Research Roundup Looking At CHIP To Gauge Effect Of Health Law On

first_imgEach week, KHN reporter Alvin Tran compiles a selection of recently released health policy studies and briefs.Medicare & Medicaid Research Review: The Effect Of The Children’s Health Insurance Program On Pediatricians’ Work Hours – In this study published by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, researchers analyzed the 1997 Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) to evaluate the potential changes in physicians’ work hours in response to a large expansion in coverage. According to the authors, CHIP’s coverage of almost one in five children is “roughly similar in magnitude to the expansion for adults that will occur under the Affordable Care Act.” CHIP shifted millions of children into public coverage and substantially reduced out-of-pocket payments for medical services. The researchers found “that pediatricians in states with larger CHIP expansions substantially reduced their annual work hours relative to pediatricians in states with smaller expansions.” They conclude that when trying to assess public insurance expansions, “it is important to not rely on a purely demand-driven model of physician behavior, but also to assess their effects on reimbursement rates and on physicians’ work incentives” (He and White, 2013). The Commonwealth Fund: Insurers’ Medical Loss Ratios And Quality Improvement Spending In 2011 –The federal health law requires insurers to pay out at least 80 percent of premiums for medical claims and quality improvements. If they don’t meet that medical loss ratio (MLR), insurers are required to refund the difference to policyholders. The authors of this issue brief examined the spending of 947 health insurers, especially their “investment in quality improvement activities.” They report, “In the aggregate, insurers paid less than 1 percent of premiums on either MLR rebates or quality improvement activities in 2011, with amounts varying by insurer type. Publicly traded insurers had significantly lower MLRs in each market seg­ment (individual, small group, and large group), and were more likely to owe a rebate in most segments compared with non–publicly traded insurers.” The authors’ findings suggest that “current market forces do not strongly reward insurers’ investments” in quality improvements. (Hall and McCue, 3/22). Georgetown University Law Center/The Kaiser Family Foundation: Updating The Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program For A New Era: Key Issues & Questions For The Future –The Ryan White HIV/AIDS program provides care and health services to millions of people – insured or uninsured –affected by HIV. The law is set to expire on Sept. 30, but Congress could reauthorize it  and “discussions about how best to structure the program in this new environment, including the timing of any changes, have already begun,” the authors of this report state. They highlight four broad areas of discussion: supporting people in all stages of treatment; building HIV treatment networks in underserved communities; integrating HIV care into mainstream health care; allocating Ryan White resources fairly. (Crowley and Kates, 4/3).Trust For America’s Health/Robert Wood Johnson Foundation: Investing In America’s Health: A State-By-State Look At Public Health Funding And Key Health Facts – According to the authors “investing in disease prevention is the most effective, common-sense way to improve health – helping to spare millions of Americans from developing preventable illness, reducing health care costs, and improve the productivity of the American workforce so we can be competitive with the world.” The authors say the nation’s public health system has remained underfunded for decades and examine funding and key health facts in every state. They highlight several findings including inadequate federal funding for public health; cuts in states and local funding; wide variations in states’ disease rates and other health statistics; and wide variations in health statistics within states. They conclude that “a sustained and sufficient level of investment in prevention is essential to improving health in the United States and that differences in disease rates will not be changed unless an adequate level of funding is provided to support public health departments and disease prevention efforts” (Levi, Segal, Laurent, and Lang, 4/2013).Here is a selection of news coverage of other recent research:Reuters: End-Of-Life Talks Lacking Between Doctors, PatientsAlthough many older patients in Canada have thought about end-of-life care and discussed it with family members, a new study suggests fewer have spoken with doctors and had their wishes noted accurately in their medical record. Many elderly people prefer to die at home instead of in the hospital – but that’s not always the way it works out, researchers said (Pittman, 4/1).MedPage Today: Kidney Outcomes Worse For Uninsured Uninsured patients are more likely to progress to kidney failure and die from it than those who are covered by public or private insurance, researchers reported here. In adjusted models, uninsured patients were 82% more likely to die and 72% more likely to have kidney failure compared with insured patients (P<0.001 for both), Claudine Jurkovitz, MD, MPH, of Christiana Care Health System's Value Institute in Delaware, reported at the National Kidney Foundation meeting here (Fiore, 4/3). MedPage Today: Group Visits Ease Appointment Overload A pilot program aimed at streamlining care of kidney stone patients allowed clinicians to see patients as a group and still provide individualized care, researchers reported. The "group visit" cut waiting time for office visits in half, yet the "satisfaction level attained with the shared medical appointments was very high as well," Allan Jhagroo, MD, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, told MedPage Today (Susman, 4/3). The Hill: Study: Managed Medicaid Plans Handling More PrescriptionsMedicaid is quickly abandoning the traditional fee-for-service model when it comes to handling patient prescriptions, according to a new study. The IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics reported Thursday that Medicaid managed care plans handled 19 percent of the program's prescriptions in September 2011 (Viebeck, 4/4). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription. Research Roundup: Looking At CHIP To Gauge Effect Of Health Law On Doctorslast_img read more

Read More


Novartis Becomes Second Pharma Company To Pull Back On 2018 Price Increases

first_imgNovartis Becomes Second Pharma Company To Pull Back On 2018 Price Increases Recently, Pfizer was lambasted by President Donald Trump over its price hikes and announced it would roll them back. Novartis, which is dealing with a public relations crisis from its contact with Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen, said it is following suit: “We thought that was prudent, given the dynamic environment we’re currently in,” said Chief Executive Vas Narasimhan. The Wall Street Journal: Novartis Won’t Raise U.S. Drug Prices This Year Stat: Novartis Hits The Brakes On Price Hikes As Political Pressure Builds Trump has pressured drug companies to keep prices low, and met with Pfizer after it announced price increases for more than 100 drugs. After the meeting, Pfizer said it would hold off on increasing prices until the administration releases its drug pricing plan or the end of the year, whichever comes first. (7/18) Narasimhan is taking steps to try to strengthen the company’s ethics, manage risk and regain trust following revelations earlier this year that Novartis paid $1.2 million to Trump lawyer Michael Cohen to try to gain insight into the administration’s health-care policy. An investigation led by U.S. Senate Democrats concluded last week that Novartis’s ties to Cohen were deeper than the drugmaker acknowledged. The CEO has been grappling with fallout over the contract, which drew the pharmaceutical giant into Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of suspected Russian meddling in the U.S. presidential election. (Paton, 7/18) Reuters: Novartis Hints At 2018 Outlook Hike Despite Drug Price Freeze The Hill: Novartis Pulls Back On Planned Drug Price Increases Bloomberg: Novartis Joins Pfizer In Holding Line On Drug Prices In U.S. center_img Mr. Narasimhan didn’t speak directly with Mr. Trump about pricing, the company said, adding it had been in contact with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in the context of the administration’s blueprint to curb drug prices that was unveiled in May. (Mancini and Blackstone, 7/18) The New York Times: Bowing To Trump, Novartis Joins Pfizer In Freezing Drug Prices Novartis’s chief executive, Vas Narasimhan, said during an earnings call with investors that the company had made the decision in June, amid escalating outrage over high drug prices. “We thought that was prudent, given the dynamic environment we’re currently in,” he said. A spokesman for Novartis said the company notified the state of California, which has a new drug-price transparency law, of its decision in June but the news was not widely known. (Thomas, 7/18) Novartis may ratchet up its 2018 sales outlook, its finance chief said on Wednesday, despite halting planned U.S. drug price hikes amid pressure on the industry from President Donald Trump’s administration over the high cost of medicines. (7/18) In response to the heated political rhetoric over the cost of prescription drugs, Novartis has decided not to raise prices on its medicines in the U.S. for the rest of 2018. “When I looked at the policy environment in the U.S. with our team, we thought the prudent thing to do was to pull back on any further price increases in 2018 and evaluate as the environment evolves,” Novartis chief executive Vas Narasimhan told Bloomberg Television, shortly after the drug maker first disclosed its decision as part of its latest earnings report on Wednesday. (Silverman, 7/18) 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

Read More


Audi Airbus Italdesign Demonstrate PopUp Next

first_img Audi And Airbus To Work On Air-Taxi Project Testing In Germany .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%; } Partners are also trying to figure out the business cases for the on-demand service through conducting tests in South America in cooperation with the Airbus subsidiary Voom. Currently, customers can book helicopter flights in Mexico City or Sao Paulo, while an Audi is at the ready for the journey to or from the landing site.The next step is to be a full-size prototype that can drive and fly with passengers.Dr. Bernd Martens, Audi board member for sourcing and IT, and president of the Audi subsidiary Italdesign said: Audi & Airbus Reveal Electric Flying / Driving Duo 9 photos See Also “Flying taxis are on the way. We at Audi are convinced of that. More and more people are moving to cities. And more and more people will be mobile thanks to automation. In future senior citizens, children, and people without a driver’s license will want to use convenient robot taxis. If we succeed in making a smart allocation of traffic between roads and airspace, people and cities can benefit in equal measure.” Boeing And JetBlue Invest In Electric Airplane Startup Pop.Up Next combines electric, autonomous, flying and sharingThe “Pop.Up Next” all-electric flying taxi – a joint project of Audi, Airbus and Italdesign – enters a new phase of tests and demonstrations of 1:4 scale model. This special modular concept utilizes a passenger capsule that can be attached to a driving platform or drone.The prototype was recently shown at the Amsterdam Drone Week where for the first time, it was flying and driving on its own.“This innovative concept for a flying taxi combines a self-driving electric car with a passenger drone. In the first public test flight, the flight module accurately placed a passenger capsule on the ground module, which then drove from the test grounds autonomously. This is still a 1:4 scale model. But as soon as the coming decade, Audi customers could use a convenient and efficient flying taxi service in large cities – in multi-modal operation, in the air and on the road. Without changing vehicles, passengers will enjoy their leisure time, relax, or work.” Source: Electric Vehicle News Author Liberty Access TechnologiesPosted on November 28, 2018Categories Electric Vehicle Newslast_img read more

Read More


Polestar 2 In The Lens Of Fully Charged Autogefühl Videos

first_imgPolestar 2 – the all-electric car from the northThe Polestar 2 was one of the EV stars at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show and here we would like to encourage you to see two presentations of the car, by known and liked Fully Charged and Autogefühl.According to Fully Charged’s Jonny Smith the first all-electric Polestar was one of the most besieged cars on the stage. Sadly, the 2 appears to be on the higher-end of what most EV enthusiasts can afford (€59,900 in 2020 and €39,900 for the base model in the future.) Moreover, the following Polestar models are to be above the Polestar 2 (in terms of size/performance/price). But you know what? We bet that there will be Volvo BEVs with similar tech and lower prices too (just less sporty and exclusive).Polestar 2 UPDATE: How Polestar 2 Compares With Tesla Model 3 Polestar 2 specs:78 kWh battery (324 pouch cells, 27 modules, liquid cooled)target 500 km (311 miles) of WLTP rangeexpected 275 miles (442 km) of EPA range0-100 km/h (62 mph) in 4.7 secondsdual motor all-wheel drivesystem output: 300 kW (408 hp) and 660 Nm of torque (two 150 kW and 330 Nm electric motors per axle)150 kW fast charging capabilitybased on Compact Modular Architecture (CMA) platform* in China battery capacity to be 72 kWhAutogefühl.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%; }Bonus: Demo of Google Android user interface.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%; } Source: Electric Vehicle News Polestar EVs Have A Center Raised-Floor Tunnel + Other Fun Facts Let’s Take A Closer Look At Polestar 2 Battery Details Author Liberty Access TechnologiesPosted on March 29, 2019Categories Electric Vehicle Newslast_img read more

Read More


Despite weak EV sales total battery capacity increased 69 YOY in April

first_imgSource: Electric Vehicles Magazine Despite weak EV sales growth in April 2019 compared to the same month the year prior, total battery capacity deployed in newly-sold EVs increased markedly over the same period, according to Adamas Intelligence’s EV Battery Capacity Monthly.While total EV sales increased just 19.6% over the previousApril, the industry deployed over 6.7 GWh of battery capacity in passenger EVs,PHEVs and hybrids globally – an increase of 69.4% over the same month last year.This rapid growth in battery capacity stems from strongsales of high-capacity, long-range EVs like the Tesla Model 3, BYD Yuan, NissanLeaf and Hyundai Kona, among others.Continuing thetrend Charged noted in March 2019,data from Adamas Intelligence also indicates that the sales-weighted averagebattery capacity increased 41.6% between April 2018 and April 2019, from 13.7kWh to 19.4 kWh.Source: Adamas Intelligence Author Liberty Access TechnologiesPosted on June 25, 2019Categories Electric Vehicle Newslast_img read more

Read More


Rome all the rage for Epsom glory

first_imgHorse racing Share on Facebook Share on Messenger Wed 4 Jun 2008 19.01 EDT Horse racing … 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. The Derby Share via Email Shares00 Johnny Murtagh Rome all the rage for Epsom glory Ron Cox Support The Guardian First published on Wed 4 Jun 2008 19.01 EDT Share on Pinterest Share on Twitter Share on Twitter Johnny Murtagh will bid for his fourth victory in Saturday’s Vodafone Derby on King Of Rome, one of five runners in the race for trainer Aidan O’Brien. In a surprise move, Murtagh has opted for the Lingfield Derby Trial runner-up over Frozen Fire, narrowly beaten in the Dante Stakes.Ballydoyle’s former stable jockey, Mick Kinane, who won the 2001 Derby for O’Brien on Galileo, has been called up for Frozen Fire. The York runner-up had been shortest of the O’Brien Derby hopes in ante-post betting, but yesterday King Of Rome was all the rage, from 20-1 down to 12’s with Hill’s. Confirming the riding plans, O’Brien said yesterday: “Johnny will be on King Of Rome, Mick rides Frozen Fire and David McCabe will be on Bashkirov. Seamie Heffernan and Colm O’Donoghue will be our other Derby jockeys but it will be tomorrow before we decide which of them rides Washington Irving or Alessandro Volta.” In other Derby news, Tajaaweed is all set to take his chance after the Dee Stakes winner pulled off a shoe earlier in the week. “I gather they’ve now got a shoe back on him and it’s so far so good,” said Angus Gold, racing manager to the colt’s owner Hamdan Al Maktoum, yesterday. “As long as everything is all right in the next 24 hours he’ll run.” However, the John Gosden-trained Bronze Cannon has virtually been ruled out of the race due to the current easy ground, with connections preferring to save him for the King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot. As betting moves had indicated, Johnny Murtagh rides Adored for Aidan O’Brien in tomorrow’s Oaks. Irish-trained fillies dominate the market, but they are from the stables of Jim Bolger, Dermot Weld and John Oxx who are responsible for Lush Lashes, Chinese White and Katiyra. Chinese White is drawn 14 of the 16 runners, but that does not concern her confident jockey, Pat Smullen. “Ideally you would like to be drawn in the middle,” said Smullen yesterday. “But we will just have to try to get ourselves into a good position. There are some nice fillies but mine is in very good form.” Meanwhile, Big Brown will break from stall one in Saturday’s Belmont Stakes as he bids to become America’s first Triple Crown winner in 30 years – the last 10 Kentucky Derby-Preakness winners to have attempted the big treble have failed. In the 10-runner field the draw should not be a factor as Big Brown bids to defend his unbeaten record. He sustained a quarter crack to his left front hoof, but yesterday his trainer, Rick Dutrow, was confident Big Brown would be at his best. “I feel as good as I can possibly feel about Big Brown,” he said.Ron Cox’s tip of the dayThe Bear 4.40 HamiltonA 6lb rise for his all-the-way course and distance win last month should not prove insurmountable for this sprinter, who is still well treated on his old form. He never looked like getting caught when scoring here, and may have been unfortunate not to follow up from his revised mark at Carlisle last week, where he was first home of the five who raced on the far side of the track. Share on Facebook Share via Email Share on LinkedIn Since you’re here… Reuse this content Share on WhatsApp Topicslast_img read more

Read More


The quarterfinal is a match I can win

first_imgShare on Twitter ‘The quarter-final is a match I can win’ Share via Email The Recap: sign up for the best of the Guardian’s sport coverage Since you’re here… Share on Messenger Andy Murray Share on Twitter … 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. No sooner had Andy Murray won the most dramatic and memorable match of his career last night than he was thinking about tomorrow’s quarter-final against Rafael Nadal, the world No2.”I have to forget about this and recover properly because it’s a match I can win,” said Murray, minutes after coming from two sets down to beat Richard Gasquet to claim a win which gave the 21-year-old Scot the sort of emotional bond with the Wimbledon crowd that his predecessor as British No1, Tim Henman, took years to forge. Share on Facebook Wimbledon Share on Facebook Rafael Nadal Share on WhatsApp Support The Guardiancenter_img Eleanor Preston Andy Murray Tennis Wimbledon 2008 Against Gasquet, Murray worked his Centre Court supporters like a maestro and he admitted that he was going to need their help again when he plays Nadal in what will be his first grand slam quarter-final.”It’s really my job to make sure that I give them something to shout about,” he said. “You know, hopefully I’ll start the match well and give everyone belief that I can go on and do it. The atmosphere was great tonight and I’m sure it will definitely equal it on Wednesday.”Murray has lost all three of his matches against Nadal so far but will take heart from the sterling fight he put up against the Spaniard in their only meeting over five sets, at the 2007 Australian Open. He believes that there is much to be gleaned from his memories of that encounter in Melbourne, which, until last night’s barnstormer, the Scot rated as the best match of his career.”I learnt that I could obviously play with him and play at his level,” said Murray. “You know, for probably 4½ sets I was up there with him and definitely had my chances.”But I think both of our games have changed a bit since then. He’s definitely playing better on grass than he was in previous years. I like to think I’m playing a bit better. It’s going to be a completely different match to a year and a half ago.”Murray is a keen student of the game and has already been taking notes on how his fellow players have approached the four-times French Open finalist. He made particular mention of the ultra-attacking Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who knocked Nadal out of this year’s Australian Open.”I have to look at the guys that have given him trouble and the way that Tsonga played against him in Australia this year,” said Murray. “It’s really important to serve well, be aggressive and not give him a chance to start dictating the rallies. That’s the game plan against him.” Share on LinkedIn Share on Pinterest Topics First published on Mon 30 Jun 2008 19.32 EDT Share via Email Read more Mon 30 Jun 2008 19.32 EDT Shares00 Reuse this contentlast_img read more

Read More


Development From The Other Universe – In Dismissing FCPARelated Securities Fraud Claims

first_imgForeign Corrupt Practices Act issues often co-exist in two parallel universes.One universe is ruled by all-powerful gods with big and sharp sticks  in which subjects dare challenge the gods.Another universe consists of checks and balances in which independent actors call the balls and strikes.The first universe refers to FCPA enforcement by the DOJ and SEC.The second universe refers to litigation of FCPA-related claims in which judges make decisions in the context of an adversarial legal system. This second universe is often referred to as the rule of law universe.There are several examples of theories used in the first universe that do not work in the second universe.For instance, the FCPA enforcement agencies frequently take a seeming “if / then” position when it comes to issuer internal controls.  In other words, if some misconduct occurred somewhere within an issuer’s business organization or if some employee within that organization circumvented the issuer’s internal controls, then the issuer did not have effective internal controls.However, when this simplistic theory is used in civil litigation, courts have routinely concluded that just because improper conduct allegedly occurred does not mean that internal controls must have been deficient.  (See e.g., Midwest Teamsters Pension v. Baker Hughes, 2009 WL 6799492 (S.D. Tex. 2009);  Freuler v. Parker Drilling 803 F.Supp.2d 630 (S.D. Tex. 2011).This post concerns the most recent example regarding the parallel universes.As readers likely know, a recent development in the first universe was the SEC’s enforcement theory in the BNY Mellon (“internship”) enforcement action (see here and here for prior posts) that bribery includes “things of value” provided indirectly to “foreign officials” if the thing of value is subjectively valued by the foreign official.In the words of the SEC in BNY Mellon, ““The internships [for family members of alleged “foreign officials”] were valuable work experience[s], and the requesting officials derived significant personal value in being able to confer this benefit on their family members.”Yet, in the other universe a federal court judge recently stated as follows.“[The FCPA’s anti-bribery provision] does not bar a company from giving anything of value to a foreign government, as opposed to a foreign official personally, or to a third party such as a nonprofit in order to generate corporate goodwill, even if the gift indirectly influences government officials.” (emphasis added).Those words were written by U.S. District Court Judge Melinda Harmon (S.D. Tex.) in dismissing securities fraud claims brought against Hyperdynamics Corporation in the aftermath of its FCPA scrutiny.  (See here for the opinion).Before discussing the ruling, a bit of background.It is often as predictable as the sun rising in the east.When a company is the subject of FCPA scrutiny or resolves an FCPA enforcement action, plaintiff lawyers representing shareholders will emerge like bats from a cave bringing derivative actions and/or securities fraud actions against the company as well as officers and directors.  To learn more about this dynamic, see “Foreign Corrupt Practices Act Ripples.”For instance, in September 2013 Hyperdynamics Corp. disclosed that it was the subject of FCPA scrutiny (see here for the prior post).  On the day of the disclosure, the company’s stock fell approximately 15%.  As sure as the sun rises in the east, a few days later, not one but two, plaintiffs firms issued releases (here and here) announcing an “investigation” and civil actions soon followed alleging Section 10(b) and Rule 10b-5 claims based on general risk disclosures in SEC filings referring to corruption.As stated by Judge Harmon (certain internal citations omitted):“Defendants issued twenty statements disclosing a risk of FCPA violations before they disclosed the FCPA subpoenas.  (“We operate in Guinea, a country where corrupt behavior exists that could impair our ability to do business in the future or result in significant fines or penalties.”). Seven of the statements further revealed Hyperdynamics had found “control deficiencies” in its accounting practices in 2009. (“Some of the identified internal control deficiencies contributing to our material weaknesses in financial reporting relate to our operations in Guinea. These material weaknesses make it more likely that [an FCPA] violation could have occurred.”). The control deficiencies are not identified in the record. Defendants state: “Hyperdynamics had historically had some difficulties—mainly during the period before the management and board were largely replaced beginning around 2009— maintaining adequate internal controls.” Four of the statements specifically deny violations of the FCPA. (“Neither the Company, nor any of its Subsidiaries, nor, to the Knowledge of the Company, any director, officer, agent, employee or other Person acting on behalf of the Company or any of its Subsidiaries, has, in the course of its actions for, or on behalf of, the Company, violated or is in violation of any provision of the [FCPA].”).Defendants do not contend the statements above were adequate disclosures of FCPA related risks. Defendants tentatively argue: “Plaintiff never meaningfully addresses the Company’s risk disclosure language, including its disclosure beginning in 2009 that certain internal control weaknesses ‘make it more likely that a[n] [FCPA] violation could have occurred.’” Defendants maintain FCPA violations did not occur.Plaintiffs respond that the disclosures were false or misleading by omission, because violations occurred. Plaintiffs have not, however, established that FCPA violations occurred. The only authoritative evidence in the record that FCPA violations occurred is Hyperdynamics’s disclosure of subpoena requests by the DOJ in September 2013 and the SEC in January 2014.  On March 12, 2014, Hyperdynamics’s partner Tullow Guinea Limited declared these subpoenas a force majeure event but retracted the declaration in May 2014. These disclosures do not establish that FCPA violations occurred or that Defendants knowingly omitted FCPA violations. See Konkol v. Diebold, Inc., 590 F.3d 390, 402 (6th Cir. 2009) (“The mere existence of an SEC investigation does not suggest that any of the allegedly false statements were actually false . . . [,] nor does it add an inference of scienter.” (quoting In re Hutchinson Tech., Inc. Secs. Litig., 536 F.3d 952, 962 (8th Cir. 2008))). Defendants cannot be held liable for not preempting the SEC process and issuing a public confession. See City of Pontiac Policemen’s & Firemen’s Ret. Sys. v. UBS AG, 752 F.3d 173, 184 (2d Cir. 2014) (rejecting argument that “in addition to disclosing the existence of an investigation, defendants were required to disclose that [defendant] UBS was, in fact, engaged in an ongoing tax evasion scheme,” because “disclosure is not a rite of confession”).”Judge Harmon next stated and concluded (certain internal citations omitted):“Plaintiffs have not alleged FCPA-related facts which would render either the sixteen risk disclosures or the four specific denials misleading by omission and which Defendants had a duty to disclose. Furthermore, Plaintiffs have failed to allege facts which would render the specific denials false or misleading.The FCPA prohibits a company from making an “offer, gift, promise to give, or authorization of the giving of anything of value” to a “foreign official for purposes of . . . influencing any act or decision of such foreign official in his official capacity” in obtaining business. This prohibition does not bar a company from giving anything of value to a foreign government, as opposed to a foreign official personally, or to a third party such as a nonprofit in order to generate corporate goodwill, even if the gift indirectly influences government officials. Nor does it prohibit misappropriation by a foreign official without the company’s knowledge.Here, Plaintiffs have alleged Defendants made donations to the government of Guinea during three phases of negotiations over Hyperdynamics’s concession. Plaintiffs claim these donations constituted bribery under the FCPA. The first donation occurred after Hyperdynamics received a letter in 2005 indicating the government had cancelled its concession. Defendants met with the Secretary General of Guinea at the Presidential Palace and were told the letter was a “fake” but that further review was necessary. On August 1, 2006, Defendant CEO Kent Watts founded a nonprofit organization called American Friends of Guinea for the purpose of making charitable contributions “for the welfare of the Guinean population.”  Shortly thereafter, on September 22, 2006, the government approved the first renegotiated concession.The second instance of alleged bribery occurred during negotiations from late 2007 to 2009, after the renegotiated concession became a local news story and the government again threatened to cancel it. In September 2007, a delegation led by the Secretary General visited Hyperdynamics’s office in Houston, and vice versa. Over the next year, American Friends of Guinea “delivered and paid for antibiotics and glucose fluids for men, women, and children who were stricken with cholera and quarantined as a result thereof. AFG also planned new water well projects to get to the source of solving the problem.”  In addition, Plaintiffs cite an  investor forum, www.investorvillage.com, which cites an article from a Guinean news website, www.guinee24.com, stating the Minister Secretary General “disbursed by means of [H]yperdynamics, the sum of five hundred (500) million Guinean francs, which were distributed to some of Ioubards [hooligans] Municipality of Kaloum and other districts in the capital of Guinea. Ioubards [were seen] in the streets two days before the fateful day of the strike of January 10, 2008. . . .”  Plaintiffs allege the “hooligans” supported the President and organized street protests against the Prime Minister. On February 8, 2008, according to a Wikileaks cable,Hyperdynamics CFO Briers met with the U.S. Embassy. The cable states, “Briers raised the issue of FCPA violations” by the Company during the meeting, and did so “without prompting.” Briers denied the Company paid the 500 million Guinea francs to the reported hooligans. Briers also denied Hyperdynamics had paid the Secretary General “to push through their contract.” Plaintiffs argue, “Despite Briers’ denials of specific instances of alleged bribery, his voluntary whistleblowing of FCPA violations further reinforced the Embassy’s view that Hyperdynamics was violating the act.” The cable explains the Embassy declined Brier’s request for assistance in negotiating with the government on grounds that “commercial advocacy would be very difficult, if not impossible, due to the fact that the [U.S. Government] does not recognize the military junta as a legitimate government.” According to another Wikileaks cable, Tidiane Diallo, a new employee of the Ministry of Mines who formerly worked at USAID told the Embassy, “I am sure Hyperdynamics was the minister’s ticket for his appointment.” According to the cable, Diallo based his statement on the fact that “the minister was appointed on August 27 . . . and that Hyperdynamics was at the ministry the very next day. The company’s contract was reinstated a few days later.” Diallo also claimed Hyperdynamics had offered to donate $56 million to the government to pay its annual bill for power plant fuel. The cable states: Diallo reportedly warned the minister of mines to reject the offer, pointing out that it is not clear what Hyperdynamics wants in return, and accepting a “donation” at this point would undermine the [government’s] future bargaining power. He said that the [government] has not yet decided whether or not to accept the funds, but that the ministers of mines and finance may decide to do so because of significant budgetary pressures. The embassy officer asked Diallo directly if the donation was a bribe, and Diallo responded, “yes and no.” Diallo explained, “[O]n the one hand, the offer is public and no one is trying to negotiate a deal behind closed doors. At the same time, the fact that the [government] does not know what Hyperdynamics wants in return raises questions about the company’s intent.” Again, Defendants’ negotiations bore fruit. On September 11, 2009, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed, partially affirming and modifying Hyperdynamics’s concession.  On September 29, 2009, Hyperdynamics made a donation to American Friends of Guinea of stock. On the same day, a director of Hyperdynamics resigned, following the firing of the CEO and resignation of the CFO and another director during the summer of 2009. The concession was approved by presidential decree in May 2010.The third instance of alleged bribery occurred in 2011, after the concession was again disputed by the transitional government and modified by way of a mining code promulgated in September 2011. Plaintiffs cite testimony from confidential witness CW-1, a former Logistics Operations Manager for Hyperdynamics, alleging Hyperdynamics donated and installed $20,000 of computer equipment for the Ministry of Mines in 2011 and $8,000 to $10,000 of computer equipment for the Guinean Offshore Department of Environment, “an agency that the Company helped to create from scratch.” Plaintiffs do not specify any particular official action influenced by the computer donations. Plaintiffs also fail to plead donations to the government and the American Friends of Guinea constituted gifts to a “foreign official for purposes of . . . influencing any act or decision of such foreign official in his official capacity.”In sum, Plaintiffs’ FCPA-related fraud claims are based on speculations of uncharged, unadjudicated FCPA violations that are not plausibly material.”last_img read more

Read More


Oral Argument Heard In Notable DPA Appeal

first_imgNon-prosecution agreements (NPAs) and deferred prosecution agreements (DPAs) are the predominate way in which the DOJ resolves Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enforcement actions against business organizations.Indeed, as highlighted in this prior post, since 2010 86% of corporate DOJ FCPA enforcement actions have involved either an NPA or DPA.Even though U.S. v. Fokker Services is not an FCPA case (it involves criminal charges against the company to unlawfully export U.S. origin goods and services to Iran, Sudan, and Burma) the case has been followed closely here at FCPA Professor because of its potential impact on FCPA enforcement.As highlighted in this prior post, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon (D.D.C.) refused to rubber stamp the DPA agreed to by the DOJ and Fokker Services.  Judge Leon’s decision is being appealed to the D.C. Circuit and as noted in this prior post the DOJ’s position is basically “hands off our DPAs.” See here for additional briefs filed in the matter.Last Friday the D.C. Circuit heard oral arguments in the appeal and the audio file of the arguments is here. (For a good summary of the oral argument, see here).The appeal presents an uncommon situation in which the DOJ and criminal defendant share similar positions – that is, wanting the DPA to be approved so both sides can move on.Yet as evidenced in the oral argument, the court seems to have serious concerns regarding the substantive and procedural arguments of the parties.last_img read more

Read More


The NonStory Of Hui Chen Leaving Her Contract Consulting Expert Position At

first_imgIn this recent podcast, former DOJ contract consulting expert Hui Chen says that her first draft of the February 2017 “Evaluation of Corporate Compliance Programs” policy document was dated January 21, 2016 but the Obama DOJ never publicly released the document. She also says that DOJ prosecutors don’t even read the compliance regulations they are subject to.From my perspective, the rest of the extensive – often over-the-top and often misleading – media coverage concerning Chen leaving her contract consulting expert position at the DOJ (which she began during the Obama administration) because she has strong opinions about the Trump administration and in her words “I want to help elect candidates who stand for [values she shares], and [she] cannot do that while under contract with the Criminal Division due to Hatch Act restrictions” is a non-story.In this June 25th post on LinkedIn, Chen states in full:“On May 15, I informed the Fraud Section in the Criminal Division at the U.S. Department of Justice that I did not intend to renew my contract as its Compliance Counsel Expert. Last Friday, I officially ended that role.Leaving DOJ was not an easy decision. Serving as the Fraud Section’s compliance counsel had given me not only the privilege of working with some of the most dedicated, intelligent, and innovative prosecutors in the federal government, it had also given me a platform from which I believed I could make a positive difference. Now, my reason for leaving is the same: to make a difference. For reasons articulated below, I believe the time has come when I can make a bigger difference outside of the DOJ than inside.First, trying to hold companies to standards that our current administration is not living up to was creating a cognitive dissonance that I could not overcome. To sit across the table from companies and question how committed they were to ethics and compliance felt not only hypocritical, but very much like shuffling the deck chair on the Titanic. Even as I engaged in those questioning and evaluations, on my mind were the numerous lawsuits pending against the President of the United States for everything from violations of the Constitution to conflict of interest, the ongoing investigations of potentially treasonous conducts, and the investigators and prosecutors fired for their pursuits of principles and facts. Those are conducts I would not tolerate seeing in a company, yet I worked under an administration that engaged in exactly those conduct. I wanted no more part in it.Second, my ability to do good at a more micro-level, by exchanging ideas with the compliance community on ways to assess the effectiveness of compliance programs, was severely limited. The management of the Criminal Division, of which the Fraud Section is a part, has persistently prohibited me from public speaking. This inability to engage was particularly frustrating after the release of the Evaluations of Corporate Compliance document, as I watched almost everyone except me being able to talk about (and often misinterpreting) my work.Third, I have come to realize that nothing matters to me more than working to restore the notions of integrity, decency, and intellect back into our government. I yearn to be a part of that effort more directly than volunteering for and attending protests: I want to help elect candidates who stand for those values, and I cannot do that while under contract with the Criminal Division due to Hatch Act restrictions.The time I spent in the Fraud Section has been among of the most rewarding experiences in my career, and I cannot speak more highly of the prosecutors with whom I had the pleasure of working. I will miss them dearly, and I hope and pray that they remain in the government to protect and defend our Constitution and to hold corporations accountable. As a citizen advocate, I will also fight for resources and support for them to do their jobs.What will I do now? The mission is the same: to make a difference.  It seems clear that there is much work to do not only in taking corporate ethics & compliance to the next level, but also in raising the moral consciousness of societies. To those ends, I will engage publicly through speaking, writing, and consulting, working with not only corporations interested in enhancing their ethics & compliance programs, but also with foreign and domestic government agencies to enhance their leadership in the markets. I will also consider it my personal mission to participate in efforts to hold our elected representatives accountable and to protect our environment. I believe it has never been more important for every individual to speak and act on their conscience and belief.We have just one life to live, and the mission we choose for that life matters as much as the life itself.”As I’ve commented on social media previously, I would hope that all lawyers could recognize the difference between lawsuits being filed and investigations being launched (for reasons only litigants and politicians can answer) vs. liability being established by an independent judiciary or fact-finder.In any event, Chen’s LinkedIn post was gobbled up by various media sources. As highlighted below much of the media coverage was often over-the-top and misleading.This article leads with “A top Justice Department official” – that’s an interesting title for a contract “consulting expert” retained by the DOJ.The article further asserts: “Chen said management in her office tried to silence her from publicly speaking out against the White House.” Well, the Hatch Act was passed in 1939 and prohibits certain federal employees from engaging in certain political activities including on social media (see here to learn more).Indeed, in Chen’s LinkedIn post she specifically references the Hatch Act as one of her reasons for leaving her contract position at the DOJ.This CNN article states:“And while at first glance Chen’s Twitter account might suggest she opposed some Trump policies even before she resigned, Chen insists that she hasn’t been politically active since her student days at University of California-Berkeley, when she was a youth leader for the Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush campaign in the 1980s.”This previous FCPA Professor post highlighted Chen’s social media activity while at the DOJ, including certain LinkedIn posts which clearly identified her as “Compliance Counsel Expert at U.S. Department of Justice.” You can judge her social media activity for yourself.This article says:“A department announcement at the time said Chen would guide the fraud section of the Criminal Division in “the prosecution of business entities, including the existence and effectiveness of any compliance program that a company had in place at the time of the conduct giving rise to the prospect of criminal charges, and whether the corporation has taken meaningful remedial action.”What the DOJ’s announcement when Chen was hired into her contract position actually says is the following:“Among her duties as a consulting expert, Chen will provide expert guidance to Fraud Section prosecutors as they consider the enumerated factors in the United States Attorneys’ Manual concerning the prosecution of business entities, including the existence and effectiveness of any compliance program that a company had in place at the time of the conduct giving rise to the prospect of criminal charges, and whether the corporation has taken meaningful remedial action, such as the implementation of new compliance measures to detect and prevent future wrongdoing.” (emphasis added).That’s a big difference from what the article asserts.This article contains the click-bait headline “Top Justice Dept. Official Resigns & Drops Major Trump Bombshell On the Way Out.”Again, “top Justice Dept. official” is an interesting title for a contract “consulting expert” retained by the DOJ.The article also asserts that “Chen’s job was to enforce criminal laws against large corporations.” Again, Chen was a “consulting expert” retained by the DOJ, not a federal prosecutor.The bombshell? Apparently Chen’s opinions about the Trump administration.This article begins: “In the months after Trump’s inauguration, she began to attend protests during her lunch hour, among other subtle acts of defiance.” Again, you can judge Chen’s social media activity while at the DOJ for yourself including whether it was subtle. My own two cents is that there is nothing subtle about use of #TrumpRussiaCoverUp.Indeed, as noted in this article:“Chen also said that leaving the government would allow her to speak out more openly about policy issues and in favor of certain politicians without risking violating the Hatch Act. Her opposition to Trump was hardly a secret as she recently sent out several critical tweets targeting the White House and even posted photos of her participation in protests against the administration.”Chen ended her LinkedIn post with the following: “we have just one life to live, and the mission we choose for that life matters as much as the life itself.”It’s hard to disagree with that.last_img read more

Read More


DOJ Announces FCPA Enforcement Action Against Former Embraer Exec Colin Steven

first_img FCPA Institute – Boston (Oct. 3-4) A unique two-day learning experience ideal for a diverse group of professionals seeking to elevate their FCPA knowledge and practical skills through active learning. Learn more, spend less. CLE credit is available. Learn More & Register In 2016, Embraer (a Brazil-based aircraft manufacturer with American Depositary Shares listed on the New York Stock Exchange) resolved a parallel DOJ / SEC Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enforcement action alleging improper conduct in the Dominican Republic, Saudi Arabia, Mozambique, and India (See here for the prior post).The net FCPA settlement amount was $187 million and in terms of Saudi Arabia it was alleged that “Embraer [largely through the conduct of Executive B] agreed to pay and did pay Saudi Arabia Official [described as “an official in a high-level decision-making position in a state-owned and controlled company in Saudi Arabia that performed a government function] more than $1.5 million to obtain a contract for the sale of three business jets, valued at approximately $93 million to Saudi Arabia Instrumentality.”Yesterday, the DOJ returned to these allegations and announced an enforcement action against Executive B, also known as Colin Steven (a U.K. citizen residing in the United Arab Emirates).The overview portion of this criminal information alleges:“From in or about November 2009, up to and including in or about April 2011, Colin Steven … engaged in an international conspiracy to bribe an official of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia … in connection with the $93 million sale of jets from Steven’s employer, Embraer, to a company located in Saudi Arabia. As part of the scheme, Steven causes approximately $1.5 million in bribe payments to be made by Embraer to the Saudi Official through an intermediary company located in South Africa [described as an industrial valve and pump manufacturer, with no experience in the aircraft industry or in Saudi Arabia, partially owned by friends of Steven]. In exchange for those payments, the Saudi Arabia Official provided more favorable terms to Embraer in a sale of jets to the Saudi Arabia company. As a further part of the scheme, Steven arranged to and did receive a kickback from a portion of the bribe proceeds.”According to the information, “the South Africa Company would perform no work on the transaction and would be used to facilitate and to disguise the payment to the Saudi Arabia Official.”In terms of a U.S. nexus, the information alleges that in March 2010 Embraer and a U.S.-based subsidiary of the Saudi Arabia Company entered into an aircraft purchase agreement and that in December 2010, the South Africa Company submitted three invoices to Embraer, each in the amount of $550,000, for its purported commission. … and that payments were made through two wire transfers from Embraer RL’s [a wholly-owned subsidiary incorporated in Delaware] bank account in Manhattan, New York …”.According to the information, Steven received approximately $129,935 in kickbacks transferred to his U.S. bank account.The information also contains the following allegation.“On or about December 19, 2014, Colin Steven was interviewed by an agent of the FBI. During that interview, when asked about one of the wire transfers he received from the South African Company in 2011, Steven falsely stated that the funds has been transferred to him by an executive of the South African Company for the purpose of buying real estate in connection with a potential business venture between Steven and the executive.”Based on the above allegations, the information charges one count of conspiracy to violate the FCPA’s anti-bribery provisions, one count of violating the FCPA’s anti-bribery provisions, two counts of wire fraud, one count of money laundering conspiracy, one charge of money laundering, and one false statement charge.As highlighted here, in 2014 Steven left Embraer and in the release Marco Túlio Pellegrini (President and CEO of Embraer Executive Jets) stated: “I … extend my gratitude to Mr. Steven and [another individual] for their instrumental roles in building Embraer Executive Jets’ presence in their respective markets, and for leading these seamless transitions.”last_img read more

Read More


Exclusive Energy MA Plummets in Texas US

first_img Username Remember me Not a subscriber? Sign up for The Texas Lawbook. Lost your password?center_img Password Mergers and acquisitions in the oil patch took a nosedive during the first two of months of 2015. Texas-based energy companies were involved in eight transactions in January and February – down from 24 such deals during the same period in 2014, according to Mergermarket.Plus, The Texas Lawbook is proud to unveil an exclusive new M&A data tracking component that measures the work of lawyers based in Texas doing deals for companies no matter where they are headquartered . . .You must be a subscriber to The Texas Lawbook to access this content.last_img

Read More


New Behavioral Health Facility Opening in Wenatchee Will Host Open House FridayState

first_imgAmerican Behavioral Health Systems (ABHS) Parkside will host a grand opening community event Friday, October 26th from 1:30 – 3:30 pm at their new facility at 1230 Monitor St. in Wenathcee.ABHS Parkside is a new 24-bed Crisis Stabilization Unit (CSU) serving adults struggling with mental health issues which put themselves or others at risk. The new CSU will serve residents in a four-county region consisting of Chelan, Douglas, Okanogan and Grant counties.While the facility will be operational next week, it has yet to be decided what will happen to an entire wing that, at the moment, does not have a permanent purpose. Dr. Julie Rickard of ABHS Parkland said that wing could provided the facility with the opportunity to grow into an even greater asset to the community.“We’re looking at whether it makes sense for us to become an evaluation and treatment center which means, if people need to be involuntarily detained, then they would be held in our facility for potentially up to 90 days.”This is not to be confused with the voluntary treatment the CSU will provide.“The crisis stabilization is voluntary.” explained Dr. Rickard, “So people that are in crisis that may be either homicidal or suicidal but are willing to get the help voluntarily would stay with us for up to 14 days based on medical necessity.”While involuntary detention may seem scary to some, doing so locally can be a big help in getting those living in our community back on their feet.“If we become an involuntary unit then the idea would be that the patients that we currently send out of our area would stay local.” said Dr. Rickard, “Which obviously for suicide prevention is what we want because the time of greatest risk for patients is right after they leave an inpatient facility. Most patients never make it to their next step and, especially if their are out of region, sometimes they never even make it back home. So they end up staying in the area they were in and then they are homeless in the streets or they are in a chaotic living situation.”The CSU will begin admitting patients Monday, October 29th at 8:00 am. Patients can be referred to the CSU via an emergency room, law enforcement, ambulance, mental health, primary care or self-referral 24 hours a day.You can call the ABHS Parkside main line with any questions (509-300-1221). Call the local crisis line (509-662-7105) or use the crisis text line (741741) if you or someone you know needs to reach out to someone who cares.For additional information about ABHS Parkside or other services provided by ABHS visit www.americanbehavioralhealth.net.last_img read more

Read More


Lying About My Age

first_imgby, Warren Adler, ChangingAging Guest BloggerTweet25Share216Share12Email253 SharesI am seriously thinking about lying about my age. Of course it’s impossible. The internet has my age engraved in perpetuity.I notice the difference immediately after my most casual face-to-face social revelation of the “number” – even if it is merely a reminder to my friends and my children. The change in expression is immediate, and the processing in the receiver’s brain, while subliminal, is obvious.In a flash I have changed my status from respectful and collegial and transformed it suddenly to “over the hill,” someone to be tolerated, politely and diplomatically endured but no longer consequential. The reaction is typical and understandable. It is built into the life cycle, a generational flaw that carries few exceptions. It is hard to reeducate people to the notion that humans are not like socks, where one size fits all.What I have begun to realize and which has motivated me to write this screed is that, whether deserved or not, one’s number reveals one’s category and my category and those of my peers sends the message of “tolerate but irrelevant.” It is a form of bias that closes the door on the wisdom that only first hand experience can convey.The fact is that my “number” and upwards is shared by many people who are still very much involved, active participants in busy and arguably important human endeavors. We may be merely statistical survivors but we are still out there, a senior cadre of wisdom and experience that cannot and must not be consigned to the rubbish bin of contemporary history. We are still climbing the hill and are not yet at the summit heading downward.We have witnessed the good and bad choices by politicians, journalists, academics, and various leaders in numerous other occupations that collude to create our culture. We have observed their many follies and their successes, have walked through the mountains of corpses of the last century, the stupidities of unworkable ideologies, and have seen the glories of science that have vastly improved our health, longevity and lifestyles.In the U.S, there are six million in the number category of which I speak. Admittedly some of that group are incapacitated physically and mentally. But there are millions still in heavy involvement in contemporary life, contributing their experience, insight, imagination and creativity to make positive change in society.There may be skeptics out there who believe I am offering conclusions based on narrow personal experience but I am willing to bet the barn there are millions out there who will testify that I am not alone in my assessment.I am as active in my career as ever. My daily writing habits have not changed. I continue to write my novels, plays, poems and essays and do what writers do which is to conjure ideas, fashion them into stories and generally communicate the results to potential readers.I do confess that I am not as agile or as flexible as when I was a 23 year old soldier in the Korean War or as formidable as I used to be in other areas requiring more extreme physicality but I have not yet reduced my twice a week pilates exercises and can still claim a robust level in my fantasy life.Nevertheless when I do honestly reveal my “number” to an inquisitive stranger, especially those of a younger demographic, I note an instant revision of their attitude and I am instantly reminded about every cliché about ageism that afflicts the culture from Charles Dickens’ “aged P” character in Great Expectations to the real life possibility of bureaucrats deciding end of life options.Aged P, for those who don’t recall this wonderful masterpiece by Dickens, was the father of John Wemmick who instructs Pip how to socialize with his aged father “Nod away at him Mr. Pip, Nod away at him if you please. That’s what he likes, like winking.”Consider what can be learned from someone who has lived through the better part of the twentieth-century and on into the twenty-first, a witness to events that would seem to a millennial as beyond imagining. Indeed everything that has occurred in the long lifetime my number implies and having seen with my own eyes the ups and downs of the past offers lessons too invaluable to be dismissed on the basis of “tolerate but irrelevant.”To throw that demographic of which I am a proud and lucky member on the rubbish heap of irrelevance is a critical mistake. Technology may radically change many things but personally witnessed and lived through experience tells us that human nature, however we manipulate and extend life, however we attempt to change the rules of human engagement, however much we destroy and, hopefully rejuvenate our environment, however long our planet can remain populated by the human animal, our basic nature with all its contradictions and propensity for good or evil will remain the same imperfect specimen.I can hope only that this message resonates beyond the periphery of the words in this issue. Instead of “tolerate but irrelevant” perhaps those who bear my number and beyond should be regarded with the frame of “listen, consider, and learn.”Oh yes, my category. I was born seven months after “Lucky Lindy” made his solo flight over the Atlantic to Paris. It was a helluva year. You do the math.Related PostsHow We Might Come to Terms with DeathI am aware that what I’m about to write is a long-ish, roundabout way of getting to my point today, but I think it is relevant. If it’s not, I’m sure you will let me know. A recent email exchange…Another Reader, Another Age DilemmaExactly 55. That is the age at which I learned I am not immortal. I’ve told the story many times: I scanned the newsroom one day to locate a writer I needed to speak with and was stunned, gazing over two or three dozen fresh, unlined, eager, young faces that…The Jack Benny SyndromeI’ve been thinking a lot lately about age stereotypes and their relationship to our willingness –– or reluctance –– to be ourselves.Tweet25Share216Share12Email253 SharesTags: Ageism Warren Adlerlast_img read more

Read More


Mathematical model assesses efficacy costeffectiveness of screening strategies for HCV

first_imgJul 2 2018It is currently recommended in Europe that screening for hepatitis C virus (HCV) should target people at high risk of infection. In France, public health data suggest that in 2014 approximately 75,000 people aged 18 to 80 were infected by HCV, but were unaware of their status. In at least one in ten cases, these people are at an advanced stage of the disease when diagnosed. Today’s treatments of HCV infection are both highly effective and well tolerated, and cure the infection in a few weeks in over 95% of cases. In Professor Yazdan Yazdanpanah’s Inserm research team, Sylvie Deuffic-Burban has developed a mathematical model that assesses the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of different screening strategies, including universal screening.Related StoriesVideo games may help teens manage emotionsComputer-generated flu vaccine enters clinical trials in the USManuka honey could be useful in treating cystic fibrosis lung infectionThis study applied data from a 2004 InVS seroprevalence survey to 18- to 80-year-olds in France, excluding people with diagnosed chronic HCV infection. The researchers developed their analytical model using a combination of these seroprevalence data and findings from studies of the characteristics of people infected (age, sex, stage of the disease at diagnosis, alcohol intake, etc.), the natural progression of the disease, the efficacy of treatments, the quality of life of the patients treated, and the cost of treatment of infection. The screening strategies assessed targeted the following groups: the at-risk population only, all men aged between 18 and 59, all people aged between 40 and 59, all people aged between 40 and 80, and everyone aged between 18 and 80, ie, universal screening.The modeling results show that universal screening is associated with better life expectancy adjusted for quality of life than other strategies. Universal screening is cost-effective if the patients tested for HCV infection are treated rapidly after diagnosis. Sylvie Deuffic-Burban points out that “Screening, on an individual basis, enables rapid treatment, which avoids the development of serious complications. In time, collective screening helps eliminate hepatitis C from a population that has been screened without restrictions.” The results of this ANRS-funded study therefore argue in favor of universal screening for HCV in France, followed by immediate treatment of those diagnosed with HCV infection. Sylvie Deuffic-Burban concludes that “Although our model is unable to test the idea, the epidemiological similarities of HCV, HIV, and HBV suggest that universal and combined screening for these three viruses could be of particular interest.” Source:http://www.anrs.fr/last_img read more

Read More


Geologist reflects on life behind bars in China

first_img Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country Email When Xue Feng landed his first job after academia as a petroleum consultant in 2000, he was delighted. His new employer, Englewood, Colorado–based IHS, had high ambitions for the young geologist: overhaul how the company—a corporate intelligence firm—gathered oil and gas data on China. Feng dove into his assignment with gusto—so much so that in 2005, when he was 40 years old, he suffered a mild heart attack. By then, he had snared a rare, unclassified database of 30,000 oil wells in China from a private broker. The database promised substantial profits for IHS and—in a country that tightly guards such data on national security grounds—substantial risks.Disaster struck on 20 November 2007. Feng, who had just left IHS for Houston, Texas–based C&C Reservoirs, was on a business trip in Beijing when he was abducted from his hotel room. Chinese security personnel interrogated him and charged Feng, a Chinese-born U.S. citizen, with selling state secrets. His chief crime: arranging for IHS’s purchase of the oil well database, which the Chinese government declared a state secret in 2007. In 2010, Feng was convicted and sentenced to 8 years in prison, including the nearly 3 years he had already spent in detention.Back in the United States, Feng’s former Ph.D. adviser, University of Chicago geologist David Rowley, campaigned for his early release. Rowley met with U.S. embassy staff in Beijing and spurred prominent activists to petition both governments. But even U.S. President Barack Obama’s personal request to Chinese leaders in 2009 wasn’t enough. Feng was finally released in April—10 months before his sentence was set to expire—and immediately deported to the United States, where he rejoined his wife and two children in Houston. Feng spoke with Science about his time in prison and what other researchers working abroad might glean from his experiences. This transcript has been edited for clarity and brevity. Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwecenter_img Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Q: Your work at IHS involved gathering a lot of sensitive data for clients. Were you ever worried about the risks involved?A: Honestly speaking, I did not worry. I was doing honorable work in bridging the international oil industry with a country that needed investment and in helping my firm revamp its products. The profession of geologist seemed the safest in the world.By connecting dots in hindsight, I realize it’s possible that the corporate executives might have known all along that [such work] carries security risks but chose not to disclose [them]. Was I misled about the potential danger working for IHS? Now I feel I was. It was the responsibility of the corporate executives, lawyers, and human resources people to worry about the sort of risks that they imposed on their employees. (IHS had no comment in response to questions from Science.)Q: What happened on 20 November 2007?A: At 12 o’clock that night, somebody knocked on my door. I told them I was sleeping. They said, “We have come to fix the electricity.” I opened the door, and a bunch of guys without uniforms—about two dozen of them—came into the room. I thought it was the Chinese mafia. But it turned out to be the Chinese spy agency, the Ministry of State Security. They told me they had some questions, and I needed to go with them. So I said, “Okay, it’s no problem. I have to go back [to Houston] tomorrow. Can we do this quickly?” And they said, “It’s up to you. You’ve got to do it quickly.”They took me to a secret location. I just wanted to finish the questions, because in my mind I never did anything wrong. I had such peace of mind. I told them, “I am going to have a little nap. Do you guys mind?” And they said, “By all means.”The questioning started that night. It lasted probably 10 months. It wasn’t day after day. Sometimes they went weeks without taking me from the cell, but sometimes [they took me] a few times a day. They interrogated me for 199 rounds.Q: What was prison like? A: I don’t want to go into the details because a lot of things are very difficult to bring up. In the beginning it was only me. After 3 months, they moved me into a tiny detention center. I stayed in rooms [with] one or two or three other people. And even though I was in a very hard situation, I was sympathetic to all of them. The detention center is a department of hell. In Chinese, people say there are 18 floors in hell. We were probably on the lowest level, but slowly we took the elevators up, up, and up.Q: How did you cope?A: To keep my brain from being totally scrambled by [the interrogations], I mentally wrote a book for my children on everything I’d learned. And I read the Chinese classics. This reading was done under very difficult circumstances: In the first 3 years I wasn’t allowed to wear my eyeglasses, so I had to squeeze my extremely near-sighted eyes to get clear vision. The squeezing led to a piercing headache that annoyed me without stop.After the interrogations ended, I started to do a lot of intentional thinking to keep my mind occupied and to avoid a mental cave-in. Sometimes, when it was too much to bear, I raised my head, saying to myself with contempt, “You can all go to hell. I will go to Texas, yeah, back to my home.” In that mental picture, the orange-colored lights of my porch were like a lighthouse, guiding a lost sailor.Q: Did you befriend any of your fellow prisoners?A: In prison, people don’t talk about friendship, because many people there have probably been betrayed by close friends. In my case, I just tried to help people. When I felt angry, I did volunteer work, unclogging the toilet drain. When I felt frustrated, I translated for inmates who needed sentence reduction papers written up. Helping others in need helped boost my morale. I didn’t look for anything in return.Q: How did your family deal with your absence?A: This travail has been excruciating to my family. It ruined my wife’s health. And for our kids to grow up without a father … it’s been very difficult. My son was only 5 when I left for China on that business trip. Now he is a teenager at junior high school. The two of us barely know each other. My daughter will go to college this fall. We lost so much time that we should have spent together.It’s hard to be a parent. It’s harder to be a single parent. But it’s hardest to be a single parent without any income. For many years the family had no income at all. [My wife Nan] had to make do by selling whatever she could. She borrowed from extended family and from our best friends to pay my huge lawyers’ bills in Beijing and to cover living costs. We were more than broke. She adopted the habit of cutting paper towels into halves so that they would last longer. And even when [it was hard to make ends meet], she managed to find money to buy the books I had requested and to send me milk powder and vitamin pills to supplement the prison food. She didn’t give me an excuse to give up.Q: How have you adjusted to life back in the United States?A: It’s really, really hard. I still have lots to do in my healing. I need to boost my [run-down] immune system so that not every virus in the outside world will be able to bring me down. I need to [socialize] more. I did not talk much in jail, sometimes going days without speaking a word. I also need to become a contributing member of society again, finding my niche where I can be useful.Q: Do you have any advice for foreign researchers working abroad on sensitive projects?A: Who would want to hear from someone who is arguably one of the unluckiest of all? However, I did learn a few things from my ordeal.First, only associate yourself with those people whose character and ability you admire. Do not compromise. Second, science may be without borders, but scientists do have nationalities. When the issue shifts from pure science to technology, the statement is even truer. Keep your faith in what your country stands for. In no circumstance should you ground your feet in two boats in an attempt to rake in benefits from both.Before you travel abroad, you have to be cautioned of potential perils lurking there. Geopolitical rivalry sometimes makes scientific and technological enterprise extremely complicated in reality. Only when you get caught in geopolitical crossfire do you realize how hard it is for an obscure scientist to convince a mighty nation to do the right thing for you.last_img read more

Read More


Trumps White House science office still small and waiting for leadership

first_img The 1976 law that created the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) lets presidents tailor the office to fit their priorities. Under former President Barack Obama, OSTP grew to a record size and played a role in all the administration’s numerous science and technology initiatives. In contrast, President Donald Trump has all but ignored OSTP during his first 6 months in office, keeping it small and excluding it from even a cursory role in formulating science-related policies and spending plans.OSTP is not alone across the government in awaiting a new crop of key managers. But such leadership voids can be paralyzing for a small shop. Trump has yet to nominate an OSTP director, who traditionally also serves as the president’s science adviser. Nor has he announced his choices for as many as four other senior OSTP officials who would need to be confirmed by the Senate. An administration official, however, told Science that OSTP has reshuffled its work flow—and that there’s a short list for the director’s position. By Jeffrey MervisJul. 11, 2017 , 1:30 PM What’s shocking is that, this far into the new administration, the numbers haven’t gone back up. Olivier Douliery/dpa/picture-alliance/Newscom John Holdren, Harvard University 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 President Donald Trump examines a drone at a 22 June meeting with technology leaders that the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy helped organize. OSTP now has 35 staffers, says an administration official who declined to be named because they weren’t authorized to speak to the media. Holdren, who in January returned to Harvard University, says the plunge in staff levels is normal during a presidential transition. “But what’s shocking is that, this far into the new administration, the numbers haven’t gone back up.”center_img Email Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country That nominee would replace physicist John Holdren, who led OSTP for the entirety of the Obama administration. Under Holdren, the office had four divisions—science, environment and energy, national security and international affairs, and technology and innovation. OSTP also housed an Office of the Chief Technology Officer, created in 2009 to beef up the White House’s digital capabilities. At its peak, Obama’s OSTP had 135 people, Holdren says, two-thirds of them on loan from other agencies and outside institutions. That number had plummeted to 30 by Trump’s inauguration, as those detailees returned home. Trump’s White House science office still small and waiting for leadership Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) The office’s only political appointee is Michael Kratsios, a former aide to Trump confidant and Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel. Kratsios is serving as OSTP’s deputy chief technology officer and de facto OSTP head. Eight new detailees have arrived from other agencies since the inauguration.Although there has been no formal reorganization of OSTP, a “smaller, more collaborative staff” is now grouped around three areas—science, technology, and national security—according to the Trump aide. Three holdovers from Obama’s OSTP are leading teams focused on specific themes—Lloyd Whitman in technology, Chris Fall in national security, and Deerin Babb-Brott in environment and energy. They report to Kratsios and Ted Wackler, a career civil servant who was Holdren’s deputy chief of staff and who joined OSTP under former President George W. Bush.“It’s a very flat structure,” says the Trump official, consistent with the administration’s view that “government should be looking for ways to do more with less.” Ultimately, the official adds, “the goal is [for OSTP] to have “probably closer to 50 [people].”Holdren says his staff—substantially larger than OSTP’s under Bush and twice its previous peak under former President Bill Clinton—reflected Obama’s desire to elevate science and technology in his administration. “The president was so interested in knowing what science could do to advance his agenda, be it on economic recovery, energy and climate change, or national security,” Holdren says. In contrast, Holdren says, “right now I think OSTP is just hanging on.”A briefing book prepared by Obama’s outgoing OSTP staff may be a small but telling indication of the office’s current status. The thick, three-ring binder, covering 100 issues, was modeled on one that Holdren received from John “Jack” Marburger, Bush’s OSTP director. “Jack did a fabulous job of laying out what OSTP does, including what reports it owes Congress, so we decided to do likewise,” Holdren says. “But nobody came [from Trump’s transition team] to collect it until a week before the inauguration.”That person was Reed Cordish, the 43-year-old scion of billionaire real estate developer David Cordish. An English major in college, Reed Cordish was briefly a professional tennis player before joining the family business. He “spent an hour with us and took the book away,” Holdren says. “He told us, ‘This is an important operation and I’ll do my best to see that it flourishes.’ But we don’t know … whether he has the clout to make that happen.”Cordish is now assistant to the president for intragovernmental and technology initiatives. He works in the new Office of American Innovation led by presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner. That office arranged a recent meeting with high-tech executives, and is also leading yet another White House attempt to “reinvent” government.Although much about OSTP’s future remains uncertain, Trump has renewed the charter of the National Science and Technology Council, a multiagency group that carries out much of the day-to-day work of advancing the president’s science initiatives. He has also retained three offices that oversee the government’s multibillion-dollar efforts in nanotechnology, information technology research, and climate change. Still pending is the status of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, a body of eminent scientists and high-tech industry leaders that went out of business at the end of the Obama administration.last_img read more

Read More


Powerful US senator calls for vetting NIH grantees at hearing on foreign

first_img Research typically enjoys bipartisan support in the U.S. Congress. But when it comes to the increasingly contentious topic of academic espionage by foreign governments, politics is never far from the surface.At a hearing yesterday of the Senate Committee on Finance, Chairman Chuck Grassley (R–IA) urged federal agencies to do more to thwart “real, aggressive, and ongoing” attempts by foreign entities to steal the fruits of U.S.-funded research. His to-do list included a thorough vetting of the foreign affiliations of potential grantees, something that’s not done now.But the top Democrat on the influential panel, Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, warned that taking new steps to root out would-be spies could damage the traditionally open U.S. research enterprise. Those concerned about the vitality of U.S. research, Wyden said, should instead be worrying about the “antiscience” policies of President Donald Trump. Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call/AP Images Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country By Jeffrey MervisJun. 6, 2019 , 10:40 AM Powerful U.S. senator calls for vetting NIH grantees at hearing on foreign influences Senator Chuck Grassley (R–IA) chairs the Senate Finance Committee.center_img Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) 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 The title of the hearing—“Foreign threats to taxpayer-funded research: Oversight opportunities and policy solutions”—reflects Grassley’s view that China and other countries are taking advantage of lax U.S. policies. The hearing focused on biomedical research, which meant shining a spotlight on how the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has cracked down on researchers who have failed to disclose foreign sources of support in their grant applications and progress reports on their NIH-funded research.NIH has notified 61 universities and research institutions of apparent violations by faculty members of its rules regarding foreign affiliations, Principal Deputy NIH Director Lawrence Tabak told the committee. The probe, which began in August 2018, has generated 16 cases that NIH deemed egregious enough to notify the inspector general of its parent body, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). And it has led to the publicly known departures of five faculty members at two institutions—MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas, and Emory University in Atlanta.Why not background checks?Grassley opened the hearing by praising NIH for its role in making the United States “the best of the best when it comes to cutting-edge medical research.” But he was clearly troubled by differences in the personnel rules that govern its extramural program, which provides funding to nongovernment scientists working at universities around the country, and those applying to NIH-employed scientists who work at the agency’s main campus in Bethesda, Maryland. NIH employees undergo the same vetting as any government employee, he noted, whereas the academic researchers do not.“Does NIH conduct background checks, including a review for counterintelligence purposes, of PIs [principal investigators] prior to awarding a grant to their institution?” Grassley asked Tabak.“No, we do not,” Tabak replied, before adding, “and they are employees of their home institution.”That answer didn’t sit well with Grassley. He returned to the topic later in the hearing when questioning Joe Gray, a biomedical engineer at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland—only to be rebuffed again.“Do you believe there should be more robust vetting procedures?” Grassley asked Gray, who had previously noted he had once held a top-level security clearance while working at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, one of three nuclear weapons labs run by the Department of Energy. Instead of agreeing with the chairman, Gray gave a full-throated defense of the value of international collaboration.“I acknowledge there have been misuses of intellectual property and data and there needs to be vigorous enforcement of laws that punish countries and individuals who have committed such violations,” Gray replied. “But the issue of imposing additional vetting is a difficult one. The process of doing this vetting stigmatizes the entire community that is being vetted and decreases their enthusiasm for coming to the United States to advance our science. I’m worried that it will diminish our own ability to innovate.”“The United States represents only 5% of the world’s population,” Gray continued, “and we draw the best minds from all of the world. So, what we don’t want to do is diminish our brain gain by making it unattractive for others to come here and help us solve major societal problems and form the companies that are driving the U.S. economy.”“I recognize the sincerity of your answer,” Grassley replied. “But I still believe there needs to be more vetting.”After the hearing, Grassley told ScienceInsider that he didn’t have a specific proposal in mind. “When I said more vetting, it was based on my impression of the problems we are facing,” Grassley explained. “Maybe it’s not a matter of more laws or more regulations. Maybe it’s a case of better administration of those things.”“Right under our noses”Gray was the sole nongovernmental witness at the hearing, testifying alone after a break in the hearing so committee members could cast a series of votes on the Senate floor. In the first part of the hearing, Tabak was part of a panel that included the head of national security at HHS, the chief investigator for HHS’s Office of Inspector General, and the head of the Department of Homeland Security unit that vets foreigners seeking to study and carry out research in the United States. They were much more amenable to Grassley’s views on the need to keep a close eye on those bent on doing harm to the country.So, too, were his fellow Republicans on the finance committee. Senator John Cornyn (R–TX) chastised U.S. researchers for failing to heed the warnings of Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Christopher Wray that China has perfected the use of “nontraditional collectors” to obtain U.S. technology illegally.“The level of naïvety within the academic sector creates its own issues,” said Cornyn, adding that he plans to introduce a bill next week that would require the executive branch to develop a plan to “enhance cybersecurity protocols and protect federally funded research from foreign interference and espionage.” He challenged U.S. research universities to “up their game,” saying that he would be reluctant to support any research spending bill until institutions could demonstrate that the federally funded research on their campuses “was not being stolen right under our noses.”Wyden seemed to place much more faith in the ability of research universities to protect intellectual property, saying U.S. leadership in science is at stake. “It goes without saying that individuals and foreign governments are always going to want to chip away at our lead,” he began. “Academic institutions must understand and respond to those concerns. But let’s be careful not to overreach and create barriers that turn away bright students or cut off lines of communication with scientists from other countries. That would do a lot more harm than good.”The real harm, he argued, was in the policies of the current administration. “The quickest way to turn out the lights of health research labs across America would be to enact the Trump administration’s proposed budget cuts to NIH,” he said. “And just a few months ago, the president signed an executive order threatening to cut off research funding for universities over a baseless panic about free speech on campus.”“So, when you take the broader view of threats to research in America,” Wyden said, “it’s clear the biggest danger comes from within.”last_img read more

Read More