Act fast and you can snag the latest Echo Dot for just

first_img We’d also like to send you special offers and news just by email from other carefully selected companies we think you might like. Your personal details will not be shared with those companies – we send the emails and you can unsubscribe at any time. Please tick here if you are happy to receive these messages.By submitting your information, you agree to the Terms & Conditions and Privacy & Cookies Policy. Deals If you’re intrigued by the deal but want to know a little bit more about the latest Echo Dot, then let me fill you in. As the most compact Amazon Echo on the market, the 3rd gen Echo Dot marks a huge improvement over its predecessor.The most obvious upgrade is in its design. Boasting a new textured finish, the Echo Dot is now a far more fashionable device than before, and can easily fit alongside most established decors in an unobtrusive way.There have been several upgrades under the hood as well, most notably in the inclusion of a 1.6-inch speaker, which offers better clarity and can go to a much higher volume than the older 2nd generation dot.In our review for the 3rd gen Echo Dot, Home Technology Editor David Ludlow concluded: “Launching at the same price as the older model, the Echo Dot (3rd Gen) is simply a better product. It looks a lot nicer to the point that I didn’t feel like I had to hide this speaker away, and it sounds a lot better. OK, the sound quality isn’t so good that you’ll want to throw away your current speakers, but improved audio improves the Alexa experience a lot.” Amazing Echo Dot SaleAmazon Echo Dot (3rd gen) – CharcoalAt its lowest price ever, there’s never been a better time to bag yourself the latest Echo Dot. Be quick though, it’s selling out fast.Currys PC World (via eBay)|Save £23|Now £26.99View DealNow £26.99|Save £23|Currys PC World (via eBay)Amazon Echo Dot (3rd gen) – SandstoneAt its lowest price ever, there’s never been a better time to bag yourself the latest Echo Dot. Be quick though, it’s selling out fast.Currys PC World (via eBay)|Save £23|Now £26.99View DealNow £26.99|Save £23|Currys PC World (via eBay)Amazon Echo Dot (3rd gen) – Heather GreyAt its lowest price ever, there’s never been a better time to bag yourself the latest Echo Dot. Be quick though, it’s selling out fast.Currys PC World (via eBay)|Save £23|Now £26.99View DealNow £26.99|Save £23|Currys PC World (via eBay) Plus, if you’ve already got a smart home ecosystem set up then this is a great way to add a smart speaker to a spare room on the cheap.At the lowest price it’s ever been, this offer on the Echo Dot is just too good to pass up – just make sure you grab yours before they’re all sold out.For more amazing offers, follow us @TrustedDealsUKWe may earn a commission if you click a deal and buy an item. That’s why we want to make sure you’re well-informed and happy with your purchase, so that you’ll continue to rely on us for your buying advice needs. This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.center_img Amazon’s latest Echo Dot smart speaker is now going for its cheapest price yet at just £26.99, but they’re selling out fast.The 3rd generation Echo Dot has been discounted to £29.99 for a while now (down from £49.99), but Currys PC World’s eBay store has seen fit to strip another 10% off the price while stocks last. If you’ve ever been holding out for a high-end smart speaker at an unbeatable price, this is the time to buy. Amazing Echo Dot SaleAmazon Echo Dot (3rd gen) – CharcoalAt its lowest price ever, there’s never been a better time to bag yourself the latest Echo Dot. Be quick though, it’s selling out fast.Currys PC World (via eBay)|Save £23|Now £26.99View DealNow £26.99|Save £23|Currys PC World (via eBay)Amazon Echo Dot (3rd gen) – SandstoneAt its lowest price ever, there’s never been a better time to bag yourself the latest Echo Dot. Be quick though, it’s selling out fast.Currys PC World (via eBay)|Save £23|Now £26.99View DealNow £26.99|Save £23|Currys PC World (via eBay)Amazon Echo Dot (3rd gen) – Heather GreyAt its lowest price ever, there’s never been a better time to bag yourself the latest Echo Dot. Be quick though, it’s selling out fast.Currys PC World (via eBay)|Save £23|Now £26.99View DealNow £26.99|Save £23|Currys PC World (via eBay) Sign up for the Mobile NewsletterSign Up Please keep me up to date with special offers and news from Goodtoknow and other brands operated by TI Media Limited via email. You can unsubscribe at any time. Show More Unlike other sites, we thoroughly review everything we recommend, using industry standard tests to evaluate products. We’ll always tell you what we find. We may get a commission if you buy via our price links.Tell us what you think – email the Editorlast_img read more

Hasselblads new X1D II mirrorless camera has a surprisingly low price tag

first_imgFull-frame mirrorless cameras? Pah, they’re old hat these days. The new battleground for high-end pro cameras is mirrorless medium format – and Hasselblad has struck back against Fujifilm’s impressive GFX series with the new X1D II 50C.Related: Amazon Prime Day 2019Medium format camera sensors are significantly bigger than their full-frame equivalents, which means greater light-gathering powers for landscape or studio duty – but also, traditionally, camera bodies that have been too big, bulky and expensive to get anywhere near the mainstream.That’s started to change with cameras like the Fujifilm GFX 50R and GFX 100 recently, though, and the 50-megapixel Hasselblad X1D II 50C is the latest mirrorless medium format camera to tempt well-heeled enthusiasts, rather than exclusively pros.Okay, the X1D II 50C isn’t cheap at £5,400, but that’s significantly more affordable than its X1D predecessor, which cost £7,188 in the UK when it arrived in 2016. The Fujifilm GFX 50R is even more affordable at £3,999, though Hasselblad badge has always charged a big premium.Related: Fujifilm GFX 50R reviewSo is the X1D II 50C a competitive addition to the mirrorless medium format family? It certainly brings big improvements over the X1D, including speedier operation, a higher resolution EVF (now a 3.69-million-dot affair), a larger 3.6-inch rear screen and reduced shutter lag.But it’s not necessarily a more powerful camera than its closest rival, the Fujifilm GFX 50R. The X1D II’s fastest burst shooting rate is 2.7fps, slower than its Fujifilm foe’s 3fps and its autofocus system remains unchanged from its predecessor. It does, though, have a potentially handy new ability to tether over USB-C to an iPad, which makes it a very neat medium format option for on-location studio work.This is bolstered by the option of charging the X1D II via its USB-C port using a power bank and its relatively (for a medium format camera) low weight of 755g, which is only 10g more than the GFX 50R.If that’s all enough to compel you to snap up a Hasselblad X1D II, despite its lack of video specifications (Hasselblad says this will be available at a later date), it’s available for pre-order now and will ship in July 2019. We’d also like to send you special offers and news just by email from other carefully selected companies we think you might like. Your personal details will not be shared with those companies – we send the emails and you can unsubscribe at any time. Please tick here if you are happy to receive these messages.By submitting your information, you agree to the Terms & Conditions and Privacy & Cookies Policy. Sign up for the Mobile NewsletterSign Up Please keep me up to date with special offers and news from Goodtoknow and other brands operated by TI Media Limited via email. You can unsubscribe at any time. This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply. Show More Unlike other sites, we thoroughly review everything we recommend, using industry standard tests to evaluate products. We’ll always tell you what we find. We may get a commission if you buy via our price links. Tell us what you think.last_img read more

Merger of Germanys two biggest banks Deutsche and Commerzbank would put 30000

first_img March 18, 20197:05 AM EDT Filed under News FP Street Headquarters of Deutsche Bank, left, and Commerzbank are seen in Frankfurt as Germany’s two biggest banks begin talks on a possible merger.AP Photo/Michael Probst Join the conversation → Share this storyMerger of Germany’s two biggest banks, Deutsche and Commerzbank, would put 30,000 jobs at risk, warns union Tumblr Pinterest Google+ LinkedIn advertisement BERLIN/FRANKFURT — A merger of Deutsche Bank and its rival Commerzbank could result in as many as 30,000 job cuts over the long term, a representative of German union Verdi who is a Deutsche supervisory board member told n-tv broadcaster.A top investor in Deutsche Bank also expressed doubts about a potential merger, according to a person close to the investor.The fierce opposition from the union and shareholder reservations come after both banks on Sunday confirmed talks about a merger and underlines the obstacles to efforts to combine Germany’s two biggest banks.Most of the 30,000 positions at risk are based in Germany, Verdi’s Jan Duscheck said, according to comments published by the TV station on Monday. Over the short term there are 10,000 jobs under threat, Duscheck added.However, the initial market reaction was positive. Shares in Deutsche Bank were up 3.3 per cent at 0829 GMT while Commerzbank traded 4 per cent higher.The supervisory boards of both banks meet on Thursday when the merger is likely to be discussed.Related Stories:UPDATE 2-Deutsche Bank to axe investment bankers in up to $5.6 bln revampDeutsche Bank restructuring to cost up to $5.6 billion – sourceDeutsche Bank to cut 18,000 jobs in 7.4 bln euro overhaulThe German government has pushed for a combination given concerns about the health of Deutsche, which has struggled to generate sustainable profits since the 2008 financial crisis.The government, which holds a stake of more than 15 per cent in Commerzbank following a bailout, wants a national banking champion to support its export-led economy, best known for cars and machine tools.However, the jobs impact will be a big issue.“In our opinion a possible merger would not result in a business model that is sustainable in the long term,” Verdi’s Duscheck said.A major Deutsche shareholder is not fundamentally opposed to a merger, said a person close to the unnamed shareholder, but wants to hear a compelling case for a deal.“We have considerable doubts about the logic and the timing and want to be convinced,” the person said.A merged bank would have one fifth of the German retail banking market. Together the two banks currently employ 140,000 people worldwide – 91,700 at Deutsche and 49,000 in Commerzbank. © Thomson Reuters 2019 Reuters ← Previous Next → What you need to know about passing the family cottage to the next generation Comment Morecenter_img Reddit Sponsored By: Featured Stories Twitter Facebook Merger of Germany’s two biggest banks, Deutsche and Commerzbank, would put 30,000 jobs at risk, warns union A top investor in Deutsche Bank also expressed doubts about a potential merger 0 Comments Email Recommended For YouDavid Rosenberg: How weak economic growth is actually fuelling this bull market’s riseIt’s getting harder to be a long-term investor: Here’s how to keep your focus on what really countsDavid Rosenberg: The hopes that fuelled the market rally are all evaporating — and now reality is setting inThe storm is coming and investors need a financial ark to see them throughTrans Mountain construction work can go ahead as National Energy Board re-validates permits last_img read more

Why Electric Cars Dont Like Cold Temperatures And How To Fix it

first_imgDespite the above, we continue to share steps you can take to help your electric car battery deal with the frigid temps. Most modern EVs have some sort of thermal management system to help regulate battery temperature. On-board computers and software also attempt to help the situation and keep the battery in good health. Technology is improving, but there’s still a long way to go. As Wired points out, Tesla’s Model S owners manual reads:In cold weather, some of the stored energy in the battery may not be available on your drive because the battery is too cold.We’ve published reports of some EV drivers complaining about their range loss in cold weather, as well as other issues related to the impact of frigid temps. However, we’ve also shared stories from others who are happy with their electric vehicles, despite winter range loss. This is because the cars’ instant electric torque and sophisticated traction control systems assist with winter driving. Moreover, owners don’t have to stand at a gas station in the cold, their cars can be preconditioned in their garage while they get ready for their commute, and they never have to worry about their cars failing to start.Stefanopoulou reminds EV drivers to keep their cars above a 20 percent charge so that the extra energy can warm the battery to start the charging process. She also talks about taking advantage of your electric car’s preconditioning feature. But, her main point pertains to the future. She — along with other researchers — is hard at work to come up with solutions to the above issues. Stefanopoulou says a battery could be set to use some of its energy when it’s cold, just to keep itself warm. While this may appear to use more energy, in the end it could actually be less, since a warm battery is more efficient.The University of Michigan researcher also talks about the future of solid-state batteries, which don’t contain liquid. These future batteries won’t be impacted by temperatures nearly as much as current lithium-ion batteries. Stefanopoulou hopes to help chip away at these remaining concerns related to EVs in order to increase customer satisfaction and mass adoption.Source: Wired EVs are certainly impacted by cold temps, but there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.While EVs can be fantastic for winter driving, batteries don’t like extreme temperatures. An electric vehicle may lose an average of about 20 percent of its range in cold weather compared to warm weather. However, this varies due to a number of factors. University of Michigan Energy Institute director Anna Stefanopoulou told Wired:Batteries are like humans. They prefer the same sort of temperature range that people do. Anything below 40 or above 115 degrees Fahrenheit and they’re not going to deliver their peak performance. They like to be around 60 to 80 degrees. As the temperature drops, the electrolyte fluid inside the battery cells becomes more sluggish. You don’t have as much power when you want to discharge. The situation is even more limited when you want to charge. Tesla Model 3 Winter Test: Cold Weather Demands A Long-Range Battery Tesla Model 3 Owners Speak Out After Polar Vortex Issues Related Content:center_img Electric Cars Power On Through Harsh Yukon Winter Source: Electric Vehicle News Author Liberty Access TechnologiesPosted on February 6, 2019Categories Electric Vehicle Newslast_img read more

Tesla Model 3 Performance Tested Acceleration Top Speed POV Video

first_imgSource: Electric Vehicle News Tesla Model 3 Was Best-Selling Car In Switzerland In March 2019 Watch This Brand New Tesla Model 3 Get Smashed Up: Video Tesla Model 3 Set New Sales Record In Germany Author Liberty Access TechnologiesPosted on April 8, 2019Categories Electric Vehicle News Overall, AutoTopNL is super impressed with the car and notes that especially in its price range, it is hard to find any car that is better overall.The driving experience steals the hearts of car enthusiasts as Model 3 handles great, has impressive steering, tons of torque and great grip – everything is silent too. Well, maybe the seats are not as supportive on sides as they should be in a Performance version, but the gripes seem rather minor. Model 3 is a driver’s carSince the Tesla Model 3 deliveries went full swing in Europe, AutoTopNL had a chance to test drive the Performance version of the Model 3 with a focus on performance.The Point Of View (POV) video includes a general overview of the car as well as a test drive on the road (with an acceleration test too) and on the highway (top speed resulted in 248 km/h/154 mph).Tesla Model 3last_img read more

SEC Director Of Enforcement Ceresney On …

first_imgYesterday’s post highlighted comments made by Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates at a recent Foreign Corrupt Practices Act event and this post provides equal time to comments made by SEC Director of Enforcement Andrew Ceresney at the same event.Similar to the DOJ speech, much of Ceresney’s speech represents the same old, same old something even he acknowledged during his speech.When reading Ceresney’s comments about the importance of individual FCPA prosecutions keep in mind the following facts. In 2016 there have been 21 SEC corporate FCPA enforcement actions and 15 actions (72%) have not resulted (at least yet) in any related FCPA charges against company employees. This figure is generally consistent with the overall figure since 2008 in which approximately 80% of SEC corporate FCPA enforcement actions have not resulted in any related FCPA charges against company employees.Ceresney began his speech as follows.“Investigating and bringing enforcement actions for FCPA violations has been an important priority for us at the SEC and we have taken a lead role in fighting corruption worldwide.  During this time, we have seen tremendous improvement in FCPA awareness and compliance both in the United States and abroad, and there is no question that we have made great progress in our attempts to curb corruption under the FCPA and its foreign counterparts.”Ceresney then focused on the following topics: voluntary disclosure and cooperation; the Och-Ziff enforcement action and the importance of individual accountability; the JP Morgan enforcement action and the hiring of family members of alleged foreign officials; and international cooperation and global settlements.On voluntary disclosure and cooperation, Ceresney stated:“I want to start by briefly discussing our efforts to incentivize companies to self-report misconduct and cooperate with our investigations.  Self-reporting and cooperation are very important and helpful to us, particularly in FCPA cases, given the challenges we face in identifying and investigating FCPA violations.  We use a carrot and stick approach to encouraging cooperation.  We reward cooperation in multiple ways.  Parties that self-report and cooperate can benefit from reduced charges, including deferred prosecution or non-prosecution agreements (DPAs or NPAs), and in certain instances when the violations are minimal, no charges.  We also reward cooperation with significantly reduced penalties, and in some cases, no penalties.  At the same time, companies who discovered misconduct but made the decision not to report it to us and did not provide meaningful cooperation, have not received any reduction in penalties or other benefits when we learned of the conduct from other sources, including whistleblowers, and in some cases, have paid significantly higher penalties as a result.  As I have said before, companies are gambling if they fail to self-report FCPA misconduct to us.I have been stressing the benefits of companies self-reporting and cooperating for the past few years – and those benefits are real.  While it is not always possible to identify circumstances where we declined to bring a case, we were able to do so earlier this year when we declined to bring an action against Harris Corporation given their self-policing, self-reporting and substantial cooperation.  In that case, the Chairman and CEO of a Chinese subsidiary acquired by Harris facilitated a bribe scheme where illegal payments were made in the form of gifts to officials of state-owned hospitals in China.  Although it was only able to perform limited pre-acquisition due diligence on the subsidiary, Harris took immediate and significant steps after the acquisition to train staff in China and integrate the subsidiary into Harris’s system of internal accounting controls.  As a result of these measures, including the implementation of an anonymous complaint hotline, Harris discovered and reported the misconduct within five months of the acquisition.  The SEC determined not to bring charges against Harris, taking into consideration the company’s efforts at self-policing that led to the discovery of the misconduct, prompt self-reporting, thorough remediation, and exemplary cooperation with the SEC’s investigation.[Note Ceresney’s comments about the Harris Corp. matter suggest that the lack of SEC charges were hardly as dramatic as Harris Corp.’s counsel has made it out to be – see here for the prior post]In my speech at this conference last November, I announced that in FCPA cases, a company must self-report to be eligible for an NPA or DPA.  In June of this year, we announced two NPAs with companies that self-reported violations and provided full cooperation.  In the first case, Akamai Technologies, a Massachusetts-based internet services provider, agreed to disgorge more than $650,000 in profits connected to bribes paid to officials of Chinese state-owned entities by a foreign subsidiary. In the second case, Nortek, a Rhode Island-based residential and commercial building products manufacturer, agreed to disgorge nearly $300,000 in profits connected to bribes paid to Chinese officials by a foreign subsidiary.  In both cases, the companies promptly self-reported the misconduct, took remedial measures, including improving their internal controls, and cooperated extensively with the SEC’s investigation, thereby justifying NPAs.The Commission also gave significant credit for cooperation in connection with penalties imposed in more than a half a dozen other recent FCPA cases.  These include our settlements with AstraZeneca and Nordion, where the Commission reduced penalty amounts in recognition of their cooperation, and our settlement with SAP, where the Commission agreed not to impose any penalty in recognition of its significant cooperation.My sense from discussions with defense counsel is that our actions have sent a clear message to the defense bar and the C-Suite that there are significant benefits to self-reporting and cooperation with the SEC.  I expect that the Division of Enforcement will continue in the future to reinforce this message and reward companies that self-report and cooperate.”On the Och-Ziff enforcement action and the importance of individual accountability, Ceresney stated in pertinent part:“This case was one of our most significant FCPA actions in years.  To begin with, it was the first FCPA action against a hedge fund and one of the first against a financial services firm.  The case served notice to financial services companies that, like other U.S. companies, they face unique corruption risks when operating in some international markets.  Beyond that, in most instances, Och-Ziff used funds provided by the investors in its managed funds to pay bribes.  The Investment Advisers Act violations charged here serve to provide notice that investment advisers have a special duty to ensure that they do not engage in misconduct using funds entrusted to them by investors.This case also emphasized the important obligations of senior executives.  Here, the SEC’s Order found that Mr. Och knew of the significant corruption risks when doing business in the Congo, was aware of corruption accusations against Och-Ziff’s business partner in the Congo, and received due diligence on the business partner that identified substantial corruption risks. Nevertheless, Mr. Och made the decision to approve transactions with the business partner in the Congo despite being aware of the significant risks of corruption and despite the fact that Och-Ziff’s senior compliance and legal personnel were recommending against proceeding with the transactions.  This case sends the message loud and clear that CEOs will be held responsible if they do business with persons with close ties to government officials when due diligence raises significant red flags, particularly when control functions are raising serious questions about such transactions.  It is only by holding such senior decision makers responsible that we will deter such conduct.Similarly, Mr. Frank was responsible for ensuring that all transactions were recorded accurately and was likewise responsible for devising and maintaining Och-Ziff’s internal accounting controls.  Yet, the Order found that he approved Och-Ziff’s payments in the transactions in the Congo in which he believed there was a high risk of corruption.  He deferred to Mr. Och as the final decision maker and executed those transactions per Mr. Och’s approval.  CFOs who are responsible for the organization’s internal controls cannot escape responsibility for executing such transactions in these circumstances, even when they are not the ultimate decision maker.Och-Ziff is not the only case that demonstrates the Enforcement Division’s renewed emphasis on individual liability in FCPA cases.  Seven enforcement actions in the past year involved individuals.  For example, in the Harris Corporation case I mentioned earlier, the Commission charged the former CEO and Chairman of Harris’s subsidiary in China for violating the FCPA by facilitating a bribery scheme that provided illegal gifts to officials at state-owned hospitals in order to obtain and retain business for the company.  The Commission also recently brought FCPA actions against the CEO of LAN Airlines, the former CFO of a Danish subsidiary of Analogic Corporation, a Massachusetts-based medical device manufacturer, a former vice-president of SAP SE, a worldwide software company, and a former engineer for Nordion Inc., a Canadian health science company, for violations of the FCPA.  Although cases against individuals have challenges, including jurisdictional and statute of limitations issues, pursuing individual accountability is a critical part of deterrence and, as these cases show, the Division of Enforcement will continue to do everything we can to hold individuals accountable.”On the JP Morgan enforcement action and the hiring of family members of alleged foreign officials, Ceresney stated in pertinent part:“Another significant recent case was our action against JPMorgan relating to their hiring practices in Asia.[…]In the wake of some of the Commission’s prior hiring practices cases, including our cases against Bank of New York Mellon and Qualcomm, some questioned whether providing internships could amount to an FCPA violation.  But the JPMorgan case should put that debate to rest.  The statute precludes the payment or provision of “anything of value” to a foreign official in order to induce that official to take official action or obtain an improper advantage for the purpose of obtaining or retaining business.  As I stressed in my speech here last year, “anything of value” is a broad term and is not limited to cash or tangible gifts but includes less traditional items of value that have been given in order to influence foreign officials.  There is no question that JPMorgan itself recognized that employment given at the request of a foreign official can be a thing of value under the FCPA, providing tangible or intangible benefits to a foreign official.  When these benefits are given to influence a foreign official in the performance of their official duties to assist an issuer in obtaining or retaining business, the FCPA is violated.This case also makes clear that employment of a child, friend or relative can influence a foreign official in his or her official actions.  JPMorgan actually tracked the benefits it received under the “Sons and Daughters” program through a spreadsheet that kept track of the revenues related to each hiring, which demonstrated JPMorgan’s view that the foreign officials were indeed influenced to take action. JPMorgan personnel also spoke openly about the tangible benefits they were getting from this hiring, noting in an email to the CEO of JPMorgan APAC that the program “has an almost linear relationship with mandates in China.”  In one instance, a senior JPMorgan APAC banker wrote in response to a request to hire the son of an official of a state-owned entity that “[the public official’s state-owned entity] is an important client.  We need to help his son that definitely [sic] will give us leverage of business opportunities for both fig [JPMorgan’s Financial Institutions Group] and non fig for jpm.”  A few weeks after the son was hired, JPMorgan APAC announced that it had won a mandate to work on deal for a subsidiary of the official’s state-owned entity.Some have asked whether these hiring practices cases tread too far into hiring decisions made by institutions, which are complex and typically based on many factors.  I think the facts of this case also put to rest any such claim.  After all, it is clear from the order that the relatives hired under this program were not hired under the normal hiring process, and in many cases, did not meet the minimum qualifications for their positions.  It also is clear that the hires were made for the specific purpose of influencing the public officials in their official duties.  So while each of these cases will turn on their particular facts and circumstances, the JPMorgan matter involved clear violations of the FCPA.Finally, I should note that this case is also important because it demonstrates that having an anti-corruption policy that addresses potential violations of the FCPA is not enough, without rigorous compliance review and testing.  JPMorgan recognized the FCPA issues surrounding hiring and set up a specific program to review official hires.  That program, however, was ineffective because the investment bankers took actions to evade it and the compliance personnel did not sufficiently understand the program to review it adequately.  It is not enough for a company to set up rules and controls, and to train its employees, if those controls are not enforced.The JPMorgan case was the first case to be brought resulting from the Enforcement Division’s Asia Referral Hiring Sweep, which began in 2013 with our investigation of JPMorgan.  As part of this sweep, Enforcement began looking at hiring practices in the Asia-Pacific region for investment banks based on what we perceived, in part through our investigation of JPMorgan, could be an industry-wide problem.  Enforcement’s work on the sweep is ongoing.”On international cooperation and global settlements, Cereseny stated:“Finally, I want to talk about the strides Enforcement has made over the last few years in international cooperation.  Collaboration with international regulators and law enforcement is critical to our success in the FCPA space.  As global markets become more interconnected and complex, no one country or agency can effectively fight bribery and corruption alone.  In this globalized marketplace, the SEC’s ability to protect investors and maintain fair and efficient markets is often dependent on Enforcement’s ability to investigate misconduct that takes place, at least in part, abroad.  Coordination allows the SEC to maximize its ability to investigate wrongdoing while working within the parameters of many different legal systems.For many years, the SEC has cooperated extensively with our international partners and these relationships and cooperative arrangements have given us the ability to leverage the information and resources of our counterparts to strengthen our own enforcement efforts.  In fact, in this past fiscal year alone, the Commission has publicly acknowledged assistance from more than two dozen different jurisdictions in the FCPA cases we brought.Two recent cases, though, demonstrate another trend in our international cooperation that I am sure will become more pronounced in the coming years.  We are starting to see that as our foreign partners adopt anti-bribery laws that prohibit corruption, those countries join together with us in bringing actions against wrongdoers simultaneously with our actions.  In our recent cases against VimpelCom and Embraer, we cooperated successfully with international colleagues and reached global settlements that included charges brought by the SEC and DOJ in the United States and by authorities in the Netherlands and Brazil.In February of this year, we reached a global settlement, along with the U.S. Department of Justice and the Prosecution Authority of the Netherlands, which required telecommunications provider VimpelCom to pay more than $795 million to address its violations of the FCPA.  The Complaint alleged that the company paid at least $114 million in bribes to an Uzbek government official linked to the President of Uzbekistan as the company entered the Uzbek telecommunications market and sought government-issued licenses, frequencies, channels, and number blocks.  This case involved extraordinary international assistance.  The Division of Enforcement, with the help of the Commission’s Office of International Affairs, worked seamlessly with the Dutch authorities and received international assistance in the course of the investigation from no fewer than 14 jurisdictions – the most ever provided in a single FCPA investigation.  The global settlement – one of the largest in the history of the FCPA – required VimpelCom to pay $397.5 million to U.S. authorities (split between the DOJ and SEC), and $397.5 million to the Prosecution Authority of the Netherlands.Last month, we worked closely with the DOJ and Brazilian authorities to bring charges against the Brazilian aircraft manufacturer Embraer.  Our global settlement required the company to pay more than $205 million to resolve allegations that it violated the FCPA by paying bribes to win business in the Dominican Republic, Saudi Arabia and Mozambique. The settlement requires Embraer to pay DOJ a $107 million penalty as part of a DPA, and to pay more than $98 million in disgorgement to the SEC.  $18.5 million of that disgorgement amount was paid to Brazilian authorities in the parallel civil and criminal proceeding in Brazil, with us crediting those payments against the disgorgement owed to the Commission.These global settlements are critical and welcome FCPA developments.  They demonstrate that the Division of Enforcement is now not only receiving assistance from foreign authorities but bringing simultaneous actions and sharing disgorgement and penalties with them appropriately.  These sorts of global resolutions send strong messages of deterrence to companies and individuals, as they know they will face sanctions from the U.S., as well as other places they do significant business.  Global settlements also allow us to resolve cases efficiently and provide closure to companies and individuals on all exposure they face.Enforcement will continue to work closely with foreign law enforcement and regulators to bring anti-bribery actions.  I fully expect that you will see more global settlements involving foreign authorities in the coming years.”Ceresney concluded his speech as follows.“We have made tremendous progress over the past 10 years in deterring FCPA misconduct and incentivizing companies across the world to improve their compliance programs.  I am confident that in the coming years, we will continue to treat FCPA violations as a priority and see significant FCPA actions against entities and individuals involving the SEC, our criminal partners, and foreign authorities.”last_img read more

Will ABB Become a THREETime FCPA Violator

first_imgAs highlighted in recent posts here and here, there are several companies in the FCPA repeat offender club.ABB (a Swiss-based power and automation technology company) may become a three-time FCPA violator.First, some relevant background.The first time ABB resolved a Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enforcement action was in 2004 concerning conduct in Nigeria, Angola and Kazakhstan. The $16.4 million enforcement action involved an SEC component ($5.9 million) and a DOJ component ($10.6 million).The second time ABB resolved an FCPA enforcement action was in 2010 concerning conduct in Mexico as well as in connection with the Iraqi U.N. Oil for Food program. The $58.3 million enforcement action involved an SEC component ($39.3 million) and a DOJ component ($19 million).As to a potential third time, according to this report:“ABB  said it was cooperating with anti-fraud authorities in the United States and Britain and had reported past dealings with Monaco-based engineering and construction group Unaoil, including alleged improper payments to third parties.”last_img read more

Friday Roundup

first_imgA home run, quotable, monitors, up north, scrutiny alerts and updates, irksome, and for the reading stack. It’s all here in the Friday roundup.Home RunThe latest issue of the always informative FCPA Update from Debevoise & Plimpton (released by the way on the opening day of the Major League Baseball season) hits a home run.The lead article by Paul Berger (former Associate Director of the SEC’s Enforcement Division) concerns the recent Elbit Imaging enforcement action (see here for the prior post) and states in pertinent part:“The Elbit Order continues a trend in SEC enforcement actions – dating back at least to the 2012 enforcement action against Oracle – of charging violations of the accounting provisions without any specific findings of bribery or, alternatively, “illicit” or “improper” payments. Similar actions also have been brought outside the foreign bribery context, most notably the SEC’s 2016 cease-and-desist order against Continental and United Airlines. The Elbit Order, with regard to the real estate development in Romania, like 2017’s Cadbury Mondelez settlement, takes this trend even further, by charging a violation of the books and records and internal controls provisions based only on a finding that “there is no evidence to suggest” that due diligence was done and that “there is no documentation or other evidence showing” any services rendered by the consultants. This, coupled with a vague assertion that therefore something bad (bribery or embezzlement) “could have” or “may have” happened, forms the basis of the SEC’s Elbit Order.As such, the Elbit Order once again highlights the breadth of the SEC’s interpretation of the accounting provisions and underscores the importance of internal controls and proper documentation of transactions involving “red flags.” At the same time, the Elbit Order raises the question of whether the SEC’s interpretation of the accounting provisions is too broad, as it suggests that the SEC need only find the absence of such documentation (without more) in order to make its case. We recognize that parties settle for a variety of reasons many of which have little to do with liability. However, it seems unlikely that the SEC would actually litigate such actions based on unsubstantiated, inchoate claims.[…][P]ractitioners and the bar should ask whether it is appropriate for the SEC (or any other enforcement agency) to bring an action under the accounting provisions (or any other provision) based simply on the bare allegation that something untoward “could have” or “may have” occurred. After all, apart from resolving specific misconduct, a Commission Order is supposed to provide guidance to the marketplace through a description of the violation and the legal basis underpinning it. Amorphous descriptions of conduct that “may” or “could” violate the law do not offer clear direction to companies trying to develop a strong compliance program.”QuotableDespite the doom and gloom predictions of some apprentice commentators, this November 2016 post encouraged all to take a deep breath regarding FCPA enforcement in the Trump administration. In short, it was predicted that the FCPA was not going any where and FCPA enforcement would continue.In this regard, this recent Corporate Crime Reporter profile of Laura Perkins is worth highlighting.“Laura Perkins spent ten years at the Justice Department’s Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) unit. She left in July 2017 to become a partner in the Washington D.C. office of Hughes Hubbard & Reed.Despite all of the noise, Perkins hasn’t noticed a difference in FCPA enforcement under the Trump administration.“I was at the Department for six or seven months after the Trump administration came in,” Perkins told Corporate Crime Reporter in an interview last week. “There was very little change in FCPA enforcement. There was very little change in how the unit operated, in the resources made available to the unit, in how the cases were being handled. And since I have left, the cases that have come out have been in line in both form of resolution and size of fines as before. I’ve seen very little change.”MonitorsThis Wall Street Journal Risk & Compliance post is titled “U.S. Lawyers Propose Changes to Justice Dept. Monitor Program.” The title is a bit leading as there are no actual formal proposals suggested, but a few quotes from lawyers.Here is my two cents.If a court wants to impose a monitor fine, but perhaps the best proposal is for the DOJ to stop appointing monitors as a condition of certain settlements.Moreover, think about this.If monitors are so darn important, then why in many instances do months pass, and in some cases years, post-settlement before the monitor is actually appointed? (See here, here and here for prior post).Up NorthPrevious posts here, here, and here have highlighted Canada’s movement towards DPAs (and why Canada should say no to DPAs).Earlier this week the Government of Canada announced it “has introduced legislative amendments to create a made-in-Canada version of a deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) regime, to be known as a Remediation Agreement Regime.”Scrutiny Alerts and UpdatesInternet GoldInternet Gold (an Israel-based holding company with shares traded on NASDAQ and with the controlling interest in B Communications Ltd., which in turn holds the controlling interest in Bezeq, The Israel Telecommunication Corporation Ltd.) recently disclosed:“The Audit Committee of the Company has engaged outside U.S. counsel to conduct an assessment of: (a) the internal controls of the company and, as applicable, those of Bezeq – The Israel Telecommunications Corporation Ltd., in connection with the preparation of the Company’s financial statements to be included in the Company’s Annual Report on Form 20-F for the year ended December 31, 2017 (the “20-F”), and (b) whether there have been any violations of the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act or any other laws that may affect the preparation of the Company’s 20-F.”Exxon MobilI’ve never understood why certain media lop up certain civil society reports about alleged corruption. I guess you got to fill the pages every day.Earlier this week, Global Witness released this “investigation” regarding Exxon’s 2013 purchase of Liberia’s Block 13 oil license and how it “likely enriched former government officials who may have illegally owned the block.” The Wall Street Journal and U.K. Guardian then use to the report to go in-depth here and here in generally unremarkable, underwhelming articles.EricssonThe Sweden-based telecommunications company has been under FCPA scrutiny since 2013 (see here for the prior post) and recently disclosed:“During 2016–2017 we invited external experts to evaluate the robustness of our anti-corruption program. Following the review, we adjusted the anti-corruption program to closer align with the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). In 2017, the program was strengthened with adding resources on group level and appointing Regional Compliance Officers in all Market Areas. Moreover, one of the elements of the Group targets for sustainability and corporate responsibility is anti-corruption.In 2017 the Company continued to roll out an automated anti-corruption screening tool for supplier and third party due diligence, which was launched in 2016. By the end of 2017, close to 93% of active employees had completed the Company’s anti-corruption e-learningcourse since the training was launched in 2013. A customized online anti-corruption training is also available for Ericsson’s suppliers on the Company website.In 2017, Ericsson introduced a vetting process that focuses on ethics and compliance. So far we have used it for appointments to the Executive Team and for approximately 110 employees in exposed positions. All members of the current Executive Team have been vetted, and all future recruitments to these positions will also go through mandatory vetting. Business Partner Review Boards have been established in all Market Areas to over-see mitigation of the corruption risks in relation to onboarding of new business partners.Ericsson is currently voluntarily cooperating with inquiries from the United States Securities and Exchange Commission and the United States Department of Justice regarding its compliance with the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. As of today, these inquiries concern a period from January 1, 2007 and onwards, and the Company will make additional disclosures regarding these inquiries to the extent required.”IrksomeAdmittedly minor issues, but issues that have always irked me.Why do SEC press releases announcing administrative actions frequently use the word “charge” in the headline when the reality is the issuer is not “charged” with anything but rather the SEC administratively “finds” violations? (See this example earlier this week regarding Kinross Gold.Separately, why does the SEC frequently invoke the words “FCPA” in headlines when finding certain violations of the books and records and internal controls provisions (such as Kinross Gold) but does not invoke the words “FCPA” in other headlines that also find certain violations of the books and records and internal controls provisions? (See this example earlier this week regarding Maxwell Tech).For the Reading StackAn informative read from Jenner & Block attorneys discussing “five major legal differences between U.S. and English law, each of which can profoundly affect the course of an investigation and prosecution.”Airbus seems to be between a rock and hard place. As noted in this Bloomberg article: 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.center_img “Airbus SE is being forced by French courts to pay millions of dollars to partners who it alleges used corruption to broker aircraft deals in strategic countries. In one case, the manufacturer was made to settle an outstanding $825,000 bill from a go-between that helped secure sales in China even after Airbus said it had evidence the business relationship was “tarnished” by corruption, according to an unreported ruling released earlier this month. Airbus argued this “called for suspending all payments.” The court proceedings have put Airbus in a seemingly contradictory situation. The planemaker is under investigation for paying bribes to secure overseas contracts and says it’s cooperating and turning over evidence from an internal investigation. But judges have stymied the company’s efforts to cut off brokers who it suspects have facilitated questionable payments.”last_img read more

MidYear FCPA Report

first_img Learn More & Register This post highlights Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enforcement and related developments at the mid-point of 2019. As highlighted below, 2019 FCPA enforcement is already the third-most active year in FCPA history as measured by the amount of net settlements (approximately $1.5 billion) secured by the U.S. government.For a similar post at the mid-point of 2018 see here, for 2017 see here, and for 2016 see here.This post breaks down FCPA enforcement into the following categories: DOJ (corporate); DOJ (individual); SEC (corporate); and SEC (individual). Thereafter, this post highlights other FCPA developments or items of interest thus far in 2019.DOJ Enforcement (Corporate)The DOJ has brought 5 core corporate enforcement actions thus far in 2019. Net FCPA settlements secured in these actions has been approximately $1.05 billion.TechnipFMC (June 25)See here for the prior post.Charges: As to Technip USA a criminal information charging conspiracy to violate the FCPA’s anti-bribery provisions; as to TechnipFMC criminal information charging two counts of conspiracy to violate the FCPA’s anti-bribery provisions.Resolution Vehicle: As to Technip USA, plea agreement; as to TechnipFMC, deferred prosecution agreement.Guidelines Range: $282 million – $564 millionSettlement: Net $81.9 million after a credit of $214 million paid to Brazil law enforcement in connection with a related matter.Origin: The company disclosed that it “received an inquiry from the DOJ.”Monitor: NoIndividuals Charged: NoWalmart (June 20)See here, here and here for prior posts.Charges: As to Walmart Brasilia, violations of the books and records provisions; as to Walmart none (but reference is made in the NPA to the internal controls provisions).Resolution Vehicle: As to Walmart Brasilia, plea agreement; as to Walmart NPAGuidelines Range: Not set forth in the NPA, but it does state: “Walmart agreed to pay a total monetary penalty in the amount of approximately $138 million which reflects a discount of 25% off of the bottom of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines fine range for the portion of the penalty applicable to conduct in Brazil, China, and India, and 20% off of the bottom of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines fine range for the portion of the penalty applicable to conduct in Mexico.”Settlement: $138 million.Origin: The NPA states: “The Defendant did not receive voluntary disclosure credit because it did not voluntarily and timely disclose, through the Parent Company, to the Fraud Section and the Office the conduct … Although the Parent Company disclosed the conduct related to Brazil prior to the Fraud Section or the Office learning of that conduct, such disclosure was after the Fraud Section and the Office had already begun investigating the Parent Company relating to conduct in another country.” The SEC order states: ““Walmart made an initial self-disclosure of the potential FCPA violations in Mexico to the Commission’s staff in November 2011, after it retained outside counsel to conduct an internal investigation under the direction of the Audit Committee of Walmart’s Board of Directors. Subsequently, Walmart voluntarily expanded its investigation and disclosed its findings concerning Brazil, China, and India to the Commission staff, although such disclosure was after the Commission staff had already begun investigating the Company related to conduct in Mexico.” Walmart’s 8-K filing on the day of the enforcement action states: “As previously reported, the Audit Committee of the Board of Directors (the “Audit Committee”) of Walmart Inc. (the “Company”) conducted an internal investigation into, among other things, alleged violations of the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”) and other alleged crimes or misconduct in connection with the Company’s foreign subsidiaries, including Wal-Mart de México, S.A.B. de C.V., and whether prior allegations of such violations and/or misconduct were appropriately handled by the Company. In November 2011, the Company voluntarily disclosed that investigative activity to the U.S. Department of Justice (the “DOJ”) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”), with the DOJ and the SEC opening related investigations of the Company. The Audit Committee and the Company also investigated allegations of FCPA violations in foreign subsidiaries in Brazil, India, and China, and engaged outside counsel from a number of law firms and other advisors who assisted the investigation of all of these matters.”Monitor: YesIndividuals Charged: NoFresenius (March 29)See here for a prior postCharges: NoneResolution Vehicle: NPAGuidelines Range: None referenced in the NPA although it states “40% off of the bottom” of the guidelines rangeSettlement: $84.7 millionOrigin: Voluntary disclosureMonitor: YesIndividuals Charged: NoMTS (March 6)See here and here for prior postsCharges: As to Kolorit Dizayn Ink LLC, criminal information charging conspiracy to violate the FCPA’s anti-bribery and books and records provisions; as to MTS criminal information charging conspiracy to violate the FCPA’s anti-bribery and books and records provisionsResolution Vehicle: Kolorit resolved the charges through a plea agreement; MTS resolved the charges through a DPAGuidelines Range: The DPA references an advisory guidelines range of $673 million to $1.35 billionSettlement: $750 millionOrigin: The related Uzbekistan matters (MTS, Telia, and Vimpelcom) began with foreign media reportingMonitor: YesIndividuals Charged: NoCognizant Technology Solutions (Feb. 15)See here, here and here for prior posts.Charges: NoneResolution Vehicle: Declination with disgorgementGuidelines Range: Not mentioned in the letter agreementSettlement: None, the letter agreement refers to disgorgement of $19,370,561 which the DOJ credited based on the parallel resolution with the SECOrigin: Voluntary disclosureMonitor: NoIndividuals Charged: YesDOJ Enforcement (Individual)The DOJ brought or announced seven core individual actions thus far in 2019 against 13 individuals.As highlighted here, in yet another FCPA and related enforcement action concerning conduct in Venezuela, the DOJ charged Jesus Ramon Veroes and Luis Alberto Chacin Haddad with conspiracy to violate the FCPA’s anti-bribery provisions in connection with obtaining various contracts with Corporacion Electric Nacional S.A. (Corpoelec), Venezuela’s state-owned electric company.As highlighted here, the DOJ brought additional criminal charges against Armengol Alfonso Cevallas Diaz and Jose Melquiades Cisneros Alarcon in connection with a PetroEcuador bribery scheme.As highlighted here, former Credit Suisse bankers Andrew Pearse, Surjan Singh, and Detelina Subeva were criminally charged with conspiracy to violate the FCPA’s anti-bribery and internal controls provisions in connection with financing various Mozambican maritime projects.As highlighted here, James Lyon (the owner of Lyon Associates Inc. – a privately-held engineering and consulting company headquartered in Hawaii) was criminally charged and pleaded guilty to charges concerning bribery of Micronesian and Hawaiian officials.As highlighted here, in connection with the Cognizant matter, former executives Gordon Coburn and Steven Schwartz were criminally charged with FCPA violations.As highlighted here, in connection with is long-standing PDVSA bribery scheme enforcement action, the DOJ announced criminal FCPA and related charges against Rafael Pinto and Franz Muller.As highlighted here, in connection with the MTS matter, the DOJ criminally charged former MTS executive Bekhzod Akhmedov with FCPA and related offenses.SEC Enforcement (Corporate)The SEC has brought five corporate FCPA enforcement actions thus far in 2019. SEC recovery in these actions was approximately $421 million.Walmart (June 20)See here, here and here for prior postsCharges:  None (administrative order findings violations of the FCPA’s books and records and internal controls provisions)Settlement: $144 million in disgorgement prejudgment interestOrigin: The DOJ NPA states: “The Defendant did not receive voluntary disclosure credit because it did not voluntarily and timely disclose, through the Parent Company, to the Fraud Section and the Office the conduct … Although the Parent Company disclosed the conduct related to Brazil prior to the Fraud Section or the Office learning of that conduct, such disclosure was after the Fraud Section and the Office had already begun investigating the Parent Company relating to conduct in another country.” The SEC order states: ““Walmart made an initial self-disclosure of the potential FCPA violations in Mexico to the Commission’s staff in November 2011, after it retained outside counsel to conduct an internal investigation under the direction of the Audit Committee of Walmart’s Board of Directors. Subsequently, Walmart voluntarily expanded its investigation and disclosed its findings concerning Brazil, China, and India to the Commission staff, although such disclosure was after the Commission staff had already begun investigating the Company related to conduct in Mexico.” Walmart’s 8-K filing on the day of the enforcement action states: “As previously reported, the Audit Committee of the Board of Directors (the “Audit Committee”) of Walmart Inc. (the “Company”) conducted an internal investigation into, among other things, alleged violations of the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”) and other alleged crimes or misconduct in connection with the Company’s foreign subsidiaries, including Wal-Mart de México, S.A.B. de C.V., and whether prior allegations of such violations and/or misconduct were appropriately handled by the Company. In November 2011, the Company voluntarily disclosed that investigative activity to the U.S. Department of Justice (the “DOJ”) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”), with the DOJ and the SEC opening related investigations of the Company. The Audit Committee and the Company also investigated allegations of FCPA violations in foreign subsidiaries in Brazil, India, and China, and engaged outside counsel from a number of law firms and other advisors who assisted the investigation of all of these matters.”Individuals Charged: NoRelated DOJ Enforcement Action: YesTelefonica Brasil (May 9)See here and here for prior posts.Charges:  None (administrative order findings violations of the FCPA’s books and records and internal controls provisions)Settlement: $4.125 million civil penalty.Origin: The company previously disclosed: “The Company is currently conducting an internal investigation regarding possible violations of applicable anticorruption laws. The Company has been in contact with governmental authorities about this matter and intends to cooperate with those authorities as the investigation continues. It is not possible at this time to predict the scope or duration of this matter or its likely outcome.” The SEC order states: “Telefônica Brasil’s cooperation included timely sharing of facts developed during the course of an internal investigation by its board and voluntarily producing and translating documents.”Individuals Charged: NoRelated DOJ Enforcement Action: NoFresenius  (March 29)See here for a prior postCharges:  None (administrative order finds violations of the FCPA’s anti-bribery, books and records and internal controls provisions)Settlement: $147 millionOrigin: Voluntary disclosureIndividuals Charged: NoRelated DOJ Enforcement Action: YesMTS  (March 6)See here and here for prior postsCharges:  None (administrative finds violations of the FCPA’s anti-bribery, books and records and internal controls provisions)Settlement: $100 millionOrigin: The related Uzbekistan matters (MTS, Telia, and Vimpelcom) began with foreign media reportingIndividuals Charged: NoRelated DOJ Enforcement Action: YesCognizant Technology Solutions  (Feb. 15)See here, here and here for prior postsCharges:  None (administrative order findings violations of the FCPA’s anti-bribery, books and records and internal controls provisions)Settlement: $25 millionOrigin: Voluntary disclosureIndividuals Charged: YesRelated DOJ Enforcement Action: YesSEC Enforcement (Individual)The SEC has brought one core individual enforcement action thus far in 2019. As highlighted here, in connection with the Cognizant matter, the SEC charged Coburn and Schwartz with violating the FCPA’s anti-bribery, books and records and internal controls provisions.Other Developments or Items of InterestSecond QuarterAs highlighted here, in the long-standing Firtash et al enforcement action concerning alleged bribery in connection with Indian licenses, a judge recently denied a defense motion to dismiss and in doing so disagreed with the Second Circuit’s decision in Hoskins.As highlighted here, the DOJ secured FCPA and related convictions of Joseph Baptiste and Roger Boncy in connection with a Haitian bribery scheme.As highlighted here, in a recent decision a federal court judge stated that she was “deeply troubled” by the DOJ’s outsourcing of investigations.As highlighted here, DOJ Principal Deputy Associate Attorney General Claire McCusker Murray recently stated that “subregulatory guidance isn’t law – it’s just paper.This post discusses how the DOJ appears to be lost when it comes to resolving alleged FCPA violations by business organizations.As highlighted in this post , the DOJ released a guidance document titled “The Evaluation of Corporate Compliance Programs.” While not FCPA specific, the guidance is FCPA relevant as it is meant to assist prosecutors in making decisions for purposes of determining the appropriate form of any resolution or prosecution, money penalty, and compliance obligations contained in any corporate criminal resolution. (See here for an additional post).First QuarterAs highlighted here, the DOJ made revisions to its FCPA Corporate Enforcement Policy.As highlighted here, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission issued an enforcement advisory concerning companies and individuals “that timely and voluntarily disclose to the Division violations of the Commodity Exchange Act involving foreign corrupt practices, where the voluntary disclosure is followed by full cooperation and appropriate remediation.”The Ninth Circuit concluded in a whistleblower action that the FCPA is not a “rule or regulation” of the SEC (see here ).As highlighted here , Canada is experiencing an OECD Article 5 moment as allegations of political interference are lodged against the Prime Minister’s office for attempting to persuade prosecutors to go light on SNC-Lavalin. 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

Study finds incidence of fractures in 15 of osteoporosis patients who take

first_imgMay 4 2018Patients who take osteoporosis drugs for long periods typically are advised to temporarily discontinue the drugs to prevent rare but serious side effects to the jaw and thighs.A Loyola Medicine study has found that 15.4 percent of patients who take so-called “drug holidays” from osteoporosis drugs called bisphosphonates experienced bone fractures. During a six-year follow-up period, the yearly incidence of fractures ranged from 3.7 percent to 9.9 percent, with the most fractures occurring during the fourth and fifth years.The study by senior author Pauline Camacho, MD, and colleagues was published in the journal Endocrine Practice.Patients at high risk of fracture who take drug holidays should be closely followed, especially as the drug holiday lengthens, researchers wrote.Bisphosphonates are the most common medications prescribed for osteoporosis. The drugs slow down the breakdown of bones, helping to maintain bone density and reduce the risk of fractures.Bisphosphonates have been linked to osteonecrosis of the jaw (ONJ) and atypical femur fracture. ONJ occurs when the jawbone is exposed, typically following a dental procedure, and begins to weaken and die. An atypical femur fracture is an unusual fracture of the thigh bone that can occur even with normal weight bearing.To reduce the risk of these side effects, the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists and American College of Endocrinology recommend that women at moderate risk for osteoporosis take a drug holiday after five years of oral and three years of intravenous bisphosphonate treatment. Women at higher risk for osteoporosis should take a drug holiday after 10 years of oral and six years of intravenous bisphosphonate treatment.Related StoriesCommon antibacterial agent may be bad news for bone healthResearchers examine strains between bone and graft from animal modelsEarly exposure to antacids could put infants at risk for bone fractures during childhoodHowever, there is minimal data on how long drug holidays should last. The Loyola study was designed to further characterize the increased fracture risk in patients taking drug holidays. The retrospective study examined the records of 371 women and 30 men with osteoporosis or osteopenia who began drug holidays. (Patients with osteopenia have weak bones, but not yet osteoporosis.) The patients had taken bisphosphonates for an average of 6.3 years before beginning drug holidays. The two most frequently prescribed bisphosphonates were alendronate (Fosamax®), taken by 62 percent of patients, and risedronate (Actonel®), taken by 34 percent of patients.Sixty-two patients (15.4 percent) experienced fractures after going on drug holidays. The most common sites were the wrist, foot, ribs and spine. (Foot fractures are not currently considered osteoporotic fractures.) Those most likely to experience fractures were older and had lower bone mineral density at the beginning of the study. Following fractures, patients were put back on bisphosphonates.Drug holidays need further assessment, Dr. Camacho and colleagues wrote. “Patients who begin drug holidays at high risk for fracture based on bone mineral density, age or other clinical risk factors warrant close follow-up during the holiday, especially as its duration lengthens. Fracture risk needs to be regularly assessed during the drug holiday and treatment resumed accordingly.”Source: https://www.loyolamedicine.org/last_img read more

New noninvasive procedure to reposition kidney stones could benefit astronauts

first_img Source:https://newsroom.uw.edu/news/keeping-kidney-stones-bay-during-space-flights Jul 16 2018A new, painless, non-invasive procedure that harnesses ultrasound technology to reposition kidney stones, in an effort to offer the sufferer quick relief, will undergo testing in emergency patients.The development and assessment of the new technology is led by University of Washington and UW Medicine, in collaboration with other universities and agencies.Kidney stones are an increasingly common condition that affects 1 in 11 Americans during their lifetime. The condition is even more frequently encountered in astronauts during space missions. The hope is that the new technology could benefit astronauts as well as Earth-side patients.The approach will be tested on in local patients at UW Medicine’s Harborview Medical Center and University of Washington Medical Center Emergency Departments.Funding has been provided by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases and the Department of Defense’s Surgical Research Institute.After the invention of an ultrasound device to better detect kidney stones, engineers from the Applied Physics Laboratory at the University of Washington observed that they could accurately reposition small objects with ultrasound on a laboratory table. In conjunction with partners in the UW School of Medicine urology, emergency medicine, and radiology departments, the researchers went on to advance the technology and to use the same waves from a hand held ultrasound transducer to re-locate kidney stones in preliminary tests.The work has also led to a spin off company, SonoMotion, which is working to develop a commercial device for the same purposes of non-invasive kidney stone repositioning.Every year more than 600 people in the throes of a kidney stone episode seek emergency care at Harborview and UW Medical Center in Seattle.Kidney stones become symptomatic if they enter the urinary tract, have trouble passing, and become stuck where they can cause debilitating pain. In addition, obstruction of urine flow causes a backup. This can result in swelling of the kidney, and cramping in the ureter, thereby setting the stage for infection or further kidney damage.Because space travel makes astronauts prone to kidney stones due, in part to bone demineralization from weightlessness, they are at increased risk.The NASA evidence base and publications note that astronauts have had more than 30 instances of kidney stones within two years of space travel. Medical assistance is a formidable challenge for those orbiting this planet or heading to other solar system destinations.”For this trial we will be trying to reposition obstructing stones for our emergency department patients,” said Dr. M. Kennedy Hall, assistant professor of emergency medicine, and co-principal investigator of the study along with Dr. Hunter Wessells, professor and chair of urology, both at the UW School of Medicine.Related StoriesLow dose of endotoxin could have protective effect on men at risk of acute kidney injuryIndigestion remedy improves survival in people with late-stage CKDChronic kidney disease patients are excluded from clinical trials”Our hope is that we will be able to move stones back into patients’ kidneys.” Hall said, “This could make our patients more comfortable and allow them to deal with the kidney stone on their terms, not on the stone’s terms. An additional benefit of repositioning kidney stones is potentially avoiding unnecessary pain medications such as opioids for patients discharged from their kidney stone emergency.””We anticipate being able to reposition an acute stone to relieve pressure on the kidney. This would have the benefit of relieving suffering as well as avoiding emergent urologic intervention,” explained Wessells.Their clinical research team will test a protocol that might be carried out safely and effectively during a space mission by on-board medical responders.Michael Bailey, an ultrasound researcher at the UW Applied Physics Laboratory and one of the project leaders, emphasized, “This technology could give patients on Earth the ability to immediately return to normal life (in contrast to surgical treatments or continued, painful attempts to passing the stone). For astronauts in space, this option could save a life and allow astronauts to complete urgent mission responsibilities without having to turn the space shuttle around – a significant consideration.”Bailey mentioned a past incident where a Russian cosmonaut who seemed to be experiencing a blocking kidney stone while in space.The mission crew was preparing for emergency re-entry when it appeared that his stone finally passed.The current rendition of the ultrasound kidney stone push technology has been coined the flexible ultrasound system, or FUS, and is about the size of a lecture podium on wheels. It has a built-in imaging screen and a hand-operated device for delivering the waves through the surface of the body.If trials on Earth are successful, NASA would likely plan to fly the ultrasound system in future missions, including longer duration human explorations of Mars.In addition to Hall, Wessells and Bailey, the research team includes: Drs. Jonathan Harper and Mathew Sorensen from the Department of Urology, and Dr. Martin Gunn from the Department of Radiology, all UW Medicine physicians.Many others including staff and students at the UW Applied Physics Laboratory, investigators at the Surgical Outcomes Research Center in the Department of Surgery, the UW Medicine Institute of Translational Health Sciences, the UW CoMotion innovation hub collaborators from several other universities, UW Medicine residents, and many others are also contributing to the technology development, research, testing and assessment.last_img read more

One more question Dr Frieden Thirteen things wed like CDC to tell

first_imgQ: The World Health Organization has raised the possibility that Ebola could become endemic in West Africa. If that happens, how should the United States deal with people traveling from these countries in the future? Q: Does the patient or his family members have an idea about how he got infected? Q: How many health care workers and how many others came into contact with the patient before he was isolated? 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 At a press conference Tuesday afternoon, Tom Frieden, the director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), announced the first case of Ebola from the current epidemic that was diagnosed outside of Africa. The patient arrived in Dallas, Texas, on 20 September to visit relatives. Until today, the handful of people with Ebola in the United States were all diagnosed in Africa, carefully transported, and immediately provided with care in isolation units at hospitals.The new patient had his temperature taken before boarding the flight out of Liberia on 19 September, U.S. officials say, and had no disease symptoms at the time. He first started feeling ill on 24 September, sought medical care 2 days later, and was hospitalized on 28 September. Labs at CDC and the Texas Department of State Health Services both reported that his blood tested positive today for the Ebola strain circulating in West Africa.Two ScienceInsider reporters called in to the press conference, but there was so much interest from the media that they did not get a chance to ask a question. Here, however, are some of the questions they would like to have asked. Q: Dr. Frieden, it sounds like the patient wasn’t tested for Ebola when he first sought medical care, on 26 September, even though he had just arrived from a country with an Ebola epidemic. Why not? Did the health care provider who saw him know he had arrived from Liberia 6 days earlier? Q: Does the government have any legal authority to force potential contacts to cooperate if they don’t want to? Are they free to travel? Q: You said the patient’s contacts are now being monitored. Can you give some details about this? Does it include going to their homes and taking their temperature daily? Or do you communicate with them by electronic means, such as phone calls, text messages, and e-mails? Q: Are contacts being told to isolate themselves from their friends and family while they are being monitored? Q: What is the estimated number of people entering the United States each week who have recently been in one of the countries affected by the epidemic?center_img Email Q: One more question, Dr. Frieden. The United States is paying a lot of attention to this single case right now. Do you think that will increase the amount of money and number of people the United States is willing to dedicate to containing the outbreak in West Africa?*The Ebola Files: Given the current Ebola outbreak, unprecedented in terms of number of people killed and rapid geographic spread, Science and Science Translational Medicine have made a collection of research and news articles on the viral disease freely available to researchers and the general public. Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country Q: Virologist Heinz Feldmann has described procedures at the airport in Monrovia as a “disaster” and said it was the most dangerous situation he encountered during his visit to Liberia. Could the patient have become infected at the airport? Is that possibility being investigated? Q: The number of Ebola cases is roughly doubling every 3 weeks; CDC’s own worst case-scenario says there may be as many as 1.4 million patients by 20 January. Should the United States and other countries prepare to see imported cases on a regular basis? Q: Has the house where the patient was staying been disinfected, and if so, how exactly? Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Q: What experimental therapies are available now for the patient, should he want to use them? Would you recommend anything specific?last_img read more

2014 is on track to be warmest year yet Five images that

first_imgIn Lima today, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) announced that 2014 is on track to be the warmest year on record. The following are five charts that explain the data thus far.1. 2014’s warming trend has occurred across the globe, throughout the year.We’re talking about January to October, which WMO customarily discusses in November. (It is expected to finalize its 2014 report early in 2015.) WMO didn’t produce a global temperature map, so here’s one from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA): This observation is “the only significant one” in 2014 temperature data, writes climate scientist James Hansen of Columbia University in an e-mail to ScienceInsider. “The reason that the ocean continues to warm is that Earth is out of energy balance,” Hansen writes. “There is more energy coming in than going out.”4. and 5. Colder-than-normal temperatures in the eastern United States may be a new feature of global warming. California and other states in the western United States have set records for high temperatures in 2014, driving an historic drought. But in the central and eastern United States, cold has been the notable development, Arndt says. “We’ve had much cooler than normal conditions in the central U.S.”The cooler-than-usual temperatures are represented by the big blue blob on the world map below (that’s Florida peeking out at the lower right of the blob), provided by atmospheric scientist Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University, New Brunswick, using NOAA data. Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) 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 Zimbabwe Red means above the 1981 to 2010 average, and blue means below.According to WMO, global average temperatures in the first 10 months of 2014 reached 14.57°C. If that average holds, 2014 will be the warmest year on record (although with an error of +/- 0.10°C, 2014 is basically in a statistical tie with several other record years). The above-average warming has been in every ocean and spread across the planet.Some months this year, including June and October, have set global records outright for average air temperature, says Derek Arndt, chief of the Climate Monitoring Branch of the National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, North Carolina. “The monthly anomalies broke records above the error bars,” he says. “This is very, very unusual.”Whether the 2014 record, if confirmed, means the end of the so-called warming hiatus is unclear, WMO’s Michel Jarraud told reporters this morning during a teleconference. The hiatus, which began in about 1998, has been typified by a slower rate of increase in average air temperatures than in previous decades.2. Warming oceans are driving record air temperatures. The red line on this chart plots 3-month averages of ocean heat content. It shows a record warming spell earlier this year, which continues to drive up the 5-year average of heat content, shown in blue.center_img And Francis also provided a chart—again using NOAA data—showing that, in the eastern United States, January to September has been one of the coldest such periods since the 1950s. 3. It’s been a weak El Niño year, which only makes 2014’s warming all the more notable.Three of the four warmest years since 1900 have been years with El Niño—the phenomenon in which warm water from the western side of the equatorial Pacific sloshes east, increasing global temperatures. Forecasters expected 2014 to be a strong year for El Niño. But it wasn’t, according to dynamicist Kevin Trenberth of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado. Instead, the globe experienced a weak El Niño (the gray bars in the graph below). Still, warming reached record levels. Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country Francis has hypothesized that the warming Arctic is altering global circulation patterns, which could make the warm west–cold east pattern more common. (Other scientists, however, dispute some of her ideas.)Meanwhile, most researchers believe that ever warmer years will become routine as humans pump more carbon dioxide and other warming gases into the atmosphere.last_img read more

Dying sun caught tearing apart its own asteroids

first_img Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe Email Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*)center_img The Kepler Space Telescope has detected disintegrating asteroids orbiting a white dwarf, the type of burned-out star our sun will become about 8 billion years from now. The discovery explains why some white dwarfs have heavy elements on their surfaces and also gives us a possible preview of Earth’s grisly fate.”It’s really amazing,” says Jay Holberg, an astronomer at the University of Arizona in Tucson, who was not involved in the discovery. “We’ve never seen this before for a white dwarf.”A typical white dwarf is nearly as massive as the sun but only slightly larger than Earth, so the star exerts a strong gravitational pull at its surface: Drop a rock from a height of 1 meter and it would hit the star at thousands of kilometers per hour. The strong gravitational force should also yank all elements heavier than helium beneath the star’s surface, yet the surfaces of many white dwarfs nevertheless possess heavy elements, suggesting that asteroids deposit elements such as silicon and iron. Now, for the first time, researchers have seen this scenario unfold. Andrew Vanderburg, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, was analyzing data from Kepler, which detects planets when they block the light of their sun. “One of the white dwarfs suddenly popped up with this really intriguing signature,” Vanderburg says. As his team reports online today in Nature, the white dwarf, located in the constellation Virgo and named WD 1145+017, has at least one, and probably several, asteroids that are disintegrating. As a debris cloud from each asteroid passes between us and the star, Kepler detects a dimming of the star’s light.”It’s fascinating,” says astronomer Michael Jura of the University of California, Los Angeles, who was not part of the discovery team. “They’ve actually caught in the act the process of some asteroid breaking into pieces, being disrupted by the white dwarf host star.”Indeed, the star itself is the asteroids’ enemy. Its gravity has torn them asunder, and its light is vaporizing their rock. The asteroids are so close to the star that they revolve in just 4.5 to 4.9 hours; Vanderburg estimates they are roughly the size of Ceres, the largest asteroid between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter.Billions of years from now, our sun will expand into a red giant, engulfing and incinerating Mercury and possibly Venus and Earth. Then the red sun will eject its outer layers and expose its hot core, which will contract into a white dwarf. Even if the sun never engulfs Earth, the drama may destabilize orbits in the solar system so that asteroids crash into our world and grind it up. Thus, the newly discovered asteroids could conceivably be the wreckage of a planet that once resembled our own.last_img read more

Gravitational waves Einsteins ripples in spacetime spotted for first time

first_imgOther stellar explosions called gamma-ray bursts can also briefly outshine the stars, but the explosive black-hole merger sets a mind-bending record, says Kip Thorne, a gravitational theorist at Caltech who played a leading role in LIGO’s development. “It is by far the most powerful explosion humans have ever detected except for the big bang,” he says.For 5 months, LIGO physicists struggled to keep a lid on their pupating discovery. Ordinarily, most team members would not have known whether the signal was real. LIGO regularly salts its data readings with secret false signals called “blind injections” to test the equipment and keep researchers on their toes. But on 14 September 2015, that blind injection system was not running. Physicists had only recently completed a 5-year, $205 million upgrade of the machines, and several systems—including the injection system—were still offline as the team wound up a preliminary “engineering run.” As a result, the whole collaboration knew that the observation was likely real. “I was convinced that day,” González says.Still, LIGO physicists had to rule out every alternative, including the possibility that the reading was a malicious hoax. “We spent about a month looking at the ways that somebody could spoof a signal,” Reitze says, before deciding it was impossible. For González, making the checks “was a heavy responsibility,” she says. “This was the first detection of gravitational waves, so there was no room for a mistake.”Proving that gravitational waves exist may not be LIGO’s most important legacy, as there has been compelling indirect evidence for them. In 1974, U.S. astronomers Russell Hulse and Joseph Taylor discovered a pair of radio-emitting neutron stars called pulsars orbiting each other. By timing the pulsars, Taylor and colleague Joel Weisberg demonstrated that they are very slowly spiraling toward each other—as they should if they’re radiating gravitational waves.It is by far the most powerful explosion humans have ever detected except for the big bang.Kip ThorneIt is the prospect of the science that might be done with gravitational waves that really excites physicists. For example, says Kamionkowski, the theorist at Johns Hopkins, the first LIGO result shows the power of such radiation to reveal unseen astrophysical objects like the two ill-fated black holes. “This opens a new window on this vast population of stellar remnants that we know are out there but of which we have seen only a tiny fraction,” he says.The observation also paves the way for testing general relativity as never before, Kamionkowski says. Until now, physicists have studied gravity only in conditions where the force is relatively weak. By studying gravitational waves, they can now explore extreme conditions in which the energy in an object’s gravitational field accounts for most or all of its mass—the realm of strong gravity so far explored by theorists alone. The LIGO facility in Livingston, Louisiana, has a twin in Hanford, Washington. Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe Email Albert Einstein predicted the existence of gravitational waves 100 years ago, but directly detecting them required mind-boggling technological prowess and a history of hunting. (See a timeline below of the history of the search for gravitational waves.) LIGO researchers sensed a wave that stretched space by one part in 1021, making the entire Earth expand and contract by 1/100,000 of a nanometer, about the width of an atomic nucleus. The observation tests Einstein’s theory of gravity, the general theory of relativity, with unprecedented rigor and provides proof positive that black holes exist. “It will win a Nobel Prize,” says Marc Kamionkowski, a theorist at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland.LIGO watches for a minuscule stretching of space with what amounts to ultraprecise rulers: two L-shaped contraptions called interferometers with arms 4 kilometers long. Mirrors at the ends of each arm form a long “resonant cavity,” in which laser light of a precise wavelength bounces back and forth, resonating just as sound of a specific pitch rings in an organ pipe. Where the arms meet, the two beams can overlap. If they have traveled different distances along the arms, their waves will wind up out of step and interfere with each other. That will cause some of the light to warble out through an exit called a dark port in synchrony with undulations of the wave.From the interference, researchers can compare the relative lengths of the two arms to within 1/10,000 the width of a proton—enough sensitivity to see a passing gravitational wave as it stretches the arms by different amounts. To spot such tiny displacements, however, scientists must damp out vibrations such as the rumble of seismic waves, the thrum of traffic, and the crashing of waves on distant coastlines. Rainer Weiss at the New York Science Fair. V. Altounian/Science Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Matt Weber Long ago, deep in space, two massive black holes—the ultrastrong gravitational fields left behind by gigantic stars that collapsed to infinitesimal points—slowly drew together. The stellar ghosts spiraled ever closer, until, about 1.3 billion years ago, they whirled about each other at half the speed of light and finally merged. The collision sent a shudder through the universe: ripples in the fabric of space and time called gravitational waves. Five months ago, they washed past Earth. And, for the first time, physicists detected the waves, fulfilling a 4-decade quest and opening new eyes on the heavens.Here’s the first person to spot those gravitational waves © ATMOSPHERE AERIAL On 14 September 2015, at 9:50:45 universal time—4:50 a.m. in Louisiana and 2:50 a.m. in Washington—LIGO’s automated systems detected just such a signal. The oscillation emerged at a frequency of 35 cycles per second, or Hertz, and sped up to 250 Hz before disappearing 0.25 seconds later. The increasing frequency, or chirp, jibes with two massive bodies spiraling into each other. The 0.007-second delay between the signals in Louisiana and Washington is the right timing for a light-speed wave zipping across both detectors.The signal exceeds the “five-sigma” standard of statistical significance that physicists use to claim a discovery, LIGO researchers report in a paper scheduled to be published in Physical Review Letters to coincide with the press conference. It’s so strong it can be seen in the raw data, says Gabriela González, a physicist at Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, and spokesperson for the LIGO scientific collaboration. “If you filter the data, the signal is obvious to the eye,” she says.Comparison with computer simulations reveals that the wave came from two objects 29 and 36 times as massive as the sun spiraling to within 210 kilometers of each other before merging. Only a black hole—which is made of pure gravitational energy and gets its mass through Einstein’s famous equation E=mc2—can pack so much mass into so little space, says Bruce Allen, a LIGO member at the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics in Hanover, Germany. The observation provides the first evidence for black holes that does not depend on watching hot gas or stars swirl around them at far greater distances. “Before, you could argue in principle whether or not black holes exist,” Allen says. “Now you can’t.”The collision produced an astounding, invisible explosion. Modeling shows that the final black hole totals 62 solar masses—3 solar masses less than the sum of the initial black holes. The missing mass vanished in gravitational radiation—a conversion of mass to energy that makes an atomic bomb look like a spark. “For a tenth of a second [the collision] shines brighter than all of the stars in all the galaxies,” Allen says. “But only in gravitational waves.” The discovery marks a triumph for the 1000 physicists with the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO), a pair of gigantic instruments in Hanford, Washington, and Livingston, Louisiana. Rumors of the detection had circulated for months. Today, at a press conference in Washington, D.C., the LIGO team made it official. “We did it!” says David Reitze, a physicist and LIGO executive director at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Pasadena. “All the rumors swirling around out there got most of it right.” Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country With the black hole merger, general relativity has passed the first such test, says Rainer Weiss, a physicist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, who came up with the original idea for LIGO. “The things you calculate from Einstein’s theory look exactly like the signal,” he says. “To me, that’s a miracle.”The detection of gravitational waves marks the culmination of a decades-long quest that began in 1972, when Weiss wrote a paper outlining the basic design of LIGO. In 1979, the National Science Foundation funded research and development work at both MIT and Caltech, and LIGO construction began in 1994. The $272 million instruments started taking data in 2001, although it was not until the upgrade that physicists expected a signal.If LIGO’s discovery merits a Nobel Prize, who should receive it? Scientists say Weiss is a shoo-in, but he demurs. “I don’t like to think of it,” he says. “If it wins a Nobel Prize, it shouldn’t be for the detection of gravitational waves. Hulse and Taylor did that.” Many researchers say other worthy recipients would include Ronald Drever, the first director of the project at Caltech who made key contributions to LIGO’s design, and Thorne, the Caltech theorist who championed the project. Thorne also objects. “The people who really deserve the credit are the experimenters who pulled this off, starting with Rai and Ron,” he says.Meanwhile, other detections may come quickly. LIGO researchers are still analyzing data from their first observing run with their upgraded detectors, which ended 12 January, and they plan to start taking data again in July. A team in Italy hopes to turn on its rebuilt VIRGO detector—an interferometer with 3-kilometer arms—later this year. Physicists eagerly await the next wave.See more of Science’s coverage of gravitational waves.From prediction to reality: a history of the search for gravitational waves1915 – Albert Einstein publishes general theory of relativity, explains gravity as the warping of spacetime by mass or energy1916 – Einstein predicts massive objects whirling in certain ways will cause spacetime ripples—gravitational waves1936 – Einstein has second thoughts and argues in a manuscript that the waves don’t exist—until reviewer points out a mistake1962 – Russian physicists M. E. Gertsenshtein and V. I. Pustovoit publish paper sketch optical method for detecting gravitationalwaves—to no notice1969 – Physicist Joseph Weber claims gravitational wave detection using massive aluminum cylinders—replication efforts fail1972 – Rainer Weiss of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge independently proposes optical method for detecting waves1974 – Astronomers discover pulsar orbiting a neutron star that appears to be slowing down due to gravitational radiation—work that later earns them a Nobel Prize1979 – National Science Foundation (NSF) funds California Institute of Technology in Pasadena and MIT to develop design for LIGO1990 – NSF agrees to fund $250 million LIGO experiment1992 – Sites in Washington and Louisiana selected for LIGO facilities; construction starts 2 years later1995 – Construction starts on GEO600 gravitational wave detector in Germany, which partners with LIGO and starts taking data in 20021996 – Construction starts on VIRGO gravitational wave detector in Italy, which starts taking data in 20072002–2010 – Runs of initial LIGO—no detection of gravitational waves2007 – LIGO and VIRGO teams agree to share data, forming a single global network of gravitational wave detectors2010–2015 – $205 million upgrade of LIGO detectors2015 – Advanced LIGO begins initial detection runs in September2016 – On 11 February, NSF and LIGO team announce successful detection of gravitational waveslast_img read more

Tiny snail takes flight underwater

first_imgThis tiny snail looks like just a colored dot in the ocean, but under a microscope the reason for its name, “sea butterfly,” becomes clear.  Most snails move by pushing a muscular foot against the sea bottom. But the “foot” of this snail, Limacina helicina, has evolved into two flapping appendages that deserve to be called wings, researchers report this week. Usually, the snail is quite hard to find, but its populations boom during a few weeks each year. And its size varies: The snails grow to just 4 millimeters long in the north Pacific, but reach 14 millimeters off Antarctica. It moves up and down the water column quite fast for such a small creature. To find out how, researchers trained four high-speed video cameras on one 1.5-cubic-centimeter spot in a saltwater aquarium containing some of the smaller snails. They added lots of microscopic reflecting particles and used a laser to make the particles visible. Then they waited, hoping a snail would swim into view. Three snails did, providing the team with a close-up, slow-motion look at how they moved and stirred the surrounding water. Most sea-going microorganisms use their appendages as paddles to push against what feels to them like a thick stew. But the sea butterfly “flies” (see video), generating lift by rotating its wings and body in a figure 8, almost clapping the wings together at the top of the stroke—just like a small flying insect, the team reported in the Journal of Experimental Biology. Some of the researchers are now testing whether the larger Antarctic snails swim the same way, and one is trying to build a flying robot that mimics the mollusk’s efficient technique.last_img read more

Lowcost solar cells poised for commercial breakthrough

first_img Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country Linda A. Cicero / Stanford News At the MRS meeting, Michael McGehee, a materials scientist at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, reported that by growing a perovskite on silicon, he and his colleagues had created a tandem cell with an efficiency of 23.6%, better than the efficiencies of either component. Another group led by Christophe Ballif of the Federal Polytechnic School of Lausanne in Neuchâtel, Switzerland, reported in July that a silicon-perovskite tandem with a more complex architecture had reached an efficiency of 25.2%.Tandems are likely to continue improving for years. Researchers have yet to build in all the finer tricks of the trade, such as optimizing the electricity-carrying layers in the cells and adding coatings that minimize surface reflections. Even with current perovskite materials, over the next couple years silicon-perovskite tandems could reach efficiencies of 30%, McGehee predicts. At that threshold, says Henry Snaith, a physicist at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom, solar companies will start to add perovskites into their commercial panels, driving further improvements in the materials that could ultimately help them supplant silicon altogether.At the MRS meeting, some researchers foreshadowed that day. Giles Eperon, a materials scientist at the University of Washington in Seattle, explained that when getting his Ph.D. at Oxford, he made a perovskite that strongly absorbs reddish light—the wavelengths that silicon has specialized in. Partnering with McGehee’s group, Eperon layered his red absorber on top of a more standard blue absorber, achieving an efficiency of 20.3% in a pure perovskite tandem. Although not yet as good as perovskite-silicon tandems, the perovskite components in the cells are still rapidly improving, whereas silicon has flatlined.For all their gains in efficiency, perovskites have faced lingering problems. Water vapor, high temperatures, or even prolonged sun exposure can dissolve or degrade perovskites within hours. But at the MRS meeting, McGehee reported exceptional stability for new perovskite recipes that replace an organic component called methylammonium with formamidinium or the element cesium. When encapsulated to protect them from moisture, these cells showed no sign of degradation for 6 weeks, even when exposed to temperatures of 85°C and a relative humidity of 85%, a standard test of durability. “Panels that pass it usually will not fail due to heat and humidity over 25 years outside,” McGehee says.Others are reporting improvements in manufacturing commercial-sized cells rather than the small, bespoke crystals used for setting records. Christopher Case, the chief technology officer for Oxford Photovoltaics (Oxford PV) in the United Kingdom, a perovskite solar cell company launched by Snaith, says the company has scaled up the postage stamp–sized research cells to ones that are 10 centimeters square and that have passed industry durability standards. Last month, the company acquired a former photovoltaic pilot facility in Germany. It is now gearing up to produce perovskite cells atop full-sized commercial silicon wafers, 15 centimeters on a side, Case says. Oxford PV also recently announced that they raised an additional £26 million ($33 million) over the last 18 months from investors, and Case says the company has inked partnerships with several of the top 10 silicon solar cell producers to investigate adding perovskites to their cells. If all goes well, he says, the first pilot products could appear in 2018.That leaves safety as the major outstanding roadblock to commercialization. The most efficient perovskites contain a highly soluble form of lead, a dangerous neurotoxin that could leach into homes, soil, or groundwater if the cells degrade. Babayigit says there are potential solutions, such as encapsulating the perovskite in protective shells or adding sulfides around the cell, which would bind and quarantine any lead that managed to escape. For now, she says, “it’s a heavily underresearched field that needs attention.” Given how quickly perovskites are moving to market, it’s a safe bet that someone will soon take on the project.For more related coverage visit our topic page on energy. By Robert F. ServiceDec. 7, 2016 , 8:00 AM 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 Tandems, which combine cells optimized to capture different parts of the solar spectrum, can do even better. Silicon, for instance, preferentially absorbs reddish light, whereas perovskites tend to soak up blue and green photons. Slapping a perovskite cell on top of silicon need not cost much because the ingredients are dirt cheap, and the crystals can be grown easily at low temperatures. Tandems also allow perovskites to piggyback on the entrenched silicon industry. Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Low-cost solar cells poised for commercial breakthrough Email Cheap materials called perovskites are insinuating themselves into silicon solar cells—a first step toward ultimately usurping the reigning cell material. Last week, at a meeting here of the Materials Research Society (MRS), researchers announced that “tandem” cells, in which perovskites are layered on top of silicon and other photovoltaic materials, have achieved record-setting efficiencies at turning sunlight into electricity. Now, researchers are moving fast to surmount the lack of durability and other problems that have hindered the commercialization of perovskites.“I think perovskites are going to make it to market,” says Aslihan Babayigit, a perovskite researcher at Hasselt University in Diepenbeek, Belgium. The progress has been “amazing,” adds David Cahen, a materials scientist at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel. “Even if all the problems are not solved, most look solvable.”Known since the 1830s, perovskites are a class of crystals with a common 3D structure. It wasn’t until 2009 that researchers in Japan first realized their potential as a photovoltaic material. The first perovskite devices converted only 3.8% of light energy into electricity, far less than crystalline silicon, today’s dominant commercial technology, which tops out at 25.3% efficiency for the best research cells. (Commercial cells usually vary between 16%–20%.) But researchers tinkered with their perovskite recipes, and the efficiencies of the cells quickly skyrocketed. The record now stands at 22.1%, demonstrated earlier this year by researchers in South Korea. Stronger together By stacking perovskite solar cells in tandem with others, researchers are nearing the record efficiency of single crystal silicon, the industry’s commercial standard. Two-terminal (2T) devices layer the materials into a single cell; four-terminal (4T) devices stack together two electrically independent cells. Michael McGehee (right), a materials scientist at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, examines a tandem perovskite cell.  C. Aycock/Science; Michael McGehee, Stanford Univ. last_img read more

Does your state get its fair share of federal research dollars

first_img Connecticut 14.95 Oklahoma 7.57 The only physicist in Congress has introduced a bill (H.R. 3763) that could rekindle a debate over how to deal with geographic disparities in the allocation of federal research funding.Last month, Representative Bill Foster (D–IL) proposed changing the formula that the National Science Foundation (NSF) uses for the Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR). It’s the flagship program for a half-billion-dollar-a-year federal effort to help states and U.S. territories whose scientists receive relatively little federal support.The long-running EPSCoR programs—four other major nondefense research agencies have their own versions—set aside money for which researchers in “have not” states can compete. A state’s eligibility is based on the amount of research funding it receives. NSF, for example, deems a state eligible if it receives no more than 0.75% of the agency’s overall annual research budget (some $6 billion in 2016); other agencies have slightly different formulas (see below). Overall, roughly half the states in the nation and several U.S. territories are eligible under the various rules.  Virgin Islands 0.06 Maine 0.38 Georgia 10.67 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 Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Kentucky 0.38 Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country Kentucky 4.76 Iowa 15.46 South Carolina 0.60 Alabama 0.45 New Jersey 13.77 Pushback from criticsSupporters of EPSCoR don’t believe the current system is broken, however, and they say Foster’s approach would move the program away from its goal of leveling the playing field. Not only would it starve small states of money to improve their research capacity, they say, it would also benefit large states with little need for a helping hand from the government.“The current roster of 25 NSF EPSCoR states and three territories together receive only one-tenth of NSF’s research budget,” says Christopher Lawson, a physicist at the University of Alabama in Birmingham, who also leads the state’s EPSCoR program. “The whole point of EPSCoR was to avoid such an undue geographic concentration of research resources.”A new formula also could have a profound effect on the nation’s ability to train the next generation of scientists, he warns. “There are lots of bright students in those [current EPSCoR] states,” Lawson says, “and EPSCoR provides them with research opportunities that they otherwise might not have. For big states, EPSCoR funding would be just a drop in the bucket,” he adds. “But for small states, the money can make a huge difference.” West Virginia 0.23 Arkansas 4.93 Kansas 0.52 North Dakota 0.18 North Dakota 12.95 By Jeffrey MervisOct. 5, 2017 , 1:00 PM Vermont 0.19 Rhode Island 0.75 New Hampshire 0.59 A program spreadsNSF began EPSCoR in 1979, after legislators complained that the agency’s regular grantsmaking process favored large states on the east and west coasts. Congress liked the concept so much that by 1993 it had created EPSCoR-type programs at four other agencies—NASA, the Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Department of Energy (DOE), and the National Institutes of Health (NIH).NIH’s Institutional Development Award (IDeA) program is by far the largest in dollar amount: At $320 million, it’s twice the size of NSF’s EPSCoR. USDA spends $56 million on its program, and NASA and DOE invest roughly one-third of that amount.The number of participating states varies slightly by agency and can fluctuate over time. NASA and DOE follow NSF’s rules, meaning a state’s eligibility is based on how much NSF funding it receives.USDA adopted its own formula, which deems eligible researchers in any state that falls below the 38th percentile of funding awarded through its Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI). The EPSCoR money is part of a 15% set-aside within AFRI, a $375 million competitive grants program, and scientists in 19 states and six territories are eligible to compete for it.NIH also uses its own funding history to decide which states qualify for IDeA. But that formula is in flux.NIH initially adopted two criteria—states qualified if they had an applicant success rate of less than 20% or annual funding of less than $120 million. But after success rates began plunging in the mid-2000s, NIH officials calculated that most of the country—47 states and jurisdictions—would soon be eligible. So, in 2008, NIH froze participation at the then-current lineup of 23 states and Puerto Rico. More recently, however, NIH has told lawmakers it is weighing a move toward a simpler criterion: namely, to include every state that receives less than the median amount of total NIH funding. A new look for EPSCoR? Legislation that would require the National Science Foundation to use per-capita rather than overall funding would reshuffle the lineup of eligible states. Puerto Rico 1.71 Nevada 0.32 Does your state get its fair share of federal research dollars? Nebraska 13.81 Under per-capita system Ohio 8.70 Assuming cutoff is below NSF-wide average of $16.92. (Italicized states ineligible under current system.) $ per person Mississippi 0.25 Guam 0.01 Alaska 0.52 Louisiana 0.54 South Dakota 14.83 Oklahoma 0.54center_img Guam 4.98 Wisconsin 16.79 Nevada 5.91 Hawaii 0.55 Florida 6.79 Puerto Rico 0.11 North Carolina 14.49 Minnesota 15.21 Louisiana 6.34 States receiving 0.75% or less of total NSF funding. (Italicized states would be ineligible under proposed per-capita system.) % of NSF research funds Arkansas 0.27 West Virginia 7.09 Alabama 5.14 Broad support, but questionsEPSCoR enjoys widespread support in Congress, especially among senators. In fact, Foster blames what he calls the current “insane” eligibility standards on the fact that every state has equal representation in that body. “That leads to all sorts of bad policies, and results in a huge transfer of wealth from large states to small states,” he fumes.But that support doesn’t mean legislators don’t have questions about EPSCoR. In 2010, Congress ordered up an evaluation of EPSCoR by the National Research Council, the operating arm of what is now the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The panel concluded in 2013 that EPSCoR has benefited the nation, but said there’s insufficient data for a rigorous assessment. But it did analyze what EPSCoR would look like using per-capita as the basis for eligibility and found that there would be a significant shift in the program’s roster of participating states.However, the report straddles the line on whether such a change would benefit or harm the country’s research enterprise. It says current criteria “are not well suited to identify the states where the greater need and opportunity exists” and calls per-capita “a more sensible eligibility criterion than total funding.” But in the same sentence, it says “it is not recommending that this be the sole criterion.” Instead, it urges federal agencies to adopt new criteria that could include population, success rates, total funding, financial need, and a state’s commitment to research.NSF has no plans to change the current eligibility formula, says NSF Director France Córdova in Alexandria, Virginia. “Congress loves EPSCoR and a lot of people like it the way it is,” she says. Córdova says her priority is making sure that the research funded through the EPSCoR program matches the quality of the proposals that go through NSF’s regular peer-review process.In 2015, Foster took a more heavy-handed approach to the issue by offering an amendment to kill funding for NSF EPSCoR. It was defeated despite winning a significant amount of bipartisan support. Foster says parliamentary rules prevented him from offering to change the eligibility formula at the time, which was his real target, and that the new bill, only eight lines long, is narrowly crafted to do just that.So far, Representative Frank Lobiondo (R–NJ) is the only legislator who’s signed onto Foster’s bill, dubbed the Smarter EPSCoR Act. It has been referred to the science committee in the House of Representatives, whose chairman, Representative Lamar Smith (R–TX), hails from a state that would likely benefit from the change.Foster doesn’t care whether Illinois would also benefit. “I’m not doing this to get something for Illinois,” he says. “It’s unlikely to be designated an EPSCoR state [given that the Academies study placed it on the bubble]. I’m doing it to get better science policy.”EPSCoR’s supporters say it already fits that description. “It’s really hard to move your state up the list if it’s near the bottom,” says Lawrence Cornett, vice chancellor for research at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock and president of the EPSCoR Foundation, an advocacy group based in Washington, D.C. “And I think most people would agree that it’s good for the country to support research in every state, not just where it’s already doing well. And that’s what EPSCoR is trying to do.” Mississippi 4.56 By the numbers Determining eligibility for EPSCoR at the National Science Foundation (NSF). CREDITS: (GRAPHIC) G. Grullón/Science; (DATA) Congressional Research Service/NSF/U.S. Census Bureau Nebraska 0.48 Email Foster, however, wants NSF to change its eligibility formula to focus on the per-capita research dollars a state receives, arguing that it would more accurately reflect a state’s relative ranking. Under Foster’s approach, a number of large states not on the current EPSCoR list—including Texas, Florida, Ohio, and Georgia—would become eligible, whereas a number of currently eligible, smaller states—including Vermont, Montana, Alaska, and Delaware—would be excluded (see maps, below).“I’m not opposed to the idea of helping regions that are struggling to get a reasonable fraction of federal research spending,” Foster says. “But what we have now is a completely distorted allocation mechanism for defining what it means to get your fair share.” Missouri 7.79 Texas 7.95 Maine 15.64 Kansas 9.86 Idaho 11.04 South Dakota 0.23 New Mexico 0.66 Wyoming 0.25 Montana 0.34 Idaho 0.34 Tennessee 7.43 Representative Bill Foster (D–IL) wants to change how federal research agencies decide which states are “have nots” when it comes to funding. Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call/Newscom Washington 15.39 Oregon 15.39 Under current rules South Carolina 6.64 Delaware 0.53last_img read more