State Highlights Mental Health Reforms Take Shape In Kan Colo

first_img This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription. State Highlights: Mental Health Reforms Take Shape In Kan., Colo. A selection of health policy stories from New York, California, Kansas, Colorado, Wisconsin, Florida and Georgia.Los Angeles Times: Gov. Jerry Brown Commits To Major Medi-Cal ExpansionBrown earmarked $350 million in his spending plan to help enroll more Californians in Medi-Cal, the state’s health insurance program for the poor. Under the proposal, enrollment rules would be simplified to cover residents who are currently eligible but not enrolled. Those costs would be split evenly between state and federal governments. The governor’s plan also calls for a separate, larger expansion of Medi-Cal that would cover a group of low-income Californians not currently eligible for the program: adults without children, earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level — or $15,415 a year. The federal government would subsidize costs for the first three years, with the state shouldering a portion of the bill after that (Mishak, 1/10).Los Angeles Times: Brown’s Budget Proposal Has Good News For SomeCalifornia would significantly expand public health insurance under Brown’s proposed budget as part of a plan to implement President Obama’s health care overhaul. … Brown earmarked $350 million to help enroll more Californians in Medi-Cal, the state’s health insurance program for the poor. The cost would be split between the state and federal governments (1/10).California Healthline: Budget Called A ‘Godsend’ For Health Care CommunityCalifornia Health and Human Services Secretary Diana Dooley summed up the health care impact of yesterday’s budget proposal this way: “The good news is, there are no cuts,” Dooley said. “While we are not restoring anything, we are not cutting, either.” That was a tremendous relief to Senate member Ed Hernandez (D-West Covina), chair of the Senate Committee on Health. After enduring year after year of multi-billion-dollar cuts to health programs, he said no budget news is good budget news. … Even with the lack of cuts, there were still a number of items in the proposed budget that could have a significant impact on the health care system (Gorn, 1/11).Kansas City Star: Brownback Says Kansas Will Spend $10 Million For At-Risk Mentally IllGov. Sam Brownback — prompted in part by December’s massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School — said his administration will spend $10 million to treat Kansas’ most serious cases of mental illness. At a news conference Thursday in Kansas City, Kan., the Republican said improving treatment for the most at-risk mental health patients will be an immediate step to try to prevent tragedies like that in Newtown, Conn., where 26 students and teachers were murdered, and in [Littleton], Colo., where 12 high school students and one teacher died in a shooting rampage. “We haven’t made much progress since Columbine in getting at these shocking types of cases,” Brownback said. “What we’re picking here is a piece I think we can move forward on” (Helling, 1/10).Kansas Health Institute: Governor Announces New Mental Health InitiativeGov. Sam Brownback today described the broad outline of a new mental health initiative that he said would focus on the development of regional hubs to target services toward mentally ill persons who resist treatment until a crisis forces them into a mental hospital or prison. He and other administration officials acknowledged the plan was prompted in part by the Newtown, Conn. school shooting last month that left 20 children and six adults dead after an apparently deranged and heavily armed man attacked Sandy Hook Elementary (Shields, 1/10).Modern Healthcare: Colo. Governor Seeks To Overhaul Mental Health SystemColorado Gov. John Hickenlooper’s state of the state address included a moment of silence for the 12 people who were shot and killed in an Aurora, Colo., movie theater July 20 and a call for a “comprehensive overhaul of the state’s mental health system.” “We have to do a better job of identifying and helping people who are a threat to themselves and others,” Hickenlooper said in his speech. “We ask you to pass legislation that will update civil commitment laws, make it easier to identify people with mental illness who are a danger to themselves and others and provide safer, more humane systems for their treatment.” Last month, Hickenlooper outlined an $18.5 million five-point plan to strengthen to the state’s mental health system (Robeznieks, 1/10). Denver Post: Patrick Kennedy Calls For Mental Health Insurance Reforms In ColoradoColorado must reform laws and insurance benefits to give patients and families access to mental illness treatment equal to what as they usually get for medical treatment, panelists at an informal “hearing” said Thursday night. The mental health community has waited more than four years since passage of a federal parity in treatment act for a final set of rules to be issued, and the time is far past due, said former U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy and other speakers. Telling patients to walk “down the hall” to get mental health care, if they can get it at all, is the same as telling black Americans in the 1960s to walk down the hall to the “colored” fountain, Kennedy said. “It’s long past time we as a nation move into the 21st Century,” Kennedy said, and ensure mental illnesses “no longer get segregated and dismissed as character issues rather than chemistry issues” (Booth, 1/10). The New York Times: New York City To Restrict Prescription Painkillers In Public Hospitals’ Emergency RoomsSome of the most common and most powerful prescription painkillers on the market will be restricted sharply in the emergency rooms at New York City’s 11 public hospitals, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said Thursday in an effort to crack down on what he called a citywide and national epidemic of prescription drug abuse (Hartocollis, 1/10).Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Health Care Job Openings DwindleJob openings for nurses, pharmacists, radiology technologists and other jobs in health care are near historic lows, according to a report released Thursday by the Wisconsin Hospital Association. The number of openings four or five years ago ran into the double digits. “The employment picture has changed,” said Judith Warmuth, vice president-workforce at the Wisconsin Hospital Association. The slow economic recovery and high unemployment rate had a part in this. But schools throughout the state responded to the nursing shortage by significantly expanding their programs. … The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee doubled the size of its undergraduate nursing program at the height of shortage in the last decade. The university graduated 100 nurses from its undergraduate program and 50 from its graduate programs last month (Boulton, 1/10). The Associated Press: Florida Enhances Program For Disabled ChildrenFlorida is enhancing its efforts to get severely disabled children out of nursing facilities and back home, though the head of the state agency that oversees their care said Thursday she couldn’t find the conditions that are being criticized by families and federal officials. The accusations come from families of more than a dozen children who have filed a lawsuit and the Department of Justice, which also has threatened to sue the state (Kaczor, 1/10).The Associated Press: Georgia Speaker: Guard Health Care, Change Lobbying RulesHouse Speaker David Ralston has broadly endorsed the idea of extending a high-profile hospital industry tax that generates a sizable portion of revenue for state health care. In a separate matter, the Blue Ridge Republican promised during a wide-ranging interview Thursday that he will push for changes to Georgia’s ethics law, including broadening the definition of who qualifies as a lobbyist to bring more people under rules that govern interactions with elected officials (1/11).Los Angeles Times: Restored Funding For Prescription Drug-Program Monitoring Program UrgedCalifornia Atty. Gen. Kamala D. Harris on Thursday called on Gov. Jerry Brown to restore funding to a prescription drug-monitoring program that health experts say is key to combating drug abuse and overdose deaths in the state (Girion and Glover, 1/11).California Healthline: New Institute Hopes To Boost Primary Care Pay, Numbers In CaliforniaCalling primary care “the cornerstone for all of California’s health care delivery systems” and “the foundation for every goal of health care reform,” a new organization arrives in California next week hoping to give the profession a shot in the arm. The California Advanced Primary Care Institute brings together a wide spectrum of stakeholders with high hopes of reinvigorating a key part of the health care workforce in California. The state’s primary care workforce will decline by about 30 percent over the next decade at the same time demand increases with millions of Californians gaining coverage through the Affordable Care Act (Lauer, 1/10).last_img read more

First Edition September 23 2014

first_imgFirst Edition: September 23, 2014 This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription. Check out all of Kaiser Health News’ e-mail options including First Edition and Breaking News alerts on our Subscriptions page. center_img Today’s headlines include reports about work being done on healthcare.gov in anticipation of the next open enrollment period, which begins in mid-November.  Kaiser Health News: Insurers Hesitant To Cover Many Proton Beam Therapy TreatmentsKaiser Health News consumer columnist Michelle Andrews writes: “Everyone seems to agree that proton beam therapy–a type of radiation that can attack cancerous tumors while generally sparing the surrounding tissue–is an exciting technology with a lot of potential. But some insurers and disease experts say that, until there’s better evidence that proton therapy is more effective at treating various cancers than traditional types of less expensive radiation, coverage shouldn’t be routine” (Andrews, 9/23). Read the column.Kaiser Health News: Capsules: How To Fix Medicare? Ask The PeopleNow on Kaiser Health News’ blog, Mary Agnes Carey reports: “Washington is full of ideas to overhaul Medicare. Some would increase the program’s eligibility age, others would charge higher-income beneficiaries more for their coverage. There’s movement to link payment to the quality — rather than the quantity — of care delivered. Marge Ginsburg decided to ask ordinary Americans how they would change the federal entitlement program” (Carey, 9/23). Check out what else is on the blog.The New York Times: Healthcare.gov Is Given An OverhaulThe Obama administration is redesigning HealthCare.gov and says that 70 percent of consumers will be able to use a shorter, simpler online application form to buy health insurance when the second annual open enrollment period begins in mid-November. Federal health officials said Monday that the shorter application had fewer pages and questions, fewer screens to navigate, and would allow people to sign up with fewer clicks of a computer mouse (Pear, 9/22).The Associated Press: Government Hackers Try To Crack Healthcare.GovThe government’s own watchdogs tried to hack into HealthCare.gov earlier this year and found what they termed a critical vulnerability — but also came away with respect for some of the health insurance site’s security features. Those are among the conclusions of a report being released Tuesday by the Health and Human Services Department inspector general, who focuses on health care fraud (9/23).Politico: Court Tosses Obamacare Mandate Lawsuit Brought By DoctorsA federal appeals court has summarily tossed a lawsuit challenging the Obama administration’s delay of Obamacare’s employer mandate — a case that is similar to the one that House Republicans plan to file against the president. This suit was filed by the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, which argued that the delay could hurt doctors financially. But the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago on Friday said the plaintiffs don’t have a right to sue (Haberkorn, 9/22).The Associated Press: Spin Meter: Those Changing Health Law NumbersThe Obama administration has had to revise and refine some initial enrollment numbers for health insurance sign-ups after they turned out to be too optimistic. At other times, metrics less favorable to the president’s overhaul leaked out after officials claimed not to have such data. Parsing the numbers is a new pursuit for administration officials from President Barack Obama on down, to lawmakers of both parties and a gaggle of outside analysts (9/22).Los Angeles Times: 30,000 Californians Face Obamacare Enrollment Delays, Dropped CoverageCalifornia’s health insurance exchange is vowing to fix enrollment delays and dropped coverage for about 30,000 consumers before the next sign-up period this fall. Covered California said it failed to promptly send insurance applications for 20,000 people to health plans recently, causing delays and confusion over their coverage. Another group of up to 10,000 people have had their insurance coverage canceled prematurely because they were deemed eligible for Medi-Cal based on a check of their income, officials said (Terhune, 9/22).The Wall Street Journal: Hospitals Cut Costs By Getting Doctors To Stick To GuidelinesA hospital group in Delaware was concerned it was spending too much on cardiac monitoring for patients outside of intensive care who didn’t need it. So it changed its computer system to encourage doctors to follow American Heart Association guidelines for using the monitors. The number of patients using the monitors, and the group’s daily costs for such monitoring, fell by 70% without any harm to patient care, researchers from Wilmington, Del.-based Christiana Care Health System report in a study in JAMA Internal Medicine (Whalen, 9/22).NPR: Avoid The Rush! Some ERs Are Taking AppointmentsHospitals around the country are competing for newly-insured patients, and one way to increase patient satisfaction, they figure, might be to reduce the frustratingly long wait times in the ER. To that end, Northridge and its parent company Dignity Health started offering online appointments last summer; since then, more than 22,000 patients have reserved spots at emergency rooms in California, Arizona and Nevada (Gorman, 9/23). Read the Kaiser Health News’ earlier, related story The Latest In Medical Convenience: ER Appointments (Gorman and Colliver, 7/3). The Wall Street Journal’s Pharmalot: Did Someone say Kickbacks? HHS Warns About Medicare Part D CouponsBrand-name drug makers regularly use coupons to woo consumers and boost sales. But inducing Medicare Part D beneficiaries to use coupons is illegal. So drug makers are supposed to use safeguards to ensure these consumers do not use coupons to obtain prescription medicines (Silverman, 9/22).NPR: As Run-Ins Rise, Police Take Crash Courses On Handling Mentally IllA number of high-profile police shootings, including that of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., last month, have led to increased scrutiny of police interactions with civilians. One group that is disproportionately subject to police uses of force is people with mental illness. Many local departments hold special sessions to train officers about mental illness and how to help the people they interact with. Walking up and down the aisle of a police academy classroom in downtown St. Louis, Lt. Perri Johnson tells the officers here that responding to calls where a person is in mental distress is never easy (Bouscaren, 9/23).The Wall Street Journal: Medicaid Bankruptcy Ruling Could Bolster Health-Care Facility TurnaroundsA federal judge’s recent ruling blocking Medicaid officials from cutting off a struggling nursing home could help troubled health-care facilities survive using bankruptcy, according to restructuring professionals. U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Michael Williamson told Medicaid officials that bankruptcy’s protective powers meant they must continue paying for patients at the Rehabilitation Center of St. Petersburg while the Florida facility’s bankruptcy lawyers work through problems. The nursing home’s Medicaid funding was at risk after health inspectors found “rampant, serious problems” at the 159-bed facility earlier this year. After the inspections, Medicaid threatened to terminate the facility’s provider agreement (Stech, 9/22).Politico: Scott Brown Splits With New Hampshire GOP On AbortionRepublican Scott Brown has something to run against besides Democrat Jeanne Shaheen: His state GOP’s abortion stance. The New Hampshire Republican Party adopted Saturday a socially conservative party platform that supports “the pre-born child’s fundamental right to life and personhood under the Fourteenth Amendment” as well as the “Life at Conception Act.” Those policies are at odds with the New Hampshire GOP’s Senate nominee’s stances on abortion, and Brown’s Democratic opponent Shaheen attacked him on Monday for the “disturbing” message sent by the New Hampshire Republicans (Everett, 9/23).The Washington Post: Southern States Are Now Epicenter Of HIV/AIDS In The U.S.Southern states now have the highest rates of new HIV diagnoses, the largest percentage of people living with the disease and the most people dying from it, according to Rainey Campbell, executive director of the Southern AIDS Coalition, a nonprofit serving 16 Southern states and the District. Fifty percent of all new HIV cases are in the South. And the HIV infection rate among African American and Latina women in the South now rivals that of sub-Saharan Africa. In some Southern states, blacks account for more than 80 percent of new HIV diagnoses among women (Wiltz, 9/22).The Associated Press: Citing Joan Rivers, Texas’ Perry Backs Clinic LawRepublican Texas Gov. Rick Perry on Sunday invoked comedian Joan Rivers’ death at a surgical clinic while defending a law he signed that would close the majority of abortion facilities in the nation’s second-most populous state (9/21). last_img read more

Congress May Act Soon To Shore Up VA Budget With 3B Injection

first_img The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has reduced its chronic backlog of veterans’ disability claims – deemed unacceptable by President Barack Obama when he campaigned for office – but so far, the agency is struggling to meet its self-imposed deadline of eliminating long wait times by 2015. (Glantz, 7/23) Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald said Thursday he’s confident that Congress will act soon to address a looming budget crisis that could force his agency to shut down some VA hospitals, freeze hiring and take other belt-tightening steps. During a visit to the Richard L. Roudebush VA Medical Center in Indianapolis, McDonald expressed optimism that by the end of next week Congress will endorse transferring up to $3 billion from the Veterans Choice program to close the Department of Veterans Affairs’ budget gap. (Callahan, 7/23) The Veterans Health Administration has 41,500 job vacancies for doctors, nurses and other medical professionals across its sprawling health care system while it struggles to provide timely medical care for veterans, according to records obtained and analyzed by USA TODAY. (Hoyer and Zoroya, 7/23) The Associated Press: VA Secretary Optimistic Congress Will Plug VA’s Budget Gap A new multibillion-dollar funding crisis has surfaced at the Department of Veterans Affairs that threatens the health care of thousands of America’s military members if not immediately fixed. Members of Congress lambasted the VA on Wednesday for hiding the details of a $2.5 billion budget shortfall that could force some VA hospitals to shut their doors as soon as next month — leaving hundreds of American military members without a place to go for their medical needs. (Pergram, 7/23) The Center For Investigative Reporting: VA Struggling With Promise To End Long Benefits Waits This Year center_img USA Today: VA Has 41,500 Unfilled Medical Jobs, Forcing Vets Into Costly Private Care Fox News: VA Hospitals In Danger Of Closing Unless Lawmakers Fix Newest Funding Mess Congress May Act Soon To Shore Up VA Budget With $3B Injection, VA Secretary McDonald Says The Department of Veteran Affairs’ $2.5 billion budget shortfall has raised the risk of some VA hospitals closing as well as employee furloughs. The beleaguered agency has also made little progress decreasing vets’ wait times for health care or in hiring for 41,500 open medical positions. This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.last_img read more

Anthem Criticized For Denying Claims For Patients Who Go To ER For

first_img Much of the attention has focused on Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes. But another character played a central role behind the scenes in the alleged fraud: Ms. Holmes’s boyfriend, Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani, according to more than three dozen former Theranos employees who interacted with Mr. Balwani extensively over a number of years. Mr. Balwani, who met Ms. Holmes when she was a teenager, jointly ran the company with her for seven years as president and chief operating officer and enforced a corporate culture of secrecy and fear until his departure in the spring of 2016, the former employees say. Unlike Ms. Holmes and Theranos, who reached a settlement with the SEC to resolve the agency’s civil charges in March without admitting or denying wrongdoing, Mr. Balwani has denied separate charges the SEC filed against him in a parallel action and is fighting them in a California federal court. (Carreyrou, 5/18) Aetna wants an employee to return or destroy documents that formed the basis of a whistleblower lawsuit she filed against CVS Caremark, alleging that the pharmacy benefit manager improperly reported generic drug prices to the federal government, according to a source familiar with the matter. At the same time, CVS Caremark is seeking to redact key portions of the lawsuit, which is currently under seal, before it is made available to the public (although you can read it here). The lawsuit, which STAT first reported last month, revolves around the complicated contracts between pharmacy benefit managers and Medicare Part D plans, as well as the pricing that must be reported to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. (Silverman, 5/18) Anthem Criticized For Denying Claims For Patients Who Go To ER For ‘Non-Emergency’ Ailments Patients, doctors and hospitals have been publicly criticizing the insurer over the tactic. Anthem says its policy aims to reduce use of emergency departments to rein in health care costs. In other marketplace news: The Wall Street Journal examines the behind-the-scenes role of Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani at Theranos, while other news outlets cover Aetna, CVS Caremark, Cigna and Express Scripts. Fresh from a break up with rival and former merger partner Anthem in May 2017, health insurer Cigna Corp. wasted no time searching for a rebound. It ended up pursuing the nation’s No. 1 pharmacy benefit manager, Express Scripts, which was at the time concerned with its future as a stand-alone PBM after losing Anthem as its biggest client. Bloomfield, Conn.-based Cigna and Express Scripts filed a preliminary registration statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Wednesday detailing the terms of their merger agreement, announced in early March. (Livingston, 5/17) The New York Times: As An Insurer Resists Paying For ‘Avoidable’ E.R. Visits, Patients And Doctors Push Back This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription. The Wall Street Journal: Theranos Inc.’s Partners In Blood center_img Stat: ALS Patients Losing Time As They Wait For Insurers To Cover Pricey New Drug Like an untold number of ALS patients, [Sarah] Benoit faces a conundrum. She can’t afford the $145,000 price of the drug without insurance, but her insurance provider has repeatedly denied access to the drug, even though it was approved by the Food and Drug Administration last fall for all ALS patients. And as time goes by, Benoit knows that she is losing a chance to delay the inevitable. … Certainly, there is nothing new about a high-priced medicine or insurers acting as impenetrable gatekeepers. In this case, the manufacturer of Radicava, MT Phrama, maintains that years of research expense must be recovered. And for their part, various insurers argue that coverage decisions, while nuanced, reflect legitimate criteria. (Silverman, 5/21) Modern Healthcare: How Cigna And Express Scripts Decided To Merge Amid Anthem Drama  Stat: Aetna Pressures Whistleblower Who Alleged CVS Caremark Ripped Off Medicare  Anthem denied thousands of claims last year under its “avoidable E.R. program,” according to a sample of emergency room bills analyzed by the American College of Emergency Physicians. The program, which Anthem has been rolling out in a handful of states in recent years, reviews claims based on the final diagnosis of patients. Emergency room physicians say that, last year, the company did not routinely request medical records for denied patients, and therefore could not review the symptoms that brought them to the emergency room. Anthem says it is now reviewing such records before issuing denials. (Abelson, Sanger-Katz and Creswell, 5/19) last_img read more

IKEA to test furniture rental in 30 markets as greener alternative to

first_img Facebook April 3, 201911:14 AM EDT Filed under News Retail & Marketing 0 Comments IKEA to test furniture rental in 30 markets as greener alternative to flat-pack fare Young consumers say they want to minimize their impact on the environment Twitter Join the conversation → More Recommended For You’This keeps us in the game’: GM throws Oshawa plant a lifeline with $170M investment that will save 300 jobsTrans Mountain construction work can go ahead as National Energy Board re-validates permitsDavid Rosenberg: Deflation is still the No. 1 threat to global economic stability — and central banks know itBank of Canada drops mortgage stress test rate for first time since 2016The storm is coming and investors need a financial ark to see them through Share this storyIKEA to test furniture rental in 30 markets as greener alternative to flat-pack fare Tumblr Pinterest Google+ LinkedIn Email Comment Reuters Reddit IKEA, which had global sales of 39 billion euros (US$44 billion) last year, said it wants to develop subscription-based leasing offers to encourage products to be reused as many times as possible before being recycled.Ikea KAARST, Germany — IKEA will expand tests to allow customers to rent desks and sofas rather than buy them as it shifts away from selling low-cost disposable furniture in response to growing environmental concerns.The world’s biggest furniture group first said it was looking into furniture leasing in February. It fleshed out its plans on Wednesday at an event held at its first ‘sustainable’ store in Kaarst, western Germany, opened in 2017.“Testing out opportunities for leasing offers is one of the ways we are challenging ourselves to deliver on our transformation strategy,” said Jesper Brodin, chief executive of Ingka Group, which owns most IKEA stores.“Climate change and unsustainable consumption are among the biggest challenges we face in society.”IKEA’s move towards supporting a more circular economy comes as many young consumers say they want to minimize their impact on the environment, preferring to rent items ranging from clothing to cars.Its business model has already come under pressure from the rise of online retail and a growing reluctance among younger shoppers to travel to its vast out-of-town stores, get the flat-pack furniture home and assemble it themselves.Rent the Runway, which has previously only rented out designer apparel and accessories, said last month it will partner with Williams-Sonoma Inc’s West Elm brand to allow subscribers to rent home decor.IKEA, which had global sales of 39 billion euros (US$44 billion) last year, said it wants to develop subscription-based leasing offers to encourage products to be reused as many times as possible before being recycled.It had already committed to make all its products from renewable and recycled materials by 2030 and also to design all its products to be reused, repaired and recycled. In 2018 it handled 1 million orders for spare parts to repair products.IKEA has already started testing different furniture rental projects in the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland and Poland, and aims to expand the tests to all its 30 markets next year.In Sweden and Switzerland, it is looking into providing furniture to companies on a subscription model, while in the Netherlands it is testing a rental package for students in cooperation with a housing association.© Thomson Reuters 2019 last_img read more

Albuquerque Plans To Reject And Return BYD Electric Buses

first_imgAlbuquerque will return BYD buses and order… ICE.The City of Albuquerque, New Mexico wasn’t satisfied with the 60-foot all-electric buses received from BYD and it seems that the deal will end up in court.Mayor Tim Keller lists tons of problems with BYD buses, ordered for by the Albuquerque Rapid Transit project. According to the article, so far 15 buses were delivered (out of 20 ordered) with a significant delay.The biggest problem was range – just about 177 miles instead of the expected 275 miles. The city says that batteries were overheating in the summer, the charging infrastructure wasn’t installed and even brakes were found not working in one case. Together with other issues, it all sounds miserable:“Last month, Keller announced a hold on the project pending inspection of the buses, citing brake failures and other equipment malfunctions discovered during driver training and testing.“When we started running the buses on test runs, we found major problems with the battery range, the brakes and some electrical issues,” Keller said. “They seem to be things that were already on the ‘to be fixed list,’ but they started getting worse.””“ABQ Ride mechanics discovered last month that the center and rear brakes on buses had zero air pressure, yet the vehicles still were able to move, relying on front brakes alone.Other problems include: the lack of undercarriage protection, buses that wouldn’t stop when emergency doors were utilized, cracking on bus exteriors, mirrors not set up correctly, wiring problems, and of great concern – the electric handicap chair lock becomes unsecure when the driver turns on the air conditioner.” Author Liberty Access TechnologiesPosted on November 18, 2018Categories Electric Vehicle News The city plans to reject and return all the electric buses.Because no other manufacturer was willing to produce 60-foot buses to Albuquerque’s specification, the city will try to order 10 conventional buses, but the time it takes to get those is another 18 months.““No one will make an electric bus to our specifications because they say it’s not possible,” Keller said. “No other company will do it. There’s no option for electric. We’ll go with a version of clean diesel or gas, then we’ll look to phase in electric once the technology catches up.””We are not in a position to judge whether BYD really does not meet the requirements, so let’s wait and see how those 60-footers work for other agencies.Hat Tip to Spoonman!!!Source: govtech.com Source: Electric Vehicle News Proterra Teams With Thomas Built For Electric Schools Busescenter_img It Seems Some BYD Buses Have Quality Issues, Can’t Recharge New Flyer Is First With Altoona Tested 60-Foot Articulated Electric Bus See Alsolast_img read more

Tesla Heated Seats Model 3 VS Model S Whats Better Video

first_imgWe’re learning more and more that not all Tesla vehicles are the same.As more reviews come forth, and especially those from owners of multiple Tesla vehicles, we’re getting a better idea of the difference between the Model 3, Model S, and Model X. While the cars are very similar in many ways, there are certainly details that set them apart. In this recent video, YouTuber Erik Strait uses a Flir camera to help determine which Tesla sedan has better heated seats.Related Content: Source: Electric Vehicle News Comparing Heating Effectiveness: Tesla Model 3, Chevy Volt, Nissan Leaf Tesla Model 3 Heated Rear Seats Now Activated Via OTA Update For those unfamiliar with a Flir camera, it’s used for thermal imaging. Erik heard from a friend that the heated seats in his Model 3 aren’t warming up enough and/or fast enough. However, others have shared that their heated seats work just fine. Could this be another situation that’s based on early vehicles versus more recent vehicles? We do know that Tesla made changes to the Model 3 seats at one point. We’ll have to wait and see if Erik can run another test to answer that question.At this point, we only have a comparison to the system in the Model S. As you can see from Erik’s video, both systems work well. In fact, there’s not much of a discrepancy between the two cars. However, keep in mind that the Model S has heated side bolsters and a heated steering wheel, neither of which are present in the Model 3. This could surely make a difference to someone driving the cars.Do you own a Tesla Model 3 or Model S? Actually, do you own both? Let us know your experiences in the comment section below.Video Description via DAErik on YouTube:Tesla Heated Seats. Model 3 VS. Model S. What’s Better?We got a new Flir and test the Model 3 heated seats VS. the Model S after a friend mentioned his weren’t heating up very fast. Draw your own judgement from the test. Tesla’s Latest Software Update Helps Thaw Charge Port Author Liberty Access TechnologiesPosted on January 17, 2019Categories Electric Vehicle Newslast_img read more

Porsche Taycan Is Completing Its Final Test Drives Videos

first_imgSource: Electric Vehicle News .embed-container { position: relative; padding-bottom: 56.25%; height: 0; overflow: hidden; max-width: 100%; } .embed-container iframe, .embed-container object, .embed-container embed { position: absolute; top: 0; left: 0; width: 100%; height: 100%; } Porsche Taycan Spied Looking Sleek In Copenhagen Porsche Taycan Facts from the Taycan testing phaseOverall distance covered: Approximately six million kilometres, of which two million were endurance run kilometresCountries: A total of 30, including the USA, China, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and FinlandTemperatures: From minus 35 to plus 50 degree CelsiusAir humidity: From 20 to 100 per centAltitude: From 85 metres below to 3,000 metres above sea levelCharging cycles: Over 100,000 using various charging technologies across the globeDevelopment team: Around 1,000 test drivers, technicians and engineersThe Porsche Taycan is expected to achieve sub-eight-minute lap time on the 20.6-kilometre of Nürburgring Nordschleife.Virtual drive through “The Green Hell”Test experts were able to build upon the comprehensive findings from the digital testing stage using digital prototypes. At present, computers are used to design the body, drive, chassis, electronics and overall vehicle of a new model and to simulate their functions – which includes how they work together. In total, the virtual prototypes of the Taycan have completed more than ten million digital kilometres.This meant that development engineers started driving a Taycan around the Nürburgring Nordschleife in a driving simulator at an early stage, so that they could test and evaluate its circuit performance. During this process, they focused on the electrical energy management, which plays an important role in achieving a sub-eight-minute lap time on the 20.6-kilometre (timed distance) Nordschleife.Brief specs:0 to 100 km/h in significantly less than 3.5 secondsa range of more than 500 km (311 miles) according to the NEDC800 V architecturebattery recharge in just 4 minutes to replenish 100 (62 miles) according to NEDC Author Liberty Access TechnologiesPosted on March 29, 2019Categories Electric Vehicle Newscenter_img Porsche Taycan Draws New Buyers To Brand, Start Of New Era 2020 Porsche Taycan Teased Wearing Silly Stripes 4 photos Everything needs to be buttoned up to the last buttonPorsche Taycan has entered the final stage of testing before the launch of series production. Tests are conducted in a total of 30 countries at temperatures from minus 35 to plus 50 degree Celsius.The total mileage soon will reach about 6 million km (3.7 million miles) as Porsche puts a lot of effort into achieving the true Porsche car feeling in its first all-electric car. With huge investments in electrification and more than 20,000 prospective buyers waiting for their EVs, there is no room for failure.Unveiling is scheduled for September, while sales should start by the end of 2019.“In Scandinavia, just a few kilometres away from the Arctic Circle, it is proving its potential in terms of driving dynamics on snow and ice. At the same time, Porsche engineers are taking advantage of the summer in the Southern Hemisphere. In South Africa, they are conducting performance tests, as well as final adjustments in terms of continuous performance and reproducibility. In Dubai they are carrying out hot-climate endurance runs and testing battery charging under extreme conditions. The 30 countries across the globe in which these comprehensive tests are being carried out have temperatures that range from minus 35 to plus 50 degree Celsius.”“Of course, at Porsche, electric cars have to undergo the same rigorous testing programme as sport cars with combustion engines. In addition to displaying superior performance, this always includes proving unrestricted suitability for everyday use in all climate conditions. Particularly demanding features such as charging the battery or temperature control of the drive train and the interior under extreme conditions are additional aspects in the battery-powered models. Other typical Porsche development targets include circuit performance, multiple accelerations, as well as a range suitable for everyday use.”last_img read more

German EV battery maker Akasol to build first North American plant in

first_imgGerman company Akasol, which makes lithium-ion batteries for a wide range of vehicles, announced its plans to open a new manufacturing facility in the metro Detroit area. more…Subscribe to Electrek on YouTube for exclusive videos and subscribe to the podcast.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V1zk7Eb8r-s&list=PL_Qf0A10763mA7Byw9ncZqxjke6Gjz0MtThe post German EV battery maker Akasol to build first North American plant in metro Detroit appeared first on Electrek. Source: Charge Forwardlast_img

Alonso propels Renault into fresh title assault

first_imgSport Share via Email Share on Facebook Alan Henry Share on LinkedIn Fernando Alonso took to the track at the wheel of the new Renault R28 for the first time yesterday, completing his first few laps in the car he hopes will help him to claim a third world championship in the wake of his split with McLaren-Mercedes after only a single season driving for the British team.Although the new car will not be unveiled officially until January 31 in Paris, Renault displayed an understandable sense of urgency in getting it out on to the Valencia circuit in southern Spain for the first time. After last year’s disappointing campaign in which Heikki Kovalainen scored the French team’s only podium finish with a second place in Japan it was clear that they had lost their way and were in urgent need of being kick-started down a competitive path once again. Since you’re here… Shares00 Share on Twitter Share on Pinterest Share via Email Read more Alonso had a spring in his step as he arrived at the track, clearly keen to pick up the threads of his previous relationship with the team which had delivered him consecutive world titles by the time he left at the end of 2005. However, thick fog blanketed the circuit from the start of the day and the Spaniard was left twiddling his thumbs in the team motorhome for almost three hours until visibility improved sufficiently for him to chug gently down the pit lane and then accelerate hard out on to the track to check that the R28’s systems were working properly and do a total of 39 laps.”Fernando’s body language was such that he seemed very relaxed and at home now he’s back with Renault,” said an observer. “He clearly feels pretty comfortable with them and they give the impression that they not only want him but also need him very badly after that fiasco of a year in 2007.”Last year Renault emerged as one of the teams most damaged by the switch from Michelin to Bridgestone after the French tyre company withdrew from the sport – the differences in tyre carcass construction had an adverse effect on the R27’s aerodynamics – and getting to the bottom of the issue preoccupied the team for much of the season. Add to that some problems with the calibration of the team’s sophisticated wind tunnel and their drivers, Giancarlo Fisichella and Kovalainen, found themselves at sea almost from the first race on the calendar.Renault will hope that the problems have been addressed within the aerodynamic subtleties of the new car. Whereas the 2007 car was an obvious evolution from the 2006 championship winner, the R28 has many new facets and only a few recognisable features from its forebear. The whole front end is new, starting with a large nose cone which sits low over the front wing. Those who think the new car looks a little awkward stylistically should recall the words of the late Denny Hulme, the 1967 world champion: “If the damn thing wins the race then it will be the most beautiful bloody car in the world.”Alonso’s best time was 1.5sec quicker than the German novice Nico Hülkenberg, who had been entrusted to warm up one of the new Williams-Toyota FW30s, a car which will not be given the usual official unveiling. Williams clearly feel that with Toyota engines and the strong driving team of Nico Rosberg and Kazuki Nakajima they will be competitive and an official launch would be an indulgence. “If you accept that BMW Sauber and Renault will probably be right up there with Ferrari and McLaren this year then Williams could well be set to become best of the rest,” said an insider. Share on Twitter Sport Alonso propels Renault into fresh title assaultcenter_img First published on Mon 21 Jan 2008 19.03 EST … we have a small favour to ask. The Guardian will engage with the most critical issues of our time – from the escalating climate catastrophe to widespread inequality to the influence of big tech on our lives. At a time when factual information is a necessity, we believe that each of us, around the world, deserves access to accurate reporting with integrity at its heart.More people are reading and supporting The Guardian’s independent, investigative journalism than ever before. And unlike many news organisations, we have chosen an approach that allows us to keep our journalism accessible to all, regardless of where they live or what they can afford. But we need your ongoing support to keep working as we do.Our editorial independence means we set our own agenda and voice our own opinions. Guardian journalism is free from commercial and political bias and not influenced by billionaire owners or shareholders. This means we can give a voice to those less heard, explore where others turn away, and rigorously challenge those in power.We need your support to keep delivering quality journalism, to maintain our openness and to protect our precious independence. Every reader contribution, big or small, is so valuable. Support The Guardian from as little as $1 – and it only takes a minute. Thank you. Motor sport Share on Messenger Renault Topics Share on Facebook The Recap: sign up for the best of the Guardian’s sport coverage Support The Guardian Fernando Alonso Mon 21 Jan 2008 19.03 EST Share on WhatsApp Formula One Reuse this contentlast_img read more

Issues To Consider From The Hitachi Enforcement Action

first_imgThis recent post highlighted the SEC’s FCPA enforcement action against Hitachi.This post continues the analysis by highlighting various issues to consider from the enforcement action.Too Lenient?A $19 million FCPA enforcement action is nothing to yawn about.However, it is not every Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enforcement action in which the SEC alleges that approximately $10.5 million in improper payments or benefits were provided in connection with two contracts worth approximately $5.6 billion in business.Against this backdrop, a $19 million settlement amount appears at first blush to be very lenient.  Particularly because the SEC makes no mention of voluntary disclosure or cooperation in its resolution documents (something the SEC typically mentions in resolution documents if indeed it has occurred).  Moreover, most FCPA enforcement actions (even those that merely charge books and records and internal controls violations) typically include disgorgement.  There was no disgorgement in the Hitachi enforcement action, only a civil penalty.Hitachi was represented by Linda Chatman Thomsen (a former SEC Director of Enforcement currently at Davis Polk & Wardwell).Rare Civil ComplaintSince 2014, the SEC has brought, including the Hitachi action, 15 corporate FCPA enforcement actions. Along with Avon, Hitachi was the only enforcement action resolved through a settled SEC civil complaint filed in federal court.Why? Presumably because the SEC wanted to invoke the injunctive powers of a federal court to enjoin Hitachi from future violations of the FCPA’s books and records and internal control provisions.An FCPA FirstThe Hitachi enforcement action is believed to be the first FCPA enforcement action to allege improper conduct in South Africa.Root CausesThe root causes of many FCPA enforcement are often foreign trade barriers or distortions.As relevant to this topic, the SEC alleged:“[I]n establishing a local presence in South Afiica, Hitachi [sought] to identify a local black-owned entity or entities with whom HPA could partner in connection with its submission of bids, or “tenders,” for government business. By partnering with a local black-owned entity, HPA would seek to qualify under the requirements of South Africa’s Black Economic Empowerment Act of 2003 (“BEE”), which promoted participation in the South African economy by companies that were at least 25% owned by black South Africans or black-owned South African entities. In general, companies that qualified under the terms of the BEE enjoyed preferential status in government procurements.”No Anti-Bribery ChargesCertain readers may be surprised that the Hitachi enforcement action did not include violations of the FCPA’s anti-bribery provisions.However, in order for the anti-bribery provisions to apply to a foreign issuer like Hitachi, the jurisdictional element of the provisions must be met – in other words “use of the mails or any means or instrumentality of interstate commerce” in furtherance of a payment scheme.There is no allegation, inference or suggestion that the conduct at issue had a U.S. nexus.Thus, based on the information in the SEC’s complaint, there were no anti-bribery charges to bring.last_img read more

Harder Files Motion To Dismiss

first_imgAs highlighted in this previous post, in January 2015 the DOJ criminally charged Dmitrij Harder (pictured), the former owner and President of Chestnut Consulting Group Inc. and Chestnut Consulting Group Co., for allegedly bribing an official with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (“EBRD”).The enforcement action was notable in that it invoked the rarely used “public international organization” prong of the FCPA’s “foreign official” element.Recently, Harder filed this motion to dismiss:  In summary fashion it states:“The Indictment fails to accurately allege the elements of a violation under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”) – it is devoid of any allegations that Mr. Harder paid an allegedly corrupt payment to a “foreign official,” fails to state required allegations when an allegedly corrupt payment is made to a third party, and impermissibly substitutes “public international organization” in the charging language against Mr. Harder. The FCPA counts should also be dismissed because the provision permitting the President to expand the term “foreign official” by identifying “public international organizations” as authorized by 15 U.S.C. § 78dd-2(h)(2)(B) is unconstitutional. Finally, the Travel Act counts fail to state an offense under the Pennsylvania anti-bribery statute and because the Travel Act does not apply extraterritorially to the facts of this case.”As relevant to the FCPA’s third-party payment provisions, the motion states:“Under the FCPA, when an allegedly corrupt payment is made to a person who is not a “foreign official” (like “EBRD Official’s Sister”), it is a crime only if the payment is made by the defendant “while knowing that all or a portion of such money or thing of value will be offered, given, or promised, directly or indirectly, to any foreign official.” 15 U.S.C. § 78dd-2(a)(3). The statutory language of the FCPA does not mention the phrase “for the benefit of.” The Indictment therefore fails in two ways: (1) it purports to expand the statute’s reach and criminalize payments made “for the benefit” of a foreign official; and (2) it fails to set forth any factual allegations that the allegedly corrupt payments were made by Mr. Harder “while knowing that all or a portion of such money or thing of value will be offered, given, or promised, directly or indirectly, to any foreign official.” The Indictment also fails to state an offense because it charges Mr. Harder with inducing a foreign official to use his influence with a public international organization under 15 U.S.C. § 78dd-2(a)(3)(B), but that prong of the FCPA only addresses acts intended to influence a “foreign government” and not a “public international organization.”As relevant to the FCPA’s “foreign official” element and specifically the “public international organization” component of the “foreign official” definition, the motion states:“The FCPA counts in the Indictment (Counts One through Six) should be dismissed because the FCPA statute is unconstitutional to the extent criminal liability is premised upon allegedly corrupt payments in connection with “public international organizations.” In this regard, the FCPA states, without any explanation or limitation, that the President of the United States is empowered to designate entities as “public international organizations,” whose employees are then considered to be “foreign officials” covered by the FCPA. But Congress cannot delegate its legislative powers to the President in criminal matters without providing some direction (such as policy, scope, or limitations), and Congress failed to do this in the FCPA. Further, because the FCPA is vague as to what conduct is criminal – because the term “public international organization” is not clearly defined nor are the designated entities so easily identified – this portion of the FCPA is void for vagueness, particularly because an individual can be convicted without proof that the defendant knew that the entity in question was a “public international organization” and therefore covered by the FCPA. Mr. Harder believes this to be the first case where the government has charged anyone under the “public international organization” prong of the FCPA, and the constitutional defects arising from that portion of the statute are readily apparent.Mr. Harder has not found any case that has reviewed the constitutionality of the definition of “public international organization” for purposes of the FCPA – the key element to the government’s case against Mr. Harder. The term “public international organization” was not in the FCPA when it was originally enacted in 1977. Only when the FCPA was amended as of November 10, 1998, was the term “public international organization” inserted into the FCPA. See PL 105-366 (Nov. 10, 1998). This term, as utilized in the FCPA, violates two important constitutional doctrines: the non-delegation doctrine and the void for vagueness doctrine.[…]Congress cannot delegate its legislative powers to the President in criminal matters without providing some direction (such as policy, scope, or limitations), and Congress failed to do this in the FCPA. Further, because the FCPA is vague as to what conduct is criminal – because the term “public international organization” is not clearly defined nor are the designated entities so easily identified – this portion of the FCPA is void for vagueness, particularly because an individual can be convicted without proof that the defendant knew that the entity in question was a “public international organization” and therefore covered by the FCPA. Mr. Harder believes this to be the first case where the government has charged anyone under the “public international organization” prong of the FCPA, and the constitutional defects arising from that portion of the statute are readily apparent.4 Mr. Harder has not found any case that has reviewed the constitutionality of the definition of “public international organization” for purposes of the FCPA – the key element to the government’s case against Mr. Harder. The term “public international organization” was not in the FCPA when it was originally enacted in 1977. Only when the FCPA was amended as of November 10, 1998, was the term “public international organization” inserted into the FCPA. See PL 105-366 (Nov. 10, 1998). This term, as utilized in the FCPA, violates two important constitutional doctrines: the non-delegation doctrine and the void for vagueness doctrine.”Harder is represented by Ian Comisky (Blank Rome) and Stephen LaCheen (LaCheen, Wittels & Greenberg).U.S. District Court judge Paul Diamond (E.D. Pa.) is presiding over the case.last_img read more

Sage Grouse UpdateDebates Voter TurnoutStink Bug AttackPUD Alcoa DealMicrosoft SuitNumber One Canyon

first_imgBILLINGS, Mont. (AP) – Scientists say oil and gas development in the Western U.S. could continue to cause sage grouse numbers to decline despite limits on drilling meant to protect the struggling bird species.Researchers from the U.S. Geological Survey and Colorado State University examined the effects of drilling on greater sage grouse over a 25-year period.They found that populations of the chicken-sized bird dropped 14 percent annually in areas of Wyoming with at least 10 oil or gas wells per square mile.Federal rules recently crafted to protect grouse across their 11-state range would allow that many wells or more in areas crucial to the birds’ long-term survival.Wyoming sage grouse coordinator Tom Christiansen says limited energy development is expected in the grouse’s core habitat for the foreseeable future.last_img read more

Researchers study broader effects of neonics on wildlife

first_imgJun 21 2018Health impacts of neonicotinoids may go well beyond bees, according to a new University of Guelph study.U of G researchers found residues of the insecticides in the livers of wild turkeys, providing evidence that this common agrochemical is being ingested by free-ranging animals.The researchers from the Ontario Veterinary College are among the first to study the broader effects of neonics on wildlife.Published in Environmental Science and Pollution Research, the study showed that nearly 10 of the 40 wild turkey carcasses tested had detectable levels of neonicotinoids in their livers. Two types of the insecticide were found in some birds.The researchers also found corn and soybean seeds coated with the insecticide in the digestive system of some birds.Related StoriesResearch sheds light on sun-induced DNA damage and repairAXT enhances cellular research product portfolio with solutions from StemBioSysIt is okay for women with lupus to get pregnant with proper care, says new study”Wild turkeys supplement their diet with seeds from farm fields,” said pathobiology professor Claire Jardine. She conducted the study with former pathobiology professor Nicole Nemeth, who is now at the University of Georgia, pathobiology PhD Amanda MacDonald, and Philippe Thomas, a wildlife toxicologist with Environment and Climate Change Canada.”There has been growing concern among natural resource managers, conservationists and hunters about whether the use of neonics may be linked to poor reproductive output of wild turkeys.”While researchers have focused on health risks of neonicotinoids to bees, studying exposure levels in larger wildlife species is critical in understanding wider impacts on migratory behavior, reproduction and mortality, said Jardine.”Our results serve as baseline data for southern Ontario wild turkeys and provide context for reference values in future analyses.”MacDonald began the study after officials with the Ontario Federation of Hunters and Anglers called for research into the potential threat posed by neonics to wild turkeys.”A number of member hunters throughout southern Ontario had seen wild turkeys in the fields eating these seeds,” said MacDonald. “In certain areas, they noticed a lack of young birds and wanted to know if neonicotinoids had anything to do with it.”The study proves wild turkeys consumed neonic-treated seeds, but long-term health effects on the birds remain unknown, added MacDonald.Previous studies have found that neonic-coated seeds cause health risks in partridges, pigeons and quail. Small amounts of the insecticide have been shown to affect body mass, reproductive efforts and perhaps mortality in migratory white-crowned sparrows.”We need to continue to assess levels of neonics in a variety of wildlife, especially those that may feed off the ground or consume plants and insects and therefore might be more likely to come into contact with them,” said Nemeth. Source:http://www.uoguelph.ca/last_img read more

Scientists discover new potential target for treating diabetes

first_imgJul 24 2018Researchers at Karolinska Institutet have discovered that one of the building blocks in the calcium channels in the pancreatic beta cells play an important role in regulating our blood glucose values. Treatments aimed at this building block may be a new way to combat diabetes the researchers suggest in an article in the scientific journal Cell Reports.Beta cells in the pancreas produce the hormone insulin, which regulates the blood glucose level in our bodies. In diabetes, the beta cells have lost part or all of their function. Calcium ions (Ca2+) act as an important signal for the release of insulin. When blood glucose increases, this causes the levels of Ca2+ in the beta cells to increase, triggering the release of insulin. Under normal conditions the Ca2+ signal displays a specific regular pattern when the cells are stimulated by glucose. When, on the other hand, the beta cells are not able to release normal amounts of insulin, as in diabetes, this pattern changes.Identified cause of reduced release of insulinRelated StoriesNew biomaterial could encapsulate and protect implanted insulin-producing cellsAADE’s comprehensive guidance on care of children, young adults with diabetes releasedMetformin use linked to lower risk of dementia in African Americans with type 2 diabetesThe level of Ca2+ increases in the beta cell when a specific calcium channel, made up of several different building blocks, opens in the beta cell’s wall. Per-Olof Berggren’s research group at Karolinska Institutet has previously shown that one of the building blocks in the channel, the so-called β3 subunit, plays an important regulatory role.”In our new study, we are able to show that beta cells from diabetic mice have an increased amount of the β3 subunit and that this causes an altered Ca2+ pattern, a reduced release of insulin, and thereby impaired blood glucose regulation,” says Per-Olof Berggren, Professor at the Rolf Luft Research Centre for Diabetes and Endocrinology at the Department of Molecular Medicine and Surgery at Karolinska Institutet, who led the study.Better regulation of the blood glucose levelsWhen the researchers reduced the amount of the β3 subunit in the beta cells in the diabetic mice, the Ca2+ signal normalised and thereby the release of insulin, resulting in better regulation of the blood glucose levels. They also saw that mice that totally lacked the β3 subunit demonstrated a better beta cell function and blood glucose regulation when they were given a diabetogenic diet. When the researchers tried transplanting beta cells without the β3 subunit into mice with diabetes, the blood glucose regulation of the mice improved.Experiments with human beta cells showed that the release of insulin deteriorates with increased amounts of the β3 subunit.”Our findings indicate that just this building block in the calcium channel can be a new target for treating diabetes,” says Per-Olof Berggren. Source:https://ki.se/en/news/new-potential-target-for-treatment-of-diabeteslast_img read more

NSF Dodges Most House Amendments Census Bureau Not So Lucky

A proposal by Representative Paul Broun (R–GA) to take $67 million from the agency’s management account and return it to the U.S. Treasury was voted down. Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country The National Science Foundation (NSF) has withstood a freewheeling assault on its 2015 budget by the U.S. House of Representatives. But the Census Bureau took it on the chin.Last night, legislators completed 2 days of debate on a $51 billion spending bill that covers those two agencies and many others, including NASA and the National Institute of Standards and Technology. And when the dust had settled, lawmakers had pared only $10 million from the $237 million increase allocated NSF in a bill drafted by Representative Frank Wolf (R–VA).The large increase—combined with the fact that the $7.4 billion figure was $153 million above the White House’s request for the agency—has made NSF a tempting target this year for legislators looking for more money for their favorite programs. But NSF’s reputation for excellence seemed to carry the day. To wit: 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 Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) The chair of the House science committee, Representative Lamar Smith (R–TX), joined by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R–VA), did succeed in blocking a proposed $15 million increase in 2015 for its $257 million social, behavioral, and economic sciences (SBE) directorate. But under their amendment, the money would be redistributed among four other research directorates and NSF’s top line wouldn’t drop.Smith has repeatedly labeled dozens of SBE grants as a “frivolous use of taxpayer money,” and the science committee this week backed a $106 million cut to what SBE should be allowed to spend as part of a reauthorization of NSF programs. But a rumored amendment that would actually cut its 2015 appropriations by a similar amount failed to materialize. And many observers saw the amendment’s narrow margin of victory, 208 to 201, as a sign that even Smith’s much milder alternative is not wildly popular among his colleagues.Representative Matt Salmon (R–AZ) won approval for his amendment to block NSF from spending any money next year on a research project to study how climate change affects the quality of tea grown in China and sold worldwide. The grant was awarded by NSF’s program on the dynamics of coupled natural and human systems. However, under the terms of the $931,000 grant—made last year to a team led by biologist Colin Orians of Tufts University, all the money has been committed up front. So Salmon’s amendment appears to be a pyrrhic victory. An amendment by Representative Mike Thompson (D–CA) would cut $10 million from the $338 million request for its salaries and operations account to help finance a $19 million increase in funding for an existing program that conducts rapid background checks on those purchasing firearms. Coming after the latest horrific attack in Santa Barbara, California, the amendment passed easily, 260 to 145, winning the votes of roughly half of the body’s Republicans.Census BureauWhile NSF escaped relatively unscathed from the marathon debate, the Census Bureau was not so fortunate. As Terri Ann Lowenthal has explained in her excellent blog, many legislators see the statistical agency as a piggy bank this year after the Obama administration asked for a $212 million boost in its $1.2 billion budget to continue preparing for the 2020 decennial census.The money is intended to continue piloting cost-saving improvements to the next census, which lawmakers have told CB officials must not cost more than the $13 billion spent on the 2010 census. But Wolf’s appropriations subcommittee had already lopped off $105 million from the agency’s three biggest programs, the decennial census, the American Community Survey (ACS), and the economic census. Amendments approved Wednesday and Thursday would pare another $133 million for use by various other programs. They include $113 million for more police officers, $12 million for better weather forecasting, and an additional $3 million for protecting the habitats of Pacific salmon, an exercise that includes counting them.The popularity of the policing program put Wolf and other supporters of the overall bill in a bind. Although Wolf threw his backing behind several of the amendments, his frustration with the members’ apparent disregard for the planning needs of the Census Bureau eventually boiled over.“Madam Chair, I announce that we are going to postpone the 2020 census and move it to 2021, or maybe to 2022,” Wolf declared at one point Wednesday evening. “I am going to accept the amendment, but if we keep taking [money] from the census, there will be no census.”The House also approved an amendment from Representative Ted Poe (R–TX) that would make ACS voluntary. Poe has argued that ACS, a rolling monthly survey of some 3 million residents each year, is intrusive. But demographers, statisticians, and industry leaders have condemned the idea, saying that more people will have to be surveyed to offset poor response rates and maintain the quality of the survey, which in 2005 essentially replaced what had been the long form of the decennial census. The data help the federal government allocate $415 billion each year in entitlement programs to states and localities.What’s next? On Tuesday, the Senate counterpart to Wolf’s appropriations subcommittee, led by Senator Barbara Mikulski (D–MD), will draft its version of the spending bill. The full Senate committee, which Mikulski also chairs, is expected to adopt it on Thursday. Then the two sides will have to strike a compromise—but possibly not until after the November elections. The research community is rooting for Wolf and Mikulski to find a way to make the most onerous amendments disappear. (A similar plan to make ACS voluntary that the House passed in 2012 died in that fashion, for example.) In the meantime, advocates are telling their constituents to remain on high alert. read more

Ravens—like humans and apes—can plan for the future

first_img All of us know how tough it can be to delay gratification. But human civilization was built around our supposedly unique ability to plan—to anticipate future needs and sacrifice now to reap the rewards later. Apes knocked us off our special perch nearly a decade ago when they showed that they, too, can plan for future events. Now, a new study on tool use and bartering in ravens reveals that these clever birds are joining the club—suggesting that the ability to plan for the future must have evolved at least twice.“This experiment provides an important puzzle piece for understanding the evolution of intelligent behavior,” says Markus Böckle, a comparative biologist at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom who was not involved in the work.Planning is the ability to think through future events taking place at a different location. Ten years ago, Mathias Osvath, a cognitive biologist at Lund University in Sweden, designed a series of tests to measure whether other primates were planners. Great apes—like chimpanzees—passed. Monkeys failed. About the same time, researchers noticed that birds known as corvids—which include jays, crows, and ravens—also showed signs of planning. Studies over the last 20 years have revealed that these birds can use tools and deliberately hide their food caches. Many saw close parallels between human, ape, and bird brains. But critics argue that food caching is a specialized behavior that doesn’t represent a general planning ability. To prove that general ability, they want the animal to show it can plan even in a situation that it doesn’t usually encounter. Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! 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Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*)center_img Email By Elizabeth PennisiJul. 13, 2017 , 2:00 PM So Osvath and his graduate student Can Kabadayi set out to settle this question by testing the birds in the same way as the apes, this time making sure that they incorporated behaviors that the birds did not normally exhibit. For example, ravens are not regular tool users, and they do not barter with each other, like some jays or crows. So the researchers first taught five ravens to use an oblong stone tool to open a box with dog kibble in it. The birds also learned to trade that tool for a token—a plastic bottle cap—that would get them an even better reward. Over several experiments the researchers switched up the rules of their game, changing when the rewards were present and what the birds had to do to get them.The ravens consistently picked the right tool not only when the reward box was present, but also when the box was missing—for up to 17 hours, Kabadayi and Osvath report this week in Science. In one experiment, the birds were offered an immediate reward—a small piece of kibble—in addition to the tool and several other objects. Almost three-quarters of the birds picked the tool, even though they had to wait 15 minutes to use it to get a bigger piece of kibble. In terms of self-control, “they can do just as good or better than the great apes,” Osvath says.Then, the researchers showed that the birds were thinking about the consequence of this delayed gratification—something that has been demonstrated so far only in people. When the birds had to wait just a few seconds for access to the reward box, they opted to wait 100% of the time, they report. “When they have a short delay, they are much better at self-control,” Osvath says.“It’s the clearest evidence for future planning in a nonhuman animal,” says Nathan J. Emery, a cognitive biologist at the University of London who was not involved with the work.These tests show that the ravens have the ability to recognize and remember the tool, anticipate its utility, and show self-control in the face of more immediate temptations, all key components of planning. “They combine these skills in a similar fashion as great apes,” Osvath says. However, he adds, just because the end result is the same doesn’t mean that the birds and the apes are going through the same cognitive processes.That’s the opinion of Jonathan Redshaw, a comparative psychologist at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia. It’s possible, for example, that these results arose simply because the ravens learned to associate the tool or token with a certain reward and always chose them, he says. That’s not the same as complex planning for the future, in which the planner shows flexibility in taking action to meet future demands. He suggests the team in Sweden see whether the ravens continued to select the same tool after seeing the reward box destroyed. If they gave up picking the tool, that would show they really were planning for the future and not just in the habit of picking the right tool to get a reward.  If the birds do prove to have these capabilities, then future planning must have evolved at least twice, Osvath says. That’s because birds and mammals began evolving their separate ways some 320 million years ago. It was not “an evolutionary one-off that occurred once due to a quirk of history,” says Alex Taylor, a comparative psychologist at the University of Auckland in New Zealand. Further studies into bird and mammal cognition could help researchers gain a better understanding of what it takes—in terms of brain anatomy and function—to anticipate and take into account what might happen next.last_img read more

Disturbing losses of protective ozone near Earths equator may be tied to

first_img Email Disturbing losses of protective ozone near Earth’s equator may be tied to short-lived chemicals NASA Goddard Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! 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Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*)center_img Thirty years after nations banded together to phase out chemicals that destroy stratospheric ozone, the gaping hole in Earth’s ultraviolet (UV) radiation shield above Antarctica is shrinking. But new findings suggest that at midlatitudes, where most people live, the ozone layer in the lower stratosphere is growing more tenuous—for reasons that scientists are struggling to fathom.“I don’t want people to panic or get overly worried,” says William Ball, an atmospheric physicist at the Physikalisch-Meteorologisches Observatorium Davos World Radiation Centre in Switzerland. “But there is something happening in the lower stratosphere that’s important to understand.”Several recent studies, including one published last month in Geophysical Research Letters, point to a robust recovery of stratospheric ozone concentrations over Antarctica—the long-awaited payoff after the Montreal Protocol in 1987 mandated a global phaseout of chlorofluorocarbons and other ozone-eating compounds. An unheralded group of chemicals may complicate the current view of ozone-depleting substances in the midlatitudes. By April ReeseFeb. 6, 2018 , 12:00 AM But recent evidence indicates that the global campaign to mend the ozone layer is far from over. In an analysis published today in Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, Ball and colleagues combined satellite data to examine ozone at midlatitudes, from Earth’s surface on up through the troposphere and the stratosphere. They found that from 1998 to 2016, ozone in the lower stratosphere ebbed by 2.2 Dobson units—a measure of ozone thickness—even as concentrations in the upper stratosphere rose by about 0.8 Dobson units. “We saw it at almost every latitude and every altitude below about 25 kilometers,” Ball says. “That made us very concerned that perhaps this was something very real that no one looked at before.”The ozone layer’s total thickness—not just concentrations in the upper stratosphere—is vital for absorbing UV light. “What matters most for UV at Earth’s surface is the total column amount of ozone overhead,” says co-author Sean Davis, a research scientist with NOAA’s Earth System Research Laboratory in Boulder, Colorado. Although previous studies had suggested a decline in lower stratospheric ozone, no one had combined satellite data to look at what was happening across such a wide swath of the globe and so far down in the ozone layer.Ball and his colleagues suspect that the culprit is “very short-lived substances” (VSLSs): ozone-eating chemicals such as dichloromethane that break down within 6 months after escaping into the atmosphere. Researchers had long assumed that VSLSs’ short lifetime would keep them from reaching the stratosphere, but a 2015 Nature Geoscience study suggested that the substances may account for as much as 25% of the lower stratosphere’s ozone losses. Whereas many VSLSs are of natural origin—marine organisms produce dibromomethane, for example—use of humanmade dichloromethane, an ingredient in solvents and paint removers, has doubled in recent years. “We should study [VSLSs] more completely,” says Richard Rood, an atmospheric scientist at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. But because the compounds are released in small quantities, he says, “They’re going to be difficult to measure.”Climate change may also be a factor, for example by sweeping ozone out of the tropics, the study suggests. It’s vital to determine what’s eating away at ozone in the midlatitudes, where the majority of the world’s population resides. “The potential for harm in lower latitudes may actually be worse than at the poles,” says Joanna Haigh, co-director of the Grantham Institute at Imperial College London. “The decreases in ozone are less than we saw at the poles before the Montreal Protocol was enacted, but UV radiation is more intense in these regions.”Ball and others emphasize that the Montreal Protocol has still been a success. “I don’t think it in any way says there’s something fundamentally wrong with how we’ve been dealing with the ozone problem,” says Rood, referring to the study. “What it says to me is that we’re now looking at effects that are more subtle than that original problem we were taking on” when the Montreal Protocol was adopted.last_img read more

Elusive master organizer of human embryo growth seen for the first time

first_img Elusive master organizer of human embryo growth seen for the first time Email I. Martyn et al., Nature 10.1038/s41586-018-0150-y (2018) By Kelly ServickMay. 23, 2018 , 1:00 PM 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 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 As an early embryo, every mammal, bird, and reptile contains a clump of cells with a remarkable power. Called “the organizer,” it prompts neighboring cells to develop into what will later become the animal’s brain and spinal cord. Biologists have not been able to show that such an organizer exists in human embryos because of ethical constraints on such research. But now, for the first time, these organizer cells have emerged in a dish of human stem cells—and researchers have proved their developmental powers by using them to seed the beginnings of a second nervous system in the embryo of a chicken.“It is mind-blowing” that cells from such evolutionarily distant species can share these developmental instructions, says Ali Brivanlou, a stem cell biologist at The Rockefeller University in New York City and a senior author on the new study. The organizer “has been conserved evolutionarily over hundreds of millions of years, so not seeing it would have been a surprise,” he says. But, “There is something really emotional about looking that far back at human origin.”The study of the organizer has bizarre and legendary beginnings. In the early 1920s, German embryologist Hans Spemann and his graduate student Hilde Mangold were exploring how the embryos of vertebrate animals transform from a hollow ball of cells to a multilayered structure organized along an axis from future head to future tail. In that transition, the embryo forms a furrow called the primitive streak and folds inward on itself while cells mature into different lineages that will later give rise to all the organs and tissues of the body. In salamander embryos, Spemann and Mangold found a unique cluster of cells at one end of the streak. When grafted into the embryo of a different salamander species, it prompted nearby cells to form the beginnings of a brain and spinal cord—a nascent second salamander, belly to belly with the first. The study, considered one of the most important in developmental biology, earned Spemann the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1935. “It was the dawn of manipulating different parts of the embryo to ask, ‘Where does the information come from … to make a brain or discrete organs?’” Brivanlou says.Since then, scientists have found similar organizers—sometimes called Spemann organizers—in the embryos of frogs, birds, and mice. But to see a human organizer, they would have to culture embryos a day or two longer than the 14-day threshold that international guidelines and U.K. law have set. That’s the point when an embryo is no longer able to divide into twins, and could thus be considered an individual.So Brivanlou and his team, in collaboration with the lab of Rockefeller University physicist Eric Siggia, found a workaround. They cultured stem cells derived from human embryos—which have the potential to develop into any type of cell in the body—on specially patterned lab dishes where they take on embryolike structures. In the new experiment, the team exposed the cells to two proteins that are key to embryonic development. Those growth factors prompted some of the cells to express the genetic hallmarks of an organizer.Then came the Spemann and Mangold-inspired graft. When the researchers put some of these human cells into a chicken embryo, an organized line of neural tissue appeared alongside the chicken’s own emerging nervous system, the team reports online today in Nature. The human organizer cells—themselves destined to become other (nonneural) types of tissue—could apparently direct the chicken cells to change their fate and start to orient themselves around a second body axis.Developmental biologist Claudio Stern of University College London calls the work “a nice technical advance,” albeit one with major limitations. This new ability to make organizerlike cells outside of the developing human embryo could help researchers understand what gives these cells their unique signaling abilities. But the method is no substitute for the study of the organizer in a real embryo, which could consist of a more diverse mixture of cells than what emerged from the stem cell colonies. To find out, researchers would have to go beyond the 14-day culture limit, something not considered technically feasible until recently. “If we could work on it for a day or two more,” Stern says, “we could actually study the real organizer.”Still, the new method could be used to study how the signaling between cells during early development varies between humans and other species, says Ben Steventon, a developmental biologist at the University of Cambridge in the United Kindgom, who was not involved in the study.Meanwhile, Brivanlou plans to use his embryolike cell colonies to explore key steps in early development—and tease out various ways that the process can go wrong. He plans to use the CRISPR gene-editing tool to introduce disease-causing mutations and observe their effects on some of the earliest stages of development. Even the 4-day window during which his group can keep these embryolike colonies growing is “plenty of time” to explore, he says. “That’s going to keep us busy for a couple of generations.” Researchers have derived human cells (red) that, when implanted in a chick embryo, can organize the beginnings of a second body axis alongside the first.last_img read more