Researchers find potential treatment to halt premature labor and birth

first_imgReviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Oct 15 2018Premature birth is the leading cause of infant death and disability in the U.S., and costs billions in dollars and heartache every year. Now, University of Connecticut researchers report in Reproductive Sciences a potential treatment that could stop many cases of premature labor and birth in their tracks.UConn Health’s Christopher Nold, an obstetrician who practices maternal-fetal medicine at Hartford Hospital, and Anthony Vella, an immunologist, were curious about the immune system’s role in premature birth.Most pregnancies last about 40 weeks. A baby born before 37 weeks may be too small to regulate body temperature or breathing, and suffer from brain bleeds or other organ troubles, as well as long-term impacts such as developmental delays and cognitive problems.In this nation alone, about 337,000 babies were born prematurely in 2016. But in other mammals premature birth is quite rare, and usually happens only if there is an infection or inflammation.The researchers knew that cytokines, small proteins that alert the body to infection and cause inflammation, had been found in the amniotic fluid of many women who gave birth prematurely.That made them wonder. The fetus is different enough from its mother that the immune system ought to attack it, but something blocks that from happening during pregnancy. What if that protection stopped for some women, causing premature labor?”There’s a lot of anti-inflammatory mechanisms that prevent the fetus from being rejected. So we thought maybe dangerous inflammation, that can break down the tolerance barrier, could mediate the start-up of birth,” even – or especially – premature birth, says Vella.So Nold and Vella took cells from the female reproductive tract and the amniotic fluid that surrounds fetuses in the womb, and exposed them to pieces of bacteria in the lab. As they expected, the cells produced lots of cytokines – the equivalent of shouting “hey, there’s an invader!”Related StoriesPromising new approaches in the fight against brain metastasisThioredoxin antioxidant could soon be used to improve cancer treatmentNanotechnology-based compound used to deliver hepatitis B vaccineBut the cytokines weren’t primarily the inflammation-causing kind the researchers were expecting.Instead, they saw much more granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) than they expected. GM-CSF is a kind of cytokine that causes cells to grow up quickly and become bacteria-eating macrophages. The population of macrophages in pregnant women does tend to ramp up right before the women give birth. But it’s unclear if that is directly connected to birth, or a side effect of another process.Nold and Vella’s finding that GM-CSF is released in response to perceived bacterial infection is intriguing, because there’s already a drug available that blocks GM-CSF.Treating pregnant mice with this drug sharply reduced preterm birth in mice that had been exposed to pieces of dangerous bacteria. If preventing premature births could be that straightforward, it would be a game changer. Nold and Vella have filed for a provisional patent on the technology.But first the researchers need to figure out if GM-CSF is really what’s causing premature birth in women.Nold has been collecting samples from women early in pregnancy to see if there’s anything detectable early on that could show who is at risk of giving birth prematurely. He and Vella would like to test those samples for GM-CSF, and see if GM-CSF levels early in pregnancy can give clues as to how early the pregnancies end.”We’re hoping to do more immune mechanism studies in mice. And in the not-too-distant future, we hope to start looking at human studies,” Nold says. Hartford Hospital has already given them a small grant, and they are looking for more funding to pursue the research further. Source:https://today.uconn.edu/2018/10/calm-immune-system-halt-premature-birth/last_img read more

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Study shows pivotal role of parents in efforts to change sexual orientation

first_imgRelated StoriesResearchers identify gene mutations linked to leukemia in children with Down’s syndromeSocial media use and television viewing linked to rise in adolescent depressive symptomsEffective stop smoking treatments less likely to be prescribed to people with mental health conditionsDr. Caitlin Ryan, Director of the Family Acceptance Project at San Francisco State University and lead author noted, “Although parents and religious leaders who try to change a child’s LGBT identity may be motivated by attempts to ‘protect’ their children, these rejecting behaviors instead undermine an LGBT child’s sense of self-worth, contribute to self-destructive behaviors that significantly increase risk and inhibit self-care which includes constricting their ability to make a living. That’s why we developed a family support model to help diverse families learn to support their LGBT children that we’re integrating in behavioral health, out-of-home care, primary care and pastoral care in communities across the country.””We now have even more dramatic evidence of the lasting personal and social cost of subjecting young people to so-called ‘change’ or ‘conversion’ therapies. Prior studies with adults have shown how harmful these practices are. Our study shows the role central role that parents play. It is clear that there are public health costs of ‘change’ efforts for LGBT adolescents over the long-term. The kind of change we really need is family education and intervention” said study co-author, Stephen T. Russell, Ph.D., Regents Professor, University of Texas at Austin.Said Stephenie Larsen, CEO of Encircle, an LGBT Family & Youth Resource Center in Provo, Utah – a state where suicide rates are highest among adolescents – that is working with the Family Acceptance Project to increase family support: “We founded Encircle to provide an accepting environment where LGBT youth can receive a range of supportive services, including quality mental health care, and also a place where parents and families can learn to support their children’s sexual orientation and gender identity in culturally affirming ways. The Family Acceptance Project’s latest study shows how deeply rooted efforts are to change LGBT youth, how great the personal cost and how vital our services are to nurture their positive development – just as they are. Engaging families is not only important but life-saving, particularly here in Utah.”This study is noteworthy since knowledge of conversion efforts among LGBT adolescents is limited, and research that guides public policy responses to prevent conversion efforts is based on the experiences of adults. This knowledge gap has obscured the central role of parents and caregivers both in trying to change their child’s sexual orientation at home though a range of rejecting behaviors and in serving as gatekeepers to take their LGBT children to practitioners and religious leaders to try to change their sexual orientation though conversion interventions.Although responses to prevent conversion efforts have focused on adopting state laws to curtail licensed practitioners from engaging in sexual orientation change interventions (deemed unethical and harmful by mainstream professional associations), this study underscores the urgent need for culturally appropriate education and guidance for families and religious leaders to provide accurate information on sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, on the harmful effects of family rejecting behaviors which include sexual orientation conversion efforts, and on the need for supporting LGBT young people to reduce risk and increase well-being.Source: http://www.sfsu.edu/ Rates of attempted suicide by LGBT young people whose parents tried to change their sexual orientation were more than double (48%) the rate of LGBT young adults who reported no conversion experiences (22%). Suicide attempts nearly tripled for LGBT young people who reported both home-based efforts to change their sexual orientation by parents and intervention efforts by therapists and religious leaders (63%). High levels of depression more than doubled (33%) for LGBT young people whose parents tried to change their sexual orientation compared with those who reported no conversion experiences (16%) and more than tripled (52%) for LGBT young people who reported both home-based efforts to change their sexual orientation by parents and external sexual orientation change efforts by therapists and religious leaders. Sexual orientation change experiences during adolescence by both parents / caregivers and externally by therapists and religious leaders were associated with lower young adult socioeconomic status: less educational attainment and lower weekly income. LGBT adolescents from highly religious families and those from families with lower socioeconomic status were most likely to experience both home-based and external conversion efforts, while those who were gender nonconforming and who were from immigrant families were more likely to experience external conversion efforts initiated by parents and caregivers. Reviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Nov 9 2018A study from the Family Acceptance Project (FAP) has found that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) young people who experience sexual orientation change efforts during adolescence report attempts to change their sexual orientation (often called “conversion therapy”) both by their parents and by therapists and religious leaders.Whether change efforts are carried out at home by parents and caregivers or by practitioners and religious leaders, parents serve as gatekeepers to both engage in and take their LGBT children for external conversion interventions. Both home-based parent and external sexual orientation conversion interventions by therapists and religious leaders, coupled with parent conversion efforts, contribute to multiple health and adjustment problems in young adulthood. These include higher levels of depression and suicidal behavior, as well as lower levels of self-esteem, social support and life satisfaction, and lower levels of education and income in young adulthood, compared with LGBT young people who did not experience conversion efforts.”Parent-Initiated Sexual Orientation Change Efforts with LGBT Adolescents: Implications for Young Adult Mental Health and Adjustment” is the first study to examine the sexual orientation change experiences for LGBT youth across several domains and to ask about conversion experiences with both parents / caregivers and with practitioners and religious leaders. This builds on an earlier Family Acceptance Project study on family rejection and health risks that identified and measured more than 50 specific family rejecting behaviors that include parental and caregiver efforts and external interventions to change their LGBT child’s sexual orientation.In the current study published online in the Journal of Homosexuality, more than half (53%) of LGBT non-Latino white and Latino young adults, ages 21-25, reported experiencing sexual orientation change efforts during adolescence. Of these, 21% reported specific experiences by parents and caregivers to change their sexual orientation at home; and 32% reported sexual orientation change efforts by both parents and by therapists and religious leaders. Notably, any sexual orientation change efforts – whether by parents alone or by parents, therapists and religious leaders contribute to higher risk for LGBT young people. However, those who experience both parental and external conversion efforts by therapists or religious leaders had the highest levels of risk.Specific Research Findingslast_img read more

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Study explores whether Nordic countries could head towards opioid crisis like the

first_imgReviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Mar 13 2019Addiction to prescription opioids has reached a crisis level in the United States. Now the drug is causing concern across the Atlantic. Researchers from Denmark, Norway and Sweden urge caution after discovering that prescriptions for the pain medication oxycodone have significantly increased during the last decade.The opioid crisis in the United States shows no sign of abating. On average, 130 Americans die of opioid overdoses each day. The abuse of prescription drugs, such as the pain medication oxycodone, cause the majority of these deaths. A pain relieving drug, oxycodone, is prescribed frequently to alleviate moderate to severe pain. Heavily marketed to doctors in the United States, the dangers of this strong painkiller were downplayed, which led to a significant rise in usage. In 2012, more than one in seven Americans had a prescription for oxycodone.In Denmark, Norway and Sweden the pharmaceutical industry is subject to stringent regulation and marketing to doctors is strictly limited. However, with ageing populations, reports show these countries have some of the highest rates of chronic non-cancer pain in the world. As a result, the demand for prescription opioids has risen significantly, raising the question of whether the Nordic countries could be headed towards an opioid epidemic like the United States.To investigate this issue, researchers from each of the three countries analyzed twelve years of opioid prescription data. Their research is presented in the article “Prescribed opioid analgesic use developments in three Nordic countries, 2006-2017″ by Ashley Elizabeth Muller, Thomas Clausen, Per Sjøgren, Ingvild Odsbu, and Svetlana Skurtveit, published in De Gruyter’s journal Scandinavian Journal of Pain.Related StoriesResearchers identify potential drug target for multiple cancer typesNew protein target for deadly ovarian cancerStudy reveals link between inflammatory diet and colorectal cancer riskThe study focused on outpatients only, excluding drugs administered in hospitals and nursing homes. The intention was to capture people more likely to be receiving opioids for non-cancer pain, rather than at the end of their lives or following surgery or other trauma.The researchers established that oxycodone prescriptions are on the increase in all three countries. In Sweden, the number of people with an outpatient prescription for oxycodone has more than tripled since 2006.In recent years, Norway liberalized the regulation of opioid prescriptions for chronic non-cancer pain and the study showed that one in eight Norwegian women and one in eleven Norwegian men received a prescription opioid outside of a hospital in 2017. In addition, forensic analysis shows that prescription opioids are increasingly involved in deadly overdoses.The authors posit that it is crucial to avoid overdose deaths caused by prescription opioids and that their use should be curtailed.”As a general rule, these strong prescriptions should not be used for chronic non-cancer pain”, says study author Ashley Elizabeth Muller from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health. “It’s easy to get complacent and think the United States is so different, so their situation isn’t applicable to us. Yet oxycodone is prescribed more and more.” Source:https://www.degruyter.com/dg/newsitem/322/opioid-crisis-only-a-us-phenomenonlast_img read more

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Combat veterans more likely to exhibit signs of depression anxiety in later

first_imgThere are a lot factors of aging that can impact mental health in late life, but there is something about having been a combat veteran that is especially important.”Carolyn Aldwin Reviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Jul 3 2019Military veterans exposed to combat were more likely to exhibit signs of depression and anxiety in later life than veterans who had not seen combat, a new study from Oregon State University shows.The findings suggest that military service, and particularly combat experience, is a hidden variable in research on aging, said Carolyn Aldwin, director of the Center for Healthy Aging Research in the College of Public Health and Human Sciences at OSU and one of the study’s authors. The findings were published this month in the journal Psychology and Aging. The first author is Hyunyup Lee, who conducted the research as a doctoral student at OSU; co-authors are Soyoung Choun of OSU and Avron Spiro III of Boston University and the VA Boston Healthcare System. The research was funded by the National Institutes on Aging and the Department of Veterans Affairs.There is little existing research that examines the effects of combat exposure on aging and in particular on the impacts of combat on mental health in late life, Aldwin said. Many aging studies ask about participants’ status as veterans, but don’t unpack that further to look at differences between those who were exposed to combat and those who weren’t.Using data from the Veterans Affairs Normative Aging Study, a longitudinal study that began in the 1960s to investigate aging in initially healthy men, the researchers explored the relationship between combat exposure and depressive and anxiety symptoms, as well as self-rated health and stressful life events.They found that increased rates of mental health symptoms in late life were found only among combat veterans. The increases were not seen in veterans who had not been exposed to combat.Generally, mental health symptoms such as depression and anxiety tend to decrease or remain stable during adulthood but can increase in later life. The researchers found that combat exposure has a unique impact on that trajectory, independent of other health issues or stressful life events.Related StoriesState lawmakers eye federal dollars to boost mental health counseling by peersResearchers set out to define recommended ‘dosage’ of work for optimal wellbeingBiden calling ACA ‘breakthrough’ for mental health parity highlights gaps”In late life, it’s pretty normal to do a life review,” Aldwin said. “For combat veterans, that review of life experiences and losses may have more of an impact on their mental health. They may need help to see meaning in their service and not just dwell on the horrors of war.”Veterans’ homecoming experience may also color how they view their service later in life, Aldwin said. Welcoming veterans home and focusing on reintegration could help to reduce the mental toll of their service over time.Most of the veterans in the study served in World War II or Korea. Additional research is need to understand more about how veterans’ experiences may vary from war to war, Aldwin said.Aldwin and colleagues are currently working on a pilot study, VALOR, or Veterans Aging: Longitudinal studies in Oregon, to better understand impacts of combat exposure. The pilot study is supported by a grant from the OSU Research Office and includes veterans with service in Vietnam, the Persian Gulf and the post-9/11 conflicts.The researchers have collected data from 300 veterans and are beginning to analyze it. Based on their initial findings, they are also planning a second, larger study with more veterans. They expect to see differences between veterans from different wars.”Each war is different. They are going to affect veterans differently,” Aldwin said. “Following 9-11, traumatic brain injuries have risen among veterans, while mortality rates have lowered. We have many more survivors with far more injuries. These veterans have had a much higher levels of exposure to combat, as well.”VALOR also offers researchers the opportunity to explore the impact of service on women veterans, whose experiences have not often been captured in previous research. About one-third of the participants in the pilot study were female veterans, Aldwin said. Source:Oregon State UniversityJournal reference:Aldwin, C. et al. (2019) Impact of combat exposure on mental health trajectories in later life: Longitudinal findings from the VA Normative Aging Study. Psychology and Aging. doi.org/10.1037/pag0000334.last_img read more

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Zuckerbergs Holocaust comment puts Facebook on the spot

first_imgIn this May 1, 2018, file photo, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg makes the keynote address at F8, Facebook’s developer conference in San Jose, Calif. Remarks from Zuckerberg have sparked criticism from groups such as the Anti-Defamation League. Zuckerberg, who is Jewish, told Recode’s Kara Swisher in an interview that although he finds Holocaust denial “deeply offensive,” such content should not be banned from Facebook. Credit: AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez Explore further Zuckerberg at center of Holocaust denial controversy (Update) © 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. Mark Zuckerberg’s awkward and eyebrow-raising attempt this week to explain where Facebook draws the line illustrates the complexities social media platforms face as they take on the unwanted role of referee in this age of online misinformation, manipulation and hate speech.Facebook, with 2.2 billion users, disallows such things as nudity, the selling of guns, credible threats of violence, and direct attacks on people because of their race, sex or sexual orientation.Hours after the Facebook founder’s comments about Holocaust deniers aired on Wednesday, the company announced it will also start removing misinformation that could lead to bloodshed. The policy will begin in Sri Lanka and expand to Myanmar, where Facebook users have been accused of inciting anti-Muslim violence.But beyond those guidelines, there are large gray areas. What, exactly, qualifies as supporting terrorist groups versus merely posting about them? Or mocking someone’s premature death—something that is also prohibited?If Facebook were to ban Holocaust denial, it might also be called on to prohibit the denial of other historical events, such as the Armenian genocide or the massacre of Native Americans by European colonizers. This, Facebook might argue, could lead to a slippery slope where the company finds itself trying to verify the historical accuracy of users’ posts.So, where it can, Facebook stays out of policing content.While thousands of Facebook moderators around the world are assigned to review potentially objectionable content, aided by artificial intelligence, executives like to say the company doesn’t want to become an “arbiter of truth” and instead tries to let users decide for themselves.This is why fake news isn’t actually banned from Facebook, though you might see less of it these days thanks to the company’s algorithms and third-party fact-checking efforts. Instead, Facebook might label disputed news stories as such and show you related content that might change your mind. Denying the Holocaust happened is probably OK on Facebook. Calling for a mob to kill Jews is not. 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. Citation: Zuckerberg’s Holocaust comment puts Facebook on the spot (2018, July 20) retrieved 18 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-07-zuckerberg-holocaust-comment-facebook.html YouTube recently started doing this too. Twitter has been even more freewheeling in what sorts of content it allows, only recently ramping up a crackdown on hate and abuse.”Facebook doesn’t want to put time and resources to policing content. It’s costly and difficult,” said Steve Jones a professor of communications at the University of Illinois at Chicago. “It’s a difficult job, I’m sure an emotionally draining job, and given the scale of Facebook, it would take a lot of people to monitor what goes through that platform.”At the same time, Jones said he has his doubts that throwing more moderators (Facebook’s goal is to increase the number from 10,000 to 20,000 this year) and more technology at the problem would make a difference. He said he has no idea how Facebook can fix things.”If I knew,” he said, “I’d probably be sitting next to Mr. Zuckerberg asking for a big fat check.”Why these companies try to stay out of regulating speech goes back to their roots. They were all founded by engineers as tech companies that shun labels such as “media” and “editor.” Facebook’s chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg, even said in an interview last year that, as a tech company, Facebook hires engineers—not reporters and journalists.Then there’s the legal shield. While a newspaper can be held responsible for something printed on its pages, internet companies by law are not responsible for the content others post on their sites. If they start policing content too much—editing, if you will—tech companies risk becoming media companies.Zeynep Tufekci, a prominent techno-sociologist, said on Twitter that the notion that you can “fight bad speech with good speech” doesn’t really work in a Facebook world, if it ever did.”Facebook is in over its head,” she tweeted Thursday, but she also confessed that “nobody has a full answer.”In an interview with Recode , Zuckerberg, who is Jewish, said posts denying the Nazi annihilation of 6 million Jews took place would not necessarily be removed. Zuckerberg said that as long as posts are not calling for harm or violence, even offensive content should be protected.While this has been a longstanding position at the company, Zuckerberg’s statement and his reasoning—that he doesn’t think Holocaust deniers are “intentionally” getting it wrong—caused an uproar.The Anti-Defamation League said Facebook has a “moral and ethical obligation” not to allow people to disseminate Holocaust denial.Zuckerberg later tried to explain his words, saying in an email to Recode’s Kara Swisher that he personally finds “Holocaust denial deeply offensive, and I absolutely didn’t intend to defend the intent of people who deny that.”Still, for now the policy is not changing.last_img read more

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Engineers design solutions to tackle lowfrequency noise

first_img 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. Most commercially available noise canceling devices and structures today, however, are only effective in reducing high frequency noise, while low frequency noise continues to penetrate through these structures. To more effectively mitigate low frequency noise, a team of engineers from the National University of Singapore (NUS) has therefore designed a set of novel noise attenuating blocks that targets low frequency noise.Small, customisable blocks to reduce a range of low frequency noiseEach 3-D-printed block can be customised to cancel a specific noise frequency by adjusting the size of the air cavity and the neck opening within the block. The blocks can then be slotted into a grid-like host structure to function as a noise barrier. Using this modular design, the NUS engineers were able to better control the properties of the noise barrier and produce them affordably. The team’s experiments also showed that the modular design was capable of cancelling low frequency noise below 500 Hertz by an average of 31 decibel, which is six times more effective than other commonly used noise barriers. Additionally, the modular design was also lighter and thinner compared to certain commonly used noise barriers.”These noise reduction blocks can be easily incorporated as part of existing wall structures, and it would not be necessary to build a host structure from scratch in order to implement the sound barrier. Such a modular design also means that a variety of blocks targeting different noise frequencies can be used within the same host structure to effectively block a range of low frequency noise,” explained Associate Professor Lee Heow Pueh from the Department of Mechanical Engineering at NUS Faculty of Engineering, who led the innovation.Mobile application for accurate noise data tracking The team also developed ‘Noise Explorer’, a mobile application capable of accurately tracking noise data based on a new method established by the team to calibrate the microphones of smartphones. Unlike existing noise monitoring mobile applications, Noise Explorer, when calibrated, can measure sound pressure level and frequency content with an accuracy of less than one decibel for 99.7% of the measurements in the team’s experiments.An immediate application of Noise Explorer is for crowdsourcing of noise data to help authorities identify and mitigate the source of noise more effectively. Other potential uses of the mobile application include tracking of one’s exposure to noise over a period of time and coupling with artificial intelligence for condition monitoring of devices and equipment.Assoc Prof Lee said, “A customisable modular noise barrier, together with a handy and accurate noise meter, will enable authorities and regulators to tailor their noise management strategies effectively to the nature of the noise transmitting in an area. In this way, the people living and working in the area could enjoy greater comfort.”He added that his team is in discussion with a local company to further develop and commercialise the noise attenuating blocks. They are also looking into improving the aesthetics of the blocks such that they can be seamlessly integrated into a building’s architectural design. Low frequency noise (500 Hertz and lower), which could stem from various sources such as construction machineries and aircrafts, is a form of environmental noise problem in urban environments. Such noise transmits over long distances and cause disturbance to wide area. It is also known to trigger a number of negative physiological reactions such as changes to blood pressure, vertigo and breathing difficulties even when the noise is not audible. Associate Professor Lee Heow Pueh (left) and NUS doctoral student Mr Ang Yinn Leng Linus have come up with a novel customisable noise reduction block design (in picture) and mobile application that could effectively cut down low frequency noise disturbance. (Photo Credit: National University of Singapore) Review: Edifier headphones and earbuds give you great sound, no wires Explore further More information: Linus Ang et al. Plate-Type Acoustic Metamaterials: Experimental Evaluation of a Modular Large-Scale Design for Low-Frequency Noise Control, Acoustics (2019). DOI: 10.3390/acoustics1020019 Citation: Engineers design solutions to tackle low-frequency noise (2019, May 21) retrieved 17 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2019-05-solutions-tackle-low-frequency-noise.html Provided by National University of Singaporelast_img read more

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SIT on black money suggests Rs 1 crore cap on cash holdings

first_img Money in Swiss banks: India moves up to 73rd place Black money: 2.25 lakh more shell firms to be de-registered COMMENTS SHARE CIC asks FinMin about total black money collected post-noteban RELATED The Special Investigation Team (SIT) on black money has recommended the central government to cap the cash holding limit at Rs 1 crore instead of its earlier suggestion of Rs 20 lakh. The SIT has also recommended that the entire amount found in seizures crossing that limit should go to the government treasury, Justice (retired) M B Shah, who heads the SIT on black money, told PTI here today. The latest recommendations come after the earlier suggested limits of Rs 15 lakh and Rs 20 lakh were found to be too low. “We have recommended that the cap on cash holding should be Rs 1 crore. We have also recommended that the entire amount seized above the cash holding limit of Rs 1 crore should go to the government,” Justice Shah said. As per the existing rules, an offender can retrieve seized cash by paying 40 per cent income tax and penalty. The recommendations have come after huge amounts of cash were seized in recent search operations by tax authorities in the country. The Income Tax sleuths had on July 16 searched over 20 premises of a firm engaged in highway construction and its associate companies in Tamil Nadu and seized Rs 160 crore cash and 100 kg of gold.“Look at the amount of cash that is being seized, Rs 160 crore… Rs 177 crore…,” Justice Shah said. “The amount of money being seized is so high that now we are of the opinion that Rs 20 lakh limit will not do,” he said. Justice Shah had earlier suggested the cash holding limit to be at Rs 15 lakh. However, later he had recommended to raise the limit to Rs 20 lakh. The SIT was formed by the central government in 2014 on directions of Supreme Court. The panel has been continuously suggesting anti-black money measures to the government. DRI unearths ₹3,000-cr diamond import scamcenter_img While 58,160 entities have cumulatively withdrawn cash over ₹ 1.75 lakh crore in the range of ₹ 2-5 crore, as many as 14,552 have withdrawn a total of ₹ 98,900 crore in the range of ₹ 5-10 crore. Published on July 19, 2018 policy COMMENT SHARE SHARE EMAILlast_img read more

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Farmer at the centre of Maharashtra additional BudgetFarmer at the centre of

first_img COMMENT June 18, 2019 SHARE SHARE EMAIL State Budget Published on SHAREcenter_img COMMENTS Maharashtra Finance Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar on Tuesday presented the additional Budget for 2019-20 with a pro-farmer tilt. The State government has decided to expand the scope of existing accident insurance to cover about 5.5 crore family members of farmers in the State.This is the last Budget of the Devendra Fadnavis government before the Maharashtra Assembly elections. The Finance Minister provided a budgetary outlay of ₹210 crore, which takes care of the premium cost of the insurance scheme in the new avatar. The existing insurance scheme named after late Gopinathji Munde gives insurance cover of up to ₹2 lakh to farmers whose names are in the 7/12 revenue land record extract. The premium for the scheme is paid by the State government.Mungantiwar in his Budget speech also announced that in order to give farmers direct access to markets for their agricultural produce and make available all necessary infrastructure facilities in the value chain, the State of Maharashtra Agribusiness and Rural Transformation (SMART) will be implemented with the help of World Bank. The project aims to create value chain for various crops by directly connecting farmers’ companies to the purchasing companies. This project will approximately cost ₹2,220 crore.Farm sectorKeeping in view the farm sector distress in Maharashtra since 2016 and the pitched battles faced by Fadnavis government over farm loan waiver, the Finance Minister said that at present ₹24,102 crore has been sanctioned to 50.27 lakh account holders under the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Shetkari SanmanYojana, the farm loan waiver scheme.The Government is going to take a decision shortly to give the benefit of this scheme to those farmers who have become ineligible for technical or other reason. The Government is committed to making farmers debt-free and in any case there will not be any shortage of funds for this scheme till the last eligible farmer becomes debt-free, he said.The Budget, which has been presented three months before State Assembly elections, has focussed on agriculture, irrigation and infrastructure. Irrigation sectorIt proposes ₹12,000 crore for the irrigation sector, ₹350 crore for micro-irrigation and ₹600 crore for research and development by four agricultural universities. Mungantiwar also announced that the State government’s debt has reached ₹4,14,411 crore, but given the size of the state’s economy, the debt could be serviced.MSME sectorThe Maharashtra government desires to create maximum employment through the MSME sector. Under a new scheme, industrial parks will be created at each taluka level for MSMEs . As a pilot project, it is proposed to create such parks in 50 talukas initially. Out of the total plots developed under this scheme, 30 per cent will be reserved for women entrepreneurs. For 2019-20, an outlay of ₹300 crore will be reserved for this scheme, he said. There is no new tax in the Budget, but some aspects of value added tax have been tinkered with, which will give some relief to taxpayers in terms of interest and late fees. Maharashtra Finance Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar (left) and Minister of State Deepak Kesarkar arriving to present the Budget at the monsoon session of the Assembly   –  Vivek Bendre Maharashtralast_img read more

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