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Killexams : CertNexus Responder approach - BingNews Search results Killexams : CertNexus Responder approach - BingNews Killexams : ARPA Funds Continue To Support Community Safety Efforts Through Community Responder Programs

During the COVID-19 pandemic’s recovery efforts, cities and states have been looking for opportunities to address the national rise in violent crime and Excellerate long-term community safety outcomes through the implementation of public safety strategies that are most effective for the communities being served. The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) of 2021 has been a funding support for many of these efforts. While some ARPA funding is being used to invest in more police and correctional facilities, many governments are recognizing that more effective public safety strategies are available to better meet the needs of their communities. One such strategy is through the use of community responder programs—which involve the use of trained professionals to respond to a low-level crisis situation—rather than relying on law enforcement alone. Now, with the support of ARPA dollars, governments are taking this opportunity to develop and support community responder programs that will provide effective emergency management.

Community response measures strengthen community safety through trained professionals

Oftentimes law enforcement is dispatched to crisis situations that fall outside of their area of expertise. Situations such as behavioral health crises, substance use, homelessness, and other wellness-related matters are often defaulted to police to address. However, such cases usually fall outside of law enforcement training and core responsibilities. Relying on police to handle situations such as these can delay or even deny individuals from receiving proper care and treatment and can often lead to worse outcomes. Individuals dealing with a mental health crisis are 16 times more likely than other civilians to be approached or stopped by an officer. For this same group, the rates of arrest or fatalities by law enforcement are much higher. Defaulting to law enforcement to handle such situations not only increases the chance of a harmful outcome but also, ultimately, compromises public safety by keeping police away from the core enforcement responsibilities, such as solving violent crime and resolving case backlogs.

Community responder models provide a more effective response to emergency situations by prioritizing the health and safety of all involved while providing meaningful assistance that will truly help resolve the issues that people are facing in real time. Community responder models have been implemented in various forms across the country, but they often involve the use of specialized response teams that are trained to immediately assess a crisis situation; de-escalate; provide the necessary care to meet the immediate need; and guide people to the long-term support services in the community. Crisis management services delivered by a trained professional help to ensure people in crisis, their families, and entire communities are appropriately supported rather than needlessly incarcerated.

In 1989, Eugene, Oregon, established their 24/7 mobile crisis intervention program, known as CAHOOTS (Crisis Assistance Helping Out On The Streets). CAHOOTS is one of the longest running community responder programs in the nation and is designed to address nonviolent crisis situations. Trained crisis teams are dispatched through the community’s police-fire-ambulance communications system to provide a range of services, including crisis counseling, suicide prevention, conflict resolution, grief counseling, and nonemergency medical care. In 2019, the program handled up to 20 percent of the community’s public safety calls and of those calls, around 1 percent ultimately required police intervention. By cutting down on the use of police response the program ultimately saves taxpayers $8.5 million annually. The success of CAHOOTS has led Eugene to expand the program over the years and has encouraged other cities, such as Denver; Oakland; Olympia, Washington; and New York to develop similar community responder programs of their own.

ARPA can help support community responders

As cities across the nation have seen a rise in violent crime and concerns for public safety have heightened, many governments are committed to investing in proven public safety strategies that bring about lasting change. These governments have recognized how civilian crisis response programs ultimately Excellerate community safety and have identified various funding streams—such as city budgets, grants, and Medicaid—to help support the implementation of community responder models that best support the needs of their constituents. More recently, the American Rescue Plan Act has proven to be a helpful funding resource in supporting community responder models as part of a larger public safety agenda. The legislation was signed into law in 2021 as a relief package for states, cities, local governments, and territories dealing with the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

As part of the administration’s crime reduction agenda, President Joe Bident has voiced support for governments to strengthen their public safety efforts with the help of ARPA funding. In just one year, $10 billion in ARPA funding has already been allocated to support public safety agendas “by more than half of states and more than 300 communities across the country.” While a significant portion of this funding has gone toward the development of community responder measures across the country, more governments can embrace these innovative solutions.

Governments are using ARPA funding to implement community responder programs

ARPA funding has helped cities and states to either implement or expand their own alternative crisis response systems that best serve the needs of their communities. Below are a few examples of governments using ARPA funding to support community responder models throughout the country. The programs may vary in structure and focus but they are all meant to reduce the overreliance of police and ensure the right help is provided during a nonviolent crisis situation.

  • Atlanta’s Policing Alternatives and Diversion Initiative (PAD). This year, Atlanta’s City Council allocated $4.5 million in ARPA funding to expand their partnership with PAD, a local nonprofit organization that provides community responder and prearrest diversion services for individuals experiencing issues around mental health, substance use, and homelessness. A community member can access community responder services by dialing 311. A trained harm reduction team will respond to the location of the incident, assess the needs of the individual, and connect them with services to address the immediate need and access ongoing support. PAD’s prearrest diversion services—also known as Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD)—works with Atlanta’s police department and other Atlanta enforcement agencies to identify incidents where law enforcement are called to a situation that PAD would be better equipped to address. The officer calls PAD, which then sends their harm reduction team. After mutual agreement, the team begins their assessment process and the officer leaves the scene without generating a report or taking any further enforcement action. PAD’s services have had promising results. From January to August 2022, the organization has received 882 calls for community responder services and successfully engaged 390 individuals. Their LEAD services have diverted 247 individuals from potential arrests or incarceration—almost just as many people were diverted all of 2021. While a total of 215 people were enrolled in ongoing case management services in 2021, that number has more than doubled to 436 participants since August.
  • City of Boston Mental Health Response Pilot Program. The City of Boston will use $18 million of allocated ARPA funding to combat a steadily growing mental health crisis. In 2020 alone, Boston’s 911 system received more than 10,000 calls related to mental health. Members of the Boston community voiced concerns around the need for trained mental health professionals when dealing with these types of cases. The city has responded by using a portion of ARPA funds to help support a new mental health crisis response pilot program. The program is a collaborative effort between the city’s Health and Human Services Cabinet and the Boston Police Department and was developed with the goals of increasing the role of mental health workers while decreasing the role of police in mental health crisis response. In addition to improving their current co-response system, the program will introduce a new alternative response unit composed of an emergency medical service provider and a mental health worker to respond to crisis calls that do not present a public safety risk. The alternative response program would also allow response units to connect callers to a mental health call center to receive additional support.
  • Colorado’s Public Safety Plan. Under Gov. Jared Polis (D), Colorado announced a new public safety plan that will be funded, in part, by ARPA funds. Of the $113 million budgeted for the plan, $16.5 million will be used specifically to create grant programs that help establish community-specific alternative crisis response programs across the state. Grant recipients will develop alternative crisis response models similar to existing models in Colorado such as the STAR (Support Team Assisted Response) program in Denver. STAR was first launched as a six-month pilot program similar to the CAHOOTS program in Eugene, Oregon, and ultimately showed promising results. A Stanford University study found that, in those six months, not only was the direct cost of the STAR program lower than that of traditional law enforcement response, but there was also a 34 percent drop in reported crimes in Denver.


Community safety cannot Excellerate if systems are not put in place to adequately address the needs of the community being served. Governments should look outside of law enforcement to manage the behavioral health and social service issues that require specialized care and support. Community responder efforts are designed to ensure people in a crisis situation receive the resources they need under the guidance of individuals who are trained to provide adequate support. Cities and states can and should use their ARPA funds to prioritize a tailored community responder model as a proven method to Excellerate public safety overall.

Wed, 12 Oct 2022 01:00:00 -0500 en text/html
Killexams : New approach needed towards Venezuela

The international community deserves credit for trying to negotiate, pressure, or conjure up democratic reform in Venezuela. But it’s time to realize that five separate internationally-sponsored efforts since 2002 haven’t led to a democratic opening. Nor have sanctions cracked the inner circle of the dictatorship. The diplomatic recognition of Juan Guaidó as interim president hasn’t inspired change within Venezuela.

None of these well-intentioned efforts have succeeded because of the intractability of the Nicolas Maduro regime, the absence of a credible leadership option in the opposition, and the inadequacy of tools available to the international community. supply Maduro credit; he’s a catastrophe as a strategic leader, but he and his cronies, schooled in the short-term political culture of Venezuela, have been able to hang on. For Maduro, every day he’s still in charge is a good day.

A new approach is needed.

Part of the solution will be in place when the opposition has created a realistic and attractive governance option. That’s their mission, and the ability of the international community to help them do so is extremely limited.

A different kind of negotiation should be part of a new approach. With Presidents Gabriel Boric in Chile and Gustavo Petro in Colombia, combined with the possible election of Lula in Brazil — depending on the results of the upcoming elections there — there may well be a critical mass of progressive democratic leaders in South America. Unlike well-intentioned extra-hemispheric actors, each of these South American nations has paid significant costs for Venezuela’s instability: in millions of impoverished refugees straining social services, in cross-border security problems, and in dramatically decreased trade. The security and financial wellbeing of all three nations have been damaged by the Venezuelan mess. Their interest in addressing those concerns, along with their shared commitment to a progressive democratic model, present these leaders an unprecedented opportunity to press now for fresh talks focused on achievable solutions to Venezuela’s continuing problems.

Chile, Colombia, and Brazil should focus on practical and incremental steps going forward. A few examples of useful courses for discussion would be: loosening media restrictions to permit at least one media outlet with an opposition viewpoint; agreement to permit opposition leaders to freely travel and speak within Venezuela; the establishment of a timeline for elections at some level to test Bolivarian reliability; a regularization of migration from Venezuela; and a reliable mechanism for providing humanitarian and health assistance to Venezuelans. Critics will dismiss such matters as tried and failed, but they have not been addressed under the auspices of weighty and politically well-positioned leaders like Lula, Boric, and Petro. Importantly, much as was done during the Colombian peace talks with the FARC, questions about lifting sanctions imposed by external actors should be pushed off until later in the discussions, when and if real progress is made.

The involvement of Boric, Petro, and potentially Lula brings additional advantages. They can serve as mentors to the Venezuelan opposition. Each of those leaders participated in long, frustrating, but ultimately successful political enterprises against an existing order which each believed to be fundamentally closed to real reform. Their achievements in gaining power through their nation’s democratic processes can serve as model and inspiration for the beleaguered Venezuelan opposition. 

To be sure, there will be obstacles. If the regional leaders take up this cause, their views of reform may not completely overlap with those of the U.S. Additionally, some foreign policy stances of the new Petro government will cause skepticism. Colombia’s understandable re-establishment of relations with Venezuela has in practice been clumsily handled by the new Colombian ambassador, and Bogota’s lame refusal to join OAS condemnation of the Ortega dictatorship in Nicaragua was concerning. Chile may be distracted after the latest defeat of the constitutional referendum — but on the other hand, a change in focus might be refreshing for Boric. And finally, while Lula might well participate in South American outreach to Maduro, a re-elected Jair Bolsonaro almost certainly would not.  

Nonetheless, a regional approach by these leaders is worth the effort. The Venezuelan people have suffered enough, and the Maduro regime has wrecked the country enough. Based on their nations’ interests and their democratic principles, the current crop of progressive South American leaders can press for real democratic change in a way that 20 years of desultory talks coordinated by well-meaning but disinterested outsiders has not.

Ambassador Kevin Whitaker is a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center. He served 42 years in the U.S. Foreign Service, achieving the rank of career minister. He was U.S. ambassador to Colombia from 2014 to 2019, the longest-serving ambassador to that nation in a century. Follow him on Twitter @AmbWhitaker

Fri, 14 Oct 2022 01:01:00 -0500 en-US text/html
Killexams : How to approach Medicare’s 2023 enrollment period

Medicare’s annual enrollment period begins on Oct. 15 and lasts until Dec. 7, but beneficiaries shouldn’t wait until the last minute to review their insurance coverage and make changes. 

Retirement Tip of the Week: The wrong Medicare decision – or just one that hasn’t been given much thought – can cost beneficiaries money and stress the following year when they need medical attention. Review your coverage as soon as possible, and check which options make the most sense for your medications and doctor preferences. 

There are three P’s to focus on, said Ari Parker, co-founder and lead adviser at Chapter, a company that specializes in maximizing Medicare coverage: providers, prescriptions and priorities. The Medicare options a beneficiary chooses affect all three, and all three affect their coverage in return. 

For example, not all doctors may be covered under one option, so someone who wants to see a specific specialist (or more) should make sure they’re in network when switching plans. Beneficiaries should also be hyper-aware of the prescriptions covered under the drug plan they choose. If they choose to travel internationally, or if they expect to be in multiple states for months at a time throughout the year, they should take that into consideration when making Medicare coverage decisions too, Parker said. 

Keep in mind what your budget is, and how your insurance fits within that budget, said Christopher Ciano, president of Aetna Medicare. Look at all out-of-pocket costs, premiums, copayments, deductibles and coinsurance. What medication may you be expected to start next year, and how does that fit into your current or potentially new plan? Check that even if you were to stay with the plan you already have, these prices and figures aren’t changing, he added. 

Want more actionable tips for your retirement savings journey? Read MarketWatch’s “Retirement Hacks” column

Not everyone needs to switch insurance plans during this period, but they should at least check their current plans as those may have changes for next year. Sticking with your current coverage could make sense, or it could cost individuals hundreds or more dollars a year.

The changes expected next year from the Inflation Reduction Act is another incentive to get serious about Medicare coverage this year. Older Americans won’t see their annual medical costs cut, significantly for some, for a few more years, but they can expect to pay less for insulin beginning next year, Ciano said. 

For example, Medicare beneficiaries who use insulin will pay no more than $35 a month for it starting in 2023. Beneficiaries should look at how insulin shaped their Medicare decisions prior to this year and where it fits into their current coverage or the plan they may adopt. Not all plans cover the same insulin products.

Changes during the open enrollment period will go into effect on January 1. The annual enrollment period between Oct. 15 and Dec. 7 allows beneficiaries to switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage Plan, which is government-approved health insurance private companies offer, or from one Medicare Advantage plan to another.

Medicare Advantage has its own enrollment period,from Jan. 1 to March 31, when people can switch between Medicare Advantage plans or move back to Original Medicare. That second enrollment period for Medicare Advantage is not available for beneficiaries who want to switch from Original Medicare to Medicare Advantage, however. Here’s more information about when switching to Medicare Advantage makes sense, and when it may not. 

People who are just becoming eligible for Medicare, such as by turning 65, have their own special seven-month enrollment period, beginning three months before the month of their birthday and ending three months after. 

Medicare’s handbook, “Medicare and You,” is already available for 2023, and covers updates for COVID-19, such as eligibility for vaccines and booster shots.

Beneficiaries may also want to talk to a licensed adviser about the best choices for their Medicare plans, or compare plans on their own, such as on Another resource is BenefitsCheckUp.

Tue, 11 Oct 2022 01:27:00 -0500 en-US text/html
Killexams : First Responder Friday: Greenville Fire Department

GREENVILLE (WSPA) – “There’s less fire now, it’s a safer city,” says Greenville Firefighter Lt. Paul Boggs.

This first responder – now in his 29th year with the city fire department – says that level of safety comes from factors including fire codes, sprinkler systems and smoke detectors.

But Boggs says there’s more. “The city (Greenville) provides the resources, the manpower, the training. That all adds up to a safer city.”

Boggs is currently with the Rescue 4 apparatus, but we caught up with him at Station 1 in Greenville on Verdae Boulevard. He was doing what all firefighters appear to do when they’re not on a call.


It’s changed dramatically since he joined the department in the 1980s. “When I first came on, fire department didn’t handle the rescues,” he tells us. “We were there, we assisted, but it was pretty much EMS’s responsibility. Now, the amount of training we put in, on HAZMAT rescues, of course firefighting, medical it’s unbelievable.”

The training goes beyond building and maintaining firefighting skills. It’s part of building a team. “We’re working 24 hours together in a fire house. This becomes our second family, OK? So as a family, our family forms a team,” according to Boggs.

“We made a commitment. We took an oath when we came here to serve the public of the City of Greenville, the people who are in it. That’s what we’re about.”

Boggs is 51 now. He doesn’t sound like he’s close to retirement, but he’s only a few years away from being fully eligible to call it a career.

That decision sounds like it won’t be coming for a while. “I love this job. I love the guys I serve with. I love the city I serve,” he says.

“As long as I continue to do that, and my health holds out my future’s here.”  

Fri, 14 Oct 2022 05:10:00 -0500 en-US text/html
Killexams : Modernization: An approach to what works

This article is part of a VB special issue. Read the full series here: How Data Privacy Is Transforming Marketing.

With digital disruptors eating away at market share and profits hurting from prolonged, intensive cost wars between traditional competitors, businesses had been looking to reduce their cost-to-income ratios even before COVID-19. When the pandemic happened, the urgency hit a new high. On top of that came the scramble to digitize pervasively in order to survive.

But there was a problem. Legacy infrastructure, being cost-inefficient and inflexible, hindered both objectives. The need for technology modernization was never clearer. However, what wasn’t so clear was the path to this modernization.  

Should the enterprise rip up and replace the entire system or upgrade it in parts? Should the transformation go “big bang” or proceed incrementally, in phases? To what extent and to which type of cloud should they shift to? And so on.

The Infosys Modernization Radar 2022 addresses these and other questions. 


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The state of the landscape

Currently, 88% of technology assets are legacy systems, half of which are business-critical. An additional concern is that many organizations lack the skills to adapt to the requirements of the digital era. This is why enterprises are rushing to modernize: The report found that 70% to 90% of the legacy estate will be modernized within five years.

Approaches to modernization

Different modernization approaches have different impacts. For example, non-invasive (or less invasive) approaches involve superficial changes to a few technology components and impact the enterprise in select pockets. These methods may be considered when the IT architecture is still acceptable, the system is not overly complex, and the interfaces and integration logic are adequate. Hence they entail less expenditure.

But since these approaches modernize minimally, they are only a stepping stone to a more comprehensive future initiative. Some examples of less and non-invasive modernization include migrating technology frameworks to the cloud, migrating to open-source application servers, and rehosting mainframes.

Invasive strategies modernize thoroughly, making a sizable impact on multiple stakeholders, application layers and processes. Because they involve big changes, like implementing a new package or re-engineering, they take more time and cost more money than non-invasive approaches and carry a higher risk of disruption, but also promise more value.

When an organization’s IT snarl starts to stifle growth, it should look at invasive modernization by way of re-architecting legacy applications to cloud-native infrastructure, migrating traditional relational database management systems to NoSQL-type systems, or simplifying app development and delivery with low-code/no-code platforms. 

The right choice question

From the above discussion, it is apparent that not all consequences of modernization are intentional or even desirable. So that brings us back to the earlier question: What is the best modernization strategy for an enterprise?

The truth is that there’s no single answer to this question because the choice of strategy depends on the organization’s context, resources, existing technology landscape, business objectives. However, if the goal is to minimize risk and business disruption, then some approaches are clearly better than others.

In the Infosys Modernization Radar 2022 report, 51% of respondents taking the big-bang approach frequently suffered high levels of disruption, compared to 21% of those who modernized incrementally in phases. This is because big-bang calls for completely rewriting enterprise core systems, an approach that has been very often likened to changing an aircraft engine mid-flight. 

Therefore big-bang modernization makes sense only when the applications are small and easily replaceable. But most transformations entail bigger changes, tilting the balance in favor of phased and coexistence approaches, which are less disruptive and support business continuity.

Slower but much steadier

Phased modernization progresses towards microservices architecture and could take the coexistence approach. As the name suggests, this entails the parallel runs of legacy and new systems until the entire modernization — of people, processes and technology — is complete. This requires new cloud locations for managing data transfers between old and new systems.

The modernized stack points to a new location with a routing façade, an abstraction that talks to both modernized and legacy systems. To embrace this path, organizations need to analyze applications in-depth and perform security checks to ensure risks don’t surface in the new architecture. 

Strategies such as the Infosys zero-disruption method frequently take the coexistence approach since it is suited to more invasive types of modernization. Planning the parallel operation of both old and new systems until IT infrastructure and applications make their transition is extremely critical.

The coexistence approach enables a complete transformation to make the application scalable, flexible, modular and decoupled, utilizing microservices architecture. A big advantage is that the coexistence method leverages the best cloud offerings and gives the organization access to a rich partner ecosystem. 

An example of zero-disruption modernization that I have led is the transformation of the point-of-sale systems of an insurer. More than 50,000 rules (business and UI) involving more than 10 million lines of code were transformed using micro-change management. This reduced ticket inventory by 70%, improved maintenance productivity by about 10% and shortened new policy rollout time by about 30%. 

Summing up

Technology modernization is imperative for meeting consumer expectations, lowering costs, increasing scalability and agility, and competing against nimble, innovative next-generation players. In other words, it is the ticket to future survival. 

There are many modernization approaches, and not all of them are equal. For example, the big-bang approach, while quick and sometimes even more affordable, carries a very significant risk of disruption. Since a single hour of critical system downtime could cost as much as $300,000, maintaining business continuity during transformation is a very big priority for enterprises.

The phased coexistence approach mitigates disruption to ensure a seamless and successful transformation. 

Gautam Khanna is the vice president and global head of the modernization practice at Infosys.


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Wed, 05 Oct 2022 09:32:00 -0500 Gautam Khanna, Infosys en-US text/html
Killexams : When endings approach, people choose the familiar over the novel

When people believe that a door is closing—that they have a limited amount of time left to enjoy something, such as dining out or traveling—they gravitate to the comfort of something familiar rather than the excitement of something new, according to research published by the American Psychological Association.

In eight experiments with nearly 6,000 total participants, researchers explored whether people tend to prefer novel, exciting experiences, such as trying a new restaurant, or familiar ones, such as returning to an old favorite—and whether those preferences shift with the amount of time people believe that they have left to enjoy similar experiences.

The research was published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

Previous research has found that, on average, people tend to opt for novel and exciting experiences over familiar ones. They would rather enjoy a new movie than rewatch something they've already seen, for example, given equal access to both. However, study authors Ed O'Brien, Ph.D., and Yuji Katsumata Winet, of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, suspected that "perceived endings" might affect those choices by nudging people to return to a meaningful old favorite.

In the first experiment, the researchers asked 500 online participants and 663 college and business school students to read hypothetical scenarios in which they were given the choice between a new experience or a familiar, beloved one—such as memorizing a new novel versus rereading an old favorite, or visiting a new city versus revisiting a city they loved.

Half the participants were simply asked to make the choice, while the other half were instructed to imagine that it was the last chance that they would have for a while to travel or read a novel. Overall, across all the situations, participants in the "endings" groups were more likely to choose familiar activities compared with participants in the control groups.

In the next set of experiments, the researchers moved beyond hypothetical questions to explore people's behavior in lab and real-life settings. In one, for example, participants were told they would be given a gift card to a restaurant and that the gift card needed to be used in the next month.

Then, half the participants were told to reflect on how few opportunities they would have for going to restaurants in the next month and specific things that might prevent them from going to restaurants. Finally, participants were asked whether they would prefer a to a restaurant they'd visited before or one that was new to them. Overall, 67% of the participants in the "endings" condition preferred a gift certificate to a familiar , compared with just 48% of those in the control condition.

Finally, the researchers explored why perceived endings seemed to push participants toward familiar things. They found evidence that it was not simply because the familiar experiences were a safe bet that participants knew they would enjoy, but also because they were more likely to find those familiar things personally meaningful.

"Our findings unveil nuance to what people really mean by ending on a high note," said Winet. "Endings tend to prompt people to think about what's personally meaningful to them. People like ending things on a meaningful note as it provides psychological closure, and in most cases old favorites tend to be more meaningful than exciting novelty."

"The research is especially interesting because, on the surface, it runs counter to the idea of the bucket list, whereby people tend to pursue novelty—things they've never done but have always wanted to do—as they approach the ," O'Brien said. "Here we find that, at least in these more everyday ending contexts, people actually do the opposite. They want to end on a high note by ending on a familiar note."

The researchers noted that the findings could help people better structure their time to maximize their enjoyment of experiences, for example by visiting an old favorite attraction on the last rather than the first day of a vacation. Retailers and marketers, too, could take advantage—a café slated to close for renovations might put more of its favorite dishes on the menu rather than try new items for sale.

And perhaps, according to the researchers, such psychological framings could be useful for addressing larger societal problems. "Nudging people toward repeat consumption by emphasizing endings and last chances could subtly encourage sustainable consumption by curbing the waste that necessarily accumulates from perpetual novelty-seeking," Winet said.

More information: Yuji K. Winet et al, Ending on a Familiar Note: Perceived Endings Motivate Repeat Consumption, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (2022). DOI: 10.1037/pspa0000321

Citation: When endings approach, people choose the familiar over the novel (2022, October 6) retrieved 17 October 2022 from

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Thu, 06 Oct 2022 02:03:00 -0500 en text/html
Killexams : Adopting An Open Approach To Modernize IT

Rajat Bhargava is an entrepreneur, investor, author and currently CEO and cofounder of JumpCloud.

From the 1980s until the mid-2000s, the monoculture around Microsoft ruled. Users logged into Windows-managed computers and used Office and Windows File Server; businesses relied on Microsoft Active Directory (AD) to manage user identity and access.

Then, IT evolved. On-premises environments and closed systems gave way to the flexibility of the cloud. Organizations adopted Mac- and Linux-based systems. Software as a service (SaaS) environments exploded. Data centers started to be replaced by infrastructure as a service (IaaS) providers. Now, Gartner predicts that over 95% of new digital workloads will be deployed on cloud-native platforms by 2025, a dramatic increase from 30% in 2021.

With cloud servers preferred for data processing and storage, web applications now dominate the market. In part because wired connections gave way to wireless networks and people became more mobile through smartphones, and Google Workspace (aka G Suite, Google Apps) and M365 (aka Office 365) became as popular as machine-based Office applications in the enterprise space.

In this environment, organizations can’t be bound to anachronistic approaches as businesses shift to the cloud and globally distributed workforces. Now’s the time for companies—especially small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)—to approach IT with an open mind and an open approach.

“Open” in this context doesn’t mean porous or loose; it represents scalability, flexibility and agility in terms of changes in technology and developments in the stack. An open approach improves end user experience, worker productivity and satisfaction. An open approach to IT can be a critical tool in helping organizations establish zero-trust security without sacrificing the agility and flexibility made possible by the cloud.

In this article, I’ll offer some tips to getting started with this approach.

Open Identity

Modernizing IT stacks means making sure that work—remote and hybrid—functions well. Employees care about doing their job; they want easy access to the resources they need. IT teams want a similarly streamlined experience and assurance that company data remains secure without impacting productivity. My company’s survey of 506 SME IT admins found that nearly 75% prefer a single solution to manage employee identities, access and devices than having to manage a number of different solutions. An open directory platform approach incorporates a cloud-hosted “virtual” domain that meets this need, offering the flexibility and security necessary to support modern workplaces.

This means creating an IT environment that consumes identities wherever they live. Not just employee identities but also device identities, allowing your system to be open to receive information from authorized sources anywhere. On the outgoing side, it means creating a single source of user identity that can be propagated out to other devices, other users or to an authorized network.

Identity as a service and cloud directories are vital tools that enable an open approach. Look for those that offer fluidity and the flexibility to change resources any time (for example, from M365 to Google Workspace or vice versa).

Flexible Security Layers

Instead of traditional perimeters, an open approach favors a creation of virtual offices and security perimeters around each employee—and whatever devices they use. Being open doesn’t equate to a cavalier security approach; it’s a way to offer authorized access to resources anywhere that is convenient and tracked for compliance and overall visibility.

Security layers can evolve with each organization’s need and should include:

Identity layer: A cloud directory houses authentication credentials and establishes centralized access control across user identity, admin access, service accounts and machines. Centering identity within a cloud directory allows SME teams to draw a security perimeter around each employee, enabling updates without disruption and providing access to on-prem and cloud-based resources.

Device layer: Most IT environments operate within an ever-evolving state of company-issued, personal and mobile devices running some combination of Mac, Windows or Linux systems. In this complicated device ecosystem, organizations should extend user identity to establish device trust, meaning that a device is known and its user is verified. A mobile device management solution (MDM) is one option that can install a remote agent to handle basics—including multifactor authentication (MFA) and permissions—zero-touch onboarding and remote lock, restart or wipe. Determine the control level you need in your device environment, factoring in options like how you honor employee device choice and how you manage your bring your own device (BYOD) policy.

IT resource layer: In office environments, employees generally use a form of single sign-on (SSO) to log into their desktop at designated workstations and then get instant access to applications and shared files and servers. In remote, hybrid and other modern IT environments, SSO should include everything from SaaS apps to systems, files, infrastructure and shared networks. Some organizations use SSO solely for web-based applications, while some centralize identity and extend it to virtually any IT resource through authentication protocols like LDAP, SAML, OpenID Connect, SSH, RADIUS and REST.

Open Insights

Given security, ongoing monitoring and compliance needs, visibility is critical to an open IT approach. Considering the breadth of access transactions, businesses should look for a holistic solution with broad coverage.

Basic event logging data is table stakes, and IT solutions should include a method for capturing discrete and unique log formats. That includes logs from SSO and from cloud RADIUS for network connection, LDAP and device connections—any log format for resources deployed in your stack.

Because integration requirements make log analysis and management solutions expensive, challenging to implement and difficult for admins managing custom feeds for authentication protocols, consider options that offer a wide range of analysis by enriching raw data. This can be done with a number of other data points, sessionizing the data through post-processing. Such information provides admins with broad insight across their entire IT environment, not just into a particular service or user.

For many organizations, extending closed legacy systems was a necessity. In the age of hybrid and remote work, it’s proving more of a liability than an asset. An open approach allows companies to embrace a diverse, modern IT environment that can keep pace with what users need, keeping them and company data secure at every access point.

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Thu, 06 Oct 2022 12:00:00 -0500 Rajat Bhargava en text/html
Killexams : Controversial approach aims to expand plastics recycling

Major chemical companies are backing pyrolysis plants that convert plastic waste into hydrocarbon feedstocks that can be turned into plastics again. The process uses high temperatures in the absence of oxygen to break down plastics into a mixture of smaller molecules known as pyrolysis oil. But the practice has its critics, according to a cover story in Chemical & Engineering News.

Proponents of pyrolysis argue that the process can make up for the shortcomings of traditional recycling, which captures only about 9% of plastics in the U.S., according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. But are not yet convinced, and a growing number of jurisdictions, such as California, don't consider pyrolysis recycling at all, writes Senior Editor Alex Tullo. Critics say that pyrolysis facilities can't actually accept the mixed that they claim to, as residual contaminants gum up the process too much. A second charge is that pyrolysis is really just incineration. Another concern is scale. Pyrolysis and other forms of chemical recycling have roughly 120,000 t of capacity currently onstream in the U.S.—a miniscule fraction of the 56 million t of overall plastics production in North America in 2021.

Industry executives say they are more committed than ever to recycling and are eager to practice pyrolysis at large scale. Firms are building facilities that are bigger than before to increase capacity. Many companies are attempting to take in more mixed waste, with approaches such as using catalysts and adsorbents to filter out and eliminate the most reactive compounds from the feedstock stream. And interest in pyrolysis is taking off, with petrochemical companies building infrastructure to process the products of pyrolysis plants and large engineering companies licensing technology to third parties that want to get into the business. How the technology works in the will go a long way to determining the public's perception of the plastics industry.

More information: Amid controversy, industry goes all in on plastics pyrolysis, Chemical & Engineering News (2022). … cs-pyrolysis/100/i36

Citation: Controversial approach aims to expand plastics recycling (2022, October 12) retrieved 17 October 2022 from

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Tue, 11 Oct 2022 12:00:00 -0500 en text/html
Killexams : Common approach to demystify black box AI not ready for prime time

Artificial intelligence models that interpret medical images hold the promise to enhance clinicians' ability to make accurate and timely diagnoses, while also lessening workload by allowing busy physicians to focus on critical cases and delegate rote tasks to AI.

But AI models that lack transparency about how and why a diagnosis is made can be problematic. This opaque reasoning -- also known "black box" AI -- can diminish clinician trust in the reliability of the AI tool and thus discourage its use. This lack of transparency could also mislead clinicians into over-trusting the tool's interpretation.

In the realm of medical imaging, one way to create more understandable AI models and to demystify AI decision-making have been saliency assessments -- an approach that uses heat maps to pinpoint whether the tool is correctly focusing only on the relevant pieces of a given image or homing in on irrelevant parts of it.

Heat maps work by highlighting areas on an image that influenced the AI model's interpretation. This could help human physicians see whether the AI model focuses on the same areas as they do or is mistakenly focusing on irrelevant spots on an image.

But a new study, published in Nature Machine Intelligence on Oct. 10, shows that for all their promise, saliency heat maps may not be yet ready for prime time.

The analysis, led by Harvard Medical School investigator Pranav Rajpurkar, Matthew Lungren of Stanford, and Adriel Saporta of New York University, quantified the validity of seven widely used saliency methods to determine how reliably and accurately they could identify pathologies associated with 10 conditions commonly diagnosed on X-ray, such as lung lesions, pleural effusion, edema, or enlarged heart structures. To ascertain performance, the researchers compared the tools' performance against human expert judgment.

In the final analysis, tools using saliency-based heat maps consistently underperformed in image assessment and in their ability to spot pathological lesions, compared with human radiologists.

The work represents the first comparative analysis between saliency maps and human expert performance in the evaluation of multiple X-ray pathologies. The study also offers a granular understanding of whether and how certain pathological characteristics on an image might affect AI tool performance.

The saliency-map feature is already used as a quality assurance tool by clinical practices that employ AI to interpret computer-aided detection methods, such as memorizing chest X-rays. But in light of the new findings, this feature should be applied with caution and a healthy dose of skepticism, the researchers said.

"Our analysis shows that saliency maps are not yet reliable enough to validate individual clinical decisions made by an AI model," said Rajpurkar, who is an assistant professor of biomedical informatics at HMS. "We identified important limitations that raise serious safety concerns for use in current practice."

The researchers caution that because of the important limitations identified in the study, saliency-based heat maps should be further refined before they are widely adopted in clinical AI models.

The team's full codebase, data, and analysis are open and available to all interested in studying this important aspect of clinical machine learning in medical imaging applications.

Co-authors included Xiaotong Gui, Ashwin Agrawal, Anuj Pareek, Jayne Seekins, Francis Blankenberg, and Andrew Ng, all from Stanford University; Steven Truong and Chanh Nguyen, of VinBrain, Vietnam; and Van-Doan Ngo, of Vinmec International Hospital, Vietnam.

Story Source:

Materials provided by Harvard Medical School. Original written by Ekaterina Pesheva. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Mon, 10 Oct 2022 09:01:00 -0500 en text/html
Killexams : Is Biden changing his approach to immigration before the midterm elections?

President Joe Biden made unexpected headlines this week by launching a new initiative that will see Venezuelan migrants turned away at the southern border — but some critics say there's more show than substance to the program.

The Department of Homeland Security announced Thursday that Venezuelans entering the United States illegally will be returned to Mexico as a way to reduce the number of people arriving at the border. The move seemed to be a response to pleas from border state politicians to stem the tide of illegal migration.


“These actions make clear that there is a lawful and orderly way for Venezuelans to enter the United States, and lawful entry is the only way,” DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in a statement. “Those who attempt to cross the southern border of the United States illegally will be returned to Mexico and will be ineligible for this process in the future. Those who follow the lawful process will have the opportunity to travel safely to the United States and become eligible to work here.”

The southern border has been a hot issue on the Right since Biden took office, with GOP Govs. Doug Ducey (R-AZ), Greg Abbott (R-TX), and Ron DeSantis (R-FL) attracting headlines in latest months with taxpayer-funded buses and planes sending volunteer migrants to places like Washington, D.C., Chicago, and Martha's Vineyard.

Biden's approval rating on immigration is just 35.3%, per the RealClearPolitics average, which is lower than his overall approval rating. The president ended the Trump-era "Remain in Mexico" policy upon taking office, and migrant encounters have surged.

Since January 2021, the number of noncitizens apprehended attempting to enter the country or denied admission at a port of entry has increased threefold, reaching over 200,000 encounters per month on several occasions. More than 2 million migrant encounters have taken place this fiscal year.

The DHS move may be one sign that the administration is finally listening. As part of the deal, the U.S. will collaborate with Mexico to target human smuggling operations, according to a press release, with new migration checkpoints, additional resources and personnel, and "joint targeting" of human smuggling organizations.

The move would seem to align with the wishes of figures like Abbott.

"Cartels are using social media to recruit drivers for human smuggling operations, like this one in Hidalgo Co.," he tweeted the same day as the DHS announcement. "Until Pres. Biden cracks down on cartels & secures the border, Texas will respond in full force to prevent the smuggling of people into Texas."

But many conservatives are skeptical, seeing the move as a midterm ploy that will have little real-world effect.

"Biden cares more about performative politics and his party's midterm chances than he does saving lives and addressing the humanitarian crisis Democrats created at the southern border," said Republican National Committee spokesman Will O'Grady. "There is no quick fix to this problem — but new leadership would be a solid start. Also, where is Kamala Harris?"

Harris was set to lead the Biden administration's efforts on the border but has not been a strong presence there. She has mostly focused on the root causes of immigration, visiting the border only once and skipping the area during a trip to Texas last weekend.

Beyond the optics, critics say the new program will not be effective, as it only affects immigrants from Venezuela and will also allow 24,000 migrants from that country to apply for a parole program.

The Heritage Foundation's Lora Ries describes it as a signal rather than a major substantive change.

"This administration is dealing with the border crisis by whack-a-mole," said Ries, director of the conservative think tank's Border Security and Immigration Center. "We've got Operation Allies Welcome for Afghanistan refugees, then they created the Uniting for Ukraine program, and now the volunteering for Venezuela program. They're creating new programs instead of sticking to preexisting avenues in the law, namely our Refugee Admissions Programs."

The program has also drawn criticism from the other side, with Venezuelan American Alliance President Maria Antonietta Diaz telling the Wall Street Journal that "a quota of 24,000 is not enough" and promising to demonstrate the need for a higher number.


Biden is keenly aware of the criticism he'd receive if he took strong action to secure the border, Ries previously told the Washington Examiner, saying the president has decided he'd rather get beat up by the Right than by the Left on the issue.

Yet some Democrats are also beginning to sound the alarm. New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) placed responsibility squarely on Biden and his administration to tackle an influx of immigrants coming to her state.

Describing the situation as a worsening “humanitarian crisis,” Hochul lamented a lack of federal action to address the declining situation.

“We really are looking for a federal response to this, to take ownership of a crisis, and we’ll be there to help," she said. "But this belongs to the federal government."

Fri, 14 Oct 2022 01:17:00 -0500 en text/html
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