Is The Current Foreign Official Enforcement Theory Unconstitutional

first_imgAs readers no doubt know, in May 2014 the 11th Circuit issued a decision of first impression for an appellate court on the issue of whether employees of alleged state-owned or state-controlled entities are “foreign officials” under the FCPA.This prior post contains numerous links to other posts regarding the decision.In short, in U.S. v. Esquenazi, the 11th Circuit concluded as follows.“An ‘instrumentality’ [under the FCPA] is an entity controlled by the government of a foreign country that performs a function the controlling government treats as its own. Certainly, what constitutes control and what constitutes a function the government treats as its own are fact-bound questions. It would be unwise and likely impossible to exhaustively answer them in the abstract. […] [W]e do not purport to list all of the factors that might prove relevant to deciding whether an entity is an instrumentality of a foreign government. For today, we provide a list of some factors that may be relevant to deciding the issue.To decide if the government ‘controls’ an entity, courts and juries should look to the foreign government’s formal designation of that entity; whether the government has a majority interest in the entity; the government’s ability to hire and fire the entity’s principals; the extent to which the entity’s profits, if any, go directly into the governmental fisc, and, by the same token, the extent to which the government funds the entity if it fails to break even; and the length of time these indicia have existed.[…]We then turn to the second element relevant to deciding if an entity is an instrumentality of a foreign government under the FCPA — deciding if the entity performs a function the government treats as its own. Courts and juries should examine whether the entity has a monopoly over the function it exists to carry out; whether the government subsidizes the costs associated with the entity providing services; whether the entity provides services to the public at large in the foreign country; and whether the public and the government of that foreign country generally perceive the entity to be performing a governmental function.”As evident from the 11th Circuit’s ruling, a key element of a U.S. federal law will often be dependent on foreign law or foreign government circumstances or characterization of an alleged SOE.Indeed, as noted in this prior post, the meaning of foreign official thus can have 193 meanings (by most measures, the number of countries in the world).  As noted in the prior post, a significant irony of the 11th Circuit’s resort to foreign characterization and treatment of a seemingly commercial enterprise is that the DOJ itself has rejected this approach in issuing opinions under the FCPA Opinion Procedure program. (See Release 94-01).The 11th Circuit itself recognized that its control and function test could raise constitutional vagueness concerns.  As stated by the court, it can be a “difficult task – involving divining subjective intentions of a foreign sovereign, parsing history, and interpreting significant amounts of foreign law – to decide what functions a foreign government considers core and traditional.”  Moreover, the 11th Circuit recognized ”there may be entities near the definitional line for ‘instrumentality’ that may raise a vagueness concern.”The above is relevant background in discussing a recent article – outside the FCPA context – but with clear FCPA implications given the above background.In “The Dynamic Incorporation of Foreign Law and the Constitutional Regulation of Federal Lawmaking,” Paul Larkin argues that “the prospect that the United States would grant a foreign government the legal authority to govern the people of this nation is absurd.”  Stated differently, Larkin notes:“Congress’s decision to authorize foreign government and foreign officials to define the content of a domestic law raises legal issues residing at the core of any analysis of how the federal government may govern […]”According to Larkin, such circumstances are unconstitutional “because it vests domestic federal lawmaking in foreign governments and their officials.”Larkin then discusses several “problems posed by vesting absolute lawmaking power to define federal criminal law in the hands of foreign officials who may be used to governing in a foreign system for people who may live in a culture with vastly different legal and social expectations.”Among the problems are the following:“It is wholly unrealistic to assume that Americans know foreign law.  Foreign codes may not always reflect American law or morals, so there is no justification for presuming that domestic residents will know foreign laws by heart.”“Finding foreign law may also be difficult.  Foreign nations may not make all of their laws public, whether in printed code accessible in a domestic library or via the Internet.”“Other nations may grant their departments similar rulemaking power [to U.S. agencies] but their agencies may not publish regulations in their version of the Federal Register or Code of Federal Regulations (assuming that they have one at all).”“A foreign law must be identifiable as a ‘law.’  Yet, foreign nations may define their ‘law’ to embrace edicts with no parallel or counterpart in our legal system.”Larkin’s article raises interesting parallel issues concerning the current “foreign official” enforcement theory.Moreover, the issues raised in Larkin’s article are not merely hypothetical in the FCPA context.  As noted in this prior post, several of the issues Larkin identified were disputed in the SEC’s failed case against Mark Jackson and James Ruehlen regarding Nigerian law relevant to temporary importation permits.last_img read more

Lets All Take A Deep Breath Gaps In FCPA Enforcement Are Common

first_imgThere has not been a corporate FCPA enforcement action since January 19th. In other words, there has not been a corporate FCPA enforcement action brought by the Trump administration.In the minds of some this is likely “evidence” of [insert whatever grip you have about the Trump administration and assume causation].However, facts are important and this post highlights the fact that gaps in FCPA enforcement are common and that numerous gaps in FCPA enforcement occurred during the Obama administration.As highlighted in this article, 2016 was a record-breaking year for FCPA enforcement both in terms of the number of core corporate enforcement actions and the settlement amounts in those enforcement actions. However, not every year can be record-breaking  (just ask the Golden State Warriors who finished the regular season 67-15, but well off the record-breaking record last year of 73-9).I’ve been telling anyone who will listen since January that 2017 FCPA enforcement was very unlikely to top 2016 FCPA enforcement for the simple reason that records can’t be set every year.  With the current four month gap in corporate FCPA enforcement, this conclusion seems almost certain.However, the current four month gap in corporate FCPA enforcement is not unusual, in fact it is very common.Let’s not forget that in 2015 there were only two corporate DOJ FCPA enforcement actions. One occurred in mid-June and the other occurred mid-July. In other words, in 2015 there were two approximate six month gaps in corporate FCPA enforcement.In 2014, there was a seven month gap in DOJ corporate FCPA enforcement and two three month gaps in SEC corporate FCPA enforcement.In 2013, there were five month gaps in both DOJ and SEC corporate FCPA enforcement.In 2012, there were two three month gaps in SEC corporate FCPA enforcement and a three month gap in DOJ corporate FCPA enforcement.In 2011, there were three month gaps in both DOJ and SEC corporate FCPA enforcement.In 2010, there was a three month gap in DOJ corporate FCPA enforcement.Keep in in mind that all of the above gaps occurred during the “mature” Obama administration.The Trump administration has, all things considered, just begun. Its SEC chair was confirmed on May 2nd and its Attorney General was confirmed on February 8th.In short, let’s all take a deep breath when it comes to the current gap in corporate FCPA enforcement. Save Money With FCPA Connect Keep it simple. Not all FCPA issues warrant a team of lawyers or other professional advisers. Achieve client and business objectives in a more efficient manner through FCPA Connect. Candid, Comprehensive, and Cost-Effective. Connectlast_img read more

Delaware Supreme Court Allows Caremark Claim To Proceed

first_img 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. Prior posts here, here and here concerned so-called “Caremark Claims.”In short, a corporate director’s duty of good faith has evolved over time to include an obligation to attempt in good faith to assure that an adequate corporate information and reporting system exists. In Caremark (a 1996 decision by the Delaware Court of Chancery – a trial court), the court held that a director’s failure to do so, in certain circumstances, may give rise to individual director liability for breach of fiduciary duty. In 2006, in Stone v. Ritter, the Delaware Supreme Court provided the following necessary conditions for director oversight liability under the so-called Caremark standard: (i) a director utterly failed to implement any reporting or information system or controls; or (ii) having implemented such systems or controls, a director failed to monitor or oversee the corporation’s operations.Caremark claims are often filed against officers and directors in the aftermath of DOJ/SEC corporate enforcement actions (in various areas not just in connection with FCPA enforcement actions). However, such claims rarely get past the motion to dismiss stage. Thus, this recent Delaware Supreme Court decision in the aftermath of the listeria outbreak at Blue Bell Creameries is interesting in that the Delaware Supreme Court reversed a trial court’s dismissal of a Caremark claim and allowed the claim to proceed.Although the case concerned some unique facts (a company producing a single product subject to various federal and state regulations), the decision will be of interest to anyone who follows corporate director fiduciary duties whether in the FCPA context or otherwise.The decision by Chief Justice Leo Strine begins:“Blue Bell Creameries USA, Inc., one of the country’s largest ice cream manufacturers, suffered a listeria outbreak in early 2015, causing the company to recall all of its products, shut down production at all of its plants, and lay off over a third of its workforce. Blue Bell’s failure to contain listeria’s spread in its manufacturing plants caused listeria to be present in its products and had sad consequences. Three people died as a result of the listeria outbreak. Less consequentially, but nonetheless important for this litigation, stockholders also suffered losses because, after the operational shutdown, Blue Bell suffered a liquidity crisis that forced it to accept a dilutive private equity investment.Based on these unfortunate events, a stockholder brought a derivative suit against two key executives and against Blue Bell’s directors claiming breaches of the defendants’ fiduciary duties. The complaint alleges that the executives—Paul Kruse, the President and CEO, and Greg Bridges, the Vice President of Operations— breached their duties of care and loyalty by knowingly disregarding contamination risks and failing to oversee the safety of Blue Bell’s food-making operations, and that the directors breached their duty of loyalty under Caremark.[…]As to the Caremark claim, the Court of Chancery held that the plaintiff did not plead any facts to support “his contention that the [Blue Bell] Board ‘utterly’ failed to adopt or implement any reporting and compliance systems.” Although the plaintiff argued that Blue Bell’s board had no supervisory structure in place to oversee “health, safety and sanitation controls and compliance,” the Court of Chancery reasoned that “[w]hat Plaintiff really attempts to challenge is not the existence of monitoring and reporting controls, but the effectiveness of monitoring and reporting controls in particular instances,” and “[t]his is not a valid theory under . . . Caremark.”[…]As to the Caremark claim, we hold that the complaint alleges particularized facts that support a reasonable inference that the Blue Bell board failed to implement any system to monitor Blue Bell’s food safety performance or compliance. Under Caremark and this Court’s opinion in Stone v. Ritter, directors have a duty “to exercise oversight” and to monitor the corporation’s operational viability, legal compliance, and financial performance. A board’s “utter failure to attempt to assure a reasonable information and reporting system exists” is an act of bad faith in breach of the duty of loyalty.As a monoline company that makes a single product—ice cream—Blue Bell can only thrive if its consumers enjoyed its products and were confident that its products were safe to eat. That is, one of Blue Bell’s central compliance issues is food safety. Despite this fact, the complaint alleges that Blue Bell’s board had no committee overseeing food safety, no full board-level process to address food safety issues, and no protocol by which the board was expected to be advised of food safety reports and developments. Consistent with this dearth of any board-level effort at monitoring, the complaint pleads particular facts supporting an inference that during a crucial period when yellow and red flags about food safety were presented to management, there was no equivalent reporting to the board and the board was not presented with any material information about food safety. Thus, the complaint alleges specific facts that create a reasonable inference that the directors consciously failed “to attempt to assure a reasonable information and reporting system exist[ed].”As to certain of the unique facts in the case, the opinion states:“As a U.S. food manufacturer, Blue Bell operates in a heavily regulated industry. Under federal law, the Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) may set food quality standards, require food manufacturing facilities to register with the FDA, prohibit regulated manufacturers from placing adulterated food into interstate commerce, and hold companies liable if they place any adulterated foods into interstate commerce in violation of FDA rules. Blue Bell is “required to comply with regulations and establish controls to monitor for, avoid and remediate contamination and conditions that expose the Company and its products to the risk of contamination.”Specifically, FDA regulations require food manufacturers to conduct operations “with adequate sanitation principles” and, in line with that obligation, “must prepare . . . and implement a written food safety plan.” As part of a manufacturer’s food safety plan, the manufacturer must include processes for conducting a hazard analysis that identifies possible food safety hazards, identifies and implements preventative controls to limit potential food hazards, implements process controls, implements sanitation controls, and monitors these preventative controls. Appropriate corporate officials must monitor these preventative controls.Not only is Blue Bell subject to federal regulations, but it must also adhere to various state regulations. At the time of the listeria outbreak, Blue Bell operated in three states, and each had issued rules and regulations regarding the proper handling and production of food to ensure food safety.”Regarding the Caremark claim, the opinion concluded:“The plaintiff also challenges the Court of Chancery’s dismissal of his Caremark claim. Although Caremark claims are difficult to plead and ultimately to prove out, we nonetheless disagree with the Court of Chancery’s decision to dismiss the plaintiff’s claim against the Blue Bell board.Under Caremark and Stone v. Ritter, a director must make a good faith effort to oversee the company’s operations. Failing to make that good faith effort breaches the duty of loyalty and can expose a director to liability. In other words, for a plaintiff to prevail on a Caremark claim, the plaintiff must show that a fiduciary acted in bad faith—“the state of mind traditionally used to define the mindset of a disloyal director.”Bad faith is established, under Caremark, when “the directors [completely] fail[] to implement any reporting or information system or controls[,] or . . . having implemented such a system or controls, consciously fail[] to monitor or oversee its operations thus disabling themselves from being informed of risks or problems requiring their attention.” In short, to satisfy their duty of loyalty, directors must make a good faith effort to implement an oversight system and then monitor it.As with any other disinterested business judgment, directors have great discretion to design context- and industry-specific approaches tailored to their companies’ businesses and resources. But Caremark does have a bottom-line requirement that is important: the board must make a good faith effort—i.e., try—to put in place a reasonable board-level system of monitoring and reporting. Thus, our case law gives deference to boards and has dismissed Caremark cases even when illegal or harmful company activities escaped detection, when the plaintiffs have been unable to plead that the board failed to make the required good faith effort to put a reasonable compliance and reporting system in place.For that reason, our focus here is on the key issue of whether the plaintiff has pled facts from which we can infer that Blue Bell’s board made no effort to put in place a board-level compliance system. That is, we are not examining the effectiveness of a board-level compliance and reporting system after the fact. Rather, we are focusing on whether the complaint pleads facts supporting a reasonable inference that the board did not undertake good faith efforts to put a board-level system of monitoring and reporting in place.Under Caremark, a director may be held liable if she acts in bad faith in the sense that she made no good faith effort to ensure that the company had in place any “system of controls.” Here, the plaintiff did as our law encourages and sought out books and records about the extent of board-level compliance efforts at Blue Bell regarding what has to be one of the most central issues at the company: whether it is ensuring that the only product it makes—ice cream—is safe to eat.Using these books and records, the complaint fairly alleges that before the listeria outbreak engulfed the company:no board committee that addressed food safety existed;no regular process or protocols that required management to keep the board apprised of food safety compliance practices, risks, or reports existed;no schedule for the board to consider on a regular basis, such as quarterly or biannually, any key food safety risks existed;during a key period leading up to the deaths of three customers, management received reports that contained what could be considered red, or at least yellow, flags, and the board minutes of the relevant period revealed no evidence that these were disclosed to the board;the board was given certain favorable information about food safety by management, but was not given important reports that presented a much different picture; andthe board meetings are devoid of any suggestion that there was any regular discussion of food safety issues.And the complaint goes on to allege that after the listeria outbreak, the FDA discovered a number of systematic deficiencies in all of Blue Bell’s plants—such as plants being constructed “in such a manner as to [not] prevent drip and condensate from contaminating food, food-contact surfaces, and food-packing material”—that might have been rectified had any reasonable reporting system that required management to relay food safety information to the board on an ongoing basis been in place.In sum, the complaint supports an inference that no system of board-level compliance monitoring and reporting existed at Blue Bell. Although Caremark is a tough standard for plaintiffs to meet, the plaintiff has met it here. When a plaintiff can plead an inference that a board has undertaken no efforts to make sure it is informed of a compliance issue intrinsically critical to the company’s business operation, then that supports an inference that the board has not made the good faith effort that Caremark requires.In defending this case, the directors largely point out that by law Blue Bell had to meet FDA and state regulatory requirements for food safety, and that the company had in place certain manuals for employees regarding safety practices and commissioned audits from time to time. In the same vein, the directors emphasize that the government regularly inspected Blue Bell’s facilities, and Blue Bell management got the results.But the fact that Blue Bell nominally complied with FDA regulations does not imply that the board implemented a system to monitor food safety at the board level. Indeed, these types of routine regulatory requirements, although important, are not typically directed at the board. At best, Blue Bell’s compliance with these requirements shows only that management was following, in a nominal way, certain standard requirements of state and federal law. It does not rationally suggest that the board implemented a reporting system to monitor food safety or Blue Bell’s operational performance. The mundane reality that Blue Bell is in a highly regulated industry and complied with some of the applicable regulations does not foreclose any pleading-stage inference that the directors’ lack of attentiveness rose to the level of bad faith indifference required to state a Caremark claim.In answering the plaintiff’s argument, the Blue Bell directors also stress that management regularly reported to them on “operational issues.” This response is telling. In decisions dismissing Caremark claims, the plaintiffs usually lose because they must concede the existence of board-level systems of monitoring and oversight such as a relevant committee, a regular protocol requiring board-level reports about the relevant risks, or the board’s use of third-party monitors, auditors, or consultants. For example, in Stone v. Ritter, although the company paid $50 million in fines related “to the failure by bank employees” to comply with “the federal Bank Secrecy Act,” the“[b]oard dedicated considerable resources to the [Bank Secrecy Act] compliance program and put into place numerous procedures and systems to attempt to ensure compliance.” Accordingly, this Court affirmed the Court of Chancery’s dismissal of a Caremark claim. Here, the Blue Bell directors just argue that because Blue Bell management, in its discretion, discussed general operations with the board, a Caremark claim is not stated.But if that were the case, then Caremark would be a chimera. At every board meeting of any company, it is likely that management will touch on some operational issue. Although Caremark may not require as much as some commentators wish, it does require that a board make a good faith effort to put in place a reasonable system of monitoring and reporting about the corporation’s central compliance risks. In Blue Bell’s case, food safety was essential and mission critical. The complaint pled facts supporting a fair inference that no board-level system of monitoring or reporting on food safety existed.If Caremark means anything, it is that a corporate board must make a good faith effort to exercise its duty of care. A failure to make that effort constitutes a breach of the duty of loyalty. Where, as here, a plaintiff has followed our admonishment to seek out relevant books and records and then uses those books and records to plead facts supporting a fair inference that no reasonable compliance system and protocols were established as to the obviously most central consumer safety and legal compliance issue facing the company, that the board’s lack of efforts resulted in it not receiving official notices of food safety deficiencies for several years, and that, as a failure to take remedial action, the company exposed consumers to listeria-infected ice cream, resulting in the death and injury of company customers, the plaintiff has met his onerous pleading burden and is entitled to discovery to prove out his claim.”last_img read more

After Slow 2016 Optimism for Equity Offerings in 2017

first_img Username Not a subscriber? Sign up for The Texas Lawbook. Lost your password? Remember mecenter_img Password Huge gains in the stock market since the election and an expectation of some form of tax reform and relaxation of regulations has many market professionals bullish on prospects for 2017, Bill Howell, a Dallas partner at Sidley, writes.In Texas, Howell notes that while we may see just a handful of technology, biotech and other industry representatives like Austin-based Yeti complete IPOs this year, energy will likely drive the number of new entrants to the public markets as in years past . . .You must be a subscriber to The Texas Lawbook to access this content.last_img read more

Andy Calder The MA King of 2016

first_img Remember me Lost your password? Not a subscriber? Sign up for The Texas Lawbook. Passwordcenter_img Username Three years ago, the 38-year-old joined Kirkland & Ellis to spearhead the the firm’s brand new Houston office. In those three short years, he has grown said office to more than 100 lawyers – a growth spurt that will cause them to move to a brand new office later this spring and become the anchor tenant of one of Houston’s newest (and sexiest) skyscrapers. Amazingly, Calder has still maintained a full plate of work in his corporate transactional practice. In fact, he led more M&A deals last year than any of the 368 lawyers in the Corporate . . .You must be a subscriber to The Texas Lawbook to access this content.last_img read more

May Could be Asked to Resign by June

first_imgPrime Minister Theresa May could be forced to leave Downing Street by late June if she does not deliver a Brexit deal. Conservative Party sources are letting it be known that unless it becomes clear by the end of May that her plan stands a chance of being approved, she may be compelled to leave for the good of the country. They have already voted against changing the party rules that would allow another no-confidence vote this summer ahead of December.PM May survived a no-confidence vote last December. However, they may change those rules if she fails again in May. Downing Street has set June 30 as its new deadline for a Brexit deal in the Commons. She could remove the divisive border clause in the hope MPs vote for it and send a new message to Brussels that it must be axed or changed if Britain is to leave the EU. Why she seems to prefer sacrificing her own country to the demands of Brussels leaves many in a desperate position.Prime Minister May has been under pressure to renegotiate with the European Union by Conservative Brexiteers. EU negotiators have insisted that the UK’s Withdrawal Agreement cannot be reopened. Many called for her resignation from angry Brexiteers after a six-month extension deal was agreed at an emergency EU council meeting in Brussels. The delay until Halloween, with a ‘review’ in June, was a compromise solution. It was France who declined an extension for Britain. Categories: BRITAIN Tags: Brexit, Britain, Theresa May Director of UK Charity Calls for Acid Attack on Nigel Farage »center_img « British Elections last_img read more

New study finds way to help treat alcohol addiction and ease withdrawal

first_img Source: Jun 27 2018According to a new study by Scripps Research scientists, activating a receptor found in brain cells may help treat alcohol addiction and ease some withdrawal symptoms. The researchers studied the effects of activating the receptor in alcohol-addicted rats and reported the results today in the journal eNeuro.”The big takeaway here is that we have a new molecular target linked to alcohol addiction,” says Olivier George, PhD, associate professor at Scripps Research. “This is something that will trigger a lot more research and hopefully eventually lead to the discovery of new medicines not only for alcohol addiction but drug addiction in general.”An estimated 15 million adults in the United States have alcohol use disorder- compulsive alcohol drinking and a loss of control over alcohol intake. Today, there are three medications approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat alcohol addiction, but each has weaknesses and limitations.In 2005, researchers sifting through the human genome for new receptors- looking for genetic sequences that resembled known receptors- uncovered a G-protein coupled receptor (GPCR) dubbed GPR139. GPCRs play a large role in brain signaling, and some have been linked to mental disorders. Since discovering GPR139, scientists have shown that the receptor is primarily found in an area of the brain called the habenula. Since the habenula is activated during drug and alcohol withdrawal, George and his colleagues wondered whether GPR139 might play a role in addiction.”We’re been very interested in the habenula because this is the area of the brain that produces withdrawal symptoms, which an animal or human then tries to avoid by taking another drink or another dose of a drug,” says George, who also serves as co-director of the institute’s Alcohol Research Center Animal Core.In the new work, George’s group took advantage of an experimental compound, known as JNJ-63533054, that activates GPR139. They gave the compound orally to 12 non-alcohol-dependent male rats and 17 alcohol-dependent rats. The compound had no effect on the alcohol intake of animals that weren’t already dependent on alcohol or on the water intake of alcohol-addicted animals. But it did significantly decrease the alcohol intake of alcohol-addicted rats.Related StoriesAlcohol reduction associated with improved viral suppression in women living with HIVUTHealth researchers investigate how to reduce stress-driven alcohol useTAU’s new Translational Medical Research Center acquires MILabs’ VECTor PET/SPECT/CTWhen Jenni Kononoff, PhD, a postdoctoral researcher in the George lab, looked more closely at the rats, she discovered that JNJ-63533054 was particularly effective at decreasing drinking in one subgroup of animals: those that had the highest alcohol intake and showed compulsive drinking behavior. These rats were so addicted to alcohol, that they would normally continue to drink even when their alcohol was adulterated with a bitter taste.”What this tells us is that this receptor is activated when you’re drinking a lot and going through withdrawal,” says George.The pain threshold of rats- or humans- undergoing alcohol withdrawal is generally lower than normal, so to make a further connection between GPR139 and withdrawal, the scientists tracked the pain threshold of 17 rats going through alcohol withdrawal. When the rats were treated with JNJ-63533054, they found, the animals had a higher threshold for pain. Similar to the first experiment, the effect was strongest in rats that had the highest levels of compulsive drinking behavior.This suggests that, once again, GPR139 is activated during withdrawal only in severe cases of alcohol addiction, George says, and the drug helps mediate the physical pain associated with withdrawal in these cases.Finally, the team used thin tubes to deliver JNJ-63533054 to small areas of the brain. The drug decreased alcohol intake when it was infused into the habenula, they found, but not other brain areas, confirming the importance of the brain region in addiction and withdrawal.
While the research was only performed in male rats, and only alcohol addiction was studied, George suspects the results will hold true both for females and for other drug addiction, since the habenula has been shown to be critical in drug withdrawal more broadly.”The good thing about this type of target is that is almost exclusively expressed in the brain, which limits side effects, and it seems to have no effect on individuals who are not dependent,” says George. “Those are both positive indications of the receptor being druggable.”His group is already planning more studies on GPR139’s link to addiction and withdrawal, and the researchers are looking for additional compounds that activate or block the receptor.last_img read more

Boston Public Schools to purchase Cardiac Science Powerheart G5 AEDs

first_imgJul 5 2018Cardiac Science announced today that the Boston Public Schools will purchase Powerheart® G5 automated external defibrillators (AEDs) to update and expand the district’s AED program covering school buildings and school sports.The Powerheart G5 is the first AED to combine automatic shock delivery, dual-language rescue prompting, variable escalating energy, and rapid shock times. The device enables first-time users as well as professional rescuers to respond to a sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) incident.The school district will use the new AEDs to replace outdated units and to provide additional AEDs for its 125 schools, some of which have multiple buildings. The Boston Public Schools currently serves more than 56,000 students in pre-kindergarten through Grade 12.Related StoriesHartsfield-Jackson airport installs 285 new Cardiac Science G5 AEDsHealth Canada approves fully automatic Powerheart G5 AEDCardiac Science provides five Powerheart G5 AEDs to Cristo Rey Jesuit Atlanta High School“The safety of our students and staff in the Boston Public Schools is always our top priority,” said Richard Deraney, a manager in the school district’s Office of Safety Services. “We went with Cardiac Science because the Powerheart G5 AED is a good product. They’re fully automatic, and easy to use in an emergency. We know because we have used them.”Massachusetts recently passed a law that mandates AEDs in schools. Public and private schools will be required to have AEDs in place along with trained personnel by July 2018. Even prior to the law’s passage, the Boston Public Schools had implemented a Powerheart AED program that saved a life.Three years ago, students, administrators and a nurse at Boston’s John D. O’Bryant School of Mathematics and Science used a Powerheart AED to help save the life of a teacher who had collapsed from sudden cardiac arrest in the classroom.“The students made the 911 call, started CPR, and sent someone for the AED,” Deraney said. Eventually, the teacher was revived and was then transported to a nearby hospital.“Powerheart AEDs are designed to make it as easy as possible to come to the aid of a sudden cardiac arrest victim,” said Ed Kennedy, Vice-President, Americas, Cardiac Science. “We are proud that the Boston Public Schools has chosen Powerheart G5 AEDs to help protect people in their buildings and on their playing fields.”The Boston Public Schools joins several school systems throughout the country using Powerheart AEDs to help protect students, staff and visitors from the threat of sudden cardiac arrest. Source: read more

People more likely to believe those with confident tone of voice than

first_imgReviewed by Ian BirkbySep 18 2018You are in a strange neighbourhood, your cell phone’s dead, and you desperately need to find the closest garage. A couple of people on the street chime in, each sending you in opposite directions. One person sounds like a local and speaks in a nonchalant manner, while the other uses a loud, confident voice but speaks with a strong accent. Who are you going to trust? A recently published study shows that unless they speak in a confident tone of voice, you’re less likely to believe someone who speaks with an accent. And, interestingly, as you make this decision different parts of your brain are activated, depending on whether you perceive the speaker to be from your own “in-group” or from some type of “out-group” (e.g., someone with a different linguistic or cultural background).Marc Pell, from McGill’s School of Communication Sciences and Disorders, the senior author explains the rationale for the study:”There are possibly two billion people around the world who speak English as a second language – and many of us live in societies that are culturally diverse. As we make decisions about whether or not to trust people who are different from us we pay a lot of attention both to visual cues and to a person’s voice. Here, we wanted to better understand how we make trust-related decisions about other people based strictly on their speaking voice.”Overall, the researchers found that making trust-related decisions about accented speakers is more difficult due to our underlying bias favouring members of our own group. They also discovered that different regions of the brain are activated to analyze whether to believe speech from “in-group” and “out-group” members. Indeed, the brain needed to engage in additional processes to resolve the conflict between our negative bias towards the accent (don’t believe!) and the impression that the speaker is very sure of what they’re saying (it must be true!).Confidence speaks volumesInterestingly, what the researchers discovered was that when speakers with a regional or foreign accent use a very confident voice, their statements are judged to be equally believable to native speakers of the language.”What this shows me is that, in future, if I want to be believed, it may be in my interest to adopt a very confident tone of voice in a whole range of situations,” says Xiaoming Jiang, a former post-doctoral fellow at McGill and now Associate Professor at Tongji University, who speaks English as a second-language and is the first author on the paper. “This is a finding that potentially has repercussions for people who speak with an accent when it comes to everything ranging from employment to education and the judicial process.”Related StoriesWearing a hearing aid may mitigate dementia riskSlug serves as ‘command central’ for determining breast stem cell healthStudy provides new insight into longitudinal decline in brain network integrity associated with agingDifferent accents mean different brain activationEarlier research has shown that people are more likely to believe statements produced in a confident tone (voiced in a way that is louder, lower in pitch, and faster) than those spoken in a hesitant manner. The researchers wanted to see whether the same areas of the brain were activated as we made trust-related decisions about statements made in an accent that is different from our own.When making decisions about whether to trust a speaker who has the same accent as us, the researchers discovered that the listeners could focus simply on tone of voice. The areas of the brain that were activated were those involved in making inferences based on past experience (the superior parietal regions). Whereas, when it came to making similar decisions for “out-group” speakers, the areas of the brain involved in auditory processing (the temporal regions of the brain) were involved to a greater extent. This suggests that as listeners made decisions about whether to trust accented speakers they needed to engage in a two-step process where they needed to pay attention both to the sounds that an accented speaker was producing as well as to their tone of voice.How the research was done:Study participants (who all spoke Canadian-English as their mother tongue) listened to a series of short, neutral statements spoken with varying degrees of confidence in accents ranging from the very familiar (Canadian-English) to the somewhat different (Australian-English and English as spoken by Francophone-Canadians). They were asked to rate how believable they found each statement. As participants listened, a brain imaging technique (fMRI) was used to capture areas of brain activation to see whether there were differences between the participants’ responses to “in-group” and “out-group” speakers” both in general, and depending on their tone of voice. Source: read more

Robert Koch Institute publishes new data on allergies mental health problems and

first_img Source: Reviewed by Alina Shrourou, B.Sc. (Editor)Sep 19 2018The Robert Koch Institute has published new data from the German Health Interview and Examination Survey for Children and Adolescents (KiGGS) on allergies, mental health problems and accident injuries. KiGGS is the only comprehensive study on the health of children and adolescents in Germany and an important database for evidence-based policy decisions. The ‘data for action’ of the current KiGGS wave were collected between 2014 and 2017 by physical examinations and interviews. The data can also be used for trend analyses by comparing them with data from the KiGGS baseline study, which was conducted between 2003 and 2006. The latest results are published in issue 3/2018 of the Journal of Health Monitoring.Allergic diseases such as hay fever (allergic rhinitis), bronchial asthma and atopic dermatitis (atopic eczema) are among the most common diseases affecting the health of children and adolescents. These diseases often severely impact the daily lives of those affected. More than one in six children (16.1%) currently suffers from at least one of these three diseases. This prevalence has not changed since the KiGGS baseline study and in absolute figures affects 2.1 million children and adolescents in Germany. Moreover, more than one third of children and adolescents in Germany are sensitised to a mix of certain inhalant allergens and have, in other words, an increased risk of allergies. However, the number of young people affected by allergic sensitisations has not changed since the baseline study.In addition to allergic diseases, the current issue of the Journal also focuses on a second major topic: mental health problems. Whereas the KiGGS baseline study found that 20.0% of children and adolescents had mental health problems, KiGGS Wave 2 found this to be the case with 16.9% of young people. One of the reasons for the decline in mental health problems could be the implementation of health policy measures in the fields of health promotion and health care. Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common psychological disorders. As part of KiGGS Wave 2, parents of 3- to 17-year-old participants were asked if a physician or psychologist had diagnosed their children as having ADHD. Overall, the study found that 4.4% of adolescents had been diagnosed with ADHD, one percentage point less than in the KiGGS baseline study. Importantly, mental health problems are more common among children with a low socioeconomic status. In order to enable all children and adolescents to grow up in good health, measures for health promotion and prevention should start early in a child’s life and be tailored to the needs of the target group.Accidents also belong to the common health risks that occur in childhood and adolescence. Every fifth boy received medical treatment for an accident injury within one year (19.4%), while girls were affected less frequently (15.2%). The situation has changed little since the beginning of the 2000s.In the Journal section Concepts & Methods, the KiGGS results for underweight, overweight and obesity are classified according to international reference systems. A second Concepts & Methods article describes the standardised procedure for telephone-based ad hoc studies that was introduced at the Robert Koch Institute in 2017. This procedure enables answers to be provided to questions on specific topics in a fast and flexible way.last_img read more

EFS checklist provides userfriendly tool for evaluating feeding skills in preterm infants

first_img Source: Reviewed by Kate Anderton, B.Sc. (Editor)Sep 21 2018Infants born prematurely face challenges in developing the complex, interrelated skills needed for effective feeding. An assessment called the Early Feeding Skills (EFS) checklist is a valid and reliable tool for evaluating the emergence of feeding skills in preterm infants, reports a study in Advances in Neonatal Care, official journal of the National Association of Neonatal Nurses. The journal is published in the Lippincott portfolio by Wolters Kluwer.The EFS provides a user-friendly tool for assessing and monitoring feeding skills in premature infants and other infants at risk of feeding problems – and for guiding interventions to promote the skills needed to feed successfully, according to the new research, led by Suzanne Thoyre, PhD, RN, FAAN, of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Nursing.Study Formally Evaluates Checklist for Assessing Feeding in Preterm InfantsLearning how to feed safely and effectively is particularly challenging for premature infants and those with medical problems requiring care during the newborn (neonatal) period. Establishment of oral feeding is often a key factor in determining when premature infants can go home from the hospital.The EFS is a 22-item checklist developed to assess oral feeding skills in infants feeding by breast or bottle. In the study, registered nurses, speech-language pathologists, and occupational therapists used the EFS to evaluate the feeding skills of 142 infants at children’s hospitals in three states. Three-fourths of the infants were born prematurely; some were full-term infants who had undergone heart surgery.Using a method called factor analysis, the researchers identified a set of five subscales measured by the EFS: respiratory regulation, or the ability to coordinate breathing and sucking; the ability to organize oral-motor function; swallowing coordination; staying engaged with feeding; and remaining physiologically stable during feeding. Together, these factors explained about 58 percent of the variation in the EFS score; the single strongest factor was respiratory regulation.Related StoriesResearch sheds light on sun-induced DNA damage and repairAXT enhances cellular research product portfolio with solutions from StemBioSysOlympus Europe and Cytosurge join hands to accelerate drug development, single cell researchComparison with other assessments established that the EFS is valid and reliable — “meaning that we can count on the tool to consistently measure what it purports to measure,” according to the authors. Premature infants with later gestational ages had higher total EFS scores and higher scores on the respiratory regulation and physiologic stability subscales.”For preterm infants and those with medical complexities, early feeding skills are in a state of emergence while receiving neonatal care,” Dr. Thoyre and coauthors write. “Selecting appropriate and supportive interventions begins with thorough assessment of the infant’s skills.”Previous assessments have focused on the volume of feeding or individual skills, but this overlooks the complex interplay of skills needed for effective feeding. Although the EFS has been in use for more than a decade, the new study is the first formal evaluation of its psychometric properties.”The EFS provides a reliable and valid way to systematically observe and record the maturation of [infants’] feeding skills and guides the selection of interventions to optimally support their skill trajectory,” Dr. Thoyre and colleagues conclude. They suggest that further studies using the EFS could add to understanding of neonatal feeding skill development.​last_img read more

Why humans are the fat primate

first_imgBonobos, endangered great apes considered—along with chimpanzees—the closest living relative to humans, spend most of each day climbing through trees, collecting fruit and leaves. Compare that with the lives of early humans who traversed hot, barren landscapes and it begins to make sense why we’re the fattier, less muscular primate. Over the past 3 decades, two researchers analyzed the hard-to-come-by bodies of 13 bonobos that had died in captivity and compared them with already collected data on 49 human bodies donated by means of autopsy to help understand how evolution drove this change. Although some captive bonobos have become obese, the researchers found that, on average, the apes’ body mass—which is thought to resemble that of the closest common ancestor we share with them—is composed of 10% to 13% skin, whereas humans have only 6% skin. This thinner skin, the team hypothesizes, probably arose around the same time that Homo sapiens gained the ability to sweat, allowing more time spent in hot, open areas. The scientists also found that we pack on more fat than our ape relatives: Female and male humans average 36% and 20% body fat, whereas female and male bonobos average 4% and close to 0% body fat, respectively. Increased fat, the researchers hypothesize, allowed our species to survive—and reproduce—during times of low food availability. As for muscle, the team reports online today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, bonobos come out on top, especially when it comes to upper body muscles needed for tree climbing and swinging, which became unnecessary when humans went strictly bipedal. The new findings, the researchers say, help illustrate the forces of natural selection that may have affected H. sapiens’s soft tissues even before our brains started expanding in size and tool use shaped the species.last_img read more

Dedicated volunteers work to create new exhibits at historic courthouse

first_imgPhoto by Linda KorVolunteer Jill Diemer works to sort, identify and input information on the thousands of photographs housed at the museum. Dedicated volunteers work to create new exhibits at historic courthouse By Daniel Adamovich, PhD The exhibits in the Navajo County Historic Courthouse Museum and Visitors Center are a result of the hard work of the Navajo County Historical Society and its volunteers. Recently, 23 newSubscribe or log in to read the rest of this content. Bottom Adcenter_img November 1, 2017last_img read more

Punjab Villagelevel distribution women peddlers keep cops on toes

first_img P Rajagopal, Saravana Bhavan founder sentenced to life for murder, dies Mahalam village in Fazilka is known for having many men and women involved in the drug trade. As per data, since 1990, this village, with a population of 1500, has nearly 3000 FIRs under various charges including NDPS.Challenges of border areas can be further judged from drug recoveries.In Ferozepur, from February 2019 till June 2019, over 33 kg of heroin, 265kg of poppy husk, 13,966 pills have been recovered and 101 FIRs have been lodged and 139 persons have been arrested.As per the data released by Fazilka police, since July 2011 when Fazilka became a district, a total of 928 FIRs under NDPS act have been registered in this area with 1300 arrests. Ayodhya dispute: Mediation to continue till July 31, SC hearing likely from August 2 Ayodhya dispute: Mediation to continue till July 31, SC hearing likely from August 2 Chandrayaan-2 launch on July 22 at 2.43 pm: ISRO Advertising Chandrayaan-2 launch on July 22 at 2.43 pm: ISRO Information from villages Tiwana, Sukhera, Mahalam in Fazilka district, and Mamdot, Arifke sector in Ferozepur revealed that the new modus operandi to supply drugs was using women in the village.Sources in Mahalam village said that new packaging for supply was one gram heroin, sold for Rs 500 each. “Normally, this is adulterated mixture and women of the house are involved. They supply one gram to the client at a time as police lodges a case if minimum five gram recovery is done,” said a police department insider in Fazilka.In many areas, supply is given along with syringe as at times addicts fail to get syringes from markets.Sources added that at times evade checks as random checking of women is not possible at many check posts due to lady police officials not being present. Written by Raakhi Jagga | Ludhiana | Updated: July 2, 2019 11:03:02 am 0 Comment(s) Best Of Express These frequent police-public meetings for sharing information have also revealed that the menace has gone hyper-local with villagers being both suppliers and consumers of banned narcotics.According to police, a recent case from Kotli Ablu village in Muktsar district revealed how several villagers were consuming drugs and also supplying to others to sustain their expenses.In Theri village of Gidderbaha, when villagers decided to conduct an anti-drugs drive, they were attacked by another group of the same village who was allegedly involved in supplying drugs. More Explained “It seems a number of FIRs are less, but if we see the availability of drugs in the area, many villagers are involved in drug peddling. The supply comes from across the border, but a number of them also want this problem to end,” said Devinder Kukkar, president of Bharti Vikas Parishad of Fazilka.He added,” I normally observe that police avoid keeping drug peddlers who are also addicts in lock up as they keep demanding drugs and suffer withdrawals which is a big headache for cops.” Sources revealed that at times for want of drugs, addicts inside the lockup also try to commit suicide or enter into brawls with prisoners. Top News Village-level distribution, women peddlers keep cops on toes Challenges of border areas can be further judged from drug recoveries. (Express Photo)A meeting organised by the Punjab Police at Bathinda’s Beer Talab area last month had villagers pleading with cops to rescue their children from the grip of drugs. The meeting attended by only two women, had one among them, Jeet Kaur, claiming that minor girls and women from the village were supplying drugs. Taking stock of monsoon rain Advertising P Rajagopal, Saravana Bhavan founder sentenced to life for murder, dies last_img read more

Trump imposes new economic sanctions on Iran

first_img Advertising trump, iran sanctions, trump iran sanctions, trump imposes sanctions on iran, donald trump, us iran, us sanctions on iran, us iran ties, world news The Trump administration already moved this spring to cut off all revenues from Iranian oil exports, the lifeblood of the nation’s economy, and the new sanctions are expected to be aimed at shutting down additional sources of income with the goal of forcing political change in Tehran. (Doug Mills/The New York Times)By Edward Wong US President Donald Trump announced Monday that he is imposing new sanctions on Iran, after saying for days that he preferred tightening the pressure on a crippled Iranian economy to launching an immediate military strike in retaliation for what US officials have said are recent aggressive acts by Tehran.“We will continue to increase pressure on Tehran,” Mr. Trump said as he sat at his desk in the Oval Office preparing to sign an executive order. “Never can Iran have a nuclear weapon.”He added that the order will bar Iranian leaders from access to financial instruments. The administration did not immediately elaborate. Taking stock of monsoon rain By New York Times |Washington | Updated: June 24, 2019 9:56:14 pm Advertising US officials have blamed Iran for two separate sets of explosions on six oil tankers around the Strait of Hormuz, saying Iran is trying to show its capabilities and increase global oil prices in retaliation for the administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign. Iranian officials have denied responsibility. Last week, the Iranian military shot down a US drone, although the two nations debate whether the drone was in Iranian territory or over international waters.The downing of the drone prompted Trump to order a missile strike on Iranian military sites Thursday, but he pulled back at the last minute after hours of debate, and instead opted to launch a cyberattack. The most prominent Iran hawks in the administration, Pompeo and John Bolton, the national security adviser, had pushed for the missile strikes.Pompeo also advocated in the White House Situation Room on Thursday for continuing sanctions and seeing whether Iran would capitulate to demands as the policy of cutting off all oil revenues, announced in late April, takes full effect.Iranian leaders say the Trump administration is waging economic warfare on their nation, and analysts say the sanctions campaign, which has been done with no substantial diplomatic outreach, strengthens the standing of hard-line officials in Tehran who argue for taking retaliatory measures. The Trump administration has imposed more than 1,000 specific sanctions on Iran since the withdrawal from the nuclear agreement in May 2018, according to the State Department. The rollout of sanctions and attempt to end all oil exports, along with an insistence by Pompeo that Tehran meet 12 expansive demands mostly unrelated to the nuclear program, “set a spark to the escalatory cycle we’re seeing today,” said Dalia Dassa Kaye, a Middle East expert at RAND Corp., a research group in California.“The administration argued maximum pressure would bring Iran to the negotiating table, but instead it brought provocative Iranian actions that are not likely to end without Iran getting something concrete on sanctions relief,” she said. “Talk about wanting to talk is not likely to be enough.”Some advocates of a hard-line approach to Iran have said Trump should double down on sanctions and not be baited into doing a military strike, which could backfire by generating support among ordinary Iranians for the anti-American policies of officials in Tehran, including Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader. The Trump administration already moved this spring to cut off all revenues from Iranian oil exports, the lifeblood of the nation’s economy, and the new sanctions are expected to be aimed at shutting down additional sources of income with the goal of forcing political change in Tehran.Trump and his top foreign policy aides are gambling that continuing the squeeze on Iran will compel its leaders to buckle to demands to limit their nuclear program in ways that go beyond the landmark agreement that major world powers forged with Iran in 2015 — and that Trump withdrew from last year.Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who met with the rulers of Saudi Arabia on a last-minute trip Monday, also insists that Iran must curb its regional military activity and end support for partner Arab militias.The imposition of more sanctions could provoke further actions by Iran to add to the crisis that has unfolded since early May in the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman, analysts say. Best Of Express After Masood Azhar blacklisting, more isolation for Pakistan Trump says ‘will take a look’ at accusations over Google, China Karnataka trust vote today: Speaker’s call on resignations, says SC, but gives rebel MLAs a shield Virat Kohli won’t have a say in choosing new coach US House votes to set aside impeachment resolution against Trump Advertising Related News Unbowed, Trump intensifies attacks on four Democratic congresswomen More Explained “Now is not the time for military action,” Mark Dubowitz, chief executive of Foundation for Defense of Democracies, said on Twitter on Saturday. “Intensify the economic and political pressure. Make clear supreme leader is supreme obstacle to a better future for Iranians.” Post Comment(s)last_img read more

BJP MLA Surendra Singh Muslim men keep 50 women have 1050 kids

first_img BJP will make Maharashtra Congress-mukt, says party state chief Chandrakant Patil When asked about his statement, Singh said: “On Sunday, mediapersons asked me why I am bothered about the marriage between Sakshi and Ajitesh. I said the Dalit man she claimed to have married was not a good person and he has left women in the past, too. When someone asked me that a lot of people marry more than one woman, I told him that this happens only with Muslims”.BJP spokesperson Chandramohan denied having any information on Singh’s statement and said the party has not issued any response in this regard yet. Was duped into joining BJP-backed film outfit, says actor Madhabi Mukhopadhyay Related News The MLA from Bairiya constituency reportedly said this on Sunday, when reporters asked him to comment on the marriage of Bareilly BJP MLA Rajesh Mishra’s daughter Sakshi and Ajitesh Kumar.READ | BJP MLA’s daughter, her husband roughed up outside Allahabad High Court“Sawal yeh hai ke Muslim dharm me jo hai aap jaante hai ke 50 aurat rakhiye aur 1,050 bachha paida kijiye. Yeh koi parampara nahi hai. Yeh to ek jo hai jaanwari pravitti hai. Theek hai, prakriti paddhati jo bhi santaan aa raha hai, do aa jaye, teen aa jaaye, chaar aa jaaye, usme koi baat nahi hai (The question is that in Muslim religion, a man can keep 50 women and father 1,050 children. This is no tradition but an animalistic tendency. Naturally, if you have two, three or four children, that is not an issue),” said Singh. A video of his remarks is being circulated on social media, drawing criticism. By Express News Service |Lucknow | Updated: July 16, 2019 6:47:23 am Uttarakhand legislator Pranav Singh expelled from BJP for six years over video with guns Surendra Singh muslim remark, Surendra Singh muslim comment, Sakshi Mishra, Vicky Bhartaul, Rajesh Mishra, UP BJP, inter caste marriage, UP Police, BJP MLA daughter video, india news, Indian Express BJP MLA from Uttar Pradesh’s Ballia district, Surendra Singh.BJP MLA from Uttar Pradesh’s Ballia district, Surendra Singh, has triggered a controversy with his reported remarks that Muslim men keep “50 women” and father “1,050 children”, calling this an “animalistic tendency.” Advertising Advertising 362 Comment(s)last_img read more

China tech bonds reward investors as trade war fears ebb

first_img Related News 5G rollout: How far has India progressed, and where does it stand on Huawei? “You need to get yield one way the other,” said Wonnie Chu, managing director at Tencent-backed Gaoteng Global Asset Management, adding that bond investors had to either take greater risk buying the bonds of lower-rated issuers or go for longer-tenor investment-grade bonds.Chu said she bought longer duration bonds issued by Chinese technology firms after the sell-off in May. Since their sell-off, the recovery in the bonds of Chinese internet firms has outpaced that of their U.S. peers.The spread over comparable U.S. Treasuries on Alibaba’s 10-year bond has tightened about 40 basis points since early June and wiped out all losses since early May. It is now being traded at around 110 basis points above Treasuries.Other assets directly in the firing line of the trade war, such as the share prices of Chinese tech firms and bonds issued by U.S. tech giants such as Apple Inc, have recovered far less. The B.A.T. firms rely on domestic markets for the bulk of their revenues and will continue to do so, Fitch Solutions wrote in a report back in January. Advertising Bonds of U.S. tech peers such as Apple, which have been hugely affected by tariffs and slowing Chinese growth, Amazon and Oracle are more expensive than those of B.A.T, at between 47 to 67 basis points above Treasury yields, even though the U.S. companies, on average, are rated just slightly higher – making the Chinese bonds a bargain.“We added risk because they were really cheap compared with global peers,” said Tiansi Wang, Hong Kong-based senior credit analyst at asset manager Robeco.FINANCIAL HEALTHStrong financials also make Chinese tech bonds appealing, unlike their stocks that could be subject to volatility in earnings this year.“The most important thing for credit investors is the health of the balance sheet. All of these companies have net cash balance sheet,” Sheldon Chan, who manages T Rowe Price’s Asia credit bond strategy.Even unrated Huawei, whose revenues are taking a blow from a U.S. ban on component purchases, has a strong cash position and has seen its 10-year bonds rebound since May. But Chan noted that hardware manufacturers remained more exposed to the trade war than internet firms, given their deeper integration with the global supply chain.The rise of trade war risks could see investors get more aggressive. “We’ve always asked for a bit more valuation to compensate for it,” said Wang. US China trade war, China trade war, China tariffs, China internet, China products, Investors bought dollar bonds issued by firms such as Alibaba and Baidu in May, soon after the market sold off following a U.S. announcement of higher tariffs on ChinaThe beaten-down bonds of Chinese internet companies have rebounded since the May flare-up in U.S.-China trade tensions, reaping a good profit for investors who braved the storm to buy the dips. Investors bought dollar bonds issued by firms such as Alibaba and Baidu in May, soon after the market sold off following a U.S. announcement of higher tariffs on China and Washington’s sanctions against Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei Technology.“When things like trade war start to hit, the immediate reaction is to sell anything that’s related to China,” said Henry Loh, Asian fixed income investment manager at Aberdeen Standard Investments in Singapore. Loh was referring to the broad selling in these bonds by the U.S. and other offshore investors as fresh worries about the technology sector, trade and economic growth jangled nerves.Those who held onto bonds issued by Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent – known as B.A.T. on Wall Street – were rewarded as major central banks hinted at lower interest rates and trade talks resumed, lifting the value of the tech giants’ investment grade-rated bonds. By Reuters |Hong Kong | Published: July 10, 2019 2:52:40 pm Huawei Mate 30 Pro leaked screen cover shows 90-degree curved display center_img Advertising Best Of Express NRC deadline approaching, families stranded in Assam floods stay home In undecided Congress, first open call for Priyanka: She should be party chief Karnataka: SC to rule today, says Speaker’s powers need relook Huawei plans to cut jobs in US-based R&D unit: Report Post Comment(s)last_img read more

Fighting Off the Harvey Weinsteins of the World Through Technology

first_imgSurfaceBook 2 I think technology could go a long way to ensure that unions and human resources departments do their jobs to protect members and employees. Increasingly, we are instrumenting our employees and customers to gain better returns, improve loyalty, and reduce shrinkage — but this same technology also could, and should, be used to prevent abuse.Another technology that could be useful is virtual reality. If there were a requirement for everyone in management to experience abuse as a victim on a regular basis, which VR could do, they could get a taste of the helplessness, self-loathing and depression that results. It should be possible to build empathy where too little exists now.Given that some abusers themselves were abused, this wouldn’t be a certain fix — but for those who have no concept of the damage they are doing, it might drive the point home.My hope is that we can shift from pounding on Weinstein to taking action to prevent future Weinsteins. Fixing problems would be a refreshing change from what we normally do. SAG-AFTRA Failure Augmented Reality and Evidence Wrapping Up: Virtual Reality When it is in laptop form and has the performance base for its 15-inch iteration, it comes close to matching a workstation-class PC, but it still has all-day battery life. In its 13-inch form, it has a tablet that is both relatively light and impressively useful, though it could use a few more hours of battery life in that form. It has around five, but a tablet should have at least 10. (However, it can recharge from its base, so that isn’t as bad as it would be for a standalone product.Even though the two products look nearly the same, the 15-inch favors those who crave performance and largely want the flexible configuration for watching movies or sharing presentations. The 13-inch is for those who want more portability and actually might want to use the tablet configuration of the device. So, the users who would enjoy these products vary a lot in terms of their needs.This isn’t a cheap date, with the smaller 13-inch product priced at around US$1,500 and the larger, far more powerful offering closer to $2,500. (You can get a lesser performance base, Nvidia 1050 vs. a 1060 in the 15-inch product, which is likely for those who land more in the middle, and at $2K its price is also in the middle.)Neither is a value box by any stretch of the imagination. This part of Microsoft’s line is for those who value design and fall more into the Audi/BMW/Jaguar class than those who buy basic transportation. While I don’t have one of these yet, I truly love my Surface with the performance base, and it has served me well. This is a nice update, so it’s my product of the week. As we move toward the widespread adoption of augmented reality technology, which uses both audio and video sensors (you basically become a walking camera), the ability to record abuse directed against you or others will become automatic.Increasingly, AR devices will be designed into eyeware that looks like normal glasses. It also may be embedded into jewelry or designed into some clothing. This means that video records of abuse increasingly will be available, offsetting the he-said-she-said disadvantage. Once AR systems are fully up and running, posting an incident on a media site like YouTube should index everyone in the video shot.We’ve had face matching and auto indexing on social media sites for some time, and that means, at the very least, that when someone searched on a person’s name, any video record of abuse likely would come up.That could and should force draconian actions with respect to the individual’s employment, and even motivate a district attorney or attorney general to act on behalf of the victim, particularly if it is a minor. Kids likely will be the first to become comfortable with wearing an always-streaming camera. If a union does its job, managers who prey on employees get removed from management or the employees stop working. That is the way the system is supposed to function. If an employee is put at unreasonable risk, which clearly happened a disgusting number of times with Weinstein, the union — in this case, SAG-AFTRA — immediately should move in to protect the employee.However, the hoops the employee must jump through, particularly with respect to behavior that crosses over into rape, make getting support onerous, as Morgan Spector points out in Jacobin.This is the case in part because union leadership generally goes to where the squeaky wheel is, and given that women often feel that reporting this type of crime is nearly as awful as the crime itself, many do not come forward. After seeing the SAG-AFTRA process, I’m not sure I blame them.However, companies increasingly are instrumenting their customers, and it only follows that if unions and leadership want to continue, then they will need to do the same with members. With analytics management, they can then see trends — for example, maybe one race isn’t being employed enough or paid as well.Maybe a disproportionate number of members drop out of the profession after meeting with certain studio managers (hinting at abuse), or perhaps a disproportionate number of members seem to become unstable after being employed at certain companies or working with certain managers, also suggesting possible abuse.One of the problems when bringing forward a claim of abuse against someone powerful is that it is one person’s word against another’s. However, powerful predators often are repeat offenders. From the second accuser on, the union should see a trend in the making and be far more able to act.More important, the union could approach the member who reported abuse with a package that would make it more likely that coming forward wouldn’t be a career-ending decision.SAG-AFTRA should be working aggressively to destroy the practice of aggressive reprisal and reputation destruction that too often is applied to the accuser by the predator or company management.By the way, before this is over, I fully expect that people in SAG-AFTRA management will be implicated either as predators themselves or as enablers, so it would be wise for them to get ahead of this proactively. Of all the 2-in-1 detachable personal computers, the Surface Book stands out as being the most impressive. The Surface Book 2 now comes in two versions — a 13-inch model that favors its tablet configuration, and a 15-inch version that is a more powerful laptop. As we move to always-on personal assistants, the usefulness of a feature that would allow them to warn you of impending danger seems obvious. We’ve already explored having navigation systems route around areas of violence, and we know that personal assistants share data as they learn.Deep learning and machine learning are all about setting patterns that then can be turned into action by devices as simple as a smartphone through inference. Since the smartphone is always connected, the ability to identify risks and either warn of danger or summon help automatically already is built into the infrastructure.As this technology advances, it would be natural to have it do behavior modification as an option for the user, particularly if the user had a lot of assets, an image, or an advanced position to protect. Warning that language had dropped into questionable areas, warning of intoxication, or alerting that someone near you is trending toward a risk could help prevent everything from a physical altercation to a career-ruining joke or public comment.For someone new to power but not yet able to handle it, or even for some who think they have everything under control, it also could prevent the kind of pattern that resulted in Weinstein’s catastrophe — and I imagine that future boards might require this feature as a condition of employment for some executives with histories.Eventually, I can see this as a requirement for all top executives, just to better protect the board and mitigate liability — but it also would help keep employees from being abused. Harvey Weinstein just went from most powerful man in Hollywood to punching bag — and while he deserved this, perhaps greater attention should go toward taking aggressive measures to prevent future Weinsteins — and there will be future Weinsteins.We need to stop acting surprised when this stuff comes out and instead take stronger steps to prevent this kind of thing in the future. Given how widely known this behavior evidently was, it is hard not to argue that Weinstein’s board also may be responsible, something I expect few other boards will miss.While we lament the increasing loss of privacy that comes with technological advances, there is a decent chance that future predators can be identified early in their careers and either trained to refrain from this behavior, become unemployable, or be institutionalized far more rapidly.In short, some of the future technology that may seem scary also could make a lot of people substantially safer.I’ll focus on what didn’t work with Weinstein, and how tech, applied properly, could ensure the planned extinction of predators. I’ll close with my product of the week: an update on the Surface Book, my favorite high end 2-in-1. Personal Assistant Behavior Monitoring Rob Enderle has been an ECT News Network columnist since 2003. His areas of interest include AI, autonomous driving, drones, personal technology, emerging technology, regulation, litigation, M&E, and technology in politics. He has undergrad degrees in merchandising and manpower management, and an MBA in human resources, marketing and computer science. He is also a certified management accountant. Enderle currently is president and principal analyst of the Enderle Group. He formerly served as a senior research fellow at Giga Information Group and Forrester. Email Rob.last_img read more

Earrings With Earphones and a Smartphone Bonanza

first_imgThe lenses are arranged almost in a circle and can capture 64-megapixel shots. Light claims the array offers strong low-light performance and better depth effects than are available elsewhere.It’s a neat idea, and the prototypes suggest that the nine lenses would not seem too obnoxious. We could see a phone with Light’s camera technology announced by the end of the year, so we might not have to wait too long to find out just how effective a nonet of cameras really is.Rating: 4 out of 5 No Escaping My Photos Stylish Sound Blockchain Phone I am entirely for this device as a pragmatic way for those with pierced ears to keep their earphones nearby. I am almost, sort of, possibly tempted to pay someone to put holes in my earlobes so I can try them, so much so that I am walking back my initial rating proclamation.Rating: 4 out of 5 Sterile Needles, Please Lenses Aplenty I’ll share some observations on another strange smartphone, but this one is more at the conceptual stage. Light has been developing a handset that goes far beyond the two or three cameras we’re used to seeing in a smartphone. It has been prototyping a device with as many as nine lenses on the rear. The device places a large focus on blockchain technology. There’s nothing wrong with a manufacturer using every available tool at its disposal to provide sturdier security, at the very least. Still, you can count me as a blockchain sceptic — the bug has yet to bite me.Finney has a built-in cryptocurrency wallet that remains offline for your protection, along with (what Sirin says is) secure access to exchanges and encrypted communications. It runs on Sirin’s own fork of Android 8.1 and there’s a fingerprint sensor as well. The 2-inch second screen that extends from the device’s body is there seemingly to carry out cryptocurrency transactions.You can buy Finney only with Sirin’s own cryptocurrency, even though the price is fixed in dollars — that seems somewhat of a red flag. I get that Sirin wants people to use its own digital currency, but can’t I just pay for the thing with actual dollars? If blockchain is your bag, then by all means check this out. But the way things currently stand, my level of interest is minimal.Rating: 1 out of 5 Lost Bitcoins Kris Holt has been an ECT News Network writer since 2013, with a focus on gadgets and home technology. He has written for The Daily Dot, The Daily Beast, and PolicyMic, among others. He’s Scottish, so would prefer if no one used the word “soccer” in his company. Email Kris. The creator is said to be preparing for a Kickstarter campaign in August. While it is a tool with a lot of practical value (assuming it works as promised), the design leaves something to be desired.Perhaps that’s something that can be refined through crowdfunding. Still, for the most part, I care more about practicalities than design, and having broken an iPhone in the recent past, I am on board with this.Rating: 4 out of 5 Just Needs Design Tweaks Strain your ears hard enough to listen through the echoes of distance and time, and you might hear me exude an enormous sigh as I learn of the existence of the Finney smartphone. It is a dual-screen device from Sirin Labs that will cost you a grand and, somehow, received an endorsement from soccer icon Lionel Messi. Welcome, friends, neighbors and distant strangers to the latest edition of Gadget Dreams and Nightmares, in which your trusty columnist highly recommends a trip to your regional wine producers when not perusing the latest gadget announcements.In our tasting flight this time around are a pair of earphones that double as earrings (or is that the other way around?); a US$1,000 blockchain-focused, dual-screen phone; a smartphone with nine (yes, nine) cameras; and an airbag for your handset. As ever, these are not reviews. Nor can you expect to derive any true meaning from the ratings — they exist solely to indicate how much I am interested in trying each item. For my final entry this time around, here is another phone-related prototype. This one is a concept that seeks to protect your phone.Philip Frenzel, an engineering student at Aalen University in Germany, created the mobile airbag, which is a case that detects when your device is falling and extends metal prongs at each of the four corners to stop it from getting damaged when it smacks into the ground. Let me make this perfectly clear right off the bat: I am compelled to give this item a rating of zero, solely on the basis that my body is not adequately prepared to use this item as intended. That’s because my ears are piercing-free. Otherwise, I’d be mighty tempted to try out the Swings Bluetooth Earrings with built-in earphones. It’s a practical, clever idea that many who have pierced ears might just take advantage of.Swings certainly could fix the problem of losing Apple’s expensive AirPods to the ether or having to root around in one’s pockets or purse to find one’s tangled-up headset. The earphones are in the lower part of what look like beaded earrings, and the motion accelerators determine when you have swiveled them to nestle inside your auricle.You can expect five hours of listening time out of the Swings on a single charge, and you can add up to three hours of listening time with a 15-minute charge from the case. Each earphone has a microphone as well, so you can handle calls and use your favored voice assistant.Unfortunately, the Swings are not waterproof, so they might not hold up too well if it’s raining or if you engage in particularly intense gym workouts. Cushioning the Blowlast_img read more

Whether Intended or Accidental Internet Traffic Rerouting Can Be Costly

first_imgQuestionable Explanation Still, Google claims that a Nigerian ISP caused the problem with no malicious intent. This issue only affected network traffic.Since nearly all Internet traffic to Google services is encrypted, there was no increased risk of data exposure as a result of this leak, according to Google.Google maintains that nothing indicates this was an attack or a breach. Google’s internal analysis is consistent with Mainone’s claim that the situation was caused by a misconfiguration.”Given the time to resolve this issue, it is highly likely that this was an honest mistake by a core Internet provider,” said Brian Chappell, senior director for enterprise and solutions architecture at BeyondTrust.”The mechanisms for managing the routing of traffic across the Internet have been an area of concern for some time, as there is no real authentication for the information. It is a trust-based approach,” he told TechNewsWorld.Regardless of an intentional attack or mistake, the implications can range from denial of service and slow response of service to the compromise of data in transit, said BeyondTrust CTO Morey Haber. If there had been an intention to target an ISP, this could have been a serious incident.”While [data compromise] is much less likely due to all Google traffic being encrypted, there are scenarios from man-in-the-middle attacks to compromised keys that could be utilized in a blended attack to decrypt the traffic,” Haber told TechNewsWorld. Viewed as an accident, this incident will drive attention and activity toward a more robust solution, suggested Chappell. The organization responsible for the mistake very likely will implement more stringent processes to avoid such an event happening again.”Assuming that the systems in question are accessed through a secure solution, such as a privileged password management solution, it is likely there were session recordings that could be searched to find the event and allow for rapid remediation,” he said. “If not, that is definitely the first step that organizations should be taking.”Viewed as a malicious action, it highlights the inherent insecurity of routing protocols. While core providers are likely to have significant controls around the manipulation of protocols and tables within their organization, that does not eliminate the possibility of malfeasance by internal and external parties. Either way, we can expect to see renewed activity in this space, according to Chappell.Whether accidental or deliberate, there are implications that need fixing, noted Haber. The rerouting of traffic out of a geographic region due to pure ISP hygiene is unacceptable. If it had occurred in other regions — like Europe, the Middle East and Africa — it could have been perceived as an EU General Data Protection Regulation violation. This type of attack or accident can have real financial impact for companies doing business online, warned Chappell. Being able to redirect traffic away from legitimate sites, either to interrupt services or worse, to present fake sites, undoubtedly would lead to immediate financial and secondary reputational loss for organizations.”While it didn’t actually stop [Google’s] platform working, it may have impacted many sites which rely on their services. The final tally will become apparent in time,” he said.This type of incident is a reminder of the dependencies all cloud users face. Entities in far regions of the world can affect traffic and cause an outage in services users rely on every day, added Haber.”Businesses operating online need to be reminded that their dependencies on cloud services should have contractual requirements in the form of SLAs,” he said, “and that operational backup plans should be developed in case incidents like this materialize as full-blown attacks.” Google is adamant that the mishap resulted from a prefix leak in configuring BGP, the Internet’s main routing protocol, rather than a hijack. Each Internet Service Provider advertises to all others a list of Internet Protocols it owns. A prefix leak occurs when an ISP advertises a range of IPs it does not own, according to the Google spokesperson.BGP is a decades’ old technology that is not cryptographically secure, enabling these types of mistakes by third parties, which is what this incident most likely was, said Rick Moy, chief marketing officer at Acalvio.”There have certainly been nefarious BGP hijackings in the past, and I am sure they will continue because they enable traffic hijacking and even cryptojacking,” he told TechNewsWorld. “Also, unfortunately, there is no quick fix.”These types of issues are typically due to hacking, rather than a mistake that was made, noted Chris Rivers, vice president of Web development at MGH.However, in this case, the incident seems to have been caused by an error that occurred during planned network maintenance.”It is interesting that the traffic was rerouted to countries already known for ‘big brother’ uses of technology to spy on citizens,” Rivers told TechNewsWorld. “There was definitely a vulnerability via mistake that Google is denying.”Looking at the bigger picture, this type of situation caused a massive denial of service to the G Suite. Attacking a vulnerability like this would be designed to disrupt service to its intended audience, he added. Jack M. Germain has been an ECT News Network reporter since 2003. His main areas of focus are enterprise IT, Linux and open source technologies. He has written numerous reviews of Linux distros and other open source software.Email Jack.center_img What Comes Next? No Harm, No Foul? An apparent prefix leak from an errant router misconfiguration caused Google to lose control of several million of its IP addresses for more than an hour on Monday.During the event, Internet traffic was misrouted to China and Russia from Nigeria. The incident initially sparked concerns that it might have been a malicious hijacking attempt.The mishap made Google’s search and other services unavailable to many users intermittently. It caused problems for Spotify, Google cloud customers, G-Suite users and Youtube viewers, among others.The problem started when the MainOne Cable Company in Lagos, Nigeria, improperly updated tables in the Internet’s global routing system to declare that its autonomous system was the proper path to reach 212 IP prefixes belonging to Google. China Telecom shortly thereafter improperly accepted the route and announced it worldwide.That move, in turn, caused Russia-based Transtelecom and other large service providers to follow the route. The misdirected traffic led to China Telecom, the Chinese government-owned provider that recently was caught improperly routing Western carriers’ traffic through mainland China.”We’re aware that a portion of Internet traffic was affected by incorrect routing of IP addresses, and access to some Google services was impacted. The root cause of the issue was external to Google, and there was no compromise of Google services,” a Google spokesperson told TechNewsWorld via company rep Lindsay Hart. Attack or Accident: Same Impactlast_img read more