Tag Archives: health

Major First Amendment victory in Docs v. Glocks case – Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF) (press release) (blog)

Posted: February 18, 2017 at 3:55 am

Yesterday, the 11th Circuit issued its en banc opinions in Wollschlaeger v. Gov. of the State of Florida, AKAthe Docs v. Glocks case. As previously discussed here, here, and here, the case concerns whether Florida can prohibit doctors from asking their patients about their gun ownership or possession unless the question is directly relevant to a patients care. The issue is controversial because many doctors, especially pediatricians, often routinely ask patients (or their parents) questions about potential hazards in the home, be it swimming pools, poisons, or guns.

The primary legal issue before the 11th Circuit was whether the Florida law restricted speech based on its content and the speaker, and if so, what level of scrutiny should be applied to determine if the restriction is unconstitutional. Last year, PLF filed an amicus brief in the case arguing that all content-based speech restrictions should receive strict scrutiny, regardless of whether the speech is made in a professional setting. The second issue in the case (which PLF does not take a position on) concerned the anti-discrimination provision of the law. The Court upheld that provision narrowly: a move that even the doctors were amenable to,as indicated during oral argument.

In the first of its majority opinions*, the Court easily determined that the challenged law restricted speech based on its content and speaker. Next, the Court declined to apply deferential review under the professional speech doctrine. As discussed at length in PLFs brief, the professional speech doctrine is unprincipled and unsupported by a majority of the Supreme Court, so the 11th Circuits rejection of that standard in this case is most welcome. Finally, applying the U.S. Supreme Courts 2011 decision inSorrell v. IMS Health,the Court held that the law could not survive heightened scrutiny, so it declined to decide whether strict scrutiny was warranted. In short, the Court thoroughly dismantled the States justifications for the speech-restricting provisions, generally holding that the State offered insufficient actual evidence to justify restricting the speech of doctors.

There are also some additional things worth mentioning from the two concurring opinions. The first concurrence, written by Judge Wilson, would have applied strict scrutiny to strike down the speech-restricting portions of the law. This is particularly noteworthy because Judge Wilson was on the original panel that wrote three separate opinions before the case was taken en banc. Judge Wilson penned dissents to all three of those opinions, but with his concurrence yesterday he announced for the first time his conclusion that strict scrutiny is appropriate in light of the Supreme Courts 2015 decision in Reed v. Town of Gilbert.Second, the concurrence written by Judge William Pryor and joined by Judge Hull, reiterates that this case does not create a clash between the First and Second Amendments. While Docs v. Glocks is certainly catchy, it never accurately described the legal and constitutional issues presented in the case.

Even though the 11th Circuit did not go on to apply strict scrutiny to content- and speaker-based speech restrictions in a professional context, this case is certainly a strong win for the vindication of the right to free speech protected under the First Amendment. Doctors and speech advocates should certainly celebrate that.

*With an unusual move, the Court issued two majority opinions. I consider the opinion of Judge Jordan to be the primary opinion, though, and in any event Judge Jordans opinion is the one that announces the bulk of the Courts opinion on the First Amendment questions of interest to PLF.

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Major First Amendment victory in Docs v. Glocks case – Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF) (press release) (blog)

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Rand Paul Joins Freedom Caucus to Kick Off Conservative Obamacare Replacement Drive – Breitbart News

Posted: February 17, 2017 at 1:45 am

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This is a big, big day for conservative Republicans, said Paul, who was flanked by members of the House Freedom Caucus.

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The senator, who has been a physician and eye surgeon for more than two decades, said that for the last six years, Republicans have promised voters that they would repeal and replace Obamacare.

In 2010, Republicans won the House of Representatives; and in 2014, Republicans won the Senate; and in 2016, Republicans won the White Houseall based on that promise to unwind President Barack Obamas landmark health care reform legislation, he said.We owe this to the conservatives across the country to repealto completely repeal Obamacare.

Former South Carolina governor Rep. Mark Sanford (R.-S.C.)said he was proud to offer the House companion bill to the 180-page Obamacare replacement bill written by Paul.

I have long admired his stance toward liberty and individual freedom, and to maximizing both, Sanford said.I particularly like the way hes taken his real life experience as a physician and applied them to bring liberty to ultimately patients and citizens alike across this country in terms of what comes next in health care.

Paul said it is true that there are problems caused by Obamacare, but there were real problems in the healthcare industry before Obamacare that still need to be addressed.

We are concerned about how to provide the most insurance at the least amount of cost, and that is what our replacement bill does, he said.

For Paul the three top improvements in the bill are that it legalizes the sale of inexpensive insurance, expands the Health Savings Accounts which allow individuals to set aside money in tax-protected accounts for medical expenses, and allows Americans to band together in health insurance associations to create large pools of buyers for the purposes of driving down costs, he said.

The 11 million people buying insurance in the individual markets would be empowered with the opportunity to join one of these associations, he said.

Chairman of the House Freedom Caucus Rep. Mark Meadows (R.-N.C.) told reporters that the HFC fully supports the Paul-Sanford bill along with immediate repeal along the same lines as the 2015 Obamacare repeal bill that passed the House and Senate in 2015.

Meadows said that the 2015 repeal, which was completed through the same budget reconciliation process the current repeal is now going through along with the Paul-Sanford bill withits two-year transition period will bring about the repeal and replace of Obamacare, freeing Congress to tackle other projects and problems.

Because the repeal bill is part of the fiscal year 2017 budget, Congress cannot begin work on the fiscal year 2018 budget with 2017 unresolved, he said.

It would be our preference to have a vote on this replacement within days of our repeal vote, he said.

In January, while Obama was still in office, both houses of Congress voted to begin the repeal process with the next step of having relevant committees produce pieces of each chambers version. Bills using the budget track are privileged and do not need a 60-vote majority to end debate. Republicans hold a 52-to-48 majority in the Senate, making it unlikely to pass repeal through the regular order track.

The disadvantage to the budget track is that it is restricted to the taxes, penalties, and subsidies in the PPACA legislation. This means there are going to be three steps to unwind Obamacare. After repealing the financial underpinnings of the legislation, Congress would still need to address the rules, regulations, and administrative infrastructure left untouched by the budget bill. Finally, Congress needs to decide if there will be a replacement program or will it just allow the healthcare system into freefall.

Meadows said that another replacement proposed by Sen. Bill Cassidy (R.-La.) and Sen. Susan Collins (R.-Maine) is not a serious replacement because it leaves too much of the PPACA intact.

The North Carolina congressman said he welcomes all bills and all ideas, but Capitol Hill conservatives cannot support Cassidy-Collins.

The speculation on what a replacement will look like has created an unnecessary climate of anxiety in this discussion, he said.I commend Senator Paul and Representative Sanford for releasing a plan so that we can move toward debating the issues at hand and ultimately keeping our promises to the people.

The former HFC Rep. Jim Jordan (R.-Ohio) said he is not worried about the political backlash from repealing Obamacare, because Republicans campaigned against it for the last three election cycles and won.

Americans expect Republicans to repeal Obamacare, he said. Everything they were told about this law turned out to be false.

The House Freedom Caucus has two official positions on Obamacare, he said. The first is what is in process now, the repeal through the budget reconciliation track, just as Congress passed it in 2015. Second, pass a replacement bill that empowers patients and doctors not Washington.

Sanford said the Affordable Care Act was well-intended, but it created some of its own problems.

It had the government deciding what was essential, whether you or your family members thought the same, he said. It had the government setting up non-insurance insurance, which worked against all the math.

A major fault in the Obamacare legislation is its failure to decouple health insurance from employment, he said.This coupling is a legacy of the wage and price controls from World War II, which were then codified in 1948.

During the war, employers were under pressure to pay higher wages for workers without pushing the workers into a higher tax bracket nor violating wage caps. Kaiser Shipyards, which built the Liberty Ships, got around these hurdles by offering subsidized health insurance, which functioned as tax-free income for the workers. Kaiser Permanente is a direct descendent of this innovation, which along with the Health Maintenance Organization, or HMO, became the routine practice in America.

The problem with this model, which Congress encouraged with tax deductions for company-based health plans, was that when a worker changed jobs, they changed insurance companies, and if the worker had a pre-existing condition, they either were locked into their current job or had to go without coverage for the pre-existing condition at the new job and its plan.

Sanford said individuals buying insurance through an association would be freed from job-lock and would be able to continue insurance with the same insurance company that covered a condition acquired with that company.

Given all the lessons learned from Obamacare, right now it the moment to fix the health care crisis, he said.

It is an inflection point, he said. This is about: Where do we go next?

Watch Wednesdays press conference with Sen. Rand Paul (R.-Ky.) andmembers of the House Freedom Caucus:

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Black Caribbean Immigrants In The US Today 10 Things You Should Know This Black History Month – News Americas Now Caribbean And Latin America Daily…

Posted: at 1:42 am

Black Caribbean immigrants play mas at the annual West Indian Day Carnival in Brooklyn, NY. (Hayden Roger Celestin image)

By NAN Staff Writer

News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. Feb. 17, 2017: There is no denying that black immigrants from the Caribbean are a significant part of the African-American and black population in the United States today. Here are 10 facts you should know about this dynamic bloc this Black History Month:

1: Black immigrants from the Caribbean make up 50 percent of all foreign-born blacks living in the United States today according to the Pew Research Center and are estimated at 1.7 million.

2: Jamaican-born black immigrants make up the largest percentage of foreign born blacks in the U.S, with a conservative estimate of about 682,000 Black immigrants born or 18 percent of the national total of all foreign-born blacks.

3: Black immigrants from the Caribbean account for an estimated 8.7 percent of the entire black population in the U.S. today, according to data from the American Community Survey analyzed by Pew.

4: Researchers, however, have found that black Caribbean immigrants are more likely to assert an ethnic identity as West Indian or Jamaican, for example, rather than a racial identity as a black American.

5: Most black Caribbean immigrants admitted into the U.S. are less likely to be undocumented and are mostly legally admitted based on family ties and family sponsorship, according to the Pew Hispanic Center.

6: Black Caribbean immigrants naturalize at a higher share than all other immigrants in the U.S. and are more likely to be U.S. citizens and less likely to be refugees or asylees or benefit from the diversity visa lottery.

7: Black Caribbean immigrants are most likely to be English proficient than other immigrants, according to Kevin Thomas of the Pennsylvania State University in A Demographic Profile of Black Caribbean Immigrants in the United States.

8: Today, some 813,000 children under the age of 10 have parents who are Black immigrants from the Caribbean, according to the Migration Policy Center.

9: English-speaking Black Caribbean immigrants earn more than Black African immigrants according to Thomas.

10: A new study from the New York City Department of Health, which examined health discrepancies among black New Yorkers, found that Caribbean immigrants tend to have fewer health problems like asthma and obesity than American-born blacks. Further, some 53 percent of American blacks labeled themselves as drinkers, compared with only 44 percent of Caribbean nationals.

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New shark of the Caribbean | Global Ideas | DW.COM | 15.02.2017 – Deutsche Welle

Posted: at 1:42 am

The Fisheries Department of Belize and researchers with the Florida International University (FIU) registered their discovery of a previously unknown species of Sphyrna or hammerhead shark this week.

They say its range is relatively small and that it needs clean waters to survive, which is indicative of the health of the 300 kilometer long Belize Barrier reef -the longest in the northern hemisphere – where it was found.

Philipp Kanstinger, marine conservation expert with WWF Germany says the find underscores the importance of the reef as a biodiversity hotspot, and signals the need for action.

“The WWF is working with other partners to ensure this valuable location will be preserved in the future,” he said in a press release.

The organization isalso calling on the government of Belizeto be actively involved in protectingthe marine paradise, which is home to more than 500 species of fish, over 100 types of coral as well as a rich diversity of flora.

Sharks, dolphins, sea turtles,manta rays and the American marine crocodileare also among the wildlife known to swim in those parts.

Inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996, the reef is comprised of seven marine protected areas. But the ecosystem has come under threat in recent years as thousands of hectares of mangrove forest have been destroyed in the name of coastal and industrial development. In 2009, the destruction prompted UNESCO to put the site on its endangered list.

Blame it on Jaws or blame it on the fact that sharks do have rather a lot of sharp teeth, fact is, many humans have a fear of sharks as deep as the waters in which they swim. Any expert will tell you, we kill by far more of these great fish a year than they do us. So should we really be scared?

There are five species of reef shark, of which this is one. Feasting on crustaceans and fish alike, they are the top predator in the fragile ecosystem from which they take their name. They are no strangers to divers either, and have been known to attack when they feel threatened.

There are more than 250 recorded species of shark in the waters around our planet. They range in size and ferocity. The sand tiger shark weighs up to 159 kilos and can reach a length of 3.2 meters. They are big eaters, have a mouth full of frightening looking teeth, but are generally regarded as being docile and unlikely to attack humans unless provoked to do so.

Though it is impossible to know exactly how many sharks are killed annually for their fins, some estimates put the number around 100 million. Finning, as the practice is known, entails the removal of the fin while the shark is alive. The animals are then cast back into the sea where if not dead already, they succumb to a painful end. The fins are used to make soup, which costs up to $100 a bowl.

Recent research revealed that Greenland sharks can live to the extraordinarily ripe old age of 400. These predators have a healthy appetite, but have never been known to go for humans. They like cold waters, through which they move slowly. And that is not the only thing they do at a leisurly pace – they don’t even reach sexual maturity until they are around 150.

…it will hurt you. At 18 meters, whale sharks are the longest species in the family, and indeed the biggest fish in the sea. At that rate, dinner should be theirs for the picking, but their penchant is for plankton. Good news for all the other creatures in the sea. But whale sharks are at risk. Not only are they fished for their fins, oil and meat, but are often hit by eco-tourism boats.

Said to be the best researched sharks, the lemon species is considered non-agressive. To date there have been no recorded incidents of a human fatality as a result of a lemon shark attack. They are social creatures that move in groups, where they rarely display aggressive behavior to each other.

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New shark of the Caribbean | Global Ideas | DW.COM | 15.02.2017 – Deutsche Welle

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Microsoft Takes Another Crack at Health Care, This Time With Cloud, AI and Chatbots – Bloomberg

Posted: at 1:22 am

Microsoft Corp. is trying again in health care, betting its prowess in cloud services and artificial-intelligence can helpit expand in a market that’s been notoriously hard for technology companies.

A new initiative called Healthcare NExT will combine work from existing industry players andMicrosoft’s Research and AIunits to help doctors reduce data entry tasks, triage sick patients more efficiently and ease outpatient care.

“I want to bring our research capabilities and our hyper-scale cloud to bear so our partners can have huge success in the health-care world,” said Peter Lee, a Microsoft Research vice president who heads Healthcare NExT.

Microsoft has tried to expand in health care before, with mixed results. It had a Health Solutions Group for many years, but combined that into a joint venture with General Electric Co. Last year, it sold its stake to GE.

Microsoft unveiled the new effort ahead of the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society conference next week.

The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and Microsoft want to use things like speech and natural language recognition technology to replace manual data entry by doctors, Lee said.

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There’s also a new Microsoft project called HealthVault Insights that works with fitness bands, Bluetooth scales and other connected devices to make sure patients stick to their care plan when they leave the hospital or doctor’s office.

Many companies, like International Business Machines Corp. and AlphabetInc.’s Verily, are developing similar technology. However, the healthcare industry has been slow to adopt essential enabling technologylike electronic records. Entrenched, legacysystems and rigorous regulation are also obstacles, said Malay Gandhi, co-founder ofEnsemble Labs, which invests in health-care startups.

“The industry wasn’t built as a tech-enabled industry,” he said. Some large tech companies “aretrying to sprinkle AI or machine learning over the top of existing systems and I view that as misguided. We might need to rebuild these businesses with tech at the center.”

Lee found the space daunting when Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Satya Nadella asked him to take it on.

“At first it felt like he threw me into the middle of the Pacific Ocean and asked me to find land and you see others swimming around aimlessly and beneath you people are drowning,” Lee said. “Big technology firms have tried this and failed.”

This time, Microsoft aims to support existing health-care organizationswith cloud services and AI software, rather than launch company-branded products that may compete with existing industry players, he said.

“We know health care will become more patient-focused, more cloud-based and that AI will make health care more data-driven. We just dont know when and and how it will come together,” he said “But we can position Microsoft to be there when all these changes happen.”

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Microsoft Takes Another Crack at Health Care, This Time With Cloud, AI and Chatbots – Bloomberg

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Think Tank: Will AI Save Humanity? – WWD

Posted: at 1:22 am

There is a lot of fear surrounding artificial intelligence. Some are related to the horror perpetuated in dystopian sci-fi films while others have deep concerns over the impact on the job market.

But I see the adaptation of AI as being just as significant as the discovery of fire or the first domestication of crops and animals. We no longer need so much time spent on X, therefore we can evolve to Y.

It will be an evolutionary process that is simply too hard to fathom now.

Here, I present five ways that AI will not only make our lives better, but make us better human beings too.

1. AI will allow us to be more human

How many of us have sat at a computer and felt more like an appendage to the machine than a human using a tool? Ill admit I have questioned quite a few times in my life whether the standard desk job was natural or proper for a human. Over the next year or two we will see AI sweeping in and removing the machine-like functions from our day-to-day jobs. Suddenly, humans will be challenged to focus on the more human side of our capabilities things like creativity, strategy and inspiration.

In fact, it will be interesting to see a shift where parents start urging their children to move into more creative fields in order to secure safe jobs. Technical fields will of course still exist, but those gifted individuals will also be challenged to use their know-how creatively or in new ways, producing even more advanced use cases.

2. AI will make us more aware

Many industries have been drowning in data. We have become experts on collecting and storing figures, but have fallen short on truly utilizing our databases at scale and In real-time. AI comes in and suddenly we have years of data turned into easy to communicate, actionable insights and even auto-execution in things like digital marketing. We went from flying blind to being perfectly aware of our reality.

For the fashion industry, this means our marketing initiatives will have a higher success rate, but for things like the medical world, environmental studies etc. the impact is more powerful. What if a machine was monitoring our health and could immediately be aware of our ailment and even immediately administer the cure? What if this reduced costs and medical misdiagnosis? What if this freed up the medical community to focus on more research and faster, better treatments?

3. AI will make us more genuine

In a future where AI acts as a partner to help us become more aware of the truth and more aware of reality, it will be more and more difficult for disinterest to exist in the work place. Humans will need to move into disciplines they genuinely connect with and are passionate about in order to remain relevant professionally. Why? Well the machine-like jobs will begin to disappear, data will be real-timeand things will constantly be evolving, so in order to stay on top of the game there will need to be a self-taught component.

It will be hard to fake the level of interest needed to meaningfully contribute at that point. This may be a hard adjustment for some, but there is already an undercurrent, or an intuitive feeling that this shift is taking place. Most of us are already reaching for a more genuine existence when we think of our careers.

4. AI will free up our collective brain power

AI is ultimately going to replace a lot of our machine-like tasks, therefore freeing up our collective time. This time will naturally need to be invested elsewhere. Historically, when shifts like this have happened across cultures we witness advancements in arts and technology. I do not think that this wave will be different, though this new industrial revolution will not be isolated to one country or culture, but in many ways, will be global.

This is the first time such a thing has happened at such as scale. Will this shift inspire a global wave of introspection? Could we be on the brink of a global renaissance?

5. AI will allow us to overcome our most pressing issues

All of which brings us to four simple words: our world will evolve. Just like our ancestors moving from hunter-gatherers into more permanent settlements, we are now moving into a new organizational structure where global, real-time data is at our fingertips.

Our most talented minds will be able to work more quickly and focus on things at a higher level. Are we witnessing the next major step in human evolution? Will we embrace our ability to be more aware, more genuine and ultimately more connected? I can only think that, if we do, we will see some incredible things in our lifetime.

If we can overcome fears and anxieties, we can pull together artificial intelligence and human intelligence that could overcome any global obstacle. Whether it is climate change, disease or poverty, we can find a solution together. More than ever, for the human race, anything is now possible.

Courtney Connell is the marketing director at luxury lingerie brand Cosabella, where she is working to change the brandsdirect-to-consumer and wholesale efforts with artificial intelligence.

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Two Ball Aerospace-Built Instruments Headed for Space Station – Yahoo Finance

Posted: at 12:54 am

BOULDER, Colo., Feb. 16, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — Two Ball Aerospace-built payloads will soon blast off toward the International Space Station aboard a SpaceX Dragon spacecraft. Scheduled for a February 18 launch from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, the two Ball instruments will play critical roles in the International Space Station’s scientific and environmental observations and technical operations.

“Ball has a deep legacy in creating instruments and spacecraft for NASA, from helping to measure ozone levels to exploring the farthest reaches of our solar system and beyond,” said Jim Oschmann, Ball Aerospace’s vice president and general manager, civil space business unit. “We are proud to support the ongoing operations of the International Space Station and to further scientific understanding of how the ozone layer affects life on Earth.”

Ball built the Stratospheric Aerosol and Gas Experiment III on the International Space Station, also known as SAGE III on ISS, and designed and built the Vision Navigation Sensor (VNS) for Raven, a technology demonstration that will test autonomous rendezvous capability for future uses with unmanned vehicles in space and on Earth.

SAGE III on ISS, which was designed at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, is a key part of NASA’s mission to provide crucial, long-term measurements that will help determine the health of the ozone layer. The heart of the SAGE III on ISS instrument is the Ball-built spectrometer, which allows scientists to measure the quantity of atmospheric gases such as ozone, nitrogen dioxide, water vapor and aerosols in the Earth’s atmosphere. Ball built three SAGE III instruments dating back to the selection as prime contractor in November 1989 by NASA Langley. Once docked with the ISS, the SAGE III payload will collect measurements through each sunrise and sunset from its orbit approximately 450 kilometers above the Earth’s surface.

Ball’s deep heritage with ozone mapping and monitoring extends more than 40 years. Beginning in the 1970s, Ball built a number of stratospheric aerosol instruments for NASA demonstrating the ability to measure ozone from space, and went on to build nine SBUV/2 instruments that helped discover the ozone hole above Antarctica in 1987 and which have operated since 1984. More recently, Ball designed and built the Ozone Mapping and Profiler Suite (OMPS) currently flying on NOAA’s Suomi-NPP operational environmental satellite, and will deliver four additional OMPS units for the JPSS series of satellites beginning Fall 2017 and continuing through the early 2030s.

Raven is a technology demonstration mission led by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center to advance the state-of-the-art in rendezvous, proximity operations, and docking. Raven includes visible cameras, an infrared camera and a flash LIDAR, called the Vision Navigation Sensor (VNS). In building and designing the VNS, Ball has provided Raven with its “eyes,” which will watch vehicles approach and depart the ISS.

Ball Aerospace pioneers discoveries that enable our customers to perform beyond expectation and protect what matters most. We create innovative space solutions, enable more accurate weather forecasts, drive insightful observations of our planet, deliver actionable data and intelligence, and ensure those who defend our freedom go forward bravely and return home safely. For more information, visit http://www.ball.com/aerospace or connect with us on Facebook or Twitter.

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Ball Corporation supplies innovative, sustainable packaging solutions for beverage, food and household products customers, as well as aerospace and other technologies and services primarily for the U.S. government. Ball Corporation and its subsidiaries employ 18,450 people worldwide and 2016 net sales were $9.1 billion. For more information, visit http://www.ball.com, or connect with us on Facebook or Twitter.

Forward-Looking StatementsThis release contains “forward-looking” statements concerning future events and financial performance. Words such as “expects,” “anticipates,” “estimates,” “believes,” “targets,” “likely” and similar expressions typically identify forward-looking statements, which are generally any statements other than statements of historical fact. Such statements are based on current expectations or views of the future and are subject to risks and uncertainties, which could cause actual results or events to differ materially from those expressed or implied. You should therefore not place undue reliance upon any forward-looking statements and any of such statements should be read in conjunction with, and, qualified in their entirety by, the cautionary statements referenced below. The company undertakes no obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise. Key factors, risks and uncertainties that could cause actual outcomes and results to be different are summarized in filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including Exhibit 99 in our Form 10-K, which are available on our website and at http://www.sec.gov. Additional factors that might affect: a) our packaging segments include product demand fluctuations; availability/cost of raw materials; competitive packaging, pricing and substitution; changes in climate and weather; competitive activity; failure to achieve synergies, productivity improvements or cost reductions; mandatory deposit or other restrictive packaging laws; customer and supplier consolidation, power and supply chain influence; changes in major customer or supplier contracts or a loss of a major customer or supplier; political instability and sanctions; currency controls; and changes in foreign exchange or tax rates; b) our aerospace segment include funding, authorization, availability and returns of government and commercial contracts; and delays, extensions and technical uncertainties affecting segment contracts; c) the company as a whole include those listed plus: changes in senior management; regulatory action or issues including tax, environmental, health and workplace safety, including U.S. FDA and other actions or public concerns affecting products filled in our containers, or chemicals or substances used in raw materials or in the manufacturing process; technological developments and innovations; litigation; strikes; labor cost changes; rates of return on assets of the company’s defined benefit retirement plans; pension changes; uncertainties surrounding geopolitical events and governmental policies both in the U.S. and in other countries, including the U.S. government elections, budget, sequestration and debt limit; reduced cash flow; ability to achieve cost-out initiatives and synergies; interest rates affecting our debt; and successful or unsuccessful acquisitions and divestitures, including with respect to the Rexam PLC acquisition and its integration, or the associated divestiture; the effect of the acquisition or the divestiture on our business relationships, operating results and business generally.

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Two Ball Aerospace-Built Instruments Headed for Space Station – Yahoo Finance

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How Silicon Valley Is Trying to Hack Its Way Into a Longer Life – TIME

Posted: at 12:49 am

Isabella Connelley and Bethan Mooney for TIMEIsabella Connelley and Bethan Mooney for TIME

The titans of the tech industry are known for their confidence that they can solve any problem–even, as it turns out, the one that’s defeated every other attempt so far. That’s why the most far-out strategies to cheat death are being tested in America’s playground for the young, deep-pocketed and brilliant: Silicon Valley.

Larry Ellison, the co-founder of Oracle, has given more than $330 million to research about aging and age-related diseases. Alphabet CEO and co-founder Larry Page launched Calico, a research company that targets ways to improve the human lifespan. Peter Thiel, co-founder of PayPal , has also invested millions in the cause, including over $7 million to the Methuselah Foundation, a nonprofit focused on life-extension therapies.

Rather than wait years for treatments to be approved by federal officials, many of them are testing ways to modify human biology that fall somewhere on the spectrum between science and entrepreneurialism. It’s called biohacking, and it’s one of the biggest things happening in the Bay Area.

“My goal is to live beyond 180 years,” says Dave Asprey, CEO of the supplement company Bulletproof, most famous for its popularization of coffee with organic butter mixed in. “I am doing every single thing I can to make it happen for myself.”

For some, that means daily pill regimens and fasting once a week. For others, it means having the blood of a young person pumped into their veins. “I see biohacking as a populist movement within health care,” says Geoffrey Woo, the CEO of a company called Nootrobox that sells supplements that promise to enhance brain function.

Many scientists are skeptical. Here’s what’s known–and what isn’t–about the latest front of humanity’s fight against the inevitable.

THE HACK: It may sound vampiresque, but 50 people in the U.S. have paid $8,000 for a transfusion of plasma from someone between the ages of 16 to 25. The study is run by Ambrosia, a company based in Monterey, Calif.

THE HYPE: The transfusions are based on the idea that two-liter injections of blood from the young may confer longevity benefits. Now, in the first known human clinical trial of its kind, Ambrosia is enlisting people willing to pay the hefty price to give it a shot.

Ambrosia’s founder, Jesse Karmazin, who has a medical degree but is not a licensed physician, says that after the transfusions, his team looks for changes in the recipient’s blood, including markers of inflammation, cholesterol and neuron growth. “When we are young, we produce a lot of factors that are important for cellular health,” he says. “As we get older, we don’t produce enough of these factors. Young blood gives your body a break to repair and regenerate itself.”

THE DEBATE: Scientists are roundly critical of this study, in large part because of the way it has been designed: there’s no control group, it’s costly to participate in, and the people enrolled don’t share key characteristics that make them appropriate candidates to be looked at side by side.

“What Ambrosia is doing is not useful and could be harmful,” says Irina Conboy, an associate professor of bioengineering at the University of California, Berkeley, who is also studying blood as a potential target for aging.

The concept stems from mouse research by Conboy and others. In 2005, she and her research partner and husband Michael Conboy showed that when older mice were surgically sutured to younger mice, their tissues got healthier. The takeaway was not that young blood is a cure-all, but some entrepreneurs ran with the idea. “The story has switched into a highly exaggerated search of young blood as a silver bullet to combat aging,” Irina says.

In a recent follow-up study, the Conboys developed a way to exchange the blood of young and old mice without surgically joining them. They found that old mice had some improvements but that young mice experienced rapid declines.

“The big result is that a single exchange hurts the young partner more than it helps the old partner,” says Michael. Ambrosia says plasma transfusions are safe and, if proven effective, should be made available.

THE BOTTOM LINE: Blood-based therapies for longevity could still be in our future, but the science isn’t there yet. “Donor blood can save lives, but using it to rejuvenate oneself is counterproductive,” says Irina.

THE HACK: If you could learn your risks for the most-feared diseases years before you’d actually get sick, would you? For the curious (and the brave), there’s Health Nucleus, an eight-hour, $25,000 head-to-toe, inside-and-out physical exam that includes whole-genome sequencing, high-tech scanning and early diagnostics. The goal is to paint a granular picture of an individual’s health and disease risk, which could then inform lifestyle and medical choices that keep you healthier, longer.

THE HYPE: Health Nucleus bills the elite program as “a genomic-powered clinical research project that has the potential to transform health care.” It was founded in 2015 by J. Craig Venter, the scientist widely credited with being one of the first to sequence the human genome, and it doesn’t come cheap. The Health Nucleus price tag is for a single session, during which patients get a sequencing of their genome and microbiome, a full-body MRI and an array of blood tests. When the results come in, doctors translate the findings into measurements that patients can understand–and advice they can act upon.

The Health Nucleus team believes this deluge of information can help doctors flag problems that could lead to premature death for their patients down the line. “Right now medicine is a reactionary system where if you get pain or other symptoms, then you go see your doctor and they see if they can fix it,” says Venter. “It’s totally different from trying to predict your risk or identifying problems early, before they cause fatal disease. If you have the right knowledge, you can save your life.”

THE DEBATE: Genome sequencing can indeed pinpoint genetic risk for some cancers and other diseases. And microbiome profiles–which look at the makeup of bacteria in the gut–can provide clues about the presence of some chronic diseases. Changes in cholesterol and blood sugar can also signal illness, though that kind of blood work is routinely tested by primary-care physicians.

About 400 people ages 30 to 95 have had the physical so far, and the test has identified significant medical problems in 40% of them, according to Venter, who says they’ve found cancer, aneurysms and heart disease in several people without symptoms.

Still, it raises questions among its skeptics about whether or not patients can actually use most (or any) of the data they receive. It also highlights some doctors’ concerns about the negative consequences of overscreening, where there is always a risk for false positive results. “When healthy people undergo scanning, it can backfire,” says Dr. Eric Topol, director of the Scripps Translational Science Institute, who has studied data-driven medicine. “It can find abnormalities and lead to more tests and procedures, many of them unnecessary. It can cause harm, not to mention anxiety and expense.”

This isn’t news to Venter. “The criticism people throw out is ‘How dare you screen healthy people?'” he says. “My response is, ‘How do you know they’re healthy?’ We are finding pretty good evidence that many are not.”

Topol says a rigorous study of the program by independent researchers could help settle the score. “If validated for benefit in this way,” Topol says, “my outlook would be more positive.”

THE BOTTOM LINE: Venter acknowledges that while costs may come down, the battery of tests is so far too expensive to be realistic for most. Whether it adds years to a person’s life is also an open question. For now, looking into the crystal ball requires a whole lot of money–and a comfort with uncertainty.

THE HACK: Biohackers in Silicon Valley and beyond have long experimented with the idea that a fistful of supplements, taken in just the right combination, may be the antidote to aging. Now, scientists and businesspeople are experimenting with the idea that just one or two pills, taken daily, may also get the job done.

THE HYPE: Many companies sell supplements with suspected longevity benefits, but one of the more talked-about new businesses is Elysium Health, co-founded by entrepreneurs and an MIT antiaging researcher named Leonard Guarente. Elysium has created a daily supplement, called Basis, that is “designed to support long-term well-being at the cellular level.” The pill isn’t marketed as a cure for aging, but Elysium Health cites evidence that the ingredients in the pill increase a compound called NAD+ that the company says is “essential to hundreds of biological processes that sustain human life.” Basis costs $50 for a monthly supply, and the company, which doesn’t release official sales numbers, says it has tens of thousands of customers so far.

THE DEBATE: Basis contains two main ingredients: nicotinamide riboside (NR) and pterostilbene, both of which have been shown in animal studies to fight aging at the cellular level. NR creates NAD+, which is believed to spur cell rejuvenation but which declines naturally in animals as they age. In a trial of 120 healthy people from ages 60 to 80, Guarente found that people taking Basis increased their NAD+ levels by 40%. “We are trying to be rigorously based on science,” he says.

Studies have shown that supplementing with the compound extends life in mice, but whether it increases human longevity is unknown. To find out if it does–and to request FDA approval for the pill’s clearance as a drug–long, rigorous clinical trials would need to be done. Instead, Elysium Health has released Basis as a supplement. That prevents the company from making specific medical claims about the pills–something that’s prohibited by law in the marketing of supplements.

“I think the pathway Guarente is targeting is interesting”–meaning the idea that increasing NAD+ may also slow aging–“but clinical evidence is crucial,” says Dr. Nir Barzilai, a researcher at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, who also studies drugs for aging.

Other scientists question the supplement approach altogether. “There is no evidence whatsoever that [Basis] produces health benefits in humans,” says Dr. Jeffrey Flier, former dean of Harvard Medical School. “Many molecules that have some apparent benefits in mice or other organisms have no benefit when studied in humans.”

The company has seven Nobel Prize–winning scientists on its advisory board, a fact that has also raised some eyebrows. Flier cautions that the company’s association with lauded researchers cannot replace the science required to prove that the supplements combat aging and are safe to use.

THE BOTTOM LINE: It’s too early to tell whether supplements can have any life-extending effects in humans.

THE HACK: These supplements, called nootropics or sometimes “smart drugs,” promise to sharpen your thinking and enhance mental abilities. Many common nootropic ingredients–including the sleep-enhancing hormone melatonin, energy-boosting B vitamins as well as caffeine–are already present in the foods and pills that people consume on a daily basis.

THE HYPE: Nootrobox, one company that makes nootropics, combines ingredients like B vitamins and caffeine with a bouquet of other ingredients to create capsules with different purposes. “Rise” pills claim to enhance memory and stamina, “Sprint” pills promise an immediate boost of clarity and energy, “Kado-3” pills offer “daily protection of brain and body,” and “Yawn” pills offer what you’d expect. A combo pack of 190 capsules retails for about $135.

Nootrobox is one of the more popular nootropic startups, with more than $2 million in funding from private investors like Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer and the venture-capital firm Andreessen Horowitz. “I think nootropics will become things we consume on a daily basis,” says the company’s CEO, Geoffrey Woo.

THE DEBATE: The ingredients in nootropic supplements have a “generally recognized as safe,” or GRAS, designation from the FDA, and some of them have been studied for their cognitive-enhancing effects. But the unique combinations in the pills themselves haven’t been proven to heighten people’s mental capacity. Nootrobox says it is currently conducting clinical trials of its products.

The FDA is notoriously hands-off when it comes to the regulation of dietary supplements. In the U.S., vitamins are not required to undergo rigorous testing for effectiveness or safety before they’re sold.

Many doctors are also skeptical that they make a difference in mental performance. “There’s probably a lot of placebo effect,” says Kimberly Urban, a postdoctoral research fellow at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia who has studied the effects of nootropics on the brain. “I think people should use some caution, especially young people.” She adds that while these supplements may in fact be safe, there’s no scientific research to prove it.

THE BOTTOM LINE: Many nootropics on the market are probably less sugary and lower in caffeine than most energy drinks, which often contain similar ingredients to those in the pills. Still, the notion that they make people sharper is largely unproven. So until independent clinical trials prove otherwise, it’s buyer beware.

THE HACK: Calorie restriction–the practice of consuming nothing but water for a day at a time or drastically slashing calories a few days per week–has been popular for decades among eternal-youth seekers and health nuts alike. Now some companies are taking the guesswork out of it with fasting-diet meal-delivery kits.

THE HYPE: Not eating on a regular basis certainly sounds unpleasant, but proponents say that doing so comes with the benefits of better health, a stronger immune system and possibly even a longer life.

To help people get closer to this goal, L-Nutra, a Los Angeles–based company, offers a five-day, ultra-low-calorie meal kit called ProLon, which is designed to mimic fasting and promote health and longevity.

The meal kit includes energy bars, plant-based snacks, vegetable soups and algal-oil supplements that add up to a total of 770 to 1,100 calories a day. A five-day kit that must be ordered by a doctor costs $299.

THE DEBATE: Studies do show that calorie-restricted diets are linked to longer life expectancy. It’s not clear why, exactly, but some scientists suspect that stressing the body kicks it into a temporary mode that leads to the creation of healthy new cells. Other research suggests that a very-low-calorie diet may make the body more responsive to cancer treatment and can slow the progression of multiple sclerosis.

A recent two-year study found that people who cut their calorie intake by 25% lost an average of 10% of their body weight, slept better and were even cheerier compared with those who didn’t diet.

“Doctors can offer patients this as an alternative to drugs,” says Valter Longo, director of the University of Southern California Longevity Institute and founder of L-Nutra. (Longo says he doesn’t receive a salary from his work with L-Nutra.)

Still, not everyone agrees that the evidence is strong enough to support the price tag–or the effort required. “I certainly wouldn’t do it,” says Rozalyn Anderson, a researcher at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, who studies calorie restriction in monkeys. “Life is too short, even if calorie restriction extends it.”

The real promise of this kind of research is identifying cell pathways that are involved in aging and activated during fasting, she says. Ultimately this could lead to the development of a drug that could trigger those same pathways without requiring people to eat less.

THE BOTTOM LINE: Occasional calorie restriction does appear to have health benefits, but how much comes from weight loss and how much comes from healthy cell changes needs to be further explored. Widely agreed upon is that any version of a fasting diet should be done under a physician’s supervision.

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How Silicon Valley Is Trying to Hack Its Way Into a Longer Life – TIME

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Too Much Vitamin B3 (Niacin) Might Cause Eczema – American Council on Science and Health

Posted: at 12:48 am

For the average person, dietary supplements are a waste of time and money. Assuming a person makes an effort toward maintaining a somewhat balanced diet, nutrients are provided in sufficient quantities from everyday food. Only people who havea metabolic deficiency or areat risk of developing a specificdisease should supplement their diets with particular minerals or vitamins.

Still, many people take multivitamins “just to be safe.” That may not be a good idea, as some research has suggested that taking supplements unnecessarily may lead to adverse health outcomes. Now, a new paper suggests that people who consume too much vitamin B3 (niacin) might be at higher risk of developing eczema.

Becausea previous study showed that niacin supplements reduced water loss through the skin, the authors hypothesized that niacin may help prevent eczema, which manifests as dry, itchy skin. To their surprise, they found that niacin supplements appeared to promote the development of eczema.

The team collected data from the Nurse’s Health Study 2 (NHS2), a cohort analysis based upon surveys filled out by a large group of nurses every other year. The researchers first categorized the participants by dietary niacin intake. No matter how much niacin was consumed in the diet, there was no link to the development of eczema.

However, the authors found that participants who supplemented their diets with niacin (specifically, more than 18 mg per day) increased their risk of eczema by about 16%.

This is hardly slam-dunk evidence. The NHS2 study includes mostly white women, so the results may not apply to other groups of people. Also, it is possible that some other component in the supplement, not niacin itself, is causing the increase in eczema.

Still, this paper serves as yet more evidence that, for the average person,vitamins aren’t just useless but perhaps mildly detrimental. When an adverse effect like eczema is linked to consuming 18+ mg of supplemental niacin per day, it makes 500 mg tablets (see upper left image) seem like an obscenely high dose.

*Fun fact: Hamsters that do not consume enough niacin will eat their siblings or offspring.

Source:Aaron M. Drucker, Wen-Qing Li, Min Kyung Park,Tricia Li, Abrar A. Qureshi, Eunyoung Cho. “Niacin intake and incident adult-onset atopic dermatitis in women.”J Allergy Clin Immunol. Article in press. Published online: 2017. DOI:10.1016/j.jaci.2016.12.956

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FDA OKs Injectable Psoriasis Drug for Tough Cases – WebMD

Posted: at 12:48 am

By Robert Preidt

HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Feb. 16, 2017 (HealthDay News) — A new drug to treat tough cases of the skin condition psoriasis has won approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Valeant Pharmaceuticals’ injectable drug Siliq (brodalumab) was approved for adults with moderate-to-severe psoriasis that isn’t responding to other recommended treatments. However, the drug carries a warning about increased risk for suicidal behavior.

Psoriasis is characterized by raised patches of red skin and flaking. The condition usually begins between ages 15 and 35 and is thought to be an autoimmune disorder, meaning the body mistakenly attacks healthy cells.

“Moderate-to-severe plaque psoriasis can cause significant skin irritation and discomfort for patients, and today’s approval provides patients with another treatment option for their psoriasis,” said the FDA’s Dr. Julie Beitz.

Beitz is director of the Office of Drug Evaluation III in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.

The drug is intended for patients who are candidates for systemic therapy — treatment with pills or injectable drugs that travel through the bloodstream — or phototherapy (ultraviolet light treatment), and have failed to respond or stopped responding to past therapies, the FDA said.

The drug works by inhibiting the inflammatory response that contributes to development of plaque psoriasis, the most common form of the skin disease, the FDA said.

Siliq’s approval was based on three clinical trials that included more than 4,300 patients. Compared to those who took a placebo, more of those participants who took the drug had skin that was clear or almost clear, the agency said.

However, the drug carries a “boxed warning” about the risk of suicidal thoughts and attempts and it’s only available through a suicide risk evaluation program, the FDA said.

Among patients who took Siliq, those with a history of suicide attempts or depression had greater risk of suicidal thoughts and attempts compared to others, according to trial results. However, a direct cause-and-effect relationship wasn’t established.

“Patients and their health care providers should discuss the benefits and risks of Siliq before considering treatment,” Beitz said in an agency news release.

Because Siliq affects the immune system, patients also may have a greater risk of getting an infection, or an allergic or autoimmune condition, the FDA said.

The most common side effects reported in the trials included joint and muscle pain, headache, fatigue, nausea or diarrhea, low white blood cell count and fungal infections.

WebMD News from HealthDay

SOURCE: U.S. Food and Drug Administration, news release, Feb. 15, 2017

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