first_imgA disturbing development with unprecedented consequences in Education ever since Minister Werner took the realms of office is looming and if caution is not taken, the doors of public schools will be shut until something is done about it. He came into the Ministry with the tacit belief that he alone knows the answers to all the problems in Education. He ignored the National Education Plans put together by previous Ministers who are distinguished Educators-Dr Kandakai, Othello Gongar, Dr Korto and Mrs Tarpeh. All of these people did their best to revamp the system but the bottom line was always the lack of funds to do the job to bring about change.Our current Minister, having returned from USA believes he has all the solutions and can move Education from what he describes as FROM THE MESS TO THE BEST. How presumptuous is he?It is always a good thing to aim at the sky and to be ambitious; but Education is so important that no individual can claim the monopoly of knowledge to manage it.Since his tenure in office, Minister Werner has waged a war of words on teachers who can make the best of plans fail or succeed. Instead of encouraging and mentoring them, he has targeted them for humiliation, dismissal, outsourcing of pre-primary and primary schools in order to reduce the wage bill and handover public education gradually to business companies in USA and UK. Due to pressure, he has roped in local providers and faith-based institutions who have always been running schools in Liberia. Mr Minister claims the teachers are illiterate, some untrainable. The Ministry has developed a code of ethics for teachers without the involvement of teachers on the assumption that teachers are the only people responsible for all the failures of Education in Liberia. Reading through the Code of Ethics, one is prone to believing that teachers in Liberia are a bunch of criminals, involved in gang raping, gangsterism, school girl pregnancies, chronic absenteeism without good cause etc. Indeed this man must be coming from another planet.In his problem analysis, Minister Werner admits that 30 percent of teachers are without training. In Nimba, he posits that 48percent of teachers are without certification. In rural areas he claims a third of teachers are illiterate. Teacher attendance in school is poor with some teachers unpaid, names deleted on payroll, unapproved volunteer and community teachers, ghost teachers ostensibly recruited by the very Ministry of Education, teachers travelling long distances to get pay cheques. He also admits that his Ministry does not have the capacity to monitor and evaluate teacher and school effectiveness. Furthermore, the Minister admits that teachers are demotivated with no incentives to attract and retain qualified ones.Instead of tackling these problems, Minister Werner, under the influence of business organisations and the World Bank who pose as messiahs of Privatisation, have chosen the easier but unsustainable option of an unprecedented whole sale outsourcing of pre-primary and primary education, because of the number of students involved for profit making.With a United Kingdom adviser to Minister Werner, provided by former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, the Minister has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Bridge International Academies. We understand that Bill Gates and other billionaires are supporters of enterprises such as Bridge Academies and other education service providers whose motive is not philanthropic, but purely profit making. The fact that they provide already made lessons, encrypted in tablets and supplied to teachers, majority of whom are ill-trained or non- professionals, does not guarantee the intended educational objectives. Their sole emphasis is on literacy and numeracy but these alone cannot guarantee effective educational outcomes. Education goes beyond reading and writing and Minister Werner should know that.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has NOT decided on Manchester United move, says Mino Raiola

first_imgZlatan Ibrahimovic has still not decided whether to join Manchester United or move elsewhere, according to his agent.The veteran Swedish striker is out of contract at the end of June after rejecting the offer of a new deal at Paris Saint-Germain.Ibrahimovic has a close relationship with new United boss Jose Mourinho, having worked with him at Inter Milan, and has been heavily linked with a move to Old Trafford.Many reports have claimed the 34-year-old has already signed a deal with United and it will be confirmed after Sweden’s participation in Euro 2016 is over.However, his representative Mino Raiola has now insisted that Ibrahimovic is still to make a decision on his next move.He told French broadcaster Telefoot: “Manchester United are a great team with a great coach.“It’s fascinating. I’ve made my decision, but he hasn’t made his. He’s really busy with the Euros,“Out of respect for the Euros, the team, the country and the coach he has to be professional and concentrate on that.” Zlatan Ibrahimovic in action for Sweden 1last_img read more

‘It is good to face Arsenal now’ – Chelsea star relishing London derby

first_img Tiemoue Bakayoko celebrates scoring for Chelsea against Qarabag 1 Thibaut Courtois says Chelsea are in buoyant mood ahead of Sunday’s Premier League clash with Arsenal.A month on from the Premier League opening loss to Burnley and talk of a crisis, Chelsea equalled their record Champions League group-stage win with Tuesday night’s 6-0 defeat of Azerbaijan’s Qarabag.The Blues have two additional days’ rest due to Arsenal’s involvement in the Europa League against Cologne on Thursday night.And Courtois says Chelsea, after four straight wins, are in a good frame of mind ahead of the third of seven September fixtures.“It is good to face Arsenal now,” Courtois said.“Everybody is healthy and things are going well. We won at Leicester, won comfortably (on Tuesday night) and will go into the Arsenal game with a good feeling.“We are doing well. After the bad first half against Burnley, I think all our performances have been good. We have shown good spirit, good football and good wins most importantly of all.”Matches against Arsene Wenger’s men shaped Chelsea’s season somewhat last term.A 3-0 loss at Arsenal in September 2016, in the sixth Premier League match of Antonio Conte’s reign as head coach, brought a change in tactics and a 3-4-3 formation which prompted a 13-game winning run.February’s win over the Gunners, featuring Eden Hazard’s stunning solo goal, strengthened Chelsea’s place at the summit.But then Wenger’s men prevented Conte from sealing the double in his first season as Arsenal won the FA Cup final.“Do we feel like we are in a good place? Yes,” Courtois added.“Sometimes it is good to face a big team early. Last year it didn’t work out against Liverpool and Arsenal, but this season we have already won at Tottenham.“Arsenal had a few bad matches, but won comfortably (against Bournemouth) last weekend.“For us and for them it’s a big game because we are third in the table.“Obviously we want to close the gap (to Manchester United and Manchester City) and take points off Arsenal as well.”Chelsea captain Gary Cahill played for the first time in a month in the Qarabag win following his dismissal against Burnley.Cahill, who will be available after his three-match domestic ban against Arsenal, told Chelsea TV: “It’s about building the momentum. Last season we were successful because we had that momentum going.“Winning games is the best feeling ever. We’ve managed to do that the last four games and now we’re heading into a big game. Everyone’s ready to go.”Chelsea’s 6-0 win over Qarabag saw them equal their record margin of victory, from October 2014 against Maribor of Slovenia, but sterner tests await.Next the Blues go to Atletico Madrid, where Courtois spent three seasons on loan, with the Diego Costa saga ongoing. That fixture is followed by a double header with Roma, who drew 0-0 at home to Atletico on Tuesday night.“We knew Roma and Atletico were playing each other, so we knew our first game at home had to be a win. To win 6-0 is even better,” Courtois added.“That doesn’t mean we should be too confident right now. We have to stay focused and I hope we have a good victory against Arsenal.”last_img read more

Romelu Lukaku to miss Arsenal and Man City clashes? United ace could be banned

first_imgRomelu Lukaku is sweating over a possible three-match ban following an incident during Manchester United’s 1-0 win over Brighton.The Belgian striker appeared to twice aim a kick at Seagulls defender Gaetan Bong in the second half of Saturday’s match at Old Trafford.It was missed by referee Neil Swarbrick, but the Football Association are set to review video footage and could take retrospective action.Should Lukaku be found guilty of violent conduct, he will be banned for United’s next three games.That would rule him out of Tuesday’s trip to Watford, as well as the crunch clashes with Arsenal [away] and Manchester City [home].Lukaku had endured another frustrating afternoon on Saturday as he failed to find the net.The 24-year-old has mustered just one goal in his last ten matches for United, following an impressive start to life at Old Trafford.But United boss Jose Mourinho refused to criticised his £75million summer signing, instead praising him for his selfless work.“In the last minute he was fighting and running back like he was in the first minute, so I think it is also a mentality question,” Mourinho said of Lukaku.“The way Romelu wins the corner for the goal, the way Romelu ends the game making tackles in the left-back position, that is the mentality I want,” Mourinho said.“And, unfortunately, not every player is the same. Players are men, men are different. Men are unique cases.“Some guys are capable to go into the limits of their efforts and some other guys even with a lot of talent, they don’t manage to do that.“So Romelu, for me, fantastic. Didn’t score, I don’t care.” Romelu Lukaku could be facing a ban 1last_img read more

‘It doesn’t make sense’ – Bowyer can’t believe Charlton ace is joining Rangers

first_img GETTY IMAGES – GETTY 2 Video Player is loading.Play VideoPlayMuteCurrent Time 0:00/Duration 1:00Loaded: 0.00%Stream Type LIVESeek to live, currently playing liveLIVERemaining Time -1:00 Playback Rate1xChaptersChaptersDescriptionsdescriptions off, selectedCaptionscaptions settings, opens captions settings dialogcaptions off, selectedAudio Tracken (Main), selectedFullscreenThis is a modal window.Beginning of dialog window. Escape will cancel and close the window.TextColorWhiteBlackRedGreenBlueYellowMagentaCyanTransparencyOpaqueSemi-TransparentBackgroundColorBlackWhiteRedGreenBlueYellowMagentaCyanTransparencyOpaqueSemi-TransparentTransparentWindowColorBlackWhiteRedGreenBlueYellowMagentaCyanTransparencyTransparentSemi-TransparentOpaqueFont Size50%75%100%125%150%175%200%300%400%Text Edge StyleNoneRaisedDepressedUniformDropshadowFont FamilyProportional Sans-SerifMonospace Sans-SerifProportional SerifMonospace SerifCasualScriptSmall CapsReset restore all settings to the default valuesDoneClose Modal DialogEnd of dialog window.Close Modal DialogThis is a modal window. This modal can be closed by pressing the Escape key or activating the close button.PlayMuteCurrent Time 0:00/Duration 0:00Loaded: 0%Stream Type LIVESeek to live, currently playing liveLIVERemaining Time -0:00 Playback Rate1xFullscreen Charlton boss Lee Bowyer has told Joe Aribo he is making a big mistake in moving to Rangers.The 22-year-old midfielder is out of contract at The Valley and is poised to join the Scottish side, with the Addicks due to receive a small compensation fee as he came through the south London club’s academy. 2 Aribo has turned down interest from a number of clubs in the Championship and Premier League – as well the offer of a new deal from Charlton – to link up with Steven Gerrard’s Gers.Rangers are expected to mount a serious challenge to Celtic for the Scottish Premiership title next season and have European football to offer the youngster, but Bowyer is baffled that he has decided to head north and not continue his education in England.“I worked so hard to get him to this situation he is in now,” said the former Newcastle and Leeds midfielder, speaking to the South London Press.“It is about progression for him. So it’s a shame if he gets pushed to somewhere where it is not going to benefit him in his football career.  “If he goes to Rangers that is not the right place for him to go for his football career.“You have got Rangers and Celtic who are massive clubs, I get that. And I get that Steven Gerrard was a great player, so that’s an attraction. Those two things are the attraction – but not everything else.center_img Aribo is to leave Charlton following their promotion to the Championship Bowyer is baffled at Aribo choosing to join Rangers over a move to another English club GETTY Football fan Dave says Steven Gerrard should quit Rangers for Derby “It doesn’t make sense on the football side. When people from England go and play for Celtic and Rangers it is at the end of their careers. That’s because it is very rare you get a move from Rangers to the Premier League, and I don’t mean any disrespect by that. “They might go from Rangers to the Championship, very rarely is it to the Premier League. For me he should stay in England and keep progressing. The move should benefit Joe.”Charlton will be back in the Championship next season, having won promotion via the League One play-offs, but Bowyer says there was little hope of keeping Aribo, who came through their academy, due to the riches he can receive elsewhere.“For us to be able to compete financially with Rangers or any other team really, it is not possible unfortunately,” he said.“It’s a completely different league to what we’re offering. “I met and had a chat with Joe on Friday. I told him that if he was going to go, at least stay in England – because that is where the best football is. If you have got the opportunity to go and play Premier League football, then at least you are going to the best place.”last_img read more

Breaking: Gardai raid house and find drugs and large amount of cash

first_imgGardai have raided a drugs house and seized a quantity of controlled substances and a large amount of cash.The raid was made this afternoon on a property in the Ramelton area.Among the substances seized was Heroin, Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD), MDMA (Ecstasy) and cannabis resin. A cannabis grow-house was also found on the property.One man was arrested during the raid and has been taken to Letterkenny Garda station for questioning.Gardaí said they would like to thank the local community for their assistance and would also like to remind people if they observe suspicious activity in their community to report it to the local Gardaí.Breaking: Gardai raid house and find drugs and large amount of cash was last modified: October 22nd, 2018 by StephenShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Tags:cashdonegaldrugsGardairaidRameltonlast_img read more

Kime siblings gun for Non-Stop Dusi glory

first_img26 February 2014 Lance and Robyn Kime, the 2013 men’s and women’s Dusi K1 (singles) champions, will be among the leading challengers for the men’s and women’s titles when the Non- Stop Dusi Canoe Marathon departs Pietermaritzburg for Durban early on Friday morning. For Lance, the extremely tough one-day, 120 kilometre race, will be about trying to reverse the ill fortune that scuppered his chances of victory in the Dusi early this month, while Robyn will be aiming to win the event for a second time in a K1.Emulating last year’s winners Lance Kime will be aiming to emulate last year’s winners, Sbonelo Zondi and Andy Birkett. The pair finished third and fourth respectively after incidents ended their title hopes, but then teamed up to set a Non-Stop record, followed by victory in the 2014 Dusi. Kime led the K2 finishers in the Non-Stop Dusi in 2012 with Kwanda Mhlope, and will again team up with his Dusi partner, Thulani Mbanjwa, who has four Non-Stop titles to his name. The pair were among the favourites for this year’s Dusi, but a freak accident mere kilometres from the start put paid to their chances of victory; their boat was sliced open by another’s rudder and after repairs they were left in 17th place after the first day. They went, with an astonishing effort, to finish fourth.‘A goal for us’ “Non-Stop Dusi had always been a goal for us and so we’ve been planning for it since we started paddling together a few months ago,” Kime said in a startement on Tuesday. “Non-Stop is obviously a little more important now, though, after our disappointing Dusi, and so we’re definitely looking to go for the win on Friday. Dusi didn’t quite go our way, and that’s how it goes sometimes, but we’ve got a little bit of unfinished business to attend to at Non-Stop,” he added.Water releases The organisers have arranged for water releases from the Henley, Nagel and Inanda Dams, which is something that excites Kime. “If I remember correctly in 2012 it was really low by the time we got to just above Inanda Dam, so the water releases sound fantastic,” he said enthusiastically.Development challengers Kime and Mbanjwa will face a stiff challenge from paddlers from the Computershare Change a Life Academy, which is under the mentorship of seven-time Dusi and six- time Non-Stop Dusi champion, Martin Dreyer. During this year’s Dusi, former Academy member Sbonelo Zondi teamed with Andy Birkett for the win, while current Academy members Kwanda Mhlope and Zonele Nzuza came home in fifth place. “Sbonelo winning was the completing of a dream for me,” Dreyer admitted. Looking ahead, he continued: “Kwanda and Mmeli will be an exciting pair to watch at Non-Stop. Thomas (Ngidi) and Shongweni’s Banesti (Nkhoesa) are still unproven, having never really raced together before, but I’m sure they’ll be gunning for the podium.” With Andy Birkett have ruled himself out of the Non-Stop Dusi because of a foot problem, Sbonelo Zondi has committed to paddling the race in a K1 kayak. He is a three-time winner of the Non-Stop, including with Thulani Mbanjwa, but will be aiming for a first ever victory in a K1. Women’s race Kime’s sister, Robyn, who won her fifth Dusi title with Abbey Ulansky, was set to leave on the adventure of a lifetime shortly after the iconic three-day paddling adventure, which would have seen her spending much of the next 12 months sailing to and hiking and mountain climbing around South America. Last-minute changes, though, ended her adventure travel ideas temporarily and so she signed up for the Non-Stop Dusi. Once again, her main challenger will be Abby Adie, who claimed the honours in the Non-Stop with Hilary Bruss in 2013. Adie was also second in the Dusi with Czech star Anna Adamova.‘Really excited’ This time around she will be teaming up with her sister Alex. “I’m really excited to be paddling Non-Stop with Alex,” she said. “Anna decided Non-Stop would impact on her sprint season preparations too much and so I was really excited when Alex said she was coming back (to Durban from Cape Town where she works) for Non-Stop. “Alex also worked really hard on her own in Cape Town before this year’s Dusi and has really improved a lot since we last paddled together in the 2012 Dusi. We haven’t paddled Non-Stop together ever before, so I’m really looking forward to getting into a boat with her again,” she added.last_img read more

Korean the latest airline to remove peanuts

first_imgA Korean Air A380 Peanuts were once a stock-in-trade for airlines but finding them is getting harder with Korean Air the latest to join a growing list of carriers no longer serving the snack.Korean came under fire after it offloaded two teenage brothers on a flight from South Korea to the Philippines because of one of them was severely allergic to peanuts.The boys, whose father was temporarily based in Manila, had been visiting their sick grandfather in Atlanta. They had informed Delta Air Lines, which handled the first leg of the flight, of the allergy.They were offloaded from Delta partner Korean when they revealed the condition to staff.The incident prompted Korean to revisit its policy on the peanuts and it announced Monday decided to replace the snack with crackers in order to provide “a safe environment for all passengers” and prevent similar problems.READ: Passengers happier when they can track their baggage.It will also remove food containing peanut ingredients from in-flight meals.“The decision to stop peanut products and peanut ingredients is the minimum safety measure for peanut-allergy passengers,” a Korean Air spokesperson said.The emergence of passengers with severe allergies that can cause life-threatening symptoms has prompted other airlines to look at the peanut question including a long time champion of the snack, Southwest Airlines.Southwest stopped serving peanuts on August 1, 2018, and replaced them with pretzels.“Peanuts forever will be part of Southwest’s history and DNA,” the airline said at the time. “However, to ensure the best onboard experience for everyone, especially for customers with peanut-related allergies, we’ve made the difficult decision to discontinue serving peanuts on all flights beginning Aug. 1.”Other airlines that no longer serve peanuts as snacks include American Airlines, Air Canada, Aer Lingus, Lufthansa, Qantas and United Airlines,  while Delta Air Lines will not serve them on a flight where a passenger notifies it of an allergy.A comparison of airlines is available at Allergy and Anaphylaxis Australia.All airlines warn that they cannot guarantee an allergen-free environment, or that people won’t bring on board their own nuts,  and several suggest that allergy sufferers bring EpiPens with them.American allows customers with peanut allergies to board first, giving them a chance to wipe down their seat and avoid contact with any residue left by previous passengers.One airline suggests customers with allergies fly on early morning flights shortly after aircraft have been cleaned.last_img read more

Tesla’s self-driving AI will “blow minds,” says Musk

first_imgTags:#artificial intelligence#autonomous cars#Elon Musk#Internet of Things#IoT#Self-Driving#SolarCity#Tesla David Curry Break the Mold with Real-World Logistics AI and… 5 Ways IoT can Help to Reduce Automatic Vehicle… Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk has hinted at “mind-blowing” artificial intelligence (AI) under development, in a wide ranging earnings call that discussed autonomous cars, Tesla’s bid for SolarCity, Gigafactory progress, and the company’s revenue.Despite the first fatal autonomous accident happening in a Tesla car, Musk is still bullish on the industry and believes full autonomy is coming much sooner than most expect.See Also: Tesla fatality can’t dissuade NHTSA from self-driving upside“Full autonomy is going to come a hell of a lot faster than anyone thinks it will and I think what we’ve got under development is going to blow people’s minds,” said Musk in the press release.Musk also detailed the parts of AutoPilot that still need work, paying particular attention to “narrow AI,” which makes decisions for the car and is capable of planning the best routes without driver interference.In the call, Musk said that the narrow AI would be incapable of “taking over the world,” something he takes very seriously. Instead, the AI is being developed for the sole purpose of safe driving.In his Master Plan: Part Deux, Musk explained that for autonomous cars to be approved for public roads, they would need to have completed 10 billion kilometers in AutoPilot and the car would need to be 10 times safer than humans in cars.However, Tesla may launch updates to AutoPilot that improve or add new features to it, while it still remains in “beta.” Musk hinted at a big announcement for car autonomy, but said that an earnings call was not the right time to address it.A major announcement may worry regulators, who have already taken issue to the over-the-air AutoPilot update that goes further than some intended for self-driving. Anthony Foxx, the Transportation Secretary, is working on autonomous regulations to address the industry.Musk appears confident that the U.S. government will not ban Tesla’s AutoPilot tech, which has completed over three million miles so far. He points to the millions of safe miles and a New York testimony of AutoPilot saving a driver’s life as reason enough for keeping the program.Autonomous demand will outstrip production for Tesla and othersOne word of warning for investors is when the autonomous functionality goes online, demand may exceed production capabilities. That has been the warning Musk and his firm have given investors since the start of Tesla, with supply still not meeting demand in 2016.“I think the demand for autonomous cars will vastly outweigh the production capability,” said Musk. “So it’s more in our mind that the global fleet of vehicles is about 2.5 billion roughly and total new vehicle production per year is only about 100 million. So, the fleet is basically turning over every roughly 20, 25 years. We would have to make some truly enormous number of autonomous vehicles for there to be any land saturation because it will basically be the only car anyone wants to buy.”Musk has definitely bought into self-driving, after initially pondering the opportunities of it. Tesla launched AutoPilot in 2015 and has since become the leader in the market, surpassing Google on miles driven and becoming the designated spokesperson when things go wrong.In the earnings call, Musk also defended his decision to acquire SolarCity for $2.6 billion. He said he had “zero doubt” the acquisition was a good thing, regardless of negative investor reaction to the news.Musk intends to create the perfect purchasing experience for solar panels by combining Tesla’s Powerwall, cars, and solar panels under one roof. Customers are more inclined to purchase solar panels if they own electric cars, and with the PowerWall homeowners can avoid a lot of the electric and fuel costs traditional homeowners face, according to Musk.center_img IT Trends of the Future That Are Worth Paying A… For Self-Driving Systems, Infrastructure and In… Related Posts last_img read more

New rule could force EPA to ignore major human health studies

first_imgScott Pruitt is administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. New rule could force EPA to ignore major human health studies Research looking at everything from links between air pollution and disease to the impact a pesticide has on children’s brains could be banned from consideration by environmental regulators under a new policy proposed yesterday by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).At an event at EPA headquarters in Washington, D.C., that was closed to the press, agency head Scott Pruitt touted the new policy as a way to increase transparency and enable the public to double-check research underpinning environmental regulations. The rule would require the agency to use only studies in which the underlying data are available for public scrutiny when formulating new “significant” regulations, which typically are regulations estimated to impose costs of $100 million or more.Specifically, the proposed rule says that EPA is seeking transparency for “the dose response data and models that underlie what we are calling ‘pivotal regulatory science.’” The agency does not define pivotal regulatory science, but says it could include studies that “are critical to the calculation of a final regulatory standard or level, or to the quantified costs, benefits, risks, and other impacts on which a final regulation is based.”Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, 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People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*) By Warren CornwallApr. 25, 2018 , 6:15 PMcenter_img Gage Skidmore/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0) “The era of secret science at EPA is coming to an end,” Pruitt said, speaking to an audience that included conservative lawmakers and advocates who have questioned the science underpinning climate and health regulations. “Americans deserve to assess the legitimacy of the science underpinning EPA decisions that may impact their lives.”But a number of leading epidemiologists studying the effects of pollution say the new regulations could pose a problem for existing and new studies aimed at teasing out connections between pollution and large populations. “I think this rule is a thinly veiled attempt to undermine the science that’s available for the EPA to use in its decision-making,” says Peter Thorne, a toxicologist at The University of Iowa in Iowa City, and chairman of EPA’s science advisory board until late 2017, when his membership wasn’t renewed by Pruitt.The new proposal would effectively block the use of key scientific studies and “help big polluters avoid regulations that protect human health,” warned the American Thoracic Society, a New York City–based medical association representing physicians and scientists involved in respiratory disease.Other critics say EPA has failed to adequately calculate the costs of complying with its proposal, or clearly articulate its legal authority to issue the new rule, potentially opening the agency to a legal challenge.Privacy concernsThe problem, critics say, is that human epidemiological studies often rely on gathering reams of sensitive information from thousands of individuals, such as their medical history and personal habits, along with exactly where they live and work. Those details are usually guarded by confidentiality agreements that bar researchers from sharing data that would allow an individual to be identified.Existing studies could be bound by confidentiality agreements that make it impossible to give EPA the data it wants, Thorne says. And future researchers could have more trouble recruiting participants if they fear their information would be made public. “If those [confidentiality] documents say we will be required to release your private information to the U.S. government or to the public, [people] would be wise not to participate,” he says.In its proposed rule, EPA says it wants to make data publicly available “in a manner that honors legal and ethical obligations to reduce the risks of unauthorized disclosure and reidentification” of anonymous study subjects. The agency says sensitive data could be shielded by a variety of measures, including storing them at special federal data centers and restricting who has access to them. And it suggests that the transparency requirement could, in certain circumstances, be waived if not practical to implement. It does not provide an estimate of the cost of complying with the rule.In a press release the agency claimed the proposed provisions are consistent with data access requirements of major scientific journals include Nature, Science, and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Science, along with many other journals, has recently adopted measures to encourage data sharing and increase transparency, Science Editor-in-Chief Jeremy Berg said in a prepared statement. Those measure can include requiring authors of published papers to deposit underlying data in a publicly available database. But he noted there are “exceptional circumstances, where data cannot be shared openly with all,” including cases where papers are based on data sets that include personal information. Journals will still publish those papers, but will tell researchers wishing to reanalyze or replicate the studies to negotiate directly with the authors to obtain the sensitive data.In general, researchers who share their data usually first strip information such as name, date of birth, or place of residence that would enable people to trace it back to an individual, says Joel Kaufman, an epidemiologist at the University of Washington in Seattle who is studying air pollution and heart disease. He’s now preparing a “limited” data set for the roughly 7000 participants in his study, so that other researchers can work with it. “That’s the right thing to do,” Kaufman says. “But I fear that that’s not enough for what the proponents of this regulation are trying to do, which is to get data that we know we can’t provide.”On the industry side, an American Chemistry Council (ACC) spokesperson says the Washington, D.C.–based trade group is looking at the new EPA rule, but has few detailed comments at this point. “Our industry is committed to working with EPA to help ensure the final rule increases transparency and public confidence in the agency’s regulations while protecting personal privacy, confidential business information, proprietary interest and intellectual property rights,” spokesperson Jon Corley said in a prepared statement. In the past, ACC has supported similar efforts to bar EPA from using nonpublic data in certain kinds of rulemakings, while noting that the agency often uses confidential or proprietary data provided by industry in doing its work.For example, industries fund extensive research into the health effects of chemicals, often through private laboratories that rely on animal testing. In internal EPA emails released by the Union of Concerned Scientists in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the agency’s deputy administrator in the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, Nancy Beck, wrote that for a majority of industry studies, confidential business information “can be waived and the data can be made available.” (Beck was formerly a top official at the chemistry council.) But the EPA proposal also suggests such industry information could be exempted from the transparency rule.Long historyThe new EPA proposal is the latest in a long-running campaign to let the public and regulated industries sift through the raw data of epidemiologists whose work could affect pollution regulations.In the 1990s, members of Congress pressed for legislation requiring scientists to disclose their raw scientific data, partly in response to a Harvard University study finding a correlation between more air pollution and lower life expectancy. Several times in recent years, the House of Representatives passed a bill requiring public disclosure of data from any new studies used by EPA to write regulations, but the proposal never made it out of Congress. The champion of that bill, Representative LamarSmith (R–TX), flanked Pruitt at Tuesday’s unveiling of the new proposal, smiling.EPA will now accept public comments on the proposal for 30 days, then is expected to issue a final rule.Environmental groups and others have already said they expect to challenge the rule in court. Potential lines of attack, attorneys say, include claims that EPA has not met the letter of federal law in evaluating the rule’s costs and benefits, or explained which federal law has provided it with the authority to issue the new requirements.Correction, 4/26/2018, 12:00 p.m.: The lawmaker standing next to EPA Adminstrator Scott Pruitt was misidentified. It was Representative Lamar Smith (R-TX), not Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN).last_img read more