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Posts tagged ‘University of Pennsylvania’

Second HIV Baby in Study Free of Virus.

Two children with HIV who were treated immediately after birth have no signs of the virus 9 and 23 months later, scientists said in a report that suggests a potential approach to curing HIV-infected babies.

The findings from the two children are spurring doctors in Canada, South Africa and the U.S. to try to replicate the results, and spawned a study in 54 babies, the researchers said yesterday.

The research suggests that deploying drugs early in life may help keep the virus from gaining a foothold. The importance of such a result is clear: More than 260,000 children were infected globally with HIV in 2012, either at birth or through breastfeeding.

While the early findings are promising, a final step is needed before determining that a cure is at hand, said Deborah Persaud, an associate professor of infectious diseases at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore.

“The only way we can prove that we’ve accomplished remission in these kids is taking them off treatment, and that’s not without risks,” Persaud, who was involved in the research on both babies, said in an interview yesterday at a medical meeting on infectious disease held in Boston.

While the latest HIV drugs can keep the virus in check, they don’t eliminate it from hidden reservoirs deep within the body. The drugs are taken for a lifetime and patients often have to cycle among different medicines to offset the disease’s ability to become resistant.

Los Angeles Baby

Persaud presented results yesterday from a child born last year in Los Angeles County. The baby began treatment with anti- HIV drugs four hours after being born and still has no trace of the virus in its blood, Persaud said. The baby remains on treatment, and there’s no immediate plan to stop the medicine to see whether the virus rebounds, she said.

The previous child, born in Mississippi, was cleared of the virus with a similar approach a year ago, and remains HIV-free 23 months after ceasing treatment, according to Persaud, who presented her report yesterday at the annual Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections.

Inspired by the Mississippi baby, doctors in Canada are now seeking to repeat the result in five newborns, and three babies in South Africa are also receiving medicines in an effort to cure them. Within the next few months, researchers also plan to start a trial in 54 children to test whether the approach can be repeated on a larger scale, Persaud said.

That larger study will start infected infants on treatment within 48 hours of birth, then take them off drugs two years later to see whether the virus rebounds.

Drug Combination

The babies will receive a three-drug combination of zidovudine and lamivudine, two now-generic medicines developed by GlaxoSmithKline Plc, and nevirapine, a treatment from Boehringer Ingelheim GmbH that has also lost patent protection.

The cases involving the two infants build on increasing evidence about approaches to curing a disease doctors once thought an insurmountable challenge.

To date, the only adult to have been cured of the virus is Timothy Ray Brown, the so-called Berlin patient. Brown has been clear of the virus since having a bone marrow transplant for leukemia in 2007 from a donor with a rare mutation to a gene called CCR5 that keeps HIV at bay without the aid of antiretroviral drugs.

While the case proves that HIV can be cured, bone marrow transplants are too expensive and dangerous to make them practical on a mass scale.

Sangamo Biosciences Inc. is trying to mimic the CCR5 mutation with a gene-altering technology. In a study published yesterday in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers led by Carl June at the University of Pennsylvania infused 12 patients with Richmond, California-based Sangamo’s SB-728-T, an experimental treatment that changes CCR5.

While the trial was designed to assess the product’s safety, not its efficacy, it found that the treatment was associated with a drop in the amount of virus in some patients who were taken off their regular anti-AIDS drugs.


© Copyright 2014 Bloomberg News. All rights reserved.

Sunscreen Slows Skin Aging, If Used Often Enough.

If worry about skin cancer doesn’t make you slather on sunscreen, maybe vanity will: New research provides some of the strongest evidence to date that near-daily sunscreen use can slow the aging of your skin.

Ultraviolet rays that spur wrinkles and other signs of aging can quietly build up damage pretty much anytime you’re in the sun — a lunchtime stroll, school recess, walking the dog — and they even penetrate car windows.

Researchers in sunny Australia used a unique study to measure whether sunscreens really help amid that onslaught. Participants had casts made of the top of their hands to measure fine lines and wrinkles that signal sun-caused aging.

The research found that even if you’re already middle-aged, it’s not too late to start rubbing some sunscreen on — and not just at the beach or pool. The study of 900 people under 55 compared those randomly assigned to use sunscreen daily to those who used it when they deemed it necessary.

Daily sunscreen use was tough — participants did cheat a little. But after 4½ years, those who used sunscreen regularly had younger-looking hands, with 24 percent less skin aging than those who used sunscreen only some of the time.

Both young adults and the middle-aged experienced skin-saving effects, concluded the study, financed by Australia’s government and published Monday in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine.

“These are meaningful cosmetic benefits,” lead scientist Dr. Adele Green of the Queensland Institute of Medical Research said in an email interview. More importantly, she added, less sun-caused aging decreases the risk of skin cancer in the long term.

Dermatologists have long urged year-round sunscreen use — especially for constantly exposed skin on the face, hands and women’s neck and upper chest — but say too few people heed that advice. Women may have better luck, as increasingly the cosmetics industry has added sunscreen to makeup and moisturizers. Skin experts hope the new study draws attention to the issue.

“Regular use of sunscreen had an unquestionable protective effect,” said Dr. Richard Glogau, a clinical professor of dermatology at the University of California, San Francisco, who has long studied sun’s skin effects. He wasn’t involved with the Australian research.

The consumer message: “They can get a two-for-one with sunscreen. They can do something that will keep them healthier and also keep them better-looking,” Glogau said.

In his clinic near Philadelphia, Dr. Eric Bernstein lectures patients who insist they’re not in the sunshine enough for it to be causing their wrinkles, brown spots and dilated blood vessels. Even 15 minutes every day adds up over many years, he tells them — and if they’re using one bottle of sunscreen a year, they’re probably not using enough.

“No one thinks they’re in the sun, and they’re in the sun all the time,” said Bernstein, also a clinical professor at the University of Pennsylvania. “I say, ‘How did you get here — did you tunnel here?'”

The news comes just as tougher Food and Drug Administration rules for U.S. sunscreens are taking effect. For the first time, they ensure that sunscreens labeled “broad-spectrum” protect against both the ultraviolet-B rays that cause sunburn and those deeper-penetrating ultraviolet-A rays that are linked to premature wrinkles and skin cancers.

Sunburns, especially in childhood, have been linked to a greater risk for melanoma, the deadliest skin cancer. But overall UV exposure plays a role both in melanoma and in other skin cancers that usually are curable but can be disfiguring if not caught early.

Australia has one of the world’s highest rates of skin cancer, and Monday’s aging research actually stems from a larger cancer-prevention study done in the 1990s. Researchers tracked participants for a decade before concluding that regular sunscreen use indeed lowered their cancer risk.

Green’s team dug back through old study files to examine what’s called photoaging —using those casts that had been made of some participants’ hands.

Skin stretches and recoils thanks to elastic fibers supporting it. UV rays damage that elasticity, something scientists previously have measured using biopsies of the tissue just under the skin’s top layer. With enough damage, the skin on top starts to sag and wrinkle. Young people have very fine, barely visible lines on their skin. Sun-damaged fibers correlate with increasingly visible lines, in a sort of cross-hatch pattern. Hand casts allowed the Australian researchers to grade that amount of damage.

The researchers figured out who really used sunscreen by periodically weighing the bottles donated by a sunscreen maker. Green’s team calculated that three-quarters of the people assigned to daily sunscreen use actually applied it at least three to four days a week. Only a third of the comparison group said they used sunscreen that often.

The study also tested whether a dietary supplement, beta carotene, might slow photoaging, and found no evidence that it helped.

Sunscreens aren’t perfect, so don’t forget dermatologists’ other advice: Limit exposure during the peak UV hours of 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and wear a hat, sunglasses and protective clothing when possible.

UCSF’s Glogau noted that today’s sunscreens are superior to those used two decades ago when the study started — meaning people who regularly use it now might see more benefit.

“I’m fond of telling people that if they start using sunscreen on a regular basis and don’t do anything else, over a period of time they’ll see an improvement in the appearance of their skin,” Glogau said. “It’s never too late.”

© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


New Salt Study Suggests Benefits of Strict Limits Don’t Shake Out.

Image: New Salt Study Suggests Benefits of Strict Limits Don't Shake Out

By Newsmax Wires

A new salt study suggests that Americans’ efforts to sharply reduce their salt intake might not be worth the trouble, despite the fact that individual sodium levels remain too high across the country.

Beyond the salt shaker, salt can be found in nearly every restaurant-made meal and most of the processed food we eat, The Associated Press reported.

But there’s no good evidence that eating super-low levels — below the 2,300 milligrams a day that the government recommends for most people — offers benefits, even though national guidelines urge that certain high-risk patients do just that, the Institute of Medicine concluded.

Urgent: Is Obamacare Hurting Your Wallet? Vote in Poll 

Also, there are some hints, albeit from studies with serious flaws, that eating the lowest levels might actually harm certain people who already have a serious illness, the report added. The prestigious group, which advises the government about health, urged more research to find the best target range.

“We’re not saying we shouldn’t be lowering excessive salt intake,” said Dr. Brian Strom of the University of Pennsylvania, who led the IOM committee. But below 2,300 mg a day, “there is simply a lack of data that shows it is beneficial.”

The average American consumes more than 3,400 mg of sodium a day, equivalent to 1 ½ teaspoons. Current U.S. dietary guidelines say most people should eat 2,300 mg a day, while certain people — those older than 50, African-Americans, and people with high blood pressure, diabetes or chronic kidney disease — should aim for just 1,500 mg.

Tuesday’s report sparked an immediate outcry from health organizations that have long battled to lower the nation’s salt consumption.

The American Heart Association said it stood by its own recommendations, stricter than the government’s, that everyone eat no more than 1,500 mg of sodium a day. Reducing salt is one key to avoiding high blood pressure that in turn leads to heart attacks and strokes, the association said.

Debating how little salt is too little is a moot point, added nutritionist Bonnie Liebman of the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

“The average American is still in the red zone, the danger zone,” she said.

It’s very hard to cut back to 1,500 mg unless you always cook from scratch, or eat too little food in general because of illness, Liebman added. The average sandwich in a restaurant has 1,000 mg or more, and some restaurant meals can provide a full day’s supply of sodium in one entree.

The salt industry, in contrast, has long opposed the push for sharp sodium reductions, and welcomed the report.

“There is no scientific justification for population-wide sodium reduction to such low levels, and the recognition by the IOM experts that such low levels may cause harm may help steer overzealous organizations away from reckless recommendations,” said Morton Satin of the Salt Institute.

ALERT: Government ‘Blunder’ Spawns Massive Profit Opportunity

Due to the demand for lower sodium foods, dozens of the most familiar American brands have been quietly reduced the amount of salt they include in their dishes in recent years.

Examples include well-known products such as Kraft American cheese singles, which has seen an 18 percent reduction of salt in three years, Ragu Old World Style pasta sauce is down by 20 percent, and a squirt of Heinz ketchup is 15 percent less salty.

Related stories:

Myth of Dangerous Salt: Are All the Warnings Wrong?

Study: Ulcers With High-Salt Diet Lead to Cancer

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Ivy League Professors: Obamacare Penalty Will Hurt Hospitals, Patients.

Image: Ivy League Professors: Obamacare Penalty Will Hurt Hospitals, Patients

By Dan Weil

A penalty in the Affordable Care Act on hospitals regarding Medicare patients will work against hospitals and patients alike, say Harvard Medical School professor Stephen Soumerai and University of Pennsylvania sociologist Ross Koppel.Under Obamacare, hospitals that re-admit “excessive” numbers of Medicare patients within 30 days of discharge confront significant penalties. The maximum penalty is 1 percent of a hospital’s Medicare reimbursement, increasing to 3 percent in 2015.

“That may not sound like a lot, but for hospitals already struggling financially — especially those serving the poor — losing 1-3 percent of their Medicare reimbursements could put them out of business,” the professors write in The Wall Street Journal.

“Giving hospitals an incentive to improve the quality of care and reduce the re-hospitalization of patients, thereby lowering Medicare costs, is a worthy goal. But the current approach flies in the face of the best medical science and jeopardizes the health of patients and the bottom line of hospitals.”

There are three important points to keep in mind on the issue, Soumerai and Koppel say.

First, “research shows that most readmissions can’t be prevented,” they write. “Readmissions are often unavoidable consequence of life-threatening complications that can appear after discharge from the hospital.”

Second, the penalties will harm patients. That’s because hospitals will try to push them to emergency rooms, because that doesn’t count as an admission. “But substituting ER services for hospital stays will only increase the chance that patients will deteriorate and return with more complications,” the professors say.

Finally, “the policy discriminates against poorer hospitals,” they write. “Small and financially struggling hospitals lack the resources to effectively manage their discharged patients at home.”

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Lausanne Movement Names Michael Oh CEO.

Michael Oh
Michael Oh is president and founder of Christ Bible Seminary in Nagoya, Japan, a vibrant and growing seminary in Japan.

The Lausanne Movement has appointed Dr. Michael Oh, a 41-year-old Korean-American, serving in Japan, as its new executive director and CEO.

“Michael is a cross-cultural bridge-builder, from East to West and across generations; he knows the overall movement well and understands the complexity of this leadership calling,” said Ram Gidoomal, chair of The Lausanne Movement Board of Directors, regarding the unanimous selection confirmed last week by the Board. “He will be able to build on the firm foundation that Doug Birdsall and the global leadership of Lausanne have established, to the glory of God.”

Oh is president and founder of Christ Bible Seminary in Nagoya, Japan, a vibrant and growing seminary in Japan, which is making an impact among young Christians seeking a renewed vision for the next generation of Christianity in Japan. He has been involved in Lausanne since 2004, serving as keynote speaker and part of the planning team for Lausanne’s Younger Leaders Gathering in 2006, and as a member of the Lausanne Board since 2007. He will be formally installed at The Lausanne Global Leadership Forum in South Asia in June.

Oh succeeds outgoing CEO Rev. S. Douglas (Doug) Birdsall, who becomes the president of American Bible Society on March 1.

“Michael is an exceptionally gifted younger leader who will serve the Movement with vision and passion in the years to come,” Birdsall said. “As a reflective practitioner, he embodies the essence of the ‘spirit’ of Lausanne–humility, friendship, study, prayer, partnership and hope.”

Birdsall further indicated that he believes Oh understands the value of Lausanne’s rich history, and as a younger leader has demonstrated the ability to inspire and enlist a new generation of men and women around the globe who share Lausanne’s commitment to “the whole church taking the whole gospel to the whole world.”

“Lausanne is in good hands, and the future is filled with promise,” Birdsall added. After passing the baton of leadership to Oh, Birdsall will continue to serve in leadership with Lausanne as an Honorary Chair.

“I am humbled by this appointment as I follow in the footsteps of the legacy that God started in the Movement through godly leaders like Billy Graham, Leighton Ford, Gottfried Osei-Mensah, Paul Cedar, and my predecessor, and friend, Doug Birdsall,” Oh said. “My own development as a leader, along with countless other younger leaders within Lausanne, has been significantly impacted by the mentorship of Doug, the Lausanne Board, and other Lausanne leaders. Lausanne is getting younger, stronger, and more representative of the rich diversity and depth of the global church. Mobilizing and connecting global younger leaders for world evangelization will be a great joy and priority as I take the leadership of Lausanne.”

Oh’s appointment was welcomed by leaders in Japan who expressed pleasure that Oh will live in Japan while serving Lausanne. “We are committed to expanding the network of support and prayer among churches in Japan for Michael. As a board member of the Japan Evangelical Association, I know that General Secretary Kenichi Shinagawa has shared a longtime friendship with Michael. I am strongly encouraged that, upon hearing the news of his friend’s new appointment, Rev. Shinagawa has indicated his willingness to lead the Japanese Church in our serving together for the advancement of the kingdom of God,” stated Rev. Dr. Satoru Kanemoto, Chair of the Japan Lausanne Committee.

The Search Committee that recommended Oh was chaired by Dr. Roger Parrott, president of Belhaven University, who said the Committee was very impressed by the overall quality of candidates it considered, indicating how much Lausanne has grown in global breadth and depth. “I found in Michael a penetrating vision for world evangelization, a richness in his understanding of the complexities of our world both globally and locally, and a godly humility in service and passion for Christ that is contagious,” stated Parrott.

Rev. Esme Bowers, Chair of African Enterprise of South Africa, and a member of the Search Committee, said, “Michael’s appointment is part of Lausanne’s ongoing commitment to identify and equip new and younger leaders in mission and evangelization around the world.”

Dr. Lindsay Brown, Lausanne International Director, is also encouraged about the future because of Oh’s selection. “I look forward to working in partnership with Michael with the goal that ‘all the earth may hear His Voice,'” Brown said. Brown has committed to continue serving as International Director until 2015 to assist in the leadership transition.

Oh has a Doctor of Philosophy with a specialization in Cultural Anthropology and Education (University of Pennsylvania), a Master’s Degree of Arts with a concentration in East Asian Studies (Harvard University), a Master’s Degree of Divinity with an emphasis on Missions (Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) and a Master’s Degree of Science (University of Pennsylvania). Michael and his wife, Pearl, have been married 18 years and have five children.


Dog Tumors May Give Clues for Humans With Breast Cancer.

PHOTO: Luke Robinson and his dogs Hudson and Murphy walking through Kentucky to find a cure canine cancer.
Luke Robinson and his dogs Hudson and Murphy, walking through Kentucky to raise awareness for canine cancer.(Courtesy 2 Million Dogs)

Luke Robinson never liked dogs much until an ex-girlfriend offered him a puppy while he was living in San Antonio, Texas. The Great Pyrenees he named Malcolm changed all that.

“It was the first dog of my adult life,” said Robinson, 41. “He was my companion, my mate.”

But at the age of 6, Malcolm was diagnosed with bone cancer — which both devastated and mobilized Robinson.

When a veterinarian from a major university couldn’t tell Robinson why Malcolm got cancer at such young age, he went on a national crusade to “find out why.”

Robinson walked 2,300 miles over two years to raise awareness, founding in the process Two Million Dogs, an organization that is a pioneer in the field of comparative research — finding common links between animals and humans who have cancer.

Today, a $50,000 grant from the organization is funding such research at Princeton University to learn how breast cancer tumors progress from seemingly benign to malignant ones.

“We are using new model — no one looked at progression this way,” saidOlga Troyanskaya, the computational biologist who is leading the genetic research. “It’s something that is really out there and forward-thinking.”

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Troyanskaya is collaborating with Karen Sorenmo, an oncologist at the Ryan Veterinary Hospital at the University of Pennsylvania, who has a special interest in mammary tumors.

The pair met when Troyanskaya’s German shepherd Jessie was diagnosed with terminal cancer in 2006, and she sought help from Sorenmo.

Sorenmo provided the Princeton project with tumors from shelter dogs that get free treatment from shelter dogs.

Dogs have multiple mammary glands and when they develop cancer, unlike humans, they can have multiple tumors.

“The screening is not as good, but when found, on average they have seven masses at different stages of development,” said Troyanskaya. “Some are benign … but they are not truly benign.”

Troyanskaya compares dog and human tumors on a molecular level and hopes to find genetic markers that can give clues to how human breast cancer tumors progress and which ones are more likely to become malignant.

“We are looking at progression in a unique model,” she said. “Way more research has been done in mice … Dogs get these tumors naturally and the physiology is more similar, the way tumors rise is similar, with the hormonal link to breast cancer in women.”

Troyanskaya said she hopes to find targets for drug treatment or predict clinical outcomes in women with breast cancer and help speed up human trials.

“We can help dogs and humans,” she said.

Robinson has been the visionary in this comparative research. His own journey began in 2006 when his dog Malcolm’s cancer had spread to his lungs. Even medical experts at Tufts University could not explain to Robinson why such a young dog would be so sick.

“I took great care of him and learned everything about caring for a dog,” he said. “I did everything I was told to do.”

Malcolm died, but two years later, in 2008, the questions still gnawed at Robinson. So he dropped out of the world of finance, put all his belongings in storage and set out to walk across 16 states with two new healthy dogs, Hudson and Murphy.

“My goal was to share Malcolm’s story,” he said. And along the way, he consulted with veterinary experts to know why his dog died.

“I didn’t have a choice,” said Robinson. “He was my boy and he changed my life fundamentally. Some people continue on the same course. For me, it was life-defining.”

In 2010, he set up Two Million Dogs, believing that dogs, who live in the same environment as humans, can give clues to why humans get cancer.

“They are like the canary in the coal mines — we drink the same water,” said Robinson.

Today, Robinson is still homeless and jobless, but a tireless advocate for comparative research.

The organization he founded for sponsors is called “Puppy-Up Walks” — similar to the fundraising efforts for the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation and hosted in in 40 cities around the country.

Sadly, Robinson’s Great Pyrenees, Murphy, died of nasal cancer in June. And now, the man who never thought he would fall in love with a dog has a new puppy, Indiana.

“Before,” he said of Malcolm, “I didn’t know I could have a spiritual connection with an animal.”



The election is over! (Results embargoed two weeks).

Monday night was the final set piece of the 2012 election—the last scheduled event in which a significant national audience will tune in to develop or refine their impressions of the candidates. Barring any more secret tapes or raids on high-value terrorists, the remainder of the election is largely outside the candidates’ control.

Instant polls of undecided voters after Monday night’s debate by CBSPPP and Xbox/YouGov all declared President Barack Obama the winner in the confrontation with former Gov. Mitt Romney. But the final debate has the smallest chance to make a difference in the election, and the president’s performance failed to move the needle in his direction by more than a hair.

Sources: Betfair, Intrade, IEM, HuffPost Pollster and RealClearPolitics

We’ll know in a few days how much “Monday Night Football,” Game 7 of the National League Championship Series, and Anything-Else-but-a-Foreign-Policy-Lecture detracted from the TV audience Monday night. The Signal does not particularly care about this factor, because the final debate was always destined to have a small impact. Three reasons:

  • There are not many undecided voters left. In most national polls, undecided voters account for 2 to 3 percent of potential voters. This is plenty enough to sway an election, but these 2 to 3 percent are typically not voters engaged enough to be watching debates.
  • For a nation that just wound down a seven-year war, is still fighting an 11-year-war, and faces the prospect of further military intervention in the Middle East, foreign policy still ranks low on the concerns of most American voters.
  • The implications of this debate have only two weeks to etch themselves into a campaign narrative that has narrowed in focus to only a few states.

All told, this election is probably over. We’re just not allowed to open the envelope for another two weeks. Take it away, Ohio.

Follow the state-by-state and overall presidential predictions in real time with

David Rothschild has a Ph.D. in applied economics from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. Follow him on Twitter @DavMicRot.

By  | The Signal

Ex-Intel executive sentenced in NY for fraud.

NEW YORK (AP) — A former Intel Corp. executive who fed confidential information to a billionaire hedge fund founder accused in a massive insider trading case earned leniency on Monday at his own sentencing.

Rajiv Goel, who gave information about the computer chipmaker to hedge fund founder and former schoolmate Raj Rajaratnam, apologized and said he was “deeply ashamed.” He was sentenced by U.S.District Judge Barbara Jones to two years of probation, was fined $10,000 and was ordered to forfeit $266,000.

Goel, 54, had faced up to 25 years in prison. He said, “I had a serious lapse of judgment and good sense.”

Goel, of Los Altos, Calif., was a director of strategic investments at Intel’s investment arm, Intel Capital, until he left in 2009. He admitted supplying secret details about Intel’s investments to Rajaratnam, who is serving an 11-year prison sentence after he was convicted of securities fraud charges for making inside trades that the government claimed earned him $75 million illegally.

Prosecutors had called the case against Rajaratnam the biggest insider trading probe in history. It resulted in the convictions of more than two dozen people and led to a spinoff probe of Wall Street researchers who enabled corrupt public company employees to pass along inside information as legitimate research to hedge fund managers. The investigation also made unprecedented use of wiretaps, allowing jurors at Rajaratnam’s trial to hear dozens of taped conversations between him and co-conspirators.

Rajaratnam, founder of the Galleon Group funds, argued that the tapes revealed nothing more than him doing his duty by asking questions about information already circulating in the “real world” of high finance.

Goel’s defense attorney, David Zornow, said his client met Rajaratnam at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business in the early 1980s and rekindled a friendship after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. He called Rajaratnam a “master manipulator” and a “corrupter of friends” who was larger than life to Goel, who came to the United States from India in the early 1980s to go to school.

Zornow said his client had “a unique relationship with a guy who frankly played Mr. Goel like a fiddle.”

Goel admitted at Rajaratnam’s trial that he gave Rajaratnam, who’s from Sri Lanka, inside tips about Intel’s investments and returns in 2007 and 2008.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Reed Brodsky said Goel did everything he could after his arrest to make up for his crimes, including continuing to cooperate even after Rajaratnam’s trial. He called Goel’s testimony “very powerful.”

The judge, before she announced the fraud sentence, said Goel “showed good sense in deciding to cooperate.” She noted that two other people who cooperated also had received probation.


By LARRY NEUMEISTER | Associated Press

Supreme Court could disrupt prediction markets with nuanced decision on health care.

Many people have money riding on the Supreme Court’s verdict on the Affordable Care Act, which is expected Thursday, from health care executives to 24-year-olds hoping to stay on their parents’ insurance a few more years. But none has a more direct financial interest in the decision than those who have gambled on the outcome on The price on the site currently rests at a 75 percent chance that the court will overturn the individual mandate provision at the center of the case. When the court issues its decision, those who placed bets will find out if they won or lost—probably.

Situations like this test the strength of the online prediction markets in two ways. First, it can be tricky to define court decisions in a way that’s precise enough to make it clear who won, particularly if the court takes a surgical approach to the law. Second, the crowd is less precise when it assesses the judgments of nine secretive people, compared to predicting the outcome of a popular election.

First, there’s the difficulty in deciding what to bet on. The Affordable Care Act consists of many different initiatives packed into one large law. At the core is the individual mandate, which requires that all Americans have health care or pay a tax. Several additional provisions stand out. The law requires that insurers make insurance available to people with preexisting conditions, expands Medicaid eligibility, sets up health insurance exchanges and allows dependents to stay on their family’s health insurance through their 26th birthday, to name a few. It would be interesting to see how the wonkiest gamblers predict the fate of any of these provisions. But it would be a nightmare to write a legal contract in a way that would make it clear who won and who lost under the almost infinite possibilities available to the court.

Intrade encountered a similar quandary recently with its book on the control of the Senate. What everyone wants to know is which party will control the Senate after the upcoming election. But there is a non-negligible possibility that this won’t be clear even after every election is decided, thanks to the role of independent senators. If, for example, Maine’s Angus Kingis the swing vote in the Senate, how would one clearly define the outcome? What if he waffles on which party he will caucus with or refuses to state his choice officially until Jan. 2? Even if there’s a general political consensus, it may not satisfy the language of the contract on which people placed money. In this case, prediction markets have three objective outcomes: Democratic control, Republican control, and neither, even though “neither” is very likely Democratic.

For Obama’s health care law, the gambling is limited to whether the court overturns the individual mandate. Here, we see a curious phenomenon: The odds have steadily risen since the oral arguments, even though there has been virtually no new information relating to the justices who will make the decision.

The justices’ aggressive questioning of the administration’s lawyers during the oral arguments caused the odds of an overturn to jump. Since then, public sentiment has been one of the few relevant sources of information. Of course, public opinion should not have an impact on the outcome, but clearly the markets believe that it does. (There’s some evidence for this. There was little discussion on the constitutionality of the law until public opinion turned against it.)

Since Monday’s decisions on two other major cases, court watchers have attempted to divine the opinion on the health care act based on what hasn’t yet happened. First, the court upheld part of Arizona’s 2010 immigration law but struck down three major tenants of it with five votes. Second, the Supreme Court struck down Montana’s limit on corporate donations, effectively ending meaningful campaign finance on all levels of government. This was a 5-4 decision along the same lines as Citizens United.

Some speculate that, because Chief Justice John Roberts did not write either of those major opinions, he has saved himself for a big opinion on Affordable Health Care—suggesting he is part of the conservative majority. The markets are unconvinced, having wavered after the Montana ruling, but returned to their exact starting point after the Arizona ruling. Within 48 hours, we’ll know whether that was wise.

Follow along in real time with PredictWise.

David Rothschild is an economist. He has a Ph.D. in applied economics from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. Follow him on Twitter @DavMicRot and email him at Want more? Visit The Signal blog, connect with us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.


By David Rothschild, Yahoo! News | The Signal 

Sex Trafficking Addressed in Porn Harms Campaign.

traffickingNow in its third week, Morality in Media’s month-long “Be Aware: PORN HARMS” National Awareness Campaign is focusing on the links between pornography and sex trafficking.

Pornography is not only used to train those being trafficked, but it also breaks down the conscience of its viewer,” says Patrick Trueman, president of Morality in Media.

“Men are encouraged to act on what they see, and often times those actions are taken out on victims of trafficking.”

Dawn Hawkins, Morality in Media’s executive director and director of the Be Aware: PORN HARMS campaign, says this week’s events will shock viewers who think sex trafficking only takes place in foreign countries.

“People will be surprised to know how much sex trafficking goes on right here in the U.S.,” said Hawkins.

“A recent trend involves pornographers offering their viewers the ability to create custom live porn, where victims are forced to engage in heinous sexual acts on a web cam.”

Although sex trafficking statistics are difficult to pinpoint due to the clandestine nature of the crime, a University of Pennsylvania study estimated nearly 300,000 youth in the United States are at risk of being sexually exploited for commercial uses—most of them runaways or throw-aways.

As of 2005, the Department of Justice reported there have been an estimated 100,000 to 150,000 sex slaves in the U.S. since 2001.

By Jennifer LeClaire.

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