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Top Giants prospects Joey Bart, Heliot Ramos earn prestigious honor

first_imgSAN FRANCISCO — The Giants will only have one player representing them at this year’s Midsummer Classic, but the organization will have two more headed to Cleveland for All-Star week festivities.The franchise’s top two prospects, catcher Joey Bart and center fielder Heliot Ramos, were named to the National League roster for the 2019 MLB Futures Game. The annual exhibition features baseball’s top prospects and will be held on Sunday, July 7 at Progressive Field.The Giants will find out which …last_img read more

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Mostly Safe Drinking Water Is Not Safe Enough

first_imgMost Americans take clean drinking water for granted as a convenience of modern life. The United States has one of the world’s safest drinking water supplies, but new challenges constantly emerge. For example, on May 6 researchers at the nonprofit Environmental Working Group and Northeastern University reported that 43 states have sites where water is contaminated with toxic fluorinated compounds known as PFAS. And many farm workers in California’s Central Valley have to buy bottled water because their tap water contains unsafe levels of arsenic and agricultural chemicals that have been linked to elevated risks of infant death and cancer in adults. As a scientist specializing in water quality, I believe water providers and regulators can’t afford to be complacent. So I was distressed to hear EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler tout the quality of drinking water in the U.S. in an interview on March 20, 2019. “I want to make sure the American public understands 92% of the water everyday meets all the EPA requirements for safe drinking water,” Wheeler said.RELATED ARTICLESReport Warns of Widespread Drinking Water ContaminationNitrate Taints Drinking Water of Millions, Study FindsIs Your Drinking Water Safe?Is There Lead in the Water of Your Green Building?Blue Heron EcoHaus: Dealing With Really Bad Water Let’s do the math on that. Nationwide, 327 million Americans each drink two to eight glasses of water on average every day. If 8% of that supply doesn’t meet EPA standards, that’s up to 209 million unsafe glasses of water per day, or 2.3 billion gallons of water–enough to fill a quarter of a million bathtubs. In short, high compliance numbers do not mean everything is fine. Aging and underfunded For more than 40 years, the Safe Drinking Water Act has provided a consistent set of national standards for monitoring and managing contaminants to ensure the safety of water. The Environmental Protection Agency develops these standards and works with states and water utilities to ensure that drinking water supplies conform to them. Thanks to rules implemented under the Safe Drinking Water Act in the 1980s, waterborne disease declined in the United States, but in recent decades it has crept back up. The EPA also provides funding to states and communities to monitor and test water supplies. This support is essential as the agency develops new standards and monitoring approaches for emerging contaminants, such as PFAS. However, the EPA’s annual appropriations budget for water infrastructure has been virtually flat since 2000. EPA annual appropriations for water infrastructure, fiscal years 1973-2019.[Source: Congressional Research Service] There are more than 151,000 public water systems in the United States serving residential communities, schools, office buildings, hospitals and other sites. It is especially challenging for small communities to fund infrastructure upgrades and monitor water quality. The American Society of Civil Engineers gave the U.S. drinking water delivery system a D on its most recent infrastructure report card, based on the high number of leaks and the presence of both legacy contaminants like lead and new threats like PFAS. Millions of violations every year Nationwide, the fraction of all water systems in compliance with health standards has hovered between 90% and 93% since 2013. However, some key sources are doing less well. For example, at schools and daycare facilities compliance was only 90% on average from 2014 to 2019, and appears to have declined in the past several years. And some regions are better-served than others. EPA data for the first quarter of 2019 show that the percentage of water systems in compliance ranged from 84% to 95%. The fractions of populations with access to water that met all national standards varied even more, ranging from 60% to 95%. EPA Regions 2 (New York and New Jersey) and 6 (New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Arkansas) had the poorest compliance records. In Region 2, nearly 12 million people were served by a system in violation of at least one federal regulation. Compliance with federal drinking water standards varies regionally across the country.[Source: EPA] Sickened by tap water What are the most common violations? Of the 10,083 systems that were in violation of a federal standard in 2015, 72% were based on the Total Coliform Rule or other microbial violations. This means that bacteria were found in the water, and that there was a potential for waterborne disease due to fecal contamination or inadequate treatment. Researchers have estimated that as many as 32 million cases of waterborne disease occur nationwide every year. The most recent summary from the Centers for Disease Control of actual reported problems in community water systems found 42 outbreaks in 2013 and 2014, with 1,006 cases of illness, 124 hospitalizations and 13 deaths. For the water industry these events represent failures to fulfill its core mission, much like plane crashes for the aviation industry. Climate change is producing more intense storms and flooding, which is significantly affecting water quality. Extreme precipitation and floods wash contaminants from sewage and animal manure into water supplies. It is clear that rainfall is associated with widespread transport of fecal contamination from humans and animals into rivers and lakes. Grade: Incomplete No other industry would accept an 8% failure rate, and I do not believe U.S. water professionals see that figure as acceptable. In my view, the first step is to put more resources into water supply monitoring and diagnostics that can detect emerging pathogens, such as protozoa and viruses. Another valuable step would be funding pilot and demonstration plants that could demonstrate new treatment systems’ potential to reduce waterborne disease risks. For example, in Ohio a consortium of cities, consulting engineers, and universities is assessing new treatment systems for combined sewer and stormwater discharges. Creating more such facilities would support innovation and adoption of promising new strategies. Early work on the occurrence in water supplies of Cryptosporidium, a microscopic parasite that can cause gastrointestinal illness, eventually led to new rules for drinking water monitoring and treatment. Today, water utilities could identify whether fecal pollution was coming from humans or animals using new technologies and this would allow them to target impaired waterways before outbreaks occurred. Finally, I believe water providers and regulators should reaffirm their commitment to providing safe water whenever Americans turn on a tap or take a shower. A perfect score may be unattainable today, but even a 1% rise in compliance would make numerous Americans’ lives safer and healthier. And investments in new water infrastructure can make 99.999% compliance achievable. Joan Rose is Laboratory Director/Principal Investigator in Water Research, at Michigan State University. This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article here.last_img read more

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Google Shows Off Its Latest “Baby Steps” Toward Becoming the Star Trek Computer

first_imgThere are 500 million things mapped in the knowledge graph, and 3.5 billion relationships between those things. But Singhal admits, “This is still a baby step towards understanding this world like you or I do.”“Truly universal search will have information available on the Web and information that’s your information,” Singhal said. Building on Google’s Universal Search, the idea that images, maps, videos and Web pages can all results of the same kinds of searches, it’s time for Google to start bringing users’ own information into the results as well.The updates announced on Wednesday bring that knowledge to bear in new interfaces designed to make searching Google faster, more natural, and more comprehensive, all while remaining considerate of users’ privacy and devices of choice.Lead image via Wikipedia.  Google submitted the app about a week ago. It’s obviously a touchy subject, since Apple’s AI assistant, Siri, is supposed to be the onboard robot that answers people’s questions, and she goes out of her way to avoid using Google to do so. But since Google’s voice search can’t hook in to iOS contacts, phone, messages, reminders, clock or other system-level functions, Siri still has enough advantages that Apple will let Google ship this update.It’s better than Siri at the Web, though. Let’s get that out of the way. While Siri may improve over time, it just can’t match Google at Web search right now. It can also provide answers any way the Knowledge Graph can, which includes doing math. Siri uses Wolfram Alpha for math and science questions, and the race between Google and Wolfram Alpha will be interesting to watch. But for the casual math and science queries we might ask of our phones, Google is on the ball.Voice search isn’t the same as Google Now. The predictive suggestions showed off at Google I/O, which send users scheduling reminders from their Google Calendars when searching for a place to eat, for example, are exclusive to Android.The Destiny of Search“The destiny of search is to become the Star Trek computer, that perfect, loyal assistant,” SVP of engineering Amit Singhal told the audience in his introduction. We ask questions in natural language, and she answers us.There are 30 trillion URLs on the Web, Singhal said, and Google crawls 20 billion on the average day. It performs 100 billion searches per month. That represents a staggering amount of information, but it’s a big leap from indexing those Web addresses to actually understanding them. “The next scientific challenge that we face,” Singhal said, “is that we need to understand what’s in that knowledge.”It’s about more than just organizing the information. If it wants to build the Star Trek computer, Google has to tackle some of the hardest computer science problems there are. It has to master speech recognition, natural language, and, as Singhal said, “We will have to build artificial intelligence. We are clearly not there yet, but we are taking baby steps toward that future.”The most important change to Google search so far this year was the launch of the Knowledge Graph in May. Google is moving away from simple keyword matching and toward a natural-language understanding of terms and concepts.By creating a huge database of the things in the world and mapping their relationships, Google is building a way to relate the queries we ask of it to the actual concepts we’re talking about, modeling our language much like we do when speaking to one another. As Knowledge Graph lead PM Emily Moxley put it to ReadWriteWeb in July, “It’s about mapping the real world into something that computers can understand.” Only if you explicitly tell Google that you’re looking for something of yours, such as by searching for “my flights,” will it show email contents instantly in main search results. It’s all done over SSL, so no one can intercept the information, just like on Gmail itself. Knowledge Graph boxes are displayed on the right side of search results and have a two-fold purpose: helping the you (and Google) quickly clarify the query by suggesting related objects and concepts, and helping you explore the relationships between concepts.Not only does this visual representation of the things in your query help you find what you’re looking for, it helps Google better understand how these things are related.Carousel: A Touchable List of Answers from Knowledge GraphThere’s also a new carousel view for Knowledge Graph search results. The right sidebar box for Knowledge Graph only shows five related concepts at a time, but now a search for a list of things, like “famous jazz composers,” will produce an illustrated, side-scrolling list of possible answers, which can all be expanded with one tap. It’s a faster and more enjoyable way to dive into search results on the desktop, but it’s also an ideal interface for a tablet. 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Market A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai… Gmail in search results is a field trial, so you only get it if you want it and sign up for it. You can sign up for the field trial at g.co/searchtrial and see if you like it. It’s not yet available for Google Apps users who have Gmail on their own domains.Voice Q&A Search In the Google iOS App: What’s A Siri?The new version of the Google search app for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch brings to Apple customers the kind of Knowledge Graph-powered, natural language, question-and-answer search Google showed off in Android 4.1 Jelly Bean at Google I/O in June.This is the most Star Trek of all the announcements; mobile engineering director Scott Huffman bombarded the iPhone with casual questions, and it always instantly nailed the answer, presenting it in a visually attractive and informative format. On Wednesday, Google announced new natural-language voice search on iOS, new, touch-friendly Web interfaces for its answers, and an ambitious, voluntary experiment to bring your Gmail messages into search results. Google wants to be like the Star Trek computer when it grows up, letting us ask questions naturally about anything and get a compelling answer right back. These new features show that Google’s much further along than you might realize.English-Language Knowledge Graph EverywhereStarting Thursday, users searching Google in English anywhere in the world will get Knowledge Graph results. Knowledge Graph, which launched in May, is Google’s effort to move away from simple keyword matching and toward a natural-language understanding of terms and concepts. This week U.S. users will also start seeing Knowledge Graph people, place and thing suggestions in auto-suggest and auto-complete while typing their queries. Tags:#Google#web That view of flight info is pretty neat, too. It’s not just about pulling up email messages as search results. Google is actually pulling out the information that’s relevant to you from Gmail and presenting it like a Knowledge Graph answer. Related Posts jon mitchell Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting Gmail Messages in Search Results – A Field TrialOn Wednesday, Google launched a limited field trial of a bold new idea: displaying your Gmail messages in appropriate search results.That might sound scary, but it’s implemented in a conservative way. It pulls up Gmail messages on the right sidebar if they’re relevant, but the email itself is collapsed. A person over your shoulder won’t be able to read your email unless you click to expand it.In a publicity event on Wednesday, Sagar Kamdar, director of product management for Universal Search, told reporters, “Gmail is almost the same size as our Web corpus.” Email is a huge store of information that is valuable to users. But for Google to pull email into search results like it does Web results, “Now we need to make it private and secure.”Collapsing email message views by default is part of that. It’s also controlled by the same toggle switch between personal and global search results as Google+ Search Plus Your World results. Clicking the globe button takes all personal info out of search, and you can permanently disable all personalized search in your Google account settings. Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic…last_img read more

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HC dismisses former CMs’ plea

first_imgThe Uttarakhand High Court on Wednesday dismissed the pleas of former Chief Ministers Bhagat Singh Koshiyari and Vijay Bahuguna seeking review of its order to the State government to recover market-rate rents from them for overstaying in their official bungalows. ‘Devoid of merit’A Bench of Chief Justice Ramesh Ranganathan and Justice R.C. Khulbe turned down their pleas, saying they are devoid of merit and not legally sustainable. “The time taken in the review proceedings will not affect the duration of six months from the date of the order (May 3, 2019) within which the respondents were directed to pay rent dues as per market rate,” said Kartikeya Hari Gupta, the counsel for a Dehradun-based NGO, which had moved the court for recovery of rents from the former CMs. Both former Chief Ministers had argued before the court that before computing the rent dues, they should have been heard by the State. Countering their argument, Mr. Gupta told the court that this ground was completely false and baseless as their counsel were not only heard but specifically asked during the arguments if they wanted to reply on the computation of rent.last_img read more

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