Senate Budget Committee Releases Budget Resolution to Enable Tax Reform

first_imgThe Senate Budget Committee on September 29 unveiled its fiscal year 2018 budget resolution (BR). The Republican BR will serve as the legislative vehicle to pass tax reform legislation with only a simple majority.Budget ResolutionAccording to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., the FY 2018 BR will serve as the first step toward tax reform. “This budget is especially important because it will allow us to get to work on our pro-growth, pro-family, pro-jobs tax reform plan,” McConnell said in a September 29 statement. “Without it, Democrats will continue to play partisan politics and obstruct our efforts to get our economy flourishing and growing at its full potential.”Although the White House and GOP congressional leaders continue to say that they are open to bipartisan tax reform, the BR will allow Republicans to approve tax reform legislation through the reconciliation process with no Democratic support. Under the resolution, a draft tax reform bill must be submitted to the Budget Committee no later than November 13.Democratic Response“This is at least a $1.5 trillion-dollar giveaway in tax cuts for the rich that reeks of Republican hypocrisy and flies in the face of fiscal responsibility,” Senate Finance Committee (SFC) ranking member Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said in a September 29 statement. “It is a giant step in the opposite direction of developing real tax reform that is long-term, bipartisan and is at least as progressive as current law,” he added.The BR’s reconciliation instructions would allow the SFC to reduce revenues and increase the deficit by $1.5 trillion over the next 10 years for comprehensive tax reform. However, according to Senate Budget Committee Chair Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., the BR will provide an on-budget surplus of $197 billion in 2027 due to “fiscal cuts and economic growth.”Dynamic ScoringThe BR also renews the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and Joint Committee on Taxation’s authority to use dynamic scoring and instructs that the particular scoring method, which considers budgetary effects of macroeconomic variables, be used while evaluating legislation. More generally, the dynamic scoring allows for the impact of economic growth to be considered in the CBO and JCT’s final cost estimate.The BR is scheduled to be considered in committee during the week of October 2. A floor vote is expected sometime in early October.By Jessica Jeane, Wolters Kluwer News StaffText of the FY2018 Senate Budget ResolutionTitle by Title Summary – FY 2018 Budget ResolutionLogin to read more tax news on CCH® AnswerConnect or CCH® Intelliconnect®.Not a subscriber? Sign up for a free trial or contact us for a representative.last_img read more

Weekly Report from Washington, D.C.

first_imgSome expired tax extenders could be renewed as part of a federal spending bill. Further, the spending bill could also delay the medical device excise tax and reform multiemployer pension plans. Finally, the IRS issued much-anticipated guidance on withholding for 2018.CongressLawmakers from both sides of the aisle have expressed support for extending the expired tax breaks. At this time, reports have surfaced that the extenders could be part of a government funding bill.In addition, revival of the medical device tax has lawmakers from both parties calling for repeal or further delay of the tax. A temporary suspension of the tax expired after 2017.Two House members, one Democrat and one Republican, are calling on Congress to return the state and local tax deduction to its pre-2018 parameters. Reps. Peter King, R-N.Y., and Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., said on January 9 that their proposal, the Securing Access to Lower Taxes by Ensuring (SALT) Deductibility Bill, would remove limits on the deduction under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (P.L. 115-97).Moreover, a bipartisan proposal for changes to multiemployer pensions is taking shape on Capitol Hill. Rep. Donald Norcross, D-N.J., and Rep. Phil Roe, R-Tenn., said that they plan a bill that would allow some multiemployer plans to move to a hybrid structure.TreasuryTreasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin predicted that the IRS will hire more employees to implement the new tax law. Mnuchin said that the Trump Administration is in discussions with Congress about additional funding for the Service.IRSWithholding. The IRS has issued updated 2018 withholding tables to reflect the changes made by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (P.L. 115-97). According to the IRS, the updated 2018 withholding tables are designed to work with previously filed Forms W-4 (IR-2018-5).NTA. A new report from the National Taxpayer Advocate (NTA) cautions that the IRS will be challenged by budgetary constraints to implement the new tax law. The NTA also made 50 legislative recommendations, including regulation of unenrolled return preparers (IR-2018-3).Tax Scams. The IRS warned tax professionals that cybercriminals are again using email phishing schemes to steal clients’ identities. The Service reminded preparers to take steps to protect confidential information (IR-2018-2).By George L. Yaksick, Jr., Wolters Kluwer News StaffLogin to read more tax news on CCH® AnswerConnect or CCH® Intelliconnect®.Not a subscriber? Sign up for a free trial or contact us for a representative.last_img read more

Alabama Opens for Amnesty Applications on July 1

first_imgThe 2018 Alabama tax amnesty application period opens on July 1, 2018. It runs through September 30, 2018. The Department of Revenue has launched a website for the program.Alabama created the program in legislation enacted earlier in 2018.Taxes Eligible for AmnestyThe program applies either:to taxes  due before January 1, 2017; orfor tax periods that began before January 1, 2017.Most taxes administered by the department are eligible for the program. Motor fuel, motor vehicle, and property taxes are not eligible.The eligible taxes include, but are not limited to:corporate and individual income;business privilege;financial institution excise;sales;consumers use;sellers use; andwithholding.Taxpayers Who Don’t QualifyThe program is not available to any taxpayer who:was contacted by the department for tax reasons within the last two years; oris under criminal investigation, or in litigation, for nonpayment of tax, delinquency, or fraud.Applying for Tax AmnestyTaxpayers must submit all applications electronically through the Alabama tax amnesty website. The website also provides information taxpayers may need on the program and answers to frequently asked questions.Tax Relief ProvidedThe program waives all interest and penalties associated with the tax periods for which amnesty is granted.Subscribers can read the department’s news release at https://revenue.alabama.gov/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/180511_REL_TaxAmnestyWebsite.pdf.News Release, Alabama Department of Revenue, May 11, 2018Login to read more tax news on CCH® AnswerConnect or CCH® Intelliconnect®.Not a subscriber? Sign up for a free trial or contact us for a representative.last_img read more

Pennsylvania Includes Satellite TV Provider’s Receipts in Sales Factor Based on Subscriber Location

first_imgA satellite television provider was required to include:– satellite equipment in its property factor based on location of subscribers; and– receipts from sales of broadcast satellite television services in its sales factor based on subscriber location.The taxpayer owned membership interests in three single-member limited liability companies (LLCs) owning property in Pennsylvania. Through one of the LLCs, the taxpayer provided direct broadcast satellite television services to customers in Pennsylvania.Are Satellites Included in the Property Factor?Pennsylvania performed an audit and adjusted the taxpayer’s property factor. The auditor included a portion of the satellite values from the taxpayer’s federal return. The amounts were assigned to Pennsylvania based on the ratio of Pennsylvania subscription fees to subscription fees everywhere. The amounts were included because satellites were:– owned by the taxpayer; and– used in Pennsylvania to provide satellite television service.Where Did the Income-Producing Activity Occur?The taxpayer had to include the sales of providing satellite service in its sales factor. The taxpayer failed to show that the greater portion of its income-producing activities were preformed outside Pennsylvania, based on the costs of performance. The taxpayer argued that the majority of the cost of providing satellite television services to its customers occurred in Wyoming, Arizona and Colorado. The taxpayer’s primary uplink equipment and corporate headquarters were located in those three states.However, the uplink satellite equipment and satellite based transponders were costs of providing a service for sale. Additionally, Pennsylvania determined that the cost of receiving equipment leased to customers and the cost of maintaining Pennsylvania service locations constituted costs of income-producing activities.In Re: Dish DBS Corp., Docket No. 1713444, Board of Finance and Revenue, May 14, 2018, ¶204-654Login to read more tax news on CCH® AnswerConnect or CCH® Intelliconnect®.Not a subscriber? Sign up for a free trial or contact us for a representative.last_img read more

Geoff Jones named Columbia police chief

first_imgGeoff Jones will become Columbia’s next permanent police chief.City manager John Glascock made the announcement on Monday morning in city hall.“As a teenager you think about doing this…and as you go through life you don’t think that the opportunity will ever present itself,” Jones said Monday. “It’s exciting.”Glascock named Jones interim police chief in January. Jones has been with CPD for 20 years. He grew up in Columbia, and has spent most of his career with the department.Jones says one of his top focuses has been on internal communication within the department. He points to opening up command meetings to all staff, so there’s more transparency.“There are three floors to the police department. I think everyone will tell you that I am regularly on all three floors of the police department every day.”(This story was last updated at 12:04 p.m. Tuesday.)last_img read more

Landfill search ends in Shultz investigation

first_imgPolice and solid waste workers have finished searching Columbia’s landfill.They were looking for evidence connected to the death of Megan Shultz in 2006. Searchers found human remains last week. They did not find any more evidence after that. Examiners are trying to confirm those remains are Shultz.Wisconsin police say Keith Comfort admitted in August to killing Shultz and putting her in a Columbia dumpster in 2006. He’s in jail on a second degree murder charge with a $1 million bond.last_img

Hong Kong police say protesters out of control, deny curfew

first_img(AP) — Hong Kong police warned protesters on Thursday that they were moving “one step closer to terrorism” by sinking the city into chaos, as riot squads skirmished with militant students at major universities.Police spokesman Tse Chun-chung denied his department had been asked to enforce a possible curfew this weekend. A Chinese state media outlet later removed its tweet saying authorities were considering a weekend curfew that cited unidentified sources.“We are aware of the relevant report circulating online,” Tse said at a daily briefing, referring to the report as “false.” He said the authority to order a curfew lies with Hong Kong’s leader, Chief Executive Carrie Lam, and “that’s why police are not in a position to comment.”“The force is certainly capable and determined to control Hong Kong’s social unrest at the moment. We welcome any new measures that can help us to achieve the goal of restoring the public safety and order in Hong Kong,” Tse added.In unusually harsh language, he said students were turning university campuses into “weapons factories” and a “hotbed” of crime.“Their acts are another step closer to terrorism,” Tse said, warning of a major disaster if gasoline bombs stored on campuses were to catch fire.He said violence that broke out this week at Chinese University of Hong Kong is spreading to other campuses “like a cancer cell,” mentioning specifically Hong Kong University and Baptist University.“It’s time to wake up. No society can tolerate this much senseless violence,” he said.With no end to the protests in sight, the beleaguered police force is appointing a group of prison guards as special constables.Up to 100 officers from the Correctional Services Department who are already familiar with anti-riot equipment will be given additional training and deployed mainly to guard government premises.“The ongoing riots over the past few months, with their massive scale, simultaneous occurrence in various districts and grave severity of violence, make it necessary to strengthen the support for the police’s front-line officers,” a statement from the police spokesman’s office said.Residents endured a fourth day of traffic snarls and mass transit disruptions as protesters closed some main roads and rail networks.Police said protesters shot several arrows at them near Hong Kong Polytechnic University. No officers were injured, and six arrows were seized at the scene, police said.Life in this city of 7.5 million has been strained as thousands of commuters have been unable to get to work or endured lengthy commutes.The government appealed for employers to show flexibility. “For staff who cannot report for duty on time on account of conditions in road traffic or public transport services, employers should give due consideration to the circumstances,” a statement said.A business and high-end retail district in the center of the city was once again taken over by protesters at lunchtime, as it has been every day since Monday. Office workers watched from the sidewalks and overpasses as protesters littered the streets with bricks and other items to block traffic and police.At one point, a group of police swooped in and kicked the bricks to the curb along one major thoroughfare, but the standoff continued.The Education Bureau extended the suspension of classes for kindergarten to high school students until Monday. It ordered schools to remain open, though, to handle children whose parents need to send them to school.Protesters have hurled gasoline bombs and thrown objects off bridges onto roads below during clashes at campuses this week. The Chinese University of Hong Kong suspended classes for the rest of the year, and others asked students to switch to online learning.Students at Chinese University, site of some of the fiercest clashes where students hurled more than 400 firebombs at police on Tuesday, have barricaded themselves in the suburban campus.Early Thursday they used chainsaws to drop trees onto streets around the campus and prepared for a possible confrontation with police, who were not intervening.A major rail line connecting Kowloon to mainland China was closed for a second day and five major underground stations were shut along with seven light rail routes, the Transport Department announced.“Road-based transport services have been seriously affected this morning due to continued road blockages and damage to road facilities. In view of safety concerns and uncertain road conditions, buses can only provide limited services,” the department said.One of the main cross-harbor tunnels connecting Hong Kong Island to Kowloon and the rest of the city was closed after protesters set some of the toll booths on fire Wednesday night.Traffic was also disrupted because protesters have destroyed at least 240 traffic lights around the city.Anti-government protests have riven Hong Kong, and divided its people, for more than five months.The movement began over a now-withdrawn extradition bill that would have allowed criminal suspects to be sent to mainland China for trial. Activists saw it as another sign of an erosion of Hong Kong’s autonomy and freedoms, which China promised would be maintained for 50 years under a “one nation, two systems” principle when the former British colony returned to Chinese control in 1997.last_img read more

Divers continue search for Elledge Friday

first_imgDivers continue searching the Lamine River in Cooper County for a missing Columbia woman on Friday.Police say they’re confident they’re searching in the right place for Mengqi Ji Elledge. They’ve been in that part of the river near Highway 41 this week since Tuesday.Mengqi has not been seen in nearly two months. Prosecutors say her husband is the prime suspect, but they have not charged him over her disappearance yet.Joseph Elledge is in jail, but it’s on charges he abused the couple’s one-year-old daughter.last_img

Case Study – Scientific Application Streaming at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

first_imgHi all,Intel has been working with various companies on implementing the concept of Dynamic Virtual Clients. As innovators among Harvard University’s IT community, the School of Engineering and Applies Sciences (SEAS) is an ideal environment for implementation of Application Streaming technology. Within SEAS, the office of Computing and Information Technology’s (CIT) CyberInfrastructure Labs (CI Labs) supports faculty, researchers, students, and staff by deploying and maintaining up-to-date, effective computing technologies.With application streaming, applications are streamed on demand from the data center to the client, where they are executed locally. The goal of the scientific application streaming project, as outlined in the attached white paper, is to simplify the deployment of large, complex engineering and scientific applications to a highly diverse user population of around 1,000 students and faculty.Initial results show install times decreasing from hours to minutes, as well as fewer problems caused by human error during complex installation and licensing procedures. As innovators among Harvard’s IT community, the CI Labs anticipates wider implementation of application streaming, both within its user base and across Harvard.Check out the details in the attached case study.last_img read more

Ransomware in Healthcare: 21 Preventative Steps You Can Take

first_imgRansomwareOpens in a new window has reached headlines lately with several healthcare organizations globally falling victim, as seen in As Ransomware Crisis Explodes, Hollywood Hospital Coughs Up $17,000 In Bitcoin. Breaches are top of mind in healthcare as far as security and privacy, and within many types of breaches ransomware is the highest priority across most healthcare organizations I have worked with over the last six months.Compliance with regulations, laws and standards is important, but increasingly organizations realize they need to go well beyond basic regulatory compliance to effectively mitigate risk of breaches, and they are motivated up to the board level with the strong desire to not be the next breach or ransomware victim and headline.While most security concerns to date have revolved around breaches of confidentiality, or unauthorized access to patient information, ransomware is not a breach of confidentiality, but rather of availability. In security speak, “availability” is timely and reliable access to patient information. Ransomware prevents access to patient information by encrypting this information and withholding the decryption key until a ransom is paid. Exacerbating this, paying a ransom is no guarantee of provision of the decryption key.As we have seen, this can compromise mission critical services to where hospitals need to turn patients away. Healthcare is particularly vulnerable to this type of breach because they are generally lagging other verticals in security, and have a very low tolerance for disruption. I suspect this problem is a lot worse than most people realize because many ransomware infections go unreported, as many countries lack breach notification rules, or those rules cover compromise to confidentiality, but not availability as in the case of ransomware.A real danger in securing against this type of breach is the tendency to gravitate to one particular safeguard, such as backup and restore, which while important is just one of many things you can do to secure yourself against ransomware. In this blog, I explore several different safeguards you should consider as part of your holistic, multi-layered, defense-in-depth approach in securing against ransomware. None of these alone is a panacea. Together they represent a very effective, holistic, multi-layered, defense-in-depth security posture against ransomware.Policy: ransomware often starts with employee actions and mistakes. Examples include clicking malicious links in emails or websites, opening email attachments, plugging in malware infected removable storage devices such as USB keys and so forth. Policy governs employee actions. Is your policy accurate, complete and up to date, especially as it pertains to employee actions that can lead to ransomware infections?Audit and Compliance: policy is a critical foundation of your security practice. To ensure employees are following it you need audit and compliance, in particular to ensure employee compliance with policy in the areas that could lead to ransomware infection.Risk Assessment: risk assessment is a key tool to identify risks to confidentiality, integrity and availability of patient information, including for risks such as ransomware. You can prioritize risks by impact and probability of occurrence, triage the top risks and address them through application of safeguards. The business impact of ransomware goes well beyond the ransom that may be paid since it can disrupt your mission critical business systems and processes and effectively halt your business.Anti-malware: having a good anti-malware solution installed on all endpoints, updated and effective is key in detection and remediation, for example quarantine, of malware including ransomware. You will not catch all ransomware this way, but many, especially older variants, will be caught.User Awareness Training: most ransomware infections start with employee actions. Training can help employees detect and avoid actions that could lead to infections. Again, not a perfect safeguard, but important in your overall anti-ransomware defense. Spear phishing training is particularly important to include in your overall training program.Email Gateway: email is a key ransomware infection vector, with spear phishing emails containing malicious links coaxing employees to click them, in which case a drive-by-download and infection of ransomware can result. Your email gateway can oversee emails and detect and block many of these.Web Gateway: web browsing (and clicking) is another key infection vector, with employees visiting websites and inadvertently clicking on malicious links that cause ransomware infections, again by drive-by-downloads. A good web gateway can detect many such websites, and help block these types of infections.Vulnerability Management and Patching: vulnerable devices and software create openings for malware and ransomware infections. A good vulnerability management program can identify vulnerabilities, for example in old, unpatched, or misconfigured software, and proactively remediate such vulnerabilities to block ransomware.Security Incident Response Plan: in the event of an infection such as ransomware, how your organization responds is key to faster resolution and minimizing business impact. Having a good, tested plan that employees can execute to quickly and efficiently, with good coordination, is key to enabling this. This plan should include PR and communications for breach notification if needed.Backup and Restore: currently the “safeguard du jour” for ransomware, backup and restore is critical. Have it, use it (everywhere you have data), test it (test restore regularly), and make sure it is versioned, and some versions air-gapped with offline backup archives. Ransomware may get into your backups too, depending on when it occurs in your backup cycle, and how quickly you detect it and stop it, but if you have versioning and / or an air-gapped backup then you will have a workable backup version to restore. Keep in mind this is not a panacea though, since rolling back to a previous backup version effectively undoes updates since then, and missing patient information updates can translate into direct risks to patient safety and business impact. This is why backup and restore is necessary but not sufficient. It is far preferable to avoid ransomware in the first place.Device Control: this is the ability to enforce policy regarding removable storage. For example if an employee plugs in a ransomware infected removable storage device such as a USB key, this safeguard can enforce policy preventing ransomware jumping from the device to your IT network.Penetration Testing and Vulnerability Scanning: as seen in FBI raises alarm over ransomware targeting U.S. businesses ransomware can enter your network through vulnerable or unpatched software, especially software facing the external Internet. Proactive penetration testing such external facing applications and interfaces to identify and remediate such vulnerabilities is key to mitigating risk of this type of ransomware infection.Endpoint DLP: Data Loss Prevention software running on endpoint devices can enforce policy and help prevent user actions that can lead to malware infections such as ransomware.Network Segmentation: segmenting your network can help quarantine or localize any malware infections to prevent propagation across your network. This can limit the extent of infection, lessening business impact, and enabling faster resolution.Network IPS: a network Intrusion Prevention System can monitor network traffic to detect and prevent malicious activity, such as that which could lead to a ransomware infection.Whitelisting: useful on endpoint devices, whitelisting limits which applications can execute to a small list of approved applications. If ransomware was to get onto a machine with whitelisting it would be benign on that machine since it is not on the approved list of applications and therefore blocked from executing, and therefore unable to encrypt any patient information. This type of safeguard can be particularly useful on medical devices that don’t get patched or updated frequently.Network DLP: this type of DLP runs on a network and can enforce policy, including detection and prevention of network interactions and traffic that could lead to ransomware infection.Digital Forensics: in the event of an infection, digital forensics can help identify the type of ransomware, the extent of infection, and how it occurred, which are key to reducing business impact, and preventing future infections.SIEM: Security Information and Event Management can help provide realtime analysis of security alerts from across your applications and network, enabling faster detection and remediation of ransomware.Threat Intelligence Exchange: this can enable realtime exchange of threat information between safeguards in your network, and a global threat intelligence backbone from your security provider(s), helping orchestrate defense against ransomware. This is a critical part of the “immune response” of your organization to ransomware, which will help stop it and kill it as fast as possible.Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery: as we have seen some recent high profile ransomware infections have essentially shutdown the information technology systems of healthcare organizations, crippling mission critical business processes to the point where they had to send patients elsewhere. Having a good BC / DR capability with mirroring of data and hot standby can be helpful in keeping mission critical systems going while remediation is occurring. The effectiveness of this safeguard against ransomware depends on ransomware not propagating to your hot standby system, as can be prevented by various safeguards discussed previously.No organization wants to be “at the back of the herd” or “low hanging fruit” for attacks such as ransomware. It has been difficult in the past for healthcare organizations to measure or benchmark their breach security against the rest of the healthcare industry. It is one thing having a gap in your safeguards if everyone else has that gap. However, if you have a gap and most others don’t then you could be relatively vulnerable.Intel Health and Life Sciences and several industry partners are currently conducting complementary, confidential breach security assessments for provider, payer, pharma and life sciences organizations globally. Through this one hour engagement healthcare organizations are able to benchmark their breach security across 42 safeguard capabilities and 8 different types of breaches, including ransomware, against the rest of the industry to see what percentile they are in terms of readiness, and gaps and opportunities for improvement they may have.last_img read more

Giving New Life to Old Data with High Performance Computing

first_imgOnce a picturesque summer retreat for the prominent Girona-Agrafel family of Spain in the 19th Century, the Torre Girona stands as a center for advanced knowledge today and, most notably, the Barcelona Supercomputing Center’s (BSC) MareNostrum 4. The 11.1 petaFLOP cluster ranks 16th on the November Top500 list1, and is powered by over 165,000 Intel® Xeon® Platinum processor cores, all seamlessly connected by Intel® Omni-Path Architecture (Intel® OPA) high performance fabric. MareNostrum 4 gives the Torre Girona Chapel new life, supporting over 150 projects with research topics spanning from neuroscience to crop yield models. Upon diving deeper into BSC’s research findings though, it appears BSC is reinvigorating more than just the Torre Girona by uncovering new patterns in old data.High Performance Computing Digs Deeper Than Traditional Analysis High performance computing (HPC) clusters like MareNostrum 4 employ computational methods in which compute nodes rapidly, and in-parallel, slice through data to uncover insights that often go unnoticed by classical, non-parallelized analysis techniques. Recently, just by reanalyzing publicly available, genome-wide association studies (GWAS) data on over 70,000 individuals, MareNostrum 4 illuminated novel genetic variants that increase a person’s risk for Type-2 Diabetes – in one case by 200%.2Successfully detecting new disease risk variants with this type of publicly available, previously analyzed data is an evolutionary step for medical HPC – towards treating not only Type-2 Diabetes, but all genetically complex diseases. Mapping the underlying genetic bases for a disease paints a clearer picture of new biological targets for therapies, and how to design more active, preventative approaches to the disease.Fabrics Transform Repetitive Analytical Processes into Instant ResultsIntel Omni-Path Architecture can drastically reduce a user’s time to solution when the problem comes with large data that requires high-precision, high-performance analyses like GWAS. Intel® OPA interconnects each of the 3,456 Lenovo ThinkSystem* SD530 compute servers in MareNostrum 4 and allows them to execute all 70,000 GWAS datasets in tight, parallel fashion. Intel® OPA’s extremely low latency, high 100G/s throughput, and intuitive management software allow users to drive the entire MareNostrum 4 cluster in parallel, or distribute particular compute tasks across the cluster. For example, one could use 90% of the compute nodes to run analyses on all 70,000 GWAS at once, while the remaining 10% summarize output data for reporting or additional study.Interdisciplinary Collaboration Opens Doors High performance computing isn’t new, so why hasn’t this been done for Type-2 Diabetes before? The BSC-assisted study3 answers this question by highlighting the following challenges.Without the extreme parallelization offered by a fabric-connected cluster like MareNostrum 4, processing large datasets, like GWAS on 70,000 individuals, may require too much time. Concurrently, many medical scientists don’t even have access to systems like MareNostrum 4 and must rely on PC or workstation powered analyses. Although, even if most medical scientists did have access to many-node clusters like MareNostrum 4, the challenge of needing a parallel programming counterpart to frame scientific problems into computable solutions arises. While the pairing of medical scientists with parallel computing experts is an ongoing challenge for the academic research community, the solution could have groundbreaking benefits, especially since the amount of medical data that has yet to be touched by HPC is very large.Looking into the FutureThankfully, for medical research professionals, there are programs that proactively harness HPC systems, such as the Partnership for Advanced Computing in Europe (PRACE), and their small- and medium-enterprise program SHAPE. PRACE and SHAPE broaden access to HPC resources in medical and other fields to organizations of all sizes, allowing more minds to explore questions that only governments or research universities were equipped to tackle. Participating organizations are assisted by HPC specialists to take full advantage of highly-parallel, Intel® OPA-equipped HPC clusters. You can learn more about SHAPE, PRACE, and how to apply for access to high end systems like BSC’s MareNostrum 4. A closer look at MareNostrum 4, here, also offers insights for organizations considering their own HPC cluster design. Software and workloads used in performance tests may have been optimized for performance only on Intel microprocessors. Performance tests, such as SYSmark and MobileMark, are measured using specific computer systems, components, software, operations and functions. Any change to any of those factors may cause the results to vary. You should consult other information and performance tests to assist you in fully evaluating your contemplated purchases, including the performance of that product when combined with other products. § For more information go to www.intel.com/benchmarks.1 November 2017 Top500 List: https://www.top500.org/list/2017/11/2 Re-Analysis of Public Genetic Data Reveals a Rare X-Chromosomal Variant Associated with Type-2 Diabetes. (Nature Communications 9, Article 321, 2018).  https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-017-02380-9.3 Re-Analysis of Public Genetic Data Reveals a Rare X-Chromosomal Variant Associated with Type-2 Diabetes, Nature Communications 9, Article 321 (2018).  https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-017-02380-9.last_img read more

Out of Africa, in the Gut

first_imgTalk about following your gut. When humans first trekked out of Africa about 58,000 years ago, they carried with them stone tools, animal skins–and bacteria that cause ulcers and stomach cancer. These anatomically modern humans unwittingly had the guts to spread Helicobacter pylori into Eurasia, where they passed on the bacteria to their descendants, according to a report published online 7 February in Nature. “The evidence is really convincing,” says microbiologist Mark Achtman of the Max-Planck Institute for Infection Biology in Berlin, principal investigator of an international team that traced the origins of the bacteria in modern humans.The team has been using endoscopes to collect bacteria from the guts of humans from around the world since 1999. At last count, they had gathered 532 strains of H. pylori from people from 51 ethnic groups. After growing the bacteria in their labs, the researchers sequenced seven gene fragments from the DNA of the bacteria. Then, they used population genetics models to sort the strains into clusters that showed their genetic and geographic patterns. People from east Africa had the most kinds of H. pylori. The further people lived from east Africa, the fewer strains the researchers found. This suggests that the bacteria arose in humans in east Africa, because it would take more time to accumulate so much diversity–and because the root of all the clusters was in east Africa. Conversely, fewer people–and, thus, fewer bacterial strains–reached the hinterlands where the bacteria had less time to accumulate genetic mutations.This finding is consistent with much other genetic evidence that modern humans originated in Africa, says Alan Templeton a population geneticist at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. But researchers disagree about the timing of that exodus–whether the ancestral stock of modern humans left Africa earlier than 100,000 years ago or in the past 60,000 years. In the new report, the researchers use computational simulations to date the spread of H. pylori out of Africa to about 58,000 years ago, which supports a more recent migration out of Africa. “The real novelty here is the timing,” says population geneticist Keith Crandall of Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)The report does not address two other controversial questions–whether modern humans swept out of Africa in one or multiple migrations, and whether modern humans completely replaced the archaic people they encountered in Europe and Asia.Related sitesFor more on H. pyloriFor more on human history and stomach bacterialast_img read more

The Dirty Truth About Plowing

first_imgEach year, 24 billion tons of the world’s soil blows or washes away, largely because of plowing. Now, the first large-scale analysis of an alternative farming method that eschews the plow confirms that it stems soil loss.As plows tear into the ground, they loosen the upper 6 to 8 inches (15 to 20 cm) of soil, exposing the dirt to rain and wind. Mechanized plows introduced in the 1930s have accelerated the loss, leading conservationists to explore no-till agriculture. This method leaves fields unturned and allows crop stubble to remain on the surface to protect the soil; farmers plant new crops by making small holes in the layer of plant material. Although this method involves more work, case studies have indicated that no-till farming greatly reduces erosion. But so far, research has been limited to small clusters of farms.To find out whether no-till farming prevents soil loss on a larger scale, geologist David Montgomery of the University of Washington, Seattle, scoured agricultural studies dating back to the early 1940s for erosion data. After gathering 1673 measurements from areas as far apart as the Himalayas and the U.S. Midwest, he compared no-till erosion losses to those from farms that practice conventional agriculture.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)As Montgomery reports online this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, plowless farms lost an average of 0.082 mm of soil each year, an erosion rate close to the natural geologic rate of 0.03 mm per year. Annual soil loss on plow-based farms, by contrast, averaged 1.5 mm of erosion–almost 20 times as much. On average, conventional farms lost soil about 90 times faster than new soil is produced. The findings are the first to show that no-plow methods reduce erosion to almost natural, geologic rates, says Montgomery.Steve Kaffka, a crop scientist at the University of California, Davis, agrees. Still, he notes, no-till farming can lead to increased weed growth, which conventional farmers may attempt to combat with herbicides. Although organic methods are available to combat weeds, the overall sustainability of no-till farming can’t be determined unless researchers examine the environmental harms of toxic substances commonly used on no-till farms, he says.Related sitesMontgomery’s site, with more on the researchRodale Institute site on no-till farmingSouth Dakota No-Till Associationlast_img read more

Congress Puts Off Decision on 2009 Budget

first_imgFiguring out how much the U.S. government will spend this year on science got a little more complicated today after House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) said the 2009 spending bills would not be taken up until the end of the month. That’s likely to be after Congress approves billions of dollars for science as part of the stimulus package to be spent over the next 18 months. The convoluted schedule means federal science officials may get news of their windfall before they know how much their base budgets will be for 2009—adding confusion to an already uncertain, if hopeful, federal budget season for researchers. Congress must act by 6 March to extend a temporary spending measure for the fiscal year that began in October.last_img

“We’re Sorry”—Petition Sparks U.K. Apology on Alan Turing’s Persecution

first_imgComputer scientist John Graham-Cumming was working on his book, The Geek Atlas, when he recently decided to petition the U.K. government to apologize for its 1950s persecution of Alan Turing based upon his homosexuality—an effort that apparently led to the famed mathematician and computer scientist taking his own life. The online petition drew thousands of supporters, including scientists such as Richard Dawkins, and U.K. Prime Minister Gordon Brown has now issued the desired apology, noting in a letter to the Daily Telegraph: “While Mr Turing was dealt with under the law of the time and we can’t put the clock back, his treatment was of course utterly unfair and I am pleased to have the chance to say how deeply sorry I and we all are for what happened to him.”last_img

Government Guidance for Gene Firms to Prevent Bioterrorism

first_imgThe U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has proposed a set of guidelines for how providers of custom-made DNA sequences should do business. The proposal is the first comprehensive guidance issued by the government to tackle bioterrorism concerns stemming from the rapidly developing synthetic genomics industry, which some security experts believe could allow terrorist groups or lone evil-doers to develop bioweapons simply with materials purchased over the Internet. The main recommendation that gene synthesis companies screen their clients and the DNA sequences requested by them. Besides establishing the identity and institutional affiliation of customers, companies should watch out for red flags such as a client placing several orders of the same sequence within a short time frame, or wanting to pay by cash, or requesting that the product be mislabeled. Foreign clients should be screened against terrorist databases and other lists of concern. The proposed guidelines also suggest a specific approach to screening orders: instead of looking for an exact match between the requested sequence and sequences that encode specific features of dangerous pathogens—that is, select agents—companies should use what the government calls a “best match” strategy. That would involve an analysis to find out if the requested sequence is statistically closer to a select agent or to a non-select agent; if it turns out to be the former, the company should follow up with the client to learn more about what the material is being requested for. Suspicious orders should be reported to the government, and all paperwork should be archived for 8 years. Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)The proposal seems like an endorsement of the self-governance approach favored by industry. In fact, the guidelines seem to have been pre-empted by an announcement earlier this month from a consortium of gene synthesis companies pledging to take some of the same steps. Environmental and arms control groups are likely to press the government to convert the guidelines into mandatory rules. The comment period for the proposal ends 26 January.last_img read more

ScienceShot: ‘Monster’ Ants Found in Leaf Litter

first_imgThe 19th century English poet William Blake might’ve been onto something when he considered an entire world in a grain of sand. But he probably didn’t consider tiny “monsters,” smaller than rice grains. Researchers have discovered 33 new species of ants in Central America and the Caribbean. The insects have broad, shieldlike faces and mandibles bristling with sharp teeth, such as Eurhopalothrix procera (pictured above), and none are longer than 2.5 millimeters. Their grim visages inspired names based on Maya demons Hunhau, Zipacna, and others. Many had been previously lumped in with other species of the Eurhopalothrix and Octostruma genera. The ants were found mostly in the plant debris of Central and South American mountain forests. Researchers had to sift through 100 square-meters of forest floor for every four or five of the rare specimens, then use a high-power microscope and micrometer measuring tool to note variations in size, the shape of their mandibles, and patterns of hair on their exoskeletons—all defining characteristics of individual species. Frightening work.last_img read more

India and Nokia in Tax Dispute Before Microsoft Deal

first_imgNokia said the tax authorities froze all of its Indian assets, including its bank accounts and factories, to ensure that Nokia could pay its future tax bill, estimated to be hundreds of millions of dollars. Related Itemslast_img

Modi Mania

first_imgThe summit which defines India’s optimism. Related Itemslast_img