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We study convergence of return- and hitting-time distributions of small sets
in recurrent ergodic dynamical systems preserving an infinite measure
. Some properties which are easy in finite measure situations break down in this null-recurrent set-up. However, in the presence of a uniform set
with wandering rate regularly varying of index
, there is a scaling function suitable for all subsets of
. In this case, we show that return distributions for the
converge if and only if the corresponding hitting-time distributions do, and we derive an explicit relation between the two limit laws. Some consequences of this result are discussed. In particular, this leads to improved sufficient conditions for convergence to
are independent random variables, with
exponentially distributed and
following the one-sided stable law of order
). The same principle also reveals the limit laws (different from the above) which occur at hyperbolic periodic points of prototypical null-recurrent interval maps. We also derive similar results for the barely recurrent
This work is part of the interlaboratory collaboration to study the stability of organic solar cells containing PCDTBT polymer as a donor material. The varieties of the OPV devices with different device architectures, electrode materials, encapsulation, and device dimensions were prepared by seven research laboratories. Sets of identical devices were aged according to four different protocols: shelf lifetime, laboratory weathering under simulated illumination at ambient temperature, laboratory weathering under simulated illumination, and elevated temperature (65 °C) and daylight outdoor weathering under sunlight. The results generated in this study allow us to outline several general conclusions related to PCDTBT-based bulk heterojunction (BHJ) solar cells. The results herein reported can be considered as practical guidance for the realization of stabilization approaches in BHJ solar cells containing PCDTBT.
An association of heart disease and its treatment with biliary calculi is popularly accepted. We sought determine the prevalence and risk factors of paediatric gallstone disease in the presence of CHD and analyse the treatment options. We evaluated the role of open-heart surgery in the development of gallstones in patients with CHD.
Patients and methods
In a 10-year, retrospective, chart review (2005–2014), patients with CHD and cholelithiasis were identified and reviewed.
In all, 19 of 4729 children with CHD had cholelithiasis (0.4%); eight patients underwent cardiac surgery before diagnosis of cholelithiasis (group 1), whereas 11 of them had not (group 2). The prevalence was 0.3% in group 1 and 0.5% in group 2.
In nine asymptomatic patients, gallstones were found incidentally. Children with cholecystolithiasis (n=17) received ursodeoxycholic acid. A resolution of gallstones was found in four cases; two patients underwent biliary surgery, and the others (15/17) were successfully managed non-operatively.
Despite an accumulation of risk factors, prevalence of gallstones is not as high as expected in children with CHD. Open-heart surgery with a heart–lung machine plays a minor role as an aetiological factor. In about half of the cases, cholelithiasis is an incidental finding and patients stay asymptomatic. Prophylactic administration of ursodeoxycholic acid is not indicated in children undergoing open-heart surgery for CHDs. Biliary surgery is reserved for patients with recurrent symptoms or cholestasis.
In children with CHD, cholelithiasis is a minor and manageable co-morbid condition.
Between 2010 and 2012, 3 outbreaks of nosocomial infections in German neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) attracted considerable public interest. Headlines on national television channels and in newspapers had important consequences for the involved institutions and a negative impact on the relationship between families and staff in many German NICUs.
To determine whether NICU outbreaks reported in the media influenced provider behavior in the community of neonatal care and led to more third-line antibiotic prescribing.
Observational cohort study.
To investigate secular trends, we evaluated data for very-low-birth-weight infants (VLBWIs, birth weight <1,500 g) enrolled in the German Neonatal Network (GNN) between 2009 and 2014 (N=10,253). For outbreak effects, we specifically analyzed data for VLBWIs discharged 6 months before (n=2,428) and 6 months after outbreaks (n=2,508).
The exposure of all VLBWIs to third-line antibiotics increased after outbreaks (19.4% before vs 22.5% after; P=.007). This trend particularly affected male infants (4.6% increase; P=.005) and infants with a birth weight between 1,000 and 1,499 g (3.5% increase; P=.001)
In a logistic regression analysis, month of discharge as linear variable of time was associated with increased exposure to third-line antibiotics (odds ratio [OR], 1.01; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.009–1.014; P<.001), and discharge within the 6-month period after outbreak reports independently contributed to this long-term trend (OR, 1.14; 95% CI, 1.017–1.270; P=.024).
Media reports directly affect medical practice, eg, overuse of third-line antibiotics. Future communication and management strategies must be based on objective dialogues between the scientific community and investigative journalists.
Supervised injectable heroin (SIH) treatment has emerged over the past 15 years as an intensive treatment for entrenched heroin users who have not responded to standard treatments such as oral methadone maintenance treatment (MMT) or residential rehabilitation.
To synthesise published findings for treatment with SIH for refractory heroin-dependence through systematic review and meta-analysis, and to examine the political and scientific response to these findings.
Randomised controlled trials (RCTs) of SIH treatment were identified through database searching, and random effects pooled efficacy was estimated for SIH treatment. Methodological quality was assessed according to criteria set out by the Cochrane Collaboration.
Six RCTs met the inclusion criteria for analysis. Across the trials, SIH treatment improved treatment outcome, i.e. greater reduction in the use of illicit ‘street’ heroin in patients receiving SIH treatment compared with control groups (most often receiving MMT).
SIH is found to be an effective way of treating heroin dependence refractory to standard treatment. SIH may be less safe than MMT and therefore requires more clinical attention to manage greater safety issues. This intensive intervention is for a patient population previously considered unresponsive to treatment. Inclusion of this low-volume, high-intensity treatment can now improve the impact of comprehensive healthcare provision.
The development of lower-glycaemic index (GI) foods requires simple, palatable and healthy strategies. The objective of the present study was to determine the most effective dose of a novel viscous fibre supplement (PGX®) to be added to starchy foods to reduce their GI. Healthy subjects (n 10) consumed glucose sugar (50 g in water × 3) and six starchy foods with a range of GI values (52–72) along with 0 (inert fibre), 2·5 or 5 g granular PGX® dissolved in 250 ml water. GI testing according to ISO Standard 26 642-2010 was used to determine the reduction in GI. PGX® significantly reduced the GI of all six foods (P < 0·001), with an average reduction of 19 % for the 2·5 g dose and 30 % for the 5 g dose, equivalent to a reducing the GI by 7 and 15 units, respectively. Consuming small quantities of the novel functional fibre PGX®, mixed with water at the start of a meal, is an effective strategy to reduce the GI of common foods.
The density matrices of graphs are combinatorial laplacians normalised to have trace one (Braunstein et al. 2006b). If the vertices of a graph are arranged as an array, its density matrix carries a block structure with respect to which properties such as separability can be considered. We prove that the so-called degree-criterion, which was conjectured to be necessary and sufficient for the separability of density matrices of graphs, is equivalent to the PPT-criterion. As such, it is not sufficient for testing the separability of density matrices of graphs (we provide an explicit example). Nonetheless, we prove the sufficiency when one of the array dimensions has length two (see Wu (2006) for an alternative proof). Finally, we derive a rational upper bound on the concurrence of density matrices of graphs and show that this bound is exact for graphs on four vertices.
A common misconception is that MEPs are ‘part-time’ politicians who are highly paid but rarely show up at plenary sessions. Part of this misconception stems from the fact that the European Parliament's plenary sessions only last for one week each month. However, MEPs do much more than speak and vote in plenary sessions. The average month of an MEP involves a week of committee meetings in Brussels, a week of party meetings in Brussels, a plenary week in Strasbourg or Brussels debating and voting on legislation and resolutions, and a week ‘back home’ dealing with constituency and other local political business. Shuttling between Brussels, Strasbourg and home, MEPs ‘live out of a suitcase’. Moreover, the constant shuttles of the MEPs are associated with moves of tons of documents that are needed for the normal operation of the European Parliament. Seen this way, it is as if MEPs are moving offices twice a month. It is thus not too surprising that most MEPs only serve for one five-year term.
Another aspect of this misconception stems from the common observation that even in the plenary sessions not all MEPs take part in all votes. However, like all elected politicians, MEPs have to make choices about how best to allocate their time: for example, whether to work on a committee report, prepare a speech, meet with interest groups or constituents, attend a party meeting, undertake research, attend a committee meeting, attend a plenary debate and speak in the plenary.
Competition between political parties is often considered to be central to modern democracy (e.g. Schumpeter, 1943). Competition provides citizens with a mechanism for choosing leaders and policies and for punishing elected officials for failing to hold to their promises or for being corrupt. Competition provides incentives for elites to develop rival policy ideas and propose rival candidates for office. Democratic contestation can also have a formative effect. In both America and in European countries, the operation of competitive party systems played a central role in the replacement of local identities by national identities (e.g. Key, 1961; Rokkan, 1999).
Political parties, however, are not inherently competitive. For example, in the 1950s Schattschneider (1960), among others, criticised American parties for being ‘unresponsive’ to voters concerns and for failing to ‘mobilise’ around different policy agendas. Similarly, Katz and Mair (1995) famously observed that in many democracies, instead of competing, the main parties now form a ‘cartel’ to secure government office and state funding of their activities.
Similarly, a widely held view of the European Parliament is that the two main political parties, the socialists and the EPP, tend to collude rather than compete for influence and compete over policy outcomes (cf. Kreppel, 2000, 2002b; Hix et al., 2003). These two parties share similar policy preferences on many issues on the EU agenda, such as the social-market model of European regulatory capitalism and further European integration (e.g. Marks and Wilson, 2000).
One of the main ways of understanding politics inside legislative institutions is to investigate the shape of the policy space. The number of policy dimensions and the location of actors on these dimensions determine, among other things, which actors are pivotal and the possibility and direction of policy change (e.g. Tsebelis, 2002). Not surprisingly, a fast growing area of political science research in recent years has been the estimation of actors' ideal points. This has taken a variety of forms and methods, such as scaling of roll-call voting data (e.g. Poole and Rosenthal, 1997), hand coding of party manifestos (Budge et al., 2001), surveys of experts' opinions of parties' positions (e.g. Laver and Hunt, 1992), or computer coding of political statements (e.g. Laver et al., 2003).
The European Parliament is an especially interesting object for spatial analysis of the dimensionality of politics because of its unique features. There is considerable heterogeneity between the cultures, histories, economic conditions and national institutions of the EU member states. Therefore, politics in the European Parliament is likely to be more complex than politics in many national parliaments. MEPs are also members of national parties as well as European political groups. A legislature with such characteristics is potentially one with high dimensionality.
In this chapter we describe the policy space inside the European Parliament by applying an established scaling method to the roll-call votes between 1979 and 2004.
In this chapter, our aim is to provide some essential background material for understanding the argument and evidence we present in the rest of the book. We focus on three aspects of the story of the European Parliament: (1) the main powers of the institution and how these have changed; (2) how the political parties and the party system in the European Parliament have evolved; and (3) why the ‘electoral connection’ from citizens to MEPs remains rather weak despite six rounds of European Parliament elections. The chapter concludes with a discussion of ‘roll-call votes’ in the European Parliament, which is the data we use in the rest of the book to understand how politics inside the European Parliament has changed. Roll-call votes are votes where the voting decision of each MEP is recorded. The roll-call voting records are published in the annexes to the minutes of the plenary sessions of the European Parliament. Nowadays, they can also be found on the website of the European Parliament.
1.1 Powers of the European Parliament
The precursor to the modern European Parliament was the ‘Assembly’ of the European Coal and Steel Community, which held its first meeting on 10 September 1952.
In the previous chapter we argued that when there are transaction costs to policy-making it is better to have strong parties. The discussion was silent, however, about the dimensions along which these parties should form. In democratic systems we are used to thinking of parties as located along a left–right axis, though other dimensions sometimes play a minor role. But we did not discuss why parties should necessarily form along the left–right dimension.
Parties could conceivably form around any set of policy issues or societal interests. Parties could, for example, form along territorial lines instead of socio-economic lines. In the case of the European Parliament, parties based on the national/territorial divisions between the EU member states might even seem more natural than parties based on transnational ideological interests or values. Uninformed outsiders often assume that voting in the parliament follows national lines, for example with the French conservatives voting more with the French socialists than with the Scandinavian conservatives. Indeed, the dominant public perception is that EU politics is about conflicts between countries: for example, ‘Britain’ opposes qualified-majority voting on taxation, ‘France’ opposes further reductions in agricultural spending and ‘Denmark’ wants higher environmental standards. This perception is largely based on debates in the European Council, where only the heads of state and government are represented, which means that any differences of positions necessarily appear to be between member states rather than ideologies.
With the European Parliament comprising politicians from many different countries, cultures, languages, national parties and institutional backgrounds, one might expect politics in the Parliament to be highly-fragmented and unpredictable. By studying more than 12,000 recorded votes between 1979 and 2004 this 2007 book establishes that the opposite is in fact true: transnational parties in the European Parliament are highly cohesive and the classic 'left-right' dimension dominates voting behaviour. Furthermore, the cohesion of parties in the European Parliament has increased as the powers of the Parliament have increased. The authors suggest that the main reason for these developments is that like-minded MEPs have incentives to form stable transnational party organizations and to use these organizations to compete over European Union policies. They suggest that this is a positive development for the future of democratic accountability in the European Union.