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Maina W.K.,Ministry of Public Health and Sanitation | Kitonyo R.,Legislation | Ogwell A.E.O.,WHO Regional Offices for Africa
Tobacco Control | Year: 2013

Objective To assess the level of public support for tobacco control policies and to discuss how these findings could be used to influence the legislative process in the passing of tobacco control law in the country. Methods A cross-sectional study conducted in Kenya between March and May 2007 on a random sample of 2021 (991 men and 1030 women) respondents aged 18 years and above. Interviews were done using a structured questionnaire by a research consultancy firm with long-standing experience in public polling. Results The majority of respondents supported tobacco control policies as proposed by WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. For example, 95% of the respondents supported smoking restrictions in all enclosed public places and workplaces, 94% supported visible health warnings on tobacco product packages, 83% supported a ban on advertisements of cigarettes and tobacco products and 69% supported a ban on sponsorship of events by tobacco companies. However, 60% perceived that there was very little commitment by legislators to tobacco control. Conclusions There was overwhelming public support for tobacco control policies and a general view that government was not doing enough in implementing policies to protect the public from tobacco harm. This public opinion poll was used as an advocacy tool to generate support among legislators for national tobacco control law.


The main objective of this study was to assess the predictive uncertainty from the rainfall-runoff model structure coupling a conceptual module (non-linear module) with a metric transfer function module (linear module). The methodology was primarily based on the comparison between the outputs of the rainfall-runoff model and those from an alternative model approach. An alternative model approach was used to minimise uncertainties arising from data and the model structure. A baseflow filter was adopted to better understand deficiencies in the forms of the rainfall-runoff model by avoiding the uncertainties related to data and the model structure. The predictive uncertainty from the model structure was investigated for representative groups of catchments having similar hydrological response characteristics in the upper Murrumbidgee Catchment. In the assessment of model structure suitability, the consistency (or variability) of catchment response over time and space in model performance and parameter values has been investigated to detect problems related to the temporal and spatial variability of the model accuracy. The predictive error caused by model uncertainty was evaluated through analysis of the variability of the model performance and parameters. A graphical comparison of model residuals, effective rainfall estimates and hydrographs was used to determine a model's ability related to systematic model deviation between simulated and observed behaviours and general behavioural differences in the timing and magnitude of peak flows. The model's predictability was very sensitive to catchment response characteristics. The linear module performs reasonably well in the wetter catchments but has considerable difficulties when applied to the drier catchments where a hydrologic response is dominated by quick flow. The non-linear module has a potential limitation in its capacity to capture non-linear processes for converting observed rainfall into effective rainfall in both the wetter and drier catchments. The comparative study based on a better quantification of the accuracy and precision of hydrological modelling predictions yields a better understanding for the potential improvement of model deficiencies. © 2014 Elsevier B.V.


A multi-objective regional calibration technique that incorporates a sequential regionalisation procedure was introduced and evaluated based on 12 catchments in Korea. This study was focused on investigating the impacts of the predictive capacity of a rainfall-runoff model for multiple objectives on the adequacy of regional relationships during the regional calibration. The effectiveness of the regional calibration using a multi-objective approach was evaluated by comparing the predictive performance of the regional calibration using a single-objective approach. The comparative assessment of the regional calibration approaches in the regionalisation suggests that the predictability of the regional models derived from the multi-objective regional calibration approach is generally good and reasonable with respect to the simultaneous catchment response to high and low flows and water balance. However, the multi-objective regional calibration approach displayed weaknesses associated with matching the water balance in the hydrograph, which was primarily caused by the reduced variation of the regional parameters. A more extensive study with a larger number of catchments is needed to develop more accurate regional relationships from the multi-objective regional calibration approach. © 2014, Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht.


The goals of this quantitative and qualitative study were to explore the four following questions: (1) what kinds of views do OSH inspectors have on the application and function of the Enforcement Act, (2) how do the OSH inspectors define the effectiveness of OSH enforcement, (3) how effective are the enforcement practices, and (4) how can the effectiveness of OSH enforcement be improved. In Finland the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health oversees the activities of the OSH divisions, which operate in the Regional State Administrative Agencies. A total of 229 inspectors responded to the questionnaire; the response rate was 71%. With respect to the evaluations of the present situation of OSH enforcement, three factors were identified. Factor 1 was designated as " Need of Guidance and Instructions Given by the Ministry" , Factor 2 as " Functions of Present Enforcement Practices" , Factor 3 as " Contradictions in Quality and Quantity Criteria of Inspections" Five factors were found in the evaluation of the improvements of the effectiveness of OSH enforcement. Factor 1 was designated as " How Advice, Quality, Quantity and Skills identified in inspections could be made more effective" , Factor 2 as " Improving Effectiveness by Inspections on Operations of Safety Management Systems based on Performance Agreement" , Factor 3 as " Improving Effectiveness by Harmonizing of Activities of the OSH Inspectors and OSH Inspectorates" , Factor 4 as " Effectiveness at a Distance carried out Inspections and Follow-up" and Factor 5 as " Effectiveness of Follow-up Enforcement". © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.


Chun J.,Legislation
Forest Policy and Economics | Year: 2014

Indigenous people have a vital role in environmental management and development because of their knowledge and traditional practices. The concept of sustainable development requires taking consideration into the legal system of traditional knowledge for the benefit of indigenous people who live in or near the forest. In modern administrative countries, the statutory legal system established by the government had almost prevailed over the common law system especially relating to management of natural resources. The statute regulating forest resources should prescribe the inherent interests to traditional knowledge of indigenous people in the forest. To endow indigenous people with inherent interests about forest resources and rights to traditional knowledge, the statute legal system and the common law system have to cooperate with each other according to the governance theory of cross-regulation. © 2012 Elsevier B.V.


Niskanen T.,Legislation
Journal of Loss Prevention in the Process Industries | Year: 2012

A questionnaire study about the Finnish chemical industry was devised to explore the implementation of the risk assessment obligations of the EU Chemical Agents Directive (98/24/EC), and the role of risk assessment activities as a part of OSH management. The quantitative method involved an assessment of online questionnaire. The respondents were employers' (N = 49) and workers' (N = 105) OSH representatives from different companies'. The regression analysis of the responses indicated that prioritizations in the risk assessment had a highly significant (p < 0.001) effect both on the prevention measures in the management and on the safe use of chemicals. The present results showed that development measures have to be directed at the most important problems ensuring that sub-contractors carry out hazard identification and arranging their on-the-job training so that it matches the chemical plant enterprise's own workers. Furthermore, the results of risk assessment should be used in the planning and management of the work, in the development of the supervisors' leadership skills as well as when following up the improvements. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.


News Article | July 12, 2015
Site: techcrunch.com

In a subtle move that’s likely to be well received by its most loyal users, Uber has begun accepting payment by credit card in India again. Legislation forced it to switch to an in-app wallet payment system, which will still be supported, last November. The company has teamed up payment processor MobiKwik to resume card payments in accordance with regulations from the Reserve Bank of India which require two-factor authentication for when a cardholder is not presented physically. In addition, the integration with MobiKwik expands Uber’s support to allow payments via debit card, that’s something that isn’t usually covered by the U.S. firm. Uber’s mobile wallet — supplied by Alibaba-backed payment firm Paytm — allows customers to load balance into their dedicated account via debit/credit card, cash or internet banking, but it meant keeping an ongoing float to use the service. While it did remove the barrier of needing to own a credit card, which can prevent some from using Uber’s service, the setup was criticized by some for being cumbersome and slower than Uber’s usual cashless payment system. Reinstating card payments, which is initially just for Android device owners but will come to iOS “in the coming weeks”, brings back the simpler payment flow that Uber is well known for worldwide. It isn’t just about plastic and Uber has shown that it is sensitive to local nuances around payment in India. It supports cash payments for its auto rickshaw service, and is trialling cash payments for all of its services in one Indian city, Hyderabad.


News Article | July 22, 2015
Site: www.wired.com

Any gene typically has just a 50–50 chance of getting passed on. Either the offspring gets a copy from Mom or a copy from Dad. But in 1957 biologists found exceptions to that rule, genes that literally manipulated cell division and forced themselves into a larger number of offspring than chance alone would have allowed. A decade ago, an evolutionary geneticist named Austin Burt proposed a sneaky way to use these “selfish genes.” He suggested tethering one to a separate gene—one that you wanted to propagate through an entire population. If it worked, you'd be able to drive the gene into every individual in a given area. Your gene of interest graduates from public transit to a limousine in a motorcade, speeding through a population in flagrant disregard of heredity's traffic laws. Burt suggested using this “gene drive” to alter mosquitoes that spread malaria, which kills around a million people every year. It's a good idea. In fact, other researchers are already using other methods to modify mosquitoes to resist the Plasmodium parasite that causes malaria and to be less fertile, reducing their numbers in the wild. But engineered mosquitoes are expensive. If researchers don't keep topping up the mutants, the normals soon recapture control of the ecosystem. Push those modifications through with a gene drive and the normal mosquitoes wouldn't stand a chance. The problem is, inserting the gene drive into the mosquitoes was impossible. Until Crispr-Cas9 came along. Today, behind a set of four locked and sealed doors in a lab at the Harvard School of Public Health, a special set of mosquito larvae of the African species Anopheles gambiae wriggle near the surface of shallow tubs of water. These aren't normal Anopheles, though. The lab is working on using Crispr to insert malaria-resistant gene drives into their genomes. It hasn't worked yet, but if it does … well, consider this from the mosquitoes' point of view. This project isn't about reengineering one of them. It's about reengineering them all. Kevin Esvelt, the evolutionary engineer who initiated the project, knows how serious this work is. The basic process could wipe out any species. Scientists will have to study the mosquitoes for years to make sure that the gene drives can't be passed on to other species of mosquitoes. And they want to know what happens to bats and other insect-eating predators if the drives make mosquitoes extinct. “I am responsible for opening a can of worms when it comes to gene drives,” Esvelt says, “and that is why I try to ensure that scientists are taking precautions and showing themselves to be worthy of the public's trust—maybe we're not, but I want to do my damnedest to try.” Esvelt talked all this over with his adviser—Church, who also worked with Zhang. Together they decided to publish their gene-drive idea before it was actually successful. They wanted to lay out their precautionary measures, way beyond five nested doors. Gene drive research, they wrote, should take place in locations where the species of study isn't native, making it less likely that escapees would take root. And they also proposed a way to turn the gene drive off when an engineered individual mated with a wild counterpart—a genetic sunset clause. Esvelt filed for a patent on Crispr gene drives, partly, he says, to block companies that might not take the same precautions. Within a year, and without seeing Esvelt's papers, biologists at UC San Diego had used Crispr to insert gene drives into fruit flies—they called them “mutagenic chain reactions.” They had done their research in a chamber behind five doors, but the other precautions weren't there.Church said the San Diego researchers had gone “a step too far”—big talk from a scientist who says he plans to use Crispr to bring back an extinct woolly mammoth by deriving genes from frozen corpses and injecting them into elephant embryos. (Church says tinkering with one woolly mammoth is way less scary than messing with whole populations of rapidly reproducing insects. “I'm afraid of everything,” he says. “I encourage people to be as creative in thinking about the unintended consequences of their work as the intended.”) Ethan Bier, who worked on the San Diego fly study, agrees that gene drives come with risks. But he points out that Esvelt's mosquitoes don't have the genetic barrier Esvelt himself advocates. (To be fair, that would defeat the purpose of a gene drive.) And the ecological barrier, he says, is nonsense. “In Boston you have hot and humid summers, so sure, tropical mosquitoes may not be native, but they can certainly survive,” Bier says. “If a pregnant female got out, she and her progeny could reproduce in a puddle, fly to ships in the Boston Harbor, and get on a boat to Brazil.” These problems don't end with mosquitoes. One of Crispr's strengths is that it works on every living thing. That kind of power makes Doudna feel like she opened Pandora's box. Use Crispr to treat, say, Huntington's disease—a debilitating neurological disorder—in the womb, when an embryo is just a ball of cells? Perhaps. But the same method could also possibly alter less medically relevant genes, like the ones that make skin wrinkle. “We haven't had the time, as a community, to discuss the ethics and safety,” Doudna says, “and, frankly, whether there is any real clinical benefit of this versus other ways of dealing with genetic disease.” Researchers in China announced they had used Crispr to edit human embryos. That's why she convened the meeting in Napa. All the same problems of recombinant DNA that the Asilomar attendees tried to grapple with are still there—more pressing now than ever. And if the scientists don't figure out how to handle them, some other regulatory body might. Few researchers, Baltimore included, want to see Congress making laws about science. “Legislation is unforgiving,” he says. “Once you pass it, it is very hard to undo.” In other words, if biologists don't start thinking about ethics, the taxpayers who fund their research might do the thinking for them. All of that only matters if every scientist is on board. A month after the Napa conference, researchers at Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, China, announced they had used Crispr to edit human embryos. Specifically they were looking to correct mutations in the gene that causes beta thalassemia, a disorder that interferes with a person's ability to make healthy red blood cells. The work wasn't successful—Crispr, it turns out, didn't target genes as well in embryos as it does in isolated cells. The Chinese researchers tried to skirt the ethical implications of their work by using nonviable embryos, which is to say they could never have been brought to term. But the work attracted attention. A month later, the US National Academy of Sciences announced that it would create a set of recommendations for scientists, policymakers, and regulatory agencies on when, if ever, embryonic engineering might be permissible. Another National Academy report will focus on gene drives. Though those recommendations don't carry the weight of law, federal funding in part determines what science gets done, and agencies that fund research around the world often abide by the academy's guidelines.


News Article | July 27, 2015
Site: www.zdnet.com

Somewhere in a backyard in Australia this past weekend, a young child was happily banging away at a nail with a plastic hammer, a cute image to be sure, but an ultimately futile one. Elsewhere in the backyard, there would have been an adult doing the actual work of using a real hammer, with real force, to accomplish the hammering task at hand. On the subject of piracy and copyright infringement, the past week has shown the government only too happy to wield its plastic hammer, while acknowledging that the market and copyright owners have the real power. Off the back of a report angled at showing how prolific Australians are at infringing copyright -- the material surrounding the report naturally went with the number that said 43 percent of Australian content consumers had infringed on copyright, rather than the 26 percent of all Australian internet users -- Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull called for international action to tackle the issue and touted the recently passed piracy site-blocking laws as part of the solution. But the very next sentence in the Minister's statement showed the actual solution. "Rights holders' most powerful tool to combat online copyright infringement is making content accessible, timely, and affordable to consumers," he said. In fact, the report found that only one in five people said they would stop consuming copyright-infringing content if they received a letter from their ISP saying their internet access would be suspending for piracy, and only 17 to 19 percent of respondents said they would change their ways if the ISP warned them that their account had been used to infringe, or they would have their connection speed reduced. Warning notices of this type form the basis of the draft code that would see Australians get three chances to curb their infringing habits, or face having their customer details handed over to a copyright owner by court order. Paradoxically for those wanting to turn a nation of so-called pirates into "legal" consumers, the survey said that users who pay for content while also consuming copyright-infringing content spend more than users who only consume non-infringing content. Over a three-month period among respondents aged 12 and over, the survey found that those who consumed a mixture of copyright-infringing and non-infringing content spent on average AU$200 on music, AU$118 on video games, AU$92 on movies, and AU$33 on TV content. Consumers who only consumed non-infringing content spent only AU$126 on music, AU$110 on video games, AU$67 on movies, and AU$22 on TV; whereas pure copyright-infringing content consumers spent a mere AU$88 on music, AU$24 on video games, AU$53 on movies, and AU$8 on TV content. However, the survey also found that the majority of spending on music and movies was not on the content items themselves. "For both music and movies, the majority of the average spend was not from purchases of either digital or physical copies. In the case of music, this primarily consisted of concerts and gigs, and in the case of movies, this primarily consisted of going to the cinema," it said. This result goes against the grain of wanting to block sites and sue consumers into oblivion to protect copyright owners. It shows that while unfettered infringement would lend itself to the storyline that Australia's creative industries are under existential threat, the optimal solution involves at least some access to unpaid and potentially copyright-infringing content. It would appear that the old trope of downloading the album for free to see if it is any good, or giving it a first listen on YouTube but then going to the gig and buying the t-shirt, being better for artists has some weight to it. As the FAQ on the minister's site said, this survey was conducted to set a benchmark upon which it would possible to measure "the impact of the government's measures to reduce online copyright infringement", but at the time it was conducted, Netflix had launched one day prior. "It is unlikely that the results take into account Netflix entry into the Australian market," the FAQ said. Given the rate at which video-streaming services are being adopted -- a sixfold increase in six months -- it is very likely that the next edition of the department's research will show an increase in users paying for content, and the average spend also heading up. This result will be more due to the market, and the arrival of proper, timely, and easily available services in this country, and not an anti-piracy framework that is stuck in costs negotiation and has had to have an independent expert called in to break the impasse. However, I would like to pre-emptively congratulate the government for what is sure to be a bumper report next time around, and for all the back-slapping it will surely do to sing the praises of site blocking. On the supposed other side of politics, Labor took the extraordinary decision at its conference over the weekend to vote for a review into the mandatory data-retention legislation it helped enable only four months ago. "These laws help create a culture of fear, a culture where we are all under suspicion and subject to heightened mass surveillance," New South Wales Labor MP Jo Haylen said. Haylen was successful in getting the motion she seconded committing Labor to a review of the regulation of warrants and the list of agencies that can access the communications data. Yet it replicates a pattern of behaviour that occurred when a Bill to expand ASIO's powers cleared parliament: Legislation is proposed by the government, Labor says it will look at the Bill "on its merits" before signalling its intention to pass the legislation with minor oversight changes, and, despite having its own parliamentarians give stirring speeches against its passage, makes it into law with its blessing. In this instance, Labor was able to realise what it had done, albeit a third of a year after the fact, and who knows how many warrantless accesses to telecommunications data before it can review the legislation, if it ever does. "We do not need laws that empower the attorney-general to add more agencies to that list on a whim and forever expand the government's access to our digital lives," Haylen said. In the irony stakes, Haylen's astute observations on her party's own actions are right up there with the Department of Communications' self-defeating anti-piracy research. The situation would be rather amusing, except that we are dealing with elected representatives and laws that will have a material impact on people's online and offline lives, and it should be concerning that these issues are only brought up after the laws are passed, rather than thoroughly considered when the legislation is before parliament. But it's hard to expect more from a political process where site-blocking legislation was pushed through in three months and its sole hearing was attended by a single Labor senator and a Coalition senator. No one should be surprised that bad processes deliver bad products, especially when it comes to technology and the law. In the wake of Labor's decision to review the data-retention legislation, Attorney-General George Brandis took the opportunity to question the opposition's commitment to national security and the data-retention regime. "Metadata is a vital investigative building block, which is central to virtually every counter-terrorism, organised crime, counter-espionage, cybersecurity, and child exploitation investigation. It is used in almost every serious criminal investigation, including murder, rape, and kidnapping," Brandis said. "Bill Shorten and Mark Dreyfus must stick to their word and recommit the Labor Party to this legislation, which introduced important safeguards and oversight arrangements, including significantly reducing the number of agencies that can access the data. Mr Shorten must confirm that if elected, he will not repeal our data-retention laws. "The Australian people deserve the certainty that our national security agencies will continue to have access to the data they need to investigate and interdict terrorist networks." Considering that we elected this parliament, the attorney-general might be right -- perhaps with this parliament, we are getting what we truly deserve.

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