5 billion laundered through BC real estate last year — boosting cost

first_img$5 billion laundered through B.C. real estate last year — boosting cost of buying a home by 5% Report found thousands of high-risk properties The Canadian Press More British Columbia commissioned two reports last September to shed light on money laundering by organized crime in the province’s expensive real estate market.File Photo What you need to know about passing the family cottage to the next generation VICTORIA — An independent report has found that $5 billion was laundered through British Columbia’s real estate market last year and increased the cost of buying a home by five per cent.The report by former B.C. deputy attorney general Maureen Maloney estimated that $7.4 billion overall was laundered in B.C. last year, a figure she says is conservative and added the total amount across Canada was about $47 billion.The provincial government commissioned two reports last September to shed light on money laundering by organized crime in the province’s expensive real estate market. Vancouver money laundering not just found in casinos. It’s fuelling a booming luxury car business, too B.C.’s dirty money crackdown puts a damper on Vancouver’s once-rollicking casinos Vancouver’s housing market is dismal — but you still need six-figure income to get your foot in the door Former deputy RCMP commissioner Peter German says in his report that the infusion of illicit money into the B.C. economy led to a frenzy of buying that raised the assessed values of homes throughout much of Metro Vancouver.German’s report says the aggregated declared value of cash buys in real estate transactions over the past 20 years is $84 billion to $212 billion.He says his report found thousands of specific properties worth billions at high risk for potential money laundering. Join the conversation → Reddit Recommended For YouU.S. FAA to again delay drone tracking rule – documentYields fall on U.S.-China trade concerns, weak housingYields fall on U.S.-China trade concerns, weak housingOntario writes off $445M in old Chrysler debt from bailout’Artificial snow’ could save stricken Antarctic ice sheet -study advertisement May 9, 20193:34 PM EDT Filed under News FP Street center_img Featured Stories Facebook Comment Email Share this story$5 billion laundered through B.C. real estate last year — boosting cost of buying a home by 5% Tumblr Pinterest Google+ LinkedIn Sponsored By: Twitter 9 Comments ← Previous Next →last_img read more

Read More

Bank of Canada holds rate drops bias for future hikes as economy

first_img Canadian interest rates are almost certainly on hold until at least sometime next year. The Bank of Canada published a revised outlook on Wednesday that shows the economy stalled over the last six months, extinguishing the sparks that had caused policy makers to start worrying about inflation.Governor Stephen Poloz and his deputies left the benchmark rate unchanged at 1.75 per cent, as expected. They also erased from their policy discussion any suggestion that interest rates could rise in the foreseeable future, a pivot that suggests the pause that began in December is now a hiatus. Poloz called it a “detour,” as the Bank of Canada’s revised forecast predicts the economy will rebound to growth of around two per cent in 2020. Still, he conceded at a press conference that the economy currently is so fragile that a negative shock would force policy makers to consider cutting interest rates.“If everything turns out perfectly, there’s no rush to suddenly get back in the saddle” and resume raising interest rates, Poloz told reporters. “It’s more a question of letting the data speak,” he added. “Right now, we need some positive data to confirm that this outlook is the appropriate one.”  136 Comments Why this economy is less Goldilocks and more Three Little Pigs Bank of Canada Governor Stephen PolozCanadian Press Comment Featured Stories Twitter Join the conversation → Email Share this storyBank of Canada holds rate, drops bias for future hikes as economy stalls Tumblr Pinterest Google+ LinkedIn ← Previous Next → Kevin Carmichael More April 24, 20195:17 PM EDTLast UpdatedApril 25, 20193:02 PM EDT Filed under News Economy Stephen Poloz inverts Canada’s yield curve by removing rate-hike bias Facebook Reddit Related Stories Bank of Canada holds rate, drops bias for future hikes as economy stalls Canadian interest rates are almost certainly on hold until at least sometime next year advertisement Sponsored By: What you need to know about passing the family cottage to the next generation The value of the Canadian dollar dropped by nearly a penny to roughly 74 U.S. cents, as traders repriced financial assets to match a prolonged period of low borrowing costs. The yield on overnight index swaps now implies that investors are hedging against the possibility of lower interest rates through next year, even though Poloz said the central bank’s outlook implies that odds still favour increases over cuts. “Although we don’t see an argument for rate hikes at this stage, we also don’t think an outlook that calls for continued low unemployment and near two-per-cent inflation warrants a reversal of the BoC’s recent moves,” said Josh Nye, an economist at Royal Bank of Canada, who correctly predicted that the central bank would back away from raising the policy rate this year.  “Our forecast assumes the overnight rate will be held at 1.75 per cent through next year, so expect more steady rate decisions in the months ahead.” Canada’s economy was cruising at the start of the last year when a plunge in oil prices, higher interest rates, and U.S. President Donald Trump’s trade wars converged to create a torrent of headwinds. Gross domestic product was growing at an annual rate of two per cent in the third quarter, then decelerated to rates of 0.4 per cent in the fourth quarter and 0.3 per cent in the first three months of this year, according to the central bank’s new quarterly Monetary Policy Report (MPR). Those numbers will keep alive talk that Canada is on the verge of a recession. The central bank — and many others — failed to detect the severity of the slowdown. In October, policy makers predicted GDP would grow at an annual rate of 2.3 per cent in the fourth quarter, and then in January they revised that estimate to 1.3 per cent. They also were overly optimistic about growth in the first quarter, predicting an annual rate of 0.8 per cent in the January MPR.Policy makers said in the MPR that they correctly adjusted for the drag from lower oil prices. Their mistake was assuming that non-energy exports would gather momentum and that executives would increase investment in order to keep up with demand. Instead, both have struggled, robbing the economy of an offset to a decline in spending on real estate and weaker household consumption. The central bank now predicts GDP will expand only 1.2 per cent in 2019, compared with a January estimate of 1.7 per cent. It would be the weakest growth since 2015-16 period, when the country barely avoid a recession. “No one likes to make forecast errors of any size, but we know it’s part of the business,” Poloz said. “The main thing we were trying to do is capture something that it quite ephemeral, business sentiment, which translates into investment decisions,” he added. “Maybe that sounds to you like an excuse, but I think it’s the reality, in that you are trying to forecast something that really isn’t forecastable.” The prediction business is hard. Still, the big miss last year could undermine confidence in the Bank of Canada’s prediction that the soft patch is essentially over. The Bank of Canada predicts a rebound in the second half, sparked by an annual growth rate of 1.3 per cent in the current quarter. Higher levels of immigration should help stabilize the housing market, “strong” increases in labour income will support consumption, and a rebound in global economy will force maxed-out non-energy exporters to invest in order to keep up with demand, the central bank said in its policy statement. But an expected recovery isn’t an offset for damage done. At the start of the year, the central bank thought the economy was generating output at a level that puts upward pressure on prices. It now says there is an “output gap” of between 1.25 per cent and 0.25 per cent. Policy makers also revised their estimate of the non-inflationary growth rate to 1.8 per cent, considerably faster than their outlook for 2019. Containing inflation no longer is an issue, so the central bank can now focus on generating some. “Governing Council is of course preoccupied with the recent slowdown in the economy,” Poloz said in his opening statement to reporters, an important document the central bank uses to add context to policy decisions. “If it were to persist, then we would foresee inflation trending below target in the future.” • Email: kcarmichael@nationalpost.com | Twitter: last_img read more

Read More

This eROCKIT 50 mph 80 kmh electric motorcycle has pedals… but why

first_imgElectric motorcycles designed for urban riding are becoming an increasingly popular option. And electric bicycles are selling better than ever. But what happens when you combine the two? You get the eROCKIT, apparently. And yes, it is as odd as it sounds. more…Subscribe to Electrek on YouTube for exclusive videos and subscribe to the podcast.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V1zk7Eb8r-s&list=PL_Qf0A10763mA7Byw9ncZqxjke6Gjz0MtThe post This eROCKIT 50 mph (80 km/h) electric motorcycle has pedals… but why? appeared first on Electrek. Source: Charge Forwardlast_img read more

Read More

Defiant Clarke admits Stanford scrutiny did not go far enough

first_img Since you’re here… Reuse this content … 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. This article is more than 10 years old Share via Email Share on Twitter This article is more than 10 years old Giles Clarke, the under-fire England and Wales Cricket Board chairman, yesterday admitted the due diligence on its infamous deal with Sir Allen Stanford was based entirely on his “ability to pay” rather than any wider consideration of his suitability. But in an attempt to avoid a repeat, he unveiled plans for the introduction of an independent advisor to assist on sponsorship deals in future, while stopping short of the wholesale reform of the board called for by some critics.Clarke said Stanford had “let English cricket down” but he continued to maintain that the ECB had been right to sign the original $100m, five-year deal last summer. The most he would concede was that there were elements of the announcement he “would have to think long and hard about in the future”.”I feel immensely sorry for all the people whose lives have been damaged by what he is alleged to have done,” Clarke said. “He has let England cricket down, although I don’t feel personally that he has let me down. I never considered resigning and I have complete confidence in the chief executive [David Collier].”He added: “The due diligence we did was to establish his ability to pay and the whole point is he did pay. We provided a service for which we were paid. The money was placed in an international bank well in advance and everybody was paid.”After his re-election was formally rubber stamped this week, despite loud calls for his resignation from an outspoken minority of county chairmen, Clarke said he would overhaul the appraisal process for future sponsors or partners.The proposals will be regarded by some as an implicit admission that the due diligence performed on Stanford, last week accused of a fraud “of shocking magnitude”, was not rigorous enough.But Clarke said that the new measures, in which independent advisors will be brought in to help assess the suitability of future partners and their likely impact on the England team’s image, were an inevitable consequence of the need to “understand things more clearly in an increasingly difficult world”.In an interview with the BBC, Clarke said his Blackberry had broken down, such was the volume of emails urging him to continue as chairman, and reiterated he had not considered resigning. “I haven’t and that’s not because I’m bull-headed or ignorant of others’ opinions,” he said. “I’ve spent a lot of time talking to a lot of people I respect in the game. I’ve had thousands [of messages]; my Blackberry has broken down and I’ve had over 9,000 emails saying, ‘Don’t pay attention’.” Share on Facebook Allen Stanford • Independent adviser to prevent more controversy• Thousands of emails supporting me, says Clarke Share on Pinterest Share on Facebook Share on Messenger Shares00 Cricket ECB Defiant Clarke admits Stanford scrutiny did not go far enough Allen Stanford Share on Twitter Topics First published on Tue 24 Feb 2009 20.15 EST news Share on LinkedIn Owen Gibson and Mike Selvey Share via Email England cricket team Giles Clarke greets Sir Allen Stanford at Lord’s last June, in rather happier times. Photograph: Tom Shaw/Getty Images Share on WhatsApp Support The Guardian Tue 24 Feb 2009 20.15 ESTlast_img read more

Read More

Bayern ready to fight to hang on to Ribéry

first_imgShare on Twitter Franck Ribery of Bayern Munich. Photograph: Alexander Hassenstein/Bongarts/Getty Images First published on Fri 27 Mar 2009 20.47 EDT Chelsea Shares00 Daniel Taylor • German club ready for ‘brutal fight’ to keep star• City encouraged by player’s Premier League desire Share on Facebook Manchester United Share on Facebook Share on Pinterest Bayern Munich are preparing for a “brutal fight” to repel the summer advances of Manchester City’s billionaire owners for Franck Ribéry, the outstanding France international.Mark Hughes, the City manager, has identified Ribéry among an ambitious list of potential end-of-season targets that includes John Terry, Thierry Henry and Roque Santa Cruz. Despite his public statements to the contrary, Hughes is also open-minded about letting Robinho leave and one option discussed at length in both Manchester and Abu Dhabi is for City to offer the Brazilian in a player-plus-cash exchange for Terry or Ribéry.Bayern intend to demonstrate the stubborn determination that was evident when Manchester United wanted to sign Owen Hargreaves from them in 2006. The German club made them wait another year.”Our aim is to do everything to keep him,” Uli Hoeness, the Bayern general manager, said of Ribéry. “But it will be a brutal fight. There will be questions coming in for him, so it is important that we do not budge and express ourselves very clearly so as to keep him.”City, who announced yesterday they are building a £6m office block adjacent to their stadium, have also been encouraged by Ribéry’s publicly stating he would like to play in the Premier League. Yet Hoeness is confident of keeping the left-sided attacker. “There is only the chance that a lack of trophies with regard to European competitions could significantly turn his thoughts to a move,” Hoeness said.Manchester United’s Gary Neville has said he may quit the game when he stops playing and leaving the club will be like “falling off a cliff”. The 34-year-old United captain signed a new one-year deal last month but told the Big Issue in the North: “Part of me says I’d like to stay involved in the game, but another says I should do something else. It would nice to be able to take on a different challenge. I’d like to think I could do something else other than football. I am doing my coaching badges, but whether anyone will want me as a coach or a manager I don’t know. I don’t know, even now, what will happen. But leaving Manchester United, in football terms, is like falling off the end of a cliff.” Bayern ready to fight to hang on to Ribéry Share on Messenger Share on LinkedIn Share via Email Bayern Munich Share on Twitter Share via Email Fri 27 Mar 2009 20.47 EDT Topics Manchester United Manchester City @DTguardian Share on WhatsApp Franck Ribéry Reuse this contentlast_img read more

Read More

Does Legal Authority Even Matter In FCPA Enforcement

first_imgDoes it even matter that the FCPA’s anti-bribery provisions have an obtain or retain business element that Congress intended as a limiting factor to only capture a narrow range of payments involving foreign government procurement or influencing foreign government legislation or regulations? Does it even matter that the Supreme Court – most recently in McCutcheon v. FEC– stated that “ingratiation and access are not corruption.”? Does it even matter that in SEC v. Worldwide Coin (the only judicial decision that directly addresses the substance of the FCPA’s books and records and internal controls provisions) that the court stated:“The definition of accounting controls does comprehend reasonable, but not absolute, assurances that the objectives expressed in it will be accomplished by the system. The concept of ‘reasonable assurances’ contained in [the internal control provisions] recognizes that the costs of internal controls should not exceed the benefits expected to be derived. It does not appear that either the SEC or Congress, which adopted the SEC’s recommendations, intended that the statute should require that each affected issuer install a fail-safe accounting control system at all costs. It appears that Congress was fully cognizant of the cost-effective considerations which confront companies as they consider the institution of accounting controls and of the subjective elements which may lead reasonable individuals to arrive at different conclusions. Congress has demanded only that judgment be exercised in applying the standard of reasonableness. […] It is also true that the internal accounting controls provisions contemplate the financial principle of proportionality—what is material to a small company is not necessarily material to a large company.”The “does it even matter” question can also be asked regarding other general legal authority relevant to FCPA enforcement.Does it even matter that the Supreme Court in Gabelli v. SEC rejected the SEC’s argument about statute of limitations and held that statute of limitations are even more important in a government enforcement action compared to a case brought by a private plaintiff? Does it even matter that in FCPA enforcement actions outside the context of foreign government procurement that the government has an overall losing record when put to its burden of proof? (See this article for a description of those cases). Does it even matter that in U.S. v. Jackson (the only judicial decision construing the facilitating payments exception) that the court held (contrary to the SEC’s position) that the government “must bear the burden of negating the facilitating payments exception” and that the “exception is best understood as a threshold requirement to pleading that a defendant acted ‘corruptly.’”? Does it even matter that the Supreme Court in Southern Union Co. v. U.S. held that any fact that substantially increases a criminal defendant’s fine amount must be provable to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt? Does it even matter that the FCPA defines “reasonable assurance” and “reasonable detail” as used in the books and records and internal controls provisions to mean “such level of detail and degree of assurance as would satisfy prudent officials in the conduct of their own affairs.”? As highlighted in yesterday’s post, the 11th Circuit recently concluded in SEC v. Graham – in direct conflict with the government’s assertion in the FCPA Guidance – that disgorgement is subject to a five-year statute of limitations.Graham of course should matter to FCPA enforcement.However, the reality is that Graham will likely not matter because legal elements, legal exceptions, legal defenses, and other general legal principles often only directly matter to the extent an adversarial proceeding takes place and a litigant is forced to prove things consistent with the applicable burden of proof.Indeed, in the FCPA context the SEC has never been put to its burden of proof by an issuer.Since first being used in an FCPA enforcement action in 2004 (see this article for a discussion), disgorgement has become a predominate component of SEC corporate FCPA enforcement actions.As highlighted in this 2015 SEC FCPA Year in Review post:in 2015, 51% of SEC FCPA settlement amounts consisted of disgorgement and prejudgment interest;in 2014, 99% of SEC FCPA settlement amounts consisted of disgorgement and prejudgment interest;in 2013, 98% of SEC FCPA settlement amounts consisted of disgorgement and prejudgment interest;in 2012, 86% of SEC FCPA settlement amounts consisted of disgorgement and prejudgment interest;in 2011, 94% of SEC FCPA settlement amounts consisted of disgorgement and prejudgment interest; andin 2010, 96% of SEC FCPA settlement amounts consisted of disgorgement and prejudgment interest.Couple the above disgorgement figures with the fact that many corporate FCPA enforcement actions concern conduct that is often beyond the five-year statute of limitations period (see here for examples), and the obvious question in light of SEC v. Graham is whether the decision will matter in FCPA enforcement actions?Graham of course should matter.However, the reality is that Graham will likely not matter because legal elements, legal exceptions, legal defenses, and other general legal principles often only directly matter to the extent an adversarial proceeding takes place and a litigant is forced to prove things consistent with the applicable burden of proof. In the FCPA context, the SEC has never been put to its burden of proof by an issuer.As highlighted several other times on these pages, statute of limitations seem not to matter in corporate FCPA enforcement actions because one of the first things a company under FCPA scrutiny often does to demonstrate cooperation is agree to toll the statute of limitations or waive any statute of limitations defense. For instance, see this recent disclosure from Newmont Mining.The headline question – does legal authority even matter in FCPA enforcement – can be asked in a number of ways both specific to the FCPA and otherwise.Does it even matter that the FCPA’s anti-bribery provisions have a corrupt intent element which Congress explained as follows. “The word ‘corruptly’ connotes an evil motive or purpose”? Does it even matter that the Supreme Court in Daimler v. Bauman rejected an agency theory that has seemingly served as the basis for several corporate FCPA enforcement actions?In short, does legal authority even matter in FCPA enforcement or is FCPA enforcement largely a game of risk aversion. Does it even matter that Congress intended, and the FCPA explicitly states, that the books and records and internal controls provisions are qualified by concepts of reasonableness and good faith? Does it even matter that in U.S. v. Kay (the only FCPA enforcement action outside the context of foreign government procurement that the government won) that the 5th Circuit stated:“There are bound to be circumstances in which such a cost reduction does nothing other than increase the profitability of an already-profitable venture or ensure profitability of some start-up venture. Indeed, if the government is correct that anytime operating costs are reduced the beneficiary of such advantage is assisted in getting or keeping business, the FCPA’s language that expresses the necessary element of assisting is obtaining or retaining business would be unnecessary, and thus surplusage—a conclusion that we are forbidden to reach.”Against the backdrop of numerous FCPA enforcement actions based on securing licenses, permits, certifications and the like, does it even matter that Congress specifically stated that the anti-bribery provisions would not “reach payments made to secure permits, licenses, or the expeditious performance of similar duties of an essentially ministerial or clerical nature which must of necessity be performed in any event.”?last_img read more

Read More

Lennox International – The Most Absurd FCPA Voluntary Disclosure Ever

first_imgGiven the amount of the payment at issue and its apparent limited nature, few FCPA practitioners would likely have counseled Lennox to voluntarily disclose. This alone should be questioned.The disclosure also should be questioned, more fundamentally, because of the FCPA itself.The FCPA’s anti-bribery provisions specifically exempt “facilitating or expediting payments to a foreign official … the purpose of which is to expedite or to secure the performance of a routine government action by a foreign official …”.The FCPA defines “routine government action” as an action which is ordinarily and commonly performed by a foreign official in: (i) obtaining permits, licenses, or other official documents to qualify a person to do business in a foreign country; (ii) processing governmental papers, such as visas and work orders; (iii) providing police protection, mail pick-up and delivery, or scheduling inspections associated with contract performance or inspections related to transit of goods across country; (iv) providing phone service, power and water supply, loading and unloading cargo, or protecting perishable products or commodities from deterioration; or (v) actions of a similar nature.The FCPA’s legislative history clearly reflects Congress’s intent regarding facilitating payments.In pertinent part, the relevant Senate Report specifically states: “[The FCPA] would not reach a small gratuity paid to expedite shipment through customs …”. Likewise, the relevant House Report specifically states: “a gratuity paid to a customs official to speed the processing of a customs document would not be reached by the [FCPA].”Even if the payment Lennox disclosed would not fall under the FCPA’s facilitating payment exemption, there is of course the FCPA’s obtain or retain business element. At least three courts have concluded that payments outside the context of foreign government procurement – as the payment at issue in the Lennox disclosure surely would seem to be – do not even violate the FCPA.The only court to have concluded that such payments could violate the FCPA was the 5th Circuit in U.S. v. Kay, a case concerning payments to Haitian customs officials for the purpose of reducing customs duties and sales taxes owed to the Haitian government. According to the court, the key question of whether the payments constituted an FCPA violation depended on whether the payments were intended to lower the company’s costs of doing business in Haiti enough to assist the company in obtaining or retaining business in Haiti.Yet even in that case, the court cautioned:“There are bound to be circumstances in which such a cost reduction does nothing other than increase the profitability of an already-profitable venture or ensure profitability of some start-up venture. Indeed, if the government is correct that anytime operating costs are reduced the beneficiary of such advantage is assisted in getting or keeping business, the FCPA’s language that expresses the necessary element of assisting is obtaining or retaining business would be unnecessary, and thus surplusage—a conclusion that we are forbidden to reach.”For the reasons highlighted above, it is difficult to see how the payment disclosed by Lennox is even in violation of the FCPA as written, the FCPA as interpreted by the courts, and the FCPA as intended by Congress.In short, some serious questions should be asked about why Lennox made its recent disclosure.Among the questions that should be asked concern the role of FCPA counsel who, if this instance of FCPA scrutiny follows the typical path and results in typical in pre-enforcement action professional fees and expenses, stand to pull in millions. Lennox International is involved in the heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration markets.The question needs to be asked: what made the company so hot as to recently disclose to the DOJ and SEC an investigation into a $475 payment in Russia to release a shipment of goods being held by customs officials?The disclosure is arguably one of the most absurd FCPA disclosures ever.There is of course no legal obligation to voluntarily disclose, something even the DOJ acknowledges in its April 2016 FCPA Pilot Program. But then again, returning to an issue first highlighted in this 2009, voluntary disclosure is the fuel that feeds FCPA enforcement and is extremely lucrative for FCPA Inc. Indeed, who can forget the words of the former DOJ Fraud Section Chief in this Wall Street Journal article “if you get two of these [FCPA investigations] a year as a partner, you’re pretty much set.”Lennox’s decision to disclose was presumably a business decision made by the board of directors or audit committee based on the advise of FCPA counsel. If FCPA counsel did indeed advise company leaders to disclose, that advise needs to be seriously questioned.In this recent quarterly report, Lennox disclosed:“In October 2016, the Company self-reported to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) an alleged payment in the amount of 30,000 rubles (approximately US $475) to a Russian customs broker or official. The Company, under the oversight of its Audit Committee, has initiated an investigation into this matter with the assistance of external legal counsel and external forensic accountants. The alleged payment was purportedly made to release a shipment of goods being held by Russian customs officials due to inaccurate paperwork. The value of the shipment was approximately €62,000 (approximately US $68,500). The allegations are related to the Company’s subsidiary in Russia, which had 2015 annual sales of approximately US $5 million and approximately US $3 million in sales for the nine months ended September 30, 2016. To date, the investigation has not resulted in any evidence of other potentially improper payments; however, the investigation has raised questions regarding possible irregularities with respect to other Russian customs documents. The investigation is ongoing. The Company intends to fully cooperate with the SEC and the DOJ regarding this matter. The Company does not anticipate any material adverse effect on its business or financial condition as a result of this matter.”last_img read more

Read More

You Gotta Be Kidding Me

first_imgReading some Foreign Corrupt Practices Act “commentary” sometimes leaves me scratching my head and thinking to myself “you gotta be kidding me.”Case in point, Michael Volkov recently wrote in this post on his Corruption, Crime & Compliance blog as follows:“A lot has been written on the vagueness or lack of clarity surrounding the FCPA. Those opinions are not very persuasive and ignore common sense, legal concepts and good faith. […] Drawing the lines around FCPA behavior is not as hard as many claim. Those that make such baseless claims are only justifying their own existence or engaging in a transparent marketing ploy.” At the risk of making baseless claims, justifying my own existence or engaging in a transparent marketing ploy, let me share with you a long list of judicial decisions in which federal court judges have found various provisions of the FCPA to be vague or lacking in clarity.For starters, a well-recognized canon of statutory construction is that a court should only consult legislative history to the extent a statutory term is ambiguous or lacking in clarity.Set forth below are several instances in which federal court judges have found various provisions of the FCPA to be ambiguous and/or have consulted the FCPA’s legislative history. (When reviewing this list, keep in mind that FCPA enforcement actions are rarely subjected to judicial scrutiny).In U.S. v. Hoskins, 2015 WL 4874921 (D. Conn. 2015), Judge Janet Bond Arterton consulted the FCPA’s legislative history and what it revealed about Congress’s intent in capturing a certain category of defendant in trimming the DOJ’s FCPA enforcement action against Lawrence Hoskins by granting in part his motion to dismiss and denying a DOJ motion in limine. (See here for the prior post).In U.S. v. Esquenazi, 752 F.3d 912 (11th Circ. 2014) although the 11th Circuit completely bungled its analysis of the FCPA’s legislative history relevant to the “foreign official” element (see this article at pgs. 24-42 for a detailed analysis), the opinion nevertheless contained much discussion of the FCPA’s legislative history.In SEC v. Straub,  921 F.Supp.2d 244 (S.D.N.Y. 2013) Judge Richard Sullivan (see here for the prior post) found the FCPA’s jurisdictional element ambiguous and thus consulted the FCPA’s legislative history.In SEC v. Jackson, 908 F.Supp.2d 834 (S.D.Tex. 2012), Judge Keith Ellison consulted the FCPA’s legislative history regarding: the need to identify the “foreign official,” the facilitation payments exception, and the corrupt intent element. As highlighted in this prior post, Judge Ellison speaking stated: “I have such trouble understanding the facilitating payment exception.”In U.S. v. Jensen, 532 F.Supp.2d 1187 (N.D. Cal. 2008), Judge Charles Breyer stated as follows regarding  § 78m(b)(5) which makes “knowing” violations of the FCPA books and records and internal control provisions a crime.  “Because the plain language of § 78m(b)(5) is not unambiguous, the Court turns to legislative history.”In U.S. v. Kozeny, 582 F.Supp.2d 535 (S.D.N.Y. 2008), Judge Shira Scheindlin consulted the FCPA’s legislative history in a decision concerning the FCPA’s local law affirmative defense.In U.S. v. Kozeny, 493 F.Supp.2d 693 (S.D.N.Y. 2007), Judge Scheindlin stated as follows concerning the statute of limitations applicable to FCPA criminal violations.  “I find that [18 U.S.C. § 3282] is ambiguous, and turn to its legislative history for guidance on its proper interpretation.”In U.S. v. Bodmer, 342 F.Supp.2d 176 (S.D.N.Y. 2004), Judge Scheindlin addressed the question “whether prior to the 1998 amendments, foreign nationals who acted as agents of domestic concerns, and who were not residents of the United States, could be criminally prosecuted under the FCPA.”  Judge Scheindlin concluded that the FCPA’s language, as it existed prior to the 1998 amendments, was ambiguous and she thus resorted to legislative history.  Judge Scheindlin further commented in dismissing the FCPA charges against Bodmer as follows.  “After consideration of the statutory language, legislative history, and judicial interpretations of the FCPA, the jurisdictional scope of the statute’s criminal penalties is still unclear.”In Stichting v. Schreiber, 327 F.3d 173 (2d Cir. 2003), the Court stated as follows.  “It is difficult to determine the meaning of the word “corruptly” simply by reading it in context. We therefore look outside the text of the statute to determine its intended meaning. […]  (“Legislative history and other tools of interpretation may be relied upon only if the terms of the statute are ambiguous.”)In U.S. v. Kay, 200 F.Supp.2d 681 (S.D. Tex. 2002), Judge David Hittner concluded that the FCPA’s key “obtain or retain business” element was ambiguous and thus turned to an analysis of the legislative history.  On appeal, the Fifth Circuit (see 359 F.3d 738 (5th Cir. 2004)) likewise stated as follows prior to an extensive review of the FCPA’s legislative history.“[T]he district court concluded that the FCPA’s language is ambiguous, and proceeded to review the statute’s legislative history.  We agree with the court’s finding of ambiguity for several reasons. Perhaps our most significant statutory construction problem results from the failure of the language of the FCPA to give a clear indication of the exact scope of the business nexus element; that is, the proximity of the required nexus between, on the one hand, the anticipated results of the foreign official’s bargained-for action or inaction, and, on the other hand, the assistance provided by or expected from those results in helping the briber to obtain or retain business. Stated differently, how attenuated can the linkage be between the effects of that which is sought from the foreign official in consideration of a bribe (here, tax minimization) and the briber’s goal of finding assistance or obtaining or retaining foreign business with or for some person, and still satisfy the business nexus element of the FCPA?”In U.S. v. Blondek, 741 F.Supp. 116 (N.D.Tex 1990), Judge Harold Sanders consulted the FCPA’s legislative history in concluding that “foreign officials” can not be charged with conspiracy to violate the FCPA. Learn More & Register FCPA Institute – Boston (Oct. 3-4) A unique two-day learning experience ideal for a diverse group of professionals seeking to elevate their FCPA knowledge and practical skills through active learning. Learn more, spend less. CLE credit is available.last_img read more

Read More

FCPA Challenge

first_imgHow much do you know about the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act? Let’s find out.To commemorate the FCPA’s 40th year, FCPA Professor is presenting the FCPA Challenge.Each Thursday during 2018, a question will be posed and the answer will be below the fold.This week’s question is: in sentencing this individual to 366 days in prison, federal court judge Shira Scheindlin stated: ““After years of supervising this case, it’s still not entirely clear to me whether [….]  is a victim or a crook or a little bit of both.”Answer: Frederic Bourke (see here).last_img read more

Read More

Hunton Williams Dallas Partner Recognized for Role in MA Advisor Award

first_img Username Not a subscriber? Sign up for The Texas Lawbook. Lost your password? © 2014 The Texas Lawbook.By Brooks IgoStaff Writer for The Texas Lawbook(February 17) — Gregory Hesse, a partner in the Dallas office of Hunton & Williams, will be honored for his role in the M&A Advisor’s Sec. 363 Sale of the Year ($100 million to $1 billion) at its 8th Annual Turnaround Awards event on March 11. The Richmond, Va.-based firm represented the bankruptcy sale of substantially all of the assets of Orchard Supply Hardware Stores to a newly formed limited liability company owned by . . .You must be a subscriber to The Texas Lawbook to access this content.center_img Remember me Passwordlast_img read more

Read More

Harper Lee Higher Wisdom About the Human Condition

first_img Remember me Harper Lee opened our minds and showed us the way toward a higher level of consciousness – and for this, may she always be remembered as a person who advanced humanity’s understanding of its flaws, needs, and hopes. In To Kill a Mockingbird,and Go Set a Watchman, Lee showed us a higher wisdom about race relations, justice and the necessary civility of discourse that needs to take place between insiders and outsiders before American society can think about rising from the fractious, partisan ditch our politics have now put us in . . .You must be a subscriber to The Texas Lawbook to access this content. Lost your password? Not a subscriber? Sign up for The Texas Lawbook.center_img Password Usernamelast_img read more

Read More

Experiencing Aging in Your MidTwenties

first_imgby, Christina Pierpaoli, ChangingAging ContributorTweetShare12ShareEmail12 SharesAn ophthalmologist, my husband Jack underwent years of medical training. When he reflects on this time – particularly the earliest parts of it—he, like many of his ilk, admits to at least a fleeting period of preoccupation with getting or having the symptoms of the diseases he studied.I’ve always wondered, when regaled with his harrowing clinical tales, if such an analog to medical-student syndrome exists and what it might look like for my colleagues and I who study gerontology. The closest I suspect I’ve gotten happened once while administering a cognitive status exam, questioning anxiously if I had a touch of impairment when I couldn’t easily recall the five objects I had just read aloud. Does that count? You decide. Source: Ryan Schude/Aubrey de Grey/FlickrIn any case, questioning the existence of such an analog presupposes aging as a disease, which, to the dismay of Aubrey de Grey, has little support. Self-deprecating jokes aside, if it does exist, perhaps it assumes the form of something like an equal and opposite force to medical student syndrome—Adaptive gerontological exposure syndrome (AGES)—whereby gero disciples like me self-consciously experience ourselves as aging beings, behave, and profit accordingly. At 26, I’m definitely symptomatic. When people ask why I study aging, I proffer up a catalogue of reasons that always includes how gerontology enhances my own aging process. To combat the flummoxed glances my reply elicits, I typically volley back the following four reasons:Studying Aging May Confer Unique Protective Benefits Source: Adrian Turner/Brain/FlickrIncreasing evidence suggests that, through a series of behaviorally mediated processes, negative age stereotypes harbored across the life course can predict a wide range of health outcomes including cardiovascular disease and depression. Recent findings even reveal that adults with more negative age stereotypes earlier in life evinced more Alzheimer’s-disease biomarkers later, including steeper hippocampal density loss as well as greater accumulation of tangles and amyloid plaques. If Allport’s (1954) contact hypothesis stands—that under appropriate conditions, interpersonal contact can deconstruct negative stereotypes assigned to outgroups—then studying aging itself can interrupt and correct internalized stereotypes believed to contribute to adverse health outcomes.“Health Interest” Compounds.Gerontologists consume, generate, and apply hot-off-the press, evidence-based research to understand and promote successful aging—but the routes to reducing disability, increasing functioning, and enhancing life engagement apply across the human lifespan. We know what predicts longevity and how to apply it and the earlier we start applying, the better. Securing seven to nine hours of sleep, for example, will clear out beta amyloid plaque at ages 18, 80 or 108. Volunteering confers physical and psychological benefits at any age. And cardiovascular exercise will densify the hippocampus no matter how gray the stuff between your ears. The health literacy internalized from practicing evidence-based gerontology compounds like interest, accumulating over time to yield higher returns later in the life course.Older Adults Provide Stories and Maps. Stories and maps provide guidance. Source: Reaching for Success/FlickrHealthy or otherwise, lifespans tell stories and gerontologists interpret them. Stories have value because they yield the benefits of experience without the high costs of its lessons. In this way, gerontology represents an extended exercise in social learning, providing interested students of life with a comprehensive, longitudinal data set of tried-and-true variables tied to longevity. Gerontologists get privileged, real-time insight into what “works” and what doesn’t—what to approach and to avoid, permitting the “trying on” in our mind’s eye of different things in which to outfit our lives through the protective, warm embrace of wisdom. With enough attention and conscientiousness, those stories can morph into maps that help to orient observers toward healthy, long, and engaged golden years.You Learn How not to Sweat the Small Stuff.As their time horizons shrink, older adults tend to selectively and systemically hone their social experiences to meet shifting emotional needs. These motivational shifts produce a contagious don’t-sweat-the-small-stuff-ness that, under lucky conditions, can prematurely seep into other developmental epochs. Appropriate seepage can buffer the untamed cascades of cortisol flowing from pesky peer reviewers, professional pressures, traffic, and the general existential dread accompanying a Type A-personality-plagued adulthood. For me, all of it sort of assumed laughable smallness after really grappling with the big metaphysical stuff built into gerontological work like life, death, meaning, love, and loss. Now, better than ever before, I can ask myself compassionately: “Will this matter when I’m 60? 70? 80?” and can almost always answer “no” honestly. Reducing my cortisol levels alone has probably added another five years to my life.Someone once said we study our pathologies. While I respectfully disagree, I hope whoever said it at least aged well.Talk to your doctor today about AGES.Related PostsMy Evening With Aubrey de GreyInternational anti-aging crusader Aubrey de Grey, who hopes to “cure aging” within our lifetime, spoke in Baltimore this week and even took time to share a few beers with the locals, including yours truly. I’d like to think of ChangingAging.org as the preeminent pro-aging blog so it was a great…The Immortal Life? An Evening With Aubrey de GreyThe fountain of youth. The holy grail. The philosopher’s stone. The strategies for engineered negligible senescence (SENS). Uh, say what? Made up by noted anti-aging guru Aubrey de Grey, SENS purports to outline a “possibly comprehensive plan” (de Grey’s words) to cure, or at least dramatically slow down, human aging.…Hey Let’s AgeYummy! I got a real live anti-ager to react to the idea that one day follows another. Kevin Perrott is the CEO of AgeNet an organization that aspires to conquering normal human aging. He sounds like a really nice guy and he posted a comment in response to THIS. Want…TweetShare12ShareEmail12 SharesTags: geropsychology millennials psychologylast_img read more

Read More

New device uses single drop of blood to diagnose mild traumatic brain

first_img Source:https://www.unige.ch/ Jul 30 2018Every year in Europe, three million people are admitted into hospitals for suspected mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) cases. Yet 90% of these patients will be able to return home safely, as no trauma has been detected. Today, the only reliable diagnosis is the CT Scan, which is only available in some hospitals and, in addition to being expensive, exposes patients to radiations. Researchers from the University of Geneva (UNIGE), in collaboration with the Hospitals of Barcelona, Madrid and Seville, have developed a small device – Point-of-Care Test (POCT) – that analyses the level of proteins in the blood and allows, using a single drop of blood, to diagnose the possibility of a mild traumatic brain injury. This discovery, described in PLOS One, will not only relieve emergency departments, free patients from often long waits, but also save on costly medical examinations.Falling whilst skiing, tumbling down the stairs or getting hit on the head can cause symptoms such as blurred vision, vomiting, loss of consciousness or memory for about 30 minutes. There is then a risk of mild cerebral trauma, which represents more than 90% of brain injuries admitted to hospitals. But is there really a brain lesion? Or are these symptoms merely the consequence of the violence of the shock, of which will ultimately only leave a bump behind?Today, the injured patients have to go to the emergency rooms of hospitals equipped with a CT Scan, an expensive examination that sends X-rays to the brain to detect the presence or absence of brain trauma. As their case is not a priority, it often takes a long time for the majority of patients to return home without risk of sequelae, except for bad memories.Find biomarkers for light traumas”We wondered if it was possible to isolate certain proteins whose presence in the blood increases in the event of mild traumatic brain injury,» explains Jean-Charles Sanchez, professor at the Department of Internal Medicine of Specialties and the Biomarkers Centre of the Faculty of Medicine of the UNIGE. “Our idea was to find a way to do a quick examination that would allow, during a boxing or American football match for example, to determine whether the athlete can return to the field or if his condition requires hospitalization. The opposite of the CT Scan, an exam that lasts a long time and cannot be done anywhere,” he adds.During a shock on the head, some brain cells are damaged and release the proteins they contain, increasing their level in the blood. Scientists at UNIGE and Spanish hospitals then compared the blood of patients admitted for mild traumatic brain injury but diagnosed as negative with that of patients actually suffering from a brain lesion. Using proteomic analyses, which can quantify thousands of proteins simultaneously and observe variations in their levels in the blood, they gradually isolated four molecules indicating the presence of a brain injury: H-FABP, Interleukin-10, S100B and GFAP. “We have noticed that the H-FABP level alone makes it possible to confirm that there is no risk of trauma in one third of patients admitted after a shock,” enthuses Jean-Charles Sanchez. The rest of the patients will have to undergo a CT scan to confirm the diagnosis.Related StoriesDon’t ignore diastolic blood pressure values, say researchersNew therapy shows promise in preventing brain damage after traumatic brain injuryAn active brain and body associated with reduced risk of dementiaTBIcheck, the light brain trauma detectorIt was still necessary to develop a device that could be used everywhere, quickly and simply, and that could be available in pharmacies or sports halls. “When a person has an accident in the mountain, few practices can do a CT Scan,” notes the Geneva researcher. His team has developed a rapid diagnostic test (POCT) called TBIcheck, inspired by the principle of pregnancy testing: by placing a single drop of blood on the well of a small 5cm plastic case, the patient knows within 10 minutes whether there is a risk of mild trauma, namely whether or not his H-FABP level is higher than 2.5 nanograms per millilitre of blood. “If a lane appears, the injured person must go to a hospital for a CT scan, if there is nothing, he can go home safely!” Jean-Charles Sanchez says. In case of doubt when reading the result, a small reader, the Cube Reader, can be installed on TBIcheck. It will display the word “positive” or “negative” and send the result to the patient’s or caregiver’s smartphone via Bluetooth. No more doubts!Commercialization planned for beginning 2019These results, patented by UNIGE and awarded the Prix de l’Innovation Academy in December 2017, will be marketed from 2019 by ABCDx, a start-up founded four years ago by Jean-Charles Sanchez of UNIGE and Joan Montaner of Vall d’Hebron Hospital in Barcelona, co-authors of this study. “Today, our research shows that the results are even more accurate when we combine H-FABP and GFAP levels,” continues Jean-Charles Sanchez. “We are currently preparing an even more effective TBIcheck, which will allow 50% of patients to be sent home, but which requires an increase in the sensitivity of the test that receives the blood.” ABCDx’s ultimate goal is to bring to market biomarkers capable of diagnosing brain trauma, stroke and aneurysms. “Biomarkers are a mine of information on patients’ state of health, it is up to us to decode them,” concludes the Geneva researcher.last_img read more

Read More

Laser beams predict apple ripeness

first_imgIn the 1989 movie Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, a hobby scientist played by Rick Moranis accidentally blows up an apple with the laser in his shrink ray machine. Now, scientists have found a better use for lasers trained on apples: measuring their ripeness. In a technique known as biospeckle, researchers shined a helium-neon laser on the surface of golden apples and then analyzed how the light was reflected (seen above). The laser wasn’t very powerful—just a couple of milliwatts stronger than the average laser pointer—but it picked up tiny imperfections on the apple’s smooth skin, which caused the laser light to bounce irregularly and result in a grainy appearance at small scales. As the fruits ripened, the “grains” in the pattern became smaller and smaller, the team reports this month in Applied Optics. They attribute the shrinking to a rise in an apple’s cellular activity during the ripening process—the study notes that cellular respiration, for instance, is known to increase as fruits ripen. To confirm that the smallest grains occurred during peak ripeness, the team also monitored the apples’ production of ethylene gas—a known byproduct of the ripening process that peaks just as the fruit reaches optimal edibleness. Once the apples were past their prime, ethylene gas production slowed, apple activity decreased, and the size of the reflected grains began to increase. Because traditional methods of assessing ripeness either destroy the fruit or rely on subjective visual cues, the researchers suggest that the technique could eventually help farmers accurately harvest their crops at optimal times and predict how long a fruit can be stored.last_img read more

Read More

Spider speed increases as temperature rises

first_imgAs unnerving as it may be for some, the scuttling movement of tarantulas is a rather impressive feat. All eight of the animal’s hairy appendages are controlled not by muscles, but by a hydraulic fluid called hemolymph, which flows through the legs and causes them to flex and extend. While this system is simpler and lighter than muscled movement, it is also more sensitive to temperature changes. This could have direct implications for the speed of the skittering critters and for robots designed to mimic their movement, researchers write in The Journal of Experimental Biology. In the new study, they tested Texas brown tarantulas’ (Aphonopelma hentzi) speeds across a variety of temperatures. The hotter the temperature, the faster the spiders sprinted. Speeds at the highest end of the tested range—40°C—were 2.5 times faster than speeds at the lowest end of the range—15°C. The researchers found that the difference was caused simply by faster stride frequency. The researchers had hypothesized that when temperatures were either too cool or too hot, the spider’s joints would lose their ability to work together synchronously, but, surprisingly, the leg joints were most tightly coupled at low temperatures and slow movement speeds. As things heated up, the actuation of the joints was less precisely coordinated, but the spiders still moved faster. The team proposes that this decoupling may reflect an incomplete flow of hemolymph in and out of the limbs, suggesting that the spiders’ top speed is set by the limits of how quickly the fluid flows.A link to the study will be added once it is available from the journal.(Credit for first linked video: F. Y. Su and N. A. Booster)last_img read more

Read More

Why do galaxies die

first_imgSome galaxies, such as our own (shown), spawn new stars, but many other galaxies ceased star formation long ago. Why did they stop? In most cases, say astronomers online today in Nature, you can blame something called “strangulation”: Gas quits falling into the galaxies, depriving them of the fresh material they need to create new stars. The researchers reached this conclusion after comparing 3905 star-forming galaxies with 22,618 others that have retired from the starmaking business. For galaxies less than twice as massive as the Milky Way—the vast majority—star-forming galaxies possess less iron and other heavy elements than quiescent galaxies of the same mass. This is just the pattern expected if infalling gas sustains their star-forming careers, because this gas has little iron and therefore dilutes a galaxy’s iron abundance; once the gas stops falling in, the iron abundance rises as exploding stars forge the element. The study finds that about 4 billion years elapse between when the gas stops falling in and when stars stop forming. In the Milky Way’s case, lots of gas is raining onto it, so our galactic home won’t go from sizzle to fizzle any time soon.last_img read more

Read More

Maryland congressman in running to head NIH

first_img Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country Representative Andy Harris (R–MD), an anesthesiologist who has shown a keen interest in the National Institutes of Health (NIH) while in Congress, has put his hat in the ring for NIH director in the incoming administration of President-elect Donald Trump, he told ScienceInsider today. Harris says he knows that some biomedical scientists would view him as a controversial choice, but argues that his blend of research and political experience would make him a good advocate for addressing NIH’s flaws and for growing the agency’s budget in a time of fiscal restraint.“I have conducted both clinical research and basic science research. And I have the background in the political arena to understand how funding occurs, how policies can change in new directions, and how reform can be accomplished,” says Harris, a fiscal and social conservative representing eastern Maryland. There will be people in the scientific community who view reformers as something to be wary about.Andy Harris Harris says he has spoken with the Trump transition team about his interest in NIH and that Representative Tom Price (R–GA), whom Trump has tapped to head the Department of Health of Human Services, NIH’s parent agency, is also aware of his desire to be considered for the NIH directorship. Email Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwecenter_img Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Harris was once a co-investigator on NIH-funded research as a faculty member at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. He was elected to the Maryland Senate in 1998 and to the House of Representatives in 2011. As a member of the House spending panel that funds NIH and one of the lawmakers who shaped the 21st Century Cures biomedical innovation bill, he has pushed for policy changes at the agency, such as requiring it to develop an overarching strategic plan.Harris’s pet issue has been the plight of young investigators, who receive their first NIH research grant at an average age of 42. But some of his proposals have been fiercely opposed by the scientific community, who say they are not the right way to address the problem and could hurt mid- and late-career scientists. One Harris proposal would require NIH to find ways to lower the average age at first grant by 4 years, to 38, but the idea has not gone anywhere. And a provision in an early version of Cures that would have created a pot of money specifically for new investigators was eventually watered down to an initiative within the director’s office to oversee programs aimed at young researchers.Harris says that as NIH director, “I’d build on what 21st Century Cures started but use the position of the director to push these ideas even further.” That includes also shifting more of the agency’s research funding to diseases that exact a high financial toll on society, such as Alzheimer’s. Although that idea also is controversial, Harris says future funding increases for NIH will depend on the “argument that more funding is a good investment because of the potential return to the federal budget,” he says.Harris acknowledges that he would be a controversial choice to head NIH. “There will be people in the scientific community who view reformers as something to be wary about. There will be others in the scientific community who view problems such as the relative neglect of young investigators as an immediate problem that needs to be solved,” he says.Some Republicans in Congress, meanwhile, want the Trump transition team to keep current NIH Director Francis Collins on for another 4 years, according to a report today in The Hill Extra. Harris says he’s a Collins fan, too: “He’s done an excellent job. It’s going to be a decision between the new administration and Dr. Collins but I have only the highest praise for Dr. Collins.”Rumors about Harris as a possible NIH pick have been circulating in the research community for days, to mixed reactions. Some prominent scientists and lobbyists who preferred not to be quoted by name said he would be a disaster for NIH; but others said he could be better than other alternatives. Tony Mazzaschi, a longtime NIH watcher who is now senior director for policy and research at the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health in Washington, D.C., praises Harris as “a respected voice on health care matters with his GOP colleagues” and someone who “is knowledgeable about academic public health and academic medicine given his long association with Johns Hopkins.”Still, Mazzaschi adds, Harris “would be an out-of-the-box choice as NIH director given his political background and that he doesn’t have a track record as a research visionary or as the leader of a major research enterprise.”Some researchers are concerned about how Harris might approach human embryonic stem cell research. In 2005, when Harris was a member of the Maryland legislature, he led an ultimately unsuccessful effort to derail legislation creating a state stem cell research fund. In the end, Maryland in 2006 became one of the first four states to establish such a fund.Harris’s interest in the NIH directorship was first reported by CQ Roll Call earlier today.Update, 12/2/2016: Information on Harris’ opposition to Maryland’s stem cell research fund has been added to the story.last_img read more

Read More

Newly discovered state of memory could help explain learning and brain disorders

first_img Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country Cognitive neuroscientist Nathan Rose and colleagues at the University of Wisconsin (UW) in Madison initially had subjects watch a series of slides showing faces, words, or dots moving in one direction. They tracked the resulting neural activity using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and, with the help of a machine learning algorithm, showed they could classify the brain activity associated with each item. Then the subjects viewed the items in combination—a word and face, for example—but were cued to focus on just one item. At first, the brain signatures of both items showed up, as measured in this round with electroencephalography (EEG). But neural activity for the uncued item quickly dropped to baseline, as if it had been forgotten, whereas the EEG signature of the cued item remained, a sign that it was still in working memory. Yet subjects could still quickly recall the uncued item when prompted to remember it a few seconds later.Rose, who recently left UW for the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana, and his colleagues then turned to transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), a noninvasive method that uses rapidly changing magnetic fields to deliver a pulse of electrical current to the brain. They had subjects perform the same cued memory task, then applied a broad TMS pulse just after the signature of the uncued memory item had faded. The appropriate neural activity for that “forgotten” item spiked, showing the memory was reactivated into immediate consciousness from its latent state. What’s more, when the TMS directly targeted the brain areas that were initially active for the uncued item, the reactivation response was even stronger.The study doesn’t address how synapses or other neuronal features can hold this second level of working memory, or how much information it can store. “It’s a primitive early step in understanding how we bring things into mind,” says UW cognitive neuroscientist Bradley Postle, a study co-author.Woodman agrees. “Good studies tend to bring to light more questions than they answer,” he says. “This work absolutely does that.” Ultimately, he says, this new memory state could have a range of practical implications, from helping college students learn more efficiently to assisting people with memory-related neurological conditions such as amnesia, epilepsy, and schizophrenia. For more of our research and news coverage on memory, visit our topic page. Memory researchers have shone light into a cognitive limbo. A new memory—the name of someone you’ve just met, for example—is held for seconds in so-called working memory, as your brain’s neurons continue to fire. If the person is important to you, the name will over a few days enter your long-term memory, preserved by permanently altered neural connections. But where does it go during the in-between hours, when it has left your standard working memory and is not yet embedded in long-term memory?In Science, a research team shows that memories can be resurrected from this limbo. Their observations point to a new form of working memory, which they dub prioritized long-term memory, that exists without elevated neural activity. Consistent with other recent work, the study suggests that information can somehow be held among the synapses that connect neurons, even after conventional working memory has faded.”This is a really fundamental find—it’s like the dark matter of memory,” says Geoffrey Woodman, a cognitive neuroscientist at Vanderbilt University in Nashville who was not involved with the work. “It’s hard to really see it or measure it in any clear way, but it has to be out there. Otherwise, things would fly apart.” Email Newly discovered state of memory could help explain learning and brain disorderscenter_img Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) By Jessica BoddyDec. 1, 2016 , 2:00 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 Zimbabwelast_img read more

Read More

Human semen can host up to 27 different viruses

first_img By Karl GruberSep. 20, 2017 , 8:00 AM When scientists discovered that the Zika virus can survive in semen for up to 6 months, people exposed to the disease—especially those hoping to have children—were horrified. It’s now known that the virus can be sexually transmitted up to 41 days. Now, a new meta-analysis has found that 26 other viruses can also live in human semen and go on to infect the bloodstream. Those include the viruses that cause Ebola, HIV, hepatitis B, and herpes. After reviewing more than 3800 scientific publications, the authors also found evidence that at least 11 viruses can live in the testes, including those that cause influenza, dengue, and severe acute respiratory syndrome. These viruses could potentially be found in semen, too, the authors say. Though not all 27 viruses are capable of person-to-person transmission, they can have other serious consequences, like reducing fertility or increasing the risk of acquiring a sexually transmitted disease. Some of these viruses can even cause mutations in the DNA of sperm, which could then fertilize an egg and pass along the virus-induced mutations to future generations. The findings, published last week in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Emerging Infectious Diseases journal, suggest that more viruses can live in semen than previously thought. But the authors warn that far more research is needed to understand how and whether the viruses can be sexually transmitted and exactly which viruses remain viable in semen, for how long, and at what concentrations. Human semen can host up to 27 different viruseslast_img read more

Read More

How does chemo brain work One cancer drug might interfere with brain

first_img JPagetRMphotos/Alamy Stock Photo How does chemo brain work? One cancer drug might interfere with brain signaling Email The symptoms of chemotherapy-related cognitive dysfunction pointed to abnormalities in myelin, the fatty sheath around nerve fibers that helps them transmit brain signals. More than 10 years ago, stem cell biologist Mark Noble at the University of Rochester in New York and his colleagues reported that brain cells called oligodendrocyte precursor cells (OPCs), which ultimately help form myelin, were exquisitely sensitive to chemotherapy. But later work suggested OPCs could rapidly repopulate in a healthy brain, and the long-term effects of chemotherapy on OPC cells remained mysterious.Monje began the new study almost 7 years ago. First, she and her colleagues examined stored brain tissue samples from children and young adults who had died from various cancers, and control patients who’d died of something else. Some had received a host of chemotherapy drugs, and some had never gotten chemotherapy. In those who’d had chemo, OPCs were markedly depleted, but only in the white matter of the brain, which is a heavily myelinated brain region. The researchers focused on a particular chemotherapy drug, methotrexate, which is especially associated with long-term cognitive problems.Monje’s team wanted to confirm the findings in just-donated tissue, which was offered to them by the families of two children: a 3-year-old whose brain cancer was treated with high doses of methotrexate, and a 10-year-old whose brain cancer progressed so rapidly that there was no time to administer much therapy. Again, the child who’d received methotrexate—with the last dose well over a month before he died—had a near-wipeout of OPCs in white matter. The other child did not.Next up for the scientists was designing a mouse model of chemo brain caused by methotrexate. The mice got the same chemotherapy treatment as the 3-year-old, adjusted for their tiny body size. The animals “have a very clear impairment in attention and short-term memory,” Monje says. The animals also had the same decrease in white matter OPCs. Studying the organ 6 months after chemotherapy ended—a long time in the life of a mouse—the researchers saw that “the myelin sheaths were thinner,” Monje says, which would disrupt brain signaling.The big question for Monje was whether chemotherapy was directly killing OPCs or creating an environment that was hostile to them. To answer this, her team transplanted healthy OPCs into the brains of mice previously administered methotrexate. Those healthy cells showed the same disregulation, Monje says. Typically, the brain replenishes OPCs as needed, but in the mice, it didn’t. Something in the brain’s environment was causing the cells’ decay and disappearance.Ultimately, the story came full circle back to the microglia that Monje had first eyed more than 15 years ago. Additional experiments on brain cells revealed methotrexate activates microglia in the brain’s white matter, causing a cascade of effects and ultimately depleting OPCs. Because several compounds that deplete microglia are in clinical trials for cancer and other indications, the scientists were able to test one of them on their chemo brain–affected animals. They found that depleting microglia was effective: It restored OPCs, normalized myelin, and rescued short-term memory, the research team reports today in Cell. That means, they write, that the microglia are likely behind chemo brain for this particular drug.“The authors did a great job at trying to look at this phenomenon from very different angles,” says Schagen, making sure, for example, that findings in brain tissue also held true in mice. The activation of microglia, Schagen says, looks like an “important” direct mechanism. But Schagen, who has studied the effects of several chemotherapy drugs on mouse brains, also stresses that these findings are limited to methotrexate; other chemotherapy drugs may cause cognitive problems in different ways. The dose and its timing may also affect a drug’s brain effects, Schagen says.Monje says there’s a lot left to do before launching a clinical trial of any potential chemo brain fighter. One question is how long any such drug must be used. Another is what molecular mechanisms are driving the brain cells to behave as they do. But she’s hopeful that, after many years of trying, she and others are moving in the right direction. Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) By Jennifer Couzin-FrankelDec. 6, 2018 , 11:10 AMcenter_img Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country Cognitive problems are a common side effect after chemotherapy. A new study suggests how one type of chemo may contribute. 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 For the millions of people treated for cancer, “chemo brain” can be an unnerving and disabling side effect. It causes memory lapses, trouble concentrating, and an all-around mental fog, which appear linked to the treatment and not the disease. Although the cognitive effects often fade after chemotherapy ends, for some people the fog persists for years, even decades. And doctors and researchers have long wondered why. Now, a new study suggests an answer in the case of one chemotherapy drug: Brain cells called microglia may orchestrate chemo brain by disrupting other cells that help maintain the brain’s communication system.“I can’t tell you how many patients I see who look at me when I explain [chemo brain] and say, ‘I’ve been living with this for 10 years and thought I was crazy,’” says Michelle Monje, a pediatric neuro-oncologist and neuroscientist at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California. It’s still mostly a mystery how common long-term cognitive impairment is after chemo. In one recent study by clinical neuropsychologist Sanne Schagen at the Netherlands Cancer Institute in Amsterdam, it affected 16% of breast cancer survivors 6 months after treatment.Monje began to probe the cognitive effects of cancer treatment in the early 2000s, starting with radiation, a therapy that can be far more debilitating than chemotherapy. A Science paper she and her colleagues published in 2003 suggested radiation affected a type of brain cell called microglia, which protect the brain against inflammation. Just like immune cells in the blood, microglia—which make up at least 10% of all brain cells—become activated during injury or infection.last_img read more

Read More