Swap A Hyundai Kona Electric For Kia Niro EV Video

first_imgWhat does this Hyundai Kona Electric owner have to say about his time with the Kia e-Niro?We’ve talked extensively about the differences between these two Korean siblings: the 2019 Kia Niro EV and 2019 Hyundai Kona Electric. The most obvious of which is the Niro’s slightly larger size. They’re both subcompact SUVs, but the Kia e-Niro sits on a wheelbase that’s about four inches longer. It’s also a few hundred pounds heavier and has a bit more overall passenger volume, though interior dimensions and cargo capacity are much the same. What if a current Kona Electric owner decided to make the to switch to the Kia Niro EV instead?Additional Korean EV Content: Tesla Model 3, Nissan LEAF e+, Kona EV, or e-Niro: Video Buying Guide The EV Puzzle set out to answer this question. However, sadly, while he already owns the Hyundai, he couldn’t get access to the Kia in its all-electric configuration. Thus, he test drove the closest iteration: a Kia Niro PHEV. While the powertrain is different, every Kia Niro (even the ICE version) is just about the same in many ways. At least when driving the PHEV variant, The EV Puzzle can get a really solid grasp at how the battery-electric version may perform.Check out the video for the details. Let us know in the comment section if you’ve driven either of these new all-electric crossovers.Video Description via The EV Puzzle on YouTube:Swap my Kona Electric for a Kia eNiro EV?Ok so as a Kona owner how can I review the Niro EV or eNiro in an unbiased, fair and balanced way?I’m exceptionally aware how bias comes across in the EV community and how comparisons can seem competitive. The Niro and Kona are competing in the same market so competition is fair but it wouldn’t be fair to look at the Niro without a true desire to understand it and consider it as a car for myself.My reviews therefore are a documentation of my journey, my own research and my own opinions, from the perspective of would/should I swap my Kona for a Niro?In reality, I could do exactly that without suffering any loss financially (with luck). So why not consider it, for real.My angle is this. I appreciate every car is a compromise, no car is perfect so what’s good about the Niro and what’s not? What do I prefer about each and why? What suits my needs better and which makes more sense to own going forwards.To find these things out I need to look thoroughly and test & compare as much as I can. I’m feeling Déjà Vue, the search was exactly the same for the Kona.Starved of information, searching the internet, testing the petrol and hybrid versions and making estimated judgements on how the car will actually be. At least I know the Kona and the same drive train that’s going in the Niro.Step 1, visit the dealer, look and drive a PHEV version to understand, handling, feel and interior comfort, whilst ignoring the drive train of the PHEV as it’s going to be as per my Kona. Watch This Kia Niro EV Test Drive Review Source: Electric Vehicle News Driving 700 Miles In The Hyundai Kona Electric Author Liberty Access TechnologiesPosted on January 18, 2019Categories Electric Vehicle Newslast_img read more

BAIC Ready To Dump More Money Into Electric Cars

first_img CATL Deepens Battery Tie With BAIC BJEV, Pride Power Source: Electric Vehicle News Two parties will team up to retrofit and upgrade the existing facilities and assets of BAIC (Zhenjiang) Automobile Co., Ltd., a subsidiary actually controlled by BAIC Group, through the yet-to-be-built joint venture, which is designed to be an all-electric PV maker with cost advantage and technology innovation ability. Besides, the joint venture will be constructed in forms of equity transfer and investment.The announcement said the joint venture’s manufacturing plant will have a designed annual capacity of 150,000 vehicles and involves a total investment of RMB2 billion that will be used to purchase devices and improve technologies.The investment detail has not been settled yet and will be submitted to the board of directors or shareholder meeting for final approval after the company completes the detailed economic benefit analysis about the new program.Magna International Autolaunch Ireland Ltd., who specializes in manufacturing automobile parts and relevant modules, is a subsidiary of Magna International Inc, a Canada-based global leading auto parts supplier. The announcement said Magna International Inc boasts a wide range of manufacturing capabilities covering car body, chassis, exterior, car roof system, powertrain, electronic parts, mechatronic intelligence, lighting system as well as seat.In last June, Magna announced its intention to form two new joint ventures with BAIC BJEV for complete vehicle manufacturing as well as engineering of EVs. The joint ventures were expected to take over an existing BAIC manufacturing facility in Zhenjiang, Jiangsu Province. Moreover, they were also set up to offer engineering and complete vehicle manufacturing capacity to other potential customers.Source: Gasgoo New energy vehicles are hotter than ever in China.BAIC BluePark New Energy Technology Co.,Ltd announced on March 22 that its subsidiary BAIC BJEV and Magna International Autolaunch Ireland Ltd. are going to form a joint venture that focuses on manufacturing premium all-electric passenger vehicles (PVs).More BAIC News Author Liberty Access TechnologiesPosted on April 2, 2019Categories Electric Vehicle News BAIC EX3 Electric Car To Launch In April BAIC EV Sales Slump Big Time In Februarylast_img read more

BYD Reports Big Sales Surge Of Electric Cars In March

first_imgBoth March sales and year-to-date (YTD) sales of new energy vehicles (NEVs) represented remarkable year-on-year increase. In March, BYD’s NEV sales shot up 115.6% to 30,075 units. Of that, the sales of new energy passenger vehicles (PVs) showed a marvelous growth of 122.9% thanks to the blooming performance of all-electric PVs, whose March sales skyrocketed 356.5% year on year to 21,308 units. For the first quarter, the sales of all-electric PVs even represented a year-on-year growth up to 755.82%. However, the sales of plug-in hybrid PVs in March dropped 6.3% to 7,914 units.Fuel-burning vehicle sales in March jumped 35% month on month, while plunged 42.7% compared with the same period a year ago. To be specific, the sales of sedans, SUVs and MPVs declined 51.29%, 13.88% and 49.91% year on year respectively to 3,881 units, 5,318 units and 7,551 units.The automaker reported that its installed capacity of NEV power battery and energy storage battery for the first quarter was approximately 3.966GWh.Source: Gasgoo The EV sales surge continues for BYD.BYD Company Limited (BYD) announced that it sold 46,825 vehicles in March, achieving a year-on-year growth of 8.5% and a month-on-month surge of 74.5%.For the first three months, the carmaker saw its cumulative sales climb 5.19% over a year earlier to 117,578 units.More BYD News Source: Electric Vehicle News Only In China: BYD Launches 9 New Models In 1 Day BYD Introduces K12A 88-Foot, Bi-Articulating Electric Bus BYD Produced Its 300th Electric Bus In Lancaster, California Author Liberty Access TechnologiesPosted on April 13, 2019Categories Electric Vehicle Newslast_img read more

Nissan says its Leaf batteries will outlast the car by 1012 years

first_imgNissan claims the batteries in its Leaf electric cars will last 22 years, an estimated 10-12 years longer than the average life of the car itself. more…Subscribe to Electrek on YouTube for exclusive videos and subscribe to the podcast.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V1zk7Eb8r-s&list=PL_Qf0A10763mA7Byw9ncZqxjke6Gjz0MtThe post Nissan says its Leaf batteries will outlast the car by 10-12 years, looks for reuse solutions appeared first on Electrek. Source: Charge Forwardlast_img

The FCPA Guidance Turns 5

first_img Save Money With FCPA Connect Keep it simple. Not all FCPA issues warrant a team of lawyers or other professional advisers. Achieve client and business objectives in a more efficient manner through FCPA Connect. Candid, Comprehensive, and Cost-Effective. Five years ago today, on November 14, 2012, the DOJ and SEC released the FCPA Guidance. The guidance generated a substantial amount of buzz, but the festive coverage soon subsidized as the guidance turned 1, 2, 3, 4 and now 5 years old.Yet, on this fifth anniversary of the FCPA Guidance, it is useful to take a look back.As highlighted in this post, the 2012 FCPA guidance was a long-time coming to say the least.For instance, in the 1988 FCPA amendments Congress encouraged the DOJ to issue FCPA guidance. The DOJ refused. In 2002, the OECD encouraged the DOJ to issue FCPA guidance. The DOJ refused. In 2010, the OECD again encouraged the DOJ to issue FCPA guidance. The DOJ again refused. In the aftermath of the November 2010 Senate FCPA hearing the DOJ was again encouraged to issue FCPA guidance.  The DOJ again refused.It was only after the FCPA reform movement gained steam in 2011 that the DOJ made the political move in announcing that FCPA guidance would be forthcoming. Tellingly as to the DOJ’s political motivations, actual issuance of the guidance took over one year and occurred a few days after the 2012 elections.  For more on the above chronology of events, see the article “Grading the FCPA Guidance.”As discussed in this November 2012 post, there was little new information in the FCPA Guidance to those previously knowledgeable about the FCPA and its enforcement. Yet, to those persuaded by non-lawyer journalist coverage of FCPA topics and/or FCPA Inc. participants seeking convenient hooks to market FCPA compliance services, the guidance was indeed “new.”Sure, the FCPA Guidance was a useful document to the extent it captured in one document the DOJ and SEC’s views on the FCPA and related topics. But that is all the guidance did.Criticism of the FCPA Guidance was widespread, including by former high-ranking DOJ officials. (See this prior post rounding up approximately 50 law firm client alerts, etc. regarding the guidance).  For instance, Steven Tyrrell, former chief of the DOJ fraud section stated that the guidance was “more of a scrapbook of past DOJ and SEC successes than a guide book for companies who care about playing by the rules.” (See also this prior post highlighting former Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson’s views on the guidance.)Indeed, the FCPA Guidance did not represent the “law,” but rather DOJ and SEC interpretations of the law and as highlighted in this article the guidance was not a well-balanced portrayal of the FCPA as it was replete with selective information, half-truths, and, worse information that was demonstratively false.Even so, in the FCPA Guidance and in connection with its release, the enforcement agencies made some sensible statements (see here for the prior post) such as:the enforcement agencies are “focused on bribes of consequence – ones that have a fundamentally corrosive effect on the way companies do business abroad.”enforcement efforts are focused on “payments of real and substantial value that clearly represent an unambiguous intent to bribe a foreign official to obtain or retain business”enforcement agencies are “interested in companies spending compliance dollars in the most sensible way” and that the guidance can help companies as to where they can “minimize investment and where they can maximize it.”As highlighted in this prior post, one of the more useful aspects of the guidance is that it could thus be used as a measuring stick for future enforcement activity. As the measuring sticks, were the following statements in the guidance.“Like the ‘reasonable detail’ requirement in the books and records provision, the [FCPA’s internal control provisions] defines ‘reasonable assurances’ as ‘such level of detail and degree of assurance as would satisfy prudent officials in the conduct of their own affairs.’ The Act does not specify a particular set of controls that companies are required to implement. Rather, the internal controls provisions gives companies the flexibility to develop and maintain a system of controls that is appropriate to their particular needs and circumstances.” (Pg. 40)“Companies may not be able to exercise the same level of control over a minority-owned subsidiary or affiliate as they do over a majority or wholly owned entity. Therefore, if a parent company owns less than 50% of a subsidiary or affiliate, the parent is only required to use its best efforts to cause the minority-owned subsidiary or affiliate to devise and maintain a system of internal accounting controls consistent with the issuer’s own obligations under the FCPA.” (Pg. 43)Since the FCPA Guidance, there have been approximately 65 corporate FCPA enforcement actions.  Several of these enforcement actions such as Ralph Lauren, Phillips, Stryker, Allianz, Bruker, Layne Christensen, Smith & Wesson, BNY Mellon, Mead Johnson, BHP Billiton, FLIR  Systems, Nordion, Novartis, Qualcomm, SAP, GSK, ABInBev, AstraZeneca, Mondelez, among others, raise the issue of whether the enforcement agencies are indeed acting consistent with their own guidance, let alone the FCPA statue itself.In short, five years has passed since the FCPA Guidance and not much has changed.It would seem that the only thing that has changed is that most of the principal spokespersons / authors of the FCPA Guidance are now part of FCPA Inc. making millions in the private sector advising companies against the FCPA enforcement climate they helped create.And in an ironic twist, some of these same people are now calling for additional FCPA guidance. For instance, one of the signatories of the FCPA Guidance was Robert Khuzami in his role as Director of the SEC’s Enforcement Division. As highlighted in this prior post, Khuzami stated earlier this year.“I think that you may get a [new] look at the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, the anti-corruption law that is somewhat controversial, mostly due to the potential breadth of the law. There is a view that perhaps the government can do more to assist companies in deciding how they can conduct business in jurisdictions where corruption exists. Companies overwhelmingly aren’t interested in handing out bribes or engaging in corrupt behavior, but typically they find themselves operating in countries where that is the norm or accepted behavior. There’s a way of giving additional guidance or changing the law in a way that might strike a balance.”As far back as 1982 it was recognized in the FCPA context that the United States should be a nation of laws, not a nation of men and women issuing non-binding guidance.The 2012 FCPA guidance was just that – men and women issuing non-binding guidance.The April 2016 DOJ Pilot Program was just that – men and women issuing non-binding guidance. Indeed, just as the men and women who authored the 2012 guidance soon left the government, the men and women who drafted the FCPA Pilot Program (not to mention other DOJ policy documents in the past two years) soon left the government.And so it goes. Connectlast_img read more

UK – Dont Get Your Knickers In A Twist Regarding The Bribery

first_img FCPA Institute – Boston (Oct. 3-4) A unique two-day learning experience ideal for a diverse group of professionals seeking to elevate their FCPA knowledge and practical skills through active learning. Learn more, spend less. CLE credit is available. As highlighted in this recent roundup, the U.K. House of Lords announced that it “appointed an ad hoc Select Committee to consider and report on the Bribery Act 2010.” The Chairman of the Committee stated: “now is the opportune time for post-legislative scrutiny.”However, as noted in this article “non-governmental organisations reacted with dismay to the review by the Lords committee, saying that it should not lead to any rolling back of the legislation.” (See also here).This post encourages those in the U.K. not to get their knickers in a twist. The post provides some historical context about the FCPA- namely that soon after the passage of the FCPA in 1977 the U.S. government undertook various reviews of the FCPA.Almost as soon as the FCPA was passed in 1977 concerns were raised across a wide spectrum that the law was vague and ambiguous, and because of that, harmful to U.S. businesses seeking to compete in the global marketplace.  The early 1980’s saw much FCPA reform activity.  In 1980, the Carter administration (recall that President Carter signed the FCPA into law in 1977) sent a report to Congress prepared by the Secretary of Commerce and the U.S. Trade Representative titled “Report of the President on Export Promotion Functions and Potential Export Disincentives.” In pertinent part, the report stated:“The [FCPA] is identified by businessmen and attorneys as one of the most significant export disincentives.  […]  The Act inhibits exporting because of uncertainty within the business community about the meaning and application of some of its key provisions.“Uncertainty about the meaning of key provisions of the FCPA and how it will be applied is having a negative effect on U.S. exports.  Many of the businessmen and attorneys consulted expressed the view that this uncertainty has a far greater impact than the actual prohibition against bribery.  The problem described, in essence, is that what conduct is prohibited and what conduct is not prohibited under the Act is often unclear.  In order to avoid possible violations of the Act, attorneys often give such cautious guidance that their clients simply forego any transactions where the FCPA could possibly become an issue.”“The effects of these uncertainties reportedly manifest themselves in various ways.  Consultations with the private sector revealed instances in which U.S. companies:withdrew from joint ventures for fear they later could be held responsible for the acts of their foreign partners;incurred substantial legal and investigative costs to check the backgrounds of their sales agents abroad;were unable to obtain the services of effective sales agents;lost contracts simply because of the time needed to investigate sales agents abroad and institute safeguards;withdrew from existing markets; anddeclined to enter new markets.“Finally, companies point out that the extent to which companies have been successfully prosecuted under the FCPA does not define the extent of the disincentive.  Uncertainty can be a disincentive without any prosecutions and, moreover, exports are inhibited merely by the possibility of public charges and the adverse publicity surrounding them.  Even where a company is totally convinced that a court would find that it had not violated the FCPA, it nonetheless may forego the export opportunity for fear that an enforcement agency could publicly charge it with a violation of the Act.”In 1981, the Government Accounting Office (“GAO”), the investigative arm of Congress, released a report titled “Impact of Foreign Corrupt Practices Act on U.S. Business.”The report was based in part on a GAO questionnaire survey of 250 companies randomly selected from the Fortune 1000 list of the largest industrial firms in the U.S. and the questionnaire addressed the FCPA’s relationship to the following four areas: (1) corporate policies and/or codes of conduct; (2) corporate systems of accountability; (3) cost burdens, if any, incurred by management to comply with the FCPA; and (4) corporate opinions regarding the: (i) FCPA’s effect on U.S. corporate foreign sales; (ii) the clarity of the FCPA’s provisions; (iii) the potential effectiveness of an international anti-bribery agreement; and (iv) perceived effectiveness of the FCPA in reducing questionable payments.The GAO found that while the FCPA “has brought about efforts to strengthen corporate codes of conduct and systems of internal accounting control,” corporations reported that “their efforts to comply with the [the FCPA] have resulted in costs that were greater than the benefits received” and that a substantial number of businesses “reported that they had lost oversees business as a result” of the FCPA.  The GAO report noted concerns that the FCPA’s anti-bribery provisions were “vague and ambiguous” and stated that while “unambiguous requirements may be impractical and could provide a roadmap for corporate bribery” companies operating in the global marketplace “should be subject to clear and consistent demands by the Government agencies for enforcing the act.”Despite its widely-perceived deficiencies, reforming a law called the “Foreign Corrupt Practices Act” was a political hot potato simply because of the name of the law. Indeed reform proposals included changing the name of the law so that a substantive, issue-based discussion could take place free from pro-bribery vs. anti-bribery rhetoric. For instance, among the first FCPA reform bills introduced in 1980 was the “Business Accounting and Foreign Trade Simplification Act” which sought to change the name of the FCPA as well as other substantive changes. The preamble of the bill stated, in pertinent part, as follows.“The principal objectives of the [FCPA] are desirable, beneficial, and important to our Nation as well as to our relationships with our trading partners, and these objectives should remain the central intent of the [FCPA];“exporters should not be subject to unclear, conflicting, and potentially damaging demands by diverse United States agencies responsible for enforcement of the [FCPA];“legal interpretations and general compliance and enforcement practices associated with the [FCPA] should be developed in accordance with considerations underlying foreign policy relations, international trade, export promotion, international monetary policy, and other related civil and criminal statutes;”However, the mere discussion of FCPA reform was opposed by some who seemed to advance the simplistic – either you are against bribery or for bribery – position.  Despite this political atmosphere, certain Congressional leaders demonstrated courage to reform the FCPA into a better, more useable statute for business and the enforcement agencies alike.For instance, in 1981 Senator Alfonse D’Amato opened Senate hearings on an FCPA reform bill by stating:“The discussion which takes place during these hearings is not a debate between those who oppose bribery and those who support it. I see the major issue before us to be whether the law, including both its anti-bribery and accounting provisions, is the best approach, or whether it has created unnecessary costs and burdens out of proportion to the purposes for which it was enacted, and whether it serves our national interests.”Senator John Chafee stated:“Critics have attempted to characterize my bill as a signal to U.S. companies that they can return to the ‘bad old days’ of foreign bribery. That is not my intent, nor should it be the signal. I abhor bribery, whether domestic or foreign, but I also dislike confusion. Thus, my bill will eliminate uncertainty while maintaining strong prohibitions against bribery. The ambiguities and murkiness of the bill’s language have caused U.S. companies to withdraw from legitimate markets and contributed to the decline in the U.S. share of world exports. We need to end this confusion.”During the hearing, Senator D’Amato also noted:“The thing that bothers me about this kind of a debate is that we tend to posture this thing as if somebody were for or against bribery. I think it is important to state for the record that bribery of any foreign official by any U.S. concern is bad for our national health, and it is something that we have got to stop, we have got to deal with, and we have, I think, gone a long way with the FCPA. What we proposed to do is to simplify that law and to make it workable so that we can set that standard in concrete from now on and not have the abuses that occurred prior to 1977, but not by stopping exports, but by stopping bribery. That is the objective.  […]  I think it is very important that in the committee’s work that we not create the attitude that this committee is making it easier for businesses to engage in illegal activity. […] I think that rather than hampering prosecution of illegal acts, [the reform bill at issue] would clarify and make possible just prosecution of those who engage in bribery. It would eliminate any ‘gray area’ by clearly spelling out the limits of the law.”During the hearing, Senator John Heinz stated:“There are many people that are extremist, and there are others who get carried away by their enthusiasm who are going to argue that even if we change the provisions in the present act, that are unnecessary or ambiguous or uncertain, that even though we are not doing so, we are legalizing bribery. That strikes me as the worst kind of demagoguery, because it implies that everything that Congress has done in the past is perfect. And does anybody believe that?”As the U.S. Trade Representative stated:“Just because the FCPA spotlights a sensitive subject, some people wish to turn a ‘blind eye’ to its shortcomings rather than risk being accused of being ‘soft on bribery.’ That is too easy a way out. Retreating from controversy will not cure the law’s deficiencies. [… ] Is there any U.S. law that ought to be above such review and clarification – especially one as complex as the FCPA.”Indicative of the political challenges of reforming a law called the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, FCPA reform took eight years and it is noteworthy how it occurred.  In 1988 the FCPA was amended, not through a stand-alone bill, but through Title V, Subtitle A, Part I of the Omnibus Trade and Competiveness Act of 1988 signed into law by President Ronald Reagan.Principle changes to the FCPA in 1988 included: (i) amending the original “reason to know” standard applicable to third party liability; (ii) amending the FCPA to include certain affirmative defenses based on foreign law and reasonable and reasonable and bona fide expenditures; and (iii) amending the FCPA to include an express facilitating payment exception.  As to this later change, the FCPA’s original definition of “foreign official” contained an indirect facilitating payment exception by excluding from the definition of “foreign official” “any employee of a foreign government or any department, agency, or instrumentality thereof whose duties are essentially ministerial or clerical.”  The effect of the 1988 amendments was to remove this indirect exception from the definition of foreign official in favor of an express stand-alone exception for “routine governmental action.”In 1998 the FCPA was further amended to incorporate certain aspects of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (“OECD”) Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions (the “OECD Convention”) signed by the U.S. and approximately thirty other countries in 1997.  Principle changes to the FCPA in 1998 included: (i) the creation of a new statutory provision applicable to certain foreign companies and foreign nationals; and (ii) expanded nationality jurisdiction as to U.S. companies and citizens by which the anti-bribery provisions can apply regardless of whether an improper payment scheme has a U.S. territorial nexus. 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US Secures Approximately 17 Billion In FCPA Settlements Largely On The Theory

first_img FCPA Institute – Boston (Oct. 3-4) A unique two-day learning experience ideal for a diverse group of professionals seeking to elevate their FCPA knowledge and practical skills through active learning. Learn more, spend less. CLE credit is available. If I ever update my 2009 article “The Facade of FCPA Enforcement” there is going to be special mention of the facts and circumstances discussed in this post.Over the last couple of years, the U.S. government has secured approximately $1.7 billion in net Foreign Corrupt Practices Act settlement amounts in related FCPA enforcement actions against telecommunications companies VimpelCom, Telia, and most recently MTS. The enforcement actions have largely been based on the theory that Gulnara Karimova is a “foreign official” under the FCPA’s anti-bribery provisions and have not been subjected to any meaningful judicial scrutiny.Interesting then, that in this recent Swedish court decision (English transaction) concerning the 2017 prosecution of former Telia executives Tero Kivisaari, Olli Tuohimaa and Lars Nyberg the court acquitted the defendants because Karimova was not a “public official” under the relevant law.In the decision, the court also cared little that Telia resolved an FCPA enforcement action based on this enforcement theory because – in the words of the court – there were “strong commercial reasons” for Telia to do this and that therefore the FCPA resolution “is without probative value or impact in this case.”By way of background, the VimpelCom, Telia and MTS FCPA enforcement actions were all primarily based on the following core allegation (as stated in the recent MTS resolution documents).“Foreign Official [Karimova], an individual whose identity is known to the United States, was a relative of a high-ranking Uzbek government official and an Uzbek government official, including Uzbek Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs for Cultural Issues and Uzbekistan’s Ambassador to the United Nations. Foreign Official had influence over decisions made by UzACI. Foreign Official was a “foreign official” as that term is used in the FCPA …”.UzACI is described as:“The Uzbek Agency for Communications and Information (“UzACI”) was an Uzbek governmental entity authorized to regulate operations and formulate state policy regarding communications, information technology, and the use of radio spectrum in Uzbekistan.  As such, UzACI was a “department,” “agency,” and “instrumentality” of a foreign government, as those terms are used in the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.”Across the pond in Sweden, the court described the Nyberg et al prosecution and decision in summary form as follows.“The prosecution concerns verbal allegations between the years 2007 and 2010 in relation to the agreements and transactions with an Uzbek partner as a consequence of TeliaSonera’s (Telia) establishment in Uzbekistan. The District Court has considered the criminal law liability for gross bribery pursuant with the prosecution directed at the then head of the business area Eurosia within Telia, Tero Kivisaari, Telia;s then CEO Lars Nyberg and the then chief legal adviser for Telia’s Dutch subsidiary Fintur Holdings B.V., Olli Tuohimaa. The District Court has also considered the forfeiture action directed against Telia for MUSD 208.5 constituting dividends or benefits from alleged crime.The course of events regarding the transactions that the Public Prosecutor has cited in relation to agreements and associated payments to accounts belonging to primarily Takilant Ltd., a company with connections with the then Uzbek president Islam Karimov’s daughter, Gulnara Karimova, have objectively be considered as having been investigated in the case.According to the prosecution, the transactions would have included bribes. In order for the legislation pertaining to bribery to be applicable at all, it is supposed that the alleged beneficiaries are susceptible to bribery, i.e. the must fall in under the limited circle of people who are susceptible to bribery that was applicable under the then Swedish legislation. The Prosecutor’s statement of the criminal offence as charged has been considered unclear in a number of respects, including regarding the circle of people. As regards what has been initially cited by the Public Prosecutor the assertion that Gulnara Karimova held a position or was engaged on an assignment within the telecommunications sector as an employee or contractor in a position of trust has not been made more specific. The statement of the criminal offence as charged has also been considered as unclear as regards which official or officials which, according to the Public Prosecutor’s second hand allegation of the criminal act, will be bribed through Telia’s business dealings with Takilant Ltd.Particularly as regards these unclear parts of the allegation of the criminal act, major deficiencies in the robustness of the investigations could be established. The assertion that Gulnara Karimova acted in the exercising of her duties as a public sector employee or contractor in a position of trust engaged on assignments within the telecommunications sector has therefore not been able to be proven; an alternative explanation has instead been considered reasonable, meaning that Gulnara Karimova acted as a business person through Takilant Ltd.The Public Prosecutor’s assertion that Gulnara Karimova exercised the authority of a foreign state without authority, so-called “actual exercising of authority”, without holding a position or being engaged on an assignment has not been found to constitute a crime according to the bribery legislation due to the fact that the actual exercising of authority also supposes employment or engagement on an assignment.As regards different determined public employment or assignments within the Uzbek overseas administration that, according to the Public prosecutor, Gulnara Karimova held, the District Court has considered the so-called “service relationship” between any benefits from Telia and reported positions and functions. When examined, it has been established that the investigation does not demonstrate that the business area in which Gulnara Karimova had been active included national telecommunications matters. The District Court has therefore not found it proven that a service relationship existed.Regarding the allegation of bribery where benefits have been provided directly to somebody other than the official, in this case to Takiant Ltd./Gulnara Karimova, there must be some form of connection between the official and another party in order for it to be said that the benefit has in some way or other favoured the official (favourable connection). In so far as the Public Prosecutor has not specified which official or officials the Public Prosecutor in the second and third hand has or have been bribed, it has not been possible to test this.Where the Public Prosecutor has specified the official as being the General Director for the telecommunications authority, Abdulla Aripov and the CEO of the telecommunications operator Uzdunrobita, Bekhzod Ahmedov, there is no investigation that proves a favourable connection between them and Takilant Ltd./Gulnara Karimova.There have therefore not been found any grounds for the District Court to proceed in its examination of other constituent elements of criminal acts and examine whether the transactions had contained any benefits and if so, whether they had been in appropriate. Nor has there been reason to review the accused’s accounts and the evidence to which they have adduced.The accused are acquitted from prosecution for gross bribery.In the assessment of the matter regarding liability, a forfeiture action is being brought against Telia without approval.”As highlighted in this recent post, the DOJ recently criminally charged Ahmedov for FCPA and related offenses.Before proceeding further, it is interesting to note that the Swedish court’s reference to the “limited circle of people who are susceptible to bribery” is similar to what a U.S. court said in U.S. v. Castle when noting that “foreign officials” under the FCPA are a “small class of persons.”Back to the Swedish court decision.The court noted:“In criminal cases, it is the public prosecutor who has the burden of proof. For a conviction, it is required that it is without reasonable doubt that the defendants have been guilty of committing the acts that form the basis for the indictment and prosecution. The evidentiary requirements/requirement for proof applies to all necessary prerequisites for the conviction of the commission of a crime.”[…]“The public prosecutor’s statement of the criminal offence as charged gives rise to the following general remarks. A starting point in the law of criminal procedure against the background of inter alia the requirements which the European for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms imposes concerning a fair trial is that a charge must be sufficiently detailed so that the accused will be able to defend themselves.”[…]“The public prosecutor has stated that the District Court shall use imagination and empathy in its examination of the indictment and prosecution. The District Court must already state here that it is self-evident that within the law of criminal procedure there is no room for such a thing. The principle of legality is considered central from a rule of law and is given a special importance in criminal law and the criminal legal proceedings. The principle prevents extensive interpretation and application of the law. When interpreting a penalty clause, the purpose of the legislation – which can be seen from preparatory work – as well as practice and statements in the legal literature is important.”[…]“The alleged illegal act must fulfil all the requisites in the legal text, otherwise it is contrary to the principle of legality’s prohibition on the use of analogy to nevertheless apply the provision. It is self-evident that the allegations/statement of the criminal offence must consist of facts and circumstances that are able to be proven.”Regarding the prosecution’s theory of Karimova’s status, the court stated:“In order for the corruption legislation to be applicable at all, it is assumed that the alleged recipients are susceptible to bribery, i.e. they must fall within the group of persons susceptible to bribery. As the public prosecutor has formulated the statement of the criminal offence charged, the District Court therefore begins by examining whether Gulnara Karimova belonged to the group of persons susceptible to bribery who are faced with liability for bribery, something the public prosecutor alleged but the defence counsel denies.It can be noted that the Public prosecutor’s primary allegations means that Gulnara Karimova has been employed during the current period, had an assignment in a position of trust in the telecom sector or in other ways exercised foreign state’s public authority. In addition, Gulnara Karimova has, according to the public prosecutor, also acted the foreign state’s minister in 2008. However, the public prosecutor has not specified, on the basis of a concrete actual course of events, what it is for employment or assignment in a position of trust that Gulnara Karimova held, but only in vague general terms specified Gulnara Karimova’s belonging to the group of persons susceptible to bribery according to the following two options:• Gulnara Karimova has had the relevant public position in telecoms in the form of employment or assignments based on trust she has received from her father, President Islam Karimov.• Gulnara Karimova has herself taken upon herself the right to exercise power, completely independent of the system or any governmental entity providing any assignment. This means that she, without having had governmental employment or assignments, in practice exercised authority based on a position of trust, referred to as a de facto exerciser of powers as a public authority.The public prosecutor has also presented a third alternative, which he meant is not realistic, meaning that Gulnara Karimova has been an agent or lobbyist for Telia and as such she has had the opportunity to influence, completely independent of the system or any governmental entity providing any assignment.In addition, in the statement of facts the public prosecutor has contended that Gulnara Karimova has not been a civil servant of the state or minister in the normal sense who has provided directives in matters regarding what must be done, but rather the public prosecutor’s position is that Gulnara Karimova has conducted a crime syndicate, a state-organised crime enterprise, with the president’s [explicit] approval.And finally here the public prosecutor has also referred to information vis-à-vis official functions that Gulnara Karimova had during the current period in the Uzbek Foreign Service administration based on the response to an application for international mutual legal assistance in criminal matters received from Switzerland, who in turn received the information from Uzbek public authorities. The public prosecutor’s position is that the information is proof of Gulnara Karimova’s employment as a civil servant and related matters with a broad functional area of responsibility during 2007 with links to the telecom industry.In this context, the public prosecutor has argued that the Swedish model with public authorities (myndigheter) clearly delimited against the Government (Regering) and state is not common as a model in a state such as Uzbekistan. He has asserted in general terms that in Uzbekistan, ministries are closely connected with public authorities even if the decision is made in the authority and pointed out that Abdulla Aripov was both deputy prime minister and head of the authority.The public prosecutor’s case in the first count means in the part where no concretisation of the group of persons susceptible to bribery has taken place on the basis of an actual individualised course of events that the District Court cannot examine every necessary prerequisites for the commission of a crime individually, i.e. employees, contractors in a position of trust or referred to as a de facto exerciser of powers as a public authority.. The District Court instead examines the allegations in this section gathered under what the District Court chooses to designate as vague or indefinite public employment or assignment in a position of trust within the telecom sector. Subsequently, the District Court will examine the various concrete public appointments or assignments within the Uzbek Foreign Service administration which, according to the information provided by Uzbekistan, the public prosecutor claims that Gulnara Karimova has had. The legal framework for each necessary prerequisites for the commission of a crime is reviewed initially.”Regarding the status of Karimova, the court concluded:“As stated in the section on the legal framework, the relevant necessary prerequisites in the prohibition of bribery legislation for the commission of a crime in the group of persons are well-defined and demarcated. In order for the District Court to be able to examine the current necessary prerequisites for the commission of a crime criminal case in objective sense, it is therefore required, as the District Court has previously pointed out, that the public prosecutor concretise the circumstances on which he bases his allegations in these respects.However, the public prosecutor has not stated what position or position he alleges that Gulnara Karimova in the proper order has chosen, appointed or employed held, or was she served, if it was in the ministry, authority, etc. Instead, he has vaguely sweepingly stated that Gulnara Karimova has had the relevant governmental position in the form of employment or an assignment based on trust which she has received from her father, the president Islam Karimov, or that Gulnara Karimova herself has taken upon herself the right to exercise power, entirely independent of the system or any governmental assignment. The latter, according to the public prosecutor, means that, without having had governmental employment, assignments or positions of trust, she practically exercised foreign state authority in what is referred to as the de facto exercise of powers as a public authority.However, as stated in the relevant section under the legal framework above, what is referred to as the de facto exercise of public authority does not encompass unauthorised persons who become engaged in actual exercise of power. Therefore what the public prosecutor asserts in this part can not be accepted on a legal basis and meet with approval.Otherwise, the public prosecutor is perceived to hold the view that President Islam Karimov, without being able to report an actual concrete course of events on this, either in writing, verbally or via delegation, gave Gulnara Karimova governmental employment or an assignment in a position of trust to manage the telecom sector in Uzbekistan.The public prosecutor’s allegations seem to be essentially based on general information that Uzbekistan was a kleptocracy where President Islam Karimov enriched himself and his family as much as possible and that there was a general reputation in Tashkent that Gulnara Karimova was awarded the telecom market by Islam Karimov and the fact that she via similar companies entered into similar agreements and held ownership interests in all three major mobile operators in Uzbekistan.[…]It can be concluded that there are no direct indications that show that Gulnara Karimova was given any governmental employment or assignment in a position of trust within the telecom sector in writing, verbally or via delegation. On the other hand, there are indirect indications that to some extent supports the position or, in any case, that Gulnara Karimova in this relevant respect has had an influence on the decision-making regarding Coscom. However, there are also alternative explanations for these indirect indications. One such is that Gulnara Karimova acted as a businesswoman and that as such she acted improperly or inappropriately. The public prosecutor has himself pointed out that Gulnara Karimova had a large business empire where the telecom sector accounted for about one-half of the assets, and that she engaged in criminal activities. It is noted that here that the payments from Telia have also gone to her company; a fact that even standing alone speaks against the assertion that work has been carried out on behalf of another party in governmental employment or that she has acted within the framework of an assignment of trust.”The court next considered Telia’s 2017 FCPA settlement. [Notwithstanding what the court stated below, realize that the FCPA’s definition of “foreign official” is:“any officer or employee of a foreign government or any department, agency, or instrumentality thereof, or of a public international organization, or any person acting in an official capacity for or on behalf of any such government or department, agency, or instrumentality, or for or on behalf of any such public international organization.”]Nevertheless, the court stated:“According to the statement of agreed facts as a part of the agreement, the parties to the agreement agree that Gulnara Karimova fulfils the definition for a “Public Official” according to the FCPA and that she has influence over decisions made by UzACI and decisions that may have been made by other governmental authorities, for example so that Telia would have any possibility to be able to establish operations in Uzbekistan. The definition of “Public Official” according to FCPA includes senior officers [those with decision-making authority]or employees of a foreign government or some ministry, governmental authority or agency, or part thereof, or a public international organisation, or any person acting in their official function or on behalf of such government, ministry, governmental authority or agency, or part of it, or on behalf of such an international organisation.The defence counsel has argued that strong commercial reasons have been present for Telia to enter into the agreement in question. This concerns what is referred to as a “Deferred Prosecution Agreement” between Telia and the U.S. Department of Justice, Criminal Division, Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York, dated 21 September 2017. According to the agreement, Telia will pay USD 548,603,972 in fines. According to the defence counsel, the financial impetus amounts to some SEK 1.4 billion. The defence counsel has pointed out that Telia’s participation via identification of certain persons and information concerning their participation is deemed to constitute an extenuating circumstance [mitigating factor] and entitles Telia to a reduction. In addition, according to the defence counsel, the market-related situation is that companies usually choose to enter into agreements of the kind in question in order to avoid the very significant risks that an adverse action entails; that the market shares such a view is regularly reflected in the fact that a settlement has a positive impact on the price of the share. Furthermore, the defence counsel has pointed out in connection with the content of U.S. law that it lacks significance that Gulnara Karimova did not have employment or an assignment for UzACI due to that the actions as described in the statement of agreed facts are contrary to the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.The District Court may conclude, based on the contents of the agreement, that the strong commercial reasons that have existed for Telia to enter into the agreement and which the defence counsel has pointed out are of significant importance in terms of evidence and means that the agreement as such according to the District Court is without probative value or impact in the case. In this context, the District Court desires to emphasise the FCPA’s broad definition of the term “Public Official.”In summary the court concluded:“The public prosecutor has not explained the concrete facts of the significance for the assessment of whether Gulnara Karimova has been a governmental employee. It has not been clarified whether the relationship had been based on an agreement, what work Gulnara Karimova would perform, or whether the performance of the work was subject to specific directives or control. The same applies to the public prosecutor’s assertion that Gulnara Karimova acted in a position of trust. No description of the assignment has been submitted. Questions relating to that in which manner she has had a managerial or controlling task or responsibility remain unanswered. It is a requisite according to the provision that Gulnara Karimova constituted a special subject in the sense that she must have been in a special position.This is because it requires that she be entrusted with a certain task/responsibility of managing or supervising. What kind of task/responsibility she has had has not been clarified. The public prosecutor has instead invoked all possible requisites in the provision, including legal affairs, which, naturally, is primarily intended to be carried out by lawyers.The report that was presented has not clarified the vague parts that are in the public prosecutor’s indictment concerning the issue of Gulnara Karimova’s belonging to the group of persons susceptible to bribery. The assertion that she has had governmental employment or assignments in a position of trust within telecom has not been able to be proven. Instead, an alternative explanation has been deemed as being reasonable, i.e. that Gulnara Karimova in fact acted as a businesswoman within the framework of companies with which she had associations with.Finally, the legal framework does not encompass what is referred to as the de facto exercise of powers as a public authority in such a situation as the public prosecutor has described where unauthorised persons engage in the actual exercise of power. The public prosecutor’s assertions in this part have thus already failed on a legal foundation.Taken all together, it can be stated that the shortcomings that exist in the robustness of the investigation, the weakly weighted probative value of the evidence in conjunction with the great vagueness concerning the group of persons for the alleged crime and the difficulties which, as a result, have existed for the defendants to present rebuttal evidence lead to the conclusion that it has not been proven that Gulnara Karimova has been an employee or held a position of trust in the manner in which the public prosecutor has asserted.It has not been proven that Gulnara Karimova belonged, in the manner that the public prosecutor alleged, according to Chapter 20, § 2 of the Penal Code, to a group of persons susceptible to bribery as an employee or contractor in a position of trust within the telecom sector. The public prosecutor’s allegations concerning that Gulnara Karimova’s engaged in an unauthorised exercise of foreign state authority is not a criminal offence pursuant to the legislation concerning bribery.”The court next addressed the prosecutor’s theory that Karimova was a “public official” because of various positions she allegedly held such as “Head of the Centre for Political Studies” “Deputy Minister for International Cooperation in Cultural and Humanitarian Affairs,” and “Permanent Representative at the U.N.” However, the court concluded:“The District Court can conclude that the investigation does not show anything other than that Gulnara Karimova’s functional area of responsibility is internationally focused on Uzbekistan’s foreign policy and regional cooperation and security, which refers i.a. to the implementation of analytical monitoring of social policy processes in the international arena. Thus, according to the investigation the area of activities does not include national telecom issues. Thus it has not been shown that there is any connection relating to the performance of official duties in any benefits [received] from Telia and Gulnara Karimova’s work or commissions in the Centre.”[…]“In the absence of an investigation, it has not been shown that Gulnara Karimova, as Deputy Foreign Minister for International Cooperation in Cultural and Humanitarian Affairs, had any formal rights to participate in decisions concerning issues arising from other ministries or agencies and which could have affected telecom issues. The conclusion is thus that some connection related to the performance of official duties between any benefits from Telia and Gulnara Karimova in the position of Deputy Foreign Minister for International Cooperation in Cultural and Humanitarian Affairs has not been proven.”[…]“Taking into account the area of activities of Gulnara Karimova as a permanent representative of the Republic of Uzbekistan at the UN office and other international organisations in Geneva reported in the Uzbek document, it can be concluded that no connection between any benefits provided by Telia and her work or commissions in the performance of official duties has been shown.”“The public prosecutor has concretised three different official positions within the Uzbek Foreign Service administration with related functional descriptions based on an Uzbek document. Despite the fact that information from Uzbekistan is to be valued with caution, the District Court has, based on the Uzbek information, tested the positions and functions against referred to as the connection to the performance of official duties, which is one of several requirements that the criminal offence according to the bribery legislation to be considered come into play at all. The District Court has found that the reported official positions do not have a connection with national telecom issues and that no connection between any benefits from Telia and the official positions and functions in connection with the performance of official duties has been shown.No connection to the performance of official duties has been shown between any benefits from Telia and the reported official positions and functions with the Uzbek Foreign Service administration.” Learn More & Registerlast_img read more

What NPR Missed in Their Antipsychotics Report

first_imgby, Dr. Al Power, ChangingAging ContributorTweetShareShareEmail0 SharesAs many of you know, NPR has been running a 3-part series this week on the overuse of antipsychotic drugs in nursing homes, particularly among people living with dementia. I dutifully sent a listener comment to the website, but the advantage of having a blog is that I can express some ideas here in depth, without having to worry if it will ever get read at NPR.First, the positives: The first two installments (Part 1 and Part 2) correctly identified the scope of the problem in nursing homes and the government initiatives to try to reduce the use of the drugs. While the first two parts were fairly investigative in tone and implied that the government wasn’t doing enough to enforce the guidelines, reporter Ina Jaffe correctly expressed the concern that much more progress needs to be made.In addition, Jaffe finished on a positive note with Part 3, profiling the efforts of Ecumen homes in Minnesota to drastically reduce their antipsychotic use (currently down to 5-7% in their leading homes).So what’s missing? Admittedly, it is difficult to get all the nuances into three 5-minute news segments; but there are some very important aspects to this story that need to be mentioned.First, and perhaps most important, is the fact that this is NOT a nursing home problem. Even though Jaffe bemoaned the fact that there are still over a quarter million people in nursing homes taking these drugs, the best evidence we have suggests that there could be a million or more taking these same drugs in the community. Nursing homes get the attention because their use is monitored and reportable, whereas those who live in elder communities—or in their own homes—have no such reporting requirement.The point is that this is a problem with our societal view of dementia and the narrow biomedical approach that drives the use of such drugs. Nursing homes are merely the tip of the iceberg. And unlike nursing homes, no initiative is being pursued to reduce the use of these drugs in the community, where much more potential harm is being done!My second point is that the drugs were not started by uncaring people. Those who provide care and support struggle to do so in a system that does not give them adequate education or support for better approaches. In fact, the majority of comments that were first posted after Monday’s early broadcast were pro-drug—from numerous care partners who are often overwhelmed by the distress of those they serve and feel they have no other options.So (as I have said many times before) even though the drugs are largely ineffective and dangerous, they cannot simply be removed without some insight as to how to care differently.  People in all living environments need the kind of education and support that was demonstrated by Ecumen in the third installment in order to succeed.This leads to my third point. I was somewhat alarmed by the vehemence with which NPR criticized CMS for lack of enforcement and pooh-poohed their attempts to work proactively to educate nursing homes on the issue. There are two problems with increasing enforcement: The first problem is that the guidelines are very easy for physicians and other staff to blur, so any documentation that loosely applies terms like “delusional,” “hallucinating,” or “a danger to oneself or others” can be used to justify the drugs in a way that makes it very difficult for a surveyor to challenge.The other problem with increased enforcement is that deficiencies and fines don’t work! They lead to quick band-aid plans of correction in order to get back into rapid compliance, without producing any real change of organizational attitude or operational shifts to drive deep systemic change. In fact, I applaud that CMS has leaned on education and has not been too heavy-handed with the penalties.There is a real role for enforcement. But in order for it to work there must be clearer guidelines by which to cite homes, and there must be heavy educational and “culture change” components to the corrections that are applied.So thanks to NPR for identifying this ongoing issue, but we need to also broaden the discussion to look at how our society views dementia, how we have chosen to care for our elders, and the systems that regulate and reimburse that care. And we need to realize that the problem is not confined within the walls of our nursing homes—it lies within every one of us.Related PostsCMS and AHCA Call for Reduced Use of Antipsychotic Drugs — How are You Addressing this Issue?The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has launched a national action plan aimed at reducing the use of antipsychotics by raising public awareness, increasing public reporting, regulatory oversight and research and assistance. The Eden Alternative has responded by launching two new groundbreaking programs to help reduce the off-label…Kentucky Joins Tennessee in Doing the “Right Thing”Things are heating up in the race to reduce antipsychotic use. Three weeks ago, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released new statistics ranking Tennessee as one of the top five states to significantly reduce the use of antipsychotics. Spurred by CMS’ National Partnership to Improve Dementia Care…Guidelines for Antipsychotic Drugs in Dementia—Part 1Recently, a friend who works in long-term care wrote to ask if I had any formal guidelines for prescribing antipsychotic drugs to people living with dementia.TweetShareShareEmail0 SharesTags: Alzheimers anti-psychotics Care Partner Dementialast_img read more

Compounds found in green tea and red wine offer hope to treat

first_imgJul 2 2018A new Tel Aviv University study suggests there is hope of treating certain inborn congenital metabolic diseases — a hope found in green tea and in red wine.Most people with inherited metabolic disorders are born with a defective gene that results in a critical enzyme deficiency. In the absence of a cure, many patients with inborn congenital metabolic disorders must adhere to a strict and demanding diet their entire lives. This new research finds that certain compounds found naturally in green tea and red wine may block the formation of toxic metabolites.The research was led by Prof. Ehud Gazit of TAU’s Faculty of Life Sciences and his doctoral student Shira Shaham-Niv. It was published in the Nature group journal Communications Chemistry.The researchers considered two compounds: (1) epigallocatechin gallate, known as EGCG, found naturally in green tea, which has attracted attention within the medical community for its potential health benefits; and (2) tannic acid, found in red wine, which is known to prevent the formation of toxic amyloid structures that cause neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.”In the case of inborn congenital metabolic diseases, the body does not produce a vital metabolic enzyme,” Shaham-Niv said. “As a result, metabolites — substances that are, among other things, the building blocks of DNA and proteins — accumulate in the body. Such uncontrolled accumulation is toxic and can cause severe developmental and mental disorders.”Our new study demonstrates once again the ability of nature to produce the best candidate of drugs to treat some of the worst human maladies.”Collectively, this group of disorders constitutes a significant portion of pediatric genetic diseases. The disease phenylketonuria (PKU), which produces the aggregation of the metabolite phenylalanine, is one common inborn metabolic disease. Infants with PKU must adhere to a strict diet free of phenylalanine for the rest of their lives. If they don’t, they may face severe debilitating developmental problems.”But this is an incredibly difficult task, since phenylalanine is found in most of the food products that we consume,” Shaham-Niv said. “The avoidance of certain substances is the only way to prevent the debilitating long-term effects of inborn congenital metabolic disorders. We hope that our new approach will facilitate the development of new drugs to treat these disorders.”Related StoriesDrinking Matcha tea may reduce anxious behavior, research showsGut bacteria linked to metabolic changes and autism in new studyPopular herbal tea causes high-blood pressure emergency in patientThe new research is based on two previous studies conducted at Prof. Gazit’s TAU laboratory. In the first study, phenylalanine was shown to be capable of self-assembly and of forming amyloid structures like those seen in Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and other neurodegenerative diseases. In the second study, by Shaham-Niv, other metabolites that accumulate in other inborn congenital metabolic diseases were also shown to undergo self-assembly processes and form toxic amyloid aggregates.”Both studies led to an overhaul in the research community’s understanding of metabolic diseases,” Shaham-Niv said. “In our new study, we examined whether the molecules identified in past studies on Alzheimer’s disease and other amyloid diseases, which are known to inhibit the formation of amyloid aggregates, could also help counteract the amyloid formation process of metabolites in metabolic diseases.”The new research focused on EGCG and tannic acid using test tubes and culture cell systems. The two substances were tested on three metabolites related to three innate metabolic diseases: adenine, cumulative tyrosine and phenylalanine. The results were promising. Both tannic acid and EGCG were effective in blocking the formation of toxic amyloid structures. The researchers also used computer simulations to verify the mechanism driving the compounds.”We are entering a new era of understanding the role and the importance of metabolites in various diseases, including metabolic diseases, neurodegenerative diseases and even cancer,” Shaham-Niv concluded. “The tools we have developed are ground-breaking and have tremendous potential to help a wide range of patients in the future.” Source:https://www.aftau.org/weblog-medicine–health?&storyid4704=2400&ncs4704=3last_img read more

Wearable devices and mhealth technology emerge as promising tools for better health

first_img Source:https://www.frontiersin.org/ Aug 14 2018With increasing efforts being made to address the current global obesity epidemic, wearable devices and mobile health (“mHealth”) technology have emerged as promising tools for promoting physical activity. However, current literature seems to indicate that these new technologies may serve best as part of a larger overall health plan, rather than working alone to encourage weight loss.In a review for this week’s Current Opinion in Endocrinology, Diabetes and Obesity, Nicole Spartano, PhD, research assistant professor of medicine at Boston University School of Medicine, comments that recent literature shows that self-monitoring behavior has a role in encouraging weight loss, but may not be enough to keep people healthy when used without thought to behavioral strategies. “There is not sufficient evidence that wearable devices can promote sustained behavior change and long-term weight maintenance on their own.” She cites one study in which a game-based intervention produced significant improvement in step counts compared to a group of individuals using a fitness tracker without an incentive program, concluding that “using social or financial incentives and techniques like gamification may support motivation of behavior change”.Related StoriesResearch sheds light on sun-induced DNA damage and repairResearch team receives federal grant to study obesity in children with spina bifidaTAU’s new Translational Medical Research Center acquires MILabs’ VECTor PET/SPECT/CTSpartano also has concern about groups being left behind with wearable device and mobile health technology-based weight loss studies. “Strategies for research study recruitment and, more importantly, for implementing wearable and mHealth technology into a clinical setting or community public health program (in schools, workplace, church or other community-setting) require extra thought and cultural sensitivity to ensure the equity in potential public resources and opportunities.”Ultimately, she is optimistic about the role these technologies may play in developing weight loss and overall health strategies between patients and their primary care providers. “Integration of mHealth technology and wearable devices in primary care settings presents an opportunity to capitalize on the routine relationship that patients and providers have.”last_img read more

Starmapping mission shows Milky Way to be larger than thought

first_imgGaia was launched in December 2013 and has been scanning the skies ever since with its gigapixel camera, despite minor problems with stray light getting in and some recurring contamination of ice on the two main telescope mirrors. So far, it has carried out many hundreds of billions of individual measurements, yielding 40 gigabytes of data every single day. By combining the new measurements with older ones from ESA’s Hipparcos satellite, data analysts were able to derive accurate distances and motions for a subset of 2 million stars, providing more precise information on their physical properties and on the Milky Way’s gravity field. “Knowing stellar distances is extremely important for many fields of astrophysics,” Prusti says. “To me, this is the most exciting part of this first data release.” The Milky Way has been mapped in greater detail than ever before. And a first quick look indicates that our home galaxy is larger in extent than scientists had thought before, says Gisella Clementini, an astronomer at the Astronomical Observatory of Bologna in Italy.Today, at the European Space Astronomy Centre in Madrid, the European Space Agency (ESA) released the first data from its €750 million Gaia star-mapping mission. The new catalog contains sky positions for 1.1 billion stars, 400 million of which have never been seen before. For many stars, the positional accuracy is 300 microarcseconds—the width of a human hair, seen from a distance of 30 kilometers—positions that will help astronomers better determine the 3D layout of the galaxy. “This is far better than anything we’ve ever had before,” says project scientist Timo Prusti of ESA’s science and technology center ESTEC in Noordwijk, the Netherlands. “It’s a milestone.” Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! 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Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe A second data release, planned for late 2017, will include even more accurate positions—in some cases up to 10 microarcseconds, or a human hair at a distance of 1000 kilometers. The second release will also contain distances and motions for all 1.1 billion stars, says astronomer Anthony Brown of Leiden University in the Netherlands, who chairs a 450-member consortium of Gaia data analysts. In addition, Gaia will discover tens of thousands of new star clusters in the Milky Way, and yield accurate positional data for about a million remote galaxies. “Future facilities like the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, the James Webb Space Telescope, and ESA’s Euclid satellite, will gratefully exploit the Gaia catalog,” Brown says.As of today, scientists worldwide will have unlimited access to the Gaia data. “Please enjoy with us,” Prusti said at the Madrid press conference. The new information is of particular interest to astronomers studying stellar evolution and the formation history of the Milky Way, including the role and distribution of dark matter. In the future, Gaia is also expected to discover new asteroids in our solar system and thousands of Jupiter-like planets orbiting other stars. An alert system to notify astronomers about Gaia discoveries of transient events like supernovae (exploding stars) is already in operation. According to Brown, many scientists are eager to start working on the data. “I expect the first scientific papers based on this data release within a couple of weeks,” he says.Gaia’s primary mission will be over in mid-2019. ESA still has to decide on a possible mission extension to 2024, which would even further increase the accuracy of the final catalog. As for the distant future, astronomers dream of an infrared counterpart to Gaia, which would be able to peer through the Milky Way’s dust cloud into its very center, and also would excel at detecting and measuring faint red and brown dwarf stars in the solar neighborhood.last_img read more

Documents reveal intense battle over CDC Zika tests

first_imgA protracted battle between a Zika expert at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and his superiors over tests for the virus came to light yesterday.The fracas centers on allegations by CDC’s Robert Lanciotti, chief of the Diagnostics and Reference Laboratory activity for mosquito-spread viruses in Fort Collins, Colorado. He alleges that the agency’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC) discounted his research in April and created “a public health threat” by relying on a less dependable human test for the Zika virus.As first reported by the The Washington Post, Carolyn Lerner, who heads the U.S. Office of Special Counsel, wrote President Barack Obama a detailed letter yesterday about the allegations. She also released several related reports, including an investigation conducted by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and Lanciotti’s response. Lerner became involved after Lanciotti was demoted for his actions in May and filed a whistleblower suit. Her office “secured an agreement” with CDC to reinstate him as head of his lab. At the heart of the dispute is the fact that, in some people who become infected with Zika, viral levels in the blood remain relatively low, making the virus difficult to detect. Lanciotti alleged that a Zika test made by his lab, called Singleplex, was more sensitive than another test he initially helped devise, called Trioplex (which also tested for the related dengue and chikungunya viruses). Both tests rely on the polymerase chain reaction to amplify minute amounts of viral RNA. But Lanciotti said comparison tests in his lab, and a study conducted independently by the Blood Systems Research Institute in San Francisco, California, found that Trioplex failed to detect viral DNA in up to 39% of samples that the Singleplex test had indicated contained Zika.Officials at EOC, however, had confidence in the Trioplex test. They said it performed equally well as Singleplex in a comparative analysis conducted in a CDC lab in Puerto Rico.Concerned that state labs would abandon Singleplex for what he saw as the inferior Trioplex, Lanciotti on 21 April emailed 30 state labs, telling them that his lab was continuing to use Singleplex “due to its greater relative sensitivity.” One of the leaders of the EOC lab team told the HHS investigators that Lanciotti’s email “created more trouble and confusion than it clarified.”The HHS investigation team, which did not include CDC employees who worked in EOC or in the zoonotic infectious diseases branch, concluded on 2 September that evidence did not support Lanciotti’s allegations about Singleplex’s superiority, or that there was any specific danger to public health because of the use of Trioplex. The tests conducted in Puerto Rico, the report states, “produced the clearest, most complete, and most reproducible data available to the investigative team, [and] found no difference in sensitivity.” Even if data showing superiority of Singleplex were accurate, the investigators say the 39% “overstates the potential impact” of missed cases; clinicians use the test as only one indicator when making a Zika diagnosis, and if that’s factored in, the missed cases drop to a maximum of 12% even with the most discrepant tests. What’s more, only Trioplex was granted what’s known as “emergency use authorization” by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.In addition to a lack of convincing evidence that Trioplex was inferior in comparative analyses, the investigators noted that the test was modified in August to include larger samples of blood or urine, as well as whole blood—all of which should contain higher levels of the Zika virus, making it easier to detect.In a stinging rebuttal Lanciotti submitted 15 September, he wrote that CDC needed to reevaluate the “entire EOC concept,” which he said relied on “relatively inexperienced individuals making critical decisions.” He stressed the Trioplex test also performed poorly in detection of the four different dengue virus strains in circulation. And he further criticized EOC for promoting “a questionable assay with misleading communications” and for not having “greater transparency.”Lerner’s letter stressed that “Lanciotti raises serious concerns about each of the CDC’s findings, including the methodology for discounting his research,” but she said the “matter is now closed.” Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe Emailcenter_img Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! 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Newt Gingrich a major Trump ally has a complicated love affair with

first_imgWith the election of Donald Trump as president, Newt Gingrich’s name is very much back in the headlines. The former speaker of the House of Representatives was one of candidate Trump’s staunchest early backers, and is now reportedly in the running for a senior appointment in the new administration.Gingrich is no stranger to the scientific community. Indeed, as ScienceInsider reported in 2012, when Gingrich was running for president, he “has a long and complicated relationship with the science community marked by equal measures of flattered delight and bewildered anxiety.” Now, some wonder whether Gingrich’s voice might help shape the Trump administration’s approach to research.Here’s our 2012 story, written just before Gingrich suffered a devastating setback to his White House aspirations in the Florida primary:  Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country Email It’s safe to say that only one leading presidential contender has ever boasted of debating Tyrannosaurus rex’s eating habits with a leading paleontologist, of reading Science and Nature while serving in the House of Representatives, and of discussing brain science with some of the leading lights of that field. Indeed, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich—who faces a make-or-break vote tomorrow in Florida’s Republican presidential primary—may be the best informed and most outspoken science booster to make a serious run for the White House since Vice President Al Gore talked up climate change and computing research during his ultimately unsuccessful 2000 campaign.Just because Gingrich loves science, however, doesn’t mean that researchers and science policy wonks necessarily love Gingrich.Indeed, Gingrich has a long and complicated relationship with the science community marked by equal measures of flattered delight and bewildered anxiety.Delight because he appears to know and care so much. Who else has carried a microchip and a vacuum tube in his pocket for impromptu lectures on the history of technology, taken time out from a hectic campaign schedule to visit labs at leading research universities, and loudly called for doubling federal spending on science?Anxiety because his political ambitions have often helped fuel policy positions that many scientists consider anathema. Those stances include championing the 1994 Contract with America that produced Republican plans for deep cuts in federal R&D spending and political flip-flops that have questioned the reliability of climate science and appeared to endorse the teaching of creationism in schools.Just 2 days ago, Gingrich added stem cell research to that list of reversals while campaigning in Florida, saying he would ban all embryonic stem cell research, including studies involving discarded embryos created by in vitro fertilization. In 2006, however, he told Discover Magazine, “I would not seek to ban research on stem cells in fertility clinics.”That dichotomy is part of Gingrich’s the-future-is-now political style, says Sherwood Boehlert, a Republican from New York who served in the House from 1983 to 2007, and was chair of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology from 2001 to 2007. “Newt is one of the brightest and most articulate people I’ve been associated with in my whole life,” he says, noting that he backed Gingrich’s rise through his party’s leadership in the 1990s because he believed (correctly) that the fiery Georgian could help Republicans retake the body after decades of Democrat rule.But, Boehlert adds, “Newt is the ultimate pragmatist. He’ll do and say today what is necessary to say and do today to accomplish what he wants, and tomorrow he’ll say and do something entirely different.”Gingrich’s shifting positions on climate change—from cautious skeptic in the late 1980s to believer in the late 2000s to skeptic again during the current campaign—are a prime example, Boehlert says. That flip-flop hasn’t made Boehlert happy; he says Gingrich and the other Republican candidates “need to acknowledge the reality of climate change.” And it has irritated numerous climate scientists—including Katharine Hayhoe of Texas Tech University in Lubbock, who learned last month that Gingrich had spiked a chapter on climate change that she had written for one of his upcoming books. “So much ‘spare’ time wasted,” she tweeted after getting the news.Gingrich’s double-edged nature was also on full display in 1995, after his party’s victory in congressional elections made him what many regarded as the most powerful politician in Washington. The Contract with America, for example, called for cutting federal spending, and House Republicans that May produced a budget plan that called for sweeping cuts in federal spending on basic and applied science. Soon after that vote, however, Gingrich privately met with a handful of key legislators “to urge them not to sacrifice science to pay for other programs,” Science’s Andrew Lawler reported at the time. “Gingrich was concerned there was the mistaken impression that science was not a priority, that it was okay to go ahead and cut it,” a Gingrich aide told Lawler.Two months later, Gingrich and his close ally Robert Walker, then head of the House science committee, intervened again to prevent the powerful House Appropriations Committee from making deep cuts in NASA’s space science programs. The compromise, however, called for slashing environmental monitoring programs instead. Another recurrent Gingrich theme is the need to “shake up” NASA, including having the agency offer prizes to spur new aerospace technologies. It also applies to sending humans to Mars without resorting to a massively expensive, federally funded program—an idea that has resurfaced during the Florida campaign.Gingrich has said his efforts during the budget fights of the late 1990s highlight his support for science. But such moves did little to endear Gingrich to top science officials in the Clinton administration. “He’s smart but not very wise,” says John “Jack” Gibbons, who served as President Bill Clinton’s science adviser from 1993 to 1998. “He always felt that he knew enough science that he didn’t need any help. But he has limits on his ability to know what he doesn’t know, and he never felt comfortable with the scientific community or the process of science, … and he is so unpredictable.” Gibbons says the administration’s relationship with Gingrich reached a nadir after he compared Gingrich’s 1995 decision to shut down Congress’s Office of Technology Assessment (a science advice bureau for lawmakers that Gibbons once ran) to a medieval book burning.Gingrich’s relationships with other scientists, however, have been cozier. A huge fan of zoos, Gingrich has co-authored books on conservation and environmental issues with psychobiologist Terry Maples, who ran zoos in Atlanta and Palm Beach, Florida. He’s spent time in the field digging up dinosaur bones with paleontologist John “Jack” Horner of Montana State University in Bozeman, and even spent several hours debating T. rex’s eating habits with Horner as a fundraiser for a museum. (As speaker of the House from 1995 to 1999, Gingrich famously kept a T. rex skull on loan from the Smithsonian Institution in his office.)Some of his colleagues “are very irritated by a lot of his ideas,” Horner says. But “he’s an interesting fellow” and “certainly does back science. It’s hard to find many people that do.” And if Gingrich were elected, Horner says “I’m sure that Newt would not hurt science any. I think he would be a real asset.”Other researchers share that view—and have built bridges to Gingrich in hopes of gaining political advantage. In the mid-2000s, for example, neuroscientists hoped to bolster biomedical research funding by building alliances with industry and Republican lawmakers. By that time, Gingrich—whose mother suffered from bipolar disease—had resigned from Congress and helped found The Center for Health Transformation (CHT). The center promised to be “a high-impact collaboration of private and public sector leaders committed to creating a 21st Century Intelligent Health System that saves lives and saves money for all Americans.”In 2006, the 42,000-member Society for Neuroscience (SfN) signed on as a member; in 2007, Gingrich was a featured speaker at its annual conference. He also helped organize at least one meeting between neuroscientists and business leaders before the society ended its CHT membership in 2009.SfN officials declined ScienceInsider’s request to discuss the group’s work with CHT. In a written statement, however, Mona Miller, senior director of communications and public affairs, wrote that Gingrich was “among the diverse, bipartisan group of leaders with whom SfN has worked over the past decade on advocacy in support of research. … Mr. Gingrich has also been catalytic in working to engage the business community in support of basic research investment. As part of these efforts, Mr. Gingrich was invited to speak at the 2007 SfN annual meeting in San Diego, California, and helped foster dialogue about research investment within the neuroscience business community.”Another facet of Gingrich the science fan includes his frequent shout outs for books written by scientists. He’s written glowing reviews of quantum physics tomes for Amazon.com, and urged new members of Congress to read Chimpanzee Politics: Power and Sex Among Apes, an influential 1982 book by primate researcher Frans B. M. de Waal of Emory University in Atlanta.”I am no Gingrich supporter,” de Waal wrote to ScienceInsider in an email. But he’s impressed by Gingrich’s facility with science, and somewhat amused that his book left such an impression on the candidate. “Funny story,” he writes. “At about the same time that Newt Gingrich read Chimpanzee Politics … [former President] Jimmy Carter read my book Peacemaking among Primates. Both are local politicians here in Atlanta, and I have actually met both. Although flattered, I have always felt they should have switched books. Carter would have benefited from knowing more about Machiavellian power politics, and Gingrich could have learned from the peacemaking skills of bonobos and other primates.”Now, it’s up to voters to decide whether Gingrich will get another chance at power or peacemaking in Washington, D.C.center_img Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe Click to view the privacy policy. 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Data check NSF sends Congress a garbled message on misconduct numbers

first_img Of the agency’s 169 findings of misconduct since 2005, 82% involve plagiarism. That is consistent with the attention NSF devotes to investigating plagiarism versus fabrication and falsification. From 2005 through 2010, for example, its plagiarism caseload never dipped below 90% of the total. In fact, 2016 was the first time that the other two categories represented more than one-quarter of NSF’s portfolio.Experts in the field have long questioned why there is such a stark difference in the portfolio of the two investigative agencies, and nobody has made a convincing case for why biomedical research should be more prone to misconduct than the broad array of science funded by NSF.The shifting NSF numbers could also revive the hot-bottom issue of how much misconduct is acceptable. (No points for answering none.) The lawmakers’ reaction to Lerner’s testimony suggests they think NSF isn’t doing enough. “What are you doing to prevent these incidents of misconduct?” the chairman of the committee, Representative Lamar Smith (R–TX), demanded of NSF Director France Córdova, who also testified at the 9 March hearing. “And what are the sanctions?”Córdova answered by explaining the procedures that NSF follows in investigating every allegation of misconduct and the range of sanctions, from excluding a guilty scientist from serving as a reviewer to a ban of up to 5 years on obtaining any federal grant.Smith has said the two hearings will lay the groundwork for new guidance from Congress on how NSF should operate. Lerner’s garbled message about the extent of misconduct among those seeking NSF funding could come back to haunt NSF officials if Republicans use it as a reason to tighten oversight of the agency. Bill Dickinson/Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country By Jeffrey MervisMar. 24, 2017 , 3:45 PM Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe Lerner’s memo contained 12 years’ worth of data from her office on allegations, investigations, and findings of research misconduct. It showed that the number of investigations her office launched last year—24—was  just one-third of the 2005 figure, and a quarter of the 2008 peak of 99 cases. Moreover, the caseload for the last 3 years was less than half the number of investigations NSF conducted in 2008–10.The memo also noted that the annual number of findings of misconduct has remained in the teens for the past decade. (Consistent with that reanalysis, Lerner had informed the committee immediately after the hearing that she had meant to say 75 rather than 175 when citing the number of findings over the past 4 years.) Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Democrats were furious, and moved quickly to correct the record. “It would be very hard to discern any clear trend over the last decade, let alone a significant increase,” fumed Representative Daniel Lipinski (D–IL), the top Democrat on the research subcommittee, at the start of a 21 March follow-up hearing on NSF’s research priorities.Eager to defend NSF’s handling of the problem, Lipinski then used the memo to craft a new message more favorable to the agency. “Looking just at fabrication and falsification … the average [number of findings] is 2.6 per year over 12 years and 3.2 per year over the last 5 years,” he told his colleagues, noting that he was omitting plagiarism, the third category in the federal definition. By Lipinski’s count, the latter number meant that a minuscule 0.0064% of all proposals the agency received were tainted. “Research misconduct is a very serious issue,” he acknowledged. “But I think it is important to keep these numbers in mind.”Lerner told ScienceInsider after the first hearing that her testimony about a rising number of cases referred to investigations into alleged fabrication and falsification, which she suggested are more serious offenses than plagiarism. However, the data suggest otherwise. The number of fabrication and falsification investigations has held fairly steady over the past 5 years (12, 18, 12, 20, and 15). And the number of findings of misconduct in those two categories for each year of that period sits in the low single digits (0, 3, 7, 2, and 4).Aside from the numbers themselves, Lerner may have opened up a can of worms by focusing on fabrication and falsification. The Office of Research Integrity, an entity within the Department of Health and Human Services that investigates allegations of research misconduct in biomedical science, spends the vast majority of its time on cases involving those two categories, with scant attention to plagiarism. But the opposite is true for NSF. When a senior National Science Foundation (NSF) official told the House of Representatives science committee this month about a “significant rise in the number of substantive allegations” of research misconduct, her testimony set off alarm bells.Legislators from both parties were clearly disturbed by this trend, which had led to three dozen findings of misconduct a year, and asked what the Arlington, Virginia–based NSF was doing about it. Committee Republicans unhappy with NSF’s current system of awarding grants saw her words as further proof that Congress needs to keep a closer eye on the $7.5 billion agency.Well, it turns out there is no such trend, and the overall size of the problem had been greatly exaggerated. Within days of her appearance at a 9 March hearing to discuss NSF’s business practices, NSF Inspector General Allison Lerner admitted as much in a two-page memo to committee Democrats. But her flawed testimony could rekindle a long-simmering debate over the government’s approach to research misconduct. Email Data check: NSF sends Congress a garbled message on misconduct numberslast_img read more

Trumps budget request for 2020 census raises alarms

first_img Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country Michele R. Freda/U.S. Census Bureau Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe Census Bureau Director Steven Dillingham (fifth from the left in the first row) testified before a Senate panel this week. He was one of 10 Department of Commerce officials (with placards) who appeared in lieu of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross. Committee on Appropriations/U.S. Senate Email Dillingham—one of 10 Department of Commerce senior officials who replaced Ross at the witness table for the 2-hour Senate hearing—told senators, “We’re confident we can get the job done and have a complete count” with the amount requested in 2020. He said that in a test last year in Providence County in Rhode Island, all of the components of the 2020 census went so well that it “has raised our confidence level” in the reliability of the hardware, software, and human interactions that it will use to count some 330 million people living in the country on Census Day. “We’re on track, on budget, on schedule, and on mission,” he said, a mantra he repeated several times.But such statements seemed to do little to reassure anxious members on both sides of the aisle. Throughout the hearing, they questioned the basis for many of the numbers Dillingham threw out to justify the president’s 2020 budget request.The opening question from Senator Jerry Moran (R–KS), chairman of the spending panel, went to the heart of the matter by asking Dillingham why the agency’s request “falls short of what Secretary Ross told us was needed.” Dillingham’s answer revealed that the White House had used an older, lower estimate of projected costs as the basis for the president’s request.Dillingham, who has only been at the agency since January, was referring to a study that Ross ordered up shortly after becoming commerce secretary in March 2017. It pegged costs for the entire 10-year life cycle of the census at $14.1 billion, up from a 2015 estimate of $12.5 billion. But Ross wasn’t satisfied with that number, Dillingham said, and “because of his business acumen,” he asked for a third review.Released in October 2017, it generated a new life cycle estimate of $15.6 billion. That amount included $290 million for three areas of what Ross labeled “additional sensitivity”: declining self-response rates on all surveys, rising labor costs from a strong economy, and the need for additional staff because of a more mobile population with a larger number of hard-to-count residents. It also created a $1.2 billion contingency fund to handle any surprises, including coping with a natural disaster that could temporarily uproot entire communities.No thanks, we’re goodRoss had calculated that $932 million would need to be spent in 2020 to address those issues. But when Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D–NH) asked Dillingham why the president’s budget request didn’t include money for them, he said the agency doesn’t think it will need the additional resources.“We have not encountered any contingencies that cause us any concerns that cannot be handled within the president’s request,” he replied. The request already includes $1.2 billion for “new priorities and unforeseen circumstances,” he added, in effect, creating a de facto contingency fund. Filling in for the bossOn Tuesday, Census Bureau Director Steven Dillingham gamely defended the president’s request for the agency during a contentious hearing before a Senate spending panel with oversight of the Department of Commerce. He was there because Ross had declined the committee’s invitation to testify, a decision that infuriated the panel’s Democratic members. (At the last minute, Ross also canceled a planned appearance yesterday before a comparable spending panel in the House of Representatives, which then held a faux hearing featuring an empty chair representing the absent commerce secretary.)center_img By Jeffrey MervisApr. 4, 2019 , 11:55 AM Census Bureau Director Steven Dillingham touted the agency’s planning for the 2020 census at a press event this week. The U.S. Census Bureau in Suitland, Maryland, prides itself on the quality of the data it collects to help paint a statistical portrait of the country. But ask it how much the 2020 census, by far its biggest and most costly responsibility, will cost, and the numbers get very squishy.Community advocates say the agency needs at least $2 billion more in the upcoming year than President Donald Trump has requested to assure a successful decennial head count on 1 April 2020. They note that the $5.3 billion request for the 2020 fiscal year that begins on 1 October clashes with a $7.4 billion estimate made in October 2017 by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, whose department includes the Census Bureau. Advocates accuse the Trump administration of lowballing the actual cost as part of its broader goal of reducing overall federal spending on domestic programs.How much the agency needs in 2020 for the decennial census, which fuels thousands of research studies, is also enmeshed in the bitter legal battle over Ross’s decision last year to add a citizenship question to it. Civil rights groups and a half-dozen former Census directors say the question will suppress participation and that Census officials have greatly underestimated the additional costs required to track down people who do not self-respond to an initial prompting. The agency will deploy more than half-a-million enumerators to conduct such a follow-up, making it the most expensive component of any decennial census.  Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Trump’s budget request for 2020 census raises alarms Dillingham also assured Shaheen, who cited the $2 billion shortfall for 2020 in her opening comments, that the agency will be quick to ask the Trump administration for more money if the need arises. “If that [need] does occur, you will probably know as soon as we do,” he added.Shaheen was skeptical that the agency really had all its bases covered. The questionnaire used in Rhode Island didn’t ask about citizenship, she pointed out, making it impossible to determine the question’s impact on self-response rates for the 2020 census and, therefore, on overall costs. “So you haven’t planned on the need for additional funding for the citizenship question?” she asked.Dillingham was momentarily tongue-tied. “That’s a no,” he replied. After a brief pause, he reframed his answer. “That’s no to your question that we haven’t planned. And yes, we have planned.”Census advocates have also objected to the president’s including $1 billion in carryover funds from this year in his 2020 request. They say Congress explicitly directed the Census Bureau to use some of that money on public outreach and partnerships with community groups that can help spread the word about the importance of filing out the census form. Such efforts are lagging behind what was done in 2010, they complain. Instead of asking for more money, they say, the administration has folded the 2019 carryover into its 2020 spending plan.Tweeting on his paradeThe day before the Senate hearing, Dillingham presided over the kickoff to the agency’s 1-year countdown to Census Day. The gala press event in downtown Washington, D.C., gave agency officials a chance to tout their preparations for next year. It also featured heartfelt speeches from several community leaders urging Americans to do their civic duty and be counted.The event was supposed to be an unofficial coming-out party for Dillingham, who led two other, smaller, government statistical agencies under previous Republican presidents but has never operated on such a grand stage. But even that feel-good exercise was tarnished by the nation’s commander in chief.Two hours before the event, Trump had tweeted that the 2020 census “would be meaningless and a waste of the $Billions (ridiculous) that it costs to put together” if it didn’t include the “all-important” citizenship question. His tweet also politicized what is a constitutionally mandated exercise, with Trump blaming “Radical Left Democrats” for suing the federal government to block the question. The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments on the case 23 April and is expected to rule by the end of its term in late June.Asked by reporters for his reaction, Dillingham declined to comment. “We’re here to talk about the great job we are doing, and how it will help this nation,” he said. And despite the distractions, Dillingham stayed on message. “We collect numbers, and we produce numbers,” he said, summing up the Census Bureau’s mission. “And America uses these numbers for very important purposes.”Congress has no beef with that mission, both House and Senate legislators made clear during the hearings. But they’re afraid Census officials aren’t telling them what they really need to carry it out for fear of violating the dictates of their superiors.“I hope that the secretary [Ross] understands this is not about making his life miserable,” said the chair of the House spending panel, Representative José Serrano (D–NY), before he gaveled the nonhearing to a close. “We just want to make sure that we have good [commerce] programs, and that there is a fair and accurate census count.”last_img read more

Drought is not just about water It affects air pollution too

first_img Justin Sullivan/Getty Images Drought is not just about water. It affects air pollution, too California’s lengthy drought, and the state’s extensive network of air pollution sensors, gave researchers a rare opportunity to see what happens in the real world. The team, led by atmospheric chemistry Ph.D. candidate Angelique Demetillo and environmental science professor Sally Pusede at the University of Virginia (UVA) in Charlottesville, examined more than a decade’s worth of satellite and sensor data that documented atmospheric conditions over Bakersfield and Fresno, two California cities that suffer from ozone pollution.The drought’s impact on air quality changed over time, the researchers report this week in Environmental Science & Technology. Plants did remove less ozone, with absorption dropping by about 15% during the most severe years of the drought. But during the early years of the drought, trees and other plants were able to maintain their production of one key ozone-forming VOC, isoprene. The chemical helps plants like oak trees withstand heat stress, and it appears the trees draw on carbon stores to sustain isoprene production. “It’s like a person exercising; when you’ve burned through your recent consumption the body switches over and starts burning fat,” says Manuel Lerdau, an organismal ecologist at UVA and a co-author of the study.After about 4 years of drought, however, the stress took its toll. In 2013, plant isoprene levels fell dramatically, by 65% in Bakersfield and 54% in Fresno. Overall, that meant up to a 20% dip in ozone pollution. And even after the drought ended, isoprene levels didn’t immediately rebound.The plant VOC reduction might sound like good news for reducing California’s smog. But the complexity of atmospheric chemistry means droughts could actually complicate clean air efforts. That’s because, currently, regulations mostly focus on controlling nitrogen oxides (NOx) from sources like cars and factories, which react with VOCs to form ozone. When VOC levels are higher, those NOx controls help choke off smog-creating reactions. But reduce the VOCs, and NOx limits go from “being very effective to less effective,” Pusede says.Such findings offer yet another complication for U.S. states and cities struggling to meet federal clean air standards, especially in drought-prone western states. Regulators have little ability to control VOC emissions from plants, notes Pusede, and “I don’t know if we’d want to even if we could.” But the study could help regulators do a better job of factoring drought into their air pollution models.The work also “provides a road map for better quantifying these impacts in other places,” says atmospheric scientist Jessica Neu of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, who reviewed the paper. And because much of the needed data can now be collected by satellites, she says it opens the door to investigating “drought impacts on air quality globally.” By Jason PlautzApr. 11, 2019 , 3:10 PM The severe drought that struck California from 2011 to 2015 had an obvious impact on rivers, forests, and wildlife. Now, a new study shows it also had some surprising effects on the state’s notorious air pollution, adding new wrinkles to the state’s efforts to clear the skies.Researchers have long known that plants can both help create and cleanse one dangerous air pollutant: ground-level ozone, which causes breathing problems and exacerbates lung damage. Plants can scrub ozone from the air by absorbing the pollutant through their stomata, or pores. But certain plants also emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that react with other atmospheric chemicals to create ozone.Understanding how drought influences these two processes can be tricky. Dry conditions could cause ozone levels to rise, because plants shrink their stomata to prevent water loss, reducing their ability to remove pollution. But drought might also reduce ozone levels, because the stress could cause plants to produce fewer ozone-forming VOCs. Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! 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Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Email A lengthy California drought left trees and plants parched and influenced their contributions to smog.last_img read more

A Design Only a Mother Could Love This Vintage Euro Van is

first_imgMustangs, Camaros, Dodge Chargers, and Trans Ams are iconic cars from America in the 50s and 60s. They paint a scene of the open road: cruising down Route 66 with the top down, riding in style through the land of the free. Across the Atlantic, the automobile formed a different stereotype. Renault, Peugeot, and Citroën may not be names known in American households, not known for speed nor pizzaz. This doesn’t belittle their iconic existence.1950 Citroen H Van on display at the National Automobile Museum of Tasmania. Photo by Damien Linnane CC BY-SA 4.0Recently in a Sotheby’s auction in Paris, a Citroën H Van from 1950 was sold for over $49,000. Compared to many examples for sale on various websites, the Sotheby’s settled price is a high one.Some models sell for as little as $6,000. How much you spend on the antique depends on how much work you’re willing to put into. Some come in complete disarray, not having been driven for decades, or don’t include tires. Some come kitted out and ready to roll straight into a kitsch new business.How have these cars merited such a hefty price tag?Citroen H Van. Photo by Oxyman CC BY SA 3.0The Citroën H Van was known under several appellations including the HY, HX, HP, HW, 1660, and, when used by the police, a “salad basket.” Though unsure of whether or not the latter is a positive or negative nickname, it is certain that the H Van was multitalented.Thanks to its design, the van could be adapted to a plethora of uses. First produced in 1947, the van was inspired by the German Junker, an aircraft which made its debut in the first world war.1958 Citroen H.The Citroën was made with a single frame that had a low-hanging, flat floor which allowed for a full 6 feet of headroom. This enormous interior space and sturdy construction can even manage transporting a horse among other loads.Its structurally sound design doesn’t stop there: the metal ribbing of the van’s walls add strength to the vehicle without too much weight, resulting in lower production costs. One reason these vehicles are so rare in the U.S. is because of chickens.1958 Citroen H.In the 60s, France and West Germany put high taxes on chickens imported from America, agitating a country already steeped in Cold War subterfuge.In retaliation, President Johnson put an astronomical 25 percent tax on the import of light trucks, blocking the Citroën H Van’s chances to prosper in America.Citroën H near-side sliding door and front-hinged driver doors. Photo by Charles01 CC BY-SA 3.0Before production ceased in 1981, the van was popular in France, the Netherlands, and Belgium. Revival and restoration of the van is popular in Britain today, the company having had produced only a small number of right hand drive vans.The Citroën’s biggest competitor was the famed Volkswagen Type 2, named the Transporter or the Kombi, but known colloquially as the V.W. Bus.French beauty. Photo by Bart CC BY 2.0Introduced two years after the Citroën, the Volkswagen remains in production to this day and is arguably the most iconic of vans.Its import to America was also hindered by the Chicken Tax. Both boasting large, side-loading doors and front-wheel drive, the Citroën could claim superiority if only for its 1.9 litre motor, compared to the smaller 1.2 litres capacity of the Volkswagen. The one downside is the van’s top speed: a modest 60 miles per hour.French classic vans Citroen HY are presented in the museum of vintage cars Classic Remise.The Citroën H is underrated in its popularity. Aside from stopping tourists in Parisian streets, it has been featured in over 700 movies and TV shows.Today the van is most likely to be found stationary, decorating a trendy cafe or being used as a stand to sell flowers from.Read another story from us: Exquisitely Restored 1960s Vintage Campervan Up for Sale – Take a Peek InsideRecently there has been a surge in restoration of the van, with admirers refurbishing them to accommodate kitchens for trendy new food trucks.last_img read more

Livestock camp brought participants from all over

first_imgJuly 24, 2018 Photos by Linda KorTriniti Taylor of Page was one of hundreds of kids and young adults at the Navajo County Fairgrounds learning how to care for livestock last week. Livestock camp brought participants from all overcenter_img Kids and young adults learned how to care for livestock and some valuable life lessons taking part in the 10th Annual Arizona Livestock Camp held at the Navajo County Fairgrounds in Holbrook. This four-day campSubscribe or log in to read the rest of this content. Bottom Adlast_img