers, picked up the case and took it to an appeals court; when that court, too, upheld the Argus Leader’s request, the group—backed by the US Chamber of Commerce—escalated its secrecy fight all the way to the Supreme Court.The court, which heard arguments in the case in April, issued a ruling yesterday against the Argus Leader. The Freedom of Information Act has always allowed private government contractors to claim an exemption on confidentiality grounds, but—under a precedent set in 1974—contractors have had to show that disclosing the requested information would cause them competitive harm. Yesterday, in a 6-3 vote, the Supreme Court ruled to make that test substantially less strict: going forward, contractors will be able to keep any “commercial and financial information” they give to the government secret at their discretion, as long as the government gave them an “assurance” that it will remain private.” As Justice Stephen Breyer wrote in his dissent, the ruling establishes certain information as “confidential” not because it is legitimately sensitive, but because those who possess it want to keep it that way. The ruling, Breyer fears, “will deprive the public of information for reasons no better than convenience, skittishness, or bureaucratic inertia.”The Argus Leader—and press-freedom advocates—expressed similar concerns. Cory Myers, the paper’s editorial director, called the verdict “a massive blow to the public’s right to know how its tax dollars are being spent, and who is benefiting.” Ellis, who filed the initial FOIA (and co-wrote yesterday’s Argus Leader piece on the ruling), tweeted that while the Department of Agriculture’s denial of his request was never legitimate, “today, six members of the US Supreme Court used it as a vehicle to wipe out more than 40 years of established FOIA precedent.” Later, Ellis said he was “truly sorry to my colleagues who work to hold government accountable that my FOIA request was used to undermine our work. If I could go back in a time machine and change this I would.”
Clearly, none of this is Ellis’s fault. But experts fear that the court’s ruling will make journalists’ lives more difficult. “Businesses in regulated industries will be the main beneficiaries of this decision, while the press and public will have a harder time using the FOIA to investigate such businesses and their interactions with government agencies,” Jonathan Peters, a media law professor at the University of Georgia and CJR’s press freedom correspondent, tells me in an email. Michael Morisy, founder of MuckRock, a collaborative news site focused on FOIA and transparency, adds that the ruling will be particularly damaging in a climate of increasing privatization of government services. “Already, at the state level, we see contractors push the meaning of confidential trade data to include everything from how much they charge agencies (and therefore, the public) to the header columns of spreadsheets that summarize public data,” he tells me in an email.While this is a federal ruling on a federal law, local reporters will not be spared the impact. State governments have their own freedom of information laws which will not directly be affected by the Supreme Court’s decision. But reporters such as those at the Argus Leader commonly look at the local footprint of federal programs. And, as Avi Asher-Schapiro, of the Committee to Protect Journalists, reported ahead of the Argus Leader hearing in April, some states lack significant case law around access to information, and thus often use comparable federal laws as guidance.Ultimately, the Supreme Court’s decision only adds to the mounting impediments American journalists face at work. Trump’s anti-press attacks grab the headlines, but subtler trends like the weakening of transparency laws may have a deeper impact. “This decision is of a piece with government efforts nationwide to shield information and events from public view,” Peters says. “It’s offensive to the basic idea that our democratic system is based on the will of the people… The Argus Leader case does even more damage to that idea.” (font: CJR Editors)

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AM Best Affirms Credit Ratings for La Colonial, S.A. Compañía de Seguros

Posted by fidest press agency su giovedì, 27 giugno 2019

AM Best has affirmed the Financial Strength Rating of B++ (Good) and the Long-Term Issuer Credit Rating of “bbb+” of La Colonial, S.A. Compañía de Seguros (La Colonial) (Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic). The outlook of these Credit Ratings (ratings) remains positive.The ratings reflect La Colonial’s balance sheet strength, which AM Best categorizes as strongest, as well as its adequate operating performance, neutral business profile and appropriate enterprise risk management.The positive outlooks recognize the improvements made by La Colonial in terms of operating performance and acknowledge the skills of the underwriting team to face the potential challenges of harsher competition during 2019. The ratings also reflect the company’s robust risk-adjusted capitalization, supported by a strong reinsurance program. Partially offsetting these positive rating factors is the competitive environment in the Dominican Republic.La Colonial is the fifth-largest insurance company in the Dominican Republic, with a 7.3% market share as of April 2019, maintaining a leading position in the Dominican Republic despite changing market dynamics, including the continuous inflow of new health premiums to the system from new competitors. The company has posted adequate profitability and growth to support its results. The company operates as a multiline insurer, and its portfolio is composed of 80% property/casualty, 16% accidents and health and 4% life, based on gross written premium.In 2018, the company continued its improved combined ratio to levels below 100% because of higher retention and a continuation of expense efficiency. A key year for the resolution of the positive outlooks is 2019, as the company needs to consolidate the improvements achieved in terms of operating performance amidst increased competition in key segments like auto and fire. In this regard, AM Best considers La Colonial’s management team to be well-prepared to manage such competition and to maintain a cost-efficient operation.
La Colonial’s risk-adjusted capitalization remains strong and is supported adequately by a comprehensive reinsurance program that mitigates the potential impact from regional natural disasters on the company’s results. These characteristics are well-reflected in its solvency and capitalization metrics, and its excellent market position. Looking forward, AM Best expects the company to continue performing with premium sufficiency driven by lower technical costs in the medium term, to achieve higher ratings.Positive rating actions could occur if La Colonial continues to improve its underwriting performance, by achieving greater efficiency and consolidating its positive trend in operating performance, while at the same time, strengthening its capital base through increased profitability. Factors that might lead to negative rating actions include deterioration of its technical income, by either higher operational costs or a decline in the underwriting quality that places more emphasis on financial income to sustain profitability. Any major changes in La Colonial’s capital base, including significant dividends or capital outflows, that diminish AM Best’s view of the company’s risk-adjusted capitalization also could result in negative rating actions.

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OncLive® Presents State of the Science Summit™ on Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer

Posted by fidest press agency su giovedì, 27 giugno 2019

OncLive®, the nation’s leading multimedia resource focused on providing oncology professionals with the most current and insightful information they need to provide the best patient care, will host its latest State of the Science Summit™ on Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC) Monday, July 1, from 5-9 p.m. at the Whitley in Atlanta. The summit will be chaired by Suresh S. Ramalingam, MD, FASCO, deputy director, assistant dean for cancer research, director of the lung cancer program and, co-leader of the discovery and developmental therapeutics program at Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University.
This interactive and educational meeting will discuss novel treatments for patients with NSCLC. Expert presenters will delve into informative topics facing lung cancer specialists, oncologists, nurses and other medical professionals, such as screening for NSCLC, stage 1c squamous and nonsquamous NSCLC, EGFR-positive NSCLC, ALK-positive and ROS1 NSCLC, and targetable biomarkers in NSCLC. The presenters will also engage in a peer exchange and address audience questions.

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WeatherBug Joins NOAA to Improve the Nation’s Safety and Readiness Against Extreme Weather

Posted by fidest press agency su giovedì, 27 giugno 2019

WeatherBug (a GroundTruth brand), a leading weather site and mobile app with over 20 million users, has been officially recognized by the NOAA as a Weather-Ready Nation Ambassador™. The Weather-Ready Nation initiative was launched in 2011 and aims to acknowledge the efforts of organizations that are working to improve the nation’s readiness against extreme weather, water, and climate events.
“WeatherBug shares NOAA’s vision of building a Weather-Ready Nation,” said Louis Uccellini, Ph.D., director of NOAA’s National Weather Service. “Working together we will provide useful and relevant information to schools, businesses, and individuals to help them become ready, responsive and resilient to extreme weather and water events.”Education and safety have always been on WeatherBug’s radar. The application has focused efforts in educating communities and making sure its users are safe and ready for severe weather since 1993. “We are proud to join the Weather-Ready Nation initiative. WeatherBug started as a school program, and our foundation is on educating our community about the weather and its potential hazards. As a Weather-Ready Nation Ambassador, we are reaching back to our roots,” said Eddie Dingels, WeatherBug’s General Manager.As a Weather-Ready Nation Ambassador, WeatherBug is working closely with NOAA to develop a new educational and safety campaign for schools. “With NOAA’s support and WeatherBug’s consumer experience, we have the ability to create rich educational campaigns to reach millions of people in the United States,” completes Dingels.

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Amazon and Seattle Public Schools Team Up to Bring Computer Science and Robotics to 30 Title I Schools

Posted by fidest press agency su giovedì, 27 giugno 2019

Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) and Seattle Public Schools today announced a new partnership to bring computer science and robotics to up to 30 Title 1 Seattle Public Schools as part of the Amazon Future Engineer program. Amazon is providing each of the schools with an Amazon Future Engineer Robotics grant to inspire the next generation of computer scientists, with a focus on students from underrepresented and underserved communities. Each of the schools will receive support to launch FIRST robotics teams, including teacher professional development to learn about robotics, support from Amazon to expand access to computer science education in their school, and a private tour of an Amazon robotics fulfillment center in Kent, Washington.The mission of FIRST, curriculum provider for Amazon Future Engineer Robotics grants, is to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders and innovators by engaging them in exciting mentor-based programs that build science, engineering, and technology skills to students in grades K-12. Data from a 5-year longitudinal study of FIRST by Brandeis University shows competitive FIRST robotics programs works for all youth. Across all demographic groups (gender, race, economic status and geography), FIRST students show significant gains in STEM knowledge, STEM interest, STEM career interest, STEM identity, and STEM activity compared to their peers who don’t participate. FIRST students are more likely to major in tech-focused science fields in college; by their second year of college, over 50 percent declare majors in engineering or technology. The impact on young women in FIRST is particularly profound. By their first year of college, female alumnae of FIRST are 3.6 times more likely to take an engineering course, and 1.9 times more likely to take a computer science course than female comparison students.Seattle Public Schools is committed to creating opportunities for students who have historically been the furthest from educational justice; these students have also been underrepresented in STEM careers. They recognize the positive impact the partnership will have on educators, teachers and coaches to learn new skills and new ways of applying standards-based teaching in a new environment.The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that by 2020 there will be 1.4 million computer-science-related jobs available and only 400,000 computer science graduates with the skills to apply for those jobs. Computer science is the fastest-growing profession within the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) field, but only 8% of STEM graduates earn a computer science degree, with a tiny minority from underprivileged backgrounds. Students from underprivileged backgrounds are 8 to 10 times more likely to pursue college degrees in computer science if they have taken AP computer science in high school.More locally, the Washington Business Roundtable has reported that a large number of hundreds of thousands new jobs being generated in the Seattle area will be STEM-related. Moreover, the Puget Sound Business Journal stated in their January 6, 2016 edition that Washington isn’t producing enough qualified workers to supply talent-starved tech companies.Launched in November, 2018, Amazon Future Engineer is a four-part childhood-to-career program intended to inspire, educate, and prepare children and young adults from underrepresented and underserved communities to pursue careers in the fast-growing field of computer science. Each year, Amazon Future Engineer aims to inspire more than 10 million kids to explore computer science; provide over 100,000 young people in over 2,000 high schools access to Intro or AP Computer Science courses; award 100 students with four-year $10,000 scholarships, as well as offer guaranteed and paid Amazon internships to gain work experience. Amazon Future Engineer is part of Amazon’s $50 million investment in computer science/STEM education. In addition, Amazon Future Engineer has donated more than $10 million to organizations that promote computer science/STEM education across the country.

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CSG and ITW Global Leaders Forum Announce Partnership to Create Communications Blockchain Network

Posted by fidest press agency su giovedì, 27 giugno 2019

CSG (NASDAQ: CSGS) today announced it has been selected by the ITW Global Leaders’ Forum (GLF) to support the creation of an open blockchain ecosystem aimed at revolutionizing carrier inter-service provider settlement processes by enabling automation and improving security. CSG will leverage its expertise in interconnect and wholesale to help the GLF identify ways the technology can facilitate rapid and cost-efficient wholesale settlement between carriers and their partners as they deliver all types of services to their customers.Blockchain technology can be used to streamline complex carrier agreement and settlement processes. This includes reducing the amount of time it takes to put contracts in place between carriers, as well as speeding up the process for carriers to settle financial agreements, lowering collection times.The ecosystem, called the Communications Blockchain Network (CBN), is expected to launch later this year and will be governed by a collaborative structure of both carriers and leading technology providers, including CSG (video). The CBN, and the collaborative industry-wide governance framework, will serve the wider information and technology service provider community by avoiding fragmentation and helping accelerate adoption of automated settlement applications. It will also help facilitate the development of open-source standards and APIs that enable service-provider interoperability of blockchain-enabled services.“CSG is excited to partner with the ITW GLF to create a unified blockchain ecosystem,” said Finn Kornbo, director of product management, CSG. “The adoption of blockchain technology helps carriers reduce costs, while enhancing revenue growth by supporting the launch of new and innovated services brought about by 5G, IoT and other industry advancements.”The partnership closely follows CSG’s launch of the wholesale business support systems (BSS) industry’s first blockchain technology lab solving the industry’s toughest business challenges by leveraging the wider application of blockchain, as well as explore new applications for the technology in areas including trading, routing, roaming, fraud and partner management (video).CSG is a leader in the BSS industry for the wholesale market with a long-standing track record in disciplines including trading, routing, QoS assurance and inter-carrier billing and settlement. The company serves more than 300 operators and carriers worldwide – including more than half of companies that make up the ITW Global Leaders Forum.

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