Republicans vow to protect high school dropouts from Barack Obama

By Chris Moody | The Ticket

WASHINGTON -- High school dropouts, do not fear. The Republican Party will protect you from Barack Obama's efforts to keep you at your desk.

At his third State of the Union Address Tuesday night, the president challenged all states to ban children from dropping out of high school before they turn 18. "Tonight," Obama bellowed, "I am proposing that every state--every state--requires that all students stay in high school until they graduate or turn 18."

Obama wasn't proposing a new federal program, but his use of the bully pulpit to tell local jurisdictions how to run their school districts was enough to make some Republicans, already sensitive to the increasing role of the federal government in education over the past few years, bristle.

"That's none of his business!" said Utah Republican Sen. Mike Lee while speaking to reporters after the speech. "He's not a principal! He's not a public school teacher! He's not a governor, he's not a mayor. These are matters for state and local government."

Standing in Statuary Hall outside the House chamber, Lee, a senator whose rise to prominence was propelled by the tea party, went on to say that there was plenty in Obama's speech that made him want to scream, but he held his tongue.

"I did not want to be Joe Wilson!" Lee said. Meanwhile, Joe Wilson, who shouted "You Lie!" during a presidential address in 2009, was standing directly behind him, about three feet away.

Regulations on school attendance varies from state to state. Twenty states currently meet Obama's standards by restricting students from dropping out before they turn 18-years-old. Some states allow students to drop out at 16 with parental permission and others require an agreement from the school to let them go. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 8.1 percent of students nationwide dropped out of high school in 2009.

Other Republicans in the crowded hall, fed up with Obama's calls for a more intrusive federal system, lambasted the president for even making the suggestion.

"What are you gonna do, give them the electric chair?" asked Arizona Republican Trent Franks. "It should be handled on the parental level."

Phil Gingrey, a Republican from Georgia, agreed, saying students should have the right to leave if they want to.

"To require them to stay in high school to age 18, those who have absolutely no intention of getting an education or value an education are disrupting the other kids in class. I think it's just a government misguided run amok quote honestly," Gingrey said.

There was, however, one Republican willing to stand up for Obama's call: High school dropout Darrell Issa, chairman of the House Oversight Committee.

Issa, who left high school when he was 17-years-old to join the Army, took Obama's call to mean that the federal government should look into ways to encourage states to raise their age limits on dropping out, and he's fully behind it.

"I agree with him," Issa said. "The truth is that maintaining students from dropping out until they're 18, and every possible inducement, rather than getting rid of them at the first possible moment because they become a 'pest,' because perhaps they're not performing well. That could make a real difference in the level of education people get. Do I promote it? Yes."

"Leave no child behind?" he said. "That has a familiar ring to me as a Republican."


Nigeria analysis: "Things Fall Apart".... Can the center hold?

Nigeria President G.E. Jonathan
By Tim Cocks | Reuters
LAGOS, NIGERIA - "Nigeria is not Animal Farm!" read one placard brandished during days of furious fuel price protests by Nigerians which have combined with a violent Islamist insurgency to moveAfrica's top oil producer closer to what many fear may be a breaking point.
The same political vices of corrupt leadership and abuse of power which George Orwell skewered in his 1945 novella "Animal Farm" have corroded Nigeria's politics since independence from Britain in 1960. Angry popular backlash against these is fuelling the latest violence and unrest in the African continent's most populous state.
This anti-establishment fury brought Africa's second largest economy to a standstill last week. Citizens from all walks of life have taken to the streets after President Goodluck Jonathan's government announced on January 1 it would scrap a motor fuel subsidy, more than doubling fuel prices.
The volcano of public rage has erupted at the same time that a spate of bombings and shootings by a shadowy Islamist sect is threatening to fracture the country's sensitive north-south, Muslim-Christian divide. This religious faultline has caused sectarian conflict claiming thousands of lives in the past.
Some are now asking whether this dynamic but troubled country of 160 million, carved by colonial rulers out of a jigsaw of ethnic and religious groups, can still hold together or risks plunging again into all-out conflict and even break-up.
Many still remember the divisive 1967-1970 civil war over secessionist Biafra that killed over a million people and caused mass starvation, dislocation and suffering.
"As the ripples of incessant bombings and massacres resonate ... fear, anger and hatred have been woven into the very fabric of the nation's life," Soni Daniel, deputy editor of Nigerian daily Leadership wrote in an editorial on Saturday.
"Nigeria has never come as close to the brink of civil war," he added.
The nationwide fuel protests have become an outlet for thousands to vent their grievances against what they see as a venal ruling political class and incompetent government, which is struggling to tackle an insurgency by the Boko Haram Islamist sect based in the largely Muslim north.
"The bottom line is we don't trust the government to do what they say anymore," said student Remi Sonaiya, sitting on a car blaring out Afrobeat music in the heaving Nigerian metropolis of Lagos, while protesters thrashed an effigy of President Jonathan across the face with leafy branches.
Unions launched strikes against the fuel subsidy removal and these are estimated to be costing the country $600 million a day. They have also threatened to shut down Nigeria's 2 million barrel-per-day oil industry, rattling global energy markets.
Talks between Jonathan and labor unions on Saturday failed to reach a compromise, and the unions said the crippling strikes would resume on Monday. But the main oil union said it was not joining the walkouts for the time being.
Jennifer Giroux, senior researcher for the Center for Security Studies (CSS) at ETH Zurich University, says the fuel prices issue is "a common rallying point ... A unifying issue that has had an immediate impact on the majority of Nigerians, most of whom are making $2 a day or less."
The crisis mood is a far cry from the cautious optimism that greeted Jonathan last April, when he won Nigeria's cleanest ever election on a pledge to fight graft, fix a crumbling power sector and attract investment into its huge oil reserves.
Then, foreign analysts saw a potential take-off for the economy if the former zoology lecturer could push through key reforms and take steps towards healing the north-south rift.
One such recommended reform was ending the fuel subsidy but the president's January 1 decision to remove it convulsed a country already shaken by a wave of Christmas attacks claimed by Boko Haram, including church bombings that killed dozens and stoked sectarian tensions.
Attacks have continued during the fuel protests. Targeting of minority Christians triggered reprisals by Christians on Muslims in the south, even though the majority of the two communities have shown in the past they can live in peace.
During fuel price protests in southwestern Benin City on Tuesday, five people were killed when a mob attacked a mosque, and 3,000 Muslims of northern origin fled.
Fears that the unrest and violence could degenerate into something even bigger seem to be gaining some traction.
"The situation we have in our hands is even worse than the civil war that we fought," Jonathan said in recent comments about the Boko Haram insurgency.
"During the civil war, we knew where the enemy was coming from. (Now) you won't even know the person who will point a gun at you or plant a bomb behind your house," he said, warning that Boko Haram members were in "all levels of government."
And in a recent interview with the BBC, Nobel prize-winning Nigerian author Wole Soyinka said the comparison with the traumatic Biafra war was "not unrealistic."
"We see the nation heading towards a civil war, we know that the (Biafra) civil war was preceded by serious killings by both sides of the regional divide, we've seen reprisals," he said.
"It is going that way, we no longer can pretend it's not. When you get a situation where a bunch of people can go into a place of worship and open fire through the windows, you've reached a certain dismal watershed."
Some question whether civilian Jonathan, who as vice president first took power in May 2010 when his predecessor Umaru Yar'Adua died, has the capacity to lead Nigeria out of its multi-headed crisis.
They worry that his miscalculation of the public mood over the fuel subsidy removal, and his slow reaction to the escalating Boko Haram insurgency suggest he may struggle.
"There are serious questions about how in control the president is, with some really poor decision making. Is Goodluck Jonathan really able to provide visionary leadership?" asked Alex Vines, senior fellow and Africa specialist at London think tank Chatham House.
"There seems to be just drift and indecisiveness."
A civil servant who works with Jonathan says privately that his style differs from the many military rulers that have often run Nigeria in the past. He listens, even lets people interrupt, which some in Nigeria's macho politics may see as a weakness.
The son of a canoe carver in the oil-rich Niger Delta, Jonathan studied zoology, in which he earned a doctorate, and worked as an education inspector, lecturer and environmental protection officer before going into politics in 1998.
He was northerner Yar'Adua's running mate in a shambolic election in 2007, but his campaign to run himself after Yar'Adua's death was controversial because of an informal pact within the ruling PDP party that the presidency should rotate between the north and the south.
As a southeast Christian, by running for the leadership he upset that rotation deal in the eyes of many northerners.
The early signs that Jonathan's first elected term as president would not be smooth came hours after he was sworn in on May 30. A series of bombings killed at least 14 people in a drinking spot inside a barracks in the northern city of Bauchi.
Most observers see a political element to the recurrent violence in the north, which analysts say is also rooted in anger - as with the fuel price protests - against the lack of economic opportunities caused by decades of poor governance.
Boko Haram's heartland in the remote, semi-arid northeast is one of the country's poorest regions, where a failed education system and youth unemployment have conspired to provide easy recruits for extremists.
Last year, Boko Haram attacks spread and even hit the capital Abuja, yet Jonathan's reaction has often appeared low-key. Some critics have faulted him for initially treating the insurgency as a purely security issue, rather than as something requiring a political settlement.
"He's eerily calm considering we could be weeks away from a major confrontation," said Africa Confidential editor Patrick Smith. "The absolute failure ... to wheel on southerners and northerners at the same time to say this is a national crisis and we have to pull together, is striking."
The biggest fear, Smith said, is that the army - whose upper ranks are all southern Christians, while junior officers and lower ranks are a mix of both from many geographical locations - could fracture if a section of it launches a mutiny.
There are already rumblings in the military, he said.
"The next big faultline is the army, and how well they stay together ... If it splits, that is this country's nightmare."
In addition, that fact that Jonathan is an Ijaw from the southern Niger Delta means that any attempt to unseat him by force - especially by a northerner - could trigger a backlash in the Delta by militants who have fought the government before.
A former Niger Delta warlords Mujahid Dokubo-Asari said this month that his people taking up arms to defend Jonathan against Boko Haram was "minutes away.
Despite the serious strains, many point out that Nigeria has often lurched from crisis to crisis but, at least since the Biafra war, has managed to avoid a total breakdown.
An armed uprising in the Niger Delta last decade - similarly driven by anger at the failure of politicians to deliver local services - lasted years and shut down almost half of Nigeria's oil and gas output at one stage. Nevertheless, Delta militants signed a peace deal with the government in 2009.
"The president can survive the dual crisis if he manages to keep the support of key political actors from the Parliament, the state governors and some sectors of the civil society," Gilles Yabi, West Africa Project Director of the Brussels-based International Crisis Group think tank, told Reuters.
"I don't think that the level of radicalization and polarization that preceded the Biafra war can be easily reached today," he added.
Others feel however the country may have come to a crossroads. "Do things have to get either better or worse very quickly or can it just muddle along as it always has?" said Antony Goldman, who heads London-based PM Consulting.
Yabi said it was encouraging that the unions promoting the strikes had agreed to go into negotiations with the president.
Goldman noted that Boko Haram's leader Abubakar Shekau did not specifically rule out talks in an otherwise defiant online video in which he defended recent killings of Christians as justifiable revenge attacks and said Jonathan had no power to stop the group's insurgency.
In his video, Shekau appears to echo popular complaints against dysfunctional established politics when he says "injustice is unbelief, democracy is unbelief and the constitution is unbelief."
Stephen Ellis, a historian at the Africa Studies Center at Leiden University in the Netherlands, sees Jonathan as a wily politician who has already shown he has the skills to operate in Nigeria's challenging politics, which he calls "a very rough business ... like a poker game ... or juggling chain saws."
Ellis makes the point that all the country's power brokers, including those in the restive North who may be pursuing their own agendas by using the Boko Haram insurgency to pressure southerner Jonathan, are dependent on the national oil income.
"If you are a member of the Nigerian elite, including those in the north, you need the Nigerian state to be in business," he says, a factor which could lead, as in the past since the Biafra war, to a fresh political accommodation that restores calm.
But tackling the deeply and widely embedded corruption that lubricates all levels of Nigeria's political system is a much tougher challenge in the long term.
"A really determined effort to stamp out corruption would itself be massively destabilizing. It can only be done gradually," Ellis said.
But until this happens, outbreaks of angry protests and violence are likely to recur in an energy-rich country that pumps 2 million barrels of oil a day with the help of oil majors like Royal Dutch Shell and ExxonMobil, while its citizens face crumbling roads, abysmal public hospitals, chronic power shortages and an economy rigged in favor of powerful import oligarchs.
"Nigeria ... has been ruled by the same cult of mediocrity - a deeply corrupt cabal - for at least forty years, recycling themselves in different guises and incarnations," said famed Nigerian author Chinua Achebe in a recent interview with the Christian Science Monitor.
Achebe's acclaimed 1958 novel "Things Fall Apart" tells of social dislocation stemming from colonial rule and can be seen as a prescient foretelling of Nigeria's post-independence pains.
So any political deal may only buy some time before the next explosion of anger in a deeply fractured and unequal society.
"For ordinary people, it's become about everything that's wrong in Nigeria ... about tens of millions of people paying for the champagne lifestyle of dozens of people," Goldman said.


Xbox workers threaten suicide in China labor tiff

BEIJING, CHINA — Dozens of workers assembling Xbox video game consoles threatened to commit suicide by leaping from a factory dormitory in a dispute over compensation that was defused but highlights growing labor unrest as China's economy slows.
Workers said Thursday that colleagues at contract manufacturer Foxconn Technology Group's factory in Wuhan climbed to the top of the six-story building and made the suicide threat last week. The workers said their colleagues were angry after Foxconn said it was closing down the Xbox assembly line and reneged on compensation.
A government official talked them down. Foxconn, which makes iPads for Apple Inc.Xboxes for Microsoft Corp. and other gadgets, declined comment.
Strikes and other job actions have risen in recent months as factories cope with rising costs and declining orders.

Source: AP News


Mayor Bloomberg learning to code

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has resolved to take an online computer coding course.
The mayor is joining more than 180,000 people currently taking part in Code Year, a campaign to encourage more people to program.
"My New Year's resolution is to learn to code with Codecademy in 2012!" he wrote on Twitter.
Participants in the course receive an interactive lesson each week, via email.
The campaign promises that participants will be "building apps and websites before you know it".
It has proved a hit on Twitter with thousands using the hashtag "#codeyear".
It is not clear what Mr Bloomberg hopes to do with his new computer skills, but his decision to learn comes at a time of renewed interest in encouraging people to program.
Codecademy, the start-up behind Code Year, was launched in August of last year in response to the company founders' "frustrations" with learning how to program.
The US site offers free web-based tutorials in programming JavaScript.
More than six million lessons were completed within the first month of the site going live.
Codecademy co-founder Zach Sims tells Mashable. “It’s too awesome for words.”


Google further pads its portfolio with IBM patents

Google has gained hundreds of patents from IBM as it continues its intellectual property spending spree.

It has acquired 187 patents and 36 applications, adding to the 1,000 it purchased from IBM last summer.

The latest patents include a system for "using semantic networks to develop a social network".
Google has spent billions building its technology rights portfolio, including a $12.5bn deal for Motorola Mobility.

The California-based company has been actively bolstering its patent catalogue in the face of lawsuits from key competitors such as Apple and Microsoft.

Among the patents acquired in this latest deal is US Patent 7,865,592 which relates specifically to social networking sites, allowing "identifying common interests between users of a communication network".

Vicki Salmon, the chair of the litigation committee of the UK Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys, believed this might be a nod that Google was moving from protecting existing technology and beginning to plan for the future.

"When you start you have to play catch-up," she told the BBC.

"When you've finished playing catch-up and you've got yourself in a stronger position, you then can begin to look forward."

Other patents included a method for using web-based applications across additional devices, and an intriguingly titled computer phone.

Neither Google nor IBM would comment on the deal when approached by the BBC.

Last year, Google accused its competitors of buying up what it called "bogus patents" in order to slow the development of its Android operating system.

However, the company now appears to have succumbed to the same approach as it adds the IBM patents to a portfolio that also includes technology for driverless cars.

"Although you can object to a lot of cost of inconvenience by virtue of people enforcing their patents, the patent system still exists," Piers Strickland, a lawyer specialising in mobile telephone patent litigation, told the BBC....

"In order to engage with that you've either got to take licences from from people's patents, and/or aggressively increase your bartering position by buying patents.

"I think they've realised that they just had to get real, and understand that you can't just ignore the system."

Google's agreement to buy Motorola Mobility, announced in August last year, includes 24,500 patents, many of which could be used to defend the use of features on its Android mobile operating system.

The purchase is currently being reviewed by competition regulators.

Google's Motorola move came off the back of losing out on buying the 6,000-strong patent portfolio of bankrupt telecoms firm Nortel. It was outbid by a consortium of companies including Apple, Microsoft and Blackberry manufacturer Research in Motion.

"The reality is that you've got a fairly vicious turf war going on between the different operating systems," explained Ms Salmon.

"People want to be in there, and they want their platform established and people to be using them."

Google is just one of many technology companies involved in patent lawsuits which seek to slow down competition or strike lucrative licensing fee settlements.

On Wednesday, US mobile operator AT&T was forced to pay Tivo - the digital video recorder specialist - $215m plus additional undisclosed monthly licensing fees.

The fee will vary depending on AT&T meeting growth targets for digital video recording customers until 2018.

"No matter which projections you take, they all involve AT&T paying us significantly higher revenue than $215m," Tivo chief executive Tim Rogers said.

Source: BBC Technology News

More time at school may boost IQ

Spending more time at school may increase intelligence, according to a study of Norwegian men.

The research, in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggested that an extra year in the classroom could boost IQ by nearly four points.

The authors said that extra schooling had a "sizeable effect" on IQ in early adulthood.

But they do not know if this applies to all children, or just those in this study.

A link between a higher IQ and more education has already been established, the authors say.

However, determining whether spending more time in school actually improves IQ is more difficult, as it is possible that children with a naturally higher IQ are those who choose to spend more time in the education system.

Researchers from Statistics Norway, which publishes official government data, and the University of Oslo took advantage of a natural experiment in the Norwegian education system and its effect on 107,223 pupils.

Between 1955 and 1972 regional governments in Norway increased compulsory schooling from seven to nine years. It meant pupils left school at 16 instead of 14.

The effect of this forced increase in schooling was measured at the age of 19, when the military gave all men eligible for drafting an IQ test.

The researchers reported that: "An unusually large increase in both average education and average IQ is apparent at the same time as the reform was introduced."

They said one additional year in school raised IQ by 3.7 points.

They added: "By exploiting the increase in schooling induced by a comprehensive compulsory schooling reform, this study is able to uncover a statistically significant and sizeable effect of middle school education on IQ scores in early adulthood for Norwegian men."

The statisticians caution against drawing too many conclusions, as they admit that the effect may only apply to Norwegian society or its education system at the time.

However, they argue that it may be possible to improve intelligence in adolescence.

Risiti for your peace of mind and convenience

It's still in beta but look out! Why, you might ask? Well, something timely and ingenious is coming soon and there is no question it is bound to be a winner with consumers, young and old.

Let me ask you a question? How big is your wallet or for the ladies, how congested is your handbag?

Most folks are already guessing what I am arriving at more-so as the daily consumer purchases elicit a record of the transactions you are a party to.... or the receipt.... in this case, the precursor to Risiti, a more than welcome escape from receipt overload! is an online receipt management system that was born from the frustrations of never ending emailed and paper receipts, scattered throughout our already busy lives.

These receipts, brought into one management location, allows Risiti users to not only retain their receipts indefinitely, but also to gain insight into their spending habits, turning their receipts into a fiscal management tool, with a view to better managing their finances and developing 'healthier' spending habits.

Now, it becomes easier and convenient to locate your receipts for returns, taxes, expense reports and much more.

Getting a receipt into is just a few clicks away. Users are currently able to upload receipts by emailing in a smartphone photo of their paper receipt or by forwarding in any emailed receipt to

The receipt is then processed through the system where date, merchant, total, and tax are extracted from the receipt.

Once in the system, users can tag each receipt based on their needs including such things as business expenses and tax deductible items. If a user needs to access one of their receipts, they can easily do so by filtering down their data by tag, date range, and location of purchase.

The team is dedicated to benefiting the consumer and with that goal in mind the receipt management features of will always be free to use.

Furthermore, if a user needs to get their receipt data out of the system they can easily export their data, another feature Risiti intends to keep free to the user.

The team at Risiti is determined to make sure the consumer's needs and concerns are paramount, hence Risiti values customer feedback and will work diligently to always address any consumer concerns.

"File it away!" You deserve the peace of mind and let Risiti provide just that, for you.

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Iran says it will not return US drone

Iranian headache for Obama
 TEHRAN, Iran — Remaining defiant in the face of crippling sanctions and diplomatic hand-twisting, Iran insists it will not return a U.S. surveillance drone captured by its armed forces, a senior commander of the country's elite Revolutionary Guard said Sunday.
Gen. Hossein Salami, deputy head of the Guard, said in remarks broadcast on state television that the violation of Iran's airspace by the U.S. drone was a "hostile act" and warned of a "bigger" response. He did not elaborate on what Tehran might do.
"No one returns the symbol of aggression to the party that sought secret and vital intelligence related to the national security of a country," Salami said.
Iranian television broadcast video Thursday of Iranian military officials inspecting what it identified as the RQ-170 Sentinel drone.
Iranian state media have said the unmanned spy aircraft was detected over the eastern town of Kashmar, some 140 miles (225 kilometers) from the border with Afghanistan. U.S. officials have acknowledged losing the drone.
Salami called its capture a victory for Iran and a defeat for the U.S. in a complicated intelligence and technological battle.
"Iran is among the few countries that possesses the most modern technology in the field of pilotless drones. The technology gap between Iran and the U.S. is not much," he said.
Officers in the Guard, Iran's most powerful military force, had previously claimed that the country's armed forces brought down the surveillance aircraft with an electronic ambush, causing minimum damage to the drone.
American officials have said that U.S. intelligence assessments indicate that Iran neither shot the drone down, nor used electronic or cybertechnology to force it from the sky. They contend the drone malfunctioned. The officials had spoken anonymously in order to discuss the classified program.
But Salami refused to provide more details of Iran's claim to have captured the CIA-operated aircraft.
"A party that wins in an intelligence battle doesn't reveal its methods. We can't elaborate on the methods we employed to intercept, control, discover and bring down the pilotless plane," he said.

Source: AP News


Microsoft and GE in new healthcare venture

REDMOND, WA - General Electric Co. (NYSE: GE), through its healthcare IT business, and Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq “MSFT”) today announced plans to create a joint venture aimed at helping healthcare organizations and professionals use real-time, systemwide intelligence to improve healthcare quality and the patient experience. Upon formation, the new company will develop and market an open, interoperable technology platform and innovative clinical applications focused on enabling better population health management to improve outcomes and the overall economics of health and wellness.
As healthcare providers and payers around the globe shift from episodic single-patient care to continuous population management, new requirements have emerged for integrated care processes, greater insight and engaging patient experiences. These delivery system reforms, including a shift toward new payment models, require healthcare providers to address gaps and integrate data across silos of care delivery to help enable better care coordination and performance improvement.
This new joint venture will combine Microsoft’s deep expertise in building platforms and ecosystems with GE Healthcare’s experience in clinical and administrative workflow solutions, empowering healthcare professionals and organizations with the intelligence and capabilities to respond to the rapidly evolving and complex healthcare landscape.
“The complementary nature of GE Healthcare’s and Microsoft’s individual expertise will drive new insights, solutions and efficiencies to further advance the two companies’ shared vision of a connected, patient-centric healthcare system,” said Jeffrey R. Immelt, chairman and CEO of GE. “The global healthcare challenges of access, cost and quality of care delivery are creating a new focus on the performance and accountability of healthcare delivery systems — in every country, at every level of care. This venture will demonstrate what is possible when leading companies with complementary capabilities work together to meet a common goal.”
The new company will deliver a distinctive, open platform that will give healthcare providers and independent software vendors the ability to develop a new generation of clinical applications. The venture will develop healthcare applications on the platform using in-house developers and the platform will connect with a wide range of healthcare IT products. GE Healthcare IT will immediately be able to connect existing products to the platform, helping current customers to derive new insights.
“High-quality, affordable healthcare is one of the biggest challenges facing every nation, but it’s also an area where technology can make a huge difference,” said Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft. “Combining Microsoft’s open, interoperable health platforms and software expertise with GE’s experience and healthcare solutions will create exciting opportunities for patients and healthcare providers alike. Working together, GE and Microsoft can help make healthcare systems more intelligent and cost efficient while improving patient care.”
The two parent companies bring complementary expertise to this new venture and will contribute intellectual property, including the following:
Microsoft Amalga, an enterprise health intelligence platform
Microsoft Vergence, a single sign-on and context management solution
Microsoft expreSSO, an enterprise single sign-on solution
GE Healthcare eHealth, a Health Information Exchange
GE Healthcare Qualibria, a clinical knowledge application environment being developed in cooperation with Intermountain Healthcare (Salt Lake City, Utah) and Mayo Clinic
The long-term vision of the venture is to create new value by offering a healthcare performance management suite that includes many of these products.
In addition to the new joint venture, GE Healthcare and Microsoft will each maintain a strong presence in the healthcare IT industry, as both parent organizations will continue to sell other products and services to healthcare organizations around the globe.
“Improving the quality of healthcare through innovative collaboration is a goal that we share with GE Healthcare and Microsoft. Working together with others to identify new ways to improve health outcomes and drive down cost is a hallmark of our patient-care philosophy,” said C. Michel Harper, M.D., executive dean for Practice, Mayo Clinic. “We’re pleased to see healthcare IT companies embrace this same idea and come together in new ways. We look forward to seeing the progress this new endeavor will bring in medicine.”
“Intermountain Healthcare and GE have a strong history and partnership in developing and advancing transformational healthcare information technologies,” stated Charles S. Sorenson, MD, president and chief executive officer of Intermountain Healthcare. “Our common vision is driving powerful advancements in healthcare and improving the clinical work process by making real-time information available at the point of care. We look forward to continuing our efforts to further these principles, achieving our combined objectives, and putting these important technologies into practice.”
The new company’s products and services will provide the information and insight required to help address many critical problems in the healthcare system today, including these:
Healthcare associated infections. In the U.S. alone, an estimated 1.7 million healthcare associated infections occur annually, resulting in $35 billion in additional healthcare costs1,2 and the loss of nearly 100,000 lives.3 By pulling together data from disparate IT systems, identifying those patients most at risk for a given HAI, and surfacing guidelines and protocols within provider workflow, the solutions will enable healthcare organizations to more effectively deploy their resources and deliver better care at lower costs.
Chronic disease management. According to the Centers for Disease Control, about 133 million Americans (nearly half of all adults) live with at least one chronic illness and most chronic diseases require a lifetime of ongoing care.4 To help patients and their physicians work together more efficiently to manage chronic conditions, the platform and applications will support the sharing of data from at-home medical devices (such as blood pressure cuffs, scales and glucometers) with caregivers to facilitate better tracking of chronic conditions, coordination of treatment schedules, management of medication regimens and timely interventions.
The new venture complements the existing offerings from both parent companies and is expected to yield job growth in its first five years of existence. It will operate globally, offering interoperability platforms and application solutions targeting both healthcare providers and payers. Michael J. Simpson, vice president and general manager at GE Healthcare IT, will serve as the company’s CEO.
The new company, which has yet to be named, will be headquartered near the Microsoft campus in Redmond, Wash., with significant presence in Salt Lake City, Utah, and additional cities around the world.
Launch of the new joint venture is subject to customary conditions, including regulatory approvals, and is expected in the first half of 2012.
About GE Healthcare
GE Healthcare provides transformational medical technologies and services that are shaping a new age of patient care. Our broad expertise in medical imaging and information technologies, medical diagnostics, patient monitoring systems, drug discovery, biopharmaceutical manufacturing technologies, performance improvement and performance solutions services help our customers to deliver better care to more people around the world at a lower cost. In addition, we partner with healthcare leaders, striving to leverage the global policy change necessary to implement a successful shift to sustainable healthcare systems.
About Microsoft in Health
Microsoft is committed to improving health around the world through software innovation. Over the past 16 years, Microsoft has steadily increased its investments in health, with a focus on addressing the challenges of health providers, health and social services organizations, payers, consumers and life sciences companies worldwide. Microsoft closely collaborates with a broad ecosystem of partners and develops its own powerful health solutions, such as Microsoft Amalga and Microsoft HealthVault. Together, Microsoft and its industry partners are working to deliver health solutions that enable better health outcomes for more people.
About Microsoft
Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

Source: CNBC News


Facebook absorbs Gowalla developers as part of software team

Facebook has announced it is hiring the co-founders of Gowalla.

The social network is also taking on other developers from the location-based "check-in service". Gowalla will close in 2012 as a consequence.

The news comes days after Facebook announced plans to take on "thousands" of new members of staff.

The company is opening a software engineering centre in New York as part of the strategy - its first away from of the West Coast of the US.

Despite a report last week by CNN that Facebook had acquired Gowalla for an undisclosed sum, the company said on Monday that it had taken on key members of the businesses's staff but had not bought the organisation outright.

"We're excited to confirm that Gowalla co-founders Josh Williams and Scott Raymond, along with other members of the Gowalla team, are moving to Facebook in January to join our design and engineering teams," a statement said.

"While Facebook isn't acquiring the Gowalla service or technology, we're sure that the inspiration behind Gowalla will make its way into Facebook over time."

Texas-based Gowalla is a two-year-old social network based around the idea of allowing users to "check in" to locations and share pictures from their visits.

Members used to receive virtual "items" at certain check-in points. However, the company struggled against a larger competitor, Foursquare.

In September it refocused its efforts on becoming a travel service, offering "social guides" to 60 cities, including London, Paris and Chicago, based on its members' postings.

A blog post on Gowalla's site said: "Gowalla, as a service, will be winding down at the end of January. We plan to provide an easy way to export your Passport data, your Stamp and Pin data (along with your legacy Item data), and your photos as well. Facebook is not acquiring Gowalla's user data.

"As we move forward, we hope some of the inspiration behind Gowalla - a fun and beautiful way to share your journey on the go - will live on at Facebook."

The original CNN report suggested that the Gowalla team would work on Facebook's Timeline feature.

Timeline turns users' profile pages into digital scrapbooks, making it easier for them to view each others' life histories.

The feature was announced in September, but has yet to be rolled out to many of the site's members.

Facebook already had a location-based service built into its mobile device apps and website, but experts say the network may want to use the developers' experience to create a richer experience.

"Facebook Places seems to work fairly well but they want to make a big play in this area," said Lee Bryant, the European managing director of Dachis Group, a social media consultancy.

"Location-based services are still in their early stages. Gowalla was interesting and slightly more story-based than Foursquare, which Facebook may feel will help it strengthen its Timeline service."

The announcement follows Friday's news that the firm plans to open a software engineering centre in New York in early 2012.

The company already employs an advertising team in the city. However, it is the first time the company has created a software base that is not on the US West Coast.
Facebook's chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg, announced the New York expansion plan at a press conference attended by the city's Mayor, Michael Bloomberg, and other officials.

"We are trying to grow at a clip that will allow us to get the very best people and integrate them," she said.

"We will be adding thousands of employees in the next year."

The new office will be headed up by Serkan Piantino. He previously led the engineering team behind Facebook's News Feed and helped develop its Timeline feature.

Ms Sandberg did not specify how many of the promised posts would be created in New York.

The moves come ahead of an expected share flotation which analysts say may occur in the first half of next year.

The Wall Street Journal has reported that the firm could raise $10bn through the sale, valuing the company at $100bn.

It quotes sources saying that the initial public offering (IPO) could be completed by June.

Facebook has declined to comment, saying it does not want to add to speculation about the move.

Source: BBC Tech News