Story Timeline2019 BMW 8 Series official: M850i xDrive packs 523hp V82019 BMW 8 Series Convertible revealed: This is the M850i droptop BMW was always upfront about the fact that its 8 Series would be more than just a luxury two-door GT, and now there’s the four-door 2020 BMW 8 Series Gran Coupe to whet your appetite. Three versions of the sleek “four door coupe” are being revealed today, topping out at the 2020 M850i xDrive Gran Coupe with a healthy 523 horsepower and 553 lb-ft of torque. All three share the same core body style. While the hood of the Gran Coupe is shared with the 8 Series Coupe, from the windshield back it’s all different for the four-door. That includes being 9-inches longer, 1.2-inches wider, and 2.2-inches taller, the majority of the length increase going into 7.9-inches more wheelbase. 2020 BMW 8 Series Gran Coupe DesignPart coupe, part sedan, the 8 Series Gran Coupe follows in the tire marks of previous BMWs. The windshield is less raked than that of its Coupe sibling, to boost headroom in the front, while the rear glass gets increased rake for an easier to load trunk. Some of the detailing is particularly notable, like the flying buttress design that demands the metalworks’ finishing to be done by hand. A panoramic glass roof is standard, while from November 2019 production the M850i xDrive Gran Coupe will be offered with an optional carbon fiber roof. That will lower weight and the car’s center of gravity. AdChoices广告Icon Adaptive LED Headlights with Laserlight are standard, as are functional air breakers in the front fenders. BMW has used aluminum for the doors, hood, roof, front bulkhead, engine subframe, and rear bumper support, while the trunk lid is plastic and the cabin dashboard support is magnesium. At the rear, twin trapezoidal tailpipes are below slim LED lights. 2020 BMW 840i and 840i xDrive Gran CoupeThe entry-level 8 Series Gran Coupe use BMW’s TwinPower 3.0-liter inline 6-cylinder turbo engine. It’s tuned for 335 hp between 5,000-6,500 rpm, and 386 lb-ft of torque between 1,600-4,500 rpm. In the 840i that means 0-60 mph in 4.9 seconds; the 840i xDrive, with its all-wheel drive, trims that to 4.6 seconds. Top speed is 130 mph with all-season tires, rising to 155 mph with optional performance tires. BMW pairs it with an eight-speed Steptronic Sport transmission, with swifter gearshifts and steering wheel paddles as standard. There’s also Launch Control for the best possible 0-60 time, and integration with the navigation system so that the planned route will help the gearbox figure out what the best gear is to shift to next. Double-wishbone suspension is used at the front, and five-link rear suspension. The steering is electromechanical, and there’s Dynamic Damper Control as standard. xDrive cars get Integral Active Steering as standard, with rear-wheel steering to tighten up the turning circle at low speeds and increase maneuver stability at high speeds. It’s optional on the rear-wheel drive 840i. 2020 BMW M850i xDrive Gran CoupeThe performance model of the three, the M850i xDrive Gran Coupe gets BMW’s TwinPower 4.4-liter eight-cylinder Turbo, with 523 hp between 5,500-6,000 rpm, and 553 lb-ft of torque between 1,800-4,600 rpm. 0-60 mph comes in 3.7 seconds, and top speed is up to 155 mph with performance tires.It gets the same 8-speed transmission, and a new flap-controlled sports exhaust that can switch up its audio profile according to the drive mode. That spans Comfort through to Sport and Sport+. The xDrive AWD uses an electronically-controlled multi-plate clutch, to push power front and rear as traction demands. Normally, though, the car is rear-biased. The M850i gets 20-inch V-spoke cerium grey wheels with 245/35R20 and 275/30R20 performance run-flat tires as standard. M Sport brakes are standard, too. 2020 BMW 8 Series Gran Coupe cabin and technologyWith seating for five, the interior of the 8 Series Gran Coupe is far more people-friendly than its Coupe sibling. Headroom in the rear, in particular, has increased: there’s now 3.4-inches more, while legroom is up 7.1-inches. The wider body means rear shoulder room is up 7.7-inches, while the trunk holds 0.7 cu.ft. more. Nappa leather has been used on the dashboard and upper door panels, and there’s an extended center console which stretches into the rear and divides the rear seats. Admittedly that’s likely to make the center seat the last-picked option. Within the console there are dedicated rear climate controls along with air vents, storage, and USB-C ports. In the front, heated sport seats are standard. The rear seats fold with a 40/20/40 split. Ambient LED lighting is standard, as is the BMW Live Cockpit Professional system with a 12.3-inch digital cluster display and a 10.25-inch center console touchscreen. Haptic controls have been added to the iDrive controller, while a head-up display is optional. A 464 watt, 16-speaker Harman-Kardon surround sound audio system and wireless phone charging is standard, while a 1,400 watt, 16-speaker Bowers & Wilkins Diamond Surround Sound System is optional. You can also get glass controls, night vision, and an extended carbon fiber package. On the driver-assistance side, front collision warnings with city collision mitigation are standard, while features like blind spot detection, lane departure warnings, a surround view camera and parking assistant, and rear cross traffic alerts are optional. The Driving Assistance Professional package adds active cruise control, lane-keeping assistance, and the Extended Traffic Jam Assistant. 2020 BMW 8 Series Gran Coupe pricing and availabilityBMW says the 2020 840i Gran Coupe will start at $84,900, while the 2020 840i xDrive Gran Coupe will start from $87,800. The 2020 M850i xDrive Gran Coupe, meanwhile, will start from $108,900. Destination on all three is $995, and BMW says they’ll begin production in July with the first cars arriving in the US come September 2019. 2020 BMW 8 Series Gran Coupe Gallery
The final rule on essential health benefits, issued yesterday, defines what must be covered in health plans sold in online marketplaces beginning this fall, including prescription benefits and mental health services, and prohibits discrimination based on age or pre-existing medical conditions.The Wall Street Journal: Health-Plan Details UnveiledHealth-insurance plans that cover tens of millions of Americans will have to pay for mental-health and substance-abuse treatments starting next year under federal rules the Obama administration finalized Wednesday. The provision, part of the 2010 Affordable Care Act, requires health plans for individuals and small businesses to cover 10 categories of services, including prescription drugs, maternity care and physical rehabilitation. Many of the specifics of what is covered in those categories will be left to states to decide (Dooren, 2/20).USA Today: HHS Releases Rule On Insurers’ Essential Health BenefitsThe rule defines what must be covered in exchange plans, prohibits discrimination based on age or pre-existing conditions, describes prescription drug benefits and determines levels of coverage (Kennedy, 2/20).Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Feds Outline What Insurers Must Cover, Down To Polyp RemovalEssential benefit requirements apply mainly to individual and small group plans. They also apply to plans provided to those newly eligible for Medicaid coverage. A few provisions also affect self-insured plans and large group plans offered by employers (Appleby, 2/20).The New York Times: New Federal Rule Requires Insurers To Offer Mental Health CoverageThe Obama administration issued a final rule on Wednesday defining “essential health benefits” that must be offered by most health insurance plans next year, and it said that 32 million people would gain access to coverage of mental health care as a result (Pear, 2/20).The Associated Press: Obama Administration Tackles Colonoscopy ConfusionIt’s one part of the new health care law that seemed clear: free coverage for preventive care under most insurance plans. Only it didn’t turn out that way. So on Wednesday, the Obama administration had to straighten out the confusion. Have you gone for a colonoscopy thinking it was free, only to get a hefty bill because the doctor removed a polyp? No more. Taking out such precancerous growths as part of a routine colon cancer screening procedure will now be considered preventive care (Alonso-Zaldivar, 2/20).Reuters: U.S. Issues Final Word On Essential Benefits Under “Obamacare”The Obama administration on Wednesday issued its long-awaited final rule on what states and insurers must do to provide the essential health benefits required in the individual and small-group market beginning in 2014 under the healthcare reform law. A cornerstone of President Barack Obama’s plan to enhance the breadth of healthcare coverage in the United States, the mandate allows the 50 U.S. states a role in identifying benefit requirements and grants insurers a phased-in accreditation process for plans sold on federal healthcare exchanges (Morgan, 2/20).The Hill: New Healthcare Rule Expands Benefits For Substance Abuse, Mental DisordersThe Obama administration on Wednesday finalized a key Affordable Care Act rule predicted to expand substance abuse and mental disorder benefits to 62 million Americans. The rule, to take effect next year, lays out new “essential health benefits” standards for insurers, as required by the landmark legislation. It was designed to allow consumers a simplified and consistent way to shop for, and enroll in, healthcare plans that best suit them (Goad, 2/20). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription. Feds Outline What Insurers Must Cover
Firm That Hiked Price Of Anti-Parasite Drug Is Considering A Discount For Hospitals Turing Pharmaceuticals raised the drug price from $13.50 to $750 a tablet in August. It says the discounts for hospitals will be determined by how much of the drug they use. Also in industry news are several other articles examining drug-pricing questions and news about a forum sponsored by HHS dealing with concerns about rising costs. The Wall Street Journal: Turing To Cut Price Of Drug Daraprim As Much As 50% The New York Times: Administration Is Seeking Ways To Keep Prescription Drugs Affordable The Obama administration began building a political case Friday for government actions to protect people against high pharmaceutical costs, saying millions of Americans were unable to afford lifesaving prescription drugs. “As costs go up, so does everyone’s anxiety about their continued access to their prescription medicine,” said Andrew M. Slavitt, the acting administrator of the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. He spoke at a daylong forum the administration held to solicit ideas from consumer advocates, doctors, drugmakers, insurers and employers. (Pear, 11/20) The Associated Press: Obama Administration Sets Stage For A Debate On Drug Costs Bloomberg: The Law Of Pharma Pricing Physics: What Goes Up Often Stays Up The Obama administration set the stage Friday for a national debate on the rising cost of prescription drugs, a pressing issue for voters but one that’s unlikely to see quick solutions under a lame-duck president facing an opposition Congress. Saying that too many people are struggling to pay for their medications, Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell opened a daylong forum that presented a range of perspectives, from the pharmaceutical industry to a cancer patient with $270,000 in bills for just one drug. (Alonso-Zaldivar, 11/20) With most products, you’d expect a flood of new supply to quickly drive back down a price spike caused by a temporary shortage. Not so in the topsy-turvy world of hospital pharmaceuticals. Just look at prices for glycopyrrolate, an everyday drug used to dry up secretions prior to surgery. After one of only two makers of the drug temporarily closed its factory in 2012 to fix quality control problems, Hikma Pharmaceuticals raised prices on its injectable version more than 800 percent over the next year. Both manufacturers are now making the drug again, yet Hikma’s prices have only fallen slightly and remain more than eight times higher than they were in early 2013. (Koons and Langreth, 11/21) The Obama administration’s top health officials said Friday that the nation needs greater clarity about the cost and effectiveness of prescription drugs as part of a strategy to make medicines more affordable without stunting the emergence of new pharmaceuticals. The current scattered system, in which drugs are priced differently depending on who is paying for them, “end[s] up obscuring” their true cost and, in turn, the impact on which patients have access to them, said Andy Slavitt, who oversees Medicare, Medicaid and insurance exchanges in the Health and Human Services department. (Goldstein, 11/20) This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription. As questions mount about the viability of Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc.’s business model, concerns are also spreading to other drug makers seen as following a similar playbook. Shares of Horizon Pharma PLC and Mallinckrodt PLC, two of the largest companies most often compared with Valeant, have fallen roughly 25% in the past three months. … Like Valeant, the firms are part of a new breed of pharmaceutical company that has limited costly investment in research and development and instead sought sales growth through debt-fueled acquisitions. (Walker, 11/22) The Washington Post: Sharp Increases In Drug Costs Draw Hundreds To Government Forum The Wall Street Journal: Concerns Over Valeant Spread To Other Drug Makers Turing Pharmaceuticals AG, the small drug maker that gained notoriety for raising the price of an anti-parasite tablet more than 50-fold, is drawing up plans to discount the drug as much as 50% to hospitals, according to a person familiar with the matter. Even with the discounts, the drug—Daraprim—would still cost hospitals far more than it did before Turing bought the U.S. rights in August and raised the price to $750 a tablet, from $13.50. The amount of the discount will depend on how much of the drug hospitals use, the person said. (Rockoff, 11/20)
State Highlights: Calif. Legislature Steps Into Tense Fight Over Tobacco Tax; Mass. Agency Finds Avoidable ER Visits Are Driving Up Costs Media outlets report on news from California, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Ohio, Kansas, Minnesota, Louisiana, Texas, Georgia, Maryland, Arizona and Florida. Los Angeles Times: No One Knows How Many Untested Rape Kits There Are In California. This Bill Aims To Fix That Forty-two percent of emergency room visits in Massachusetts in 2015 were for problems that could have been treated by a primary care doctor, according to the state’s Health Policy Commission. This state agency, which is charged with driving down costs, says a 5 percent cut in avoidable emergency room trips would save $12 million a year; 10 percent fewer such visits would save $24 million. (Bebinger, 5/25) New Orleans Times-Picayune: She Saved $3,786 By Shopping Her MRI; Here’s How You Can Save, Too The Star Tribune: HCMC Seeks To Ease Patient Bottlenecks With New Mental Health Crisis Center Cleveland Plain Dealer: Lawmakers Hear Opposition To Lead Amendment From Doctors, Parents, Elected Officials And Healthy Home Advocates To ease chronic bottlenecks in countywide mental health services, Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC) is nearing completion of a new 16-bed home that will help people with mental illnesses transition back into the community after acute hospital stays. The Victorian-style home, located at 3633 Chicago Av. in south Minneapolis, will provide short-term housing and treatment for adults who are stable enough to be discharged from a hospital psychiatric unit but who may need more therapy and social support before returning to their regular homes and jobs. (Serres, 5/25) With a state deadline looming, some California hospitals still need to retrofit or rebuild so that their structures can withstand an earthquake — and money remains a challenge. Some hospital officials are turning to voters to raise money, while others are pursuing more innovative financing schemes.About 7 percent of the state’s hospital buildings — 220 — are still designated as having the highest risk of collapse following an earthquake, according to the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development. That’s a slight drop from 251 buildings a year ago. (Ibarra, 5/26) Texas Tribune: Behind Closed Doors, Texas Lawmakers Strip Funding For Sex Trafficking Victims The CT Mirror: Advocates: Disabled Children Stranded In CT Hospital ERs WBUR: Tip No. 1 For Taking Charge Of Mass. Health Care Costs: Avoid The ER Cleveland Plain Dealer: AxessPointe Offers Healthcare Clinic For North Hill Refugees, Immigrants This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription. California Healthline: For California Hospitals That Don’t Pass Quake Test, Money’s Mostly At Fault Last year, Meals on Wheels programs brought nearly 4 million meals to 28,000 seniors living in Georgia. But federal support for this program could shrink under President Trump’s proposed budget. If the federal portion of funding for the program is cut, the effects will reverberate in tiny towns like Chickamauga, where Betty Richardson delivers lunches every week. (Male, 5/25) Insufficient services, a complex funding system and deep state budget cuts have increasingly stranded developmentally disabled children in hospital emergency departments over the past year, often for weeks at a time, two state advocates told legislators Thursday. Sarah Eagan, Connecticut’s child advocate, and Ted Doolittle, the state’s healthcare advocate, said the problem is centered almost exclusively on children with “complex diagnoses,” meaning they face a combination of developmental and intellectual disabilities and mental health conditions. (Phaneuf, 5/25) ens of thousands of rape kits are sitting on shelves in police and sheriff’s department evidence rooms nationwide. And no one has tested them to see what crimes they could help solve. A bill by Assemblyman David Chiu (D-San Francisco) would help determine how many of those unanalyzed exam kits exist in California, part of a national backlog that federal officials have grappled with for nearly two decades. (Ulloa, 5/26) Five days a week, a team of nurses and a rotating cadre of pediatricians, nutritionists and dentists at the Gilbert Community Clinic see not just schoolchildren but Walker County residents of all ages… Although the idea of a general medical clinic on the grounds of a public school sounds novel, it’s not a new idea in Georgia. (Park, 5/25) KCUR: Kansas Crisis Centers Say New Law Creates Mental Health Funding Need Georgia Health News: Not Just A School Clinic, But A Clinic That’s At A School Perhaps the biggest budget skirmish that remains unsolved this year is how California should spend revenue from the tobacco tax voters approved last fall. Gov. Jerry Brown wants to put that money to expand overall spending on Medi-Cal, which provides subsidized healthcare for the poor. But the some of initiative’s backers, namely doctor and dental groups, have cried foul, arguing that money is meant to go to increasing payments for providers. (Mason, 5/25) To serve the refugee community in Akron’s North Hill, AxessPointe Community Health Centers will provide a weekly healthcare clinic at the Exchange House. The Exchange House, created by the Better Block Foundation, serves as a community center for the large refugee population, predominantly Bhutanese, which travels mostly on foot and has a large number of children and senior citizens. (Conn, 5/25) In recent private negotiations between the Texas House and Senate about which public programs to fund and how to fund them, state lawmakers opted to kill a $3 million initiative to rehabilitate victims of sex trafficking. That ended hopes from child welfare advocates that 2017 would be the first year in recent memory in which state lawmakers might set aside funds specifically intended to help victims who were sold for sex. (Waltersn, 5/25) [Alex] Pantelyat, 34, a Johns Hopkins University neurologist (and, not so incidentally, an accomplished violinist) is a co-founder and co-director of the Center for Music & Medicine, an emerging collaboration between the Johns Hopkins medical community and the Peabody Institute. The mission, he said, is to combine the expertise of faculty members in both camps toward a pair of ends: integrating music and rhythm into medical care and improving the health of musicians worldwide. More than 80 Johns Hopkins faculty members across dozens of disciplines have affiliated themselves with the center, the first of its kind in the eastern United States. (Pitts, 5/26) Arizona Republic: What To Know As Arizona’s Mandatory Paid Sick-Leave Law Takes Effect Los Angeles Times: California Senate, Assembly Advance Their Own Plans On How To Spend Tobacco Tax Revenue It was only after her doctor recommended she get an abdominal MRI that a New Orleans woman learned just how costly it can be to have a medical procedure without first shopping around. The woman, who asked to remain anonymous in order to discuss her health, said her doctor suggested the MRI to help her understand a hereditary condition that might affect her years from now. A month later, the day before the test, she got a call from Tulane Medical Center asking how she planned to pay for it, she said. (Lipinski and Zurik, 5/25) The Baltimore Sun: Emerging Hopkins Center Harmonizing Music And Medicine Georgia Health News: Meals On Wheels: Volunteers Deliver Food As They Fret About Funding Doctors, parents, city leaders and healthy home advocates took turns Wednesday telling the Ohio Senate Finance subcommittee on Health and Medicaid why they oppose an amendment to the state budget that would strip municipalities of authority to create local efforts to address childhood lead poisoning… Rep. Derek Merrin, a Republican who represents parts of Lucas and Fulton counties, proposed the amendment last month and has argued that a fractured system of rules that change from city-to-city is not only unfair to landlords but doesn’t give all children in Ohio equal protection from lead exposure. (Dissell and Zeltner, 5/25) Arizona’s new law mandating paid sick leave starts July 1, and employers had better be prepared for it. Businesses and non-profit groups could face penalties for failing to keep adequate records or post sufficient notice, and they could incur damages for failing to provide paid sick time. Employers who retaliate against workers exercising their rights could face fines of at least $150 per day, say attorneys at Gallagher & Kennedy, a Phoenix law firm that held a workshop to alert employers of the requirements. (Wiles, 5/25) Miami Herald: Valley Children’s Hospital Has Volunteer Baby Cuddling Program Lynne Meccariello, unit support supervisor of the neonatal intensive care unit and a liaison for the hospital’s volunteer services department, describes the cuddling program as providing “developmental care and comfort to babies when their parents can’t be there.” Meccariello says holding a sick baby reduces pain and provides warmth, and the cuddler encourages “self-soothing” – children’s ability to comfort themselves when they aren’t being held. (George, 5/25) A new law will allow Kansas crisis centers to treat involuntary mental health patients for up to 72 hours, but it isn’t clear if lawmakers will fund it. Gov. Sam Brownback on Wednesday signed House Bill 2053, which allows crisis centers to treat people deemed a danger to themselves or others because of a mental health or substance use disorder. The bill had passed the House unanimously and passed the Senate 27-12 after some amendments. Lawmakers didn’t allocate funding for additional crisis center beds before they left for the Memorial Day weekend, although they have yet to finalize a budget. (Wingerter, 5/25)
Featured Stories Cheryl Oates, left, spokesperson for Rachel Notley, has been named in a lawsuit also targeting Notley and MLA Sarah Hoffman, deputy premier in the last NDP government, for alleged defamation over contract cancellations in the power market in 2015 and 2016.Jim Wells/Postmedia/File 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 21 Comments Ex-energy executive’s website and affidavit drops niggling NDP scandal into middle of Alberta election Robert Hemstock is suing the Alberta government for defamation because he believes it unfairly blamed him for a series of costly contract cancellations in the power market Alberta’s electricity sector is unique in Canada and is confusing even for Albertans. The province has no Crown corporation like BC Hydro, SaskPower or Hydro Quebec that produces and distributes power to its residents. Instead a jumble of private-sector companies and some city-owned utilities like Calgary’s Enmax Corp. own the power plants, transmission lines and distribution networks while multiple provincial government agencies regulate or oversee the market.In the middle of 2015, the province’s then-new NDP government increased the price industrial companies had to pay for emitting carbon in the province, which triggered an opt-out clause for many of those power producers, letting them cancel their contracts to purchase power in the province.On his website, Hemstock called the price increase “a mistake” that government ought to have known would trigger the opt-out clause. Further mistakes, Hemstock alleges, include trying to deflect blame for the cancelled contracts, and specifically, going “on the offensive” by blaming him.The government called the opt-out clause the “Enron clause,” after Enron Canada had asked for it to be added before that now-defunct company agreed to bid on power contracts.Hemstock was in-house counsel for Enron Canada in the late 1990s when Alberta was in the midst of deregulating its electricity market and when the contracts in question were signed. He later joined Enmax as an executive.Robert Hemstock in 2004. He is currently suing Alberta’s NDP government and two top NDP officials for defamation. Facebook Share this storyEx-energy executive’s website and affidavit drops niggling NDP scandal into middle of Alberta election Tumblr Pinterest Google+ LinkedIn Sponsored By: Comment What you need to know about passing the family cottage to the next generation advertisement CALGARY — As websites go, it doesn’t stand out. Unlike the polished, visually appealing sites the governing NDP and opposition UCP have launched to attack each other in recent weeks, this one has the black-and-white esthetic of a Windows 95 text document. However bland and antiquated its look, though, it inserts a set of damning allegations into the middle of this Alberta election campaign.The site, not-so-artfully named after the person running it, was launched earlier this month by lawyer and former power executive Robert Hemstock, who is currently suing the Alberta government, Deputy Premier Sarah Hoffman and NDP Premier Rachel Notley’s top spokesperson Cheryl Oates for defamation. It breaks down in lawyerly detail what Hemstock considers to be a series of mistakes the NDP government made as it changed the rules governing the province’s deregulated electricity market — moves he claims cost Alberta power consumers $2 billion, a niggling scandal of the NDP’s first term.Hemstock filed the defamation suit in July 2018, based on events dating as far back as 2015, when Notley’s New Democrats were elected. The website went live after he filed a new affidavit on March 29.He launched the suit because he believes the government unfairly blamed him for a series of contract cancellations in the power market in 2015 and 2016, based on a clause he helped negotiate into those contracts in 2000. Alberta election issues, explained: Pipelines ‘I’ve got four parties to my right’: Is Jason Kenney conservative enough for Alberta? Alberta election expected to focus on the economy — but NDP hopes to make it all about Jason Kenney He launched the website because he wants to “expose” the details of the controversial episode, and because he believes the public doesn’t understand how or why those cancelled contracts ended up saddling consumers “with an estimated $2 billion in unnecessary costs” — and how the province could have avoided those mistakes in order to save Albertans money.Both the suit and the website also appear to be an attempt by Hemstock to clear his name.“It’s also about how our elected representatives in the Alberta Government used their position of power and access to taxpayer funds to attempt to achieve their political objective of avoiding accountability,” the website charges.Hemstock declined to comment on the site because his defamation suit is still before the court but the affidavit filed March 29 contains a new allegation that the government has not provided all the documents requested in the case.“That a decision was made to defame me, by implicating me as the cause of the loss of approximately $2 billion to electricity consumers, with no records showing how that decision was arrived at discloses the defendants have not discharged their obligation to provide all relevant material records,” Hemstock states in the affidavit.“I’m not aware of anything new being filed, but because the matter is before the courts we won’t be commenting,” said Oates, who was Notley’s communications director before the writ dropped and is working on the NDP campaign.It is a scandal. It is absolutely a scandal ← Previous Next → Join the conversation → Geoffrey Morgan Email In his defamation suit, Hemstock said he was employed by Enron Canada and “was not employed by nor did he advise (parent company) Enron Corporation in relation to any financial reporting obligations in the United States of America, at any time.”Enron Corp. — rather than Enron Canada — collapsed amid a corporate scandal that included misleading investors and falsifying financial information.In December 2015, Enmax became the first company to make use of the opt-out clause and handed the money-losing contracts it was holding over to an arms-length government agency called the Balancing Pool.In the following months, other money-losing power contracts were also handed to the Balancing Pool, shifting the potential losses from the contracts from companies directly onto Albertans.One power executive, speaking on condition of anonymity because they didn’t want to run afoul of the government or comment on the defamation case, said the case should be “a cautionary tale when it comes to political interference in the electric market” because electricity “is a complicated but essential commodity.”The issue stirred up controversy in Alberta — though many residents don’t fully understand what happened — as the government moved to support the Balancing Pool through a loan.“What I can’t fully grasp, and perhaps this is a failing on my part in opposition, is how it is that $2.2 billion has gone into the Balancing Pool, backstopped by Alberta taxpayers, and it isn’t the single greatest scandal that Albertans have seen,” said Greg Clark, then leader of the Alberta Party, in the province’s legislature in May 2017. “It is a scandal. It is absolutely a scandal.”A decision was made to defame me Industry groups have also sharply criticized how the government handled the series of cancelled contracts.“Albertans should be concerned about the government’s $2.25-billion loan to the Balancing Pool and the mounting interest cost (about $400 million), which will need to be repaid,” the Independent Power Producers Society of Alberta said in a release.The controversy is not a key focus in the current Alberta election, partly because it’s so complicated, but it is a point that parties have included in their platforms.The UCP has promised that, if it forms government, it will “Ask the Auditor General of Alberta to conduct a special duty audit of the NDP-incurred financial losses on the power purchase agreements held through the Balancing Pool.”In an emailed statement, the UCP said the NDP has not been transparent about their electricity market changes.Hemstock’s defamation case is expected to drag on long after the April 16 election. He believes the government blamed him for the power contracts being handed over to the Balancing Pool.In their statement of defence, the provincial government, Hoffman and Oates state they never referenced Hemstock directly and “as such, the statements cannot be defamatory or cause harm to the plaintiff, as alleged or at all.”The defence also states that comments were made “as senior government officers in the performance of their official duties and are protected by absolute privilege” and their comments were “based on true facts about matters of public interest and are fair comment on a matter of public interest.”• Email: firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter: Twitter Leah Hennel/Postmedia/File April 11, 20197:00 AM EDTLast UpdatedApril 11, 20197:00 AM EDT Filed under News Reddit More
Groping and stalking claims deepen Lloyd’s of London scandal TMK Group normalized ‘… bullying, intimidation, harassment, victimization, unwanted attention, sexual harassment and racial abuse’ Lloyd’s of London headquarters building.Bloomberg file photo Recommended For YouAll 23 crew of seized British-operated tanker are safe -Iranian TVOptiv Security Brings Cybersecurity Innovation to Dallas-Fort WorthThe storm is coming and investors need a financial ark to see them throughTrans Mountain construction work can go ahead as National Energy Board re-validates permitsDavid Rosenberg: Deflation is still the No. 1 threat to global economic stability — and central banks know it Reddit June 11, 20191:10 PM EDT Filed under News FP Street Sponsored By: Facebook Twitter Bloomberg file photo Email Comment “The types of behavior described do not in any way reflect the values of TMK,” Franks said in an emailed statement to Bloomberg News in which he expressed support for the internal investigation and promised to follow through on any recommendations.TMK is the Lloyd’s of London underwriting arm of Tokio Marine Holdings Inc., Japan’s oldest insurance company. The unit employs about 900 people and manages three underwriting syndicates at Lloyd’s, making it one of the largest so-called managing agents at the exchange.The TMK sexual-harassment allegations are the first in the Lloyd’s insurance market to become public since the exchange’s CEO, John Neal, pledged in March to crack down on the misconduct reported by Bloomberg. Neal has written to market participants warning them that anyone involved in inappropriate behaviour could potentially be banned for life from the 331-year-old insurance market and publicly named and shamed.A spokeswoman for Lloyd’s said the company has had ongoing discussions with TMK and is “satisfied that they are taking these reports extremely seriously.” She said Lloyd’s has been “very clear on the standard of behaviours we expect and the actions we will take to ensure that our market, and all of those who work in it, operate to the highest standards.”Tsuyoshi Nagano, president, Tokio Marine Holdings, parent company of Tokio Marine Kiln, which is one of Lloyds’ largest underwriting managing agents. Share this storyGroping and stalking claims deepen Lloyd’s of London scandal Tumblr Pinterest Google+ LinkedIn Two executives at a top Lloyd’s of London insurance company have resigned following allegations of sexual harassment. One was accused of groping colleagues at a booze-fuelled party, the other of stalking a junior employee.The first executive was said to have grabbed one colleague’s buttocks, unbuttoned another’s shirt and made lewd sexual remarks at a party for employees of Tokio Marine Kiln Group Ltd., a subsidiary of one of Japan’s biggest insurers, according to people familiar with the matter. The second allegedly bombarded a woman who reported directly to him with unsolicited text messages and emails asking her out on dates, even after she said she wasn’t interested, the people said.The alleged incidents came to light amid the fallout from a Bloomberg Businessweek article about endemic sexual misconduct in the Lloyd’s of London insurance market. Following publication of the article in March, TMK Chief Executive Officer Charles Franks called a town hall meeting where he condemned the widespread behaviour it revealed. Energy’s #MeToo moment: Ex-Anadarko employee alleges culture where women treated as ‘sexual playthings’ Alphabet’s board accused of covering up sexual misconduct claims in shareholder lawsuits Employees say they’re still afraid to report sexual harassment That led several current and former employees to approach a senior lawyer at the firm, Ifeanyi Okoh, to complain about abuse they said they had endured or witnessed at TMK, including the incident at the off-site party. The lawyer emailed Franks and other senior managers criticizing what he called a culture of fear and harassment.“I have been contacted by several TMK employees and ex-employees who recounted some of the most appalling and shocking details of bullying, intimidation, harassment, victimization, unwanted attention, sexual harassment and racial abuse,” Okoh wrote in the email seen by Bloomberg News. “Sadly, this is part of a longstanding pattern in TMK, one further amplified by systemic intimidation, normalization of harassment and inhibiting reporting.”Laura Guerin, a spokeswoman for TMK, confirmed that an employee had raised concerns and said the company was reviewing its policies with the help of outside advisers. “TMK’s priority is to ensure the allegations are investigated thoroughly, independently and confidentially,” Guerin said in an email. “TMK has clear standards and policies for workplace conduct. Any breach of these will be taken extremely seriously and would not reflect our company values.”… part of a longstanding pattern in TMK, one further amplified by systemic intimidation, normalization of harassment and inhibiting reporting.Ifeanyi Okoh, senior lawyer, TMK 0 Comments Bloomberg News What you need to know about passing the family cottage to the next generation Okoh’s email to top TMK executives was forwarded to Britain’s Financial Conduct Authority, the Bank of England’s Prudential Regulatory Authority, the Metropolitan Police and Lloyd’s, one of the people said. It isn’t known whether the regulators are investigating. Spokesmen for the FCA and the PRA declined to comment. The Metropolitan Police said it had closed one inquiry as the alleged victim of the assault didn’t want to make any criminal allegations. The police said it was still trying to substantiate a further claim.TMK was already in the financial regulator’s crosshairs following governance and risk failures in recent years, three of the people said. The PRA was concerned enough about the way the firm was being run that it was placed under heightened scrutiny last year.“We are in regular dialogue with the PRA and committed to ensuring robust governance controls and processes across our entire business,” Guerin, the spokeswoman said. “TMK is well-capitalized and our owners, Tokio Marine Holdings, support our strategy and approach.”Some of the half-dozen men and women interviewed by Bloomberg said they were afraid of reporting their concerns to human resources because they believed it would get back to their bosses and hurt their careers.Guerin said the company has urged employees to come forward with any concerns. “They can speak, in confidence, to a member of senior management or an independent whistle-blower helpline,” she said. “Workplace harassment will not be tolerated.”Okoh, currently on leave from the firm, sounded a different note in his email. “This is a crisis and an existential threat to the TMK brand and reputation,” he wrote, “which requires immediate and very urgent action!”Bloomberg.com More Gavin Finch advertisement ← Previous Next → The executive accused of groping colleagues was given the option of resigning after he was reported to TMK’s human resources department, according to people with knowledge of the matter. He received a payout of more than £200,000 pounds ($338,000) after denying culpability and arguing that the company was in part responsible for any drunken behaviour at the party because it had supplied free alcohol for several hours, one of the people said. The executive now works outside the London insurance market.The incident apparently wasn’t an isolated one. Three other current and former TMK employees, who asked for anonymity because they feared speaking publicly would hurt their careers, said it was common at work social events to be grabbed or harassed by colleagues who were drunk. One said in an interview that her buttocks were fondled several times at office parties by male underwriters who denied they had done anything when challenged. The woman, who asked not to be named and no longer works at the firm, said she didn’t report the groping as it was standard behaviour and she didn’t believe anything would come of it.The woman who was allegedly stalked told colleagues she was subjected to a four-year campaign of sexual harassment, according to people familiar with her case. The executive allegedly would sit next to her at meetings and work-related social events so he could fondle her legs under the table. She claimed he once turned up outside her home uninvited and attempted to kiss her on the mouth, the people said.The woman told friends she was too worried about losing her job to go to HR. But she eventually did after the executive sent an email to her personal account describing a “secret dream” he had about holding her hand while walking along a beach, the people said. The executive resigned and now works for another insurance business.… she didn’t report the groping as it was standard behaviour and she didn’t believe anything would come of it. Featured Stories Join the conversation →
Former Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen.Jacquelyn Martin/AP Photo file Twitter Bloomberg News Facebook Alister Bull Comment advertisement Featured Stories Reddit What you need to know about passing the family cottage to the next generation More Email Former Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen says the U.S. economy “is doing well” and President Donald Trump doesn’t understand the central bank.“I doubt that he would even be able to say that the Fed’s goals are maximum employment and price stability, which is the goals that Congress have assigned to the Fed,” she said in an interview with American Public Media’s “Marketplace” program, published on Monday.“He’s made comments about the Fed having an exchange rate objective in order to support his trade plans, or possibly targeting the U.S. balance of trade,” she said. “Comments like that show a lack of understanding of the impact of the Fed on the economy, and appropriate policy goals.” Philip Cross: Central bankers can blame themselves for undermining their political ‘independence’ Jerome Powell says he wouldn’t resign at Trump’s request while Yellen worries attacks will undermine Fed Trump renews attacks on Federal Reserve, calls it the U.S. economy’s ‘only problem’ Yellen, the first woman to lead the Fed, stepped down in February 2018 after Trump passed her over in favour of Jerome Powell, breaking with a long tradition of incoming presidents reappointing the incumbent central bank chief.He may have been Trump’s pick, but that hasn’t spared Powell from being attacked publicly by the president over Fed rate increases. Yellen said such attacks could do real damage.“If that becomes concerted, I think it does have the impact, especially if conditions in the U.S. for any reason were to deteriorate, it could undermine confidence in the Fed,” she said.Now a distinguished fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington, Yellen also said that she had “a lot of confidence in my successor” and that “the path of policy would have been broadly similar” if she had remained in the job.The Fed raised rates four times last year but put policy on pause last month. Powell explained at a Jan. 30 press conference that headwinds including slower growth abroad, tighter financial conditions, and the cumulative impact of past policy tightening “warrant a patient, wait-and-see approach” to the central bank’s next rate move.She concurred: “There are a lot of uncertainties clouding the outlook, and it’s appropriate to stop and watch how things develop.”Bloomberg.com Janet Yellen rips into Trump, says he doesn’t understand the Federal Reserve Former Federal Reserve Chair says Trump’s comments attacking Jerome Powell could do real damage Sponsored By: Join the conversation → Share this storyJanet Yellen rips into Trump, says he doesn’t understand the Federal Reserve Tumblr Pinterest Google+ LinkedIn 18 Comments February 26, 20192:12 PM EST Filed under News Economy ← Previous Next →
Autocar Drives 2019 Kia Niro EV Kia Niro EV Gets Range Rating Of Over 300 Miles Source: Electric Vehicle News Author Liberty Access TechnologiesPosted on September 25, 2018Categories Electric Vehicle News The example Ray EV in the video turns out to be surprisingly roomy inside and well equipped. Sadly, it wasn’t continued as Kia moved to bigger Soul EV and now the Niro EV.Kia Ray EV spec:16.4 kWh battery for up to 140 km (87 miles) of range (at best)50 kW electric motor (FWD)fast charging possible up to 80% in 25 minutes using CHAdeMO charger Kia Ray EV, the ancestors of the Soul EV and Niro EVVisiting South Korea, Bjørn Nyland found a Kia Ray EV – a pretty rare electric car from early times, well ahead of the launch of Kia Soul EV. It was first unveiled in 2011.The Ray EV was Kia’s first production electric car, available only in a small run in South Korea. It reminds us of the Mitsubishi i-MiEV – also kind of kei-car – with just a 16.4 kWh battery and support for CHAdeMO fast charging.Kia Niro EV 301-Mile Kia Niro EV To Be Priced Well Under $40,000 In U.S.
Skoda Product Boss Says His Company’s EVs Won’t Be “Vanilla” Like The Tesla Model 3 14 photos Source: Autocar Skoda Vision RS Concept: Paris Videos Galore Source: Electric Vehicle News Škoda Vision E spec:500 km (310 miles) of range180 km/h (112 mph) top speedall-wheel drive, dual motor, 225 kW peak11 kW three-phase on-board chargerDC fast charging capability (0-80% in 30 minutes) Skoda Vision E to spawn as SUV and coupe.Skoda intends to make use of the Volkswagen’s MEB platform in new electric models based on the Vision E concept from 2017. As it turns out, the production version will be available in two body styles: SUV and coupe.Market launch is expected in late 2021, after the e-Citigo (Skoda’s version of Volkswagen e-up!) at relatively affordable prices from £28,000 (€32,000). The range is expected at 500 km (310 miles).The concept apparently “gives a very good idea of what the EV will look like.”See Also Skoda Vision E: First Hope For A Long-Range Affordable Electric SUV? Author Liberty Access TechnologiesPosted on October 14, 2018Categories Electric Vehicle News
Source: InsideEVs What are the two most important stories in today’s automotive world? Electrification and pickup trucks. The former represents a developing trend that’s going to disrupt and completely rearrange the industry. The second isn’t a news story, but it is the most popular product the industry has ever produced (at least in the US), a vehicle that has been called the most successful consumer product in history.So far however, EVs and pickups have existed at two opposite poles of the automotive continuum. None of the attempts to produce a plug-in pickup has gained much traction as yet (although Workhorse, Bollinger and Rivian are worth watching), and even as the popularity of EVs has grown, sales of pickups have grown more. The unstoppable march of the noisy, exhaust-spewing giants has cancelled out all the reductions in air pollution that EVs have delivered, many times over.When these two technological concepts finally meet, it will be like the coming together of matter and antimatter, a cosmic event with world-shattering consequences – at least for the automotive industry.Recently there have been rumblings. Last October, Ford confirmed plans for a 2020 F-150 Hybrid, and in January, the company hinted at plans for an all-electric version of the F-Series pickup. Now an intrepid photographer has released some spy shots that show what appears to be a prototype of an electrified F-150.View the images at InsideEVs.com“Although we were only able to get a single angle (due to where the vehicle was parked), we can easily confirm that this is an F-150 EV (*note that this is likely an early test bed for the electric powertrain, and the F-150 EV that comes to market will be significantly different),” Brian Williams told InsideEVs.Ford’s electrification efforts vis a vis pickups remain top secret, so there’s no way to confirm what we’re seeing in these photos, but Williams is convinced that it’s a plug-in pickup: “First, we can see that the vehicle is plugged into a charger via a charging port located on the lower front portion of front bumper (we don’t believe this location will make it to production though). And second, we can clearly see that the body of the F-150 sits slightly higher due to batteries being located underneath the cab. There is an exhaust tip on the back of the truck, but we believe that it’s just a clever disguise to throw off the untrained eye.” Source: Electric Vehicles Magazine
Source: Electric Vehicle News Author Liberty Access TechnologiesPosted on April 6, 2019Categories Electric Vehicle News Ever Wonder What Makes Electric Motorcycles Tick? Video “I’m proud that I will be taking this new step in my career under the colours of Voxan and Venturi, with whom I’ve already started work. The engineers and designers from the R&D department are driven by an extremely motivating sense of determination. Breaking through the 330 km/h mark together with this machine ‘Made in Monaco’ will provide even more evidence of the group’s expertise in this field.”Biaggi will attempt to break the standing record currently held by Jim Hoogerhyde, who took the Lightning SB220 electric motorcycle up to 327.608km/h (203.566mph) in 2013. Voxan and Biaggi are aiming to break the 330kph (205mph) mark with this attempt.Voxan presents the Wattman as “the most powerful electric motorcycle in the world” with numbers like 200 hp and 200 Nm of torque (that’s 147.5 ft-lbs) with a motor that spins up to 10,500 rpm. Voxan claims the bike’s 0-100 mph time as 5.9 seconds, its 0-80 percent charge time as less than 30 minutes, and a range from fully charged at 180km (not quite 112 miles).Source: Motociclismo, TopGear, Motorsport.com, Venturi New Museum Exhibit Showcases Only Electric Motorcycles Honda Unveils CR Electric Motorcycle Prototype In Tokyo Yes, THAT Max Biaggi.Originally unveiled in 2013, Voxan Motors is prepping its electric motorcycle, the Wattman (cute, right?), to take to the Bolivian salt flats in an attempt to unseat the current electric motorcycle land speed record holder. The rider they’ve enlisted to make this attempt is none other than Max Biaggi.Biaggi has a long resume packed full of professional motorcycle racing with significant time racing in MotoGP. An ambassador for Voxan’s parent company Venturi since 2018, Biaggi says, “I’ve always loved a challenge.”“When my friend Gildo Pastor [Venturi’s president] came to me with his plan for the world land speed record and the Voxan Wattman, I was obviously going to say yes. Gildo is both an expert and a pioneer in the field of electric mobility. Under his impetus, Venturi Automobiles has set a number of records and marked a host of world firsts.More E-Bikes
Business organizations large and small are subject to the anti-bribery provisions of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.Although the books and records and internal controls provisions only apply to issuers, issuers are not always large companies. These provisions make no explicit distinctions regarding the size of an issuer, but in the FCPA Guidance the DOJ and SEC sensibly acknowledge that a factor the enforcement agencies consider when evaluating an organization’s compliance program is the size of the organization. Specifically the Guidance states: ” small- and medium-size enterprises likely will have different compliance programs from large multi-national corporations, a fact DOJ and SEC take into account when evaluating companies’ compliance programs.”Similarly, the DOJ’s November 2017 FCPA Corporate Enforcement Policy states: “implementation of an effective compliance and ethics program, the criteria for which will be periodically updated and which may vary based on the size and resources of the organization …”.Despite this sensible FCPA enforcement agency guidance, does size actually matter?Like many issues in the FCPA space, we know what we know and we don’t know what we don’t know.What we know is that there appears to be no meaningful difference in enforcement agency theories (ranging from third party compliance best practices to internal controls best practices including the finance and audit function and training best practices) in large issuer enforcement actions compared to small issuer enforcement actions.For instance, Nu Skin Enterprises (a small Utah based issuer) was held liable (seemingly on a strict liability theory see here, here and here for previous posts) for charitable donations made by a foreign subsidiary just like Schering-Plough (a large issuer) was held liable (see here for the prior post).Likewise, Analogic (a small issuer in the medical device industry) was held liable (seemingly on a strict liability theory see here and here for prior posts) for third parties engaged by a foreign subsidiary) just like numerous large issuers have been.Similarly, Akamai Technologies (a small issuer) was held liable (seemingly on a strict liability theory see here and here for prior posts) in ways indistinguishable from large issuer enforcement actions in connection with its Chinese subsidiary and alleged lack of formalized due diligence, proactively exercising audit rights, monitoring certain transactions, and employee training.Finally (and several other enforcement actions could also be highlighted) SciClone Pharmaceuticals (a small issuer) was held liable (once again seemingly on a strict liability theory see here and here for prior post) in ways indistinguishable from large issuer enforcement actions in connection with the marketing and promotional activities of a Chinese subsidiary (including “golf in the morning and beer drinking the evening).It is not just the enforcement theories in small issuer enforcement actions that seem indistinguishable from large issuer enforcement actions, but also the post-enforcement action compliance obligations imposed on settling companies as well.For instance, Attachment C “Compliance Obligations” in the Dallas Airmotive (a small provider of aircraft engine maintenance, repair and overhaul services) DPA is substantively indistinguishable from Exhibit C “Corporate Compliance Program” in the Alstom (a large multinational with 30,000+ employees) plea agreement.Likewise, Attachment B “Corporate Compliance Program” in the PTC (a small software company) NPA is substantively indistinguishable from Attachment C “Corporate Compliance Program” in the Teva Pharmaceuticals (a large multinational with 40,000+ employees) DPA.In short, the DOJ and SEC have sensibly stated that size matters, but to what extent (based on enforcement theories and post-enforcement action compliance obligations) is the open question? Connect 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.
May 3 2018Scientists at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute have begun to unravel how serotonin acts, based on data collected in a first-of-its-kind experiment that utilized electrochemical probes implanted into the brain of awake human beings.The neurotransmitter serotonin is associated with mood and helps shape the decisions we make.The readings were collected during brain surgery as patients played an investment game before receiving deep brain stimulation as a treatment to attempt to alleviate symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.The study, conducted in collaboration with Wake Forest School of Medicine, appears in the May issue of Neuropsychopharmacology, a publication in the Nature family of journals.The research provides the first ever recordings of simultaneous sub-second fluctuations in dopamine and serotonin during active decision-making in a conscious human subject. The analysis provides new understanding of serotonin’s role in regulating human choice and how it operates alongside dopamine, a neurotransmitter long associated with reward and its reinforcement.”This is the first clear evidence, in any species, that the serotonergic system acts as an opponent to dopamine signaling,” said Read Montague, the director of the VTCRI Human Neuroimaging Laboratory and the VTCRI Computational Psychiatry Unit and senior author on the paper. “If a person didn’t expect a positive outcome in the game but they received one, dopamine goes up while serotonin goes down.”Montague is also a professor in the Department of Physics in Virginia Tech’s College of Science and in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine in the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine.Ken Kishida, co-first author on the paper who was a research scientist at VTCRI at the time of data collection, worked directly with neurosurgeons at Wake Forest School of Medicine to take measurements of patients undergoing deep brain stimulation who volunteered to take part in the study.Kishida, now an assistant professor in the department of physiology and pharmacology, as well as neurosurgery, at the Wake Forest School of Medicine, is developing this work with larger patient cohorts and increasingly realistic environments.Subjects played a game related to gambling and, in this context, serotonin appears to act as a caution signal to prevent subjects from overreacting to an outcome. As the neurotransmitter is implicated in prevalent neuropsychiatric disorders, including depression, the researchers aim to uncover how the chemical aids humans in developing adaptive actions.Related StoriesWhole grain cereals can provide health benefits by altering intestinal serotonin productionDiabetes drug reduces anxiety-like behaviors in miceWeighing risks and benefits of antidepressant medication for older adults”We found that serotonin is highly active in the part of the brain that helps us to navigate bad outcomes in a way that ensures we don’t overreact to them,” said Rosalyn Moran, who is now a reader at the Institute for Psychiatry, Psychology, and Neuroscience in King’s College London. At the time of the date collection, Moran was an assistant professor at the VTCRI. Prior to her current position, she was a lecturer at the University of Bristol.”Serotonin acts in a way that reminds us to pay attention and learn from bad things, and to promote behaviors that are less risk seeking but also less risk averse,” Moran said. “When there’s an imbalance of serotonin, you might hide in a corner or run towards the fire, when you should really be doing something in between.”The researchers refer to this middle-of-the-road behavior promotion as a “keep calm and carry on” motif. Here, serotonin appears to temper excitement over positive outcomes while softening the potential disappointment of negative outcomes. This process can go awry when the neurotransmitter levels aren’t in balance.According to the National Institute of Mental Health, more than 10 million adults in the United States suffered at least one major depressive episode. About half of those people take antidepressants, which primarily consist of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. The drugs are designed to keep serotonin at elevated levels in a person’s brain by limiting its reabsorption.”People take drugs to manipulate their serotonin when they have such low levels they can’t work or they may even be a suicide threat,” Montague said, noting that prior to his team’s work, the best measurement tool for serotonin was positron emission tomography (PET) scanning which measures one point every two minutes. “Now, we can measure a point every 100 milliseconds. It’s a completely different ball game in terms of the time regime that we’re in and the implications for understanding human behavior.”The team will soon begin data collection at Carilion Clinic, through collaboration with Mark Witcher, a functional neurosurgeon. Witcher, who is also an author on the paper, became a collaborator on the project when he was the chief surgery resident at Wake Forest School of Medicine before becoming an attending physician at Carilion Clinic and assistant professor of surgery in the division of neurosurgery at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine. Source:http://research.vtc.vt.edu/news/2018/apr/26/keep-calm-and-carry-vtcri-scientists-make-first-se/
May 24 2018You’ve turned 65 and exited middle age. What are the chances you’ll develop cognitive impairment or dementia in the years ahead?New research about “cognitive life expectancy” — how long older adults live with good versus declining brain health — shows that after age 65 men and women spend more than a dozen years in good cognitive health, on average. And, over the past decade, that time span has been expanding.By contrast, cognitive challenges arise in a more compressed time frame in later life, with mild cognitive impairment (problems with memory, decision-making or thinking skills) lasting about four years, on average, and dementia (Alzheimer’s disease or other related conditions) occurring over 1½ to two years.Even when these conditions surface, many seniors retain an overall sense of well-being, according to new research presented last month at the Population Association of America’s annual meeting.”The majority of cognitively impaired years are happy ones, not unhappy ones,” said Anthony Bardo, a co-author of that study and assistant professor of sociology at the University of Kentucky-Lexington.Recent research finds that:Most seniors don’t have cognitive impairment or dementia. Of Americans 65 and older, about 20 to 25 percent have mild cognitive impairment while about 10 percent have dementia, according to Dr. Kenneth Langa, an expert in the demography of aging and a professor of medicine at the University of Michigan. Risks rise with advanced age, and the portion of the population affected is significantly higher for people over 85.Amal Harrati, an instructor at Stanford University Medical School, said Bardo’s paper appears sound, methodologically, but wondered whether older adults with cognitive impairment can be trusted to report reliably on their happiness.Langa of the University of Michigan said the findings “fit my general experience and sense of treating older patients in my clinical work.” In the early stages of cognitive impairment, people often start focusing on enjoying family and being in the “here-and-now” while paying less attention to “small frustrations that can get us down in our daily lives,” he wrote in an email response to questions.Related StoriesA program of therapy and coping strategies works long-term for family dementia carersWhy women who work are less likely to develop dementiaCommon medications can masquerade as dementia in seniors”As cognitive decline worsens, I think it is more likely that one can become unhappy, possibly due to the advancing pathology that can affect specific brain regions” and behavioral issues such as hallucinations and paranoia, he added.Jennifer Ailshire, an assistant professor of gerontology and sociology at USC’s Leonard Davis School of Gerontology, noted that happiness is often tied to an individual’s personality characteristics. This measure “doesn’t necessarily reflect how individuals with cognitive impairment are interacting with other people or their environment,” she commented.Laura Gitlin, dean of the college of nursing and health professions at Drexel University in Philadelphia, observed that happiness is only one element of living well with cognitive impairment and dementia. Going forward, she suggested, “there is much work to do” to identify what contributes more broadly to well-being and a positive quality of life in older adults with these conditions.KHN’s coverage of these topics is supported by John A. Hartford Foundation, Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and The SCAN Foundation This article was reprinted from khn.org with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.
Jul 27 2018Arteries such as the aorta actively transport oxygenated blood, nutrients and cells throughout the body to keep our tissues functioning normally. Damage to the arteries can result in life-threatening cardiovascular diseases. A major type of damage involves hardening or stiffening of the vessel walls. This phenomenon, known as arterial stiffness, results in raised blood pressure and an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases such as atherosclerosis and aneurysm. However, the causes of arterial stiffness are still largely unknown.A team of researchers at NUS Medicine, led by Associate Professor Veronique Angeli, has identified a population of cells called macrophages that coat the outer walls of healthy arteries and express a protein called LYVE-1. The researchers found that when these cells were absent, arteries accumulate collagen and lose their elasticity, becoming stiff and inflexible. These findings suggested that the macrophages protect our arteries from becoming stiff, a concept that the team proceeded to prove. They showed that the macrophages interact with another type of cell residing in the artery called smooth muscle cells, which produce collagen. The interaction between the two types of cell reduces the production of collagen by the smooth muscle cells.Associate Professor Angeli and team showed that the LYVE-1 protein on the macrophages is actually responsible for this protective effect. LYVE-1 binds to a molecule called hyaluronan expressed at the surface of smooth muscle cells and this interaction is required for the degradation of collagen by an enzyme called matrix metalloproteinase 9 (MMP-9).The work has clinical implications for both aging and cardiovascular diseases because arterial stiffness is associated with aging and precedes cardiovascular diseases such as atherosclerosis and aneurysm. This knowledge should help in the development of new treatments or the improvement of existing treatments for arterial diseases.Source: http://nusmedicine.nus.edu.sg/
Reviewed by Alina Shrourou, B.Sc. (Editor)Sep 5 2018If you want smokers to remember cigarette-warning labels, include a graphic image of the results of long-term smoking, a new study suggests.A vivid image – such as a picture of a nicotine addict smoking through a surgical hole in his throat – packs an emotional punch for smokers, the researchers found.Such images are shocking enough that smokers who viewed them actually remembered less of the associated text warning immediately afterward than did those who viewed warnings with only text or a much milder photo.But six weeks later, fewer smokers who saw the graphic image had forgotten the warnings, compared to those who received the other messages.”The high-emotion image sticks with smokers longer and we see less decline in what they remember about the warnings,” said Ellen Peters, lead author of the study and professor of psychology at The Ohio State University.Even more importantly, the study showed smokers who had stronger emotional reactions to the graphic warnings reported higher risk perceptions of smoking six weeks later and had greater intentions of quitting.”Warnings with graphic images are the best way to convey the negative health consequences of smoking in a meaningful way,” Peters said.The study appears online in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine and will be published in a future print edition.The study involved 1,932 people who participated in two separate internet surveys. The studies included a nationally representative sample of adult smokers, a sample of Appalachian adult smokers, and a national sample of teens who were smokers or who were at high risk of taking up smoking.All of the smokers participated online. Each participant was shown the same cigarette warning labels on their computer four times: on the first day of the study, twice after one week, and then a fourth time after either two weeks or six weeks.Each smoker received one of nine text warnings (for example, “Cigarettes are addictive” or “Smoking can kill you”).Some received only the text. Others saw the text paired with an image that earlier tests showed provoked little emotion (such as hands in chains reaching for cigarettes). A third group saw an image that earlier tests showed triggered strong emotions, such as the man smoking through the hole in his throat. (The hole is called a tracheostomy and may be necessary because of some smoking-related cancers.)Related StoriesElectronic cigarettes produce stress response in neural stem cells, study findsStudies show no evidence of fall in cigarette consumption due to WHO’s FCTCStudy finds increase in cigarette smoking among minority teens after college affirmative action bansResults showed that smokers who viewed the low-emotion or text-only messages could recall about 30 percent of what the warnings said if they were asked immediately following the study.But if they were asked after six weeks, warning recall dropped by nearly half for those who saw the low-emotion image and by one-third if they saw the text-only message.People who saw the highly graphic image remembered slightly fewer of the messages (26 percent) immediately after the study was completed. However, after six weeks, there was a drop-off of only 5 percentage points in amount of warning information remembered.The researchers found something else interesting about the people who had strong emotional reactions to the warnings: Even when they couldn’t remember the exact warning that was paired with their image, they were more likely than others to spontaneously recall other risk information that they weren’t shown.”They were recognizing real risks of smoking, just not the ones they were shown in the study,” said Brittany Shoots-Reinhard, a co-author of the study and a research associate in psychology at Ohio State.”They were reminded of other bad things about smoking that they already knew.”Compared to those who received the other messages, smokers who received the graphic-image warnings had greater emotional reactions to the images, which related in turn to them thinking they were at greater risk of dying younger or getting a life-threatening disease because of their cigarette use. They were also more likely to say they were thinking about quitting.”The results suggest that the high-emotion warnings will teach people more about the health risks of smoking and possibly get them to act,” Peters said.”Research has shown that the average smoker has surprisingly superficial knowledge about the risk. They know it is bad for them, but if we can teach them the specific risks of smoking, we believe it will stick in their heads and have a bigger impact in the long-term.”The key is to find a way – such as the graphic images in this study – to arouse people’s emotions. Research on memory consolidation shows that strong emotions that excite people can disrupt immediate memory, just as it did in this study, Peters said.But it also helps to support memory over the long term. “That’s why pictorial warnings can be so effective,” she said. Source:https://news.osu.edu/graphic-images-on-cigarette-warnings-stick-with-smokers
Bad for your blood pressure perhaps, but dietary salt may concentrate in your skin to ward off bacteria. Scientists have also found that large predators may control their population size by killing their young. And for something completely different, a research team has compiled all the best data on human penis size, dispelling myths and offering possible comfort to anxious men. Science’s news intern Emily Conover chats about these stories and more with Science’s Susanne Bard. Stephen Baker also discusses the challenges faced by lower income countries when fighting antimicrobial resistant infections.
After years of sequencing the genomes of female Neandertals, researchers have finally got their first good look at the Y chromosome of a male Neandertal—and found that it is unlike that of any other Y in modern humans living today. Even though Neandertals and modern humans interbred several times in the past 100,000 years, the DNA on the Y chromosome from a male Neandertal who lived at El Sidrón, Spain, 49,000 years ago has not been passed onto modern humans, researchers report today in The American Journal of Human Genetics. The finding fits with earlier studies that have found that although living Asians and Europeans have inherited 1% to 3% of their DNA from their ancestors’ interbreeding with Neandertals, they are missing chunks of Neandertal DNA on their Y chromosomes. This has suggested that female modern humans and male Neandertals were not fully compatible and that male Neandertals may have had problems with sperm production. The new study finds a clue to why: The El Sidrón Neandertal had mutations in three immune genes, including one that produces antigens that can elicit an immune response in pregnant women, causing them to reject and miscarry male fetuses with those genes. So even though male Neandertals and female modern humans probably hooked up more than once over the ages, they may have been unable to produce many healthy male babies (such as the reconstruction of this Neandertal boy from fossils from Gibraltar)—and, thus, hastened the extinction of Neandertals. *This article was updated at 10:08 a.m., 8 April, to correct a spelling error of Gibraltar.
Humpback calves ‘whisper’ to avoid being heard by killer whales. Listen here By Virginia MorellApr. 25, 2017 , 8:15 PM Humpback whales are known for their operatic songs that carry across the seas. Their calves, however, whisper, uttering soft squeaks and grunts to their mothers (which you can hear above). Now, a new study suggests that loud calf voices can also attract some unwanted visitors: male humpbacks, who might separate the pair by trying to mate with the mother, and killer whales, who dine on young humpbacks. To record their sounds, scientists placed temporary tagging devices on eight humpback whale mothers and calves in the Exmouth Gulf off Western Australia, where the young whales spend months suckling to gain enough weight for their annual migrations to the Antarctic or Arctic. After listening to the recordings, scientists say the calves’ careful whispers are not cries for food, as previously thought. Instead, they may help them stay in close contact with their mothers when swimming. And, say researchers, writing today in Functional Ecology, the low decibel sounds help keep would-be predators away from the “nursery.”