Jul
22

Insurers Propose Rate Hikes For Plans On The Individual Market

first_imgNews reports detail the latest on insurers’ efforts in Maryland and Connecticut to gain approval for increases in 2015 premiums on the state exchanges.The Washington Post: CareFirst Seeks Price Hikes For Individual Health PlansMaryland’s dominant insurance company, CareFirst, is proposing hefty premium increases of 23 to 30 percent for consumers buying individual plans next year under the federal health-care law, according to filings released Friday. The rate proposals by CareFirst and several other carriers were posted on the Web site of the Maryland Insurance Administration and paint a mixed picture. Two other insurers, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan and Evergreen Health Cooperative, are proposing to lower rates for next year, by 12 percent and about 10 percent, respectively (Sun, 6/7).Politico Pro: Maryland Proposed Rates Reflect Market VolatilityFive Maryland health insurers are considering dramatic changes in their rates next year, reflecting volatility that is likely to greet the second year of Obamacare coverage nationwide. CareFirst BlueChoice and CareFirst of Maryland want to raise rates by 22.8 percent and 30.2 percent, respectively. But two insurers want to make big cuts. Kaiser Foundation Health Plan is pitching a 12.1 percent cut, and Evergreen Health Cooperative wants a 10.3 percent cut (Haberkorn, 6/6). The CT Mirror: Healthcare Advocate Wants Hearing On Anthem Rate RequestState Healthcare Advocate Victoria Veltri has asked the Connecticut Insurance Department to hold a public hearing on Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield’s proposal to raise premiums for its individual-market health plans by an average of 12.5 percent next year. Veltri also urged Insurance Commissioner Thomas B. Leonardi to consider holding public hearings on all rate proposals filed by insurers offering coverage through the state’s health insurance exchange. ConnectiCare Benefits requested an 11.8 percent increase in its base rates and HealthyCT proposed decreasing its premiums by an average of 8.9 percent. UnitedHealthcare also proposed rates for plans that would be sold on the exchange’s individual market for the first time in 2015 (Becker, 6/6). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription. Insurers Propose Rate Hikes For Plans On The Individual Marketlast_img read more

Jul
22

State Highlights Caring For Texans Injured OnTheJob Heroin Deaths In Md Pertussis

first_imgState Highlights: Caring For Texans Injured On-The-Job; Heroin Deaths In Md.; Pertussis In Calif. Texas Tribune: Behind Texas Miracle, A Broken System For Broken Workers In formerly depressed South Texas, gas flares from the fracking boom can be seen from outer space. While Texas has a Division of Workers’ Compensation, it is the only state that doesn’t require any private employer to carry workers’ compensation insurance or a private equivalent, so more than 500,000 people have no occupational benefits when they get injured at work. That means they often rely on charities or taxpayers to pay for their care (Root, 6/29).Texas Tribune:  After Catastrophic Fall, The Fight Of One Worker’s Life While Texas has created more jobs than any other state over the last decade, it also leads the nation in the number of worker deaths, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. The problem is particularly acute in the Texas construction industry, where 60 percent of the workforce has never received basic safety training and one in five workers reports sustaining an injury that required medical attention, according to the report “Build A Better Texas,” compiled last year by the Worker’s Defense Project and researchers from the University of Texas at Austin. About 40 percent of employers in the construction business offer workers’ compensation insurance, the report found (Root, 6/30).The Washington Post: Heroin Deaths Spike In Maryland Heroin-related deaths in Maryland spiked 88 percent from 2011 to 2013, according to figures released Friday by the state’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and intoxication overdoses of all types now outnumber homicides in the state (Svrluga, 6/27).Baltimore Sun:  Maryland Heroin Overdose Deaths JumpAn alarming spike in heroin and other drug overdose deaths in Maryland has prompted what the state’s health secretary calls an “all hands on deck” effort to investigate and treat addiction. The number of drug- and alcohol-related deaths in Maryland rose to 858 in 2013 from 799 the previous year, according to data released by the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene on Friday. Much of the increase is due to heroin, particularly when it is laced with fentanyl, a powerful prescription painkiller used by cancer and other patients, now being illicitly manufactured in drug labs, said Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, the department’s secretary (Marbella, 6/27).Los Angeles Times: California’s Pertussis Epidemic Escalates, Health Officials Report California’s pertussis epidemic has escalated, state health officials said Friday, with 4,558 cases reported this year as of Tuesday — 1,100 of those in the last two weeks. “We are off to a really bad start in 2014,” Dr. Gil Chavez, state epidemiologist with the California Department of Public Health, said during a phone call with reporters Friday (Brown, 6/27).The New York Times: Rations Reduced As Demand Grows For Soup Kitchens The New York City Coalition Against Hunger has estimated that one in six city residents are “food insecure,” or living in homes where there is not enough money to put enough food on the table. In a 2013 survey, the group reported that 254 food pantries and soup kitchens had seen demand increase 10 percent, on average, over the previous year. “The hunger crisis in New York is the worst that it’s been in decades,” said Joel Berg, the group’s executive director, adding that people had already been struggling in a tough economy before their food stamps were reduced last fall, when federal cuts were made to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (Hu, 6/27).The Wall Street Journal: A Place To Care For Children It is one of the saddest corners of the health-care field — hospice care for children — and it has been relatively neglected. Now, a Brooklyn health-care organization hopes to change that. MJHS, formerly known as Metropolitan Jewish Health System, plans to open what it says is the city’s first residence for dying children and their families on 10 acres of property on the water in Manhattan Beach (Kusisto, 6/29).Denver Post: Mental Health Crisis Hotline Ready To Go Statewide In AugustIn just a matter of weeks, the approximately 100 calls received every day at a local crisis center — everything from people who feel suicidal to those who are grieving or stressed — are expected to jump to about 500 daily. Metro Crisis Services, a nonprofit local hotline, won a $3 million state contract to expand its call center into the first statewide mental health crisis hotline. It’s part of a larger, $20 million plan to change the way people going through a mental health crisis can access help. The plan was proposed by Gov. John Hickenlooper after the Aurora theater shooting and the Newtown, Conn., school shooting (Robles, 6/28).Denver Post: Lawmakers In 11 States Approve Low-THC Medical Marijuana Bills Spurred by the stories of epileptic children being treated in Colorado with cannabis oil, lawmakers across the country this year have made a dramatic change in how they talk about marijuana. Thus far, nine states have passed laws legalizing either the use of non-psychoactive marijuana extracts for medical treatment or the study of such products. The slate of states — Alabama, Florida, Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah and Wisconsin — reads in part like a list of states previously most resistant to changes in marijuana laws (Ingold, 6/30).Sioux Falls Argus Leader: Online Medical Records Increase Privacy Risks Every year, thousands of small claims and civil court cases are filed in South Dakota to collect medical debts. Many of those cases contain an itemized list of the medical procedures for which a hospital, doctor or clinic is seeking payment, and that list is a public record. That means that once confidential medical information becomes part of a lawsuit, that information no longer is strictly confidential. The type of procedure, date or dates performed and the treatment — which doctors would be legally liable for releasing to the public under other circumstances — all become public and available for scrutiny once a case goes to collections (Hult, 6/30).Santa Fe New Mexican: N.M. Paid Arizona Firm Ahead Of Provider Shake-UpGov. Susana Martinez’s administration shook up the state’s mental health system last June when it said an audit had revealed 15 nonprofit groups that provided treatment to the poor had overbilled Medicaid by as much as $36 million. The groups were stripped of their contracts, and a handful of companies from Arizona were brought in to replace them. But months before the audit was even complete, the Martinez administration was already paying at least one of the Arizona companies for salaries, travel and legal fees, state records show. At least one payment to the company, Agave Health Inc., was made before the audit had even begun, according to the records (Malone, 6/28).Miami Herald: Mayo Clinic Left Out Of State Plan For More Cancer Research Dollars Gov. Rick Scott’s plan to spend tax dollars on boosting the national prominence of Florida’s top cancer centers came as a pleasant surprise to the Mayo Clinic. … Mayo Jacksonville officials figured they — and the 14,000 cancer patients seen at the Florida site — would benefit from Scott’s plan. But Mayo, nestled in a forest of pine trees in suburban Jacksonville, has learned that being “Florida’s best-kept secret,” as its leaders like to say, has political consequences. As this year’s legislative session wore on, it became clear that Mayo would be snubbed in favor of centers that enjoy more support in Tallahassee (Mitchell, 6/29).The News Journal:  Teledoctors Save Delaware Families Time, Miles Nicole Tolosa had rearranged her family’s life so they could shuttle her 6-year-old son, Ezekiel, upstate for treatment and therapy for his hearing problems. … So when Nemours doctors asked Tolosa if she wanted to try a new way of getting Ezekiel the help he needed, by conducting appointments via a webcam set up at a Nemours’ office in Seaford, she leapt at the chance. … More recently, the hospital started making those video-call connections even within its own departments, from one end of the hospital to the other (Fisher, 6/29).Associated Press: Chiropractic College Must Accommodate Blind, Court Rules The Iowa Supreme Court ordered the nation’s leading chiropractic college on Friday to make accommodations to allow blind students to complete degrees, in an important victory for the rights of the disabled. The court rejected Palmer College of Chiropractic’s contention that eyesight is a requirement for the profession, which involves adjusting patients’ spines to treat back pain. The Davenport, Iowa-based college argued that chiropractors must be able to read X-rays to deliver safe and effective adjustments and that allowing blind students to rely on assistants for that information wasn’t feasible (Foley, 6/27).Detroit Free Press: Michigan Bills That Would Ban Minors From Buying E-Cigarettes Cause Concern Keeping e-cigarettes out of the hands of minors is the intent, but some fear that a package of three bills awaiting Gov. Rick Snyder’s signature could establish the vapor-making cigarette alternative as something other than a tobacco product. And that, in turn, could mean less regulation over a product for which the dangers — or benefits — are still not clear, they say (Erb, 6/30). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.last_img read more

Jul
22

CBO Slowed Federal Health Spending Yields Savings

first_imgFederal spending on health care has slowed sharply, partly as a result of the federal health care law, reports the Congressional Budget Office. But the changes are not sufficient to resolve the nation’s long-term debt, the report finds.The New York Times: Budget Office Lowers Its Estimate On Federal Spending For Health CareThe growth of federal spending on health care will continue to decline as a proportion of the overall economy in the coming decades, in part because of cost controls mandated by President Obama’s health care law, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said on Tuesday. The budget office said in its annual 25-year forecast that federal spending on major health care programs would amount to 8 percent of gross domestic product by 2039, one-tenth of a percentage point lower than its previous projection (Joachim, 7/15).The Washington Post: CBO: Slowing Health-Care Costs Yield Big Savings, But Not Enough To Bring Down Our Big DebtThe fastest-growing part of the federal budget — spending on health-care programs — has slowed sharply in recent years. And while no one knows quite why that’s happening, the Congressional Budget Office is predicting substantial savings. For the 10-year period beginning in 2010, the estimated cost of Medicare and Medicaid — the government health programs for the elderly and the poor — has dropped by $1.23 trillion, according to revised CBO projections. In its latest look at the nation’s long-term finances, released Tuesday, CBO predicts that the savings will grow by 2039 to 1.5 percent of the economy — or, in today’s dollars, roughly $250 billion a year (Montgomery, 7/15).The Wall Street Journal: CBO Sees Medicare’s Financial Picture ImprovingThe biggest Medicare program is expected to remain financially solvent through 2030, five years longer than previously expected, according to a government estimate released Tuesday that predicts the program’s health-care costs will grow more slowly than they did before the recession. The report by the Congressional Budget Office said Medicare’s financial picture had improved sharply since its February forecast, when the nonpartisan budget scorekeeper projected that the portion of the government-run health program that provides hospital coverage for seniors and the disabled would exhaust its reserves in 2025 (Paletta, 7/15).The Hill: CBO Says US Deficit Levels Are UnsustainableWashington’s failure to contain entitlement spending is biting into the nation’s long-term fiscal outlook, the Congressional Budget Office warned in a Tuesday report that found the nation’s debt would jump to 106 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2039. The CBO said the rising costs of entitlement programs like Medicare and Social Security as the U.S. population continues to age are the drivers of U.S. debt (Becker, 7/15).The Hill: O-Care Controls Will Curb Health SpendingA new report from the Congressional Budget Office says cost control measures in ObamaCare will help reduce the growth in federal healthcare spending over the next 25 years. The report says federal healthcare spending will be equal to 8 percent of GDP by 2039, down from a projection last year of 8.1 percent. The savings would amount to $250 billion in today’s dollars, CBO found (Al-Faruque, 7/15). CBO: Slowed Federal Health Spending Yields Savings This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.last_img read more

Jul
22

Do Small Military Hospitals Meet The Grade

first_img This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription. Do Small Military Hospitals Meet The Grade? The New York Times takes a critical look at small military hospitals where the limited number of patients may compromise doctors’ ability to treat serious problems. Other stories look at a surge in surgery prices and at programs to standardize children’s surgical care.The New York Times: Smaller Military Hospitals Said To Put Patients At RiskMrs. Smith underwent hernia surgery at Winn Army Community Hospital in Fort Stewart, Ga., one of 40 hospitals across the country run by the armed forces. Her case illustrates what outside experts and dozens of current and former military hospital workers interviewed by The New York Times call a signal failing in a system that cares for 1.35 million active-duty service members and their families, among others. Put simply, they say, many of the hospitals are so small and the trickle of patients so thin that it compromises the ability of doctors and nurses to capably diagnose and treat serious illnesses. … Two-thirds of the hospitals last year served 30 or fewer inpatients a day (LaFraniere and Lehren, 9/1). NBC News: Surgery Prices Surge With Innovation And Consolidation Under Obamacare The price to remove a gall bladder or replace a hip has spiked more than 20 percent during the past five years, according to an analysis of data collected for NBC News. Surgery has bloomed into a $500 billion industry in the United States, where 80 to 100 million procedures are performed annually — a per-capita rate that’s some 50 percent higher than in the European Union, said Dr. John Birkmeyer, a researcher and adjunct professor at the Dartmouth Institute and in the university’s Community & Family Medicine program. The reason? Expensive yet safer technologies and hospital consolidations that create medical monopolies, according to doctors and researchers (Briggs, 8/31).The Wall Street Journal: Programs Aim To Standardize Surgical Care For Children For parents, the prospect of a child’s surgery can be frightening, with little information on how to pick the best hospital or understand complex procedures. To help, surgeons have developed a new classification system for pediatric surgical centers according to the level of care they provide, similar to the one that classifies trauma centers. Meanwhile, hospitals are offering new programs to help demystify the risks and benefits of pediatric surgery (Landro, 9/1). Dallas Morning News: Baylor, Methodist Hospital Systems Aligning With EliteTwo of the largest health care systems in North Texas are aligning with two of the best-known national providers, part of ongoing efforts to improve quality and control the cost of care. Baylor Scott & White Health said it is about to complete an agreement that will make three of its Dallas-area hospitals part of the Cleveland Clinic’s national cardiology network. And Methodist Health System plans to partner with the Mayo Clinic, The Dallas Morning News has learned. Citing nondisclosure agreements, Methodist did not offer details. But it appears that Methodist will join Mayo’s expanding network of affiliates across the country. Affiliates can consult with Mayo specialists, share Mayo know-how and get advice on improving operations (Jacobson, 8/29).last_img read more

Jul
22

Tapping Technology Patient Involvement For Healing

first_img A growing number of primary care doctors are leaving the traditional medical clinic and insurance systems behind and working more directly with patients. Sometimes called “concierge care” or “direct primary care,” the goal is to strip out layers of management that can come between patients and doctors. (Miller, 3/31) The New York Times: The Healing Power Of Your Own Medical Records The Philadelphia Inquirer: Annual Physicals Are Back In Fashion, But With A Difference Minnesota Public Radio: How Primary Doctors Are Making It Personal Reuters: Web Searches May Predict Disease Risk Among Populations Steven Keating’s doctors and medical experts view him as a citizen of the future. A scan of his brain eight years ago revealed a slight abnormality — nothing to worry about, he was told, but worth monitoring. And monitor he did, reading and studying about brain structure, function and wayward cells, and obtaining a follow-up scan in 2010, which showed no trouble. … So when he started smelling whiffs of vinegar last summer, he suspected they might be “smell seizures.” (Lohr, 3/31) center_img Health economists and medical groups including the American College of Physicians and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have concluded that the standard checkup and battery of routine tests waste money, do not prolong life, and often result in overdiagnosis and unnecessary treatment. … “Today, it is a conversation about wellness and prevention. An opportunity to ask your patient about smoking, nutrition, and personal relationships.”(Dribben, 3/31) This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription. Internet search data might someday help estimate the prevalence of noncommunicable diseases like stroke, heart disease or cancer, a new study suggests. Web searches are often linked with behavior, said Svetha Venkatesh, one of the study’s co-authors. (Doyle, 3/31) Tapping Technology, Patient Involvement For Healing The New York Times looks at potential health gains when patients have full and easier access to their medical information, while Reuters reports on using web searches to predict population disease risks. Other stories examine the growing focus on wellness and prevention during physicals and how doctors are altering their practices.last_img read more

Jul
21

Why the fight over Mexicos labour reforms is the latest threat to

first_img Recommended For YouKenyan, Tanzanian currencies seen weakening, Zambian Kwacha gainingDavid Rosenberg: Deflation is still the No. 1 threat to global economic stability — and central banks know itTrans Mountain construction work can go ahead as National Energy Board re-validates permitsBank of Canada drops mortgage stress test rate for first time since 2016The storm is coming and investors need a financial ark to see them through Comment AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite Mexican lawmakers are expected to soon clear a key hurdle to the ratification of the new North American Free Trade Agreement by passing legislation enabling a major overhaul of the country’s labour laws.But that might not be enough to win the support of skeptical Congressional Democrats.Driven by a belief that the original NAFTA failed in its promise to narrow wide gaps in worker rights and wages between Mexico and the U.S., some are demanding to reopen talks in order to negotiate stronger enforcement provisions. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says they’ll also seek proof that the reforms are being implemented. The new NAFTA deal is ‘in trouble’ amid looming elections, fights over tariffs ‘I’m not optimistic’: Political will for passage of new NAFTA rapidly evaporating in America Canada won’t ratify new NAFTA until steel and aluminum tariffs lifted, warns key U.S. Senator Depending how hard the Democrats dig in, the demands could throw an already troubled ratification process completely off course this year — particularly now that Canada and Mexico have both said reopening the deal is a non-starter.“There’s a lot of politics going on, of course,” said Lance Compa, senior lecturer in international labour law at Cornell University and a former research director at the NAFTA commission for labour co-operation.Related Stories:Mexico and U.S. try new trade fix to win over Democrats -officialMexico says trade deal dispute panel fix must be ‘across the board’White House official optimistic on US-Mexico-Canada trade deal“They don’t want to give Trump a victory lap, especially when it runs right into the 2020 elections. But I also think the Democrats and Pelosi are sincere in wanting to see these reforms really happen in Mexico. In the long run that’s what’s going to solve the differential problem.”Facing pressure from Pelosi to speed up the legislation, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has said a new bill to protect worker rights required under the trilateral pact should pass. His Morena party — which has a majority in both houses of Mexican Congress — is aiming to pass the laws this month, after missing a January 1 deadline.Though U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer has suggested additional enforcement measures could be written into implementing legislation in the U.S., Congressional Democrats say the rules must be built into the treaty itself to ensure they are binding for all three countries.That would mean reopening talks, they say, a step that’s been ruled out by officials in all three countries and could scupper plans to have the deal approved before the U.S. Congress rises for its August recess. That would likely push the deal’s ratification into 2020, where it risks getting lost in the politics of the presidential election.Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. Naomi Powell “My own feeling is it’s not going to go anywhere,” said Compa. “There are too many dissonant opinions in the room.”An annex to the new NAFTA’s labour chapter calls for Mexico to pass laws ending employer interference in unions and establishing “independent and impartial bodies” to register union elections and resolve disputes. A system must be set up to verify that the election of union leaders and the approval of collective agreements occur through free and secret votes. Independent labour courts are to be created to handle disputes.Among other things, the changes are intended to root out the widespread problem of so called “protection agreements” negotiated between union leaders and management without worker approval. They would also replace the current dispute settlement system managed by tripartite boards of government, employees and unions – widely criticized for favouring company-controlled unions over independent ones, said Alvaro Santos, a Georgetown University law professor and former deputy chief negotiator on NAFTA for Lopez Obrador’s government.“It’s a complete overhaul in the labour relationship in Mexico for sure,” he said. “I don’t think people realize the full reach of this reform or how exceptional it was to have it in a trade agreement. It’s a big, big step.”The deal isn’t the first to link trade and labour issues. That distinction belongs to the original NAFTA, which attempted to address worker rights through a side accord calling on all three countries to enforce their own domestic labour laws – including child labour rules and safety standards. But that agreement left out guarantees of free unions that might press for higher wages and the rights of workers to pick their own leaders.And though increased trade enabled by the deal was meant to improve the well-being and wages of Mexican workers — thereby preventing jobs from being lured away from higher wage U.S. jurisdictions — many believe the opposite occurred, analysts say.Indeed, though the extent to which labour intensive jobs left the U.S. due to NAFTA is a subject of heated debate among economists, the issue nevertheless looms large in Democrats’ thinking about the new NAFTA.“The feeling is the promises were glorious on the eve of signing NAFTA but little of that took place,” said Harley Shaiken, a trade specialist and chair of the Center for Latin American Studies at the University of California, Berkeley.What’s more, though the U.S. sharpened enforcement provisions in subsequent trade deals with Columbia, Peru and Central America, “the moment the ratification took place, things went back to normal. Around the edges a little improvement but not much beyond that,” Shaiken said.It’s a complete overhaul in the labour relationship in Mexico for sure… It’s a big, big stepAlvaro Santos “So for many Democrats they want to see the reform prior to signing this time. They want to see on the ground that workers can form independent unions in the export sector and they can bargain collectively.”Pelosi has yet to indicate what sort of enforcement and evidence is required to win the necessary votes from Democrats. Establishing a system of labour courts would take two to four years, Compa says, and determining whether union rights are being enforced on the ground could also take time.A worker, left, welds the chassis of a Honda Fit vehicle on the production line after the opening ceremony for Honda Motor Co.’s new plant in Celaya, Mexico. Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.AP Photo/Marco Ugarte Twitter April 11, 20196:00 AM EDTLast UpdatedApril 11, 20196:01 AM EDT Filed under News Economy Share this storyWhy the fight over Mexico’s labour reforms is the latest threat to new NAFTA deal Tumblr Pinterest Google+ LinkedIn 2 Comments Facebook The pro-labour stance and power of Lopez Obrador’s administration suggests “a lot of goodwill on the part of the new government to see this through and make sure it’s effective,” said Santos of Georgetown University. “I think the questions that are coming up in the new house regarding enforcement and implementation are important. The question is how can they be addressed.”But in the meantime, Pelosi has said that while the Mexican legislation is necessary for the pact to be considered, they don’t guarantee it will be ratified. Democrats are also pushing for changes to provisions in the deal that provide 10 years of patent protection for a class of drugs known as biologics. Those protections could raise costs by protect the drugs from competition from cheaper alternatives, they warn.“’Unless’ doesn’t mean ‘if you do this, then we will support it,’” she told Politico. “Unless you do this we can’t even consider it.”• Email: npowell@nationalpost.com | Twitter: Reddit advertisement Susana Gonzalez/Bloomberg Featured Stories Why the fight over Mexico’s labour reforms is the latest threat to new NAFTA deal Depending how hard the U.S. Democrats dig in, the demands could throw an already troubled ratification process completely off course this year Join the conversation → More Email Sponsored By: What you need to know about passing the family cottage to the next generation ← Previous Next →last_img read more

Jul
21

Energica Vows To Recover From Fire For 2019 MotoE Season

first_imgDorna Sports, the MotoE organizers, released a statement saying “Dorna Sports and all our partners in this new venture are committed to getting the FIM Enel MotoE World Cup back on track as soon as possible, with work already underway to begin rebuilding and replacing materials and motorcycles lost in the fire. MotoE will race in 2019 and a revised calendar will be announced in due course.”Energica lost all eighteen motorcycles they had prepped to race in the 2019 MotoE season. This morning they sent an email out to everyone on their mailing lists stating, “This setback does not stop our mission, as challenges ARE and ALWAYS will be part of our DNA. As tenacious Italians of the Motor Valley we are hard at work ALREADY to bring this project forward – as we strongly believe in it.”“The only thing that burns is our passion and we will do everything necessary to save this amazing world cup… be ready, we’ll see you on the track!”What an amazing attitude from a company that could have easily and understandably withdrawn from the whole of the 2019 MotoE season; indeed, most did not think they would be able to recover. But instead of being knocked back on their heels by this unfortunate event, they are taking the challenge on and aiming to prep other electric Ego race motorcycles in time for the rescheduled opening race.Right on, Energica, we’re all rooting for you!! This might be the definition of “scrappy.”Just a couple of days ago Energica Motorcycles’ entire MotoE fleet of Ego race bikes was destroyed in a fire at the Jerez circuit. The entire community was, and remains, heartbroken for the company who lost so much equipment and research. Thankfully, no one was hurt in the fire. The opening race of the MotoE season at Jerez has been cancelled, understandably, but the organizers say the 2019 season will continue nonetheless. Author Liberty Access TechnologiesPosted on March 18, 2019Categories Electric Vehicle News Source: Electric Vehicle News Jaguar I-Pace Looks Toasty After Fire Of Unknown Causecenter_img More Fires MotoE Opener Cancelled After Fire Destroys All Motorcycles Tesla Model S Fire From Flat Tire & A Tow Truck? Videoslast_img read more

Jul
21

Its Crazy The Lengths Some Will Go To Disparage EVs

first_imgIn the past, there were similar arguments against the internet, mobile phones, and online shopping websites.Source: Electric Vehicle Newslast_img

Jul
21

Dancer value at 61 to eclipse Star

first_imgRon Cox Share on Twitter Share on WhatsApp Shares00 Horse racing Horse racing First published on Wed 2 Apr 2008 19.58 EDT The Recap: sign up for the best of the Guardian’s sport coverage Share on Twitter Owner Clive Smith’s desire to see Kauto Star end the season on a high note is understandable, but today’s Totesport Bowl Chase at Aintree could be one race too many for the Cheltenham Gold Cup second. From a betting angle, it is certainly unappealing to side with Kauto Star at 8-11 after his laboured effort at last month’s soft-ground Festival.Undoubtedly Kauto Star has been pleasing trainer Paul Nicholls at home in the three weeks since Cheltenham, otherwise he would not be running. However, there was no spark from the 2007 Gold Cup winner at any stage last time and he looked to have a hard race in just managing to hold off Neptune Collonges for second spot. Share on Facebook … we have a small favour to ask. The Guardian will engage with the most critical issues of our time – from the escalating climate catastrophe to widespread inequality to the influence of big tech on our lives. At a time when factual information is a necessity, we believe that each of us, around the world, deserves access to accurate reporting with integrity at its heart.More people are reading and supporting The Guardian’s independent, investigative journalism than ever before. And unlike many news organisations, we have chosen an approach that allows us to keep our journalism accessible to all, regardless of where they live or what they can afford. But we need your ongoing support to keep working as we do.Our editorial independence means we set our own agenda and voice our own opinions. Guardian journalism is free from commercial and political bias and not influenced by billionaire owners or shareholders. This means we can give a voice to those less heard, explore where others turn away, and rigorously challenge those in power.We need your support to keep delivering quality journalism, to maintain our openness and to protect our precious independence. Every reader contribution, big or small, is so valuable. Support The Guardian from as little as $1 – and it only takes a minute. Thank you. Share on Messenger Since you’re here… Read more Share via Email Support The Guardian Share via Email Kauto Star Share on Pinterest Topics Wed 2 Apr 2008 19.58 EDT Share on LinkedIn I cannot go along with the notion that his below-par run was down to the brilliance of Denman, and there has to be a question mark over Kauto Star’s ability to bounce back to the sort of form that saw him thrash the Nicky Richards-trained Monet’s Garden eight lengths at Ascot.Exotic Dancer (2.35) has yet to get the better of Kauto Star, but this could be his day. After an interrupted preparation, Exotic Dancer was a long way below his best when fifth in the Gold Cup, his first outing since the King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day when Kauto Star again had his measure.New tactics were tried with Exotic Dancer at Kempton, and having more use made of him than usual did not work. Jonjo O’Neill’s gelding had got to within half a length of Kauto Star at Haydock and at 6-1 with Coral he is value to follow up his wide-margin victory in this race a year ago. On that occasion Our Vic trailed in a weary third. David Pipe’s 10-year-old is better over shorter distances, a remark which also applies to Monet’s Garden.Punters will get an early hint as to how Cheltenham form will stand up when Inglis Drever (2.00) bids to follow up his World Hurdle victory in the John Smith’s Liverpool Hurdle. The double proved beyond him last year when he could only finish third behind Mighty Man.There is no rival of that calibre lined up against Howard Johnson’s crack stayer this time, however, and last year it was lack of pace as much as anything that caused his downfall. Though he goes very well at Cheltenham, it is misleading to say Inglis Drever does not act round Aintree – he is a course winner and was only beaten a neck by Al Eile in the 2005 Aintree Hurdle when forced to make his own running.Celestial Halo (3.10) may turn out to be a very good winner of the Triumph Hurdle, just as Katchit was last year, and Paul Nicholls’ four-year-old gets a confident vote to see off Binocular in the John Smith’s 250th Anniversary Hurdle. Celestial Halo had plenty of use made of him at Cheltenham but still found enough at the finish to hold off the tenacious Franchoek, clocking a time 1.6secs faster than the winner of the County Hurdle.Sonevafushi (3.45) represents the trainer and jockey responsible for the Cheltenham Foxhunter winner Amicelli. Like the latter, he has won two point-to-points with ease and he can settle into today’s Fox Hunters’ Chase better than the Grand National last year when, trained by Venetia Williams, he was pulled up after racing prominently for a circuit. Dancer value at 6-1 to eclipse Star Share on Facebook Reuse this contentlast_img read more

Jul
21

Wigan happy to take Smith out of firing line

first_imgShare on Pinterest Share on Facebook Andy Wilson Rugby league Super League Fri 11 Jul 2008 19.01 EDT Share on Twitter Share via Email Shares00 Support The Guardian Since you’re here… Share on Messenger Wigan’s coach Brian Noble plays his cards famously close to his chest, but there was no mistaking his satisfaction and even excitement when he welcomed Tim Smith to the club’s Orrell training ground this week.Smith was a controversial recruit, given the series of alcohol-related incidents that led to suspension from his Australian club Parramatta last winter and finally to his own decision to take indefinite leave in the early weeks of this season to tackle his bipolar disorder. There were also mutterings that Wigan were again risking damage to the development of their own local talent – notably Sam Tomkins, a 19-year-old scrum-half who scored five tries on his first and so far only senior appearance in the Challenge Cup against Whitehaven in May – by going for a quick fix from overseas.But Noble had no time for such reservations. He had admired Smith since he was named the National Rugby League’s rookie of the year in 2005, earning comparisons with great scrum-halves such as Andrew Johns and Peter Sterling – who was sufficiently impressed to make a symbolic presentation on the Footy Show of the Parramatta No7 jersey he had worn with such distinction for so long.”Once it was mentioned he might be available, we moved heaven and earth to secure his services,” said Noble. “It was a long time in the batting, but we recognised the opportunity we had to get an outstanding half. He’s got a super passing game, a super kicking game, and he organises very well. If you ask most of the pundits, it’s a pretty good half-back we’ve got here.”Following Wigan’s thrilling 23-22 victory over Leeds last Friday, Smith’s arrival to form a scrum-base triangle with Thomas Leuluai and Trent Barrett – who is expected to switch to loose forward – can only add to the credibility of the Warriors’ hopes of mounting a late-season drive for the grand final, while he is also one of the few players with the talent and pedigree to fill the huge gap that will be left by Barrett’s return to Australia next season.Yet there must be reservations, as even Wigan’s chairman Ian Lenagan conceded in announcing that Smith’s initial 18-month contract reflected “some risks . . . after his early-season illness difficulties”.”Obviously there were a few dramas there, and looking back I wish I did a few things different,” said the tanned and slightly chubby-looking 23-year-old, who was born in Runaway Bay and admits that a large part of the appeal of resurrecting his career at Wigan was the opportunity to escape the Sydney media in which his various misdemeanours have been extensively covered.In May 2006, he was dropped and fined $A5,000 (£2,550) for turning up drunk to Parramatta training with Mark Riddell, the hooker known as Piggy who, perhaps worryingly for Wigan, will also join the Warriors next year. The following month he was fined again following a boozy argument with the Test cricketer Michael Clarke in a Cronulla nightclub, and last December he checked into a Queensland rehabilitation centre and promised not to drink again for 12 months following a controversy sparked by a complaint to talkback radio.Then, in April, he pulled out of a game against Manly and informed his team-mates that he would be taking indefinite leave. “It was tough at the time, but I wasn’t really thinking about rugby league, more about my own welfare, I guess,” he explained.”Now I’m back running around like a little kid again. It’s getting a lot better and I’m feeling on top of things. I’ve brought my dad with me as well, so we’re pretty stable at the moment. Wigan have given me a lifeline.” Wigan Warriorscenter_img Share on LinkedIn Share on WhatsApp Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Wigan happy to take Smith out of firing line … we have a small favour to ask. The Guardian will engage with the most critical issues of our time – from the escalating climate catastrophe to widespread inequality to the influence of big tech on our lives. At a time when factual information is a necessity, we believe that each of us, around the world, deserves access to accurate reporting with integrity at its heart.More people are reading and supporting The Guardian’s independent, investigative journalism than ever before. And unlike many news organisations, we have chosen an approach that allows us to keep our journalism accessible to all, regardless of where they live or what they can afford. But we need your ongoing support to keep working as we do.Our editorial independence means we set our own agenda and voice our own opinions. Guardian journalism is free from commercial and political bias and not influenced by billionaire owners or shareholders. This means we can give a voice to those less heard, explore where others turn away, and rigorously challenge those in power.We need your support to keep delivering quality journalism, to maintain our openness and to protect our precious independence. Every reader contribution, big or small, is so valuable. Support The Guardian from as little as $1 – and it only takes a minute. Thank you. Super League First published on Fri 11 Jul 2008 19.01 EDT Super League XIII Topics Share via Email Reuse this contentlast_img read more

Jul
21

Checking In Down Under

first_img Connect Learn More At the end, it is worth recalling the words of Commissioner Cole when he pondered upon why AWB and its executives embarked on a course of conduct that would, in 18 years, result in the demise of the company (AWB lost its single desk wheat export monopoly powers and was ultimately acquired by a foreign competitor) and a stain upon all those involved and indeed, Australia’s international trading reputation. The Commissioner said this (at page xii, Introduction, Vol 1, Cole Royal Commission Report, 2006):The conduct of AWB and its officers was due to a failure in corporate culture. The question posed within AWB was: “What must be done to maintain sales to Iraq?”The answer given was:Do whatever is necessary to retain the trade. Pay the money required by Iraq. It would cost AWB nothing because the extra costs will be added into the wheat price and recovered from the UN escrow account [out of which approved humanitarian payments were made]. But hide the making of those payments for they are in breach of sanctions.No one asked, ‘what is the right thing to do?’ Necessarily, one asks ‘Why?’The answer is a closed culture of superiority and impregnability, of dominance and self-importance. Legislation cannot destroy such a culture or create a satisfactory one. That is the task of boards and the management of companies. The starting point is an ethical base. At AWB the Board and management failed to create, instil or maintain a culture of ethical dealing.One wonders over the years, with the cultural and ethical problems apparently rampant throughout the Australian banking and financial services sector, whether Australian companies learn from the past. One can but hope.Australia – Foreign Bribery Law ReformsOn 20 April 2018, the Senate Economics Legislation Committee published its Report on the Crimes Legislation Amendment (Combatting Corporate Crime) Bill 2017 (the Corporate Crime Bill).The Report is here.The proposed amendments supported by the Committee covered the following:To include a person standing or nominated as a candidate for public office as a “foreign public official” under Australian’s foreign bribery laws;To remove the requirement that a foreign public official must be influenced in the exercise of official duties;That the threshold test in the foreign bribery offence of “not legitimately due” be changed to one of “improperly influencing” a relevant foreign public official;The amended foreign bribery offence will apply if a bribe was to obtain or retain a personal advantage;The introduction of the strict liability corporate offence of failing to prevent foreign bribery;When drafting the Ministerial Guidance on the adequate procedures for a company (to prove in defence of the alleged corporate offence), internal whistleblower systems should form part of the proscribed adequate procedures;The proposed Deferred Prosecution Agreement (DPA) scheme for nominated Commonwealth offences (although one Senator noted there should be a set of minimum requirements for a DPA to be published, to avoid the perception of a lack of transparency in the process); andThe Government allows appropriate (4 weeks) consultation on the Ministerial Guidance for adequate procedures and the proposed DPA Code of Conduct.The Committee recommended the Whistleblower Protections Bill be passed.Given the relatively minor changes proposed by the Committee, it is hoped that once the publication and consultation process for the draft Ministerial Guidance and DPA Code of Practice has occurred, the Corporate Crime Bill will be reintroduced to Parliament and enacted. Save Money With FCPA Connect Keep it simple. Not all FCPA issues warrant a team of lawyers or other professional advisers. Achieve client and business objectives in a more efficient manner through FCPA Connect. Candid, Comprehensive, and Cost-Effective. FCPAnalytics Is Data Driven As stated by the DOJ’s compliance counsel: “strong compliance must be data driven.” FCPAnalytics strives to do just by assisting professionals in making efficient and informed decisions guided by data driven statistics.center_img Today’s post is from Robert Wyld (an attorney at Johnson Winter & Slattery in Sydney and the Australia Expert for FCPA Professor) and covers recent developments from Australia in the general area of foreign bribery.The key issues that are covered include: Australian Securities & Investments Commission and Australian Wheat Board UN Oil-For-Food Cases; Foreign Bribery Law Reforms; Private Sector Whistleblower Protection Reform; and Senate Economics Reference Committee Review of Australian Foreign Bribery Laws.Australia – ASIC and Australian Wheat Board UN Oil-For-Food CasesOn 23 April 2018, the last gasp of the decade long battle by the Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC) against various Australian Wheat Board (AWB) executives arising out of the ill-fated UN Oil-For-Food humanitarian program (OFF Program) passed into history with barely a ripple. The Victorian Court of Appeal dismissed ASIC’s appeal against the Trial Judge’s rulings that threw out ASIC’s case against Peter Geary for alleged breach of his statutory duties. The appeal judgment is here.The Court of Appeal, while not condoning the conduct of senior AWB officials, including the former Chairman, Managing Director and Chief Financial Officer (each found liable for various offences), who were “proved to have been at the centre of this entire sorry affair”, found that ASIC’s case against Geary failed because, in substance, ASIC could not displace the genuine and reasonable belief Geary had that the trucking and inland service fees (paid to the Iraq Government through inflated prices via intermediaries) were not approved by the United Nations or otherwise were genuine fees. While Geary might have been one of a long list of recipients to numerous emails concerning these fees, they were not specifically addressed to him and ASIC failed to identify how Geary, or a reasonable person in Geary’s position, would have acted upon such emails.Thus, from June 1999, when the first wheat contracts contained an “inland trucking fee”, later enhanced in 2000 with the “10% after sales service fee”, the story unfolded thus:Between 1999 and 2003, AWB through 41 contracts, sold wheat to the Iraqi Grains Board with a face value of US$2,290,718,296 (see clause 5.10, Vol 1, Cole Royal Commission Report, 2006);Between November 1999 and March 2003, AWB paid US$224,128,189.98 through an intermediary who in turn (less a commission), distributed those monies to various Iraqi Government ministries (page lxiii, Introduction, Vol 1, Cole Royal Commission Report, 2006);Between 2004 and 2005, the Independent Inquiry conducted by Paul Volcker for the United Nations (towards which Commissioner Cole found that AWB engaged in a strategy of ‘passive cooperation’) found that AWB had channelled about US$212 million to the former Government of Iraq (see clause 28.337, Vol 3, Cole Royal Commission Report, 2006);Between 2004 and 2006, the Cole Royal Commission examined the conduct of AWB and its officers, and in a substantial report, recommended various civil and criminal charges bed considered against a range of individuals;Between 2006 and August 2009, the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and ASIC conducted a Taskforce to examine the Royal Commission findings, until the AFP terminated its role in August 2009, handing the matter to ASIC, stating that criminal prosecutions were unlikely to be successful and were not in the public interest;Between 2007 and April 2018, ASIC pursued various AWB executives for civil penalties and alleged breaches of their statutory duties and while ASIC settled and discontinued claims against some executives, the following agreed to or had imposed on them, sentences (declarations of a contravention of the Corporations Act, a fine and disqualification orders):Andrew Lindberg, the former Managing Director, by an agreed settlement, was fined AU$100,000 and disqualified for 3 years from managing a company (Australian Securities & Investments Commission v Lindberg  [2012] VSC 332);Paul Ingleby, the former Chief Financial Officer, on appeal, by an agreed settlement, was fined AU$40,000 and disqualified from managing a company for 15 months (ASIC v Ingleby  [2013] VSCA 49);Trevor Flugge, the former Chairman, was, after a contested trial, fined AU$50,000 and disqualified for 54 years from managing a company (at trial, ASIC v Flugge  & Geary [2016] VSC 779 and on sentencing, ASIC v  Flugge  (No 2) [2017] VSC 117). Australia – Private Sector Whistleblower Protection ReformsOn 22 March 2018, the Senate Economics Legislation Committee published its Report on the Treasury Laws Amendment (Enhancing Whistleblower Protections) Bill 2017 (the Whistleblower Protections Bill). The Report is here.The Committee recommended the Whistleblower Protections Bill be passed.The Committee accepted that while the Whistleblowers Protections Bill did not include all of the recommendations made by the Joint Parliamentary Committee Report (covered in the December 2017 Update and here), it was a move in the right direction as a valuable contribution to reform even though some submissions regarded the current Bill as inadequate and others said the Bill should be withdrawn and redrafted to “get it right”. This view has been reinforced by concerns expressed by Prof AJ Brown, the undisputed leader in integrity and whistleblower protections in Australia. He has been reported in The Australian (on 13 April 2018) as saying, due to the drafting flaws he sees in the Bill, that “the only logical conclusion you could reach is that it would be better not to have the bill go forward unless these things are fixed”.The Committee did recommend that the Bill include an explicit requirement for review. This is encouraging as we need to assess how these reform work in practice. In addition, while the Bill did not address the question of whistleblower rewards or an independent authority to represent and act on behalf of whistleblowers, it is hoped that these topics remain on the radar to be reviewed over time.It is critical that all listed and large proprietary companies review their existing whistleblower policies and how they interact with other policies and any external hotline. While the laws are likely to commence from 1 July 2018, all listed and large proprietary companies must have compliant whistleblower policies in place by 1 January 2019. Some important things to consider are the following[1]:What “misconduct” is to be captured by an internal whistleblower policy and what conduct should be handled by other policies;The motivation or indeed, the malice of a whistleblower, whether real or perceived, is irrelevant to how a company must respond to a complaint – what is critical is whether, objectively, the whistleblower has a reasonable belief in the complaint;Training will be critical under the new regime to ensure employees and managers understand their responsibilities and do not, even inadvertently, contravene the provisions;The appointment of experienced managers to handle and manage complaints by whistleblowers and the conduct of an investigation (mandated by the new reforms); andOngoing monitoring and review of how a whistleblower policy is being implemented will be crucial to protect the company (and individual employees) from contravening the new laws.Australia – Senate Economics Reference Committee Review of Australian Foreign Bribery LawsIn late March 2018, the Senate Economics Reference Committee published its much-anticipated Foreign Bribery Report.  This Report has been over 3 years in the making and has covered two parliaments due to a general election intervening and causing the initial review to lapse with a new referral by the current parliament. The Report is here.The Senate Committee undertook a substantial and wide ranging review of the state of Australia’s foreign bribery laws, their investigation and enforcement and the reasons for the popular perception, and indeed criticism, of Australia’s position that it appears to have laws that, while complying with the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention and its obligations as a signatory, appear otherwise untested and little used. Overall, the Committee considered that “more needs to be done to enhance the effectiveness of Australia’s implementation” of the OECD Convention and the United Nations Convention against Corruption.The Senate Committee made 22 recommendations.  While the substance of the recommendations were not always accepted by Government members of the Committee and indeed, the reservations in respect of certain recommendations are set out by the Government members in an appendix, in broad terms the Senate Committee recommendations repeat many of the substantive submissions made to it; namely, that there needed to be substantial and significant reform to Australia’s foreign bribery laws and practices in relation to successfully and proactively targeting foreign bribery and corruption.The key recommendations included the following:The Australian Government should prioritise the consideration and implementation of the recommendations made by the OECD in its Phase 4 Report published in December 2017.The Australian Government should establish a mechanism that specifically provides for additional one off funding to appropriate Australian agencies for large and complex foreign bribery investigations and prosecutions. While it was disappointing but perhaps predictable that the Committee endorsed the interagency (and fractured) approach to dealing with foreign bribery (at clauses 3.101 to 3.103), it made it clear there needed to be permanent funding mechanisms in place to ensure the authorities were not cash-strapped and had to constantly seek ongoing funding from the Government. The 2017 ASIC Annual Report, in so far as ASIC is concerned (aside from the AFP and criminal investigations) shows that while ASIC had Commonwealth funding of AU$341.6 million over the last financial year (below the AU$350 million it received in 2012-2013 before significant costs to its budget), ASIC contributed AU$948.6 million from fees and charges (see the Annual Report here). Thus it appears ASIC costs the Government and taxpayers nothing yet it generates massive fees – so why, one might ask, are governments reluctant to fund ASIC to get robust on enforcement? Therein lies deep philosophical debates as to the eternal dichotomy between self-regulation and State regulation.The change to the critical threshold test in the existing foreign bribery offence (in section 70.2 of the Criminal Code), moving from a benefit that was “not legitimately due” to “improperly influencing” a foreign public official, was accepted by the Committee.Overall, the proposed amendments to the foreign bribery laws, including the creation of a new corporate offence of failing to prevent foreign bribery (with strict liability on the company) which is the subject of the proposed bill (referred to above), is supported. The Committee considered that the creation of the corporate offence was overdue and that for too long, the law had protected those who used opaque financial and corporate structures to hide potentially criminal conduct (at clause 4.96). In addition, the Committee supported a principles-based approach in terms of the guidance the Minister is to publish in relation to the adequate procedures a company must demonstrate in order to satisfy the statutory defence (at clause 4.100). The Committee recommended that the Minister allow an appropriate period of time for consultation on the guidance and a transition period for companies to implement the necessary compliance measures to satisfy the statutory defence.The Committee agreed that it was irrelevant under the Criminal Code whether a foreign public official was improperly influenced (as the new threshold test is likely to be) within or beyond their official duties (at clause 4.114). Thus any business advantage that is caught by the law can be an advantage for a third party.The Committee considered whether the Criminal Code should contain a proposed offence of “reckless” bribery of a foreign public official. While noting that absent such an offence, companies and individuals may still structure their affairs so as to limit or avoid criminal liability, the Committee accepted the Bill as drafted, suggesting the proposed reckless offence be further explored in the future, once the impact of the reforms can be assessed (at clauses 4.132 to 4.135).The report by the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Corporations and Financial Services on private sector whistleblower protections (the subject of an update in December 2017) was supported and the Australian Government was urged to implement all outstanding recommendations from that committee and its report. There was some dissent amongst the members of the Committee on this point, with the Government members (in a separate note, at page 204 of the Report) stating that the Whistleblowers Protections Bill (as noted above) was sufficient.The facilitation payments defence currently contained in Section 7.4 of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth) (the Criminal Code) should be abolished over a transition period. The status of the facilitation payment defence has been in limbo since 2011 when the Australian Government published a consultation paper on the topic. Now it seems the Government is resisting abolishing the defence as it appears to be supporting what the Report described as the “pragmatic justifications” for its continued existence – its removal will create “disadvantages” for small to medium businesses and it will have no effect on the prevalence of bribery or corruption (at clauses 7.52 to 7.60). The Committee (save for the dissenting Government members) expressed this view (at clauses 7.97 to 7.103):The committee believes Australia’s position on this issue is increasingly isolated, and the committee is concerned about the inconsistencies between international standards and Australia’s domestic bribery laws and the domestic laws of comparative countries (of which some are Australia’s major trading partners)…the committee is deeply concerned and disappointed about the lack of legislative action that the government has taken in this area and wishes to recognise the initiatives of Australian businesses who have taken matters into their own hands by implementing internal policies prohibiting facilitation payments…a facilitation payment is not materially different from a small bribe and therefore should not be recognised as a defence to a foreign bribery offence in Australia…abolition of the facilitation payment defence should proceed with a transition period to allow business time to implement the changes to their internal processes and to inculcate a culture of compliance amongst its employees.The Australian Government should introduce a debarment framework so that if companies have been found guilty of foreign bribery offences, relevant Australian government agencies should have the power to preclude that company as a tenderer from being awarded a government contract (funded by public revenue). It is somewhat surprising that the Attorney General’s Department told the Committee (at clause 8.29) that “there aren’t any specific debarment policies for procurement by the Australian Government”. Given the many years of proactive debarment regimes implemented by the World Bank and other regional and multilateral development banks and the fact that the OECD had been raising it as an issue since 2006 (with no great success, it appears), Australia’s silence on this topic is disappointing. The Committee considered the Australian Government had been remiss in not adequately exploring a foreign bribery debarment scheme for companies in Australia. Whether such a scheme should have as a threshold a guilty conviction of foreign bribery (which is as rare in Australia as a hen’s tooth) or a lesser standard is a topic yet to be considered by the Government.The Australian Government should provide and publish clear practical guidance to companies concerning foreign bribery and, in particular, how an individual or a small company should go about making a voluntary report of foreign bribery. The Committee considered (at clauses 8.78 to 8.81) that it was “extremely important to develop a culture of risk awareness across the corporate sector” and that it was “essential that the government act to encourage self’-reporting and cooperation by corporates.” The Government was encouraged to publish practical information which could be used by individuals and small businesses to understand how to go about reporting misconduct.While the Senate Committee Report was not unanimous, there are a number of important messages to take out of this review.  The review is the culmination of significant work undertaken by the Senate over a 2-3 year period.  Almost all submissions made to the enquiry supported substantial reform.  The current Australian Government is in the process of enacting legislation, currently the subject of review by Parliamentary committees, which focuses on, in particular, foreign bribery offences, a Commonwealth deferred prosecution agreement scheme and private sector whistleblower protection reforms.However, as we have so often seen in Australia, while these reports and recommendations for substantial change have been made in the past, they have rarely been followed through.  It is encouraging that the current Australian Government has substantial bills before the Australian parliament to address a number of these issues.  While they may not be perfect, and there is room to criticise the approach by the Government and indeed in some areas where it seems to ignore calls for reform and change, it is a positive start.  It appears the Australian approach is for small steps to be made over a long period of time.  That in itself has some merit, but it does create a public perception that, overall, the question of foreign bribery, complex commercial crime and opaque offshore business opportunities are simply too hard and too complicated and should be left for investigators and prosecutors to do their best with the limited resources that are provided to them without, from a philosophical perspective, imposing more regulations on over-regulated business. [1] Comments gratefully acknowledged from Yoness Blackmore, Associate in the JWS Employment Group.last_img read more

Jul
21

KL Gates Adds Two Partners to Energy Practice

first_img Password K&L Gates has added Steven C. Sparling and David L. Wochner from Sutherland Asbill as partners in the firm’s energy practice. Both will practice out of the firm’s D.C. and Houston offices.Sparling counsels clients on the legal, operational, and commercial aspects of the liquefied natural gas (LNG) industry.Wochner focuses his practice on LNG and natural gas regulatory, policy, and transactional matters including exports, unconventional production, and pipeline transportation issues. He has also served as lead Washington counsel in multiple Congressional and federal agency investigations, including related to the 2010 . . .You must be a subscriber to The Texas Lawbook to access this content. Username Not a subscriber? Sign up for The Texas Lawbook.center_img Remember me Lost your password?last_img read more

Jul
20

Novel method for rapid reliable HIV testing

first_imgJul 24 2018The life expectancy for a person who is diagnosed and starts antiretroviral treatment rapidly after infection with HIV today probably approaches that of the general population. Yet the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control estimates that, depending on the country, up to 43% of people living with HIV in Europe remain undiagnosed. On average, 47% of HIV cases are diagnosed late and 28% of people have advanced HIV (CD4 cell count <200/mm3) at diagnosis. The proportion of people with HIV diagnosed late exceeds 50% in nine European countries, including Italy, Greece and Sweden.So, Owen Mumford Ltd is delighted to attend AIDS 2018 in Amsterdam to introduce SimplitudeÔ Pro HIV, which meets the need for a reliable point-of-care diagnostic test that is simple to use and offers patients and healthcare workers confidence in reliable test results. SimplitudeÔ Pro HIV will be available to healthcare workers across Europe by early 2019A meta-analysis of 25 studies underscores the need for innovative rapid testing. Self-testers and trained healthcare workers can reliably and accurately diagnose HIV using rapid tests. But errors can occur. Users may, for instance, choose the wrong lancet or fail to pierce the skin properly. They may collect too little blood or transfer specimens incorrectly. Some procedures involve multiple steps. Users can easily confuse components or spill solutions.Such errors seem to be relatively common. For example, one study included in the meta-analysis found that users were unable to take blood samples or transfer specimens correctly on 56.3% of occasions. - Simplitude™ Pro HIV addresses the issues highlighted by the meta-analysis.Simplitude™ Pro HIV is the world's first rapid diagnostic test witha built-in safety lancet, blood collection unit and test strip. The test offers high sensitivity (99.6%) and specificity (99.6%) and the result can be read in 15 minutes. Unlike standard, multi-component rapid test kits, Simplitude™ Pro HIV integrates the features and functionality in a single handheld, easy-to-use device.Related StoriesHIV therapy leaves unrepaired holes in the immune system's wall of defensePrevalence of anal cancer precursors is higher in women living with HIV than previously reportedPatients with HIV DNA in cerebrospinal fluid have high risk of experiencing cognitive deficitsField testing in Kenya underscores that Simplitude™ Pro HIV offers simplicity, reliability and confidence even in resource-poor settings. A 2016 study, for instance, confirmed that Simplitude™ Pro HIV offers high sensitivity (90.9%) and specificity (88.4%). Both parameters showed 100% concordance with the test algorithm approved for use by healthcare professionals.Despite enrolling people with a wide-range of educational attainments, from university students to the general population living in remote villages, about 9 in 10 users: found that the test requirements were easy to understand (93%); could complete the test correctly first time without supervision (89%); and would recommended the test (94%). Further field tests in Kenya and other parts of the world confirms that Simplitude™ Pro HIV is simple to use and offers the confidence of reliable results."We are delighted to participate in AIDS 2018 and introduce Simplitude™ Pro HIV to healthcare workers, patients and other stakeholders," says Tania MacKenzie Senior Product Manager for Diagnostics at Owen Mumford Ltd. "Earlier diagnosis enables people with HIV to start treatment sooner, which increases their chances of living a long and healthy life and reduces the risk of transmission. We believe that the convenience and prompt results offered by point-of-care tests, such as Simplitude™ Pro HIV,- are critical to further improve outcomes for people living with HIV."​ Source:https://www.owenmumford.com/last_img read more

Jul
20

Study People exposed to even low level of air pollution have serious

first_img Source:https://www.bhf.org.uk/ Aug 3 2018Researchers have found that people exposed to air pollution levels well within UK guidelines have changes in the structure of the heart, similar to those seen in the early stages of heart failure. The research was part-funded by the British Heart Foundation (BHF) and is published in the journal Circulation.A team of scientists, led from Queen Mary University of London by Professor Steffen Petersen, studied data from around 4,000 participants in the UK Biobank study. Volunteers provided a range of personal information, including their lifestyles, health record and details on where they have lived, so the research team were able to remove patients with underlying heart problems, or those who had moved house during the study. Participants also had blood tests and health scans. Heart MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) was used to measure the size, weight and function of the participants’ hearts at fixed times.Even though most participants lived outside major UK cities, there was a clear association between those who lived near loud, busy roads, and were exposed to nitrogen dioxide (NO2) or PM2.5 – small particles of air pollution – and the development of larger right and left ventricles in the heart. The ventricles are important pumping chambers in the heart and, although these participants were healthy and had no symptoms, similar heart remodeling is seen in the early stages of heart failure.Higher exposures to the pollutants were linked to more significant changes in the structure of the heart. For every 1 extra μg per cubic meter of PM2.5 and for every 10 extra μg per cubic meter of NO2, the heart enlarges by approximately 1% .Air pollution is now the largest environmental risk factor linked to deaths in England. Globally, coronary heart disease and stroke account for approximately six in ten (58%) deaths related to outdoor air pollution. This research could help explain exactly how and why air pollution affects the heart.In the study, average annual exposures to PM2.5 (8-12μg per cubic meter) were well within UK guidelines (25μg per cubic meter), although they were approaching or past World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines (10μg per cubic meter). The WHO has said that there are no safe limits of PM2.5. The participants’ average exposure to NO2 (10-50μg per cubic meter) was approaching and above the equal WHO and UK annual average guidelines (40μg per cubic meter).Related StoriesResearch finds link between air pollution and coronary heart disease in ChinaCutting around 300 calories a day protects the heart even in svelte adultsRepurposing a heart drug could increase survival rate of children with ependymomaAhead of the UK Government’s consultation on their draft Clean Air Strategy closing on 14 August 2018, the British Heart Foundation want to ensure the public’s heart and circulatory health is at the center of discussions.The Strategy commits to halving the number of people in the UK living in areas where PM2.5 levels exceed WHO guidelines (10 μg per cubic meter) by 2025, but ultimately the charity would like to see this action go further to reduce the health impacts of toxic air as quickly as possible.Dr Nay Aung who led the data analysis from Queen Mary University of London said:”Although our study was observational and hasn’t yet shown a causal link, we saw significant changes in the heart, even at relatively low levels of air pollution exposure. Our future studies will include data from those living in inner cities like Central Manchester and London, using more in-depth measurements of heart function, and we would expect the findings to be even more pronounced and clinically important.”Air pollution should be seen as a modifiable risk factor. Doctors and the general public all need to be aware of the their exposure when they think about their heart health, just like they think about their blood pressure, their cholesterol and their weight.”Professor Jeremy Pearson, Associate Medical Director at the British Heart Foundation, which part-funded the study said:”We can’t expect people to move home to avoid air pollution – Governments and public bodies must be acting right now to make all areas safe and protect the population from these harms.”What is particularly worrying is that the levels of air pollution, particularly PM2.5, at which this study saw people with heart remodeling are not even deemed particularly high by the UK Government – this is why we are calling for the WHO guidelines to be adopted. They are less than half of UK legal limits and while we know there are no safe limits for some forms of air pollution, we believe this is a crucial step in protecting the nation’s heart health.”Having these targets in law will also help to improve the lives of those currently living with heart and circulatory diseases, as we know they are particularly affected by air pollution.”last_img read more

Jul
20

Taking cholesterolbusting pills can effectively treat brutal PAP

first_imgAug 7 2018Researchers report in Nature Communications they figured out why air sacs in the lungs clog up with a thick substance called surfactant in a brutal disease called Pulmonary Alveolar Proteinosis (PAP), and they show taking cholesterol-busting pills called statins can effectively treat the disease.That’s good news for people with PAP because at present the current standard treatment is something called a whole lung lavage. Essentially, it involves flushing patient lungs to clear out the gunk–a procedure so invasive it requires putting people under general anesthesia. Furthermore, the procedure has to be repeated every time the lungs clog up, which translates into some pretty serious quality of life issues for patients.Related StoriesNew therapeutic food boosts key growth-promoting gut microbes in malnourished childrenSlug serves as ‘command central’ for determining breast stem cell healthBordeaux University Hospital uses 3D printing to improve kidney tumor removal surgeryResearchers at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center found out the culprit is cholesterol. Led by Bruce Trapnell, MD, director of the Translational Pulmonary Science Center, the team found out years ago that PAP is linked to disruption of cell regulation by a molecule called granulocyte-macrophage colony stimulating factor (GM-CSF). GM-CSF is crucial for the development of fully mature macrophage cells in the lungs, which are needed to clear away used surfactant–a substance important to lung function–so that people can breathe.In their new study of PAP patients and mouse models of the disease, the researchers uncovered a more precise reason that disruption of cell regulation by GM-CSF triggers PAP. It’s because cell dysregulation reduces the ability of macrophages to process and clear out cholesterol, allowing its levels to build up. This contributes to the accumulation of surfactant that causes PAP and hinders breathing, according to study authors.”Showing that the pathogenic driver of the disease is disruption of cholesterol homeostasis in these patients will change thinking in the PAP field,” explains Trapnell. “Now that we know cholesterol in macrophages is a target for therapeutic development, repurposing statins is a pretty straight forward pharmacological approach for treating people with PAP.”Clinical Trial PlannedThe findings are expected to lead to a clinical trial to test statin therapy in larger numbers of people suffering from PAP, said Trapnell. The current study tested statin therapy in two adult patients and in genetically engineered mouse models of PAP.In both human patients and animal models of PAP, stain therapy was associated with improved cholesterol balance in pulmonary macrophage cells and allowed surfactant to be cleared from lung air sacs. This improved respiratory function in the adult patients and in the laboratory models. Those tests were the result of earlier experiments on mouse pulmonary macrophages and cells donated from patients. Source:https://www.cincinnatichildrens.orglast_img read more

Jul
20

Video Ancient sea monsters swam like penguins

first_imgSince its discovery in the 1824, scientists have scratched their heads at the odd body plan of the plesiosaur. The aquatic reptiles, which grew up to 15 meters long and lived from about 200 million years ago up to about 66 million years ago, are unique among animals for their four-flippered bodies. Thus, researchers have only been able to speculate at how they navigated ancient waters. Did the fore- and hindlimbs paddle in unison or separately? Did the animal employ a rowing motion or a flapping motion? To help resolve the mystery, computer scientists used preserved plesiosaur skeletons to construct a 3D model with realistic ranges of joint motion, densities, and musculature. They then placed the virtual reptiles in virtual water, and the computer ran several thousand different simulations with different joint motions, searching for strategies that produced good swimming. The results, published today in PLOS Computational Biology, reveal that almost all of the plesiosaur’s thrust was generated by a penguinlike flapping of the front limbs. As seen in the video above, in simulations where the back limbs were immobilized, the reptile still swam fairly well, but without the front limbs, it became very difficult to generate productive motion. Because of this disparity, the question of whether the animals’ fore- and hindlimbs moved in phase or out of phase doesn’t matter: The rear limbs were likely used to steer and stabilize the plesiosaur rather than generate thrust.last_img read more

Jul
20

Huge study of teen brains could reveal roots of mental illness impacts

first_img By Meredith WadmanJan. 3, 2018 , 5:15 PM Huge study of teen brains could reveal roots of mental illness, impacts of drug abuse 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 Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country Chya* (pronounced SHY-a), who is not quite 10 years old, recently spent an unusual day at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore. Part of the time she was in a “cool” brain scanner while playing video games designed to test her memory and other brain-related skills. At other points, she answered lots of questions about her life and health on an iPad.A slender Baltimore third grader who likes drawing, hip hop, and playing with her pet Chihuahua, Chya is one of more than 6800 children now enrolled in an unprecedented examination of teenage brain development. The Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development Study—or ABCD Study—will complete its 2-year enrollment period in September, and this month will release a trove of data from 4500 early participants into a freely accessible, anonymized database. Ultimately, the study aims to follow 10,000 children for a decade as they grow from 9- and 10-year-olds into young adults.Supported by the first chunk of $300 million pledged by several institutes at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Maryland, teams at 21 sites around the United States are regularly using MRI machines to record the structure and activity of these young brains. They’re also collecting reams of psychological, cognitive, and environmental data about each child, along with biological specimens such as their DNA. In addition to providing the first standardized benchmarks of healthy adolescent brain development, this information should allow scientists to probe how substance use, sports injuries, screen time, sleep habits, and other influences may affect—or be affected by—a maturing brain.center_img “A lot of studies in this area are plagued by the fact that we tend to capture teenagers after they have already started to misbehave in various ways. So, the fact that we are following kids from … before they engage in a lot of risk-taking behavior—it’s going to be an incredibly rich data set,” says clinical neuroscientist Monica Luciana of the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, an ABCD Study site where she is a principal investigator (PI).Clarifying the impacts of alcohol and drug use is a key goal for the study’s leading funders: the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), both in Bethesda. “There is an urgency to try to address these questions,” says NIDA Director Nora Volkow, the prime mover behind the study. The recent legalization of recreational marijuana in several states makes the study especially timely, she argues.Other studies have used MRI to follow teen brain development. Europe’s IMAGEN enrolled 2000 14-year-olds and scanned them at intervals over the past decade. And NIAAA has been funding a study of alcohol’s impacts, imaging the brains of more than 800 youths once a year for 4 years. But ABCD “is going to be by far the largest,” Volkow says. “It’s [also] longer-lasting, starts younger, and is much more comprehensive” in terms of testing.Every 2 years, researchers will image the brain structures of Chya and other subjects, and record their neural activity as they perform tasks involving memory, rewards, and face recognition. Every year, the participants will have their height, weight, and waist measured, and answer questions designed to assess psychological symptoms. They will also be asked annually about environmental influences—things like family conflict and neighborhood crime.The study aims to describe a normal trajectory of adolescent brain development—similar to the height and weight charts in pediatricians’ offices—and use that to begin to answer the many chicken-and-egg questions that correlational studies can’t. For instance, people who smoke marijuana heavily beginning in adolescence or young adulthood show markedly less connectivity between the neuronal axons of the hippocampus, a brain region important to long-term memory formation and learning, than do nonusers. But were the users’ brains wired differently to begin with, leading them to smoke cannabis heavily? Or did the smoking cause the changes?”At age 9 and 10 you can get a nice clean baseline assessment on these kids,” says Hugh Garavan, a neurobiologist who is the PI at the ABCD Study site at the University of Vermont (UVM) in Burlington. “Then, when someone develops psychosis at 16, we can go back and look at their brains and psychological assessments at 9, 10, 11, and 12. Were there markers of risk there?”Such markers, it’s hoped, will ultimately allow much earlier diagnosis, treatment, or prevention of substance abuse, mental illness, and other conditions. A key strength of the study is that it will enroll enough children—including 800 pairs of twins—to answer questions that require large numbers of subjects, such as whether there are age windows when the brain is particularly vulnerable to use of a given drug.The study intends to reflect the United States’s socioeconomic, geographical, racial, and ethnic diversity. Planners want the study pool to be 6% Asian-American, 16% black, and 24% Hispanic. As of early January, with 8 months left in recruitment, they are falling short on Asian-American and black enrollment, at 2% and 12%, respectively, but were close to meeting the Hispanic target, at 22%. And the “other” category, which includes mixed-race kids and Native Americans, accounts for fully 11% of enrollees, more than double the organizers’ 5% target.The ABCD Study crystallized at an inauspicious time. In May 2014, when its planners held their first meeting, the National Children’s Study, an NIH effort to follow 100,000 children from the womb to age 21, was collapsing as a result of daunting logistics, overambitious objectives, and a projected cost of more than $3 billion. “We were very, very aware, because of the Children’s Study, that we didn’t want to load up the Christmas tree with too many ornaments,” recalls George Koob, NIAAA director since 2014.By September 2016, under a tightly designed protocol dictated by the attention spans and wiggles of 9- and 10-year-old children, the ABCD Study was enrolling. The organizers are assuming 15% of the planned 11,500 enrollees will drop out over the decade, leaving the desired 10,000 participants. Some fear that may be optimistic, but Garavan is bullish. “Because it’s a longitudinal study, we have to make sure the kids enjoy the experience,” he says.Garavan has succeeded with at least one recruit. “You had to drool into two vials, not spit. And it was fun,” recalls Afton, who had his brain scanned at UVM last September, a day before his 10th birthday. “Eventually they are going to learn how to track if someone has depression or something else, or not, by just looking at their brain in an MRI machine. I thought that was cool. And I wanted to help.”Chya, for her part, left the Baltimore study site last month with a picture of her brain and an ABCD T-shirt. She plans to return at the same time next year.*The ABCD Study keeps participants anonymous; the families of the kids in this article allowed the use of their first names. Email RICHARD WATTS AND HUGH GARAVAN Combining results from 628 children’s brains, this MRI scan shows regions activated as faces are viewed (yellow and orange) and other areas (blue and cyan) activated during a demanding working memory task.last_img read more

Jul
20

A desert explosion helps scientists plan earthquakedetecting balloons on Venus

first_img A desert explosion helps scientists plan earthquake-detecting balloons on Venus This week, in the still, silent desert near Pahrump, Nevada, researchers set off an artificial earthquake. It shook the ground and, less obviously, the air, allowing NASA scientists to listen for the vibrations with balloons floating overhead. If the technology can be shifted to Venus, it could be the first to detect earthquakes there, which could provide important clues about the interior of our sister planet and why it evolved so differently from our own.“We’ve never made a direct seismic measurement on Venus,” says Siddharth Krishnamoorthy, an experiment team member at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California. “There is a lot balloons can offer in terms of unlocking some major questions about the planet.”For the 19 December test, U.S. Department of Energy researchers set off a 50-ton chemical explosion roughly 300 meters underground to generate a magnitude-3 or -4 tremor—partly to verify the agency’s ability to detect underground nuclear explosions. But researchers also lofted two helium-filled balloons over the site, one tethered and another free floating, each a few hundred meters above the ground. The balloons carried barometers to measure changes in atmospheric pressure and detect the earthquake’s infrasound waves, low-frequency acoustic vibrations below the threshold of human hearing. Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) By Adam MannDec. 21, 2018 , 8:15 AM JPL/NASA Emailcenter_img Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country Some NASA scientists want to listen for quakes on Venus from a balloon. Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe A similar setup could one day float high in the atmosphere of Venus. At the planet’s surface, conditions are infernal: Temperatures are high enough to melt lead, and pressures are so overwhelming that they would crush a submarine. It would be hard for any lander to survive long enough to detect a tremor. But 50 kilometers above the surface, temperatures and pressures are remarkably clement, perfect for a long-lived balloon (aside from a touch of sulfuric acid in the greenhouse atmosphere, which is 96% carbon dioxide). In 1985, the Soviet Union showed it could be done, flying two balloons for 2.5 days in this layer. They only stopped recording data when their batteries ran out.Balloons could detect tremors from such as high perch because Venus’s atmosphere is so much thicker than Earth’s: Waves would transfer better from the ground into the air and travel more readily. Based on preliminary calculations, the team believes it could detect venusian quakes as small as magnitude 2 from that height. That goal was advanced by an initial desert test last year—dropping 13-ton weights onto the desert floor from a height of 1.5 meters—that proved instruments could pick up infrasound waves from the shaking and infer the direction of the quake.Krishnamoorthy says he and colleagues are now trying to detect stronger seismic sources at larger distances, as they did this week, to better tease out the quake’s signature from the environmental noise. The team next plans to loft balloons over Oklahoma, where thousands of earthquakes have occurred in recent years, triggered by oil and gas activity. That could allow the group to detect shaking coming from much deeper underground.Translating the tests to Venus could be somewhat tricky, however, says planetary scientist Ralph Lorenz of the University of Arizona in Tucson. The timing and character of the test quakes were known to the experimenters, and it might be a challenge to separate a signal from the background clatter on blustery Venus, where winds are supersonic.It could be that Venus is seismically quiet, an important negative result that would force researchers to reevaluate their models of the planet’s interior. But many scientists think heat is still trying to escape the planet, potentially in ways that shake the surface. Scuff marks across its surface today point to stretching and strain that could be causing tremors, although many scientists think the planet has not had plate tectonics for a long time, if ever—one reason why the planet has ended up with a runaway greenhouse effect. On Earth, tectonic plate motion is responsible for most earthquakes and it also helps bury carbon deep within the mantle, buffering the planet from global warming.This makes Venus our sister, but not our twin, says geologist Paul Byrne of North Carolina State University in Raleigh. He says a gauge of tectonic activity would provide clues to Venus’s interior structure and past history, perhaps explaining why it lacks a magnetic field like Earth’s or at what point its water disappeared. Knowing why Venus went down such a different path than our own could also help in understanding the glut of rocky exoplanets now being found around other stars. Byrne points out that alien astronomers peering at our solar system from far away would be hard pressed to say whether Earth or Venus hold life.last_img read more

Jul
19

Sheriff KC Clark honored for his service to Navajo County

first_imgFebruary 20, 2019 Photo by Toni Gibbons Judge Robert Higgins (left) swears in Deputy Chief David Clouse (right) as the newly appointed sheriff of Navajo County at the Feb. 12 meeting of the Navajo County Board of Supervisors.Subscribe or log in to read the rest of this content. Bottom Ad Photo by Toni GibbonsNavajo County Chairwoman Dawnafe Whitesinger (right) presents retiring Sheriff KC Clark (left) with a plaque of appreciation and a special ring made for him at the Feb. 12 meeting. center_img Sheriff KC Clark honored for his service to Navajo Countylast_img read more

Jul
19

Reports of domestic violence have become more prevalent

first_img By L. Parsons          Winslow Police Department’s Citizen’s Liaison Committee (CLC) held its second community forum last week with the topic of discussion the prevalence of domestic violence in Winslow and the impact it hasSubscribe or log in to read the rest of this content. Bottom Ad March 30, 2019 Reports of domestic violence have become more prevalentlast_img