June 16, 2008 This week-end was filled with wonderful music during the JUNETEENTH 2008 Jazz Splash Festival. Images of the performances will be posted on 6/18/08. Today’s report gives a few glimpses of some of the preparation for the event. We reported on 1/18 through 1/25/08 about the removal of the old tent that covered the Colly Soleri Amphitheater. Planning department and Graphics are working on a new design for coverage of the stage and seating area. [photo] David Tollas and Jeff Buderer are on top of scaffolding, errected on the stage of the theater, to secure the mid-point of a parachute. [Photo & text: sa] An interim solution for shelter from the intense sun during this 3-day event, was worked out by Director Tomiaki Tamura. Maintenance crew custom cut and trimmed pieces from good parts of the old tent and installed them over the stage area. Construction crew, and many volunteers from other departments, installed a very large parachute to cover the seating area. [Photo & text: sa] The parachute was folded in half, each cord lined up and linked with its opposite and strong rope tied to the individual cords. With the crew distributed along the third floor of the west side of the East Crescent and along the roof of the east side, the ropes were slowly tied in tandem to have clean and even distribution over the stepped seating area. A smaller parachute was installed over the keystone area to give shade to some of the vendors [photos on 6/18]. [Photo & text: sa]
The Shiller P/E (S&P 500 divided by the 10-year average of inflation-adjusted earnings) is now 27, versus a long-term historical norm of 15 prior to the late 1990s bubble. Importantly, the profit margin embedded into the Shiller P/E is currently 6.7% versus a historical norm of just 5.4%. The implied margin is simply the denominator of the Shiller P/E divided by current S&P 500 revenues (the ratio of trailing 12-month earnings to revenues is even higher at 8.9%). As I showed in “Margins, Multiples and the Iron Law of Valuation,” taking this embedded margin into account significantly improves the usefulness and correlation of the Shiller P/E in explaining actual subsequent market returns. With this adjustment, the margin-adjusted Shiller P/E is now nearly 34, easily more than double its historical norm. This fact is important, because the Shiller P/E averaged 40 during the first nine months of 2000 as the tech bubble was peaking. But that Shiller P/E was associated with an embedded profit margin of only 5.0%. Adjusting for that embedded margin brings the margin-adjusted Shiller P/E at the 2000 peak to 37. Quite simply, stocks are a claim not on one or two years of earnings, but on a very long-term stream of cash flows that will actually be delivered into the hands of investors over time. For the S&P 500, that stream has an effective duration of about 50 years. At normal valuations, stocks have a duration of about half that because a larger proportion of the cash flows is delivered up front. The point is that our concerns about valuation aren’t based on what profit margins might do over the next several years. To take earnings-based valuation measures at face value here is essentially a statement that current record-high profit margins, despite being highly cyclical across history, will remain at a permanently high plateau for the next five decades. That’s the only way that one can use current earnings as representative of the long-term stream of cash flows that stocks will deliver over time. In order to use a simple P/E multiple to value stocks, this representativeness assumption is an absolute requirement. On other measures that have an even stronger historical correlation with actual subsequent market returns than either the Shiller P/E or the S&P 500 price/operating earnings ratio, the ratio of stock market capitalization to GDP is now about 1.33, compared to a pre-bubble norm of 0.55. The S&P 500 price/revenue multiple is now about 1.80, versus a historical norm of 0.80. On the measures we find most reliably associated with actual subsequent 10-year market returns (with a correlation of about 90%), the S&P 500 is not just double, but about 120-140% above historical norms. On a broader set of reliable but more varied measures, the elevation averages about 116%. Current equity valuations provide no margin of safety for long-term investors. One might as well be investing on a dare. It may seem preposterous to suggest that equities are literally more than double the level that would provide a historically adequate long-term return, but the same was true in 2000, which is why the S&P 500 experienced negative total returns over the following decade, even by 2010 after it had rebounded nearly 80% from the 2009 lows. Compared with 2000 when we estimated negative 10-year total returns for the S&P 500 even on the most optimistic assumptions, we presently estimate S&P 500 10-year nominal total returns averaging about 1.3% annually over the coming decade. Low interest rates don’t change this expectation—they just make the outlook for a standard investment mix even more dismal and the case for alternative investments stronger than at any point since 2000. I’ll repeat that if one associates historically “normal” equity returns with Treasury bill yields of about 4%, the promise to hold short-term interest rates at zero for 3-4 years only “justifies” equity valuations 12-16% above historical norms. Again, at more than double those historical norms, current equity valuations provide no margin of safety for long-term investors. To put some full-cycle perspective around present valuations, understand that 1929 and 2000 are the only historical references to similar extremes. Moreover, aside from the 2000-2002 bear market (which ended at fairly elevated valuations but still allowed us to shift to a constructive outlook in early 2003), no bear market in history—including 2009—ended with prospective 10-year returns less than 8% (See “Ockham’s Razor and the Market Cycle” to review the arithmetic of these estimates). This was true even in historical periods when short- and long-term interest rates were similar to current levels. Currently, such an improvement in prospective equity returns would require a move to about 1,200 on the S&P 500, which we would view as a fairly pedestrian completion of the current market cycle—certainly not an outlier from the standpoint of historical experience. Major secular valuation lows like 1949, 1974, and 1982 pushed stocks to valuations consistent with prospective 10-year returns over 18% annually, and dragged the S&P 500 price/revenue ratio to about 0.40, and the ratio of market capitalization/GDP to about 0.33. At present, a secular valuation low would require “S&P 500” to be not only an index but a price target—though one that would also make a rather satisfying megaphone pattern out of the past 15 years of market action. Such an outcome only seems preposterous if one ignores the cyclicality of profit margins and assumes they have established a permanently high plateau. In any event, with the current price/revenue ratio at 1.80 and market cap/GDP at 1.33, the notion that stocks are in the early phase of a secular bull market (as some Wall Street analysts have suggested) can only reflect a complete ignorance of the historical record. The Line Between Rational Speculation and Market Collapse However—and this is really where the experience of the past few years and our research-based adaptations come into play—there are some conditions that historically appear capable of supporting what might be called “rational speculation” even in a severely overvalued market. Depending on the level of overvaluation, a safety net might be required in any event, and that would certainly be the case if those conditions were to re-emerge here. But following my 2009 insistence on stress-testing our methods against Depression-era data, and the terribly awkward transition that we experienced until we nailed down these distinctions in our present methods, the central lesson is worth repeating: Neither our stress-testing against Depression-era data, nor the adaptations we’ve made in response extreme yield-seeking speculation, do anything to diminish our conviction that historically reliable valuation measures are of immense importance to investors. Rather, the lessons to be drawn have to do with the criteria that distinguish periods where valuations have little near-term impact from periods where they suddenly matter with a vengeance. I detailed these lessons in my June 16, 2014 comment—“Formula for Market Extremes” (see the section titled Lessons from the Recent Half Cycle). That’s really the point at which we were finally able to put a box around this awkward transition and view it as fully addressed. See also “Air Pockets, Free Falls, and Crashes,” “A Most Important Distinction,” and “Hard-Won Lessons and the Bird in the Hand.” Historically, the emergence of extremely overvalued, overbought, overbullish conditions has typically been followed by an “unpleasant skew”—a succession of small but persistent marginal new highs, followed by a vertical collapse in which weeks or months of gains are wiped out in a handful of sessions. In prior market cycles, more often than not, periods of extremely overextended conditions were also already accompanied by a subtle deterioration in market internals or widening credit spreads. In recent years, the persistent yield-seeking speculation encouraged by quantitative easing has weakened the overlap between these two conditions. That is, we’ve had repeated periods of severely overvalued, overbought, overbullish conditions, but they often have not been accompanied by internal deterioration or widening credit spreads. In those periods, stocks were generally resilient to significant losses. In contrast—even since 2009—periods that have joined 1) overvalued, overbought, overbullish conditions with 2) deteriorating internals or widening credit spreads have been responsible for nearly stairstep market losses. During the tech bubble, we introduced considerations related to market internals (what I often called “trend uniformity”) as an overlay to our value-driven models. So our pre-2009 method of classifying market return/risk profiles had this distinction hard-wired into it. The ensemble methods that came out of our 2009-2010 stress-testing efforts were more effective in market cycles across history—including Depression-era data—but while they included trend-sensitive measures, they didn’t impose them as an overlay. The basic narrative of the transition from those pre-2009 methods to our present ones boils down to 1) our self-inflicted stress testing miss, and 2) the need to re-introduce those overlays (albeit in a somewhat different form) to make our methods more tolerant of speculative bubbles. We certainly learned all of this the hard way, and my hope is that others will draw some benefit from that experience. Unfortunately, my sense is that many have learned entirely the wrong lesson, and are just as vulnerable to the next crash as they were to the other two collapses in recent memory. You can see the effect of imposing those overlays in the narrowing of conditions under which we view a hard-negative outlook as appropriate. See last week’s comment, “Iceberg at the Starboard Bow,” for a chart of the cumulative performance of the S&P 500 across history in periods restricted to the conditions we presently observe. Now, if we do observe an improvement in market internals and credit spreads, it would not make valuations any less obscene, but it would significantly ease our immediate concerns about market losses. A safety net would be required in any event, but there is a range of possible outlooks between hard-negative and constructive with a safety net. I suspect that the range of variation in our investment outlook is likely to be very confusing in the coming years to those who have swallowed the hook that I’m a permabear, because our present methods would have encouraged an unhedged, leveraged investment stance through about 62% of history (including over 20% of recent cycle—though at no time in the past three years). That’s exactly what I encouraged for years following the 1990 bear market—a leveraged stance. Those who’ve followed my work over the long term should recognize that the framework I’ve presented helps to understand both my major successes and my periodic failures—exasperating during bubbles, but ultimately vindicated—through decades in the financial markets. This isn’t an accident, because it also helps to understand the bubbles and crashes of the equity market itself in market cycles across a century of history. What this framework requires, primarily, is the ability to withstand the cognitive dissonance of markets that are outrageously overvalued or undervalued, but persist until subtle deterioration or improvement in observable market internals and credit spreads indicates a shift in investor risk preferences. Again, we completed the transition from our pre-2009 method to our present method of classifying market return/risk profiles in June. The resulting adaptations are robust to market cycles across history, including the Depression, including recent bubbles and crashes, and including the current cycle. With these adaptations in place, nothing in recent years leaves us concerned that we would be unable to navigate a long continuation of the recent bull market (unlikely as we might view that outcome). We don’t need to hope for a market collapse, nor dread the possibility of a further advance. Our primary goal is simply to maintain a historically informed discipline and align our outlook consistently as market conditions change. At present, the fact that we are highly concerned about market risk is a reflection of a market environment that joins extremely overvalued, overbought, overbullish conditions with still-troubling dispersion in market internals and a widening of credit spreads. That will change. In short, our concerns about market risk remain extreme at present, and will shift considerably as the evidence changes.
Recommended Link Recommended Link Watch now Click here to for the latest update — Transfer the funds you’ve set aside for crypto to the exchange and buy bitcoin. Justin’s note: Today, we have a big-picture update on the crypto market from Casey Research’s in-house crypto specialist, Marco Wutzer. Below, Marco shows us why the blockchain and cryptos are still going to create a huge amount of wealth for smart speculators… why the next bull market will be more powerful than the last… and how you can start profiting today. By Marco Wutzer, senior analyst, Disruptive ProfitsEight seconds.That’s how long you have to grab someone’s attention before they mentally drift off to the next thing. That’s one second less than a goldfish.Thanks to constant interruptions by smartphones and multitasking, our attention spans are getting shorter all the time.This is also reflected in absurd investor behavior…Over the last five decades, the average holding period for a stock has steadily declined. It’s fallen from eight years to a mere four months since the 1960s. You can see this in the chart below:I wouldn’t be surprised if that average is even shorter in the fast-paced, 24/7 crypto market.Why am I telling you this?Put simply, if you want to be a successful crypto speculator, you need to take a long-term view. Download and install a crypto wallet. Exodus is my personal favorite. — Will Donald Trump Be Your Last President?…A major political coup is unfolding in America that will topple Donald Trump’s presidency… Only those who prepare will be able to live in peace in a new socialist America. In this video, we lay out the simple steps you can take right now to protect your assets but survive the next recession… The Future Takes Time to BuildThe internet took 30 years to become mainstream. Blockchain technology is barely 10 years old and has only received serious attention for the last three years or so.Rewiring the global financial system and the larger economy takes a long time. Still, the Blockchain Ecosystem is developing fast. And it’s spreading like a virus.Eventually, it will take over all the aspects of our daily lives in which it makes sense to use a trust-minimized system.You see, nature is trending towards higher orders of complexity.In short, blockchain technology is peer-to-peer, immutable, and censorship-resistant. This enables us to build a freer, more complex society outside the limitations of nation-states.Building the future takes time. It’ll be another three to five years or so until cryptocurrencies reach mass adoption.But luckily, we don’t have to wait for this to fully play out to profit as speculators.That’s because markets move in cycles. Each cycle brings in a new wave of cryptocurrency adopters.I deal with the Blockchain Ecosystem on a daily basis. So it’s easy for me to forget that there are billions of people on this planet that have never even heard of blockchain technology.I was reminded of this recently at Doug Casey’s estancia in Uruguay. We were having dinner with a cosmopolitan, affluent Uruguayan couple.She is a lawyer and real estate broker, and he is retired with a background in many business ventures, including being a stock broker at one time.In other words, they’re wealthy, educated people who travel the world… not local, isolated farmers.When Doug asked them what they think about cryptocurrencies, it turned out they had never even heard about bitcoin.This goes to show that we still have a very long way to go. Most of the growth is still ahead of us. Transfer a small amount of bitcoin – the equivalent of a few dollars – to your crypto wallet. Open an account with an exchange where you can trade your fiat currencies to crypto. (I recommend itBit or Bitstamp to my Disruptive Profits subscribers.) Congratulations!You’re now part of the still small and exclusive club of crypto pioneers… And you’ll be ready to take advantage of the next bull market when it kicks off.To disruptive profits,Marco Wutzer Senior Analyst, Disruptive ProfitsJustin’s note: Once you’ve got some bitcoin, you can start speculating on the future of blockchain technology… the plays that will mint a new generation of millionaires.Marco is on top of all of the most exclusive developments in this space. Go here to check out how to get access to his best picks.Reader MailbagAre you buying bitcoin today? Do you think that digital currencies are a big money-making opportunity right now? Share your thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org.You’re Invited…To spend time with your favorite investing masterminds in southern California… the only time this year that all of Casey Research’s gurus will be together on one stage…And as a Dispatch reader, you’ve got an exclusive invitation to join us at the second annual Legacy Investment Summit on September 23-25.Join the smartest minds in finance – like the legendary Doug Casey, former hedge fund manager Teeka Tiwari, master trader Jeff Clark, and angel investor Jeff Brown – for their exclusive, in-person insights.And for a limited time, you can secure your tickets for hundreds less than everyone else will pay… Make sure you back up your recovery phrase so you can restore your wallet if something goes wrong. (Think of the recovery phrase as your password.) 5-Billion-Year-Old Bacteria Unlocks the Way to Beat Cancer at the Genetic LevelIt’s hard to fathom a bacteria from the dawn of Earth holding the key to curing cancer, but then again, it is the starting point of all known life… and these 3 companies hold all the key patents to this bacterial breakthrough. Superior Solutions, Growing AwarenessA crypto seed was planted in the Uruguayan couple’s heads that evening.They might not investigate the topic much further right away… But two more people on the planet are now aware that cryptocurrencies exist and offer superior solutions to many problems.Think about that for a moment. Variations of this conversation play out thousands of times a day across the globe.That’s why from 2015 to the end of last year, the number of people who use blockchain wallets grew over 900%.That means almost 29 million more people use blockchain wallets today than just four years ago.No matter if we are in a bull or bear market, the crypto meme is spreading and reaching more people.Even during the current bear market, more people learn about blockchain technology every day. The couple Doug and I talked to in Uruguay is a case in point.When the market eventually turns bullish again, this growing pool of new adopters will be ready to participate in the new world of the Blockchain Ecosystem for the very first time.That means that when the next bull market starts, the network effects will be even stronger than the last time.And where will new adopters go for their first dive into crypto? They’ll buy the most well-known cryptocurrency… the reserve of the crypto world – bitcoin.That’s why, whether you’re buying bitcoin for the first time or already own some, now is a great time to buy.How to Start Profiting If this is your first time buying a cryptocurrency, I recommend the following: Once you’re familiar with the process and have made sure everything works the way it should, transfer the rest of your funds to your crypto wallet.
Reviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Nov 1 2018The BioScience Talks podcast features discussions of topical issues related to the biological sciences.Mosquito-borne diseases have plagued humanity for centuries, and a prolific offender has been Aedes aegypti, commonly known as the “yellow fever mosquito.” Despite the yellow-fever moniker, it is also a potent carrier of dengue, chikungunya, and Zika viruses. Writing in BioScience, Dr. Jeffrey Powell and his colleagues describe recent work in tracking the spread of this important vector. Using newly available genomic techniques, they cross-referenced the historical divergence of A. aegypti populations with known records of ship movements and disease spread. The results paint a picture of a species that traversed slave and other trade routes to the New World and beyond. In this episode of BioScience Talks, Powell joins us to discuss his work and to elaborate on the evolution and movements of this deadly “domesticated” mosquito species.Source: https://www.aibs.org/
The Porshe avoided several obstacles, including a dog and a bike, as it drove in a straight line China’s Huawei used the artificial intelligence capabilities of its flagship Mate 10 Pro phone to drive a sports car as the Mobile World Congress got under way in Barcelona Monday, in what it said was a world first. The Porshe avoided several obstacles, including a dog and a bike, as it drove in a straight line to demonstrate the AI-powered object recognition technology in the phone’s camera.The tech giant said it was “the first mobile device manufacturer in the world to use an AI-powered smartphone to drive a car,” saying the technology was able to distinguish between thousands of different objects and thereby able to avoid any collision.Huawei said the test was only designed to demonstrate its phone’s AI capabilities and did not plan to develop a new driverless car. “The smartphone totally controls the vehicle, we did not do anything except for steering elements,” said Arne Herkelmann, who heads Huawei’s handset portfolio in Europe.”The camera sees that there is something on the road, recognises what it is and acts to avoid it, we trained our AI to be able to recognise a road and its possible obstacles.”In 2017, Huawei was the world’s third biggest seller of smartphones after Samsung and Apple, holding a 10.4 percent market share, up from 9.5 percent a year earlier, according to figures from research firm IDC. Citation: Huawei’s AI-powered smartphone drives a Porsche (2018, February 26) retrieved 18 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-02-huawei-ai-powered-smartphone-porsche.html Huawei launches new tablet in flagship phone hiatus © 2018 AFP Explore further This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.
CBS sues to block effort to ‘force’ merger with Viacom This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. © 2018 AFP National Amusements Inc said the move was designed “to safeguard against unlawful action by CBS and its special committee” which had been moving to weaken the control of Shari Redstone, daughter of the ailing 94-year-old former chairman Sumner Redstone.Under the new bylaws, any change in voting power would require a “supermajority,” according to a statement from National Amusements.The holding company said it acted to head off “the irresponsible action taken by CBS and its special committee,” claiming it “put in motion a chain of events that poses significant risk to CBS.”CBS said the move “provides further evidence of why we concluded that we had no choice but to file our action in the Delaware courts, in order to protect the interests of all CBS shareholders. “It added that “we are confident in our position and look forward to presenting our case in court.”The family holding company owns around 10 percent of the equity of CBS but its special voting shares give it approximately 80 percent of the voting power.National Amusements took the action days after CBS filed suit alleging that Shari Redstone was seeking to “force” a merger with rival Viacom on unfavorable terms.The two sides were headed for a court hearing on a CBS request for a restraining order against Shari Redstone ahead of a board meeting Thursday.CBS said its board committee had recommended a special dividend that would have the effect of diluting the voting power of the Redstone family.The lawsuit alleges that Shari Redstone is seeking to force through a merger of CBS and media rival Viacom “on terms that are contrary to the best interests of the public stockholders.”Redstone’s court brief called the CBS effort a “brazen attempt to disenfranchise a controlling stockholder” and said the holding company “does not have, and has never had, any intention of replacing the CBS Board or taking other action to force a merger.”The lawsuit is the latest drama involving the media-entertainment empire built by Sumner Redstone, whose fitness and mental status have been questioned in legal proceedings.A decade ago, Sumner Redstone split CBS and Viacom but retained control of both media firms through his holding company.Shari Redstone, acting on behalf of her ailing father, effectively controls both firms through National Amusements’ special voting shares.A separate legal clash ended in 2016 when Viacom chief Philippe Dauman agreed to step down and drop his lawsuit alleging a power grab by Shari Redstone in the absence of her incapacitated father. Shari Redstone, who controls CBS through the family holding company National Amusements, denounced a “brazen” effort by the media firm’s board to dilute her voting shares Explore further Citation: Redstone family blocks move to dilute its CBS vote power (2018, May 16) retrieved 18 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-05-redstone-family-blocks-dilute-cbs.html The struggle over the future of CBS Corp. took a new twist Wednesday as the holding company for controlling shareholder Shari Redstone said it revised the bylaws of the media group, a move aimed at heading off an effort to dilute her voting power.
Facebook nixes Brazil pages, profiles that spread fake news Facebook acknowledged Tuesday it has developed tools to identify users “indiscriminately” flagging fake news as it refines its effort to combat misinformation. Citation: Facebook flags users who try to ‘game’ fact-checking effort (2018, August 21) retrieved 18 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-08-facebook-flags-users-game-fact-checking.html © 2018 AFP Facebook says it has a ranking system that identifies users who “indiscriminately” flag fake news Explore further But the leading social network disputed as “just plain wrong” a Washington Post report that it has developed an overall “reputation score” for its users as part of the initiative.Facebook said it has developed “a process to protect against people indiscriminately flagging news as fake and attempting to game the system” which relies in part on how often a user reports something as fake despite verification by fact-checkers.”The reason we do this is to make sure that our fight against misinformation is as effective as possible,” Facebook said in a statement.Users who report what appears to be bogus news are given a standard probability score of from zero to one depending on how reliable they are when it comes to reporting posts that are untrue, according to the social network.The rating is one of many “signals” used to prioritize flagged posts sent to be reviewed by fact-checking teams.But Facebook said the Post report was misleading because it did not create a “unified score” to rank the overall trustworthiness of its users.Over the past 18 months, Facebook and other online platforms have stepped up efforts to combat the spread of false news with the intent to manipulate the platforms.Part of the challenge battling bogus content is that some people report posts as false simply because they disagree with stories, or in efforts to wrongly discredit them, according to the social network.Repeatedly reporting accurate information to be false at Facebook would skew a users reliability rating toward zero in the ranking system.Facebook last month shut down 32 fake pages and accounts involved in an apparent “coordinated” effort to stoke hot-button issues ahead of November midterm US elections.The US intelligence community has concluded that Russia sought to sway the vote in Donald Trump’s favor, and Facebook was a primary tool in that effort, using targeted ads to escalate political tensions and push divisive online content.Facebook has since made a priority of preventing the social network to be used to spread misleading or outright deceitful messages aimed at influencing politics. This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.
This photograph from August 2017 shows a monkey sharing corridor space with relatives of patients at the Gorakhpur’s BRD Medical College Hospital, where several children died that month, purportedly after oxygen ran out – VV Krishnan SHARE SHARE EMAIL On July 30 last year, in a tiny private hospital in Uttar Pradesh’s Pharenda town, a son was born to Rambha and Sonu Yadav. The couple were ecstatic. But their joy was short-lived. The baby developed breathing difficulties and was referred to the government-run Baba Raghav Das (BRD) Medical College in nearby Gorakhpur.“The doctors told me that my baby would just not cry,” Yadav says, recalling how he took the new-born on his motorbike to the hospital 44 km away. On August 10, 2017, the medical college ran out of central oxygen supply. Yadav’s baby died, along with 22 others.It has been a year since the deaths made national headlines. The Yogi Adityanath government drew much flak, there was outrage all around, and widespread call for an overhaul of the medical facility.The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare had asked States and Union Territories to improve the quality of postnatal care. They were also asked to suggest a need-based proposal for augmenting infrastructure, capacity-building, equipment maintenance, and for ensuring uninterrupted supply of essential medicines.A year on, little has changed. No one from the government approached Yadav’s family to probe the case; nor has there been a ‘death audit’: an international best practice in such cases to reach the roots of the matter.Twenty-three children died on August 10, 2017, of which 14 were neonates. Three days earlier, on August 7, 2017, four neonates had died; the casualty for August 8 was seven; and six on August 9. The figures were obtained from a letter sent to then Union Health Secretary CK Mishra, by the Uttar Pradesh Additional Secretary Anita Bhatnagar Jain, and accessed through an RTI query. “My baby was doing okay till August 10 (2017). He was admitted to the neo-natal unit. A hustle broke out that day, as nurses took to ambu-bags to resuscitate babies. Parents were not allowed inside. After a few hours, my name was called out on the mike. My baby was handed over to me, wrapped in a cloth,” Yadav said.Even as the State government admits that oxygen ran out on August 10, 2017, it never conducted a death audit and maintains that the deaths did not occur due to oxygen failure. Was it a managerial mishap, or was it a larger issue, of crumbling government infrastructure in medical facilities?While bureaucratic squabbles ensued, the oxygen supplier and four doctors have been released from the Gorakhpur district jail, three clerks and a pharmacist continue to be lodged in the prison.A drive around Gorakhpur town’s upmarket areas reveals that every other bungalow houses a private medical practice; most of these doctors are either on government rolls or previously employed with the State. Around the BRD Medical College, contrastingly, there is a strong stench of urine and little children openly defecating within the premises. Across the road from the hospital, chemist shops feature banners indicating that they function as agents for government doctors who run their private practice.The nearest sub-centre from Yadav’s home in Pharenda is in Machligaon which only opens once a month when a nurse visits for vaccine rounds.A new primary health centre, built at an expense of ₹1.5 crore, is the proverbial white elephant. Of its 17 rooms, only one is open. Only two of seven sanctioned posts have been filled — those of a pharmacist and a ward boy. While the pharmacist, though unqualified, examines patients, the ward boy doles out antibiotics such as ciprofloxacin for minor ailments. Facilities such as an oxygen machine for resuscitating weak babies at birth are still missing.And 10 km away, at Kampiar Ganj, a mother-and-child hospital (MCH) is non-functional. National Health Mission documents show that in 78 sub-districts, 30-bedded MCH wings had been proposed at an expense of ₹3 crore each. The first instalment of ₹1.5 crore for each centre was released by the Centre in 2012-13, and the second and third instalments of ₹75 lakh each were released in 2013-14 and 2015-16, respectively. While the construction is complete in 69 of the 78 wings, none is currently functional.“Between 2013 and 2015, the UP government built three times the required [number of] health centres with 90 per cent human resource shortage. It was a massive real estate project. How can you run centres without adequate human resources?” asks Shamika Ravi, Member, Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council.Along with paltry human resources, unspent balances of health funds are a major concern in UP. Details accessed by BusinessLine through RTI reveal that between March 2005 and March 2018, the State has had an unspent balance of ₹3,255.24 crore, while an additional ₹3,457 crore was released to the State by Centre in 2017-18.“It is the State’s duty to ensure that payments are made on time after multiple reminders were sent from medical college for release of funds. More so, what is a few lakh rupees (towards non-payment of oxygen dues) when a massive amount of ₹3,255.24 crore is lying unspent from the NHM budget,” commented a senior official in the Union Health Ministry.In fact, the 950-bedded hospital attached to the medical college in Gorakhpur that serves 12 districts, does not have a cardiac medicine department or one for cardio-surgery. In case of a heart-attack, the patient is left to the mercy of private nursing homes or transported to Lucknow — 750 km away and a 12-hour journey by road.Meanwhile, a ‘super-speciality’ wing is under construction, adjacent to the existing medical college. On the other end of the town, about 10 km away, a 750-bedded All-India Institute of Medical Sciences is on the cards, but construction has is yet to begin. The Cabinet had approved a budget of ₹1,011 crore for the AIIMS wing in 2016.“The construction has not begun yet, as we are still in the process of clearing rubble of the demolished Cane Research Institute. In all likelihood, we will miss the deadlines as we are running late on all counts,” said a site employee from HSCC (I) Ltd, which is the executing agency.Nearby, an 8-storey, 100-bedded district-run MCH lies vacant. Funds worth ₹20 crore were disbursed by the Centre in three instalments — ₹10 crore (2012-13), ₹5 crore (2013-14), ₹5 crore (2015-16) — under the National Health Mission. The MCH was to be operational by March 2017, public records accessed by Businessline show.“We should be able to inaugurate it in 2018,” says an official. Construction work was initiated for 53 such hospitals across UP, of which 24 are incomplete. None of them is functional. Now, it has been proposed that they be run in public-private partnership.While the public health apparatus continues to be wrapped in red tape, conditions remain abysmal on ground. The truth about the baby deaths will likely never emerge. UP is flush with funds, but much like the deaths in Gorakhpur last year, the abysmal health of its medical facilities, too, remains a mystery August 09, 2018 COMMENT Published on 0 COMMENTS health SHARE
CAG NDA Rafale deal cheaper than UPA offer: CAG COMMENT SHARE COMMENTS In the eye of the storm – AP RELATED February 13, 2019 SHARE SHARE EMAIL The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), on Wednesday, released its report in the Rafale jet procurement.CAG made the following points about the pricing of the Rafale jets:The price of aircraft as estimated by audit is 2.86 per cent lower than the original price.The cost of India-specific enhancement is 17.08 per cent lower.There is no price change in cost of flyaway aircraft.There is a cost escalation by 6.54 per cent in both engineering support package and performance based logistics.The cost of training pilots and technicians is 2.68 per cent higher.The CAG made the following observations about the defence procurement process:The CAG examined prices but it has been redacted in the report on the insistence of the Ministry of DefenceIndian Air Force did not define its qualitative requirements for the procurement, thus creating difficulties during technical and price evaluationThe model used for calculating the ‘Life Cycle Cost’ of the acquisitions had several deficiencies and needs to be improved furtherThe current capital acquisition system is unlikely to effectively support the Indian Air Force in its operational preparednessThe present ‘Lowest Price Technical Acceptable’ method of bid evaluation needs reconsideration Rafale Published on