Viewpoints Debate Provided Meaty Political Conversation Looking For Obamas Plan On Medicare

first_img This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription. The New York Times: A Debate With Clarity And Fervor Thursday night’s vice-presidential debate was one of the best and meatiest political conversations in many years, showing that real differences on public policy can be discussed with fervor, anger, laughter and real substance. In contrast to the dismal meeting last week between President Obama and Mitt Romney, this debate gave voters a chance to evaluate the positions of the two tickets, in part because Representative Paul Ryan’s nonanswers were accurate reflections of his campaign (10/12). USA Today: Biden, Ryan Put On A Partisan Show It was for all immediate purposes a draw … Nowhere were their differences more stark than on the issue of Medicare. Biden attacked Ryan’s plan to end the traditional program and have the government write checks to people to buy private insurance. Ryan fired back that Obama’s health care overhaul took too much money out of the program for seniors. What neither of them was willing to say is that sacrifices will be needed no matter what approach is taken and who is elected president. They also sparred over abortion rights, with Biden making a point that has gone largely unremarked during this campaign — that the next president could determine the future of Roe v Wade through Supreme Court appointments (10/12).The Wall Street Journal: The Bully Vs. The Wonk Mr. Ryan was stronger on domestic issues, calmly laying out the facts of Mitt Romney’s proposals on taxes, Medicare and job creation. Even here, though, the debate devolved into an exchange between Mr. Ryan’s policy details and Mr. Biden’s free-association appeals to emotion and class solidarity—”Who do you trust on this?” On nearly every specific issue on which Mr. Biden attacked, he was demonstrably wrong. The Administration’s Medicare actuary really does say that 15% of hospitals will take on operating deficits as a result of ObamaCare’s cuts in payments to Medicare providers (10/12). The Washington Post: The Biden-Ryan Show: Good TV But A Dull Debate But Mr. Biden, too, dodged and obfuscated, particularly on entitlement spending and the debt. “They haven’t put a credible solution on the table,” Mr. Ryan said of the Obama-Biden ticket on entitlement reform, and he was correct. “Their ideas are old and their ideas are bad, and they eliminate the guarantee of Medicare,” Mr. Biden said of the Republicans (10/11).Los Angeles Times: Vice Presidential Debate: Biden’s Mission Accomplished Still, Biden had one mission, and he accomplished it: to stanch the Democrats’ near-panic after Obama’s lackluster performance in Denver last week. With a steady diet of old-fashioned Democratic talking points, the vice president did just that. It wasn’t subtle; he brought up Romney’s dismissal of 47% of the American public as moochers no fewer than four times. For the liberal base, Biden’s traditional defenses of Medicare, Social Security and taxing the rich were pure catnip. For undecided voters, they may have been less convincing (Doyle McManus, 10/11). The Washington Post: VP Debate: Biden Seemed Real, Ryan Plastic Biden’s great triumph was in his effort to show concern. He came out of his corner as the champion of the great and sacrosanct middle class. He cited his mother several times – a bit of a George M. Cohan number, if you ask me – but he pulled it off. He would defend Social Security to the death; Medicare and Medicaid, too (Richard Cohen, 10/11). The Washington Post: Joe Biden And The ‘Seniors Enigma’ Watching Joe Biden hammer Paul Ryan on Medicare before looking into the camera and saying “listen to your instincts, folks,” I couldn’t help thinking – if Democrats have their classic case well in place on Medicare (and Social Security), why did the last Pew poll have Romney beating Obama 58-37 among seniors? (Matt Miller, 10/12). The Wall Street Journal: Filiblustering Joe The judgment of the late-night pundits was that Mr. Biden had done well for his party, and helped to right the Obama ship. Note, however, that Mr. Biden didn’t get those accolades because he had made a better case to Americans on jobs or entitlement reform or deficit-cutting. Mr. Biden barely offered any positive argument for how the administration he serves would revive a dismal economy, or reform the Medicare or Social Security programs that are going bankrupt, or fix soaring deficits (Kimberley A. Strassel, 10/12). Kansas City Star: Yes, Mr. Romney, Americans Die For Lack Of Health InsurancePoor Mitt Romney. In trying to be all things to all people on health care, he has found himself stuck in a time warp. The Republican presidential nominee, supposedly a new man after his sparkling debate performance last week, has not completely abandoned his clueless ways … Romney amazingly and wrongly said that Americans don’t die for lack of health insurance. … Oh yes we do, Mr. Romney. This nation has millions of people who become ill because they can’t afford preventive medicine. We have sick people who can’t get well because they can’t afford medications (Barbara Shelly, 10/11). The New York Times: Multiple Choice Romney I don’t think people expect consistency any longer. It’s considered quaint. … As for Romney, the best summation of his flip-flopping was provided by Ted Kennedy in a 1994 debate in Massachusetts: “I am pro-choice,” Kennedy said, before adding of Romney, “My opponent is multiple-choice.” The subject then was abortion and Romney declared, “I believe that abortion should be safe and legal in this country.” In response to Kennedy’s jibe, he shot back, “You will not see me wavering on that or being multiple-choice.” The subsequent wavering has, of course, been more of a volte-face. Romney is now pro-life (Roger Cohen, 10/11).JAMA: Reproductive Freedom And The 2012 Presidential ElectionWith the 2012 presidential election just weeks away, there can be little doubt that reproductive freedom hangs in the balance. For one, the next president will be selecting ideologically compatible nominees to a Supreme Court that has repeatedly restricted abortion rights in the last few years. For another, the next president, working with the legislative branch, could well reorder the status quo. President Obama has spoken through his actions over the last 4 years. Far less clarity exists as to Governor Romney’s positions, in light of lingering ambiguities and influence from a resurgent Tea Party (Dr. Eli Y. Adashi and I. Glenn Cohen, 10/11). Viewpoints: Debate Provided ‘Meaty’ Political Conversation; Looking For Obama’s Plan On Medicarelast_img read more

Research Roundup Medicaid Costs For Opioid Addiction Medication Health Exits

first_imgResearch Roundup: Medicaid Costs For Opioid Addiction Medication, Health Exits Each week, KHN compiles a selection of recently released health policy studies and briefs. High-need adults differed notably from adults with multiple chronic diseases but no functional limitations. They had annual health care expenditures that were nearly three times higher—and which were more likely to remain high over two years of observation—and out-of-pocket expenses that were more than a third higher, despite their lower incomes. On average, rates of hospital use for high-need adults were more than twice those for adults with multiple chronic conditions only; high-need adults also visited the doctor more frequently and used more home health care…Wide variation in costs and use of services within the high-need group suggests that interventions should be targeted and tailored to those individuals most likely to benefit. (Hayes et. al, 8/29) The Commonwealth Fund: High-Need, High-Cost Patients: Who Are They And How Do They Use Health Care?  The Commonwealth Fund: AHCA Economic And Employment Consequences For States  JAMA: Quality Of Care After Health Plan Exit From Medicaid Managed Care Between 2011 and 2016, spending on Medicaid-covered prescriptions used to treat opioid addiction and overdoses increased from $394 million to $930 million, an average annual increase of 19 percent. Spending grew faster in later years, with a 30 percent increase between 2015 and 2016. Certain states—including Kentucky, Maine, and Ohio—have seen particularly fast growth. These same states, and others, could be particularly hard hit by reductions in Medicaid spending growth under consideration in Congress because of their fast growth and high rates of fatal overdoses. (Clemans-Cope, Epstein and Kenney, 6/28) State Medicaid programs have increasingly contracted with insurers to provide medical care services for enrollees (Medicaid managed care plans). Insurers that provide these plans can exit Medicaid programs each year, with unclear effects on quality of care and health care experiences…Of the 366 comprehensive Medicaid managed care plans operating prior to 2014, 106 exited Medicaid. These exiting plans enrolled 4 848 310 Medicaid beneficiaries, with a mean of 606 039 beneficiaries affected by plan exits annually. Six states had a mean of greater than 10% of Medicaid managed care recipients enrolled in plans that exited, whereas 10 states experienced no plan exits. (Ndumele et. al, 6/27) center_img New England Journal of Medicine: Implementation Of Medical Homes In Federally Qualified Health Centers We examined the achievement of medical-home recognition and used Medicare claims and beneficiary surveys to measure utilization of services, quality of care, patients’ experiences, and Medicare expenditures in demonstration sites versus comparison sites. Using difference-in-differences analyses, we compared changes in outcomes in the two groups of sites during a 3-year period…Level 3 medical-home recognition was awarded to 70% of demonstration sites and to 11% of comparison sites. Although the number of visits to federally qualified health centers decreased in the two groups, smaller reductions among demonstration sites than among comparison sites led to a relative increase of 83 visits per 1000 beneficiaries per year at demonstration sites. (Timbie et. al, 6/21) Urban Institute: Rapid Growth In Medicaid Spending On Medications To Treat Opioid Use Disorder And Overdose  This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription. The AHCA would raise employment and economic activity at first, but lower them in the long run. It initially raises the federal deficit when taxes are repealed, leading to 864,000 more jobs in 2018. In later years, reductions in support for health insurance cause negative economic effects. By 2026, 924,000 jobs would be lost, gross state products would be $93 billion lower, and business output would be $148 billion less. About three-quarters of jobs lost (725,000) would be in the health care sector. States which expanded Medicaid would experience faster and deeper economic losses. (Ku et al, 6/14) last_img read more

Tesla warns selfdriving package buyers that activation is very far away due

first_imgWhile Elon Musk has been guiding self-driving capabilities by the end of the year, Tesla has been taking a more cautious approach.Tesla salespeople have been warning buyers of their ‘Full Self-Driving package’ that it could be “very far away” due to regulations. more…The post Tesla warns ‘self-driving package’ buyers that activation is ‘very far away’ due to regulations appeared first on Electrek. Source: Charge Forwardlast_img

Texas solar boom fueled by oil and gas power demands

first_imgA new look at a burgeoning solar boom in Texas reveals an unlikely source behind much of the demand — oil and gas companies. more…Subscribe to Electrek on YouTube for exclusive videos and the podcast.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xVp0Cr2Pg4gThe post Texas solar boom fueled by oil and gas power demands appeared first on Electrek. Source: Charge Forwardlast_img

Friday Roundup

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. Learn More & Register Quotable, no reliable way to measure, Microsoft explains, scrutiny alert, a direct selling license in China, and offensive use of the FCPA. It’s all here in the Friday roundup.QuotableSome think – or at least I’ve been told – that certain of my Foreign Corrupt Practices Act views are controversial or out of the “main stream” (whatever the “main stream” actually is or means). Yet, I am confident that much of what I write and talk about represents silent majority views. Indeed, as I’ve commented before, one of the interesting things about writing about the FCPA and related issues on a daily basis is that often I just need to wait for a former FCPA enforcement official to say the same thing. The latest example occurs in this Forbes column in which former DOJ FCPA Unit Chief Mark Mendelsohn, the self-described “architect” of the “DOJ’s modern FCPA enforcement program” states: “[the] DOJ and SEC have employed more expansive and novel theories in recent years.”No Reliable Way To MeasureThis recent Bloomberg BNA article is titled “Foreign Bribery Self-Reporting Up Under the Justice Dept. Program” and notes:“A Justice Department pilot program offering leniency to companies that self-report violations of a federal foreign bribery law has led to more of them coming forward, a top DOJ official said May 12. In the program’s first year, 22 companies voluntarily disclosed violations, up from 13 the year before, Andrew Weissmann, chief of DOJ’s Fraud Division, said during a Practising Law Institute panel in New York that was also webcast.”The inference seems to be that more companies voluntarily disclosed between April 2016 – April 2017 compared to April 2015 – April 2016 because of the DOJ’s FCPA Pilot Program.However, as stated in the article “Grading the DOJ’s FCPA Pilot Program”“Notwithstanding the many shortcomings in the pilot program, going forward there no doubt will be companies (perhaps persuaded by FCPA counsel eying lucrative billings that flow from voluntary disclosures) that choose to voluntarily disclose FCPA issues in the hopes of being ‘‘rewarded’’ under the pilot program. Certain commentators are likely to then proclaim the pilot program a success. However, this line of reasoning completely misses the point that business organizations were often voluntarily disclosing prior to the pilot program. Rather, the key issue to track is whether the pilot program is motivating voluntary disclosure of potential FCPA violations that did not occur prior to the pilot program. It will be impossible to empirically measure this issue.”DOJ Compliance Counsel Hui Chen recently called out assumed causation as a deficiency in much compliance writing and commentary and the notion that  more companies voluntarily disclosed between April 2016 – April 2017 compared to April 2015 – April 2016 because of the DOJ’s FCPA Pilot Program represents assumed causation.If you prefer the Latin phrase for the logical fallacy it is post hoc ergo propter hoc (in other words since event Y followed event X, event Y must have been caused by event X)Moreover, when is the last time you heard a high-ranking government official say a program he/she helped create isn’t working?Microsoft ExplainsIn this recent blog post, David Howard (Microsoft Corporate Vice President & Deputy General Counsel, Litigation, Competition Law and Compliance) describes why Microsoft is seeking ISO 37001 certification. It turns out, Microsoft likes the standard it was “deeply involved” in creating. And oh by the way, Microsoft has been under FCPA scrutiny since 2013.Before highlighting the blog post, unless there is some central database of companies who have become ISO 37001 certified, what is the foundation for saying “that Microsoft would be the first U.S. company (and first multi-national company) to seek to certify our anti-corruption compliance program to the new international anti-bribery standard, ISO 37001.” The blog post reads in full:“A few weeks ago, we announced here, and in Ethisphere Magazine, that Microsoft would be the first U.S. company (and first multi-national company) to seek to certify our anti-corruption compliance program to the new international anti-bribery standard, ISO 37001. This means that an independent and accredited third party will perform a rigorous analysis of our program and ensure that it satisfies the very specific requirements of the new standard. I thought it was worth explaining further why we’ve decided to undergo such a thorough review, and why we think it’s important that other companies make the same decision.The consistency problemWe start with the proposition that corruption is a problem that we need to help solve, and not just because it’s important to be on the right side of the law. Corruption is a big drain on economic development and makes it harder for us to realize our mission — to enable every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more. We know that most big companies like Microsoft feel the same way, which is why most companies have established and maintain a program that reduces the risk that they will act in a way that facilitates corruption.The problem is that companies must tailor their anti-bribery programs to satisfy the legal requirements of different jurisdictions, which also involves trying to comply with a patchwork of often inconsistent guidance from different government agencies as well as nongovernmental organizations and non-government experts. The problem is even worse for our thousands of partners and suppliers, who often must try to meet not only their legal obligations, but also the often different compliance requirements of Microsoft, and the many other companies with which they do business. This is inefficient, leads to confusion and ultimately, increases risk.  Corruption is a cross-border problem and demands a common language to help solve it. That’s where ISO 37001 comes in.A common languageMicrosoft was deeply involved in the U.S. Technical Advisory Group which worked closely with experts from over 60 countries to develop the standard so that it could be useful for all organizations regardless of size, structure or geography. When the standard was published in late 2016, it created a common terminology and provided an objective yardstick for organizations to measure their own program, as well as the programs of the partners in their value chain. It also established a rigorous process for the accreditation of independent third parties who would be charged with evaluating and potentially certifying compliance with the standard.Next stepsWe think a consistent approach to anti-corruption programs is a good thing. That, along with an objective and independent certification process, should give governments around the world confidence that the companies which achieve certification are doing everything they reasonably can to reduce corruption. We encourage other major companies to adopt ISO 37001, and we invite other U.S. companies to work with us on a new Technical Advisory Group to ensure that the standard remains relevant and effective.”For additional reading on ISO 37001 see here and here.Scrutiny AlertThe U.K’s Guardian reports:“Anti-corruption investigators in four countries are examining a British firm’s links to a multimillion-pound defence deal involving a former Nigerian warlord. Investigators in the UK, the US, Nigeria, and Norway are scrutinising Cas-Global after it was alleged that the firm paid a bribe to a Norwegian official as part of the sale of seven decommissioned naval vessels.”A Direct Selling License in ChinaThe 2014 Avon and 2016 Nu Skin FCPA enforcement actions were based in large part on obtaining a direct selling license in China and this issue is likely the reason that USANA Health Sciences and Herbalife are also under FCPA scrutiny for conduct in China. (See this prior post for other reasons why Avon may have obtained the license).Against this backdrop, it is interesting that Nature’s Sunshine Products, a company that resolved an FCPA enforcement action in 2009 for alleged conduct in Brazil recently disclosed:“[The company] has received its direct selling license from MOFCOM, China’s Ministry of Commerce.The license allows Nature’s Sunshine to begin to expand its business scope, including direct selling activities within China. Headquartered in Shanghai, a leading economic center with an urban population of more than 24 million residents, Nature’s Sunshine China began to apply for the direct selling license with MOFCOM following the formation of a joint venture with Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical (Group) Co., Ltd. (Fosun Pharma), a leading, local healthcare company, in 2014.“We are greatly honored to receive our license from the People’s Republic of China,” commented Gregory L. Probert, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. “This marks an important step toward realizing the vision and potential we saw when we joined forces with Fosun Pharma almost three years ago. By bringing Nature’s Sunshine to the people of China, we are opening a tremendous new chapter and growth opportunity in our Company’s 45-year history, and fulfilling our mission to transform lives around the world through our innovative, industry-leading products.”“This is the culmination of more than two years of hard work and dedication in laying the foundation of Nature’s Sunshine China,” said Paul E. Noack, President of China and New Markets. “Today is an historic day for our Company, as this license makes it official that Nature’s Sunshine’s direct selling business has arrived in China. Having made significant investments over the last couple of years, building the infrastructure to support the commencement of operations, we are in a position to begin direct selling activities in the near-term. We are immensely proud of the accomplishments of the China management team, and we are optimistic about the opportunity the China market provides.”Offensive Use of the FCPAFCPA Ripples highlights, among other things, how the FCPA is increasingly being used offensively for a variety of reasons.One of the most laughable offensive uses of the FCPA is this recent letter from a variety of environmental organizations opposing David Bernhardt for Deputy Secretary of the Interior. Among the reasons, you better sit down for this one, is the following:“Bernhardt “pushed multiple bills that would have expanded offshore oil and gas drilling in the aftermath of the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster on behalf of Cobalt International Energy, a company that was investigated by the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Department of Justice for violations under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.”Newsflash, Cobalt was indeed investigated but was never charged with any FCPA offenses.last_img read more

MidYear FCPA Report

first_img Support This Free Public Website FCPA Professor is widely regarded as a leading source of FCPA news and commentary. All of this takes time, money, and substantial effort. Thus, if FCPA Professor adds value to your practice or business, please consider a donation. This post highlights Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enforcement and related developments at the mid-point of 2017. For a similar post at the mid-point of 2016 see this prior post.This post breaks down FCPA enforcement into the following categories: DOJ (corporate); DOJ (individual); SEC (corporate); and SEC (individual). Thereafter, this post highlights other FCPA developments or items of interest thus far in 2017.DOJ Enforcement (Corporate)The DOJ has brought 6 corporate FCPA enforcement actions in 2017. DOJ recovery in these actions has been approximately $225 million. The Rolls Royce enforcement action ($170 million) accounts for 75% of the DOJ’s recovery.None of these enforcement actions have resulted (at least yet) in any related DOJ individual FCPA enforcement actions.The six corporate DOJ enforcement actions consisted of 2 “declinations” with disgorgement / forfeiture, 2 non-prosecution agreements and 2 deferred prosecution agreements.CDM Smith Inc. (June 21st)See here for the prior postCharges: NoneResolution Vehicle: “Declination” with disgorgementGuidelines Range: Not set forth in the letter agreementSettlement: $4 millionOrigin: Voluntary disclosureMonitor: NoIndividuals Charged: NoLinde North America Inc. / Linde Gas North America LLC (June 16th)See here and here for the prior postsCharges: NoneResolution Vehicle: “Declination” with disgorgement and forfeitureGuidelines Range: Not set forth in the letter agreementSettlement: $11.2 million ($7.8 million in disgorgement, $3.4 million in forfeiture)Origin: Voluntary disclosureMonitor: NoIndividuals Charged: NoLas Vegas Sands (Jan. 19th)See here for the prior postCharges: NoneResolution Vehicle: Non-prosecution agreementGuidelines Range: Not set forth in the NPA, but it does state “the Company received an aggregate discount of 25% off the bottom of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines fine range.”Settlement: $6.96 millionOrigin: Likely civil litigation (see here for the prior post); the prior SEC action stated “In connection with the investigation by the Staff, the LVSC Audit Committee retained outside counsel to conduct an internal investigation.”Monitor: No, but the NPA states “in connection with the SEC Resolution, the Company has retained an independent compliance consultant, and agreed that it will submit copies of all reports of the independent compliance consultant to the Fraud Section within three calendar days of the Company’s receipt of such reports until the completion of the independent compliance consultant’s engagement, followed by self-reporting to the Fraud Section pursuant to the terms described herein …”Individuals Charged: NoRolls Royce (Jan. 17th)See here and here for prior postsCharges:  Conspiracy to violate the FCPA’s anti-bribery provisionsResolution Vehicle: Deferred Prosecution AgreementGuidelines Range: $260.6 million to $521.3 millionSettlement: $170 millionOrigin: The DPA states: “the Company did not voluntarily or timely disclose [to the DOJ], as the Company’s disclosures occurred only after media reports first alleging corruption by the Company and the U.K. Serious Fraud Office initiated an inquiry into the Company’s misconduct …”.Monitor: NoIndividuals Charged: NoSQM (Jan. 17th)See here and here for prior postsCharges: Books and records and internal controls violationsResolution Vehicle: Deferred Prosecution AgreementGuidelines Range: $20.6 million to $41.3 millionSettlement: $15.5 millionOrigin: The SEC administrative order states: “In 2015, in response to inquiries from Chilean tax authorities and related news articles in the Chilean press, SQM conducted an internal investigation based on allegations that SQM had taken improper tax deductions for payments to certain vendors.”Monitor: YesIndividuals Charged: NoZimmer Biomet (Jan. 12th)See here and here for prior postsCharges: Zimmer Biomet – willfully failing to implement a system of internal accounting controls; JERDS Luxembourg Holding S.A.R.L – books and records violationsResolution Vehicle: Zimmer Biomet – Deferred Prosecution Agreement; JERDS – plea agreementGuidelines Range: $11.6 to $23.3 millionSettlement: $17.4 millionOrigin: Breach of prior DPAMonitor: YesIndividuals Charged: NoDOJ Enforcement (Individual)The DOJ has brought two core individual actions thus far in 2017 against five individuals.As highlighted here, the DOJ announced two additional guilty pleas (involving Juan Hernandez and Charles Beech) in connection with its long-standing enforcement action in connection with alleged corrupt schemes to secure contracts from PDVSA, Venezuela’s state-owned and state-controlled energy company.As highlighted here, the DOJ charged Joo Hyun Bahn and his father Ban Ki Sang with conspiracy to violate the FCPA’s anti-bribery provisions, three substantive FCPA offenses, and other criminal offenses in connection with an alleged scheme to pay $2.5 million in bribes to facilitate the $800 million sale of a commercial building in Vietnam to a Middle Eastern sovereign wealth fund. The DOJ also charged San Woo in a separate criminal complaint with one count of conspiracy to violate the FCPA for the same alleged bribery scheme.SEC Enforcement (Corporate)The SEC has brought 4 corporate FCPA enforcement actions thus far in 2017. SEC recovery in these actions has been approximately $47 million.Of the 4 corporate enforcement actions, 4 were resolved via administrative cease and desist orders. Of the 4 corporate enforcement actions, none of the enforcement actions have (at least yet) resulted in related individual charges.Orthofix (Jan. 18th)See here for the prior postCharges:  None.  Administrative cease and desist order finding violations of FCPA’s books and records and internal controls provisions.Settlement: $6 million (disgorgement of $2,928,000, prejudgment interest of $263,375, and a civil money penalty in the amount of $2,928,000)Origin: Company disclosed as part of its ongoing self-reporting obligations undertaken as part of its earlier FCPA enforcement actionIndividuals Charged: NoRelated DOJ Enforcement Action: NoSQM (Jan. 17th)See here and here for prior postsCharges:  None.  Administrative cease and desist order finding violations of FCPA’s books and records and internal controls provisions.Settlement: $15 million civil penaltyOrigin: The administrative order states: “In 2015, in response to inquiries from Chilean tax authorities and related news articles in the Chilean press, SQM conducted an internal investigation based on allegations that SQM had taken improper tax deductions for payments to certain vendors.”Individuals Charged: NoRelated DOJ Enforcement Action: YesBiomet (Jan. 17th)See here and here for prior postsCharges:  None.  Administrative cease and desist order finding violations of FCPA’s anti-bribery, books and records and internal controls provisions.Settlement: $13 million ($5.82 million in disgorgement plus $702,705 in interest and a $6.5 million penalty)Origin: Breach of prior DPAIndividuals Charged: NoRelated DOJ Enforcement Action: YesMondelez Int’l (Jan. 17th)See here for the prior postCharges:  None.  Administrative cease and desist order finding violations of FCPA’s books and records and internal controls provisions.Settlement: $13 million civil penaltyOrigin: The company previously disclosed: “on February 1, 2011, we received a subpoena from the SEC in connection with an investigation under the FCPA, primarily related to a facility in India that we acquired in the Cadbury acquisition.”Individuals Charged: NoRelated DOJ Enforcement Action: NoSEC Enforcement (Individual)The SEC has brought 1 core enforcement action thus far in 2017 against 2 individuals.As highlighted here, related to the Sept. 2016 enforcement action against Och-Ziff, the SEC charged Michael Cohen and Vanja Baros with FCPA and other offenses.Other Developments or Items of InterestJuneAs highlighted in this post, in a unanimous decision in Kokesh v. SEC the Supreme Court rejected the SEC’s position and held that disgorgement “in the securities-enforcement context is a ‘penalty’ within the meaning of [28 U.S.C.] 2462 and so disgorgement actions must be commenced within five years of the date the claim accrues.” Although not an FCPA action, Kokesh is FCPA relevant given that, since the SEC first sought a disgorgement remedy in an FCPA enforcement action in 2004, disgorgement has become the dominant remedy sought by the SEC in corporate FCPA enforcement actions including for conduct beyond any conceivable limitations period.As highlighted in this post, Kokesh should impact SEC FCPA enforcement against issuers. However, statute of limitations issues are meaningless when issuers (as often happens in the FCPA context) waive statute of limitations defenses or agree to toll the statute of limitations. Thus, whether Kokeshwill impact SEC FCPA enforcement against issuers depends on whether issuers will continue to roll over and play dead when under FCPA scrutiny or actually mount a defense.This post highlights how a footnote in Kokesh seems to be inviting a future disgorgement case perhaps on the fundamental issue of whether the SEC has any statutory basis to seek disgorgement. Finally, This post highlights what others are saying about Kokesh and this post highlights how the FCPA received some mentions during oral argument in the case.While FCPA enforcement is largely devoid of judicial scrutiny, sentencing of individual defendants remains a judicial function and provides a rare (and often overlooked) public glimpse of someone other than the enforcement agencies weighing in on issues relevant to FCPA enforcement. As highlighted in this post, at a recent FCPA sentencing a federal court judge went off about various aspects of FCPA enforcement.For the first time in over two years the DOJ is being put to its burden of proof in an FCPA enforcement action. U.S. v. Ng Lap Seng involves alleged bribery of United Nations officials that includes FCPA charges and as highlighted in this post on the eve of the trial the parties battled over the FCPA’s “local law” affirmative defense.MayAs highlighted in this post, speaking in Brazil Acting Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Trevor McFadden talked about “some recent developments regarding the DOJ’s international cooperation efforts,” “some of the diverse tools in [the DOJ’s] prosecutorial toolbox that allow [it] to prosecute corruption” and “the importance of transparency in [DOJ] anti-corruption prosecutions.”Staying on the topic of the many recent DOJ FCPA speeches, as highlighted in this post McFadden (as well as Attorney General Jeff Sessions) nicely articulated the policy rationale for an FCPA compliance defense. However, actions speak louder than words and the DOJ (and SEC) have continually failed to support the best positive incentivize to maximize “soft” enforcement of the FCPA.As highlighted in this post, Hui Chen (the DOJ’s Compliance Counsel) recently called out the “lack of precision and intellectual rigor” in much compliance writing and commentary. That’s not all Chen has focused on as highlighted in this post regarding her recent social media activity.AprilIt was an active speaking month for DOJ officials. As highlighted in this post, Acting Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Trevor McFadden made sense when talking about “declinations” and also stated that FCPA investigations should be “measured in months, not years.” As to this later point, the post highlighted that the DOJ said the same thing in 2005, yet 4.25 years was the median length of time companies that resolved FCPA enforcement actions in 2016 were under scrutiny. A few days later, McFadden delivered another FCPA speech.Attorney General Jeff Sessions also recently delivered the DOJ’s FCPA script. As to repeated statements by DOJ officials regarding individual accountability, here are the facts: The last 17 DOJ corporate FCPA enforcement (4 in 2017 thus far and 13 in 2016) have lacked related DOJ charges against company employees. Indeed, in the past decade over 75% of DOJ corporate enforcement actions have lacked related DOJ charges against company employees. Moreover, as highlighted in this prior post, the number of DOJ individual FCPA enforcement actions in 2016 and 2015 were fewer than the following years: 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013, and 2014.Regarding the FCPA’s other enforcement agency, the SEC announced that FCPA Unit Chief Kara Brockmeyer will be leaving. This post highlights additional data points to consider regarding Brockmeyer’s tenure as FCPA Unit Chief. As highlighted in this post, Robert Khuzami, head of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement in 2012 and a signatory of the 2012 FCPA Guidance, has called for additional FCPA guidance or “changing” the “somewhat controversial FCPA.”On Capitol Hill, a bi-partisan group of Senators introduced the “Combating Global Corruption Act of 2017″ and this post provides a summary of the bill and offers two thoughts regarding the bill relevant to the FCPA.MarchAs highlighted in this post, during his confirmation hearing, SEC Chair nominee Jay Clayton stated that because of exposure to the FCPA and related laws “there are some jurisdictions where in the vast majority of the cases it may make sense just not to participate.” As highlighted in this post, as he has done several times in the past seven years, Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) introduced an FCPA private right of action bill, only this time he got political. As highlighted in this post, once upon a time the DOJ did specifically identify “foreign officials” implicated in an FCPA enforcement action and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) is rightfully miffed that it doesn’t now. As highlighted in this post, Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) wants the DOJ, “as rapidly as possible,” to issue an advisory opinion “whether executives of The Trump Organization and related companies – including President Trump himself” are violating the FCPA.The later development is largely based on a recent New Yorker article about the Trump Organization and its business dealings in Azerbaijan. As highlighted in posts here and here the article is in a league of its own when it comes to not the media’s finest moments when it comes to FCPA reporting.As highlighted in this post, recently the DOJ was noncommittal regarding the future of its FCPA Pilot Program, but then again who really cares as the pilot program did not represent anything new.FebruaryAs highlighted in this post the DOJ recently released a document highlighting 11 factors relevant in evaluating a corporate compliance program. The factors should be familiar to compliance professionals well-versed on best-practices policies and procedures (whether in the FCPA context or otherwise) and there is really nothing new about the document (indeed the document cites to sources long in the public domain). Yet the document, the origins and purpose of which are not known, was released by a “new” DOJ with new leadership and is thus worthy of highlighting.One can predict with a high degree of certainty what high-ranking DOJ officials will say about the FCPA before even hearing or reading the speech. The script goes like this: the DOJ places a high-priority on FCPA enforcement as well as transparent enforcement; the DOJ is committed not just to corporate enforcement, but holding individuals accountable as well; and companies benefit from voluntary disclosure and cooperation. As highlighted in this post, new DOJ Deputy Assistant Attorney General Trevor McFadden recently delivered the script.As highlighted in this post, the DOJ and SFO are shooting themselves in the foot by making decisions that should result in any board member, audit committee member, or general counsel informed of current events not making the decision to voluntarily disclose.JanuaryOn inauguration day when Washington D.C. was awash in corporate money more so than a typical day and this post encouraged one to pause and reflect on whether the United States is indeed in a “unique position to spread the gospel of anti-corruption” or on the “right side of history.”Posts here and here highlight the FCPA views of incoming Trump administration officials.Transparency International recently released its annual Corruption Perceptions Index (“CPI”) and this post highlights why compliance professionals should take the CPI with a grain of salt. Donatelast_img read more

FCPA Flash – A Conversation With Adriaen Morse

first_imgThe FCPA Flash podcast provides in an audio format the same fresh, candid, and informed commentary about the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and related topics as readers have come to expect from written posts on FCPA Professor.This FCPA Flash episode is a conversation with Adriaen Morse. Morse is among a small number of individuals who has experienced the FCPA from three different vantage points (counsel in the SEC’s enforcement division, a partner at international law firms and currently running his own firm, and leading the litigation and compliance departments of two Fortune 200 public companies as chief litigation counsel and chief ethics and compliance officer).During the podcast, Morse responds to the following questions: (i) what specific vantage point of a SEC FCPA enforcement attorney do in-house FCPA counsel and outside FCPA counsel fail to understand or appreciate; (ii) what specific vantage point of an in-house FCPA counsel do SEC FCPA enforcement attorneys and outside FCPA counsel fail to understand or appreciate; (iii) what specific vantage point of an outside FCPA counsel do SEC FCPA enforcement attorneys and in-house FCPA counsel fail to understand or appreciate; (iv) which job category of the three is the most difficult and why: (v) which job category of the three can best advance the objectives of the FCPA?I highly recommend the podcast as well as this previous podcast and this previous FCPA Professor post in which Claudius Sokenu and William Jacobson (individuals who also have the trifecta of FCPA experience) respond to the same questions.FCPA Flash is sponsored by Kreller Group.For the past 30 years, Kreller has distinguished itself as a best-in-class enhanced due diligence provider. It’s investigative network leverages the talent and integrity of some of the best law-enforcement, military specialists, business correspondents, and government contacts worldwide.  With firsthand knowledge of the language, laws, regulations, political and economic climates and data availability in each country, Kreller provides reliable, compliant, and accurate information.  A licensed private investigations firm, Kreller’s competitive advantage is experience, quality, commitment, and customer service.last_img read more

Researchers study link between early nutrition and brain development in low birthweight

first_img “Impact of early nutrition on microstructural brain development in very low birth weight infants.” 4:15 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. (ET) Katherine Ottolini; Nickie Andescavage, M.D., Attending, Children’s Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine; Kushal Kapse; Catherine Limperopoulos, Ph.D., director, Children’s Developing Brain Research Laboratory May 7 2018The volume of carbohydrates, proteins, lipids and calories consumed by very vulnerable preemies significantly contributes to increased brain volume and white matter development, however additional research is needed to determine specific nutritional approaches that best support these infants’ developing brains, according to research to be presented during the Pediatric Academic Societies 2018 annual meeting.During the final weeks of pregnancy, the fetal brain undergoes an unprecedented growth spurt, dramatically increasing in volume as well as structural complexity as the fetus approaches full term.One in 10 infants born in the U.S. in 2016 was born before 37 weeks of gestation, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Within this group, very low birthweight preemies are at significant risk for growth failure and neurocognitive impairment. Nutritional support in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) helps to encourage optimal brain development among preterm infants. However, their brain growth rates still lag behind those seen in full-term newborns.”Few studies have investigated the impact of early macronutrient and caloric intake on microstructural brain development in vulnerable pre-term infants,” says Katherine Ottolini, lead author of the Children’s-led study. “Advanced quantitative magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) techniques may help to fill that data gap in order to better direct targeted interventions to newborns who are most in need.”The research team at Children’s National Health System enrolled 69 infants who were born younger than 32 gestational weeks and weighed less than 1,500 grams. The infants’ mean birth weight was 970 grams and their mean gestational age at birth was 27.6 weeks.Related StoriesStudy provides new insight into longitudinal decline in brain network integrity associated with agingChemotherapy drugs delivered using biodegradable paste can prolong survival in brain cancerResearchers identify previously unknown pathways for sensory learning in the brainThe newborns underwent MRI at their term-equivalent age, 40 weeks gestation. Parametric maps were generated for fractional anisotropy in regions of the cerebrum and cerebellum for diffusion tensor imaging analyses, which measures brain connectivity and white matter tract integrity. The research team also tracked nutritional data: Grams per kilogram of carbohydrates, proteins, lipids and overall caloric intake.”We found a significantly negative association between fractional anisotropy and cumulative macronutrient/caloric intake,” says Catherine Limperopoulos, Ph.D., director of Children’s Developing Brain Research Laboratory and senior author of the research. “Curiously, we also find significantly negative association between macronutrient/caloric intake and regional brain volume in the cortical and deep gray matter, cerebellum and brainstem.”Because the nutritional support does contribute to cerebral volumes and white matter microstructural development in very vulnerable newborns, Limperopoulos says the significant negative associations seen in this study may reflect the longer period of time these infants relied on nutritional support in the NICU.Pediatric Academic Societies 2018 annual meeting presentations:Sunday, May 6, 2018 Source: https://childrensnational.org/last_img read more

Dr Clinton Webb selected for top award from AHA Council on Hypertension

first_imgReviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Sep 4 2018Dr. R. Clinton Webb, Herbert S. Kupperman Chair in Cardiovascular Disease in the Department of Physiology at the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University, has been selected for the top award from the American Heart Association’s Council on Hypertension.Webb will receive the 2018 Excellence Award for Hypertension Research for his contributions to greater understanding and improved treatment of this major risk factor for heart disease and stroke that is listed among the top 15 causes of death by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.Webb will be honored at the AHA’s Joint Hypertension 2018 Scientific Sessions Sept. 6-9 in Chicago.Dr. Paul K. Whelton, Show Chwan Health System Endowed Chair in Global Public Health at Tulane University, whose research focus includes the prevention and epidemiology of cardiovascular and renal diseases, and who has led numerous hypertension intervention trials, also will be honored by the AHA with the hypertension excellence award.”Dr. Webb is a prolific investigator who more than 40 years after giving his first presentation on the dilation of blood vessels, remains passionately immersed in the field of vascular biology and hypertension,” said Dr. David C. Hess, MCG dean. “His tremendous body of published, pertinent work and his unique style of mentoring the next generation of vascular physiologists make him an icon in the field of hypertension research.”Webb’s research interests include a focus on the vascular smooth muscle cells that give blood vessels contractility, and changes that impact their function in hypertension, diabetes and male and female sexual dysfunction, as well as the mechanisms for normal contraction and relaxation of blood vessels.He is principal investigator on a $9.4 million Program Project grant from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute exploring the vicious cycle of how high blood pressure damages cells which causes them to spill their contents – called damage associated molecular patterns, or DAMPs – which further fuels inflammation and high blood pressure.Webb is associate editor of the American Journal of Hypertension and Pharmacological Research. He is serving his second term as a member of the editorial board of the AHA journal Hypertension, and is a member of numerous other editorial boards including the Journal of the American Society of Hypertension, Journal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology, Vascular Pharmacology and Cardiovascular Diabetology.He has been corresponding author or coauthor on nearly 350 published scientific studies and nearly 120 additional reviews, book chapters and other publications. Webb has helped mentor 48 postdoctoral fellows, 73 PhD students, 89 graduate students, 13 medical students and 16 international students.Related StoriesNew method improves detection of atrial fibrillation in stroke survivorsRepurposing a heart drug could increase survival rate of children with ependymomaDiet and physical exercise do not reduce risk of gestational diabetesFive years ago, Webb was honored with the AHA Council on High Blood Pressure Research’s Irvine Page-Alva Bradley Lifetime Achievement Award for his contributions to the field of hypertension and for serving as a role model through service, research, teaching and training. His other top honors include the Carl J. Wiggers Award from the American Physiological Society in 2012 for a lifetime of outstanding and lasting contributions to cardiovascular research, and the AstraZeneca Award from the International Society of Hypertension that same year for his work in clinical pharmacology and therapy of hypertension. In 2004,he was the inaugural recipient of the Bodil M. Schmidt-Nielsen Distinguished Mentor and Scientist Award from the Women in Physiology Committee of the American Physiological Society.Webb has twice chaired the Fall Conference Committee of the AHA Council on Hypertension, and currently serves on the Scientific Sessions Program Committee. He has been an abstract reviewer for the AHA for more than 30 years, and is a member of its Scientific Sessions Program Committee, International Mentoring Program and Ethnicity and Gender Working Group.He chaired the Association of Chairs of Departments of Physiology in 2009, and since 2013 has served as that group’s representative to the Council of Faculty and Academic Societies of the Association of American Medical Colleges.Webb is a member of the Fellowship Committee of the American Physiological Society’s Cardiovascular Section. He has served on numerous Special Study Sections/Special Emphasis Panels for the National Institutes of Health, including co-chairing the National Institutes of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases Developmental Centers in Benign Urology last year and serving as an ad hoc member of the NIDDK Program Project Review Committee this year. He also served as an ad hoc member of the NHLBI Program Project Review Committee in 2017.Webb earned a doctorate in anatomy from the University of Iowa in 1976. He completed postdoctoral work at the University of Michigan and the Universitaire Instelling Antwerpen Department of Medicine in Belgium. He joined the University of Michigan faculty in 1979 as an assistant research scientist, was named assistant professor the next year, associate professor in 1983 and professor in 1986. In 1996, he was a visiting professor at the University of New Mexico Department of Physiology and visiting research scientist at the Lovelace Institutes in Albuquerque.He served as chair of the physiology department at MCG from 1999-2018, was named Kupperman Chair in 2006 and Regents’ Professor in 2011. Source:https://www.augusta.edu/mcg/last_img read more

New research aims to engineer neural network from living cells

first_img Source:https://www.lehigh.edu/engineering/news/faculty/2018/20180914-gao-berdichevsky-yan-nsf-brain-cell.html Reviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Sep 14 2018Will the computers of tomorrow be manufactured, or will they be cultivated?This question lies at the heart of new research from Lehigh University that aims to engineer a neural network–a computer system modeled on the human brain and nervous system–from actual living cells, and program it to compute a basic learning task.The National Science Foundation (NSF) has recently announced its support for the project, to the tune of more than $500,000, as part of a wider NSF effort, announced September 11, in support of Understanding the Brain and the BRAIN Initiative, a coordinated research effort that seeks to accelerate the development of new neurotechnologies.”Recent developments in optogenetics, patterned optical stimulation, and high-speed optical detection enable simultaneous stimulation and recording of thousands of living neurons,” says Xiaochen Gao, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at Lehigh University and principal investigator on the project. “And scientists already know that connected biological living neurons naturally exhibit the ability to perform computations and to learn. With support from NSF, we will be building an experimental testbed that will enable optical stimulation and detection of the activity in a living network of neurons, and we’ll develop algorithms to train it.”The team, which includes Lehigh associate professors and co-principal investigators Yevgeny Berdichevsky of bioengineering and Zhiyuan Yan of electrical and computer engineering, brings together complementary expertise in computer architecture, bioengineering, and signal processing. The team believes their effort could have “transformative impact” in the fields of neuron science and computer engineering.In the research, images of handwritten digits will be encoded into what are called “spike train stimuli,” similar to a two-dimensional bar code. The encoding of the spike train will then be optically applied to a group of networked in vitro neurons with optogenetic labels.Related StoriesResearch sheds light on sun-induced DNA damage and repairStroke should be treated 15 minutes earlier to save lives, study suggestsNew therapy shows promise in preventing brain damage after traumatic brain injuryIn their winning proposal to the NSF, the team explains that the intended impact of this work is to help computer engineers develop new ways to think about the design of solid state machines, and may influence other brain-related research.”We hope that neuron scientists will be able to use this technology as a testbed for studying the human brain,” says Berdichevsky, who’s previous research has delved into the causes and solutions of epilepsy and other diseases.”This research will study how to stabilize the living neural network such that a Spike Time Dependent Plasticity (STDP)-based programming protocol can imprint the desired synaptic strengths onto a living neural network,” says Yan. “Our team will also investigate how to strategically design and apply an STDP-based protocol to maximize programming throughput and optimize the convergence rate of the network states. And on the algorithm side, the proposed research will study data representation and training algorithms that take into account various constraints of the wetware system we are designing.”The team’s project is one of 18 cross-disciplinary projects to conduct innovative research on neural and cognitive systems, supported by NSF to advance the frontiers of foundational research in four focus areas: Neuroengineering and brain-inspired concepts and designs, individuality and variation, cognitive and neural processes in realistic, complex environments, and data-intensive neuroscience and cognitive science.The projects will leverage advanced research within and across these focus areas to investigate how neural and cognitive systems interact with education, engineering and computer science, as part of the NSF Integrative Strategies for Understanding Neural and Cognitive Systems (NCS) program. The NCS program supports innovative, boundary-crossing efforts to push the frontiers of brain science.last_img read more

New US budget deal includes more funding for 2020 census

first_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 U.S. Embassy Bangkok/Flickr Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country The latest short-term budget agreement that keeps the U.S. government running for another 6 weeks gives a much-needed boost to planning for the 2020 census.The continuing resolution (CR) passed early this morning by Congress contains an additional $182 million for the Census Bureau to stay on track for the decennial headcount in April 2020. Census officials have had to reduce or eliminate several components of the massive undertaking—its estimated price tag is $15.6 billion—because Congress has failed to provide the funding needed to ramp up activities in the past few years of each 10-year cycle.Last May, for example, President Donald Trump requested only $51 million more for the account that includes the decennial census. In October 2017, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told Congress that the agency would need an additional $187 million in 2018 to stay on schedule for 2020, part of a review that bumped up the cost of the 2020 census by $3.3 billion. New U.S. budget deal includes more funding for 2020 censuscenter_img By Jeffrey MervisFeb. 9, 2018 , 12:00 PM Email Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, whose department includes the Census Bureau. The new CR extends the current freeze on spending for most government agencies until 23 March, nearly halfway through the 2018 fiscal year. But it makes an exception for the Census Bureau. The extra money gives the agency roughly three-quarters of what Ross has said it needs in 2018. Congress also gave Census officials permission to spend at a faster rate for the rest of the year. That’s an important option given that the agency will conduct a dry run of the census this spring, including final tests of such new elements as an online option, a call-in center for those who want to fill out the short questionnaire by phone, and mobile devices to help coordinate the movements of some 500,000 fieldworkers who track down residents who haven’t responded.Advocates for the census welcome the additional funding, although they say it’s still inadequate. “It is an encouraging step and a down payment on the resources the Census Bureau needs this year to put 2020 census planning back on track and to address mounting challenges to a successful count,” says Terri Ann Lowenthal, a former congressional aide who works with The Census Project, a nonprofit coalition based in Washington, D.C.The new CR increases the budget of the agency’s program account that funds the 2020 census to $1.382 billion, $982 million of which would go to preparing for the 2020 census. The Census Project says the 2020 census still needs an additional $140 million in 2018 to stay on course. That  would allow the agency to restore cuts in outreach activities—boosting the number of people working on partnerships with government and civic groups from 40 to 200, for example, and moving ahead with its media strategy—and increase the number of field offices it plans to operate. The latter are important, Lowenthal says, because census officials recently lowered their estimate of how many residents will complete the questionnaire on the first go-round and not require any follow-up.Congress is expected to complete work on the 2018 budget before the new CR expires. And census advocates hope legislators will continue to be supportive. “The 2020 census clock is ticking,” says Phil Sparks, co-director of The Census Project. “The Census Bureau cannot pause preparations and achieve high quality, so any final 2018 budget bill must include the additional funds for the advertising and partnership efforts vital to a successful 2020 census.”last_img read more

The key to stopping mass shootings Treat them like a public health

first_img Q: The first way you say we can stop mass shootings is through better background checks. How do we improve them?A: Twenty-two percent of all firearm transfers in the country do not involve a background check. These take place over the internet, at gun shows, or a brokered through “friend of a friend” exchanges. Some states require a background check for all transfers of firearms, but most states do not, and the federal government does not. Comprehensive, well-designed background checks, as well as regular reporting by agencies of incidents that would prohibit someone from purchasing a gun would let us see the full effectiveness of this policy.Q: Your second recommendation is for gun violence restraining orders. What do these involve?A: If a person is credibly believed to be at high and imminent risk of doing harm and has access to firearms, these laws allow law enforcement or family members to go to a judge and present the evidence just as they would in any other court proceeding. The judge can then issue an order that authorizes law enforcement to recover firearms from this individual for a defined period of time, typically just 2 or 3 weeks.These orders, if properly used, would not just prevent individual tragedies but could probably drop rates of violence altogether because it’s so common that a future shooter puts out unmistakable signals of intent to do harm. This can mean telling hospital staff, friends, or family that they’re planning on hurting themselves or others. It can mean unusual patterns of purchasing weapons, like purchasing several firearms in a short time span. Here in California, I am aware of two mass shootings that did not occur because the intended shooters said things like, “I’m going to shoot up a school,” which came to the attention of law enforcement.Q: Do you ever encounter resistance to your work because of the political debate around gun control?A: There’s always controversy with this sort of work, but to me the common ground far outweighs it. One of the policy proposals that is widely seen as highly controversial is to require a background check for all purchases of firearms. More than 90% of the population supports that measure, but so do more than 80% of gun owners and more than 70% of self-identified members of the National Rifle Association.A mistake that is often made—it’s made by the public, it’s made by the media—is to pay attention to the extremes and ignore the fact that the country has basically made up its mind on this one. We just need our leadership to represent the opinions of the people and not the opinions of the extremes.Q: What are you going to study next?A: We’re conducting a true randomized trial of an intervention here in California that identifies people who legally purchased firearms in the past but have just become prohibited from owning firearms. They’ve just been convicted of a violent crime, or they’ve just been served with a domestic violence restraining order, or they’ve just been hospitalized for a psychiatric emergency related to dangerousness to self or others. The intervention in California identifies those people, then puts law enforcement officers at the front door to recover the firearms. Intuitively, it sounds like a good idea, but no one knows whether that process is effective in reducing rates in violence. We are collaborating with enforcement agencies on a randomized trial that involves almost the entire state. This is the same process used throughout medical research to test how effective a given treatment is—only this time the treatment is a firearm policy. Garen Wintemute  The key to stopping mass shootings? Treat them like a public health disaster, this scientist says Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Q: What does it mean to approach gun violence from a public health perspective?A: Firearm violence has been seen traditionally as a crime problem. But gun violence is one of our leading causes of death and injury, and the implications of this violence are huge in terms of the safety and health of our overall population. So, we treat it as we would any other major health problem. We ask: Where does it come from? How does it get amplified? Who is at risk for developing this problem? Can we learn enough to create a treatment or prevention strategy?Q: How are mass shootings different from other acts of gun violence? A: They are rare, accounting for maybe 1% of deaths from firearm violence. But they are also unique. They are the one form of violence about which no one can tell a story that leaves themselves out. It could happen to me. It could happen to my children. It could happen to my grandchildren. What public mass shootings have sadly done is, for the first time in history, made this everyone’s problem. The specific role of my article is to point out that there are some very specific things that we can do to help make these events a lot less likely to happen. Some of the deadliest mass shootings in U.S. history, including lone gunmen killing 26 people at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, and 17 students and staff at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, have occurred in the past 2 years.These tragedies were preventable, says Garen Wintemute, an emergency medicine physician at the University of California (UC), Davis, Medical Center, and the director of UC Davis’s Violence Prevention Research Program. Wintemute has studied gun violence for more than 30 years and is one of the few researchers to approach the matter as an issue of public health. He has gone undercover at gun shows to document illegal activity and worked with California lawmakers to establish gun policies.Wintemute writes about his solutions to gun violence in an opinion piece published this week in The New England Journal of Medicine. Science chatted with him about the unique factors behind mass shootings and which policy interventions are most effective. This interview has been edited for clarity and length. Email UC Davis Health Illustration Services AP Photo/Philip Kamrass 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 By Frankie SchembriSep. 27, 2018 , 11:30 AM Background checks for all firearm transactions could reduce the risk of violence.last_img read more

Podcast Vacuuming up valuable metals in the deep sea and an expedition

first_imgJapan Aerospace Exploration Agency Pirate’s gold may not be that far off, as there are valuable metals embedded in potato-size nodules thousands of meters down in the depths of the ocean. Host Meagan Cantwell talks with Staff Writer Paul Voosen about the first deep-sea test of a bus-size machine designed to scoop up these nodules, and its potential impact on the surrounding ecosystem.In an expedition well above sea level, the Hayabusa2 spacecraft touched down on the asteroid Ryugu last month. And although the craft won’t return to Earth until 2020, researchers have learned a lot about Ryugu in the meantime. Meagan speaks with Seiji Sugita, a professor at the University of Tokyo and principal investigator of the Optical Navigation Camera of Hayabusa 2, about Ryugu’s parent body, and how this study can better inform future asteroid missions.This week’s episode was edited by Podigy.Download transcript (PDF)Listen to previous podcasts.About the Science Podcast[Image: Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency; Music: Jeffrey Cook]last_img read more

For some multiple sclerosis patients knocking out the immune system might work

first_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 In multiple sclerosis (MS), a disease that strips away the sheaths that insulate nerve cells, the body’s immune cells come to see the nervous system as an enemy. Some drugs try to slow the disease by keeping immune cells in check, or by keeping them away from the brain. But for decades, some researchers have been exploring an alternative: wiping out those immune cells and starting over.The approach, called hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT), has long been part of certain cancer treatments. A round of chemotherapy knocks out the immune system and an infusion of stem cells—either from a patient’s own blood or, in some cases, that of a donor—rebuilds it. The procedure is already in use for MS and other autoimmune diseases at several clinical centers around the world, but it has serious risks and is far from routine. Now, new results from a randomized clinical trial suggest it can be more effective than some currently approved MS drugs.“A side-by-side comparison of this magnitude had never been done,” says Paolo Muraro, a neurologist at Imperial College London who has also studied HSCT for MS. “It illustrates really the power of this treatment—the level of efficacy—in a way that’s very eloquent.” Blood stem cells (depicted here, yellow, in bone marrow) regenerated the immune system after chemotherapy in a new trial for multiple sclerosis. By Kelly ServickJan. 15, 2019 , 11:15 AM Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*)center_img Email For some multiple sclerosis patients, knocking out the immune system might work better than drugs Dennis Kunkel Microscopy/Science Source Nearly 30 years ago, when hematologist Richard Burt saw how HSCT worked in patients with leukemia and lymphoma, he was struck by a curious effect: After those patients rebuilt their immune systems, their childhood vaccines no longer protected them, recalls Burt, now at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine in Evanston, Illinois. Without a new vaccination, the new immune cells wouldn’t recognize viruses such as measles and mumps and launch a prompt counterattack. That suggested that in the case of an autoimmune disease, reseeding the immune system might help the body “forget” that its own cells were the enemy.Burt and others have since used HSCT for a variety of autoimmune diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. In the past few years, several teams have reported encouraging results in MS. But only one study—which evaluated just 17 patients—directly compared HSCT to other available drug treatments.In the new trial, Burt and his colleagues recruited 110 people with the most common form of MS, known as relapsing-remitting. In that form of the disease, patients can go long periods without symptoms—which include muscle weakness and vision problems—before inflammation flares up. Trial participants had at least two such relapses in the previous year, despite being on one of several approved MS drugs.Half the participants continued with drug treatment but switched from a drug that wasn’t working for them to a drug of a different class. The other half underwent HSCT. First, the researchers collected their blood to reinfuse later. Then, they gave patients a combination of drugs to kill most of their immune cells. In this trial, the patients would have regenerated their own immune systems with stem cells in bone marrow that were spared annihilation, Burt notes. But they received the reinfusion of their own stem cell-rich blood to help speed recovery by several days.A year later, the researchers evaluated how far the disease had progressed in each of the patients. According to a  zero-to-10 scale of disability that includes measures of strength, coordination, and speech, roughly 25% of those in the drug treatment group showed at least a one-point worsening in their score, compared with just 2% of those in the transplant group, the researchers report online today in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).MRI scans also revealed less extensive brain lesions in the transplant group and improvements in a patient survey about quality of life. (Survey scores worsened slightly in the drug-treated group.) Five years after treatment, about 15% of people in the transplant group had had a relapse, versus about 85% of the control group.The two groups diverged “in a massive way,” Muraro says. But he adds that two of the most effective MS drugs weren’t included in the control group. One, ocrelizumab, had not been approved when the study was enrolling participants. Another, alemtuzumab, was excluded because it also depletes immune cells and might have increased the risk of complications in patients from the control group who were later allowed “cross over” and undergo HSCT. That “doesn’t detract from the beauty of the results,” Muraro says, but it means future studies should compare HSCT strictly with the most potent drugs on the market.In the new study, where patients spent about 2 weeks in the hospital, there were no deaths or life-threatening complications. But there is still “a hard core of skepticism” about HSCT among physicians, Muraro says, largely because chemotherapy carries risks of infections and complications. As University of Ottawa hematologist Harold Atkins points out in a cautious editorial in JAMA today, researchers have reported deaths in trials for other autoimmune diseases using the same HSCT procedure. But Muraro notes that the overall mortality rate associated with HSCT for MS now stands at less than 1%.Burt acknowledges the procedure has risks—and that most MS patients likely aren’t candidates. HSCT should be considered for people with the relapsing-remitting disease and frequent relapses, he says, before they enter a progressive phase of the disease, in which symptoms gradually worsen without intervening attacks. He estimates that about 15% to 20% of people with MS are candidates for HSCT.Meanwhile, there’s evidence of growing enthusiasm for the procedure, at least in Europe. A recent survey found a sharp spike over the past 5 years in the use of patients’ own stem cells to treat autoimmune diseases. The source of that spike, the study said, was an increase in clinical centers using the approach to treat MS.last_img read more

New US sanctions put spotlight on Iranian research institute

first_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 By Richard StoneMar. 25, 2019 , 3:50 PM At a press conference in Tel Aviv, Israel, in April 2018, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shows off a trove of materials on Iran’s nuclear weapons effort that were spirited out of that country in a daring heist. Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Sebastian Scheiner/AP Photo When the United States and allies struck a landmark nuclear accord with Iran in 2015, a key selling point was that it blocks Iran’s paths to building an atomic bomb. But U.S. President Donald Trump has denounced the deal, and in May 2018 he followed through on a campaign promise to pull the United States out. His administration argues the agreement allows Iran to bide its time, preserving illicit nuclear know-how until provisions of the deal sunset. “What you have,” asserts a senior administration official, is “the perfect storm for proliferation breakout.”Hoping to derail that ambition, the departments of state and the treasury on 22 March announced sanctions on 31 entities and individuals linked to a military institute—known as the Organization for Defense Innovation and Research, or SPND—that U.S. officials allege is maintaining nuclear weapons expertise under the guise of civilian R&D. The sanctions restrict opportunities for the targeted scientists to conduct research abroad and participate in international conferences, and they would penalize any U.S. person or foreign financial institution that knowingly facilitates a “significant transaction.” And they are a shot across the bow of all scientists in Iran contemplating working with SPND. “Any association, they should understand, with SPND or its subordinate groups makes them radioactive,” the administration official says.The list of researchers and institutes subject to the new sanctions appears to have been compiled, in part, from a trove of materials—some 55,000 pages of documents and 183 CDs—on Iran’s nuclear efforts up until 2003 that Israel says its spies spirited out of Tehran. The archive, seized during a daring nighttime heist in January 2018, is said to be from the now-defunct program, code-named Amad, to develop nuclear weapons.center_img Email Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country New U.S. sanctions put spotlight on Iranian research institute Iran has dismissed the documents as forgeries. But, “They do appear to be authentic,” says Andrea Stricker, a senior policy analyst at the Institute for Science and International Security, a nuclear nonproliferation think tank in Washington, D.C., that has analyzed some of the documents. Most of the documents are in Farsi and are consistent with information gleaned from other sources. The archive “fills in missing pieces of the puzzle” of Iran’s nuclear weapons program, she says.Among the archive’s revelations are that Iran intended to create a small arsenal of five 10-kiloton nuclear weapons, aimed to build an underground facility to manufacture components of uranium cores for warheads, and was scouting sites to conduct underground nuclear tests. Iran halted Amad in 2003, after dissidents outed a clandestine uranium enrichment facility.Israel has shared the archive in batches with the United States and with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna, which is responsible for verifying and monitoring Iran’s compliance with the nuclear deal. Analysts say IAEA has had the complete archive for only a few months and is now vetting it—a process expected to take many more months. (An agency spokesperson declined to comment.) The U.S. government is now “leveraging information from that archive,” the administration official says. “Some of the names [on the sanctions list] … came to our attention through that.”A common thread for the designated scientists and entities is an alleged link to SPND. The institute was founded in 2011 by Mohsen Fakhrizadeh-Mahabadi, a physicist at Imam Hussein University in Tehran who Western intelligence agencies say orchestrated Iran’s nuclear bomb effort. Iran refused IAEA access to Fakhrizadeh-Mahabadi when, a few years ago, the agency was reviewing the “possible military dimensions” of Iran’s nuclear program. IAEA’s final report in 2015 concluded that activities “relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive” continued in Iran as late as 2009.Iran says it has no desire to become a nuclear weapons state; it points to a 2003 fatwa from Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei proscribing nukes. U.S. officials, however, insist Fakhrizadeh-Mahabadi and SPND are keeping the flame alive. “This is a way for them to keep the gang together, as it were” the administration official says. “It’s as if some evil version of Robert Oppenheimer had been kept in charge of keeping the Manhattan Project crew together for years afterwards … in order to be able to be called upon to get back to their original line of work.”The blacklisted entities and scientists are all engaged in civilian R&D. For instance, Pulse Niru, a company in Tehran, specializes in condensed energy physics, including nuclear fusion and particle accelerators. What raised a red flag is its work on pulsed power generators. Civilian applications include probing materials under extreme conditions and developing inertial confinement fusion. But short pulses with enormous power can also be used to simulate radiation bursts of nuclear blasts. Pulse Niru “procures advanced technologies from China, Russia, and other foreign suppliers,” the administration official says. “We are pursuing those actors just as aggressively as the Iranian defense organizations they support.” Pulse Niru did not respond to a request for comment.The U.S. government has taken pains not to tar all Iranian applied R&D. For instance, the U.S. official noted that SPND is “completely separate from Iran’s civil nuclear program,” which the U.S. is not targeting with sanctions.Despite the U.S. withdrawal from the nuclear deal, Iran remains in compliance, according to IAEA. Iran “is implementing its nuclear-related commitments,” IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano stated in January. But observers note that SPND’s tentacles reach into Iranian academia. For example, SPND has a long association with the nearby Malek-Ashtar University of Technology in Tehran.“Iran’s next generation of scientists has two paths: They can use their skills pursuing noble work outside of the WMD [weapons of mass destruction] realm, or they can work for Iranian proliferation organizations and risk being sanctioned,” a Department of State fact sheet says. “That certainly sends a chilling signal,” Stricker says.last_img read more

Lana Turners jealous boyfriend pulled a gun on Sean Connery It really

first_imgHollywood lore has it that Lana Turner, the iconic actress, pinup model and sex symbol, was discovered while she sat at a diner counter drinking a glass of soda. Lana would figure in newspapers both for the roles she took and the scandals that trashed her name in tabloids. Her involvement with Johnny Stompanato — a fiercely possessive gangster, his name also associated with Los Angeles mob boss Mickey Cohen — is perhaps more famous than most movies she did.Turner started seeing him in 1957, the same year she divorced her fourth spouse, Tarzan of the Apes actor Lex Barker. In the beginning, Stompanato showered Turner with flowers and excessive gifts such as diamonds. But soon his jealous persona prevailed and Turner battled troubles every step of the way. Even on movie sets.Lana Turner by Paul Hesse, as she appeared on the cover of Photoplay in October 1946.That same year, the bombshell actress traveled to England for filming Another Time, Another Place, a British melodrama where Turner stars as an American journalist alongside ten-years-her-junior Sean Connery, who plays a war correspondent. The film is set in London at the end of World War Two, and the two of them have an affair.The liaison on screen between Turner and Connery was alarming enough for jealous Stompanato. Not to mention other rumors that quickly flew from London to L.A. The two were supposedly seen together hanging out and dining at fancy restaurants downtown.John Stompanato (bottom left) during the Pacific War in WWII, with his comrades gathering behind the grave of Pfc. Joseph J. Petillo of Asbury Park, NJ. KIA Okinawa. Photo by Joeyducci CC BY-SA 3.0That was more than enough for Stompanato to bring his troublesome aura to the film set. He showed up one day, uninvited and carrying his gun.Stomapnato threatened to shoot Connery, and the future-Bond guy was perhaps lucky to stay alive. But Connery acted out a real-life Bond moment — in one swift move, he grabbed the gun from Stomapnato’s hands and twisted his wrist.Connery during filming for Diamonds Are Forever in 1971. Photo by Mieremet, Rob / Anefo – Nationaal Archief, CC BY-SA 3.0 nlAfter this disturbing scene, and with the little help of Scotland Yard, Lana Turner had her crook boyfriend deported from England on a one-way ticket back to America. As you might easily imagine, her troubles with Stompanato resumed as soon as she flew back home. Knowing his temper, Stompanato was nowhere near ready to sit still.Great Hollywood legends quotesHe was violent and abusive with Turner. On several occasions he also threatened to murder close members of her family. She didn’t soothe his anger either on Oscar night in 1958. She had earned a nomination for Best Actress for her role in Mark Robson’s Peyton Place and attended the ceremony accompanied only by her mother and her 14-year-old daughter, Cheryl Crane.Sean Connery at the 2008 Edinburgh International Film Festival. Photo by Stuart Crawford CC BY-SA 3.0A little over a week after the Oscars, Stompanato showed up at Turner’s place at Beverly Hills. It was April 4, 1958 and the two started quarreling loudly. Turner’s teenage daughter was at home; she was listening to the quarrel from her room and feared that Stompanato would do something to hurt her mother.Next thing you know, Cheryl grabs a knife and steps in to protect her mom. She stabbed and killed Stompanato. Or so the story goes. There were rumors that perhaps it was Lana who carried the homicide. Both of them were cleared of charges however, as the court ruled the homicide was justifiable.Turner in The Postman Always Rings Twice, considered by many critics to be one of her career-defining performances.Meantime, Connery flew to Los Angeles as well, having signed a contract with Disney. He was staying at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel when he received a threatening phone call one evening from an associate of Mickey Cohen.The message to Connery was simple. He should leave Tinseltown or he dies. Was the mafia gangster seeking vengeance for his now dead pal Johnny Stompanato?Turner in a publicity still from Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1941), in which she appears in a hallucinogenic montage opposite Ingrid Bergman.Maybe, or perhaps he just wanted to mess with Connery. Just to be on the safe side, the Scottish actor did check out of the hotel and accommodated himself at a modest-looking house in the vicinity of L.A..Read another story from us: Riddle Me! What were Batman & The Riddler doing at a Hollywood orgy?And Lana Turner? There was much sensational reporting in the aftermath of her abusive boyfriend’s death, but not for a moment did this threaten her career. In fact, this was around the time she starred in one of her greatest films, Douglas Sirk’s romantic drama Imitation of Life, alongside John Gavin. The film grossed $6.4 million.last_img read more

DEAR BELLA I want to have a child but without a father

first_imgShareTweetSharePinDear Bella,I am desperate to have a child. I am an independent woman with a good job and I am hitting forty years. I am single by choice, because I feel men are really a waste of time and I hate them. But I feel jealous when I see women with their children and the more, I think about it, the more I want to have a child.I have been looking into adoption but sometimes these things have many issues. Like the child may want their real parents after a while and you may adopt a child with issues from their parent’s DNA.Long and short Bella, I want my own child. I have asked a friend of mine to get me pregnant but he says he would want a part to play in the child’s life so I objected. I asked another guy and he looked at me like I was crazy.The last friend I had, thought I had an agenda by my request.Bella, I don’t need the baby father to play any part except to just impregnate me. Honestly, I can raise my child on my own.So maybe you can give me some advice. Mommy2beHello Mommy2be,Raising a child requires responsibility and even from the way you speak, it doesn’t seem like you understand the concept of being a responsible parent.Like it or not, children are raised better with two parents involved. One may contest however, that some children, well, many of them raised by single parents, turn out well.But the whole make-up of life and nature requires both parents.Now having said that, you seem to be angry at men or a man who may have hurt you. The reason I say this is because of your statement “men are a waste of time and I hate them”.I agree that some fathers are dead beats and don’t deserve to have children but not every situation is the same.There are some good responsible fathers who raise their children the best way they can.I think you should calm down and ensure that you know what you are doing.Getting a man just to fertilize your egg and give you a child may be one thing but the responsibility and issues that can arise from that can affect, especially, the child.Think long and hard before you make any impromptu decision about having a baby with a random man. Think of the needs of the child. Bellalast_img read more

Australian government close to securing enough votes for 110 billion tax cut

first_imgThe plan, widely sought amid a slowing economy, needs the support of three independents and minor parties to become law after the main opposition Labor party said it would oppose the legislation in Australia’s upper house Senate, where the government does not have a majority. Senator Stirling Griff said his Centre Alliance party was close to committing the final two votes the government needs to pass the bill.“It’s getting close,” Griff told Australian Broadcasting Corp. Radio. “We’re 100% behind income earners getting an extra boost in their pay packet.” A conservative independent lawmaker has already committed to supporting the legislation.About 10 million middle- and low-income earners will receive a rebate worth up to A$1,080 ($746.28) per person should the legislation pass this week. Related News Advertising Australia warns against abuse of 457 visa programme Advertising By Reuters |Sydney | Published: July 2, 2019 12:17:26 pm Australian government never offered help: Julian Assange The tax cuts would be a welcome relief to Australia’s central bank, which has said government action was needed to boost consumer spending in order to revive an economy that is growing at its slowest in a decade.Economists have estimated the tax breaks would inject about A$7.5 billion into the economy over 2019/20. The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) will meet on Tuesday, when a second interest rate cut in two months is possible. While economists believe the RBA will cut interest rates to an historic low of 1.00% on Tuesday, Australia’s top central banker has said monetary policy is not the most effective tool to boost economic growth. australia, australia tax cuts, australia tax cut rates, Scott Morrison, Josh Frydenberg, australia tax cut news, world news, indian express news Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison (right), Australian Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack and Australian Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg are seen during the swearing-in at the start of the 46th Federal Parliament in the House of Representatives at Parliament House in Canberra, Australia. (AP)Australia’s conservative government is close to securing enough votes to pass sweeping tax cuts after independent lawmakers said on Tuesday they were poised to strike an agreement with Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg proposed in April A$158 billion ($110 billion) in tax cuts over the next decade, primarily aimed at middle-income earners. That was on top of tax cuts of A$144 billion last year. 5 Australian teens arrested for alleged terror plot on ANZAC Day Post Comment(s)last_img read more

Mumbai building collapse PM Modi expresses anguish over loss of lives

first_img Prime minister Narendra Modi, Mumbai building collapse, PM on Mumbai building collapse, Mumbai building collapse National Disaster Response force, PM expresses anguish, Mumbai news, Indian express news Prime Minister Narendra Modi. (File Photo)Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday expressed anguish over the loss of lives in a building collapse incident in Mumbai. By PTI |New Delhi | Updated: July 16, 2019 7:28:14 pm PM Narendra Modi pulls up ministers for being absent in House Collapse of a building in Mumbai’s Dongri is anguishing. My condolences to the families of those who lost their lives. I hope the injured recover soon. Maharashtra Government, NDRF and local authorities are working on rescue operations & assisting those in need: PM @narendramodi— PMO India (@PMOIndia) July 16, 2019“Collapse of a building in Mumbai’s Dongri is anguishing. My condolences to the families of those who lost their lives. I hope the injured recover soon. “Maharashtra government, NDRF and local authorities are working on rescue operations & assisting those in need,” the Prime Minister’s Office tweeted quoting Modi.At least four persons were killed after a four-storey residential building collapsed in south Mumbai’s congested Dongri area Tuesday, trapping over 40 people under the debris, civic officials said there. Advertising Related News center_img He said the state government and the National Disaster Response Force are working on rescue operations. Towards social politics Inform me if ministers skip Parliament duty, PM Modi tells party brass Post Comment(s)last_img read more

Surprise These termites are good for trees

first_img Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Surprise: These termites are good for trees By Sid PerkinsJan. 10, 2019 , 2:00 PM That termite-induced boost in near-surface soil moisture was beneficial to plants during the drought, the researchers report today in Science: Seedlings of climbing vines transplanted into areas where termites remained active were 51% more likely to survive than those in areas without the wood-eating insects.Because droughts are expected to occur more frequently in coming years as climate changes, termites may play an increasingly important role in rainforest productivity and biodiversity, the researchers suggest. 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 Email When it comes to floorboards and furniture, termites get a bad rap. But there’s one type of wood they may be good for: the trees of rainforests.During an extreme drought that struck the island of Borneo during late 2015 and early 2016, researchers studied eight widely scattered plots on the forest floor. In four of those 2500-square-meter areas, team members dug out or leveled termite mounds and then left poison baits for the insects that remained. In the other four areas, researchers left the insects alone.In the plots with intact termite mounds and nests, soil moisture at a depth of 5 centimeters was 36% higher during the drought than it was in plots where termite activity was disrupted. Termites (above) generally require a moist environment and, when necessary, will dig down dozens of meters or more to bring water up to their living spaces, the scientists note. Chien C. Lee last_img read more