Archive for November 2013

SMC Heads-Up: Fat, SciJourno training, SAVVY

The argument that dietary saturated
fats are not linked to heart disease conflicts with the
current thinking around healthy diets and has drawn
criticism from a number of academics.

On the commentary
site The Conversation, Prof David Sullivan from the
University of Sydney slammed the argument the
saturated fats were not linked to heart disease. The
University of Otagos Prof Tony Blakely was more cautious
regarding the role of fats in heart health. Writing on the Public Health Expert
blog, he accepted that there were many overall
positives to the diet proposed by Schofield, but ultimately
disagreed with the notion that saturated fats are not linked
to heart disease.

Some of the strongest criticism came in
a press release from a broad group of health
organisations headed by Prof Jim Mann,
Director, Edgar National Centre for Diabetes and Obesity
Research. Prof Mann and the numerous organisations
supporting the release suggest that, those who advocate for
radical new dietary approaches have a responsibility to
provide convincing peer-reviewed evidence of long term
benefit as well as absence of harm. Such evidence does not
exist for diets high in saturated and total fat, and very
low in carbohydrate.

Prof Schofield, has responded to the criticisms on
his blog, with an extensive post addressing the concerns as
well as drawing attention to points that can be agreed upon
by both sides of the debate.

The Ministry of Healths
official guidelines recommend
adults prepare foods or choose pre-prepared foods, drinks
and snacks with minimal added fat, especially saturated
fat.

You can read more about the saturated fat
discussion on the Science Media Centre
website.

RNZ debuts The
Wireless

Radio New Zealand last night
unveiled its much anticipated youth project The Wireless, a
website that will focus on issues of relevance to 18 – 30
year olds.

The website features news articles,
blogs, video and audio pieces and the editorial team of four
will collaborate with Radio New Zealand National to spread
content across the stations programmes.

A particular
theme will be featured each month, kicking off with a free
special looking at personal budgeting and how young people
manage their finances.

The Wireless editor Marcus Stickley
told the SMC that science, health and environment-related
themes would be considered for the website, which will steer
away from purely entertainment driven stories but examine
important and topical issues in an entertaining way. More
from the Listeners Toby Manhire on the
launch of The Wireless and a Publicaddress comment piece
from The Wireless senior producer Megan
Whelan.

Last chance to get media savvy!

Applications close this evening for the
next Science Media SAVVY workshop.

21-22 November 2013 in
Auckland

Applications NOW OPEN

More
than basic media training, Science Media SAVVY is designed
specifically to help researchers and scientists gain the
confidence and practical skills they need to engage
effectively with broadcast, print and online media.

An
intensive day of practice interviews and hands-on exercises
is followed with a newsroom tour, media discussion panel,
and the chance to hear from real journalists who cover
science.

For more information, see the SAVVY web page or contact the SMC. If youd like
to help us spread the word, you can download a flyer
here.

Applications close Friday 1
November at 6 pm

What was big in
science news this week…

Polio in Syria, new dolphin species, Alice starts on tunnel, shark finning, electronics on planes and First World War healthcare.

Focus on science journalism
training

Journalists wanting to brush up
on their use of statistics and numbers, as well as other
thorny aspects of reporting on research, now have a new
resource available to them online.

The SciJourno website, launched
this week by our colleagues at the Australian Science Media
Centre, is a free and open-access training resource for
working media and others interested in improving
communication of research findings to the public.The site
provides six online modules covering a range of topics (see
below) with hands-on activities and links to further
reading.

The online modules are also intended for use in
journalism training programmes, as a way of providing future
media professionals with basic training in reporting on
research findings. Tertiary education providers, teachers
and trainers are invited to freely adapt the online
activities for use with students.

SciJourno
modules:

o Telling an engaging science
story

o Understanding a research
paper

o Understanding statistics and
numbers

o Reporting politicised science

o Using
social media for news

o Visualisation in science
journalism

The initiative follows recommendations of an
Australian expert working group report,
chaired by AusSMC head Susannah Elliot, aimed at supporting
media coverage of science, and is one of several related
projects undertaken as part of the Inspiring Australia
programme.

The AusSMC marked the launch with a background
briefing covering common pitfalls and red flags for
reporters using numbers and stats. You can watch a recording
of the briefing, featuring Young Statistician Nick Tierney
of the Statistical Society of Australia, here.

Glowing squid
come ashore in Auckland

Ever wondered
what 3D-printed squid sculptures filled with glowing
bacteria look like? Wonder no
more.

Microbiologist Siouxsie Wiles has teamed up
with artist Rebecca Klee to produce a series of sculptures
to feature in this years Art in the Dark festival.

The
collaboration came about after Rebecca saw Siouxsies
animation about glowing bacteria
living on the surface of the Hawaiian bobtail
squid,

The annual Art in the Dark festival will be held
over 7th-9th November in Ponsobys Western Park and features
pieces from about 40 different artists.

You can
read about Siouxsie and Rebeccas project on their Lab to the Park blog or catch them
talking about the exhibit at Nerdnite Auckland on
Tuesday

Policy news and
developments

Animal ethics: National Animal
Ethics Advisory Committee will embark on a new research
programme this summer looking into the decision-making
processes of animal ethics committees.

Incubators: The government is
planning to set up a series of high-tech business incubators
to support start ups witrepayable grants.

Rebuild support: The Government
has agreed to provide up to $260 million to the University
of Canterbury to support its rebuild programme following the
destructive Canterbury earthquakes.

Monorail: Conservation Minister
Dr Nick Smith has released official advice recommending he
approve the Fiordland monorail, subject to extensive
conditions.

Psychoactive hotline: the
Ministry of Health has launched an 0800 Psychoactive
Substance Hotline to help the public report concerns about
psychoactive substances in their
community.

Quoted: Sciblogs

Im really
pleased to see peer review mentioned here. This is certainly
what many of us were calling for during the crisis – show us
the data and the methods!

Dr
Siouxsie Wiles on the results of the

inquiry into the Fonterra food
scare

New from the
SMC

Experts
Respond:

Batty origins for SARS:
Experts respond to a study of
Chinese bats which identified several coronaviruses very
similar to SARS, suggesting the human pathogen originated in
bats.

Briefings:

Marsden fund: Read the
initial information release and list of winner of this
years Marsden Fund
projects.

In the
News:

Marsden media:
Read selected media coverage of the this
years Marsden winners.

Reflections on Science:

Fat
fight: Is saturated fat intake a risk factor for
heart disease, or just misunderstood? Experts have been debating the issue in
a media over the last week.

Sciblogs highlights

Some of
the highlights from this weeks Sciblogs
posts:

Poking needles in childs tongue unlikely to
bring back missing DNA – Grant Jacobs covers
the latest media story of pseudo-science and dubious
charity.

Code for Life

You need a common base to measure changes
– Are ten percent of Kiwis alcoholic? No says
Eric Crampton, putting a damper on the latest media booze
blitz.

Dismal Science

Academic profiling – unwise, unfair,
unethical, but common? University rankings can
be useful. They can also be used inappropriately to
discriminate inaccurately and unjustly, writes Wayne
Linklater.

PolitEcol Science

Water quality – What about the fish and the
anglers? – Neil Deans goes fishing for facts in
the stand off between farmers and recreational fishers.

Waiology

Research
highlights

Some of the major research
papers that made headlines this
week.

Please note: hyperlinks
point, where possible, to the relevant abstract or paper.

Trojan Females:
Femme fatales carrying male sterility genes could be the
latest weapon in the fight to control New Zealand pests.
Researchers have described and modelled a radically new
approach for pest management – the Trojan Female
Technique. The approach harnesses naturally occurring
mutations in the maternally inherited mitochondrial DNA that
reduce male fertility while having little or no fitness
impacts on females. The authors suggest the technique has
the potential to provide persistent and effective control in
a wide range of animals, from mosquitoes to
rats.

Proceedings of the Royal Society B:
Biological Sciences

Heat hiding
in the Pacific: New research supports the
suggestion the recent slowdown in global warming is due to
the fact that the oceans are taking up some of the excess
heat, at least for the moment. In a reconstruction of
Pacific Ocean temperatures in the last ten millennia,
researchers have found that its middle depths have warmed 15
times faster in the last 60 years than they did during
apparent natural warming cycles in the previous
10,000.

Science

Trial
data unpublished: Almost one in three large
clinical trials remain unpublished five years after
completion — despite US laws requiring trial data to be
published. This means that an estimated 250,000 people have
been exposed to the risks of trial participation without the
societal benefits that accompany the dissemination of their
results, say the authors of the study, who argue that not
revealing the outcomes of trials violates an ethical
obligation that investigators have towards study
participants.

BMJ

Cancer
diagnosis linked to suicide risk: Teenagers and
young adults are at increased risk of suicide after being
diagnosed with cancer according to a study of more than
12,500 young people diagnosed with cancer. Researchers found
there was 60% increased risk of suicide or attempted suicide
among cancer patients with the risk being much higher (150%)
was highest during the first year immediately after
diagnosis.

Annals of
Oncology

Drylands face nutrient
imbalance: An increase in aridity due to global
warming will disturb the balance of nutrients in the soil
and reduce productivity of the worlds drylands, which
support millions of people, a landmark study predicts. The
research, conducted by a global collaboration of scientists
analysing 224 dryland sites in 16 countries, shows that
increasing aridity is associated with a reduction in carbon
and nitrogen in the soil and an increase in
phosphorus.

Nature

Walking
with dinosaurs: One of the worlds largest
dinosaurs has been digitally reconstructed, allowing it to
take its first steps in over 94 million years. Laser
scanning of a 40 metre-long skeleton of the vast Cretaceous
Agentinosaurus dinosaur allowed researchers to build a
computationally intensive model recreating the dinosaurs
walking and running movements.

PLOS ONE

Upcoming
sci-tech events

For these and more
upcoming events, and more details about them, visit the
SMCs Events Calendar.

o Bioethics Centre 25th Anniversary Symposium
– EmbodiedCognition and Neuroethics – 6
November, Dunedin.

o Otago International Health Research Network
– 6th Annual Conference- 7-8 November,
Dunedin.

o New vaccines for the developing world – who
is responsible? – Prof Kim Mulholland – 7
November, Dunedin.

o The origin of life as a philosophical
problem: Is it relevant to biotechnology? –
Associate Professor Peter Wills – 8 November,
Auckland.

o General Practice and Rural Health 30th
Anniversary Celebration and Symposium – 8-9
November, Dunedin.

o Kiwicon – Computer security and
hacker conference – 9-10 November,
Wellington.

#169; Scoop Media

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DBIS finds little payday lending improvement

DBIS has published a survey showing that payday lenders are not fully complying with the standards they signed up to in 2012. Many customers reported complaints such as:

  • being put under pressure to extend their loans;
  • lenders not explaining the risks of extending loans;
  • failure of lenders to ask about customers finances before granting the initial loan or in relation to rollovers;
  • failure of lenders properly to explain how continuous payment authorities work or how to cancel them.

The Government said the results prove the need for FCA to regulate the industry and heralded its proposed new rules for payday lenders. (Source: DBIS Finds Little Payday Lending Improvement)

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Gov. Announces New Credit Monitoring Agency

Columbia, SC (WLTX) — Last years hacking of the South Carolina Department of Revenue put more than four million taxpayers and businesses at risk.

The state government offered free credit monitoring with Experian, but now CSIdentity Corp. will take over.

Ithink its a very comprehensive package, said Gov. Nikki Haley. I think its one everyone across South Carolina can feel very, very comfortable with — and very safe with — but we do want to encourage them to enroll. Thats the key is you have to enroll.

Its the latest development after a hacker stole tax payer records.

Experians services cost the state $12 million. CSIDs services will come slightly cheaper at a maximum of $8.5 million, the companys president, Joe Ross, said at an afternoon press conference Tuesday.

The amount the company receives will depend on the number of people they enroll in the services, according to a spokesman for Gov. Haley.

The company will receive one rate for every person they sign up in the earliest stages of enrollment, and a different rate once that date has passed, the spokesman said.

Consumers need to enroll separately into this one, but consumers who did not take advantage of Protect My ID (Experians program) are not excluded from being able to take advantage of the CSID program, said Carri Grube Lybarker, Administrator at the states Department of Consumer Affairs.

The services will include credit monitoring on a daily basis, coverage for the under 18-years-old, as well as up to $1 million in insurance.

The insurance includes all the expenses associated with recovering from an identity theft event, according to Ross.

if you look at the product, Gov. Haley said, it better captures what were seeing across the country when it comes to fraud.

As for catching those responsible for the hack, Gov. Haley stopped short of making any promises.

I do think well see justice, and I think it will be a great day when we see justice, said Gov. Haley.

But until then, I need to do as my job [sic] and thats to do everything I can to protect the people of this state.

The Department of Consumer Affairs is warning to be on the lookout for scams associated with credit monitoring.

If you have any questions, you can call them at 1-800-922-1594.

You can apply for credit monitoring by visitinghttp://www.csid.com.

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BPSO: Haughton man wanted for distributing meth

BOSSIER PARISH, LA (KSLA) –

A Haughton man wanted by the Bossier Sheriff Office and the US Marshals Violent Offender Task Force has been taken into custody.

Jackie Cole, 30, of the 200 block of Peach St. in Haughton, was wanted on two counts of Distribution of Schedule II Controlled Dangerous Substance (Methamphetamine) in 2012. His bond is set at $100,000. Police say theyve been looking for him for nearly a year for distributing methamphetamine.

Cole was taken into custody in Shreveportaround 11 pm Tuesday.Police credit tips to Bossier Crime Stoppers for the arrest.

Copyright 2013 KSLA. All rights reserved.

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Beacon Hill Roll Call

THE HOUSE AND SENATE Beacon Hill Roll Call records the votes of local representatives on six roll calls and local senators on one from the week of Nov. 4-8.

$1.4 BILLION FOR AFFORDABLE HOUSING (H 3727) House 151-0, Senate 39-0, gave final approval to a bill allowing the administration to borrow $1.4 billion over five years for public and affordable housing. Provisions include $500 million to renovate and modernize many of the states 45,000 public housing units; $55 million in loan guarantees to assist homeowners with blindness or severe disabilities to make their homes accessible; and $45 million for loans for the development of community-based housing for individuals with mental illness and intellectual disabilities.

Supporters said this package will help thousands of people remain in their homes or find new affordable housing in the state.

A Yes vote is for the bill.

Rep. Paul Brodeur Yes

Rep. Leah Cole Yes

Rep. Michael Costello Yes

Rep. Diana DiZoglio Yes

Rep. Paul Donato Yes

Rep. James Dwyer Yes

Rep. Lori Ehrlich Yes

Rep. Christopher Fallon Yes

Rep. Robert Fennell Yes

Rep. Ann-Margaret Ferrante Yes

Rep. Bradford Hill Didnt Vote

Rep. Bradley Jones Yes

Rep. John Keenan Yes

Rep. Jason Lewis Yes

Rep. James Lyons Yes

Rep. Wayne Matewsky Yes

Rep. Leonard Mirra Yes

Rep. Jerald Parisella Yes

Rep. Kathi-Anne Reinstein Yes

Rep. Carl Sciortino Yes

Rep. Theodore Speliotis Yes

Rep. Steven Walsh Yes

Rep. Donald Wong Yes

Sen. Katherine Clark Yes

Sen. Sal DiDomenico Yes

Sen. Kathleen Ives Yes

Sen. Patricia Jehlen Yes

Sen. Joan Lovely Yes

Sen. Thomas McGee Yes

Sen. Bruce Tarr Yes

CHANGES IN WELFARE SYSTEM (H 3737) House 152-0, approved a bill making changes to the Bay States welfare system. A key provision mandates that applicants search for a job prior to receiving cash assistance. Current law gives recipients a 60-day window after they start receiving benefits before they are required to look for employment. Other provisions include allowing public and private education to be used to satisfy the welfare systems work requirement; requiring welfare recipients to satisfy more stringent rules to prove they are seeking work; capping benefit balances for families on welfare; prohibiting the transfer of cash benefits to family overseas; and prohibiting anyone who is ineligible for federal-assisted housing to be given priority over applicants who are eligible under both state and federal guidelines. Federal eligibility standards for welfare are stricter than state ones.

Supporters said this long overdue overhaul of the welfare system is firm, fair and honest, and will crack down on welfare abuse while offering many poor people a road to economic independence. They noted the bill makes investments in people who cannot find work so they will have the chance to develop the skills they need to compete in the marketplace. The Senate has approved a different version of the measure and a conference committee will likely hammer out a compromise version.

A Yes vote is for the bill.

Rep. Paul Brodeur Yes

Rep. Leah Cole Yes

Rep. Michael Costello Yes

Rep. Diana DiZoglio Yes

Rep. Paul Donato Didnt Vote

Rep. James Dwyer Yes

Rep. Lori Ehrlich Yes

Rep. Christopher Fallon Yes

Rep. Robert Fennell Yes

Rep. Ann-Margaret Ferrante Yes

Rep. Bradford Hill Didnt Vote

Rep. Bradley Jones Yes

Rep. John Keenan Yes

Rep. Jason Lewis Yes

Rep. James Lyons Yes

Rep. Wayne Matewsky Yes

Rep. Leonard Mirra Yes

Rep. Jerald Parisella Yes

Rep. Kathi-Anne Reinstein Yes

Rep. Carl Sciortino Yes

Rep. Theodore Speliotis Yes

Rep. Steven Walsh Yes

Rep. Donald Wong Yes

TRAINING IN PERSONAL FINANCE BILL (H 3737) House 42-109, rejected an amendment that would require the Department of Transitional Assistance (Welfare Department) to establish programs of financial education for people receiving welfare benefits, including advice on personal budgeting, credit card debt, retirement planning, and the rights and responsibilities of renters and homeowners.

Amendment supporters urged the state to give welfare recipients better tools to manage their money more effectively, citing the number of personal bankruptcies in the state and the amount of credit card debt carried by those receiving assistance.

Amendment opponents said the amendment is too broad an expansion of the more focused financial responsibility measures already in the bill. They raised concerns about the cost to develop and implement such a program and train case workers properly in a wide range of personal financial topics

A Yes vote is for the amendment requiring financial education. A No vote is against it.

Rep. Paul Brodeur No

Rep. Leah Cole Yes

Rep. Michael Costello No

Rep. Diana DiZoglio Yes

Rep. Paul Donato Didnt Vote

Rep. James Dwyer Yes

Rep. Lori Ehrlich No

Rep. Christopher Fallon No

Rep. Robert Fennell No

Rep. Ann-Margaret Ferrante No

Rep. Bradford Hill Didnt Vote

Rep. Bradley Jones Yes

Rep. John Keenan No

Rep. Jason Lewis No

Rep. James Lyons Yes

Rep. Wayne Matewsky No

Rep. Leonard Mirra Yes

Rep. Jerald Parisella No

Rep. Kathi-Anne Reinstein No

Rep. Carl Sciortino No

Rep. Theodore Speliotis No

Rep. Steven Walsh No

Rep. Donald Wong Yes

GREEN CARD HOLDERS (H 3737) House 29-123, rejected an amendment that would require the Welfare Department to report the number of people who have had green cards (lawful permanent residents) for less than five years and are receiving welfare or food stamps.

Amendment supporters said this is simply a call for more transparency and is not meant to embarrass or take benefits away from anyone. They questioned why the state is providing these benefits when each green card holder is required by law to have a sponsor who has promised to be financially responsible for that person.

Amendment opponents said the requirement is mean-spirited and meant to embarrass legal residents who through no fault of their own need some assistance. They noted that the state shouldnt be punishing eligible individuals who have become estranged or disconnected from their sponsor.

A Yes vote is for the reporting requirement. A No vote is against it.

Rep. Paul Brodeur No

Rep. Leah Cole Yes

Rep. Michael Costello No

Rep. Diana DiZoglio No

Rep. Paul Donato Didnt Vote

Rep. James Dwyer Yes

Rep. Lori Ehrlich No

Rep. Christopher Fallon No

Rep. Robert Fennell No

Rep. Ann-Margaret Ferrante No

Rep. Bradford Hill Didnt Vote

Rep. Bradley Jones Yes

Rep. John Keenan No

Rep. Jason Lewis No

Rep. James Lyons Yes

Rep. Wayne Matewsky No

Rep. Leonard Mirra Yes

Rep. Jerald Parisella No

Rep. Kathi-Anne Reinstein No

Rep. Carl Sciortino No

Rep. Theodore Speliotis No

Rep. Steven Walsh No

Rep. Donald Wong Yes

BAN OUT-OF-STATE USE OF EBT CARDS (H 3737) House 37-115, rejected an amendment prohibiting the use of Electronic Bank Transfer (EBT) cards in any state other than Massachusetts and its border states.

Amendment supporters said reports have shown that $2.3 million was used on EBT cards in Florida and substantial amounts in California and St. Thomas. They said it seems that some people might be vacationing on taxpayer dollars.

Amendment opponents said less than one percent of EBT dollars is spent out of state. They noted this over the top amendment would prevent someone from using money even to attend a family members funeral out of state.

A Yes vote is for the amendment. A No vote is against it.

Rep. Paul Brodeur No

Rep. Leah Cole Yes

Rep. Michael Costello No

Rep. Diana DiZoglio Yes

Rep. Paul Donato Didnt Vote

Rep. James Dwyer Yes

Rep. Lori Ehrlich No

Rep. Christopher Fallon No

Rep. Robert Fennell No

Rep. Ann-Margaret Ferrante No

Rep. Bradford Hill Didnt Vote

Rep. Bradley Jones Yes

Rep. John Keenan No

Rep. Jason Lewis No

Rep. James Lyons Yes

Rep. Wayne Matewsky No

Rep. Leonard Mirra Yes

Rep. Jerald Parisella No

Rep. Kathi-Anne Reinstein No

Rep. Carl Sciortino No

Rep. Theodore Speliotis No

Rep. Steven Walsh No

Rep. Donald Wong Yes

PROOF OF SEEKING JOB (H 3737) House 37-115, rejected an amendment to a section of the bill that requires welfare recipients to provide evidence of their job searches by returning to the Welfare Department a list of the employers contacted, the date of contact and the name and telephone number of the person with whom the applicant spoke, to the extent feasible. The information would be signed by the applicant under the penalties of perjury. The amendment would strike the language to the extent feasible and also require that the applicant provide copies of each job application.

Amendment supporters said that the current arrangement is too loose and works on the honor system. They argued that the language to the extent feasible creates a giant loophole for fraud and abuse.

Amendment opponents said the amendment goes too far and is another example of welfare opponents assuming every applicant is trying to commit fraud. They argued that it is more than sufficient and fair to require the applicant to sign, under the penalties of perjury, a list of the potential employers, the date of contact and the name and telephone number of the person with whom the applicant spoke. Some noted that oftentimes an applicant applies over the phone or online and never even fills out an application.

A Yes vote is for the amendment that would require the recipient to provide copies of each job application. A No vote is against the amendment.

Rep. Paul Brodeur No

Rep. Leah Cole Yes

Rep. Michael Costello No

Rep. Diana DiZoglio No

Rep. Paul Donato Didnt Vote

Rep. James Dwyer Yes

Rep. Lori Ehrlich No

Rep. Christopher Fallon No

Rep. Robert Fennell No

Rep. Ann-Margaret Ferrante No

Rep. Bradford Hill Didnt Vote

Rep. Bradley Jones Yes

Rep. John Keenan No

Rep. Jason Lewis No

Rep. James Lyons Yes

Rep. Wayne Matewsky No

Rep. Leonard Mirra Yes

Rep. Jerald Parisella No

Rep. Kathi-Anne Reinstein No

Rep. Carl Sciortino No

Rep. Theodore Speliotis No

Rep. Steven Walsh No

Rep. Donald Wong Yes

ALSO UP ON BEACON HILL

WHAT IF A CANDIDATE DIES (H 3422) The House gave initial approval to a bill that would allow votes for a candidate to count if he or she wins his or her party nomination in a primary, but dies before the general election. Supporters said an old Supreme Judicial Court ruling says that votes cast for a deceased candidate do not count. That has led to the possibility that a write-in candidate who gets a handful of votes could win the election. The bill would allow the deceased candidates votes to count, and then the seat would be considered vacant and filled by a special election.

BAD DRIVER POINTS (H 897) The Committee on Financial Services held a hearing on legislation that would reduce from five years to three years the amount of time a moving motor vehicle violation stays on a drivers record and causes higher insurance rates.

PUBLIC HEALTH COMMITTEE The Committee on Public Health held a hearing last week. Dozens of bills were on the agenda including the following:

INSPECT DOCS OFFICE (H 1979) Allows the state to inspect any doctors office without notice, during regular business hours, to verify that the office is clean and sanitary, has all necessary equipment and is properly maintaining patient records.

ACCESS BY DISABLED (H 2057) Requires that medical equipment be accessible and usable by individuals with disabilities, including examination tables and chairs, weight scales, mammography equipment, X-ray machines and any other equipment commonly used for diagnostic purposes.

LEGIBLE PRESCRIPTIONS (H 2090) Designed to avoid problems caused by the poor handwriting of some doctors, this measure prohibits pharmacies from filling any prescription unless it has been hand printed, typed or electronically generated.

VIDEOTAPE SURGERY (H 2105) Allows any patient undergoing surgery to privately pay for a licensed medical videographer to tape the patients surgery. The measure is named Leonas Law in memory of Leona Trabucco, who died in 2000 during hip surgery at Brigham and Womens Hospital.

LIMIT NEW DOCTORS HOURS OF WORK (S 1167) Creates an advisory council to study and make recommendations about limiting the work hours of resident physicians in Massachusetts hospitals.

PROVIDE TRANSPORTATION (S 1083) Requires hospitals and other health care facilities to provide transportation home via taxi, car or bus for all resident physicians, medical students and other health care providers who have worked for more than 16 consecutive hours and judge themselves to be too fatigued to drive safely.

HOW LONG WAS LAST WEEKS SESSION? During the week of Nov. 4-8. The House met for a total of 12 hours and three minutes while the Senate met for a total of three hours and 45 minutes.

Copyright 2013 Beacon Hill Roll Call. All Rights Reserved. Bob Katzen welcomes feedback at bob@beaconhillrollcall.com

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South Carolina residents can sign up today credit monitoring

The state recently awarded a contract to CSIdentify Corporation to continue credit monitoring and identification protection services for the residents and businesses affected by the data breach.

For those whose personal information was hacked, eligibility exists up to one year to receive CSIDs Identity Protection coverage.

SC Sen. Tom Young, R-Aiken, said the most important thing individuals need to do is simply sign up.

I think the most important thing that people need to understand is that they have to be proactive in signing up beginning (today), Young said. They can sign up either through the Internet on the website or by calling the telephone number. Just because they did it last year with Experian, doesnt mean they will automatically be protected with the new company.

The state will pay $8.5 million for the first year of the CSID contract with the option to renew for four additional one-year periods at the states discretion. The Experian contract the past year was for $12 million.

Individuals who signed up last year with Experian must also sign up again with CSID because the service will not transfer between the companies.

Individuals can renew with Experian for 99 cents per month if they so choose.

Identity protection includes credit monitoring, child monitoring, CyberAgent, court records and noncredit loans. A change of address, sex offender reports, Social Security number trace, identity theft insurance and identity restoration will also be covered.

Coverage is available for eligible taxpayers, adults 18 years of age and older, as well eligible adult dependents.

Businesses are also eligible for protection if they filed taxes within the state between 1998 and 2012. The service helps a business watch for data compromise and helps prevent and mitigate data breach. For those who wish to purchase their own protection service, a portion deduction can come from the cost from the state income taxes.

Everyone just needs to know they need to sign up because if they dont, they wont be protected by the service, Young said.

For more information on signing up, visit www.scidprotection.com or call 855-880-2743.

Maayan Schechter is the city beat reporter with Aiken Standard. An Atlanta native, she has a mass communications-journalism degree from the University of North Carolina Asheville.

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Payday Loans still a debt trap by design, consumers lose $3.4B in fees each year

The newest chapters of CRL’s research series, The State of Lending in America, covering payday loans find these products continue to create a cycle of debt in which borrowers take out a loan, ostensibly pay it back, and then run out of money and have to take out numerous additional loans to afford their living expenses. In fact, even though payday loans are marketed as a convenient way to handle unexpected emergencies, the vast majority of borrowers use the loans for everyday expenses. Borrowers across the country pay more than $3.4B in fees. Further, more than two-thirds of these fees – at least $2.6B – are the direct result of payday loan “churning” or rapid and successive re-borrowing.

Any of five factors can create borrower problems and can lead to payday lending’s debt treadmill:

1. Lack of underwriting for affordability – the lending model relies on borrowers’ inability to afford their loans;

2. High fees – often at an annual percentage rates of 400 percent or more;

3. Short-term due dates – usually a borrower’s next payday, generally around two weeks;

4. Single, balloon payment – the entire principal and related fees are due at the same time; and

5. Collateral in the form of a post-dated check or access to a bank account – the lender is first in line to be repaid, leaving many borrowers short of funds for living expenses

After years of consumer-focused reforms, 22 states, including the District of Columbia have enacted laws to curb or eliminate payday’s debt trap. In recent years, states with varying locales and demographics have rejected payday lending’s triple digit rates and imposed rate caps: Arizona, Montana, and Ohio. In 2006 enactment of the Military Lending Act created a 36 percent rate limit and prohibited the holding of a post-dated check from active-duty military and their families.

Now, more payday-related developments are occurring at the federal level.

Two regulators, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the Office of the Comptroller, are developing guidance to crack down on payday lending by the banks they supervise. Additionally, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) recently issued a comprehensive report that reviewed more than 15 million accounts. CFPB is considering rules to address its own finding that the typical borrower is indebted for nearly 200 days in a year.

Even so, today 29 states still have no substantive restriction on payday lending.

Payday lenders in just 10 states collect 83 percent of all fees. Nationwide, there are 16,341 store locations; but only nine major operators control nearly 50 percent of these stores. Leading the list of states with the most payday lending activity are Texas and California followed by a host of Southern states including Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Tennessee.

In the area of bank payday lending, CRL found that:

o Bank payday borrowers are two times more likely to incur overdraft fees than are bank customers as a whole;

o More than one-quarter of bank payday borrowers are Social Security recipients; and

o Bank payday loans carry an annual percentage rate that averages 225-300 percent.

Clearly continued state and federal reforms are needed. For a nation that prides itself on freedom, predatory debt is simply un-American.

For more information on the new chapters, interested readers should visit CRL’s web at:

http://rspnsb.li/16pWoLB.

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Candidate withdraws from Snohomish race but is still on ballot

SNOHOMISH — City Councilman Derrick Burke has a challenger on the Nov. 5 election ballot, but that candidate is not actively seeking the councils Position 5 seat.In a Sept. 26 email to The Herald, Michael Whitney wrote that I have decided not to run for the Snohomish City Council for personal reasons. He wrote that he missed a deadline to withdraw from the race, so his name remains on the ballot. He declined to be interviewed about his decision.Burke was appointed to the council in 2010. A Snohomish resident since 1999, he owns Puget Sound Woodworking. The business in the citys downtown historic district teaches woodworking classes and offers custom woodworking and other services.The 43-year-old incumbent has a masters degree in business administration from the University of Washington Bothell. He has worked in the biotechnology field, environmental resource consulting and financial advising.A father of two, Burke said he has volunteered on projects for the Snohomish Parks Foundation and served as a liaison to the citys Public Safety Committee and Historic Downtown Snohomish.Its a very well run city, he said. Burke said that as a business owner, he understands the need for economic development. I also think there have to be checks. How much is too much economic development? he said.In April, Burke joined in the 6-0 City Council vote to reject a Seattle developers plan to build very small apartments, called apodments, in a vacant building near Snohomish High School. He does not oppose a more recent plan for another apartment development in downtown Snohomish. We really need to create housing for people of all income levels, he said.Burke said he is incredibly proud of our park system and sees Snohomish with a future that is very bright.Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460; jmuhlstein@heraldnet.com.

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Overdraft ‘can cost you as much as taking payday loan’

Consumer campaigners are urging stronger action to clean up the credit market after finding that going overdrawn with your bank can be as expensive as using a payday lender.

The payday lending industry, which will come under tougher regulation next year, has come under heavy criticism in recent months for encouraging people to roll over their debts so that the original cost balloons.

But new research from consumer group Which? found that going overdrawn can be as “eye-wateringly” expensive as taking a payday loan and, in a similar way to rolling over a payday loan, people can rack up “sky high” default charges if they slip into an unauthorised overdraft.

Which? found that borrowing £100 for 31 days will cost £30 with a Halifax authorised overdraft or £20 with some Santander accounts, while borrowing the same amount for around a month with a payday loan firm such as Quickquid or Wonga costs between £20 and £37.

For consumers using the Halifax Reward current account and the Santander Everyday Account it can cost £100 in charges for going £100 into an unauthorised overdraft for a month, Which? said.

Which? wants to see new regulator the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), which will oversee the consumer credit market from next April, cracking down on poor lending and unscrupulous practices across the market.

The FCA recently announced a raft of measures it plans to impose to improve the whole consumer credit market, including limiting the number of times payday ?lenders are allowed to roll over loans to two and forcing them to put “risk warnings” on their advertising.

Before a payday firm agrees to roll a loan over, it will have to explain to its customer how the costs will escalate and give free debt advice under the FCA’s plans.

The £2bn sector is currently under investigation by the Competition Commission, which is due to give its findings next year.

Which? is calling for the FCA to ban excessive charges across the whole consumer credit market so that default charges reflect lenders actual costs. It also wants to see a cap on default charges.

It is urging tougher affordability checks and wants an end to lenders making unsolicited increases to people’s credit limits.

The price of high-cost credit should be clearly displayed as pounds borrowed per £100 over 30 days, Which? said.

It wants to hear from consumers about their experiences of using credit, so it can share them with the FCA, which is consulting on its plans to clamp down on the sector.

Richard Lloyd, Which? executive director, said: “The Government and regulators have rightly focused on the scandal of payday lending, but they must not lose sight of the urgent need to clean up the whole of the credit market.

“Consumers need the credit market to work competitively. It’s time to clamp down on excessive charges and irresponsible lending, and to make sure borrowers are being treated fairly whatever form of credit they’re using.”

Anthony Browne, British Bankers’ Association chief executive, said overdraft charges for customers had fallen “significantly” in recent years.

He said: “The Office of Fair Trading estimates that customers are now up to £1bn better off due to reductions in these fees.

“The higher figures quoted by Which? are based on extreme examples of unauthorised overdrafts. This is not a form of borrowing we would ever recommend.”

He said consumers should take advantage of new rules recently introduced to make current ?account switching easier to choose an account that suits their needs.

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New round of enrollment for free credit monitoring begins this month

ColaDaily.com is your source for free news and information in Columbia and the Midlands.

The South Carolina Department of Revenue is urging residents to take advantage of another free year of credit monitoring as time on last years service is coming to a close. The new round of enrollment is now open to taxpayers.

The move is the result of the large-scale cyber attack on the Department of Revenue in 2012 that exposed 3.6 million Social Security numbers and 387,000 credit and debit card numbers.

In September, the DOR asked taxpayers to wait before they enrolled in a second year of credit protection with Experian. Officials were in the midst of reviewing bids from vendors, and Experian didnt put in a bid to work with the state again. Residents would have to pay to remain with Experian, while the new vendors service is free of charge.

It is our goal to protect the private information of South Carolina citizens, and we want to ensure that individuals are aware of the state provided credit and identity theft protection available for a second year, DOR Director Bill Blume said in a news release.

CSIdentity Corporation, a Texas-based identity protection company, won the bid in September to provide credit monitoring to eligible individuals. The company’s range of services includes credit monitoring from, online black market internet surveillance, monitoring of court records and pay day loans, change of address alerts, identity theft insurance and identity restoration.

According to the DOR, enrollment for up to one year of free identity and credit protection coverage with CSID will remain open until Oct. 1, 2014. People whose information was potentially compromised in last years security breach can sign up even if their current contract with Experian is ongoing.

Eligible individuals are encouraged to enroll with this state-provided service to take advantage of the comprehensive array of identity and credit protections provided. CSID has a dedicated team working to ensure an overall successful enrollment process for the taxpayers of South Carolina, Blume said.

To get started, visit www.scidprotection.com or call 855-880-2743.

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