Archive for September, 2014
Three of the 72 ranchers who agreed to a huge conservation deal on more than 12,000 hectares of native southern Alberta grassland ride off toward the Rocky Mountain foothills. The deal, announced Monday, Sept. 29, 2014 will keep the wildlife-rich land free of housing and agricultural development and allow the ranchers to graze cattle and retain ownership.
CALGARY – Southern Alberta ranchers have banded together to preserve a huge swath of almost untouched native grassland that some call a prairie Serengeti.
“Everything — everything — that was there when Columbus arrived is still there,” said Larry Simpson of the Nature Conservancy of Canada, which helped put the deal together. “That’s what makes this area so special.”
The 72 members of the Waldron Grazing Co-op have agreed to sign a conservation easement on more than 12,000 hectares of rolling prairie and foothills that their group has owned since 1962. The land, located on either side of Highway 22 south of Longview, Alta., was being eyed by developers and could have been sold for at least $75 million, said Simpson.
Instead, the ranchers agreed to easements that forbid subdividing, draining of wetlands, or cultivation of the land.
“We’re not in it for the money, we’re really not,” said rancher Tim Nelson from Stavely, Alta., chairman of co-op board. “We decided we could preserve the land and we could also continue to use it the way we’ve used it for the last 52 years.
“It’s not going to be houses out there, it’s not going to be hotels. It’s just going to be like it is.”
The deal allows the co-op to retain title and keep grazing the roughly 10,000 cattle currently home on the range. Some energy development exists on carefully restricted terms and future proposals would be considered case by case.
“It’s not like a park, it’s not like an ecological reserve,” Simpson said.
“Those are really important, but when we looked at the settled area of Alberta, we realized that if we were going to go to war over every single well that was going to be drilled we would not get much done. We’re going to focus on conserving working landscapes as best we can.”
The total cost of the project was $37.5 million, with $12.2 million from the provincial government and $4 million from Ottawa. The ranchers received $15 million — money they’ve already used to purchase another 5,700 hectares of adjacent grassland which they also plan to place under conservation easement.
The Waldron lands connect a large wildland park and even larger forest reserve. With the exception of bison, they are home to all the species that were originally native to the Prairies, including grizzly and black bears, wolves, cougars, hawks, eagles, elk, moose, deer, coyotes and foxes.
Nelson said public access on foot is permitted.
Visitors are asked to contact the range manager. Phone numbers will be posted on signs.
Human slavery is not just a major issue in developing countries, but is a serious problem in the U.S. and is more prolific now than during the 18th and 19th century, former President Jimmy Carter has told Tania Bryer, host of “CNBC Meets.”
Carter said 200-300 girls are sold into sexual slavery every month in his home state Georgia, and many living in advanced economies are completely unaware of the abuse happening to young women close to home.
Referring to facts in his most recent book, “A Call to Action, Women, Religion, Violence and Power,” Carter describes the abuse of women around the world as “the worst, unaddressed issue that the world faces today.”
“And those of us in the more advanced countries don’t know much about horrible abuse of girls whose genitals are mutilated when they’re very young, children who are killed because a girl is raped by strangers and her family kills her to protect their own nation’s honor. These kinds of things go on in the more remote parts of the world as far as we’re concerned,” the Democratic former president said.
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“But even in the United States, human slavery now is greater than it ever was during the 18th or 19th century. In Atlanta, Georgia, we have between 200-300 girls sold into sexual slavery every month,” he added.
Before moving into politics, Carter was in the Navy and worked on the family’s farm. He served as the 39th president from 1977 to 1981 and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002 for his efforts in finding peaceful solutions to international conflicts and his work in human rights.
Carter, who is turning 90 on Wednesday, and wife Rosalynn still travel the world doing work for The Carter Center, his human rights and health care charity, which he set up after leaving the White House.
In his new book, Carfter details how gender discrimination and sexual abuse in the U.S. Navy and college campuses across the country is widely covered up.
“It’s not addressed directly because the college owners and administrators don’t want it to be known that they have sexual assaults still taking place on their college campuses. And the same thing applies obviously in the military,” he told CNBC.
Carter, who has written 28 books, hopes his most recent offering will encourage governments to take action.
“Well I hope that this book, which is doing quite well, as far as number of sales, it’s got a lot of publicity, I hope it will induce governments, not only in America but around the world, to do something about these abuses that are quite often self-concealed by the people responsible,” he said.
The next time you get a blood test, you might not have to go to the doctor and watch vials of blood fill up as the precious fluid is drawn from your arm.
No more wondering to yourself — “ah, how much more can they take before I pass out?”
Instead you might be able to walk into a Walgreens pharmacy for a reportedly painless fingerprick that will draw just a tiny drop of blood, thanks to Elizabeth Holmes, 30, the youngest woman and third-youngest billionaire on Forbes’s newly-released annual ranking of the 400 richest Americans.
Revolutionizing the blood test is a golden idea.
Because of new testing methods developed by Holmes’s startup Theranos, that lone drop can now yield a ton of information.
The company can run hundreds of tests on a drop of blood far more quickly than could be done with whole vials in the past — and it costs a lot less.
A Billion Dollar Idea
Holmes dropped out of Stanford at 19 to found what would become Theranos after deciding that her tuition money could be better put to use by transforming healthcare.
Traditional blood testing is shockingly difficult and expensive for a tool that’s used so frequently. It also hasn’t changed since the 1960s.
It’s done in hospitals and doctor’s offices. Vials of blood have to be sent out and tested, which can take weeks using traditional methods, and is prone to human error. And of course, sticking a needle in someone’s arm scares some people enough that they avoid getting blood drawn, even when it could reveal life saving information.
Holmes recognized that process was ripe for disruption.
It took a decade for her idea to be ready for primetime, but now it seems that her decision to drop out was undoubtedly a good call. Last year, Walgreens announced that it will be installing Theranos Wellness Centers in pharmacies across the country, with locations already up and running in Phoenix and Palo Alto. And Holmes has raised $400 million in venture capital for Theranos, which is now valued at $9 billion (Holmes owns 50%).
The other two 30-year-olds that are just a little bit younger on Forbes’s List, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his former roommate, Facebook CEO Dustin Moskovitz, also have access to a wealth of information about people — but their data is less likely to save a life.
How It Works
One closely-guarded secret is what MedCityNews calls “the most interesting part of [the Theranos] story”: how exactly the technology behind its blood test works. The company’s methods are protected by more than a dozen patents filed as far back as 2004 and as recently as last week.
In an interview with Wired, Holmes hinted at some of the key ideas behind Theranos.
“We had to develop… methodologies that would make it possible to accelerate results,” she explained. “In the case of a virus or bacteria, traditionally tested using a culture, we measure the DNA of the pathogen instead so we can report results much faster.”
While we can’t yet assess independently how well that method works when compared to traditional blood tests, it already seems to be upending the old way of doing things.
Why Blood Tests?
Holmes told Medscape that she targeted lab medicine because it drives about 80% of clinical decisions made by doctors.
By zeroing in on the inefficiencies of that system, the Theranos approach completely revolutionizes it.
The new tests can be done without going to the doctor, which saves both money and time. Most results are available in about four hours, which means that you could swing by a pharmacy and have a test done the day before a doctor’s visit, and then the results would be available for the physician.
Quick tests that can be done at any time are already a total change, but the amount of data the company can get from a single drop of blood is amazing.
Blood samples have traditionally been used for one test, but if a follow up was needed, another sample had to be drawn and sent out — making it less likely that someone would get care. The Theranos approach means the same drop can be used for dozens of different tests.
It’s cheap too. One common criticism of the healthcare system is that the pricing structure is a confusing disaster of a labyrinth that makes it impossible to know how much anything costs. Theranos lists its prices online, and they’re impressive.
Each test costs less than 50% of standard Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement rates. If those two programs were to perform all tests at those prices, they’d save $202 billion over the next decade, according to an interview with Holmes on Wired.
Plus, people get access to their own results.
As an example of how helpful that can be, Holmes told Wired that Theranos charges $35 for a fertility test, which is usually paid for out-of-pocket and costs up to $2,000.
But she also explained that this data could be useful for anyone looking to gain a better understanding of their health.
“By testing, you can start to understand your body, understand yourself, change your diet, change your lifestyle, and begin to change your life,” she said.
The CEO of Windsor Regional Hospital says an experiment with unlimited vacations, started three years ago, has been a success.
David Musyj implemented the policy for 300 non-unionized staff at the hospital.
He said employees are taking about the same number of days off now, as they used to when vacation time was structured.
Musyj argues the flexibility makes for more productive workers.
“The benefit you’re going to get from that person coming back to the work environment, it makes it all worth it, because they’re going to give 110 per cent when they’re back, as opposed to, ‘I missed it, and I had to work.'”
British billionaire entrepreneur Richard Branson’s company, Virgin, allows its employees unlimited vacation time.
It’s one of the topic he addresses in his new book.
An excerpt from the book was recently shared on Facebook, that’s when Musyj noted he had also implemented the policy.
Musyj said no one has been abusing the privilege, and employees are pitching in to cover for those who are off.
“It’s far greater teamwork than in the past where you used to have, ‘I get four weeks, five weeks of paid vacation. I’m taking it. I’m going, and I’m gone,'” explained Musyj. “Now, what we’re seeing is far more people, because it’s flexible, are leaning on each other and supporting each other, and the teamwork that’s been created is phenomenal.”
Musyj said he adopted the unlimited vacations idea as a way to recruit and retain employees.
Workers still need to get vacation approved by their supervisor.