Teslas fleet reaches total of 9 billion electric miles on the road

Source: Charge Forward The Model 3 is helping Tesla’s fleet grow at a record pace and that expanded fleet is accumulating a record number of miles.Electrek has learned that it has now reached a total of 9 billion electric miles. more…

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Audi etron SUV The Electric Car Guys Nerdy Ad

first_imgAudi e-tron SUV: The Electric Car GuysThe first-ever all-electric Audi e-tron SUV isn’t just ushering in a new era of driving, but also an entirely new way of talking about it. Audi e-tron GT Stuns At LA Motor Show: Videos Galore Watch Electrify America’s New JetStones Ad Campaign Those nerds know everything about the e-tron.We are accustomed to a particular image of car guys or petrol heads. Some car enthusiasts even think that they – as “real car guys” – will never switch to electric cars.And here comes Audi with a brilliant idea to make an e-tron ad – The Electric Car Guys – but we are not sure whether you will be pleased with the outcome. Regardless, it’s fun to watch.See Also Watch New Jaguar I-Pace Electrical Storm Ad Source: Electric Vehicle News Author Liberty Access TechnologiesPosted on December 3, 2018Categories Electric Vehicle Newslast_img read more

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NanoGrafs graphenewrapped silicon anode is designed to boost both energy and power

first_imgSource: NanoGraf Source: Electric Vehicles Magazine SiNode Systems, a Chicago-based materials developer, and JNC, a Tokyo-based specialty chemical manufacturer, have announced the formation of NanoGraf, a joint venture focused on commercializing materials for the Li-ion battery industry.Via the new JV, NanoGraf will gain production facilities in Japan, expanded global distribution channels, over 50 patents, and two research facilities.NanoGraf’s technology is designed to enhance the performance of battery materials using a proprietary graphene-wrapped silicon anode originally invented at Northwestern University. NanoGraf claims its materials, which are produced via a low-cost, solution-chemistry-based manufacturing process, can enhance both energy and power density while offering excellent cycle life.“Thanks to our partnership with JNC, we are well-positioned for accelerated growth as we commercialize our graphene-wrapping technology for a range of applications, from consumer electronics to electric vehicles,” said NanoGraf co-founder and CEO Samir Mayekar. “With our new ton-scale facility we can deliver larger volumes of material to our growing customer base.”“We look forward to growing NanoGraf into the leading global supplier of silicon anode materials,” said JNC CEO Yasuyuki Gotoh.last_img read more

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New Lightning electric motorcycle 150 mph 150 miles 35 min charge 13k

first_imgSource: Charge Forward Lightning electric motorcycles, a little known manufacturer located in San Jose, California, has announced a new bike to be unveiled in March.The company has just revealed specs for the Strike, the second electric motorcycle offered by the company. And you’re going to want to see this… more…The post New Lightning electric motorcycle: 150 mph, 150 miles, 35 min charge, $13k appeared first on Electrek.last_img

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Audi To Focus On Locally Produced EVs For China

first_img Author Liberty Access TechnologiesPosted on January 25, 2019Categories Electric Vehicle News BYD Launches New Yuan EV535 Electric SUV Evergande Health Invests Big Into NEVs The first round of EV offensive for the German premium car brand will start at 2019. It is reported that the Audi e-tron and the Audi Q2L e-tron will hit China’s market this year and be domestically produced in this country. Thomas Owsianski said Audi in China will triple its R&D capacity over the next five years to develop innovative technologies and attractive functions focusing on such areas as digitalization, electrification and autonomous driving. Based on its 30-year successful development experience in China, Audi will further excavate the potential of world’s largest auto market by developing brand-new electrified premium models.Three German car brands, namely, Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz, all have gained licenses that allow them to conduct autonomous vehicle road tests in China. Audi was given such go-ahead from Wuxi and Beijing authorities. On December 29 last year, Audi China demonstrated Level 4 autonomous driving and C-V2X-based use cases on a closed section of the Yanchong Highway, teaming up with Huawei, a China-based leading provider of ICT infrastructure and smart devices.Audi began deploying car-sharing services in China as early as 2017. Currently, its “Audi on demand”, an innovative mobility program that gives customers a new way to experience the Audi brand and its range of vehicles at the touch of a button, has set foot into Beijing, Xi’an and Sanya and will make inroads in more China’s cities this year.Source: Gasgoo Audi will focus heavily on EVs for China.Audi will increase the number of locally-produced models in China to 12 by 2022, Thomas Owsianski, President of Audi China, revealed at the company’s year-end party on January 18.More China News BYD Song Max Pure Electric To Launch This Year Source: Electric Vehicle Newslast_img read more

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Caterpillar unveils an allelectric 26ton excavator with a giant 300 kWh battery

first_imgCaterpillar, along with Pon Equipment, has unveiled an all-electric 26-ton excavator with a giant 300 kWh battery pack in an effort to electrify construction equipment. more…The post Caterpillar unveils an all-electric 26-ton excavator with a giant 300 kWh battery pack appeared first on Electrek. Source: Charge Forwardlast_img

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Chinas Kandi announces US approval to sell EX3 and K22 EVs stock

first_imgSource: Charge Forward China’s Kandi says it has received approval from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to import two of its electric cars to the U.S. more…The post China’s Kandi announces US approval to sell EX3 and K22 EVs, stock up 40% appeared first on Electrek.last_img

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Volvo to offer plugin hybrid powertrains on all models

first_imgSource: Volvo Cars Source: Electric Vehicles Magazine Volvo Cars has introduced a range of new electrified powertrain options, which it plans to make available across its entire model range.The company has upgraded its existing T8 and T6 Twin Engine plug-in hybrid powertrains, and confirmed that plug-in options will now be available on every model it produces.Volvo also plans to introduce a range of mild hybrids in the coming months, starting with diesel and gas versions of the XC90 and XC60 SUVs. These “B badged” powertrains will offer Volvo’s brake-by-wire energy recovery system, “which interacts with the energy recovery system and reduces fuel consumption and emissions by recovering kinetic energy under braking.” Volvo is touting fuel savings of up to 15 percent in real-world conditions.Volvo will also introduce new and upgraded powertrains on its larger Scalable Product Architecture (SPA)-based models.“Volvo Cars has upgraded its production capacity so that up to 25 per cent of total production can be Twin Engine plug-in hybrid cars,” says the automaker. “Also, it expects its new B badged powertrains to gradually become the new standard, moving it closer to its goal that by the middle of the next decade all of its cars will be electrified.”last_img read more

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Pininfarina Battista To Make UK Debut This Week

first_img“It is a privilege to return to Goodwood for the UK debut of the Pininfarina Battista,” said the 13-time F1 podium finisher. “The Members’ Meeting is full of legendary sports cars that in many cases have become game changers. We aim for Battista to be regarded in the same way in the future and to be recognised for the perfect combination of beautiful aesthetics and unprecedented performance.”“The innovative EV powertrain beneath the Battista’s carbon fibre body and monocoque provides the perfect platform on which to develop the most powerful car that will have ever been designed and built in Italy,” he added. “I’m looking forward to sharing the past, present and future of Pininfarina and presenting the Battista at Goodwood in April.”Prospective customers at the meeting will have the chance to enquire about the car and register their interest in one of the 50 examples destined for Europe. Representatives from Rybrook cars, Pininfarina’s chosen UK retail partner, will also be on hand.Rene Wollmann will also be in attendance. He led the development team for the Mercedes-AMG One hypercar, but recently joined Automobili Pininfarina as programme director, sportscars.The Pininfarina Battista is the most powerful road car to ever come out of Italy, eclipsing all efforts from more established car ‘makers’ like Ferrari, Lamborghini, and Pagani.A Rimac-supplied 120 kWh battery pack helps deliver 874 bhp and 1,694 lb-ft of torque, which is enough to rocket it from 0-60 in less than two seconds, to 186 mph in under 12 seconds, and onto a top speed of 218 mph. Range is an impressive 280 miles.Just 150 Battistas will be made, each with a starting price of just under £2 million. Nick Heidfeld will be driving the car at Goodwood.The Pininfarina Battista, an all-electric supercar made by the famed design house, will make its UK debut at the 77th Goodwood Members Meeting this week.The car was first unveiled at the Geneva motor show and is the first full production car from Pininfarina, which is better known as a designer for the likes of Ferrari.Nick Heidfeld will drive the car at the event. The former-Formula 1 driver holds the distinction of having the record fastest time up Goodwood’s famed hillclimb. In 1999 he drove a McLaren MP4/13 up the course at the Festival of Speed in under 42 seconds.More From Pininfarina Source: Electric Vehicle News Karma Teases Upcoming Electric Pininfarina-Designed Concept Pininfarina Battista Electric Hypercar Returns In New Teaser Author Liberty Access TechnologiesPosted on April 5, 2019Categories Electric Vehicle News Pininfarina Battista Debuts With 1,874 HP Of Electric Power: Videolast_img read more

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AllElectric Car Energy Consumption EPA Compared – May 2019

first_imgElectron guzzlers – from 248 Wh/mile (154 Wh/km) to 455 Wh/mile (283 Wh/km)Source: Electric Vehicle Newslast_img

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Friday Roundup

first_imgNot something you see everyday, Yates Memo related, quotable, scrutiny alerts and updates, and for the reading stack. It’s all here in the Friday roundup.Not Something You See EverydayIt’s not everyday that you see a director of a publicly-traded company publicly resign because the director thinks the company is engaged in improper conduct including FCPA violations.But that is just what Michael Moss, until recently a director of Malvern Bancorp, did.In this recent “Dear Board of Directors” letter, Moss stated:“Malvern Federal is a community bank. As our mission statement says: “We will support the efforts of local businesses, organizations and people within the communities we serve.” Servicing the banking needs of a [*], carrying a [*] passport – a stranger to us – doing business in [*] and [*] is not consistent with that mission. Malvern Federal is not Bank of America and should not aspire to be.But worse than that, doing business with Mr. [*] carries grave legal and reputational risks for Malvern Federal. He bears all the hallmarks of exactly the sort of individual the Bank Secrecy Act’s know-your-customer rules were designed to detect: a [*] national expelled from his own banking system who has been doing business in offshore havens known for money laundering. Worse yet, through an introduction of a Malvern Federal Savings Bank activist investor shareholder, he inexplicably comes to a small community bank instead of an international commercial bank to service his banking needs. Doing business with this man puts Malvern Federal at risk for violations of anti-money laundering requirements of the PATRIOT Act, the Bank Secrecy Act, Treasury Department OFAC sanctions, and the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, among others.Please be advised, that effective immediately, I, Michael D. Moss, resign as a member of the Board of Directors of both Malvern Bancorp, Inc. and Malvern Federal Savings Bank.”Yates Memo RelatedIn this video at the recent ABA White Collar Crime Conference Sally Yates discusses the “Yates Memo.”*****Further proof that you should not necessarily believe everything you read in mainstream media (including the Wall Street Journal). This February Wall Street Journal piece stated:“The U.S. Justice Department’s fraud section will now require certification from companies that they fully disclosed all information about individuals involved in wrongdoing before finalizing a settlement agreement.”Not true according to this writeup by lawyers attending the recent ABA White Collar Crime conference.“On March 3, 2016, DOJ Criminal Division’s Assistant Attorney General Leslie Caldwell addressed recent media reports claiming that companies under investigation by DOJ will soon need to certify their full disclosure of certain documents as a prerequisite to obtaining a settlement agreement with the Department.  Caldwell addressed—and dismissed—the rumored certification requirement while speaking on a panel at the American Bar Association’s 30th Annual National Institute on White Collar Crime in San Diego.”*****See here from Paul Monnin (a former DOJ enforcement attorney currently at Paul Hastings) titled “Everything Old is New Again: Why the Yates Memo is Constitutionally Suspect.” For an interview of Monnin regarding the same issues, see here.QuotableThe below statement regarding voluntary disclosure is not unique, versions of this statement are articulated on a frequent basis.“The benefits of self-disclosure and cooperation are not always apparent. […] Despite these public announcements, companies still lack consistent and objective standards to measure the value of self-disclosure and cooperation.”Yet it is notable when a former high-ranking DOJ FCPA enforcement attorney writes it as Hank Walther did recently in this article.See this prior post titled “A Former Enforcement Official Is Likely to Say (Or Has Already Said) the Same Thing.”*****In this recent speech, Assistant Attorney General Leslie Caldwell focused on:“To address crime on a global scale, we are forging deep coalitions with our international enforcement and regulatory partners.  Our evolving approaches already have yielded significant successes, a couple of which I will highlight to illustrate my point.  And I would also like to discuss what this means for the global corporations and executives that you all represent when they are facing investigation by multiple enforcement agencies around the world.”Regarding the DOJ’s “close collaboration with our enforcement partners from around the globe” she highlighted the VimpelCom and Alstom FCPA enforcement actions.Caldwell further stated:“The VimpelCom case also is an example of our efforts to marry our FCPA enforcement actions with our Kleptocracy Initiative.  In FCPA cases, the corrupt officials who receive bribes often are beyond the reach of U.S. law enforcement and may reside in countries where local anti-corruption efforts are weak, arbitrary or non-existent.   But just because we cannot get our hands on bribe recipients doesn’t mean we can’t try to get our hands on bribe proceeds if they enter the U.S. banking system.”Scrutiny Alerts and UpdatesGoldman SachsThe Wall Street Journal reports:“Goldman Sachs Group Inc. hired the daughter of a close ally to Malaysia’s prime minister around the time the firm’s bankers were pitching business to the country’s government investment fund, people familiar with the matter said. Goldman is looking into the hiring as part of its investigation into the firm’s actions related to the Malaysia fund and into the Wall Street firm’s former Southeast Asia chairman, Tim Leissner, said one of the people. The probe is also part of its broader investigation into the hiring of relatives of government officials or other well-connected people, the person said. Goldman is among several international banks under investigation by U.S. authorities to determine whether their hiring practices violated antibribery laws …”.NikeAccording to reports:“When a Chinese clothing company swooped in and offered to sponsor Kenya’s famed runners, Nike panicked, Kenyan officials say. “Can we talk about the situation?” a Nike executive wrote to a Kenyan official after hearing the news that the Kenyans wanted to end their deal with the Beaverton-based company. “You and I go back a long way.” What followed — according to email exchanges, letters, bank records and invoices, provided by a former employee of Kenya’s athletics federation — has led to a major scandal in Kenya, a country in the midst of its biggest war against corruption in years. In a contract signed several years ago, Nike agreed to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in honorariums and a one-time $500,000 “commitment bonus,” which the former employee called a bribe. The money was supposed to be used to help train and support poor Kenyan athletes who dream of running their way out of poverty. Instead, it was immediately sucked out of the federation’s bank account by a handful of Kenyan officials and kept off the books. Nike has denied any wrongdoing, saying in a statement that its payments were intended to help athletes, and it does not appear to be under investigation by U.S. authorities. But Kenyan authorities are suspicious. They have opened an extensive investigation, and all three Kenyan athletics officials accused of taking money from Nike have been suspended. Investigators with Kenya’s Directorate of Criminal Investigations said they had asked Nike repeatedly to provide more information. So far, they say, Nike has refused.”BarclaysIn its recent annual report, the company stated:“The DOJ and SEC are undertaking an investigation into whether the Group’s relationships with third parties who assist BPLC to win or retain business are compliant with the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Certain regulators in other jurisdictions have also been briefed on the investigations. Separately, the Group is cooperating with the DOJ and SEC in relation to an investigation into certain of its hiring practices in Asia and is keeping certain regulators in other jurisdictions informed.”EmbraerThe company has been under FCPA scrutiny since 2010 (no that is not a typo) and recently disclosed:“The Company received in September, 2010 a subpoena from the SEC and associated inquiries from the U.S. Department of Justice, or DOJ, concerning possible non-compliance with the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, or FCPA, in relation to certain aircraft sales outside of Brazil. In response, the Company retained outside counsel to conduct an internal investigation of sales in three countries.In light of additional information, the Company voluntarily expanded the scope of the internal investigation to include sales in other countries, reported on these matters to the SEC and the DOJ and otherwise cooperated with them. The U.S. government inquiries, related inquiries and developments in other countries and the Company’s internal investigation are continuing and the Company will continue to cooperate with the governmental authorities, as circumstances may require. The Company has begun discussions with the DOJ for a possible resolution of the allegations of non-compliance with the FCPA. A resolution of the U.S. government inquiries, and related inquiries, proceedings and developments in other countries would result in fines, which may be substantial, and possibly other substantial sanctions and adverse consequences. Based upon the opinion of its outside counsel, the Company believes that there is no adequate basis at this time for estimating accruals or quantifying any contingency with respect to these matters.In light of the above, we embarked on a comprehensive effort to improve and expand our compliance program worldwide. This multi-year task involved reexamining every aspect of our compliance systems, and where appropriate, redesigning or adding to them. Some of the key enhancements include the creation of a Compliance Department, the appointment of a Chief Compliance Officer reporting directly to the Risk and Audit Committee of the Board of Directors, the development of a program to monitor engagement of and payments to third parties, improvements to compliance policies, procedure and controls, the enhancement of anonymous and other reporting channels, and the development of a comprehensive training and education program designed to maintain and reinforce a strong compliance culture at all levels of Embraer globally. The Company will continue to promote enhancements and update its compliance program.”NortekNortek disclosed FCPA scrutiny in January 2015 and recently disclosed.“As previously reported, as part of our routine internal audit activities, we discovered certain questionable hospitality, gift and payment practices, and other expenses at our subsidiary, Linear Electronics (Shenzhen) Co. Ltd. (“Linear China”), which are inconsistent with our policies and raise concerns under the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and perhaps under other applicable anti-corruption laws. We conducted an internal investigation into these practices and payments with the assistance of outside counsel.On January 7, 2015 and January 8, 2015, respectively, we voluntarily contacted the SEC and the DOJ to advise both agencies of our internal investigation. We are cooperating with the SEC and DOJ investigations into these matters. We take these matters very seriously and are committed to conducting business in compliance with all applicable laws.Based on information known at this time, we currently believe that the amount of the questionable expenses and payments is not material with respect to our consolidated financial condition or results of operations for the periods presented. However, at this time, we are unable to predict, what, if any, action may be taken by the DOJ or SEC or any penalties or remedial measures these agencies may seek, but intend to cooperate with both agencies. Any determination that our operations or activities are not in compliance with existing laws or regulations could result in the imposition of fines, civil and criminal penalties, and equitable remedies, including disgorgement or injunctive relief. We cannot reasonably estimate the potential liability, if any, related to these matters resulting from any proceedings that may be commenced by the SEC, the DOJ or any other governmental authorities. In the fiscal year ended December 31, 2015 and 2014, approximately $2.3 million and $0.8 million, respectively, was recorded for legal and other professional services incurred related to the internal investigation of this matter. We expect to incur additional costs relating to the investigation of this matter in 2016.”AnalogicAs highlighted in this prior post, the company has been under FCPA scrutiny since 2011 (no that is not a typo) and recently disclosed:“As initially disclosed in our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended July 31, 2011, we identified certain transactions involving our Danish subsidiary BK Medical ApS, or BK Medical, and certain of its foreign distributors, with respect to which we have raised questions concerning compliance with law, including Danish law and the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, and our business policies. These have included transactions in which the distributors paid BK Medical amounts in excess of amounts owed and BK Medical transferred the excess amounts, at the direction of the distributors, to third parties identified by the distributors. We have terminated the employment of certain BK Medical employees and also terminated our relationships with the BK Medical distributors that were involved in the transactions. We have concluded that the transactions identified to date have been properly accounted for in our reported financial statements in all material respects. However, we have been unable to ascertain with certainty the ultimate beneficiaries or the purpose of these transfers. We have voluntarily disclosed this matter to the Danish Government, the U.S. Department of Justice, or DOJ, and the SEC, and are cooperating with inquiries by the Danish Government, the DOJ and the SEC. We believe that the SEC, DOJ, and Danish Government have substantially completed their investigation into the transactions at issue. We are engaged in discussions with the SEC, the DOJ and the Danish Government concerning a final resolution of these matters. In the second quarter of fiscal 2016, we accrued a charge of $13.3 million, of which $10.1 million was classified as general and administrative expense and $3.2 million was classified as other expense, net in our Consolidated Statements of Operations, in connection with these matters. This is in addition to a $1.6 million charge that we accrued in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2015, of which $1.0 million was classified as general and administrative expense and $0.6 million was classified as other expense, net in our Consolidated Statements of Operations. Any resolution of these matters, and the terms of and amounts payable in connection with any such resolution is subject to negotiation and approval of agreements with each of the SEC, the DOJ, and the Danish government.During the three and six months ended January 31, 2016, we incurred inquiry-related costs of approximately $0.2 million and $0.2 million, respectively, in connection with this matter. During the three and six months ended January 31, 2015, we incurred inquiry-related costs of approximately $0.4 million and $1.1 million, respectively, in connection with this matter.”Reading StackTrade barriers and distortions are often the root causes of bribery and a reduction in bribery will not be achieved without a reduction in trade barriers and distortions. In this regard, this recent article titled “Red Tape In Latin America Makes It the Most Complex Region for Compliance in the World” caught my eye.The Global Enforcement Report 2015 from Trace International is here. Kudos to Trace for adopting the core approach to tracking enforcement statistics.“When a company and its employees or representatives face multiple enforcement actions involving substantially the same conduct, only one enforcement action is counted in the 2015 GER. If a company does not face an enforcement action but its employees or representatives do, the enforcement action is counted as one enforcement action. Finally, while multiple different authorities in one country may be responsible for enforcement actions, only one enforcement action is counted against a company or individual.”Kudos also to Trace for omitting any analysis of so-called “declinations” given the inherent definitional issues as well as transparency issues surrounding so-called “declinations.”*****A good weekend to all, and to the “most interesting man in the world,” all the best in retirement.last_img read more

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FCPA Enforcement Actions Against Foreign Companies From OECD Convention Peer Countries

first_imgCompany(Headquarters) (Israel) Improper payments to official(s) in China and associated books and records and internal controls deficiencies SAP (Germany)Improper payments to official(s) in Panama and associated books and records and internal controls deficiencies (Canada) (The Netherlands)Improper payments to official(s) in Uzbekistan and associated books and records and internal controls deficiencies LAN Airlines (Chile) Improper payments to official(s) in China and associated books and records and internal controls deficiencies 2016 was a record-breaking year for Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enforcement, both in terms of the number of core corporate actions resolved as well as overall settlement amounts.As highlighted in this post, much of the largeness of 2016 FCPA enforcement resulted from corporate enforcement actions against foreign companies. (For purposes of this post, a foreign company means the “residence” of the corporate parent company and not for instance, Analogic’s foreign subsidiary or JPMorgan’s foreign subsidiary being offered up to resolve the DOJ prong of the corporate enforcement action). Specifically, of the 27 corporate enforcement actions from 2016, 11 (41%) were against foreign companies (based in many instances on mere listing of securities on U.S. markets and in a few instances on sparse allegations of a U.S. nexus in furtherance of an alleged bribery scheme). Even more dramatic, of the net $2.27 billion settlement amounts from 2016 corporate enforcement actions, approximately $1.44 billion (63%) resulted from enforcement actions against foreign companies.Given that all of the foreign companies that resolved 2016 FCPA enforcement actions were from peer OECD Convention countries, the question should be asked whether these FCPA enforcement actions represented a proper use of the FCPA – at least from a policy standpoint.The below chart (pardon the spacing issues, working with charts in WordPress is a bear) highlights the 2016 FCPA enforcement actions against foreign companies. AstraZeneca (Brazil) 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. Nordion (United Kingdom) Improper payments to official(s) in India and associated books and records and internal controls deficiencies Improper payments to official(s) in Russia, Ukraine and Mexico Embraer (Belgium) Odebrecht / Braskem Improper payments to official(s) in Brazil, Angola, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico, Mozambique, Panama, Peru, and Venezuela and associated books and records and internal controls deficiencies Improper payments to official(s) in Dominican Republic, Saudi Arabia, Mozambique, and India and associated books and records and internal controls deficiencies VimpelCom From a policy perspective, what legitimate U.S. law enforcement interests are implicated when, for example, a German company interacts with Panamanian officials; a Canadian company interacts with Russian officials; a United Kingdom or Swiss company interacts with Chinese officials; a Brazilian company interacts with officials in Dominican Republic, Saudi Arabia, Mozambique, and India; or an Israeli company interacts with officials in Russia, Ukraine and Mexico?As alluded to above, all of the 2016 FCPA enforcement actions against foreign companies were against companies headquartered in countries that, like the U.S., are parties to the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions (OECD Convention).In other words, Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Canada, Brazil, Israel, Belgium, and Chile are all “peer” countries with mature FCPA-like laws governing the conduct of their companies coupled with reputable legal systems to prosecute such offenses.Given this reality, as well as the specific provision in Article 4 of OECD Convention that “when more than one Party has jurisdiction over an alleged offence described in this Convention, the Parties involved shall, at the request of one of them, consult with a view to determining the most appropriate jurisdiction for prosecution,” can it truly be said that the U.S. is the most appropriate jurisdiction to prosecute certain foreign companies for alleged interactions with non-U.S. officials?In the minds of some, FCPA enforcement has become a convenient cash cow for the U.S. government. The above enforcement actions in 2016 against foreign companies, which resulted in approximately $1.44 billion flowing into the U.S. treasury, only amplify these concerns.From a historical perspective, it is worth noting that part of the FCPA reform discussion in the 1980’s were bills – introduced by Democrats – seeking to waive the FCPA’s provisions “in the case of any country which the Attorney General has certified to have (1) effective bribery or corruption statutes; and (2) an established record of aggressive enforcement of such statutes.” (See S. 1797, Competitive America Trade Reform Act of 1985, introduced on October 29, 1985 by Senator Gary Hart (D-CO) and H.R. 3813, Competitive America Trade Reform Act of 1985, introduced on November 21, 1985 by Representative Vic Fazio (D-CA)).While waiving the FCPA’s provisions – as those bills sought to do – does not seem like a good idea, perhaps the time has come with the maturity of the OECD Convention – for U.S. enforcement agencies to adopt a policy of not bringing FCPA enforcement actions against foreign companies from peer OECD Convention countries. Improper payments to official(s) in Russia and associated books and records and internal controls deficiencies General Allegations Improper payments to official(s) in China and Russia and associated books and records and internal controls deficiencies ABInBev Novartis (United Kingdom) Teva Pharma Improper payments in Argentina and associated books and records and internal controls deficiencies (Switzerland) (Brazil) GlaxoSmithKline Connectlast_img read more

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Shallow FCPA Commentary

first_imgCertain of what passes for Foreign Corrupt Practices Act commentary is shallow and lacks an appreciation of context and perspective. Another hallmark of shallow FCPA commentary is the logical fallacy post hoc ergo propter hoc (in other words, since event Y followed event X, event Y must have been caused by event X).Shallow FCPA commentary matters because it spreads misleading information about FCPA enforcement and policy.The latest shallow commentary was articulated in connection with the recent Credit Suisse enforcement action (see here and here for prior posts).This law firm post states:“In an apparent nod to the anti-‘piling on’ policy, the SEC agreed to refrain from imposing any civil penalty. In fact, the SEC administrative order expressly provides that ‘[Credit Suisse] acknowledges that the Commission is not imposing a civil penalty based upon the imposition of a $47 million criminal fine as part of Credit Suisse’s settlement with the United States Department of Justice.’”Likewise, Thomas Fox (who calls himself the Compliance Evangelist) pontificated:“This enforcement action is now one of three from the spring of 2018 which demonstrates the effect of the new FCPA Corporate Enforcement Policy, announced in late November 2017, and the new anti-piling on policy announced in May 2018. […] It is also important to note that the SEC stated in its Order, “Respondent acknowledges that the Commission is not imposing a civil penalty based upon the imposition of a $47 million criminal fine as part of Credit Suisse’s settlement with the United States Department of Justice.”In both instances, the commentators link the SEC not imposing a civil penalty in the Credit Suisse enforcement action to the DOJ’s May 2018 announcement of a no piling on policy (see here and here for prior post) ignoring of course that the policy was a DOJ policy and not an SEC policy.More fundamentally, let’s swim over to the deep end of the pool (where context and perspective are important) and one quickly discovers after a few minutes of research (well … a few minutes with a powerful search feature) that the SEC has frequently not imposed civil penalties or other forms of relief in corporate FCPA enforcement actions with a parallel DOJ component – and has done so long before the DOJ’s May 2018 no piling on policy.In the 2014 Aloca enforcement action, the SEC’s order states:“[Alcoa] shall pay disgorgement of $175,000,000. A portion of [Alcoa’s] disgorgement obligation in the amount of $14,000,000 shall be deemed satisfied by [Alcoa’s] payment of $14,000,000 in forfeiture as part of [Alcoa’s resolution with the United States Department of Justice (“DOJ”).”In the 2014 HP enforcement action, the SEC’s order states:“[HP] shall … pay disgorgement of $29,000,000 and prejudgment interest of $5,000,000 to the United States Treasury. $2,527,750 of [HP’s] disgorgement obligation will be satisfied by [HP’s] payment of $2,527,750 in forfeiture as part of HP Mexico’s resolution with the United States Department of Justice.”In the 2016 PTC enforcement action, the SEC’s order states under the heading“Non-Imposition of a Civil Penalty” as follows:“[PTC] acknowledges that the Commission is not imposing a civil penalty based upon its payment of a $14,540,000 criminal fine as part of [PTC’s] subsidiaries’ settlement with the United States Department of Justice.”In the 2016 Analogic enforcement action, the SEC’s order states:“Analogic acknowledges that the Commission is not imposing a civil penalty based in part upon BK Medical’s payment of a $3,402,000 criminal fine as part of BK Medical’s settlement with the United States Department of Justice.”In the 2016 LAN Airlines enforcement action, the SEC’s order states under the heading “Non-Imposition of a Civil Penalty” as follows:“[LAN] acknowledges that the Commission is not imposing a civil penalty based upon its payment of a $12,750,000 criminal fine as part of [LAN’s] settlement with the United States Department of Justice.”In the 2016 Och-Ziff enforcement action, the SEC’s order states:“Och-Ziff acknowledges that the Commission is foregoing a one-time $173,186,178 civil penalty for these charges based upon the imposition of a $213,055,689 criminal penalty as part of Och-Ziff’s settlement with the DOJ.”In the 2016 JPMorgan enforcement action, the SEC’s order states under the heading “Non-Imposition of a Civil Penalty” as follows:“[JPMorgan] acknowledges that the Commission is not imposing a civil penalty based upon the imposition of a $72,000,000 criminal fine as part of JPMorgan APAC’s settlement with the United States Department of Justice.”In the 2016 General Cable enforcement action, the SEC’s order states:“GCC acknowledges that the Commission is not imposing a civil penalty for the violations described in this Order based in part on GCC’s payment of a criminal fine of $20,469,694.80 as part of GCC’s settlement with the Department of Justice.”In the 2017 Telia enforcement action, the SEC’s order states:“[Telia’s] disgorgement obligation shall be deemed satisfied in part by [Telia’s] forfeiture payment of up to $40,000,000 within ten (10) days of its sentencing hearing as part of [Telia’s] resolution with the United States Department of Justice.”Another instance of shallow commentary is here courtesy of Michael Volkov (Corruption Crime & Compliance) who asserts:“In the FCPA enforcement area, we have seen a “new” trend in the use of non-FCPA charges, such as money laundering, against recipients of foreign bribes.”Good lord.The DOJ has been criminally charging alleged “foreign officials” for money laundering and related charges (when there is jurisdiction) since at least 2009. (See here and here for some of the earlier actions). Elevate Your FCPA Research There are several subject matter tags in this post. However, only subscribers to FCPA Professor’s premium search feature can see and use them in research. Efficient and cost-effective FCPA research is just a click away. Elevate Your Researchlast_img read more

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CMS approves national reimbursement coverage for CardiAMP Chronic Myocardial Ischemia Trial

first_imgMay 10 2018BioCardia®, Inc., a leader in the development of comprehensive solutions for cardiovascular regenerative therapies, today announced that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has approved national reimbursement coverage for the CardiAMP Chronic Myocardial Ischemia Trial.”We are thankful for the CMS decision to approve reimbursement for our potentially life-changing, pivotal clinical study in chronic myocardial ischemia,” said Eric Duckers, MD, PhD, Chief Medical Officer of BioCardia. “Medicare reimbursement in the pivotal trial for our second indication of the CardiAMP Cell Therapy System significantly enhances the Company’s ability to complete this important trial, which if successful, has the potential to provide the first approved cell therapy in the U.S. for patients suffering from chronic refractory angina (RA).”The CardiAMP Chronic Myocardial Ischemia (CMI) Trial is a prospective, multi-center, randomized, sham-controlled, patient- and evaluator-blinded pivotal trial to validate the safety and efficacy of CardiAMP investigational cell therapy in the treatment of patients having CMI with refractory angina. The trial has been approved to enroll up to 343 subjects at up to 40 U.S. centers. This trial has the potential to support functional benefit claims sufficient for product registration without a second confirmatory trial.In the U.S., it is estimated that between 600,000 and 1.8 million patients suffer from RA, with approximately 75,000 new cases diagnosed each year. Despite improvements in revascularization techniques, there is a growing population of patients with chronic RA not amenable to further revascularization that suffer with severely limiting symptoms. These patients suffer from poor perceived health status and psychological distress, have significant impairment in quality of life, and represent a burden to the healthcare system due to significant use of resources. Current therapies have limitations or are associated with minimal reduction in angina.Related StoriesNew study reveals ‘clutch’ proteins responsible for putting T cell activation ‘into gear’NANOLIVE‘s novel CX-A defines a new standard for live cell imaging in 96 well plates for continuous organelle monitoring in cell populationsStudy: Megakaryocytes play an important role in cell migrationThis second clinical indication of chronic myocardial ischemia with refractory angina for the CardiAMP investigational cell therapy follows the company’s FDA-approved pivotal clinical trial of CardiAMP cell therapy in ischemic heart failure, which is currently enrolling patients at up to 40 centers in the U.S. 1″CMS approval of reimbursement for the CardiAMP CMI Trial is an important milestone for the company,” said BioCardia CEO Peter Altman. “It is a positive step towards developing a new treatment strategy that could have tremendous benefit for patients with refractory angina. This decision by CMS enables BioCardia to offset significant clinical research costs and may enable us to complete pivotal trials for both indications without a strategic partner. The investigational heart failure and chronic myocardial ischemia pivotal trials provide BioCardia with two distinct pivotal clinical programs where clinical data to-date supports that patients will have improved quality of life and reduced mortality, with no treatment-related cardiac complications.”Covered costs in the trial are anticipated to include patient screening, the CardiAMP Cell Therapy System and procedure, and clinical follow-up at one and two years after the procedure. Private insurance plans covering 50 million insured Americans follow this CMS reimbursement policy and are similarly anticipated to cover these costs in the clinical trial. Source:http://www.biocardia.com/last_img read more

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Study Antibodies against hemorrhagic fever disarm two viruses of same family

first_imgMay 15 2018Hemorrhagic fever viruses, so named for their ability to induce massive, and at times fatal, internal bleeding, captured the world’s attention during the Ebola outbreak of 2014-2016 in West Africa.But these pathogens’ high lethality, fickle seasonal and geographic patterns, compounded by a lack of preventive therapies, have frustrated scientific and public health efforts to avert outbreaks for far longer than the recent epidemics.The ultimate quest of those efforts is to develop a universal vaccine that works against multiple viruses and to design other broad-spectrum antibody therapies to rapidly treat those already infected.Now, in a small but illuminating study, Harvard Medical School scientists report that antibodies made in response to a vaccine against one hemorrhagic fever virus–Junin–can successfully disarm one of its cousins, Machupo, for which there’s currently no vaccine. The experiments were conducted in vitro using antibodies obtained from a vaccine recipient.Although limited to two viruses from one family, the results set the stage for the design of broad-spectrum therapies that can work against multiple or all members of a viral family, despite significant differences in molecular makeup, the researchers say.The findings, published May 14 in Nature Communications, build on isolated reports that people and primates vaccinated against Junin appear to be more resilient to Machupo. The new study, however, provides the first molecular proof of what thus far have been merely anecdotal observations. It also identifies a common, conserved site on both viruses that renders them defenseless to the same antibodies.”Our findings raise the tantalizing possibility of designing universal therapies using antibodies made to one virus for which there is a vaccine as a way to prevent or treat other viruses for which there are none,” said study senior author Jonathan Abraham, assistant professor of microbiology and immunobiology at Harvard Medical School and an infectious disease specialist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “We believe our results are a step in that direction.”The need to develop such therapies, the team said, is even more acute in an era when viruses previously limited to one region are appearing in new geographic areas, greatly fueling the risk for outbreaks in new settings.Junin and Machupo belong to the Arenaviridae family, composed of more than 30 viruses. Of those, five are known to cause human disease in South America.Even though viruses from other viral families can at times cause hemorrhagic fevers, members of the arenavirus family are considered true hemorrhagic fever viruses. The infections they cause are marked by blood vessel damage and severe bleeding in multiple organs. Between 15 and 30 percent of people infected with one these viruses develop severe symptoms and die.Prior to the development of the Junin vaccine in the 1980s, the virus had caused about 30,000 symptomatic infections in Argentina. The vaccine, which contains a weakened form of the virus, induces immunity and lifelong protection in about 95 percent of people who get it. As a result, the incidence of Argentine hemorrhagic fever declined dramatically from 2,000 to 50 to 60 cases a year.By comparison, outbreaks caused by Machupo have been relatively small and contained–fewer than 100 people sick at a time. Then again, Abraham points out, up until the 2014-2016 outbreaks in West Africa, Ebola too had caused sporadic, smaller outbreaks affecting dozens to hundreds of people.”We can’t reliably forecast future viral behavior based on past ones,” Abraham said. “This is why preemptively developing treatment and prevention strategies is so crucial.”Since the 1980s, scientists have tried to replicate the success of the Junin vaccine by developing a vaccine that acts against multiple or all viruses of the same family.Traditionally, scientists have homed in on one promising commonality across related viruses: they tend to use the same gateway into their hosts–be they animals or people–a sort of “molecular key,” called a protein receptor binding site (RBS), which fits into surface proteins on the host cell like a key in a lock. The RBS tends to be well-conserved across members of the same viral family because evolution discourages frequent mutations to a structure so critical for an organism’s survival.Related StoriesNew study suggests bacteria-loaded mosquitoes may halt spread of Dengue feverScientists discover weakness in common cold virusResearchers compare American, Pacific and Southeast Asian subtypes of Zika virusOver the last decade, researchers have worked to develop antibody treatments that mimic the “lock” of the host cells as a way to fool the virus into thinking it’s attached to a host cell, when in fact, it’s locked into an antibody that renders it incapable of entering and infecting host cells. But, as is often the case in the evolutionary plot, there’s a twist, Abraham explains.As a virus’ natural host, or target, evolves over time, so do the footprints, or the configuration, of the its molecular key–the RBS. The change ensures the virus’ compatibility with the host and, in the end, the virus’ survival. Viruses limited to certain geographic regions and the hosts specific to those regions shapeshift along with their targets. Thus, members of the same viral family residing in different geographic areas and exposed to different hosts will have both commonalities and differences in their RBS.”Even among viruses that are related and share similarities in the molecular makeup of their receptor bindings sites, you still end up with a substantial degree of variability,” Abraham said.This variability, researchers say, has foiled efforts to design broad-acting protective antibodies toward one hemorrhagic fever virus as a way to disarm others.In the new study, however, researchers identified a tiny portion in the molecular keys used by Junin and Machupo that is identical and responds to the same antibodies, rendering both viruses sensitive to the same vaccine.For their experiments, the team started out by obtaining antibodies from a person who had received the Junin vaccine two years prior. They focused on a subset of immune cells known as memory B cells. As the long-term keepers of memories from viral encounters past, these cells store the ingredients and the recipes for making protective antibodies against these remembered viruses. When these cells encounter the same virus later, they quickly dust off the recipe and crank up the production of antibodies to disarm the virus.It is from these very cells that the scientists isolated several Junin-specific antibodies developed as a result of past vaccination. Next, they tested in a lab dish these antibodies’ affinity for binding to the RBS of the Machupo virus. Two of the handful of antibodies ended up binding to it.The researchers used X-ray crystallography to pinpoint the exact location and other molecular details of the interaction between the viral RBS and the two antibodies. The visualization technique identified the precise location where virus and antibody latched onto one another–a genetically identical section shared by both Machupo and Junin. That, researchers said, is the very molecular chink that renders both viruses vulnerable to the same vaccine antibodies.This conserved part of the viruses’ molecular keys is a promising target for developing antibody therapies against multiple hemorrhagic fever viruses.Junin and Machupo are the most closely related viruses of the Arenavirus family. Even so, more than half of their RBS molecular makeup is different. The new findings, however, suggest that such common areas of vulnerability may exist among other members of the Arenavirus family.”This approach can play an important role in controlling human infection and its most devastating consequences–a goal that’s remained elusive,” Abraham said. “As we get better in our ability to home in on progressively tinier parts shared across all viruses, we can start eyeing new precision-targeted therapies designed to work on conserved areas across multiple viral species.”Source: https://hms.harvard.edu/news/silver-bulletlast_img read more

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Defective energy production may explain why our brains are prone to agerelated

first_img Source:https://www.salk.edu/news-release/impaired-energy-production-may-explain-why-the-brain-is-susceptible-to-age-related-diseases/ May 30 2018Defective energy production in old neurons might explain why our brains are so prone to age-related diseases. Salk researchers used a new method to discover that cells from older individuals had impaired mitochondria–the power stations of cells–and reduced energy production. A better understanding of the effects of aging on mitochondria could reveal more about the link between mitochondrial dysfunction and age-related brain diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. The work appeared in Cell Reports on May 29, 2018.”Most other methods use chemical stresses on cells to simulate aging,” says senior author Rusty Gage, a professor in Salk’s Laboratory of Genetics. “Our system has the advantage of showing what happens to mitochondria that age naturally, within the human body.”Mitochondria, small structures found within cells, are responsible for converting our food into chemical energy our cells can use. Defects in mitochondrial genes can cause disease, but researchers also know that mitochondria become less efficient with aging and can drive age-related disorders.Previously, the Gage lab developed a method to directly convert skin cells into neurons (called induced neurons, or iNs). Most methods to create neurons from patient cells rely on an intermediary stem cell step (creating what are called induced pluripotent stem cells), which resets cellular markers of aging. But the Gage lab’s iNs retained signs of aging, including changes to gene activity and the cells’ nuclei, the team reported in 2015.In the new work, the researchers asked whether mitochondria in the cells also retained hallmarks of aging during the iN conversion process. Using skin cells collected from humans ranging in age from 0 to 89 years old, the team created iNs from each donor and then used a variety of methods to study the mitochondria of each set of cells.Related StoriesResearchers measure EEG-based brain responses for non-speech and speech sounds in childrenResearch team to create new technology for tackling concussionStudy provides new insight into longitudinal decline in brain network integrity associated with agingMitochondria in the skin cells isolated from each person showed few age-related changes. However, once the cells were directly converted to neurons, mitochondria from older donors were significantly different. Mitochondrial genes related to energy generation were turned off and the mitochondria were less dense, more fragmented and generated less energy.”Pretty much every area we looked at–functional, genetic, and morphological–had defects,” says Jerome Mertens, a Salk staff scientist and co-corresponding author of the new paper.The researchers hypothesized that the reason the mitochondria of iNs were more impacted by aging than the mitochondria of skin cells was that neurons rely more heavily on mitochondria for their energy needs. “If you have an old car with a bad engine that sits in your garage every day, it doesn’t matter,” Mertens says. “But if you’re commuting with that car, the engine becomes a big problem.”The finding shows how aging can impact organs differently throughout the body.The researchers next want to begin to apply their method to study age-related diseases, including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. In the past, mitochondrial defects have been implicated in these diseases. By collecting skin cells from patients and creating iNs, the team can look at how neuronal mitochondria from patients with those diseases are different from neuronal mitochondria from unaffected older individuals.”There is no other in vitro human neuronal model to study aging,” says Yongsung Kim, a research associate and first author of the paper. “So the big takeaway from our paper is that we developed a tool that enables us to study neurological aging and age-related diseases.”last_img read more

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Researchers find mugwort pollen as major source of airborne endotoxins

first_imgJul 19 2018A wide range of airborne substances can cause respiratory problems for asthma sufferers. These include bacteria and their components, which can trigger inflammations. How they become airborne has not been fully explained up to now. A science team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) and the Helmholtz Zentrum München (HMGU) has shown that pollen from the mugwort plant is the main vector for bacteria and that this combination renders the pollen more aggressive. This, however, is not the case in certain Alpine regions such as Davos.Over a period of five years, the TUM team along with colleagues from CK-CARE (Christine Kühne – Center for Allergy Research and Education, Davos) took daily measurements of the air in Munich’s inner city and in the Alpine surrounds of Davos. Their two-fold task involved analyzing the different kinds of airborne plant pollen and measuring the concentration of endotoxins in the air. These chemical compounds, which are found on the surface of bacteria, can trigger inflammations in some people. Endotoxins are also released when bacteria die and disintegrate into their component parts.Lower air pollution in DavosWhen the scientists compared the pollen and bacterial constituents of the air in Munich with each other, they noticed a clear result: The volume of endotoxins in the air only ever increased if the pollen concentration of the mugwort plant also rose – regardless of climatic changes. Control measurements at the Alpine resort of Davos revealed significantly lower concentrations of pollen and endotoxins in the general air pollution. Even here, though, there was a clear correlation between mugwort pollen and the bacterial toxins.Source of endotoxins identifiedRelated StoriesMultifaceted intervention for acute respiratory infection improves antibiotic-prescribingNew research could help design algae that produces fuels and cleanup chemicalsStudy: Surveillance for antibiotic-resistant bacteria continues to be core focus for healthcare facilitiesThe two professors Claudia Traidl-Hoffmann and Jeroen Buters from TUM and HMGU oversaw the study. “We were able to demonstrate that the pollen acts as a ‘taxi’ for bacteria and thus also for their toxins. The pollen produced by mugwort, which is already aggressive enough, then becomes even more of a problem for allergy and asthma sufferers,” they explain.Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris) is widely distributed throughout Europe and can grow up to two meters of height. Its pollen has long been recognized as a trigger for hay fever. The team also studied the bacterial growth on mugwort plants to narrow down the endotoxin type on the pollen. They discovered just one species of bacteria as the main source of the endotoxins: Pseudomonas luteola, which was present on 95 percent of the plants.Bacteria magnify allergic effects of pollenThe research team was then able to confirm its findings with the help of a complex allergy model. They demonstrated that mugwort pollen together with small amounts of endotoxins from the identified bacterium triggered strong signs of inflammation in the respiratory tract. The same severe effects were not observed with lower doses of the endotoxin or with the endotoxin respectively the pollen by themselves.”In the future, we will be able to indirectly use the pollen count to forecast very high levels of airborne endotoxin pollution. This will provide a useful warning for allergy and asthma sufferers,” explains Jose Oteros, lead author of the study, which has been published in the “Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology”. Source:https://www.tum.de/en/about-tum/news/press-releases/detail/article/34799/last_img read more

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Tongue Has a Sixth Sense

The human tongue may have a sixth sense—and no, it doesn’t have anything to do with seeing ghosts. Researchers have found that in addition to recognizing sweet, sour, salty, savory, and bitter tastes, our tongues can also pick up on carbohydrates, the nutrients that break down into sugar and form our main source of energy. Past studies have shown that some rodents can distinguish between sugars of different energy densities, while others can still tell carbohydrate and protein solutions apart even when their ability to taste sweetness is lost. A similar ability has been proposed in humans, with research showing that merely having carbohydrates in your mouth can improve physical performance. How this works, however, has been unclear. In the new study, to be published in Appetite, the researchers asked participants to squeeze a sensor held between their right index finger and thumb when shown a visual cue. At the same time, the participants’ tongues were rinsed with one of three different fluids. The first two were artificially sweetened—to identical tastes—but with only one containing carbohydrate; the third, a control, was neither sweet nor carb-loaded. When the carbohydrate solution was used, the researchers observed a 30% increase in activity for the brain areas that control movement and vision. This reaction, they propose, is caused by our mouths reporting that additional energy in the form of carbs is coming. The finding may explain both why diet products are often viewed as not being as satisfying as their real counterparts and why carbohydrate-loaded drinks seem to immediately perk up athletes—even before their bodies can convert the carbs to energy. Learning more about how this “carbohydrate sense” works could lead to the development of artificially sweetened foods, the researchers propose, “as hedonistically rewarding as the real thing.” read more

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Snailkilling worm invades US mainland

first_img Email Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! 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Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*)center_img Nearly 2 years after its debut in Europe, one of the world’s most dangerous invaders has come to the U.S. mainland. And it isn’t pretty. The New Guinea flatworm (Platydemus manokwari)—a squirming, 5-centimeter-long worm with a taste for escargot—has helped decimate some snail populations in certain Pacific Islands, and now it’s rearing its head in Florida, according to researchers.Pairing molecular gene analysis with specimen observations, a team of experts led by Jean-Lou Justine of France’s National Museum of Natural History in Paris has confirmed that the carnivorous flatworm has taken up residence in Singapore, the Solomon Islands, New Caledonia, Florida, and Puerto Rico, as they report today in PeerJ. Previously, the worm had been found in 15 countries, mainly in the South Pacific.In the past, the tiny worm has found a valuable traveling companion in humans, who have helped spread the animal around the world—both accidently through the international plant trade and intentionally to control pests like the giant African land snail. The discovery in Florida, however, represents a new, worrying sign to researchers. “The Florida record matters more than the others because it’s on the mainland,” Justine says. Now, the worm can spread naturally throughout the rest of the state and—potentially—the rest of the country, he says.David Robinson, a malacologist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and one of the study’s co-authors, first spotted what looked like the flatworm in Florida a few years ago, and he feared the worst. “But I wanted to find an expert before sounding the alarm,” he says. After reading Justine’s 2014 study on the worm’s first and only European appearance in a greenhouse in France—an event that led some to predict the demise of the country’s beloved escargot—he sent his photographs and specimens to Justine, who confirmed his suspicions.Although they also eat earthworms and insects, the olive black creatures—whose mouths are located in the middles of their white bellies—are voracious when it comes to land snails. They are thought to have helped drive several species of these snails to extinction in parts of the Pacific Islands. The aggressive worms are even known to pursue snails into trees.“This is a pretty big deal for snails and for all of the other animals such as firefly larvae, some songbirds and amphibians, and reptiles that eat snails,” says Marla Coppolino, a land snail scientist and research associate with the Paleontological Research Institution in Ithaca, New York, and the Delaware Museum of Natural History. Most land snails in North America feed on decomposing vegetation and animal matter, absorbing nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, and manganese in the process. These nutrients are in turn essential to the snail’s many predators, especially the egg-laying ones.And although snails can tuck into their shells for protection, many North American species are still vulnerable to predators like the flatworm, which can wedge its mouth into the gastropods’ protective housing and consume their flesh. While the flatworm feeds on the invasive giant African snails—a major pest in Florida’s Miami-Dade and Broward counties—it could also target endemic snails, which are in particular danger because their limited natural ranges make it even easier for them to be driven to extinction, Coppolino says.Still, France’s snails haven’t vanished yet, mainly because the flatworm has been contained to the greenhouse where it was originally found. The big unknown for the United States is how sensitive to freezing the tropical and subtropical flatworm will be. “If the flatworm turns out to have the same effect on American land snails as on the ones in the Pacific Islands, and if it can withstand freezing, then it would be a disaster,” says Gustav Paulay, a marine snail expert who is the curator of invertebrates at the Florida Museum of Natural History in Gainesville. “But I’m hoping that it won’t be able to handle freezing, which means its range will be restricted.”“I think the threat to the continental U.S. is overstated,” says Robert Cowie, a research professor who studies snails at the University of Hawaii, Manoa. “It could perhaps spread in parts of Florida and other parts of the more humid southeast, but I do not see it as a threat further north, although enough global warming could change that.”Besides, Cowie points out, in some areas where the flatworm is found, such as the Hawaiian Islands, it hasn’t become widespread or a major threat to Hawaii’s endemic snails, although it’s unclear why. For now, the chance of it wiping out an entire U.S. snail species seems limited, he says.last_img read more

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Wetlands scientists speak out against Trumps move to undo water rule

first_img Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Randy von Liski/Flickr Wetlands scientists speak out against Trump’s move to undo water rule “As non-profit organizations, we support and foster sound science, education, restoration and management of wetlands and other aquatic resources,” the letter says, adding that the regulation was written “using the best available science.”Finalized by the Obama administration in May 2015, the Clean Water Rule, also known as the Waters of the U.S. rule, or WOTUS, caught the ire of farmers, land developers and energy companies.The law was stayed in a federal court following multiple legal challenges, including one brought by now-U.S. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt when he was Oklahoma attorney general.On Tuesday, President Trump signed an executive order directing EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers to review and possibly rescind or replace the regulation (E&E News PM, Feb. 28).The letter from the societies accompanies an amicus brief they filed in the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to support a brief filed by the Obama administration defending the regulation earlier this year. That case has been stayed pending a Supreme Court review of whether it has jurisdiction over the regulation (Greenwire, Jan. 13).In their letter, the organizations describe the ecological importance of wetlands, which can remove otherwise harmful nutrient pollution from water, as well as the benefits wetlands provide to humans.”They store water, and thus are a source of water during times of drought,” the letter says. “Many wetlands soak up runoff and floodwaters, which reduces peak flood-flows and avoids costly flood damage.”Reprinted from Greenwire with permission from E&E News. Copyright 2017. E&E provides essential news for energy and environment professionals at www.eenews.net Email Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country By Ariel Wittenberg, E&E NewsMar. 2, 2017 , 3:00 PM Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe Some farmers are concerned about the impact that the Clean Water Act rule could have on their operations. Read more… Originally published by E&E NewsSeven scientific societies are speaking out against President Donald Trump’s executive order targeting the contentious Clean Water Rule.Representing more than 200,000 members total, the Society of Wetland Scientists, Ecological Society of America, American Institute of Biological Scientists, American Fisheries Society, Society for Ecological Restoration, Society for Freshwater Science and Phycological Society of America wrote a letter to Trump arguing in favor of the regulation.last_img read more

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