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FRIDAY, APRIL 03, 2015
Providing broadband access to rural areas is not just a push for more residents to be able get online to surf the Internet. Broadband is key to improving rural health, through "more cost-effective and higher-quality care, such as video consultation, remote patient monitoring and electronic health record operability," reports Health Affairs. "And in many places—particularly rural areas that have the most to gain from telemedicine and connectivity—broadband remains too expensive, unreliable or simply not available at the speeds required to enable innovations in care."
Rural healthcare providers can get around a lack of broadband availability in a variety of ways, reports Health Affairs. "Health care providers can purchase broadband access through mass market options, which are similar to the internet access purchased by individual consumers and can meet the bandwidth needs of most small providers (four or fewer clinicians)."
Federal subsidies also are available, reports Health Affairs. Within the Rural Health Care Program "subsidies for three types of services are available to public and non-profit health care providers: telecommunication services for rural providers (Telecommunications Fund); Internet access for rural providers (Internet Access Fund); and one-time capital costs for network deployment with five years of support for costs of advanced telecommunications and information services for rural and urban providers (Pilot Program)."
They real key is to initiate recommendations made in the 2010 National Broadband Plan, reports Health Affairs. Plans are: Make it easier for rural health care providers to use broadband support; expand eligibility requirements to include more health care providers; and adjust the RHCP to address the rapidly changing broadband environment. (Read more)
Written by Tim Mandell Posted at 4/03/2015 12:50:00
April 1, 2015
MOREHEAD, Ky.---Building on the success of NASA’s partnerships with commercial industry, NASA has selected Morehead State University as one of the 12 Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships (NextSTEP) to advance concept studies and technology development projects in the areas of advanced propulsion, habitation and small satellites.
The NASA contract is one of the biggest in MSU history at $7.9 million.
“We are extremely excited about this opportunity. This competitive selection is a credit to the staff and students of the Space Science program who have worked tirelessly on previous smallsat missions -5 to date- to ensure the success of these missions in Low Earth Orbit. Taking the next steps toward lunar and interplanetary smallsat missions with Morehead State University as a partner could not have happened without the success of these precursor missions,” said Dr. Ben Malphrus, MSU’s Department of Earth and Space Sciences chair and Space Science Center director.
Through these public-private partnerships, selected companies will partner with NASA to develop the exploration capabilities necessary to enable commercial endeavors in space and human exploration to deep-space destinations such as the proving ground of space around the moon, known as cis-lunar space, and Mars.
“Commercial partners were selected for their technical ability to mature key technologies and their commitment to the potential applications both for government and private sector uses,” said William Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for Human Exploration and Operations at NASA headquarters.“This work ultimately will inform the strategy to move human presence further into the solar system.”
Two small satellite missions (CubeSats) were selected and will potentially fly as secondary payload missions on the first flight of the Space Launch System, Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1), scheduled to launch in 2017 or 2018. The smallsat missions will address NASA’s strategic knowledge gaps in order to reduce risk, increase effectiveness, and improve the design of robotic and human space exploration. EM-1 will provide a rare opportunity to boost these CubeSats to deep space and enable science, technology demonstration, exploration or commercial applications in that environment. The selected companies are Morehead State University and Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company of Denver, Colorado.
Under this NASA NextSTEP program, Morehead State University and its partners, the Busek Company (Natick MA), NASA Goddard Spaceflight Center (GSFC in Greenbelt MD), and the Catholic University of America (CUA), will develop and build a 6U CubeSat designed to prospect for water ice and other lunar volatiles from a low-perigee lunar orbit flying only 100 km (62 miles) above the lunar surface. The Lunar IceCube will be deployed during lunar trajectory by the SLS (which will be the most powerful rocket ever built) and use an innovative RF Ion engine to achieve lunar capture and the science orbit to allow the team to make systematic measurements of lunar water features. The science goals are to investigate the distribution of water and other volatiles, as a function of time of day, latitude, and regolith composition/mineralogy.
IceCube will include a version of the Broadband InfraRed Compact High Resolution Exploration Spectrometer (BIRCHES) instrument, developed by NASA GSFC. BIRCHES is a compact version of the successful volatile-seeking spectrometer instrument on the New Horizons mission that is currently approaching Pluto.
Dr. Malphrus is serving as the project principal investigator (PI) with Dr. Pamela Clark (NASA GSFC and CUA) serving as the science principal investigator.
The team includes space systems engineers from Morehead State University, including Jeff Kruth, Kevin Z. Brown, Bob Twiggs, Michael Combs and Eric Thomas, and propulsion engineers from Busek including Kurt Hohman and Mike Tsay. The Science Team includes Dr. Roger McNeil and Dr. Eric Jerde of MSU and Robert MacDowall, Noah Petro, Dennis Reuter, Cliff Brambora, Deepak Patel, Stuart Banks and Avi Mandell from the NASA Goddard Spaceflight Center. The navigation team is led by Dr. Dave Folta (NASA GSFC), who has calculated a trajectory to the moon that utilizes an innovative low energy manifold trajectory.
One of the enabling technologies that make missions like this possible is the use of a cutting edge ion electric propulsion system. The Lunar IceCube mission will use an ion propulsion system based on Busek’s 3cm RF ion thruster known as BIT-3. It utilizes a solid iodine propellant and an inductively-coupled plasma system that produces significant thrust even with the low power available to CubeSats.
“Propulsion systems like this capable of producing adequate delta v and requiring only small volumes (for the propulsion system and propellant) and low power available to smallsat platforms will no doubt open a new door to solar system exploration,” said Dr. Malphrus. “The EM-1 CubeSat missions will usher in a new era of space exploration that is supported by innovative small satellite technologies.”
“This type of public-private partnership helps NASA stimulate the U.S. space industry while expanding the frontiers of knowledge, capabilities and opportunities in space,” said Jason Crusan, director of the Advanced Exploration Systems Division (AESD) of NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate.
AESD manages NextSTEP and is committed to pioneering new approaches for rapidly developing prototype systems, demonstrating key capabilities and validating operational concepts for future human missions beyond Earth orbit.
For additional information about NASA's Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships, visit: www.nasa.gov/nextstep.
by Jason Blanton
MSU Media Relations Director
Kentucky Press News Service
FRANKFORT – The Kentucky Department of Revenue has begun processing tax returns again after temporarily holding electronically filed returns because of questionable returns being filed through Intuit Inc.’s TurboTax program. As reported nationally, many states have encountered the same issue. At this point, Kentucky’s processing schedule has returned to normal.
“We worked closely with Intuit to identify returns that were suspicious based on similar patterns and additional screening criteria,” Tom Miller, commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Revenue, said in a news release.
Recently, Intuit identified approximately 300 suspicious returns. The department is reviewing those returns and has confirmed approximately 50 returns as being fraudulent. Less than $6,000 has been identified as having already been refunded. The department will pursue remedies to recover those funds.
Since e-filing started on Jan. 20, the Department of Revenue has received more than 575,000 individual returns. Filing electronically is still safe and the quickest way for taxpayers to get their refund, normally within 7-10 days.
The department is sending letters to affected taxpayers encouraging them to contact the Department of Revenue Taxpayer Assistance line at 502-564-4581. They may also want to contact the IRS to determine if any activity has impacted their federal return.
“With our internal fraud detection processes and the fraud analytics capabilities of our third party vendor, each year we are better able to identify fraudulent returns,” said Miller. “This newest fraudulent activity just means we must work with other states and tax preparation programs to see what new trends are out there.”
Intuit, Inc. has set up a dedicated call center, 800-944-8596, for customers to call if they believe they have been victims of tax fraud.
Electronic filing in Kentucky has been available to individuals since the 1995 tax year. It is the only way to have a refund direct deposited. In the last 5 years, e-filing for individuals has increased from 65 percent to more than 84 percent in 2014.
FEBRUARY 26, 2015
The Federal Communications Commission released the new rules today making broadband Internet service a public utility, a move expected to help rural areas that lack broadband, Rebecca Ruiz and Steve Lohr report for The New York Times. The struggle for an open Internet had led to a massive battle involving Congressional members, large Internet providers and smaller Internet providers and businesses. So, how did we get to this point?
"The case for strong government rules to protect an open Internet rests in large part on a perceived market failure—the lack of competition for high-speed Internet service into American homes," Steve Lohr reports for The New York Times. "The FCC's approach makes sense, proponents say, because for genuine high-speed Internet service most American households now have only one choice, and most often it is a cable company." (NYT graphic)
"The new rules will not ensure competition from new entrants, ranging from next-generation wireless technology to ultrahigh-speed networks built by municipalities," Lohr writes. "Instead, strong regulation is intended to prevent the dominant broadband suppliers from abusing their market power. Technology, of course, can change quickly and unpredictably. So, analysts say, it is impossible to predict what the competitive landscape might look like in several years or a decade from now."
Last month FCC redefined broadband to increase speeds from 4 megabits per second to 25 megabits per second and upload speeds from 1 megabit per second to 3 megabits per second. More than half of rural Americans—53 percent, or 22 million people—do not currently have Internet access at the new levels, while only 8 percent of urban residents lack access to the new speeds.
"With or without the new net neutrality rules, cable broadband faces numerous competitors," Lohr writes. "They include upgraded versions of the DSL, or digital subscriber line, technology offered by most telephone companies; next-generation wireless service; Internet access from low-orbit satellites; and very-high-speed fiber optic connections to homes. Each has promise, analysts say, but also limitations.
The telecommunications companies have employed a variety of techniques to increase the performance of DSL and have made progress. But cable remains a more capable technology and keeps advancing." (Read more)
Written by Tim Mandel
by Donna Borak
Going to this year’s Sundance Film Festival’s New Frontier exhibition hall on virtual reality, you couldn’t help but feel as if you were seated at the front row of the future of journalism. It’s a new world of immersive media and experimentation. And even though they are not specifically talking about journalism, it is all applicable to any form of storytelling.
For example, Interlude Video is using eye-tracking machines to enable users to narrate their own story in a music video. Think interactive video + storytelling. Futurist Ted Schilowitz is experimenting how to break the rectangle in the digital movie experience. And then there are the number of virtual reality exhibitions including that of the Iranian 1979 Revolution and Project Syria, which both stole the show. Even experiences on a smaller scale such as sitting across from Reese Witherspoon in the middle of the Pacific Crest Trail from the movie “Wild” evoked a different kind of movie viewing experience by using Samsung’s VR Gear.
Storytellers across all mediums are trying to use gaming technologies and virtual reality in ways to create empathy with users, while also offering them an opportunity to be a part of the storytelling experience.
There was no better example of that then Project Syria, a virtual reality experience, directed by Nonny de la Peña and built by a team of students at the University of Southern California. The project was first exhibited last winter at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
I had the opportunity to step inside and experience this alternate world — a country, I should mention, I have been to on several occasions.
Immediately, I am transported to a street corner in Aleppo, Syria. There are people passing through the street. At one point, it almost seems as if a man is about to pass through me. The experience is unsettling. It startles me. I try to look around to get a bearing of my surroundings. You can feel like something is about to happen. The center of the scene is a group of people standing in a circle listening to a girl singing.
And then a bomb explodes, and I too, scream and leap back horrified at the event I have witnessed. Where is the girl that was just singing? She is gone. I forget that I am not standing in the streets of Aleppo. I forget about the heavy virtual reality goggles and headphones I am wearing that took me time to adjust and focus. I am there.
It’s only seconds later that I am now transported to a refugee camp, where I watch as men and women and their children try to buy rations of food provided by international donors. I can’t help but to look behind me in the tent at the stockpile of food and hope that it actually gets to those most in need.
My reality is then switched to a third and final scene. This time I am standing in a desert. One by one children appear. There are tents behind them. They are all looking at me. Each one of them. I turn to the right and quickly back to the left and there are more of them. I can barely count them all. Each is faceless, and perhaps that’s the point, because in each of them I see myself.
About the author
Donna Borak has never shied away from asking a question. Drawn to the study of cognitive science and philosophy as an undergraduate at Lehigh University, she was captivated by trying to understand how the human mind worked. It was that innate curiosity and passion for writing, however, that ultimately brought her to Boston University to pursue a masters’ degree in journalism. Seizing on an opportunity to come to Washington, D.C., for a semester, Borak began as an intern at United Press International, quickly landing a full-time position in 2004 on the business desk before graduation. Two years later she was hired by The Associated Press to help create a business desk in Washington. There she covered the defense industry during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Borak has most recently covered the aftermath of the financial crisis and the 2010 financial reform effort as the Federal Reserve reporter for the American Banker. When she’s not on deadline, you can find her in a yoga studio practicing her headstand, and quietly pondering her next big question.
This post originally appeared on donnaborak.com and on the website of the John S. Knight Journalism Fellowships at Stanford University. Applications are now being accepted for the 2015-16 John S. Knight Journalism Fellowships program. The Knight Fellowships foster journalistic innovation, entrepreneurship and leadership. Each year, 20 individuals from around the world get the resources to pursue their ideas for improving journalism.