27 February 2013 Amid continuing global economic uncertainty, South Africa continues to experience growth and to weather the storm with a stable fiscus, says Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan. Presenting a R1.06-trillion 2013 National Budget in Parliament in Cape Town on Wednesday, Gordhan said that despite the still troubled global outlook, the world economy had shown signs of improvements.Economy to grow at 2.7% in 2013 He said South Africa’s economy had continued to grow, though at a slower rate than projected in last year’s Budget, with gross domestic product (GDP) growth reaching 2.5% last year and expected to come in at 2.7% in 2013, rising to 3.8% by 2015. South Africa’s inflation rate was expected to remain moderate, with consumer prices projected to increase by an average of 5.5% a year over the next three years. The budget deficit is projected to fall from 5.2% of GDP in 2012/13 to 4.6% in 2013/14 and 3.1% in 2015/16. Gordhan attributed the large budget deficit – amounting to a revenue shortfall of over R16-billion – to the economic turbulence the country experienced in the second half of last year. South Africa’s trade performance also remained low, with exports growing at just 1.1% in real terms last year against an increase of 7.2% in imports, pushing the deficit of the balance in payments to 6.2% or R190-billion. Gordhan said the disruption of activity in the mining sector and the drop in mining exports because of lower demand had partly contributed to the widening of South Africa’s balance of payments.Social spending over half the total Over half of all government spending in 2013/14, or R682-billion, will go to education, health, housing and social grants. Local government will get an extra R5.2-billion as part of the local government equitable share to help smaller municipalities to fund development needs. The Passenger Rail Association of South Africa (Prasa) will get R3.2-billion to fund rail signaling, while the SA National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) will get an additional R1.4-billion to fund road construction and maintenance. Additional amounts will also be made available to fund dams and water pipelines, with an extra R2.6-billion allocated for regional bulk water infrastructure, R1.9-billion to top up the municipal water infrastructure grant, and R1.5-billion to complete the De Hoop Dam. The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project will get a further R1.1-billion, while science and technology infrastructure will get an additional R600-million. An additional R1.8-billion will be spent on increasing the number of teachers, with R800-million of this to fund Grade R teachers. Gordhan said allocations from the contingency reserve of R4-billion, for unforeseeable and unavoidable expenditure, would be made later this year. “Work is in progress to determine funding requirements for reconstruction and rehabilitation following flood damage in the Western Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo and Mpumalanga,” he said. He said an allocation would be made in the adjustments appropriation for the Dinaledi schools connectivity programme and other broadband infrastructure projects subject to the finalisation of implementation plans.Debt service costs, social grants up the most Of the items in the 2013/14 Budget, debt-service costs will rise the most over last year’s Budget, with a 12.9% increase. Other significant increases include spending on social grants, which will account for R134.9-billion, up 9.2% over last year, spending on housing and amenities such as water to municipalities, up 11% over last year, and spending on economic affairs, up 10.8% over last year. Debt-service costs will total R100-billion for 2013/14 and are expected to stabilise at 2.8% of GDP in 2012/13. A further R4-billion will be set aside as a contingency reserve. The government will borrow R215.5-billion in 2013/14, which will be financed mainly with domestic bonds. Net loan debt is project to reach 38.6% of GDP by 2013/14, climbing to 40.3% in 2015/16.5% growth the target Gordhan said there were several steps that the government was taking to improve revenue and spending. These included carrying out a review of expenditure, focusing on both spending and controls in government programmes and agencies, the initiation of a tax review later this year, and a competitiveness enhancement programme introduced in last year’s Budget. The capacity of the state to implement plans and programmes would also be strengthened. He said new policy initiatives over the next three years would be financed from savings, efficiency gains and reprioritisation of spending. “If we succeed in driving growth towards 5% a year and government revenue doubles in the next 20 years, major infrastructure projects and new policy initiatives such as National Health Insurance and expanded vocational education will be affordable with limited adjustments to tax policy,” he said. “But if growth continues along the present trajectory, substantial spending commitments would require significant adjustments in revenue and reductions in other areas of spending,” he warned. The National Treasury has prepared a report for Parliament – which is currently before government – that considers the country’s fiscal sustainability from a long-term perspective. Gordhan said the Budget took into consideration the National Development Plan (NDP) by focusing on growth and employment creation, prioritising improvements in education and training, and promoting progress towards a more equal society. Gordhan stressed that South Africa has substantial strengths on which to build. These include a well-established legal system, secure property rights, an effective tax system, world-class universities and science councils, established transport, water and communications infrastructure networks, a sound macro-economic and fiscal framework, and expertise in a number of areas such as mining, retail, construction, logistics and manufacturing. Source: SAnews.gov.za
Tags:#Data Services#NYT#web Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Market Many of the descriptions from Wikipedia were either overly general, overly technical, or very out of context for the specific result on Hunch.Search engines tend to penalize sites that have a significant amount of what they consider “non-original” content. Thus, by having many results with Wikipedia-like descriptions, we may have been limiting the visibility of those results in search engines and thus reducing the number of people who could use a search engine to find relevant information on Hunch.Right: Hunch, describing something now not at all with the words of Wikipedia.It’s possible that the company may have other concerns it’s not discussing, regarding its commercial dealings with 3rd parties, but both of those reasons above seem quite valid.It’s a real shame. As Creative Commons licensed content, the Wikipedia corpus seems like something that ought to commoditize high-quality knowledge, allowing software developers to build even more value on top of it. The Hunch team specializes in machine learning and recommendation technology. Why should it have to also recreate descriptions of the whole world it’s drawing recommendations from? In theory, that’s a solved problem – Wikipedia solved it.Unfortunately, Wikipedia articles aren’t written with this in mind and are often far too technical. They aren’t written with re-use in mind, for example, they often don’t put the most accessible content at the top.The search engine problem is a whole other story. The duplicate content punishment clearly hasn’t succeeded in weeding spam or low-quality content from search results. It seems like a hold-over from the days when good actors online were creating all their own original content by hand and bad actors were the only ones who used machines to work with data in bulk. What the duplicate content penalty has done is punish innovative startups like Hunch, who have a lot to add in terms of technology but who would do best to rely on someone else’s text data and descriptions of things.“That’s a shame,” Walling says, “that someone feels they are being punished for reuse, but we can’t change the way search engines work.”“One of the biggest reuse projects right now is Facebook community pages,” Walling told us. “They reuse a lot of Wikipedia content. Our business development people worked with them to set that up, but their content isn’t indexed by search engines, so that isn’t an issue for Facebook.”That is an issue for smaller companies though. This isn’t just a loss for Hunch, it’s a loss for a whole ecosystem of startups that could serve their users with innovative new technology built on top of a commoditized standard of collaboratively edited descriptions of the world. As users, that means it’s a loss for us. A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai… Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting Creativity, they say, always builds on the past. So too do many wonderful things on the internet. What could be better to build the future on top of than our collective knowledge of the world as represented by Wikipedia? One startup technology company, recommendation service Hunch, announced today that it is dropping its use of Wikipedia data. Its stated reasons explain well why Wikipedia’s incredible platform potential is not likely to be realized anytime soon.Wikipedia will celebrate its 10th birthday tomorrow and while it’s changed the world in incredible ways, it enters its second decade in the same position it began: as a destination website. In an era of web services and applications, Wikipedia could be so much more. Wikipedia as an organization would like it to be more. Unfortunately, it’s not well positioned to realize its full potential yet – and the world isn’t ready for it, either.What it Could BeWikipedia could be a provider of canonical descriptions of all kinds of things, a platform that applications of all sorts could use to populate themselves with rich information on almost any topic. Much like place databases are used by so many location-based technologies today. If you want to build an app that talks about different places around the world, you don’t have to create a brand new map of places from scratch. That problem has been solved.If Wikipedia entries could be used like this, software companies could focus on building fabulous experiences for their users, without having to worry about re-creating descriptions of all thing topics they are discussing. “There is a fair amount of structured data that is reasonably machine readable,” Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales told ReadWriteWeb this week in a press call. “I’m definitely supportive in general of initiatives to take information from Wikipedia and do interesting things with it.”Steven Walling, a former ReadWriteWeb writer now with a fellowship at the Wikimedia Foundation, considers Wikipedia as a platform “an open question” – which must be a wiki nerd’s most enthusiastic endorsement. “Our core mission is broad,” he told us, “it’s not just to create a web based encyclopedia, it’s explicitly designed for reuse. Right now, Wikipedia is a destination site, but it’s an open question.It seems that Wikipedians want the site to be used as a service, though it’s not clear they really want it enthusiastically.Right now, Wikipedia isn’t being used as a data platform very much – and it appears unlikely that it will be. It’s a real loss for everyone.The Problem With WikipediaThe Hunch blog this morning announced that the company would no longer use Wikipedia entries to populate the descriptions of the things, like foods, vacations, articles of clothing etc., that it recommended to its users. The reasons will probably feel familiar to many people: marshall kirkpatrick Related Posts
Kammuri turning to super typhoon less likely but possible — Pagasa Read Next Fire hits houses in Mandaluyong City “And it’s not anything personal, I’m not here to tirade anybody, I’m not here to go at any particular person or the organization, because I have nothing but love for Cleveland. I have nothing but love for the times that I spent there. It’s nothing about that.”After mostly keeping to himself since the trade went down, Irving further explained his motivations behind leaving Cleveland.“It’s just there comes a time when you mature as an individual. It’s time to make that decision,” he shared.“And there is no looking back from that standpoint. There is no time to figure out how to save someone’s feelings, when ultimately you have to be selfish in figuring out what you want to do. And it wasn’t about me not wanting to win. It wasn’t anything about that. I want to be extremely, extremely happy in perfecting my craft. And that was the only intent that I have in all of this.” Khristian Ibarrola /raADVERTISEMENT Nonong Araneta re-elected as PFF president LATEST STORIES Frontrow holds fun run to raise funds for young cancer patients LOOK: Loisa Andalio, Ronnie Alonte unwind in Amanpulo for 3rd anniversary BSP sees higher prices in November, but expects stronger peso, low rice costs to put up fight Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Appearing on ESPN’s “First Take,” the 25-year-old guard confirmed that he did not speak with LeBron about his trade request, nor did he feel obligated to do so.“Did you speak to LeBron James or talk to LeBron James before you and your representatives met with ownership before you let them know you wanted out?” host Stephen A. Smith candidly asked the four-time All-Star.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSWATCH: Drones light up sky in final leg of SEA Games torch runSPORTSSEA Games: Philippines picks up 1st win in men’s water poloSPORTSMalditas save PH from shutout“No. Why would I have to?” Irving responded, prompting Smith to say that LeBron might have taken it personally.Without mentioning his former teammate’s name, Irving calmly explained his side: “I don’t think you owe anything to another person in terms of figuring out what you want to do with your life.” E.T. returns to earth, reunites with grown-up Elliott in new ad Brace for potentially devastating typhoon approaching PH – NDRRMC Trending Articles PLAY LIST 00:50Trending Articles03:46Lacson: PH lost about P161.5B tax revenue from big trading partners in 201700:50Trending Articles01:37Protesters burn down Iran consulate in Najaf01:47Panelo casts doubts on Robredo’s drug war ‘discoveries’01:29Police teams find crossbows, bows in HK university01:35Panelo suggests discounted SEA Games tickets for students02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games MOST READ Austin, Ravena lead PH team in 2017 FIBA Asia Champions Cup Former teammates Kyrie Irving (left) and LeBron James AFP/GETTY IMAGES FILE PHOTOKyrie Irving and LeBron James will share the court on opening night of the 2017-2018 NBA regular season next month. But for the first time in a long time, it won’t be as teammates.Irving recently demanded his way out of the Cleveland Cavaliers and got his wish when he was traded to the Boston Celtics.ADVERTISEMENT View comments
Guning for their first Grand Slam title, Rohan Bopanna and Aisam-ul-Haq fought their hearts out but had to be content with a runners-up trophy at the US Open as the Indo-Pak Express lost the men’s doubles final 6-7(6) 6-7 (3) to Americans top seeds Mike and Bob Bryan in New York on Sunday.Bopanna and Qureshi, 16th seeds, did not look like a team playing their first ever Grand Slam final as they made the world number one pair work hard for points and played enthralling tennis for more than one-and-a-half hours.It was nevertheless a dream run for the two players as for the first time an Indian and a Pakistani player combined to reach the final of a Grand Slam event.They might have failed to win a title but Bopanna and Qureshi were successful in sending the message loud and clear that sport can help dissolve the boundaries and India and Pakistan can watch, play and earn glory together.They wore the t-shirts with slogan — stop war start tennis — to send the message of peace in the two countries, at loggerheads since the partition days.For Bryan brothers, it was their second Grand Slam title of the season and also a revenge victory, having lost the Washington quarter-finals to the Indo-Pak team. For the Bryan brothers, this title was their ninth men’s doubles crown.
New Delhi, Jun 30 (PTI) Grandmaster and defending champion Abhijeet Gupta will be vying for a hat-trick of titles when he opens his campaign at the Commonwealth Chess Championship, beginning here on Monday. To be inaugurated by Sports Minister Vijay Goel, the championship has over 550 registered players in various categories spanning from under-8 till open. At the last count, there are 16 Grandmasters and 13 International Masters in the fray apart from five more Woman Grandmasters. The open section will be really strong this time with over 50 titled players out of around 120 participants. The event will provide ample opportunities for the norm seekers from the host country. The women challenge will be spearheaded by defending champion Tania Sachdev but she is expected to get stiff resistance from the likes of national champion Padmini Rout. Players from 15 countries including some from South Africa and Kenya have registered for the nine-day long event that will decide the medallists of this years championship. This is the first time ever that the championships will be played in 15 different categories. While the Indian players are likely to dominate there is stiff challenge coming from Bangladesh in the open section wherein they have fielded as many as four Grandmasters. The ride for Abhijeet will not be easier than the last year when the Indian had annexed the crown in Sri Lanka. The local challenge from Delhi will also come from Vaibhav Suri and Sahaj Grover, who are both young Grandmasters. The championships carry a total prize fund of Rs 10 lacs. The championships will be played for a maximum of nine rounds. Alongside the championships the first ever media tournament in Delhi will also be organised. PTI SSC SSCadvertisement
April 6, 2000Bernadette O’Neill is applying the glaze on the bells in theCeramics Apse. Photo by: DoctressNeutopia
Consumers in the US are registering a sharp increase in 3D TVs and, to a greater extent, connected sets, according to the latest research.IHS polled consumers about their buying plans and 30.7% of those planning to buy a new TV in the year to June will choose an internet-connected set. That stacks against 18.1% in the corresponding period a year earlier.The proportion planning to buy into 3D TV also grew, albeit at a smaller rate with 18.8% of those surveyed saying they will opt for 3D. That compares with 6.6% a year earlier.“Features most commonly found on high-end TV models and bigger screen-size sets, like 3D and internet-connectivity, are becoming more important to U.S. consumers,” said Veronica Thayer, TV systems analyst at IHS. “But the appeal of 3D TV remains far lower than that of internet-enabled sets – often marketed as smart TVs.”Other key purchase drivers include LCD technology but the biggest deciding factor among US consumers remains size.
ShareTweet Mr Sharkey, now a Detective Sergeant, denies her claims and those made by the other women. He never faced any prosecution.But a judge was told that an internal disciplinary process resulted in a finding that he breached Ms Hampson’s integrity by placing his hand on her hip.He was cautioned and fined £250.Setting out the plaintiff’s case, Mr McCollum claimed the detective repeatedly put his hands on her shoulders during incidents in work.Such physical contact between serving police officer 20 years older than her was completely inappropriate, counsel said.“Mr Sharkey is probably old enough to be the plaintiff’s father,” he insisted.“In different circumstances would it be appropriate for an older male barrister, for example, to be placing his hands on the shoulders of a younger female barrister?“The motive behind it isn’t important, the question is whether this is appropriate, proper behaviour within a workplace.”During opening submissions Mr Justice Burgess heard it was no answer to say Ms Hampson didn’t object to what was allegedly happening.A reasonable employer should have put an immediate stop to any such conduct.Although police chiefs were said to have separated the detective from the plaintiff, Mr McCollum said that wasn’t enough.“Mr Sharkey was interviewed and talks about (being) touchy feely – touchy feely has no place in the workplace whatsoever,” he continued.Three other female members of staff were said to have alleged similar behaviour.One claimed in a statement that Mr Sharkey approached her on a work night out, put his hand on her upper thigh and remarked on the tights she was wearing.In a second alleged incident she described him coming up behind her in a CID office and putting his hands on her hips, adding: “I immediately froze.”Another woman made three allegations of inappropriate behaviour.She claimed Mr Sharkey slapped her on the backside in work, told her at one stage to bend over a desk to be spanked, and also pulled her towards him by putting his arm round her waist.He denies all the allegations against him of unwanted or inappropriate physical contact with the women.Allegations of sexualised touching by a male detective on female civilian staff heard at the High Court in BelfastMr McCollum argued that even if those women didn’t want to go though the ordeal of an investigation, their employer was under a duty to take action and stamp out the alleged behaviour.“What they described was entirely unacceptable, inappropriate, abusive behaviour in the workplace,” he said.Instead, he claimed, the PSNI did nothing about the other three women’s statements after being informed they don’t want to make official complaints.“That is not just a bad response from an employer, it’s an utterly deplorable, appalling one,” Mr McCollum claimed.“It’s very hard not to be driven to the conclusion this is male chauvinism around women… it’s just going to be tolerated or brushed under the carpet.”Pointing out that he was not referring to the force as a whole, the senior QC: “It actually amounts to sexism or misogynism.“It’s something that has emerged in relation to this particular branch of the police at this particular time.”He also submitted: “Any employer has an obligation to ensure the workforce behave appropriately, within the confines of the station and anything to do with work events or socials.“That duty is much higher when the employer is the main law enforcement agency in the country.”The case continues today.COURT HEARS CLAIMS OF SEXUALISED TOUCHING OF FEMALE POLICE STAFF IN DERRY was last modified: October 11th, 2017 by John2John2 Tags: THE PSNI is in the dock over shocking allegations of sexualised touching and harassment of female civilian staff in Derry police stations during a three year period.A senior lawyer said the women’s complaints were “brushed under the carpet” amid misogyny and male chauvinism within the PSNI.Counsel for a civilian worker suing over claims that an older detective subjected her to unwanted contact said the force’s investigation amounted to an “abject” failure in its responsibilities. Liam McCollum QC said: “It was a complete dereliction of the duty and obligation of a major employer in the 21st Century.”The High Court heard three other women made allegations of inappropriate behaviour against the same detective.Mr Justice Burgess was told of incidents in which:* one woman had her backside slapped by the detective;* she was told to bend over a desk for a spankingl* another had her thigh touched on a works night out.Administrative assistant Sinead Hampson, the only one of the four to make a formal complaint, is seeking damages against the PSNIThe alleged unwanted contact occurred at stations in Derry between 2009 and 2012.Ms Hampson, 37, claims Detective Constable Ronan Sharkey subjected her to unwanted sexualised physical touching, as well as harassment and bullying, the court heard. DETECTIVE CONSTABLE RONAN SHARKEYDETECTIVE SERGEANT RONAN SHARKEYhigh courtLIAM MCCOLLUM QCMR JUSTICE BURGESSPSNISUE HAMPSON
This article was reprinted from khn.org with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente. Reviewed by Kate Anderton, B.Sc. (Editor)Jan 30 2019The number of new enrollees in Covered California plans plunged by nearly a quarter this year, largely because of the elimination of the tax penalty for people without insurance, officials announced Wednesday.The decrease was steeper than expected — and larger than the drop in new enrollment in the federal marketplace, healthcare.gov. It occurred even as Covered California, the state health insurance exchange, spent millions on advertising to entice people to sign up for coverage during the open-enrollment period that ended Jan. 15.Overall, more than 1.5 million Californians selected a health plan for 2019 coverage, a figure similar to last year, the agency said. But new enrollment fell by 23.7 percent, with 295,980 sign-ups compared with 388,344 last year. Meanwhile, plan renewals remained strong, and posted a 7.5 percent increase.”Recent actions at the federal level appear to be causing large drops in enrollment that will lead to more uninsured and higher premiums for all Californians,” said Covered California executive director Peter Lee.”The federal removal of the individual mandate penalty appears to have had a substantial impact on the number of new consumers signing up for coverage,” he said.New enrollment in the federal health insurance exchange, healthcare.gov, which serves 39 states, fell to 2.1 million, down 15.8 percent from the previous year, according to preliminary data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.Total enrollment dropped to 8.4 million from roughly 8.7 million in 2018. The drop in enrollment, especially if fewer healthy people are signing up, could lead to higher premiums, explained David Panush, president of California Health Policy Strategies, a Sacramento-based consulting firm, and former external affairs director for Covered California.“When you have fewer healthy people enrolling, that has an effect on the risk pool. And when you have a sicker pool that means premiums go up, although so do subsidies,” Panush said. “But for people on the non-subsidized side, that’s a big deal.”In fact, premium rates have already increased because of the elimination of the penalty for not having health coverage, which took effect this year. Covered California said the average rate increase for 2019 would have been closer to 5 percent — instead of 8.7 percent — if the individual mandate penalty hadn’t been axed as part of the 2017 Republican tax bill.On his first day in office, California Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom called for a state-based mandate, which would require all Californians to have health coverage. The legislature would have to approve it, which isn’t guaranteed even with a Democratic majority because the mandate was one of the least popular provisions of the Affordable Care Act.Penalizing uninsured Californians in this way could raise roughly $500 million a year, Newsom said when he unveiled his proposed budget earlier this month. That money, he suggested, could be used to create state subsidies for Californians who struggle to afford health insurance.New enrollment fell even though Covered California spent $40 million on ads during the latest open-enrollment period, out of a monster $107 million marketing budget. By comparison, the federal government spent $10 million on advertising.Related StoriesSupplements claiming to boost brain health are ‘too good to be true’, warn expertsGovernment policy and infrastructure have substantial impact on hospitalization of seniorsExperts release scientific statement on predicting survival for cardiac arrest survivorsWhile advertising is important, it alone doesn’t do the trick, experts say. “You need all three — affordability, a mandate and advertising,” Panush said.Kevin Knauss, an insurance agent in Granite Bay, Calif., said he believes affordability played the biggest role in the drop in new enrollment. He added that a strong economy means that more people have job-based health insurance, and so they don’t need to buy plans on the open market.“In my experience, high rates are the primary driver for people not signing up,” not the end of the penalty, Knauss said. “They say ‘I can’t do it, I can’t afford it.’”At the same time, Knauss said the drop in new enrollment is almost expected, given the evolution of the market.“We have to remember the market is saturated — Covered California has been around for a while, and people that want to buy have probably already made that decision,” he said.Doreena Wong, a project director for Asian Americans Advancing Justice, a civil rights organization, said it was harder this year to persuade people to enroll and renew their coverage.The group, part of a statewide collaborative, receives grant money from Covered California for outreach and enrollment, particularly in immigrant and low-income communities.“It’s hard to know exactly why, but we have seen at least a 10 percent drop ourselves,” she said.Wong blames the elimination of the penalty coupled with fear among immigrant communities as reasons for the decline in new enrollment.She pointed to the proposed “public charge” rule change, which is awaiting final action by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The change would allow the federal government to consider legal immigrants’ use of an expanded list of public benefit programs, including Medicaid, food stamps and Section 8 housing, as a reason to deny lawful permanent residency — also known as having a green card. Medicaid is the state-federal health insurance program for low-income people.Although federal tax credits for plans bought through Covered California are not included in the list of public programs that would be considered, there’s so much confusion among immigrants that some chose to skip enrolling in coverage, Wong said.“There are fears that communities are experiencing,” she said. “The proposed public charge rule, for example — we’ve gotten a lot of calls about that.”This story was produced by Kaiser Health News, which publishes California Healthline, a service of the California Health Care Foundation.
Source:https://www.uth.edu/news/story.htm?id=4bedd30c-3d83-4e3f-8556-f3f4b566afb7 Reviewed by Kate Anderton, B.Sc. (Editor)Apr 30 2019Phillip Robinson has gone from 10 cigarettes a day to one or two every other day after enrolling in a smoking cessation clinical trial launched by researchers at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth). To help smokers quit, researchers are using a drug known more for helping people with diabetes control their blood sugar.With the support of a Center for Clinical and Translational Sciences Scholar Award and PARTNERS Research Award, Luba Yammine, PhD, RN, FNP-C, an assistant professor in the Department of Research at Cizik School of Nursing at UTHealth, and Joy Schmitz, PhD, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth, plan to recruit 90 volunteers. PARTNERS stands for Providing Advancement Resources To Nursing Education Research and Students and is an organization that supports Cizik School of Nursing.”Preclinical and clinical studies have demonstrated that a Food and Drug Administration-approved diabetes drug with the generic name of exenatide can decrease consumption of food and other addictive substances such as alcohol and nicotine,” said Yammine, the study’s principal investigator. “These findings prompted us to investigate exenatide as a potential treatment for smoking cessation. We think that this drug will help with smoking cessation through the mechanism of reward – people will experience less enjoyment when they smoke. It may also help to decrease cravings for cigarettes and withdrawal symptoms that people may experience when they try to quit smoking.”Cigarette smoking is responsible for more than 480,000 deaths per year in the U.S., including more than 41,000 deaths resulting from secondhand smoke exposure, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This is about one in five deaths annually, or 1,300 every day.”Tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death. Effective treatments for smoking cessation exist, but we still see a high rate of relapse,” said Schmitz, the Louis A. Faillace, MD Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at McGovern Medical School.Related StoriesAADE’s comprehensive guidance on care of children, young adults with diabetes releasedNew biomaterial could encapsulate and protect implanted insulin-producing cellsDiabetes patients experiencing empathy from PCPs have beneficial long-term clinical outcomes”Exenatide targets a different mechanism of action that holds promise for pharmacological treatment of smoking and possibly other addictive behaviors,” Schmitz said.Yammine said exenatide is a glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonist (GLP-1RA). In the clinical trial, the drug is being studied in people who are prediabetic, or overweight but not diabetic. They must be between 18 and 75 years of age and make an earnest attempt to quit smoking.Participants receive six weeks of treatment with exenatide or placebo in the double-blind, randomized trial. Clinic visits take place at the Center for Neurobehavioral Research on Addiction at UTHealth. The trial is registered on clinicaltrials.gov (NCT02975297).Robinson, who has now completed the trial, received a weekly injection over a six-week period and nicotine patches to curb his urge to smoke. He also received individual smoking cessation counseling. To verify his smoking status and abstinence from smoking, his breath carbon monoxide levels were tested at every appointment.”I started 25 years ago and I wished I hadn’t. I used to smoke a half pack or more of cigarettes a day. Now, I’m down to no cigarettes or one cigarette a day,” said Robinson, a 60-year-old maintenance supervisor.Robinson had tried unsuccessfully to quit on his own. “I tried the gum. I tried the patches. But, I didn’t get far. I know cigarettes are not good for you but it’s hard to stop,” he said.When Robinson heard about the trial, he decided to give it a shot. “I wanted to try something different. I liked the fact that the study involved an existing drug,” he said.Robinson and his wife Mindy Lee Robinson have a young son named Phillip Robinson III. “I’m doing this for my family, too,” he said.”The obtained data will provide information for a larger study,” Yammine said.