UK weather forecasting is about to get way more accurate – expect

first_img We’d also like to send you special offers and news just by email from other carefully selected companies we think you might like. Your personal details will not be shared with those companies – we send the emails and you can unsubscribe at any time. Please tick here if you are happy to receive these messages.By submitting your information, you agree to the Terms & Conditions and Privacy & Cookies Policy. This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply. Show More Unlike other sites, we thoroughly review everything we recommend, using industry standard tests to evaluate products. We’ll always tell you what we find. We may get a commission if you buy via our price links.Tell us what you think – email the Editor Sign up for the Mobile NewsletterSign Up Please keep me up to date with special offers and news from Goodtoknow and other brands operated by TI Media Limited via email. You can unsubscribe at any time. As April 2019 has proven, deciding what to wear in springtime Britain can be a minefield. You leave the house in shorts and t-shirt only to have to sprint for shelter when the heavens open an hour later.If only those good old short term weather forecasts would give us a helping hand every once in a while, huh? Thankfully, in years to come, Brits will be more adept at dodging the deluge after the UK space agency delivered what its calling the world’s most accurate weather satellite instrument.According to the agency, the newly-built Infrared Atmospheric Sounding Interferometer New Generation (IASI-NG) instrument will set new standards in short-term weather forecasting when it heads into orbit upon the European satellite MetOp-SG-A in 2022.Related: What is 5G?In a press release on Thursday, the UK space agency wrote: “Using high-performance infrared detectors made in Southampton, the new device will improve short-range weather forecasts by monitoring atmospheric instability and cloud structure. It will also analyse the content of the Earth’s atmosphere, detecting and tracking pollutants around the globe.”The IASI-NG has been built in collaboration with French Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales (CNES) as well as Leonardo and Airbus Defence & Space.Dr Graham Turnock, CEO UK Space Agency said: “The UK space sector is an export success story, generating a third of its income from international trade and creating growth and jobs across the country.“As this programme demonstrates, the strong working relationship between the British and French space industry is successfully turning future technology into reality.”The release says initiatives like this help to grow the UK’s share of the global space market. It adds: “Earth observation is becoming more accessible, and future opportunities will arise with the advent of new technologies and uses, with ever increasing amounts of data being produced.”How many times have you been caught in the rain this year already? Share your tales of weather-related woe with us @TrustedReviews on Twitter.last_img read more

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Vodafone is the first UK network to offer unlimited 5G data plans

first_imgReady to #BeUnlimited?On 10 July, we’re launching the first unlimited plans for 5G and 4G!Unlimited data, Unlimited Voice, Unlimited Texts and #5G roaming, all in one package.#5Gamechanger #Reinvent pic.twitter.com/wcJjhFwcHh— Vodafone UK (@VodafoneUK) July 3, 2019Additionally, you can pay an extra £6 per month to add an entertainment pack to your plan, choosing from Spotify, Amazon Prime Video, Sky Sports Mobile, or NowTV.However, even if you opt for the £30 per month Max plan, you won’t be guaranteed a 5G connection everywhere you go in the UK; the network was launched on July 3 and covers seven major cities in the UK (London, Glasgow, Manchester, Cardiff, Bristol, Liverpool, and Birmingham).The rollout will continue over the course of the year to cover 12 additional British cities: Birkenhead, Blackpool, Bournemouth, Guildford, Newbury, Portsmouth, Plymouth, Reading, Southampton, Stoke-on-Trent, Warrington and Wolverhampton.Along with its unlimited plans, Vodafone has also unveiled 5G plans for low-data users, named ‘Vodafone Red’. All supporting 5G at no extra cost, prices start from just £11 but this would only include 1GB of mobile data per month. Roaming in 48 destinations is included as standard.Uniquely among 5G network providers, Vodafone has promised to bring mobile roaming to European cities in Spain, Germany, and Italy for its customers this summer. Vodafone has just launched three ‘unlimited’ SIM-free contracts that include access to its shiny new 5G network. The deals start from £23 — so what’s the catch?At the launch event of its UK 5G network last week, Vodafone announced three SIM-free contract plans that will give you unlimited texts, minutes, and data over both 4G and 5G. Yes, that’s 4G and 5G. That means the plans are open to users of regular old 4G devices and users of 5G phones.The plans have just gone live, and here are the details of each monthly deal:Unlimited Lite: £23 per month, 2 Mbps maximum download speedUnlimited: £26 per month, 10 Mbps maximum download speedUnlimited Max: £30 per month, maximum speed: “fastest available”As you can see, the first two deals in the plan are quite limited in speed, which might be frustrating for customers expecting ultra-fast speeds. The data limits are acknowledged in the activities Vodafone recommends for each of the plans.Related: 5G in the UKRelated: Vodafone 5G phones, prices, plansThe Lite data plan is recommended for users who just want to do web browsing, messaging, and music streaming. The standard plan is supposedly best suited for streaming HD movies, sharing photos and making video calls, and streaming single player games.The most expensive Max plan would allow you to stream high quality multiplayer games, super-fast downloads, and hotspot with confidence. The latter plan is the one that will really take advantage of the benefits of 5G, though Vodafone hasn’t revealed real-world speeds yet. Show More Unlike other sites, we thoroughly review everything we recommend, using industry standard tests to evaluate products. We’ll always tell you what we find. We may get a commission if you buy via our price links. Tell us what you think. Sign up for the Mobile NewsletterSign Up Please keep me up to date with special offers and news from Goodtoknow and other brands operated by TI Media Limited via email. You can unsubscribe at any time. This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply. We’d also like to send you special offers and news just by email from other carefully selected companies we think you might like. Your personal details will not be shared with those companies – we send the emails and you can unsubscribe at any time. Please tick here if you are happy to receive these messages.By submitting your information, you agree to the Terms & Conditions and Privacy & Cookies Policy. 5Glast_img read more

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WatchMexico wont ratify new NAFTA if US keeps tariffs on steel and

first_img Reddit Facebook U.S. President Donald Trump imposed tariffs of 25 per cent on steel and 10 per cent on aluminum from Mexico and Canada, using the controversial national-security clause in U.S. trade law — “Section 232,” as it’s called in shorthand — that both countries say was illegal.Canadian Transport Minister Marc Garneau recently told Trump’s top economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, during a public panel in Washington that the tariffs are “a serious impediment to us moving forward on what is the best trade deal in the world.”On Nov. 30, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Trump and former Mexican president Enrique Pena Nieto, who was on his last day in office, signed the new trade agreement. It now faces ratification by the legislatures of all three countries.Trudeau spoke to Trump on Thursday and “raised the issue of steel and aluminum tariffs and expressed the need for the removal of tariffs,” the Prime Minister’s Office said.Canada has been clear from the outset that the tariffs “are illegal and unjustified,” said Adam Austen, a spokesman for Freeland.Mexico President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has made it clear that elevating the status of the country’s workers was a key plank in the platform that brought his party to power. March 4, 20196:31 AM ESTLast UpdatedMarch 4, 20199:02 AM EST Filed under News Economy Join the conversation → Twitter ‘Long overdue’: Unifor standing behind 25,000 Mexican auto workers who’ve walked off the job 2 Comments Comment More Mexico won’t ratify new NAFTA if U.S. keeps tariffs on steel and aluminum However, the new Mexican government is pushing to ratify a package of labour reforms it agreed to in the new NAFTA The Canadian Press “Now that we have concluded our NAFTA negotiation with the United States, we believe it is all the more reason for the U.S. administration to lift its tariffs,” Austen said Sunday, although he did not say specifically whether the issue would lead to a delay in ratification.If the tariffs aren’t lifted, de la Mora suggested Mexico is fine with the current version of NAFTA that remains in force.“We hope to have this new agreement in place. But in the absence of the new agreement, we know that NAFTA is good enough,” she said.Mexico would prefer the updated agreement “for the relations we have with the U.S. and Canada but we are OK with the current NAFTA.”Mexican senators, who were in Ottawa the past week to conference with their Canadian parliamentary counterparts, echoed de la Mora’s assessment.“We are going to approve it, but right now our government is trying to deal with this (the tariffs),” Sen. Antares Guadalupe said in an interview.“We’re not in a rush. Trade right now, it’s working,” she added. “We have many things to do but we want to take it slowly because it is very important to have it in a very good way for Mexico.”Sen. Hector Vasconcelos, the head of the Mexican Senate’s foreign-affairs committee, said the ratification of the new agreement is also subject to the domestic political situations in all three countries. That includes the ongoing turmoil in the Trump administration and Canada’s legislative clock, which will see the House of Commons adjourn in June until after the October federal election.Asked what happens if the new agreement is not ratified, Vasconcelos laughed.“Life goes on, I assure you,” he said, referring to the current NAFTA. “It’s good enough and we will try to get it better. That’s what we are going to do. We have to discuss a lot in Mexico.” Email Mexico expects U.S. to begin lifting tariffs when USMCA trade deal signed later this month — no word on Canada OTTAWA — Mexico’s Congress will be asked to approve a major labour-reform bill this spring as a necessary step to ratifying the new North American free-trade pact later this autumn, say Mexican officials.But unless the Trump administration lifts the punishing tariffs it has imposed on Mexican steel and aluminum imports — duties it also imposed on Canada — Mexico is prepared to keep the status quo with the 25-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement.The push to improve workers’ rights in Mexico was a key priority for Canada and the United States during the rocky NAFTA renegotiation because they wanted to level the playing field between their workers and lower-paid Mexican workers, especially in the auto sector.When Mexico and the U.S. reached their surprise bilateral agreement last August, forcing the Trudeau government to quickly forge a deal with the Trump administration, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland lauded Mexico for making labour concessions. Not ratifying NAFTA will be a ‘catastrophe,’ U.S. trade czar says, as U.S. works to lift metals tariffs Canada won’t ratify new NAFTA until steel and aluminum tariffs lifted, warns key U.S. Senator Mexico threw Canada ‘under the bus’ with bilateral trade deal with U.S., Liberal MP tells Mexican minister But a senior trade official in the new government of socialist reformer Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador suggested in an interview it wasn’t a huge sacrifice because elevating the status of country’s workers was a key plank in the platform that brought their Morena party to power.Lopez Obrador made it clear in his election campaign that he wanted to strengthen the rights of workers and labour unions, which made a good fit with Canada’s bargaining position, Luz Maria de la Mora, Mexico’s deputy trade minister, said in an interview.“With the agreement or without the agreement, this is something central to President Lopez Obrador — strengthening workers’ rights and strengthening trade deals in Mexico,” said de la Mora.She said the new government wants a package of labour reform ratified in Mexico’s Congress before its April 30 adjournment “so we can reflect the commitments that we’ve made under the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada agreement in domestic legislation.”That means the new agreement will be sent to the Mexican Congress for ratification after it reconvenes in Sept. 1, she said.But that won’t happen unless the United States lifts its so-called section 232 tariffs on steel and aluminum exports, said de la Mora.With the agreement or without the agreement, this is something central to President Lopez Obrador — strengthening workers’ rights and strengthening trade deals in MexicoLuz Maria de la Mora, Mexico’s deputy trade minister Share this storyMexico won’t ratify new NAFTA if U.S. keeps tariffs on steel and aluminum Tumblr Pinterest Google+ LinkedIn Mike Blanchfield Related Stories Rebecca Blackwell/AP Photo Mexico threw Canada ‘under the bus’ with bilateral trade deal with U.S., Liberal MP tells Mexican ministerlast_img read more

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2018 Nissan LEAF Reviewed After 10000 Miles

True Cost Of A Tesla Model 3 (After 10,000 Miles): Video Source: Electric Vehicle News 2018 BMW i3s Six-Month,10,000-Mile Long-Term Update Author Liberty Access TechnologiesPosted on September 19, 2018Categories Electric Vehicle News Thanks to many free charging sessions, charging costs were just £161.41 (€181 or $211) in the UK, but normally it would be between £400 (home charging only) to £800 (public charging).Electricity costs after 10,000 miles (Source: Lemon-Tea Leaf)Bonus: The first fast-charging station for curved cars (watch at 15:40):Nissan LEAF (Source: Lemon-Tea Leaf) Tesla Model 3 Review: After 6 Months And 10,000 Miles: 10,000 miles proved that the Nissan LEAF was the right choice.Lemon-Tea Leaf recently just crossed a milestone of 10,000 miles (over 16,000 km) in seven months, and it was good opportunity to make a review of the second generation LEAF.As one would expect, the LEAF turned out to be an excellent commuter car for daily electric driving. There were some quirks, but overall nothing big. The feedback is very positive.More 10,000-mile reviews read more

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Audi Q5 To Introduce Automakers NextGen PHEV Setup In 2019

The news comes in the midst of Audi’s offensive in which the German carmaker aims to launch 10 plug-in hybrids and 10 electric cars by 2025. The first vehicle that will include the new hybrid powertrain is said to be the upcoming 2020 Audi Q5 e-tron, closely followed by an A6 e-tron and Q3 e-tron models.According to AutoCar, the Audi Q5 e-tron – spotted testing in the US earlier this year – will be powered by Audi’s EA888 turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine. In the Q5 e-tron, the engine produces 188 horsepower and 236lb-ft of torque. Furthermore, an electric motor mounted to the seven-speed automatic gearbox will provide an additional 108 horsepower and 221lb ft of torque. Unfortunately, performance data is yet to be revealed by the carmaker.However, the Audi Q5 e-tron is expected to power the front wheels directly by the ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) powerplant. The electric motor – located in the back – is to power the rear axle, earning the upcoming SUV (Sports Activity Vehicle) the highly-coveted Quattro badge. According to several sources, this is expected to be the quickest 2.0 liter powered Audi Q5 available. As for any other changes when compared to the rest of the Audi Q5 range, no major changes are expected. The vehicle will supposedly regain its electromechanical steering and Dynamic suspension. Furthermore, it will be available with the Virtual Cockpit digital instrument display option as well.Source: AutoCar Source: Electric Vehicle News Audi Says No To Stocking e-tron At Dealerships: Special Order Only Audi Receives 10,000-Plus Pre-Orders For e-tron The first Audi Q5 plug-in hybrid e-tron is set to debut next year.The next-generation of Audi’s hybrid powertrain is set to debut next year. The system is said to provide up to a third more range than the outgoing system, which allows the A3 e-tron and Q7 e-tron to achieve 31 miles of electric-only range. The news was revealed through Audi powertrain director Siegfried Pint. He claims that the next generation of PHEVs will get 20-30% more zero-emission range, equating to 42 miles.More about the Audi e-tron Autocar India Gets Exclusive First Look At Audi e-tron Author Liberty Access TechnologiesPosted on September 29, 2018Categories Electric Vehicle News read more

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For Electric Trucks 500Mile Range Seems To Be The Sweet Spot

first_imgSource: Electric Vehicle News How Big Diesel Trucks Are Paying For GM’s Electric Future We like big trucks and we cannot lie.Dimensions…hmm. Probably quite a bit more than Sir Mix-A-Lot says. Ain’t no 24 here. Unless we’re talking feet of cargo-hauling capability.Those small, consumer-grade electric pickup trucks need not apply to this discussion.More Truck News Electric Trucks: Total Cost Of Ownership Tool For Fleets We’ve got nothing against the like of the Rivian R1T electric truck or the upcoming Tesla truck, but that’s just not the focus of this discussion.Tesla SemiElectric semis and other big trucksInstead, we’re talking electric semis and such.In a recent research study, it was found that the “Electric truck market is expected to attain a market size of 1,508.1 thousand units by 2025.” Yes, that’s an odd unit of numerical measure there. But we won’t dwell on that.Let’s move on to electric range. This is where the figures are more meaningful to us. The report states:Based on range, the electric truck market is categorized into 0-150 miles, 151-250 miles, 251-500 miles, and above 500 miles. The market for electric trucks with a range of above 500 miles is projected to register the highest growth, with a growth rate of over 30% in terms of volume, during the forecast period, owing to the growing demand for long-haul trucks.This implies that range is a big factor, with the highest growth predicted in the highest range segment of above 500 miles. That range is not easy to achieve in a big, heavy-hauler though without lots of battery. For example, Nikola Motors says that the 1 MWh battery pack in is expected to give Nikola Two a range of 400 miles (640 km) or 300 miles (480 km) in cold weather. Nikola adds that such a big battery will weigh half of the truck’s weight.So, you get the idea here. To get lots of range in a semi it takes loads of batteries and adds a ton of weight. Or perhaps a new, super advanced battery that’s unlike anything we’ve ever seen.More info in the press blast below:Global Electric Truck Market, 2019-2025 – Growing Demand for Longer Electric Truck RangeThe “Electric Truck Market by Propulsion, by Vehicle Type, by Range, by Application, by Geography – Global Market Size, Share, Development, Growth, and Demand Forecast, 2013-2025” report has been added to ResearchAndMarkets.com’s offering.Electric truck market is expected to attain a market size of 1,508.1 thousand units by 2025, low maintenance cost incurred in electric trucks, supportive government regulations including additional incentives along with declining price of batteries are the major factors driving the growth of the market.Further, the battery manufacturing industry is growing much faster than the battery demand, which has led to economies of scale benefiting the advancement of the industry. Moreover, technological advancements achieved in battery development over the past decade helped to bring down the price of battery packs. This leads to the growth of the electric truck market.Based on range, the electric truck market is categorized into 0-150 miles, 151-250 miles, 251-500 miles, and above 500 miles. The market for electric trucks with a range of above 500 miles is projected to register the highest growth, with a growth rate of over 30% in terms of volume, during the forecast period, owing to the growing demand for long-haul trucks. Additionally, to accommodate this demand, the manufacturers are investing toward the development of electric trucks, especially the ones incorporated with the hydrogen fuel-cell technology, worldwide.Truck CategoriesOn the basis of vehicle type, electric truck market is categorised into light-duty truck (LDT), medium-duty truck (MDT), and heavy-duty truck (HDT). Sales volume for the trucks falling under the HDT category is expected to register the fastest growth, both in terms of volume and value, as compared to other categories, in the upcoming years. In developed economies, including the U.S. and European nations, the market for electric trucks in the HDT category is growing at a significant pace, owning to the increasing demand for long-haul HDTs running on alternate fuels by fleet owners. Additionally, the trucking companies continue to add HDTs to level with the rising freight demand and avail maximam gains under the government financial incentive schemes.Geographically, the APAC electric truck market registered the largest share during the historical period, accounting for a sales volume of over 80% in 2017. Country wise, China continued to remain the market leader for these trucks in the world, owning to the favorable government subsidies, national alternative-fuel-vehicle replacement sales targets, and municipal air quality targets.In other regions, the industry is still in its budding phase and largely depending on the government policies. Availability of less number of manufacturers, high upfront cost, and underdeveloped value chain have limited the growth of the electric truck market. However, the increasing investment by the manufacturers in these regions for the development of electric trucks is expected to boost the market growth during the forecast period.The global electric truck market is dominated mostly by the Chinese players, owing to the rapid industrialization, urbanization, and economy growth coupled with government support for the adoption of eco-friendly vehicles. Dongfeng Motor Corporation is one of the leading players in the market. The company has wide product portfolio and has strong position in Chinese electric truck industry. Whereas, BYD Company Limited. is the second largest manufacturer of electric trucks in the industry.The other key players in the market include Hino Motors Limited., Daimler AG, Volvo Group, Iveco S.p.A., Isuzu Motors Limited, Nikola Motor Company, Workhorse Group Incorporated, Cummins Inc., and E-Force One AG. Nikola Announces All-Electric Semi Truck: Up To 1,000-kWh Battery Author Liberty Access TechnologiesPosted on February 11, 2019Categories Electric Vehicle Newslast_img read more

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Rivian R1T Specs Features More Highlighted In New Video

first_imgWe rather enjoy these video overviews. Why? Well, they concisely sum up so much information into such an easily digestible format.Pickup trucks are by far the hottest segment in the U.S. right now, yet an electric one doesn’t exist. At least in on-sale form. We hope Rivian will soon change that with the launch of its R1T electric truck next year.This video covers the Rivian R1T electric pickup truck in detail. It touches on specs, features and even on Rivian the company. And best of all, you can watch it all right here. And in the process, take in a ton of Rivian information in just a brief amount of your time.Video description:Good day everyone.Today we are reviewing the Rivian R1T Pickup Truck. The world’s 1st All Electrical Adventure Vehicle. We discuss the specifications of the vehicle, the company and ask you for your thoughts and opinions. Please join us as we walk through and highlight features and specs… Source: Electric Vehicle News See Rivian R1T Pickup Truck & R1S Electric SUV Side-By-Side Author Liberty Access TechnologiesPosted on February 21, 2019Categories Electric Vehicle News R1T electric truck exposed in detail.The Rivian R1T is the hottest (only? – we’re not quite convinced by the Atlis XT electric truck) electric pickup truck in the world right now.More Pickup Truck News Let’s Talk History Of Electric Pickup Truck Innovator Rivian: Video Atlis XT Electric Pickup Truck Revealed: 500-Mile Range, Tows 35,000 Poundslast_img read more

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Key Energy And The Parallel Universe

first_imgNotwithstanding the above, and notwithstanding the SEC’s own key finding that certain employees at Key Mexico “abuse their privileges, approving suspect arrangements with and payments to consultants and gifts to Mexican government officials at Pemex, and concealing these arrangements and payments from Key Energy,” the SEC found that Key Energy violated the FCPA’s internal controls provisions.Invoking the benefit of perfect hindsight it typically invokes in FCPA enforcement actions, focusing in one third party relationship (among the numerous third party relationships a company has), and advancing a “would have, should have, could have” enforcement theory, the SEC states that Key Energy’s internal accounting controls were “lax” because the problematic consulting arrangement was “entered into without pre-approval from Key Energy legal, because no due diligence had been conducted on the Consulting Firm and because no written contract had been entered into with the firm.”The SEC further found that Key Energy’s internal controls were lax “by failing to respond effectively to signs indicating that gifts provided by Key Mexico to Pemex officials were being given as rewards for providing Key Energy with increased business.” This notwithstanding the SEC’s other finding that the relevant Key Mexico employees did not disclose certain relevant information to Key Energy and otherwise concealed certain arrangements and payments from Key Energy.The SEC further found that Key Energy’s internal controls were lax because “Key Mexcio had no independent compliance staff or internal audit function that had authority to intervene into management decisions and, if appropriate, take remedial actions.” The problem with this finding – similar to Judge Harmon’s conclusion regarding international audits – is there is no actual legal requirement that issuers have independent compliance staff at each of its foreign subsidiaries. Rather, as if often the case, the SEC finds this problematic based on ipse dixit (an unsupported statement that rests solely on the authority of the individual who makes it) (See here for the prior post).In short and as demonstrated by the Key Energy matters, FCPA issues often occupy parallel universes.One universe is ruled by all-powerful gods with big and sharp sticks  in which subjects dare challenge the gods. Another universe consists of checks and balances in which independent actors call the balls and strikes.The first universe refers to FCPA enforcement by the DOJ and SEC. The second universe refers to litigation of FCPA-related claims in which judges make decisions in the context of an adversarial legal system. This second universe is often referred to as the rule of law universe.This post highlights a unique example of where there is a public record of the universes colliding and the collision resulted in outcomes that were materially different. The conduct giving rise to last week’s FCPA enforcement action against Key Energy Services (see here and here for prior posts) was subject to judicial scrutiny once.And it was not last week’s SEC administrative order.As highlighted in this previous post, in March 2016 Judge Melinda Harmon (S.D.Tex.) dismissed securities fraud claims brought against Key Energy Services (See In re Key Energy Services Inc. Securities Litigation, 2016 WL 1305922 (March 31, 2016). The action touched upon, in part, the same general conduct alleged in the SEC’s order.While there are obvious substantive and procedural differences between a securities fraud action and a finding of FCPA books and records and internal controls violations (what last week’s SEC order found), at the very least these two actions were part of the same parallel universe.Thus, it is interesting to explore what happened in the action subjected to judicial scrutiny vs. last week’s SEC order.In short, whereas the SEC found that Key Energy “failed to implement and maintain sufficient internal controls,” a federal court judge found (despite plaintiffs’ allegations to the contrary including statements from several confidential witnesses) that Key Energy’s “FCPA controls were adequate.” Whereas the SEC suggests, with the benefit of hindsight that there were controls that Key Energy should have had, a federal court judge found that certain of the controls Key Energy did not have were not even required for a company to have adequate internal controls.The SEC’s order is approximately 9 pages. However, stripped of introductory language, summary paragraphs, identification of the parties, conclusory paragraphs, undertakings and other non-substantive findings such as how Key Energy cooperated and the remedial efforts the company engaged in, the SEC’s factual findings are a mere 3.5 pages.By contrast, Judge Harmon’s opinion and order dismissing plaintiffs claims against Key Energy is over 30 pages.The SEC’s order contains one sentence about Key Energy’s actual FCPA related policies and internal accounting controls. The sentence was as follows.“During the relevant time period, Key Energy had various written compliance policies, including a Code of Conduct, an FCPA Compliance Manual (which included an FCPA Policy and an FCPA Procedure) and a Procurement Policy.”Yet, invoking a standard that does not even exist in the FCPA’s internal controls provisions, the SEC found that “despite having a compliance program on paper, Key Energy failed to implement accounting controls in its Mexico subsidiary sufficient to prevent improper payments to a vendor with ties to a Pemex employee.”Judge Harmon’s opinion contains several pages of information from the record concerning Key Energy’s FCPA compliance policies and internal controls. Specifically, the order states (internal citations omitted) as follows.“Key’s Board of Directors adopted a Code of Business Conduct (“Code”) with an introductory letter by [Richard] Alario [at all relevant times Key’s Chairman, President and CEO] stating that all Key employees “must commit to always acting lawfully, ethically and with integrity,: and summarizes, “Do the right thing without exception.” The Code “applies to the Company and its subsidiaries and affiliates[,] … including all business units in all of our offices and locations around the world[, but] [a]ll employees and officers in the business units are expected to be familiar with the Code and apply it in the daily performance of their work-related responsibilities.” An Ethics Committee (composed of representatives from the Company’s Internal Audit, Legal, Human Resources, and Operations departments) and the Board of Directors’ Audit Committee monitor and oversee compliance with “applicable laws and regulations.” The Code especially highlights the Audit Committee’s oversight role:The Audit Committee … shall have oversight of the administration of the Code and responsibility for the Ethics and Compliance program within the Company. Significant or material events related to the Company’s Ethics & Compliance program shall be reported immediately to the chair of the Audit Committee. At least once a year, the Ethics Committee or Director-Internal Audit shall report to the Audit Committee regarding the Company’s Ethics & Compliance program activities, and of the occurrence of all significant events relating to the Code.The Code instructs Key employees about limitations on gifts given to governmental officials (“In the U.S., an employee may not give gifts of more than nominal value ($100.00) to an actual or prospective customer, supplier, or contractor of the Company, or any governmental official, in an attempt to establish dealings with the Company providing such gifts, without written approval of the employee’s supervisor.”), and admonishes they must “[n]ot offer bribes or accept kickbacks from our suppliers, contractors, or customers for any reason.” It also informs employees that the FCPA “prohibits payments to foreign officials for the purpose of obtaining or keeping business” and that under the FCPA “a ‘foreign official’ is any officer or employee of an instrumentality of a foreign government, including state-owned or controlled energy companies, such as Petroleos Mexicanos, SA (‘PEMEX’), as well as political officers and candidates for political office. Further description and examples, as well as instructions for proper transaction of business inside the U.S. are found on-line in the Company’s FCPA Compliance Manual.”Key’s Foreign Corrupt Practices Act Compliance Manual (“FCPA Compliance Manual”), effective June 6, 2008, also contains an introductory letter signed by Alario:It is our policy that the Company, as well as each person or entity acting as a representative or advisor to the Company, shall fully comply with all applicable provisions of the FCPA. Employees, officer, directors, agents, and representative who transact business for the Company internationally are expected to understand and comply with the provisions in this Compliance Manual, to avoid inadvertent violations, and to recognize potential issues in time for them to be appropriately addressed.The Manual is divided into two parts: “FCPA Policy” and “FCPA Procedures.The policy of Key and its subsidiaries and affiliates is that “the Company and each person or entity acting as a representative or advisor to the Company shall fully comply with all applicable provisions of the [FCPA]” and prohibits “use of Company funds or assets for any unlawful, improper or unethical purpose,” noting that any “[i]mproper gifts, payments or offerings of anything of value to foreign officials could jeopardize the growth and reputation of the Company, and will not be tolerated.” The FCPA Compliance Manual governs “all financial record-keeping activities to which Key is subject by virtue of the federal and state securities laws, including the U.S. Securities and [sic] Exchange Act of 1934.”The FCPA describes the responsibilities of different parties as follows:Employees. All Company employees who are involved in any way in transactions in foreign countries, or who work temporarily outside the United States, as well as all employees located in the corporate offices in Midland and Houston, Texas, are required to read and comply with the FCPA Compliance Manual. All international employees who are authorized to expend funds on behalf of the Company (not assigned in field positions) are required to read and comply with the FCPA Compliance Manual.Third Parties. Agents and representatives of the Company who are involved in any way in transactions in foreign countries, or who work outside the United States are required to read and comply with the FCPA Compliance Manual.Accounting Department. The Accounting Department shall maintain accounting procedures to ensure that no false or misleading entry is made in the Company’s books and records for any reason. The Accounting Department should also maintain financial reporting and controls to prevent FCPA violations.Audit Department. The Internal Audit Department, in conjunction with the FCPA Compliance Officer, will develop an annual FCPA plan, as approved by the Audit Committee. Internal Audit will implement the audit plan and also perform other random compliance audits as may be requested from time to time by management, the Audit Committee or the FCPA Compliance Officer.FCPA Compliance Officer. Appointed by the Company’s General Counsel, the FCPA Compliance Officer will be responsible for the FCPA Compliance Manual, implementing and monitoring the Company’s FCPA compliance program, including compliance certifications, and providing training to employees and third parties concerning the FCPA. The FCPA Compliance officer [sic] shall also investigate and approve the employment of all foreign agents, any gifts or entertainment with foreign officials, and the commencement of significant business operations outside the United States. The FCPA Compliance Officer shall also investigate any allegations of misconduct.Key’s FCPA Policy emphasized, “If the situation warrants a token gift of other than nominal value, the employee must consult with the FCPA Compliance Officer prior to offering such a gift. The approval of the FCPA Compliance Officer is required to ensure that the gift is consistent with the FCPA, and that the gift is lawful, customary, and necessary to the conduct of business in the country where it is made…. Employment of a foreign agent, commencement of significant business operations outside the United States, gifts, or entertainment of a foreign official must all be approved in advance by the FCPA Compliance officer.”Last of all, the FCPA Policy “recognizes and emphasizes the importance of anti-corruption training as an essential component of an FCPA compliance program. To that end, Key will provide FCPA Anti-corruption training, both in person and through web-based programs, periodically at times to be determined by the Company’s General Counsel.” Any employee who violates the FCPA or the Company’s FCPA Policy “will be disciplined and may be terminated. Intentional violations of the FCPA will result in termination.”In the second half of the FCPA Compliance Manual regarding procedures, the broad definitions of “foreign official” and “anything of value,” including with respect to third parties, as well as the need for due diligence and investigation of the “reputation, beneficial ownership, professional capability and experience, financial standing and credibility” and history of compliance of any prospective Representative and any acquisitions and joint ventures, are set out. The procedures require Key’s Accounting Department to be responsible for maintaining and enforcing Key’s accounting and record keeping policies and Key’s Internal Audit Department with auditing Key’s compliance with policies state in the Compliance Manual and related policies and procedures constituting its internal control system. The procedures require Key to “maintain a system of internal account controls sufficient to provide reasonable assurances” thata.transactions are executed in accordance with management’s general or specific authorization; b. transactions are recorded as necessary: (i) to permit preparation of financial statements in conformity with generally accepted accounting principles (“GAAP”) or any other criteria applicable to such statements; and (ii) to maintain accountability for assets; c. transactions are recorded in the books in accordance and compliance with GAAP, as well as applicable laws and regulations; d. access to Key assets is permitted only in accordance with management’s general or specific authorization; and e. the recorded accountability for corporate assets is compared with the existing assets at reasonable intervals and appropriate action is taken with respect to any differences.The procedures require “[m]onitoring and auditing systems” in place to detect policy violations and review personnel records of those who deal with governmental officials or who submit financial data that affect Key’s financial statements or reports. Similarly Key’s Audit Department must conduct FCPA audits based on an annual FCPA audit plant and must “interview persons responsible for administering, implementing and monitoring Key’s compliance program.” Notwithstanding the above, the plaintiffs in the civil action alleged that “although Key had compliance programs that looked strong on paper, in actuality Key did not have an effective compliance or training program in effect and therefore ‘created an atmosphere in which violations of laws and regulations and the Company’s own internal policies were ignored’ and there were ‘rampant FCPA violations.””In support, and as noted in Judge Harmon’s decision, plaintiffs’ complaint contained statements from six unidentified confidential witnesses who supposedly came forward “to testify against Key with regard to its illusory compliance program and its actual FCPA violations.”Judge Harmon’s decision summarizes these allegations, but found that the “sum of their allegations is that Key’s FCPA controls were adequate.” Regarding one of the confidential witness statements (“I don’t think internal audit [at Key] ever audited internationally”), Judge Harmon stated:“[T]there is no allegation that international audits are a requirement or that they are required for a company to have adequate internal controls over financial reporting. Key does file audited consolidated financial statements, and its auditors not only found that Key did not have a material weakness in internal controls for the year ending December 31, 2012, but its independent auditors confirmed that for that year “the Company maintained, in all material respects, effective internal control over financial reporting.” The complaint does not point to any misstatement in Key’s financial reporting that would have been discovered had an internal audit of international operations been done.”last_img read more

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Judge Finds The Term Instrumentality Unclear And Narrowly Construes Foreign Official Element

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. There is little substantive Foreign Corrupt Practices Act case law, even fewer judicial decisions of precedent. Nevertheless, in the aftermath of FCPA enforcement actions or merely FCPA scrutiny, plaintiffs counsel (no doubt representing shareholders on a contingent fee basis) frequently file securities fraud class actions hoping some get past the motion to dismiss stage.In deciding motions to dismiss, federal trial court judges occasionally directly comment upon FCPA issues and this post highlights a recent example in a matter involving Rio Tinto. As discussed below, a federal court judge found the term “instrumentality” in the FCPA’s “foreign official” definition “unclear” and otherwise narrowly construed the term in a way contrary to the DOJ’s current position.In Das v. Rio Tinto PLC (S.D.N.Y. Aug. 31, 2018, 2018 WL 4189512) purchasers of the company’s American Depositary Receipts alleged that Rio Tinto as well as Tom Albanes (former CEO and member of the board), Alan Davies (former CEO of the Energy & Minerals Group), and Sam Walsh (former CEO and member of the board) violated Section 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act. The underlying conduct concerned the company’s mining operations in Guinea and Rio Tinto entering into an arrangement with Francois Polge de Combret, a friend of Guinea’s then Presidnet Alpha Conde. As alleged in the complaint:“During the course of this relationship, Individual Defendants agreed to pay Combret $10.5 million (“Combret payment”) for his help protecting the mining rights for blocks 3 and 4, in which they were ultimately successful. Plaintiff alleges this payment constituted a bribe in violation of the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.”As to the alleged misleading statements at issue in the alleged securities fraud, Plaintiffs alleged:“During the class period, Defendants made numerous public statements to Rio Tinto’s investors via SEC filings, earnings calls, the Company’s code of conduct, media releases, and its website. These statements fall into five main categories: (1) Rio Tinto’s commitment to law abidance and anti-corruption, (2) the Company’s work with the GoG [Government of Guinea], (3) the Company’s contingent liabilities, (4) the adequacy of the Company’s of internal controls,  and (5) SOX certifications. Plaintiff contends that these statements were materially misleading because, in short, Defendants failed to disclose that they paid Combret a $10.5 million bribe which violated their code of conduct, subjected the Company to regulatory and legal action, and made clear the ineffectiveness of their internal controls.”The defendants moved to dismiss the action for, among other reasons, failure to state a claim. After reviewing the relevant legal standards and pleading requirements, Judge Andrew Carter first addressed whether Plaintiff pled the existence of any underlying illegal conduct and summarized the positions as follows: plaintiff alleges that the Combret payment violated the FCPA; Defendants contend that, absent allegations that the payment was made to a “foreign official,” it cannot violate the statute.Judge Carter stated, under the heading “Whether Combret is a Foreign Official,” as follows:“Plaintiff contends that Defendants indirectly bribed Guinean government officials by paying $10.5 million to Combret for the purposes of effectuating the $700-million settlement with the GoG that allowed the Company to maintain its hold on the Simandou concessions and strengthen its relationship with the GoG. Defendants respond that Plaintiff fails to allege that any of the Company’s payment to Combret was ultimately offered to any foreign official. Moreover, allegations that Combret and President Conde had a close relationship are insufficient to show that Combret actually offered President Conde anything of value.The Court agrees with Defendants that such allegations are insufficient.[…]Plaintiff argues in the alternative that Combret is himself a foreign official “acting as an ‘instrumentality’ of or ‘on behalf of the GoG,” and thus the payment was a direct bribe. First, the definition of “instrumentality” in the FCPA is unclear and not defined by statute. However, the text of the FCPA compels a reading of “instrumentality” as something other than a person, since the definition of a foreign official includes an “officer or employee of a … instrumentality [of a foreign government].” While not reaching this precise issue, courts assessing the meaning of “instrumentality” appear to have interpreted it as an entity, not a person. See, e.g., United States v. Duperval, 777 F.3d 1324, 1333 (11th Cir. 2015) (defining instrumentality as “an entity controlled by the government of a foreign country that performs a function the controlling government treats as its own”); United States v. Carson, No. SACR 09-00077- JVS, 2011 WL 5101701, at *4-5 (CD. Cal. May 18, 2011) (“[W]hether employees of state-owned companies could be “foreign officials” within[ ] the meaning of the FCPA turns on whether state-owned companies can be considered “instrumentalities” under any circumstances.”) (emphasis added). In addition, the DOJ and the SEC have indicated that such a reading should be followed. See U.S. Dep’t of Justice & SEC, A Resource Guide to the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act 20 (Nov. 14, 2012) (“The term ‘instrumentality’… can include state-owned or state-controlled entities.”). Since Combret is an individual, not an entity, he does not qualify as an instrumentality.Second, the FCPA requires that the individual act “in an official capacity for or on behalf of any such government.” Plaintiff does not allege that Combret worked for the GoG in any official capacity. By Plaintiff’s own admissions Combret acted “as an informal advisor” to President Conde and worked at an “independent advisory firm.” With no official position in the GoG, it strains logic to consider Combret a “foreign official.”Let’s pause here for a moment to point out that this judicial interpretation of the “foreign official” element is contrary to the DOJ’s current position. For instance, in the Legg Mason and Och Ziff enforcement actions concerning conduct in Libya, see this prior post, the DOJ stated:“Although Libyan Official 1 did not hold a formal title within the Libyan government, Libyan Official 1 possessed and used a Libyan diplomatic passport and conducted high-profile foreign and domestic affairs for, and on behalf of, the Libyan government. Libyan Official 1 made administrative and investment decisions for the LIA, including through proxies. Libyan Official 1 was a “foreign official” within the meaning of the FCPA.”Likewise, in the SBM Offshore enforcement action (see here for the prior post), the DOJ alleged that a subsidiary of an Italian oil and gas company was an “instrumentality” of the Kazakh government because it was granted a concession by the Kazakh government and was thus “acting in an official capacity for or on behalf” of the Kazakh government.  As highlighted in the prior post, the breadth of this type of allegation is practically boundless.However, Judge Carter rejected an expansive interpretation of “foreign official” in the Rio Tinto matter.In his decision, Judge Carter further concluded:“Plaintiff also fails to allege facts supporting the “knowing” element of an FCPA violation. Plaintiff relies on email exchanges between Individual Defendants to allege that Defendants knew that they were making an unlawful payment. It is clear that Defendants knew that they were making a payment. However, the complaint alleges no facts sufficient to show that Defendants were aware that the payment would be directed to a foreign official, as required by the FCPA.Accordingly, Plaintiff does not allege an FCPA violation here. Since the payment was not unlawful, failure to disclose it cannot violate the Exchange Act, and Plaintiff’s § 10-b claim must fail.As to the underlying claims, Judge Carter – like most federal trial court judges who have an FCPA-related securities fraud matter put on their docket – dismissed the claims. Consistent with other courts to address the issue, the judge held that law abidance and other statements in anti-corruption policies and procedures were non-actionable, aspirational puffery. Among other deficiencies the judge further stated as follows concerning alleged misstatements regarding the adequacy of the company’s internal controls:“Plaintiff alleges that statements about internal controls in Defendants’ 2011-2015 Form 20-Fs are materially misleading. Those filings state that Rio Tinto “maintains disclosure controls and procedures,” has “evaluated the effectiveness of the design and operation” of those controls and, “as of the end of the period covered by this report” those disclosure controls and procedures “were effective at a reasonable assurance level.”  The 2011 Form 20-F also states that “Rio Tinto makes immediate disclosure to the listing authorities of any information that a reasonable person would expect to have a material effect on its share price in accordance with their rules.”Plaintiff contends that the aforementioned statements are materially misleading because Defendants stated that Rio Tinto’s internal controls were sound despite knowing that its senior executives approved an unlawful payment. However as Defendants argue, an unlawful payment is not necessarily the result of faulty internal controls. Plaintiff offers no facts as to what internal controls were insufficient or not followed, how any internal controls may have been insufficient or not followed, or what actions could or should have been taken to avoid the alleged violation. Such “conclusory assertion[s] without any factual support” or specificity are insufficient to state a claim. Since Plaintiff does not specifically plead any deficiency in Rio Tinto’s internal controls, such statements are not materially misleading.” Learn More & Registerlast_img read more

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Increasingly failing communication between cells organelles is main cause of aging shows

first_img Source:https://www.su.se/ May 11 2018A basic discovery of how the cellular functions are connected to control aging is presented in the journal Cell Metabolism. The study shows that an increasingly deteriorating communication between the cells’ organelles is an important cause of aging. The discovery is the result of a collaboration between five research groups at the University of Stockholm and Gothenburg.”The whole project aims at finding new ways to address the problems of aging and, in the long term, to slow down or treat the onset of age-related diseases such as neurological diseases and dementia,” explains Martin Ott, professor at Stockholm University.In times when the general life expectancy increases, society is facing a growing challenge to provide an aging population with welfare and healthcare. It is therefore an urgent task to unravel the basic principles of biological aging, whose details are found at the cellular level.Related StoriesNANOLIVE‘s novel CX-A defines a new standard for live cell imaging in 96 well plates for continuous organelle monitoring in cell populationsAbcam Acquire Off-The-Shelf Diploid Library of Over 2,800 Knockout Cell LinesWhy women who work are less likely to develop dementiaOrganelles are the cell’s equivalent to the body’s organs, each fulfilling a specific function. Previous research has shown that in aging cells, the various organelles stop functioning one after the other, but it is unclear what causes this observation. Because the organelles are coordinated to counteract damage to proteins that occur in cells, their interdependencies are of great importance for aging and health.Communication problemsOne of the cell’s organelles is the mitochondrium and it acts as the cell’s power plant. The new study lead by Martin Ott shows that it is production of mitochondrial proteins that controls the well-being of the whole cell via previously unknown communication links. When mitochondria are exposed to stress, a protection program is activated to keep all the functions of the cell in check, a mechanism that also operates when cells age. Importantly, the study shows that in aging cells, this communication between the organelles collapses, which causes vital cellular functions to deteriorate or fail.”It has been a very rewarding and inspiring collaboration where each research group has contributed with key expertise. What we now want to investigate is when, how and why communication between cellular organelles ceases to function during aging.” says Claes Andréasson, a lecturer at Stockholm University and a senior author of the study.The discovery is based on studies of yeast cells. Although yeast may seem to have few similarities with humans, the mechanisms that control aging at the cellular age are essentially the same. Therefore, it is highly likely that the aging mechanisms identified at the cellular level in this study are also active in human cells.last_img read more

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Only about a quarter of US adults get enough exercise

first_imgFigure 2. Age-adjusted percentages of men aged 18–64 who met both aerobic and muscle-strengthening federal guidelines through leisuretime physical activity, by state: United States, 2010–2015 Related StoriesLiver fat biomarker levels linked with metabolic health benefits of exercise, study findsImplanted device uses microcurrent to exercise heart muscle in cardiomyopathy patientsA short bout of exercise improves brain function, study revealsPeople in Colorado for example were better than others at exercising regularly finds the report. The report notes that 32.5 percent adults in Colorado are meeting the guidelines. The District of Columbia as well as 13 other states too were performing better finds the report. Thirteen other states were lower than the national average with Mississippi at only 13.5 percent active adults.Results showed that on an average 28.8 percent of men and 20.9 percent of women met the guidelines for exercise. In the District of Columbia 40.5 percent men were working out regularly while in South Dakota only 17.5 percent men were active. Among women the least active numbers were from Mississippi at 10.5 percent and most active women were from Colorado at 33.6 percent. Professional and managerial occupations seemed to be more active than others. Working men and women were more likely to get regular exercise compared to non-working men and women found the report.According to Clarke it was expected that warm weather states would have more active adults than cold weather states like Colorado, New Hampshire, Massachusetts. But the results were different. Those that fared badly were states in the Southeast such as Florida, Georgia and Alabama, Clarke said. She said that although the target goals are met, this should inspire us to more forward and improve on them.This report measures physical activity during leisure time and does not measure other activities such as those who walk or cycle to work or take the stairs etc. say experts. According to experts 30 minutes a day of aerobic exercise or biking for five days and two days of resistance training using weights (running or swimming) could be adequate to meet the recommendations. This can keep up both physical as well as mental health and well being, experts recommend. By Dr. Ananya Mandal, MDJun 29 2018According to a new report from the Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) National Center for Health Statistics, only around 23 percent of the American adults meet the recommendations for aerobic and muscle-strengthening exercises.The recommendations from the US Department of Health and Human Services state that people between ages 18 and 64 should get at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity or 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity per week. In addition they should get muscle-strengthening activities at least twice a week. Figure 1. Age-adjusted percentages of adults aged 18–64 who met both aerobic and muscle-strengthening federal guidelines through leisure-time physical activity, by state: United States, 2010–2015The department launched its Healthy People 2020 initiative in 2010 and targeted that at least 20.1 percent people should meet this recommendation by 2020. According to the latest report from the CDC published yesterday, this goal has been surpassed with 22.9 percent meeting the target recommendations. Tainya Clarke, a health statistician and epidemiologist with the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics and one of the authors of the report, said that despite the overall numbers, there is a wide variation in numbers between states. Clarke explained that sociodemographic factors played a role in people’s adherence to the exercise recommendations. Source:https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nhsr/nhsr112.pdflast_img read more

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Researchers develop noise canceling technology that does not block ear canals

first_imgReviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Aug 25 2018Disruptive noise is almost everywhere, from people talking in the office corridor to road construction down the street to the neighbor’s lawn mower. Research being conducted at the University of Illinois’ Coordinated Science Laboratory is looking to improve this noisy frustration.Current noise canceling technology comes in the form of headphones and earbuds. To cancel noise, these headphones emit an anti-noise signal to contrast the external sounds. The time available for the headphones to produce this anti-noise signal is extremely short. This results in some noise getting through, which is why all these devices must cover the entire ear with noise-canceling material. However, wearing such ear-blocking devices for long periods of time is not comfortable, and can even be harmful.”Our goal is to not block the ear canal,” said Sheng Shen, lead author and a Ph.D. candidate in the Coordinated Science Laboratory and Dept. of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE). “We envision a behind-the-ear device that still achieves noise cancellation as good as the best headphones or earbuds available today.”The main idea behind this research involves combining wireless IoT networks with noise cancellation. A microphone is placed in the environment that senses sounds and sends them over wireless signals to an earpiece. Since wireless signals travel a million times faster than sound, the earphone can receive the sound information much faster than the actual sound itself.”This is similar to lightning and thunder — the lightning arrives much before the thunder, allowing people to prepare for the loud rumble,” said Shen’s advisor, Romit Roy Choudhury, an ECE Professor. “Similarly, our ear device gets the sound information in advance, and has much more time to produce a better anti-noise signal.”The figure below (and the attached video) shows an example of how this technology would work. The person who wants to cancel noise (Alice) would place the IoT microphone away from her, say on her office door. The noise from her coworkers’ conversation in the hallway is picked up by this IoT device and transmitted to Alice’s earpiece over a wireless connection. The actual sound arrives at the earpiece later, and because of this lead time, the noise can be fully canceled. As a result, it is no longer necessary to block the ear canal.Related StoriesScientists develop universal FACS-based approach to heterogenous cell sorting, propelling organoid researchAXT enhances cellular research product portfolio with solutions from StemBioSysComplement system shown to remove dead cells in retinitis pigmentosa, contradicting previous researchThere are however, a few limitations. The IoT microphone needs to be between the noise source and Alice. If noise is coming at her from all directions, a couple more IoT devices would need to be placed around her. In tests conducted during the research, the device designed by Shen and Choudhury’s group outperformed a leading headphone in overall noise cancellation and was rated better by the human participants.When asked about the potential privacy concerns involved with the device, Shen nullified some of the most common fears.”The most common privacy concern is that the device will secretly record someone’s voice,” Shen said. “This device is analog, so it has no capacity to record the sound. The moment the device hears the sound it is sent out wirelessly.”This differentiation is what separates Shen’s device from many IoT devices commonly used today, such as Amazon Echo and Google Home, which must record voice samples in order to operate.Shen and his colleagues are already receiving attention for their work. The research paper about the project was recently selected for presentation at the upcoming Association for Computing Machinery Special Interest Group on Data Communication (ACM SIGCOMM) Conference which takes place in Budapest, Hungary, in late August. The conference brings together global researchers across the field of computer networking and communications.”This is bound to change the way we think of noise cancellation, where networks of IoT sensors coordinate to enable quieter and more comfortable environments,” said ECE Assistant Professor Haitham Hassanieh, who is a co-author on this paper. Other co-authors include Nirupam Roy and Junfeng Guan, both ECE Ph.D. students at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.Looking forward, the team would like to expand the use of their device to provide noise cancellation for more than one individual at a time and make the wearable device even lighter for continuous use.Source: https://csl.illinois.edu/news/university-illinois-researchers-develop-method-cancel-noise-without-ear-blocking-headphoneslast_img read more

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Multiyear study data shows impact of new soft contact lens to slow

first_imgSep 19 2018New four-year study data shows the significant impact of a pioneering contact lens management approach to slowing the progression of myopia (nearsightedness) in children, including those whose treatment begins later. CooperVision is presenting the multi-year study’s latest outcomes during the BCLA Asia conference in Singapore this week, at which the globally increasing prevalence of myopia is among the most widely discussed issues. Physiological changes among 100 myopic children from Singapore, Canada, England, and Portugal were evaluated during the fourth year. The ongoing clinical trial is assessing a specially-designed, dual-focus myopia control 1-day soft contact lens in reducing the rate of progression of juvenile-onset myopia. The lens is commercially available as CooperVision® MiSight® in select countries.“Four-year results on the efficacy of our innovative myopia control lens represent a landmark in slowing myopia progression. The treatment is continuing to work for children who have been wearing MiSight® contact lenses for the entire study, and their axial length progression in this last year has slowed further. This illustrates the benefits of beginning myopia management as early as possible to maximize the benefit,” said Paul Chamberlain, Director of Research Programs for CooperVision.After year three, myopia progression slowed in children wearing the MiSight® contact lens: 59% as measured by mean cycloplegic spherical equivalent (SE) and 52% as measured by mean axial elongation of the eye when compared to the children in the control group wearing a single vision 1-day contact lens.In year four, children in the original control group were refit with the myopia control lens, and then continued to be tracked separately. Use of the dual-focus contact lens — which has alternating visual correction and treatment zones — was effective in slowing myopia progression in both groups: Related StoriesRevolutionary gene replacement surgery restores vision in patients with retinal degenerationRepurposing a heart drug could increase survival rate of children with ependymomaPuzzling paralysis affecting healthy children warns CDCNo other prospective randomized controlled study has offered conclusive data for such a high degree of continued efficacy in myopia management using a 1-day soft contact lens over four years. The contact lens-based approach does not induce common side effects exhibited by some alternative pharmacological therapies.The prevalence of myopia is projected to increase from approximately two billion people worldwide in 2010 to almost five billion people in 2050, bringing with it near- and long-term health challenge Not only does it create blurred vision, but also increases the likelihood of conditions later in life such as glaucoma, cataract, retinal detachment and myopic maculopathy if not addressed. There was a significant reduction in myopic progression for the previous single vision 1-day wearers, indicating that MiSight® contact lenses are also effective when beginning myopia management at an older age. There were no significant differences between groups for change in Spherical Equivalent Refractive Error and Axial Length over 12 months. Axial length growth of 0.07mm in the MiSight® group and 0.06mm in the previous control group, compared to 0.10mm seen in the MiSight® group in year three, represents further myopia slowing as the children age. There were no significant differences in myopia progression rates for two demographically matched populations in their first versus fourth years of MiSight® contact lens wear. The four-year results are another great learning for CooperVision and the entire optical industry on the capability to slow the progression of myopia in children. Though children benefit at whatever age the treatment is started, the sooner their myopia is managed with MiSight® contact lenses, the more effect and benefit they receive in reducing final levels and the future risk of related vision impairment issues,”said Stuart Cockerill, Senior Director, Myopia Management. Source:https://coopervision.com/last_img read more

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Study explores connection between sexuality and cognitive status in older adults

first_img Source:http://www.healthinaging.org/blog/the-link-between-cognitive-function-and-sexuality-in-older-adults/ – 83 percent of men and 57 percent of women had an intimate partner. The more impaired participants’ abilities to think and make decisions were, the less likely they were to have an intimate partner. – Women with lower cognitive scores were less likely than men with lower cognitive scores to have intimate partners. – Nearly half of all men with dementia were sexually active, as were 18 percent of women. – Among people with an intimate partner, the majority of men (59 percent) and women (51 percent) with dementia were sexually active. More than 40 percent of partnered men and women ages 80 to 91 living with dementia were sexually active. – More than 1 in 10 people living with a partner reported feeling threatened or frightened by a partner. This finding was similar among women and men and across different levels of cognitive problems. Experts and guidelines call on physicians to screen for elder abuse (the mistreatment of older people, which can take many forms, including physical, emotional, and sexual abuse, financial exploitation, and neglect), including sexual abuse, but definitions of abuse and standards of consent for sex vary widely. Reviewed by Alina Shrourou, B.Sc. (Editor)Sep 21 2018The number of people who live at home with Alzheimer’s Disease (AD), a brain disease that causes abnormal changes that kill brain cells, is expected to grow from 3.2 million today to more than 8 million in 2050.Experts agree that we know very little about sexuality among people living at home with AD or other cognitive problems. Older adults who have cognitive problems that impact the way they think and make decisions may ask physicians to help managing sexual problems. And caregivers may ask physicians about sexuality in the older adults for whom they provide care.One frequently asked question is: Do older adults always have the capacity to consent to sexual activity?Researchers have previously shown that the majority of people aged 57 to 85 have a spouse or other intimate partner and, among those with a partner, most are sexually active. Having an active sexual life is linked to better physical and mental health, higher quality of life, and lower rates of loneliness.To learn more about the connection between sexuality and cognitive status, researchers designed a new study. They analyzed data from the National Social Life, Health, and Aging Project to learn more about the relationship between sexual behavior, function, and cognition (people’s ability to think and make decisions). Their study was published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.Based on their study, the researchers reported that:center_img Related StoriesResearchers discover new therapeutic target for treatment of Alzheimer’s diseaseNew therapy shows promise in preventing brain damage after traumatic brain injuryNew research links “broken heart syndrome” to cancerThe researchers estimate that, among people living at home who are aged 62 and older, at least 1.8 million men and 1.4 million women with suspected or diagnosed dementia are sexually active. This number will more than double by 2050. However, rarely do these people (especially women) receive a physician’s counseling about sexual changes that may occur with dementia or other medical conditions.The researchers suggested that these findings can inform improved counseling, treatment, and person-centered decision-making by physicians and other healthcare providers caring for people with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.Sexual activity is an important aspect of human function throughout your lifetime, said the researchers. They added that respectful care for older adults, including people with cognitive impairments, requires an understanding of sexual norms and problems–and effective strategies to manage sexual concerns with dignity.last_img read more

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Good news bad news US bird reports sing both tunes

first_img Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) The State of the Birds 2014: United States of America from the U.S. North American Bird Conservation Initiative Committee takes a broader view, covering all 720 or so breeding bird species in the 50 states. It uses some of the same long-term data as the climate change report and as a “collective statement of both governmental and non-governmental organizations … [it] presents a more accurate picture” of where birds stand, says Mark Eaton, a conservation scientist for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) in Sandy, U.K.RSPB was the first to compile a state of the birds report, 15 years ago, in part to bring recognition to the country’s dedicated volunteer bird surveyors and in part to put their tallies to good use. Since 2004, BirdLife International has periodically published a state of the world’s birds. And in addition to the United States and the United Kingdom, there are national-level efforts in the Philippines, Paraguay, and Nepal, among others.The first U.S. State of the Birds report came out in 2009 and established the precedent of using birds that are confined to specific habitats as indicators of the health of those habitats: oceans, coasts, wetlands, arctic, forests, grasslands, and aridlands. “Birds are the quintessential canary in a coal mind,” says Peter Marra, a co-author of the report and director of the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center in Washington, D.C. “They are a wonderful indicator of environmental health.” Also, given all the long-term surveys, “I can’t think of any other taxa where this level of information has been compiled,” he adds.  In subsequent years, these annual reports used these data to evaluate specific impacts, such as the arrival of climate change and activities on private lands. Now, this year’s report goes back to the habitat-by-habitat approach and compares the 2009 findings with the current situation.Conservation working in some placesIt stresses that conservation works, pointing out that wetlands species, such as ducks, are thriving thanks to extensive protective legislation for those regions. Although there’s been a 40% loss of breeding grasslands birds since long-term monitoring began in 1968, that decline has leveled off since 1990 due to conservation, the new reports notes. Also, although forest birds are in trouble in general, the situation for species such as the golden-winged warbler and the oak titmouse is improving thanks to public-private partnerships setting aside forests. And the new report touts the recovery of the bald eagle, peregrine falcon, California condor, and brown pelican. A few winter shorebirds, such as the American oystercatcher, are also on the rebound. “It provides some inspiring examples of successes, showing that conservation can turn these trends around given sufficient resources and political will,” Butchart says.But on the downside, many habitats have not improved. Aridlands birds have continued to slip, with birds in Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico now suffering a 46% loss since 1968. The situation with some birds that migrate along coasts seems to be improving, but other shorebirds are in big trouble.Trouble in paradise Also, the new report calls Hawaii the “bird extinction capital of the world,” as 71 species have gone extinct there since people first arrived in 300 C.E., and 10 species have not been seen in 40 years. Habitat loss and invasive species, both predators and competing birds, are to blame. All of the state’s 33 native forest species are affected. Hawaii also hosts many seabirds, which have seen a 39% decline in 40 years.The group also came out with a Watch List, which includes birds already classified by the U.S. government as endangered or threatened as well as other declining species with limited ranges and populations. That list builds on other such watch lists produced by other organizations, Marra says, and totals 230 species. In addition, the report notes which common birds are rapidly disappearing and also need attention. The 33 species on that list—which is akin to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s list of Species of Special Concern—include one of Marra’s favorite childhood birds, the common nighthawk. Like the passenger pigeon, it once darkened the skies with huge flocks but now is only seen occasionally, he laments.So in memory of the last passenger pigeon, “I’m hoping [the report] touches a chord with the public about why birds are important,” Marra says. “We have most of the tools we need to tackle these problems and I don’t want to see another bird go extinct.””More [conservation] is needed, particularly to avoid extinctions in Hawaii and other islands,” Eaton agrees. Yet Ken Meyer, an ornithologist with the Avian Research and Conservation Institute in Gainesville, Florida, wonders whether the report will have the desired impact. In his experience, policymakers and legislators often ignore such reports, and he’s found that it is more effective to deal directly with landowners and the public. “You can make all the beautiful 10-page documents that you want, but you’ve got to get [them] out there,” he says. “That’s my big concern.” Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe Emailcenter_img On the heels of the 100th anniversary of the demise of the passenger pigeon, organizations interested in the fate of the rest of U.S. birds have independently released two reports to draw attention to avian perils and conservation needs.Yesterday, the Audubon Society introduced its analysis of which birds will have the most trouble finding suitable places to live as the climate warms. And today, it and 22 other conservation organizations, government agencies, and research labs put out The State of the Birds 2014 report. It “presents a very clear and easy to understand up-to-date summary of the population trends and status of the birds in the U.S.,” says Stuart Butchart, a conservation scientist at BirdLife International in Cambridge, U.K. “Everyone ought to pay attention to what this report tells us.”By folding long-term monitoring data from the Christmas Bird Count and the North American Breeding Bird Survey for 588 species into computer programs along with climate change predictions, the Audubon’s Birds and Climate Change Report concludes that 314 species may lose half their habitats over the next several decades. Although 188 species should be able to colonize new places, 126 will have no place else to go and 28 will lose all suitable habitat. The effort generated maps for each species showing how ranges might shift, shrink, or expand. It was designed to help conservation organizations and managers set priorities about what land and species need the most protection.  Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Countrylast_img read more

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Rats forsake chocolate to save a drowning companion

first_img Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe Email We’ve all heard how rats will abandon a sinking ship. But will the rodents attempt to save their companions in the process? A new study shows that rats will, indeed, rescue their distressed pals from the drink—even when they’re offered chocolate instead. They’re also more likely to help when they’ve had an unpleasant swimming experience of their own, adding to growing evidence that the rodents feel empathy.Previous studies have shown that rats will lend distressed companions a helping paw, says Peggy Mason, a neurobiologist at the University of Chicago in Illinois who was not involved in the work. In a 2011 study, for example, Mason and colleagues showed that if a rat is trapped in a narrow plastic tube, its unrestrained cagemate will work on the latch until it figures out how to spring the trap. Skeptics, however, have suggested that the rodents help because they crave companionship—not because their fellow rodents were suffering.The new study, by researchers at the Kwansei Gakuin University in Japan, puts those doubts to rest, Mason says. For their test of altruistic behavior, the team devised an experimental box with two compartments divided by a transparent partition. On one side of the box, a rat was forced to swim in a pool of water, which it strongly disliked. Although not at risk of drowning—the animal could cling to a ledge—it did have to tread water for up to 5 minutes. The only way the rodent could escape its watery predicament was if a second rat—sitting safe and dry on a platform—pushed open a small round door separating the two sides, letting it climb onto dry land.center_img Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country Within a few days, the high-and-dry rats were regularly aiding their soaking companions by opening the door, the team reports online today in Animal Cognition. They did not open the door when the pool was dry, confirming that the rats were helping in response to others’ distress, rather than because they wanted company, Mason says. Rats that had previously been immersed learned how to save their cagemates much more quickly than those who had never been soaked, suggesting that empathy drove their behavior, she adds. “Not only does the rat recognize distress, but he is even more moved to act because he remembers being in that situation.”Next, the team put the rodents to the ultimate test, pitting chocolate against altruism. In this experiment, rats on the dry platform had to choose between two doors, one that allowed their soaked companion to escape from the pool and another that provided access to a tasty chocolate treat. The rodents chose to help their companions before seeking the snack 50% to 80% of the time, showing that the urge to help a fellow rat was at least as strong as the desire for food, the authors say.People differ from rats in many ways, but the study supports a growing body of evidence that there’s an evolutionary basis for helpful behavior, independent of culture or upbringing, Mason says. “Humans are not helping purely because mom taught us to help,” she says. “In part—and to what degree remains to be seen—we help because it’s in our biology.”last_img read more

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Grooves near the moons right eye were gouged out by asteroid shrapnel

first_imgSome of the large troughs near the moon’s iconic “right eye” were gouged out by pieces of a New Jersey–sized asteroid that blasted the basin 3.8 billion years ago, a new study suggests. Southeast of Mare Imbrium, an ancient, lava-filled basin (foreground, above), a broad pattern of parallel grooves exists that doesn’t point back toward the center of the basin itself. Researchers never really knew what to make of this pattern, which probably wasn’t formed by material splashing out of the crater when it first formed. Instead, a new analysis suggests, these grooves were likely plowed out by shrapnel from the shattered asteroid itself, much of which kept traveling in the same direction along the moon’s surface after it made impact. The width of the groove pattern hints that the incoming asteroid was at least 250 kilometers wide, the researchers report online today in Nature. What’s more, the new analysis suggests that some pieces of the fractured asteroid—including chunks up to 5 kilometers across—kept going and flew back into space. By comparison, the asteroid or comet that helped wipe out the dinosaurs 66 million years ago is estimated to have been just 10 kilometers in diameter. Fragments from the moon impact circled the sun in Earth-crossing orbits and probably crashed into our planet, back onto the moon, or even into other objects to create yet more craters—which, depending on the relative speeds of the objects and their targets, could have measured between 20 and 50 kilometers across.last_img read more

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This coin reveals when Rome became an empire

first_imgThis coin reveals when Rome became an empire By Lizzie WadeAug. 14, 2017 , 10:55 AM When did Rome become an empire? Its coins hold a clue. Rome controlled only territory in Italy until 209 B.C.E., when it gained command over the Iberian Peninsula—which includes Spain and Portugal—during the Second Punic War against Carthage. Before the war, which featured Hannibal and his famous elephants, lead isotopes in Roman coins corresponded to sources of silver around Greece and Italy, researchers report today at the Goldschmidt Conference, which focuses on geochemistry, in Paris. After the war, however, Roman coins (like the one above) match the signature of the silver mines in the Iberian Peninsula. The conquest of Iberia was Rome’s first major expansion beyond Italy, minting its status as an empire.last_img read more

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An elusive molecule that sparks multiple sclerosis may have been found

first_img Email Mehau Kulyk/Science Source An elusive molecule that sparks multiple sclerosis may have been found Our immune cells normally pounce on intruding bacteria and viruses. But in multiple sclerosis (MS), immune cells target the nervous system instead. Now, researchers may have pinpointed a long-sought molecule called a self-antigen that provokes these attacks, pointing a way toward potential new treatments.“The work is monumental, and it’s tantalizing,” says neuroimmunologist Hartmut Wekerle of the Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology in Munich, Germany, who wasn’t connected to the research.Researchers have long suspected that a self-antigen—a normal molecule in the body that the immune system mistakenly treats as a threat—can trigger MS. The prime suspects have been proteins in myelin, the nerve insulation that erodes in patients with the disease. But after years of searching, scientists haven’t been able to pinpoint the molecule. By Mitch LeslieOct. 10, 2018 , 2:15 PM Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwecenter_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 (*) The brain of a multiple sclerosis patient To uncover other candidates, immunologists Roland Martin and Mireia Sospedra of University Hospital of Zurich in Switzerland and their colleagues analyzed immune cells known as T cells that came from a patient who died from MS. T cells normally switch on when they encounter protein fragments containing just a few amino acids that belong to an invading microbe, but they also turn on in people who have MS.The researchers wanted to determine which protein shards stimulated the patients’ T cells, so they tested 200 fragment mixtures, each containing 300 billion varieties. The two fragments with the strongest effect turned out to be part of a human enzyme called guanosine diphosphate-L-fucose synthase, which helps cells remodel sugars that are involved in everything from laying down memories to determining our blood type. T cells from 12 of 31 patients who had who either had been diagnosed with MS or had shown early symptoms of the disease also reacted to the enzyme, the researchers report online today in Science Translational Medicine. What’s more, T cells from four of the eight patients tested responded to a bacterial version of the enzyme—lending credence to the recently proposed idea that intestinal bacteria may help spark the disease.But, immunologist Ashutosh Mangalam of The University of Iowa in Iowa City says, “The gut microbiome angle is a bit of a stretch.” Some of the bacteria that produce the enzyme are less abundant in MS patients than in healthy people, he says.Overall, however, “It’s a very well done study” that uses a “very sophisticated technique,” says neuroimmunologist Howard Weiner of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.Although guanosine diphosphate-L-fucose synthase is prevalent in the brain, “it has never been a candidate in the past,” says neuroimmunologist Reinhard Hohlfeld of Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich. The discovery, he says, is “a first step in an interesting new direction.”If guanosine diphosphate-L-fucose synthase turns out to be one of the elusive MS self-antigens, dosing patients with it might tame symptoms such as numbness and muscle weakness in much the same way that allergy shots prevent people from reacting to substances like ragweed pollen, Sospedra says. She and her colleagues plan to start to test this strategy with MS patients next year.last_img read more

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Data sharing will be a major thrust of Trumps 500 million childhood

first_img By Jocelyn KaiserFeb. 27, 2019 , 1:15 PM Brain cancer survivor Grace Eline (right) and first lady Melania Trump (left) at the State of the Union address. Data sharing will be a major thrust of Trump’s $500 million childhood cancer plan Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country Email Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*)center_img Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe Jonathan Ernst/REUTERS President Donald Trump’s proposal in his State of the Union address earlier this month to spend $500 million over 10 years on pediatric cancer research will begin in 2020 with a focus on sharing patients’ data, federal officials say. That plan is getting a mixed response from researchers and patient advocates, who also worry that the initiative will come at expense of other parts of the National Cancer Institute’s (NCI’s) budget.During his speech, Trump described a “very brave” guest sitting with first lady Melania Trump—10-year-old brain cancer survivor Grace Eline, who raised funds for pediatric cancer research before developing the disease herself. “Many childhood cancers have not seen new therapies in decades. My budget will ask the Congress for $500 million over the next 10 years to fund this critical life-saving research,” Trump said. A $50-million-a-year boost would mean an 11% increase over the $462 million that NCI and other National Institutes of Health (NIH) institutes expect to spend this year on pediatric cancer. (In contrast, Trump administration officials have warned that they expect to issue a budget request to Congress next month that calls for an overall 5% cut to nondefense spending in the 2020 fiscal year that begins 1 October.)The Trump announcement came as a surprise to staff at NCI and cancer patient groups. NCI officials say details are still being worked out. But during a conference call with researchers and advocates on 14 February, NCI Director Ned Sharpless in Bethesda, Maryland, who has made “big data” part of his agenda, said data sharing will be a major initial thrust of the initiative. An NCI spokesperson explains to ScienceInsider that $50 million in 2020 “would afford a unique opportunity to leverage the power of existing data and develop new knowledge that will drive discovery and development of new approaches to treat childhood cancers.” That’s welcome news to University of California, Santa Cruz, genomics researcher Olena Morozova Vaske, who with David Haussler runs a pediatric cancer genome project. She and Haussler say that because pediatric cancers are very rare, it’s crucial to combine patient data from academic and industry clinical trials as well as international patients. That will take implementing new standards and building new digital infrastructure. Existing databases “need to all be talking to each other so we can consolidate data,” Vaske says. “You really have to make sure you’re capturing information from every single patient.”But some pediatric oncologists aren’t so sure that’s the best way to spend the first $50 million. “Data sharing is of the utmost importance and the community is already doing it arguably as well as possible,” says Crystal Mackall of Stanford University in Palo Alto, California. And efforts to pool genetic data on childhood tumors may be less productive than for adult cancers because pediatric cancers have relatively few mutations, which makes them less vulnerable to gene-targeted or immunotherapy drugs, says Peter Adamson of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia in Pennsylvania, chair of the NCI-funded Children’s Oncology Group. He suggests “the answers [to treatments] are not going to be revealed necessarily through whole genome sequencing” of children’s tumors.He and Mackall point to other needs, such as figuring out how to target so-called fusion proteins produced when two genes combine, which often drive the growth of pediatric tumors. Fusion proteins are already a focus of the cancer moonshot launched by former Vice President Joe Biden, but the investment could be larger, Adamson says. “It’s a harder problem [than data sharing] but will probably yield a higher return,” he says.Advocacy groups also point to the Childhood Cancer Survivorship, Treatment, Access, and Research (STAR) Act of 2018, a law Trump signed last summer that authorizes Congress to put $30 million annually for 5 years into pediatric cancer including biobanking and studies of survivors. “A lot of us want to build on and leverage what already exists,” which means the funding called for by Trump should come in addition to fully funding the STAR Act, says Danielle Leach, senior director of advocacy and government relations for St. Baldrick’s Foundation in Arlington, Virginia, and co-chair of the Alliance for Childhood Cancer.Another worry is whether the expected 5% cut for many research agencies in Trump’s 2020 budget request means the increase in pediatric cancer funding will come at the expense of other programs. “Until we see what [Trump] is proposing in funding for NIH and NCI in FY [fiscal year] 2020, we remain guarded and concerned,” says Jon Retzlaff, chief policy officer for the American Association for Cancer Research in Washington, D.C.As for the details of the initiative, NCI doesn’t expect to form a blue-ribbon planning committee, as it did for the moonshot. But, “We look forward to working with the cancer community and we will continue engaging them in the coming months,” the spokesperson says.last_img read more

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