Carlos Ghosn Discharged As Mitsubishis Chairman of the Board

first_img With 34% Stake Nissan Adds Mitsubishi Motors To Alliance, Ghosn New Chairman – Video Some consider that Nissan could solve the issue – assuming the allegations are true – in a different way (like a fine), but decided to hit hard its former CEO and Chairman of the Board for a reason. The reason could be that Carlos Ghosn was expected to lead an acquisition of Nissan by Renault. Currently, Renault owns 43% of Nissan, while Nissan owns 15% of Renault (non-voting stake). Nissan, as 60% larger than Renault, apparently doesn’t like the idea despite the fact that Renault rescued Nissan from near-bankruptcy in 1999 – Carlos Ghosn is seen as the one that saved the Nissan through painful costs cuts.Nissan apparently has a long-held ambition to force Renault to sell down its controlling stake, according to Reuters.So far, Renault refrained from removing Carlos Ghosn from the CEO and chairman positions. The French manufacturer needs to develop a new strategy to maintain its control over the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance, especially if Nissan truly revolts.“Top alliance executives are meeting this week in Amsterdam, aiming to shield their joint operations from the fallout of Ghosn’s arrest as a power struggle between Nissan and Renault looms. Renault has refrained from firing him as chairman and CEO.Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa told staff on Monday that power was too concentrated with Ghosn and that in future better communication between alliance board members and executives would help preserve independence and generate synergies among the automakers, a Nissan spokesman said.Ghosn was pushing for a deeper tie-up, including potentially a full merger between Renault and Nissan at the French government’s urging, despite strong reservations at the Japanese firm.”Renault currently has three of nine Nissan’s board members (including Carlos Ghosn, who is no longer the chairman of the board).“The relationship between Nissan and Renault needs to be rebalanced,” Evercore analyst Arndt Ellinghorst said on Sunday. “We urge Renault to sell down its stake in Nissan … toward 25 percent (and) use the proceeds to buy back its own stock.”Source: Mitsubishi, Reuters, Reuters Source: Electric Vehicle News Renault-Nissan’s Carlos Ghosn Arrested Over Alleged Financial Misconduct Author Liberty Access TechnologiesPosted on November 26, 2018Categories Electric Vehicle News Carlos Ghosn Unanimously Discharged By Nissan Board of Directors Carlos Ghosn was degraded to a regular board member at MitsubishiOn November 26 Mitsubishi Motors removed Carlos Ghosn from his role as Chairman of the Board and Representative Director, following Nissan. Temporarily, the role was taken by the CEO Osamu Masuko.Nissan holds a controlling 34% stake in Mitsubishi Motors for over two years, when in late 2016 Mitsubishi was partially acquired and joined the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance.Carlos Ghosn, who was one the authors of the transaction, was discharged after he was arrested over alleged financial misconduct at Nissan – Ghosn has denied the allegations according to Japanese media.See Alsolast_img read more

INFINITI unveils first image of upcoming allelectric crossover

first_imgSource: Charge Forward INFINITI is long overdue in launching an all-electric vehicle considering the pioneering effort of its parent company, Nissan with the Leaf, but it’s finally happening.The Japanese premium automaker is unveiling the first image of an upcoming all-electric crossover. more…The post INFINITI unveils first image of upcoming all-electric crossover appeared first on Electrek.last_img

Germany and France to invest 175 billion euros to accelerate battery cell

first_imgSource: Bloomberg France and Germany have announced a joint effort to turbocharge battery cell production in Europe, taking aim at a business currently dominated by Asian firms.As Bloomberg reports, German Economy and Energy Minister Peter Altmaier and French Economy and Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire have announced that Germany will invest one billion euros, and France 750 million euros, in the form of subsidies to finance building factories in their respective countries.The goal of the joint initiative is to create a new European industry, Le Maire told reporters at a recent meeting in Berlin. Factories in Europe will produce battery calls and packs, covering the entire value chain. The strategy is designed to “ensure global leadership for Europe in both electric vehicle technology and autonomous driving,” said Le Maire.France and Germany hope to persuade Spain, Sweden and Poland to join their initiative, said Altmaier. He added that offering subsidies to support the construction of the battery cell factories will have to be approved by the European Commission, which will likely address the issue in April. Source: Electric Vehicles Magazinelast_img read more

Hey Alexa mow my yard… The new Husqvarna 435X robotic lawn mower

first_imgSource: Charge Forward While robotic mowers are not new to the scene, this is still a growing category in the United States. Far more popular in Europe, brands like Husqvarna are just beginning to expand their robo-presence in the United States. The latest release comes out of Mobile World Congress where we are getting our first look at the Husqvarna 435X robotic lawn mower.Thanks to compatibility with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, users will be able to call up various features on the Husqvarna 435X with their voice. While smart home-grade features are welcome, it’s the unique design with all-wheel drive performance that has us particularly interested in this model. more…The post “Hey Alexa, mow my yard…” The new Husqvarna 435X robotic lawn mower sports AWD, more appeared first on Electrek.last_img read more

Dynamic method in Lièvremont madness as France look to youth

first_imgFrance rugby union team Share via Email Support The Guardian Although Lièvremont could have pointed out that Parra’s England counterpart Richard Wigglesworth is hardly an international veteran, his argument was that Parra had been with France since the start of their campaign and knew the calls, whereas Yachvili had arrived here only on Monday night.Outside the Bourgoin scrum-half is François Trinh-Duc, who looked assured when he started against Scotland on the opening weekend and is preferred to David Skrela. Trinh-Duc’s Montpellier clubmate Louis Picamoles, a replacement against Ireland, starts at No8. Asked whether the players in these three crucial positions might be too callow to face the World Cup runners-up, the France coach replied, only half in jest, that they were older and more experienced than a few weeks ago; their selection was not a gamble. “They have, so far, fulfilled our expectations and now we are counting on them to bring enthusiasm and daring.”Trinh-Duc insisted yesterday he was not in the least intimidated by the prospect of facing Jonny Wilkinson, who has 64 more caps and 1,006 more international points to his credit. “That just gives the match extra savour. I can’t wait.”With both the recognised kickers, Yachvili and Skrela, on the bench, the centre Damien Traille will take on the task, as he did on occasion in France’s first two matches. “I know people will say it’s scandalous that we aren’t starting with a specialist,” said Lièvremont, “but it’s about confidence, and Damien has plenty of that at the moment.”Not surprisingly given the way they have clicked so far, France’s backs remain unchanged, and perversely an injury yesterday to the lock Romain Millo-Chluski gives the pack a more seasoned look as Pascal Pape returns in his stead. With Jean-Baptiste Poux and Jérôme Thion back in the reckoning, there are five relatively senior players on the bench and Lièvremont confirmed that he is starting with the same game plan as against Scotland: youthful enthusiasm to do early damage, older, cooler heads to come on later, hopefully to close out the game. Share on Twitter Sign up to the Breakdown for the latest rugby union news Six Nations William Fotheringham in Paris Shares00 Reuse this content Share on Facebook Share on Twitter First published on Tue 19 Feb 2008 19.10 EST Share on Facebook … 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. Share on Messengercenter_img Share on LinkedIn Sport Dynamic method in Lièvremont madness as France look to youth Tue 19 Feb 2008 19.10 EST Six Nations rugby 2008 Rational thinking might appear to have gone out of the Marcoussis windows when France named a side to face England without a specialist place-kicker and with an 8-9-10 axis that totals less than 100 minutes of international rugby between them, but there was method in the apparent suicidal urge as Les Bleus’ coach, Marc Lièvremont, told it yesterday.”We will take our playing philosophy to its logical conclusion,” said the former France flanker. The rationale is that there is no sense in giving old lags game time to ensure temporary security at the expense of youthful dynamism. Thus, Dimitri Yachvili, called in to replace the injured Jean-Baptiste Elissalde, remains on the bench while Morgan Parra, all of 19 and with half an hour’s rugby at this level to his credit, will start instead at scrum-half. Since you’re here… Topics Rugby union Read more Share on Pinterest Share via Email Sport Share on WhatsApplast_img read more

Mancini makes dramatic Uturn and tells Inter he wants to stay

first_imgSoccer This article is more than 11 years old Share on Facebook This article is more than 11 years old Share on LinkedIn Internazionale Topics Share on Messenger Share on WhatsApp Share via Email Share on Facebook Shares00 Internazionale have earmarked Jose Mourinho as their primary target should Roberto Mancini follow through with his threat to quit the club this summer, although the president, Massimo Moratti, said last night that he believed his coach would have a change of heart.Mancini said he would leave at the end of the season after Inter’s elimination from the Champions League at the hands of Liverpool at San Siro. But La Gazzetta dello Sport said on its website that the two had met last night and that Moratti felt he had persuaded Mancini to change his mind. “I had a talk with Mancini and he told me he wants to stay at Inter next season and for all the length of his contract,” Moratti said. “He wants to win the Champions League with Inter next season. The situation is completely different to the one referred to me and to the team this morning.”Mourinho, who left Chelsea in September, expects to return to football at “a top-flight European club” in the summer, having last week reiterated his desire to work in Spain or Italy. Moratti had spoken of his admiration of the Portuguese, saying three days ago: “Mourinho? I appreciate him, without doubt.” Inter would appeal to Mourinho, with the club boasting the resources and pedigree to entice him back to the dug-out. “I respect Mr Moratti very much as a person who loves football and his club deeply,” he said last week. “However, I have never talked with him.”Mourinho’s personal adviser, Eladio Parames, said that the 45-year-old would “definitely be managing a top-flight club in Europe next season”. Mourinho has been linked with numerous high-profile positions, not least at Barcelona and Real Madrid in Spain. However any chance of him taking over at the European Cup holders, Milan, appeared to be dashed when the owner, Silvio Berlusconi, indicated his instinct would be to stick with the current coach, Carlo Ancelotti, for the time being.Mancini, in charge at Inter since 2004, took training as usual yesterday without talking to reporters. Moratti said before last night’s meeting he hoped the saga would not affect the team, six points clear in Serie A: “The team, the club, he himself and the fans don’t deserve a situation that could destabilise the environment. So let’s stay strong and do well. It might have been a heroic decision. We will see.”Moratti had said he was perplexed by the sudden decision and said there had been no falling out between the pair. “It was surprising. Of course I wasn’t expecting it and neither were those who are close to him,” he said. “There’s faith in him. We need to see if he has faith in himself.” Soccer @domfifield European club football Mancini makes dramatic U-turn and tells Inter he wants to stay Roberto Mancini news Share on Twitter Share on Twitter Share via Email Dominic Fifield First published on Wed 12 Mar 2008 22.08 EDT Share on Pinterest Wed 12 Mar 2008 22.08 EDT Reuse this contentlast_img read more

Plaintiffs Allege Harm At The Hands Of Terrorist Group Funded In Part

first_imgVarious courts have held that the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act does not confer a private right of action. However, as highlighted in “FCPA Ripples” and several other posts on this website, private plaintiffs with increasing frequency are using allegations of corruption to allege other substantive causes of action in what amounts to “offensive use” of the FCPA and related topics.Recently, American service members and civilians and their families who were killed or wounded while serving in Iraq filed this 203 page civil complaint against AstraZeneca, General Electric, Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer and Roche claiming that the companies’ alleged acts of corruption in Iraq present viable civil claims under the federal Anti-Terrorism Act and for intentional infliction of emotional distress. Specifically, the plaintiffs allege that they or their family members were attacked by a terrorist group (Jaysh al-Mahdi) funded in part by the defendants’ corrupt sales practices.The claims would seem to have little chance of succeeding on the merits, but often the goal of such suits is simply to get past the motion to dismiss stage in the hopes of motivating settlement.In summary fashion, the complaint alleges:“This lawsuit seeks damages under the federal Anti-Terrorism Act on behalf of American service members and civilians, and their families, who were killed or wounded while serving their country in Iraq between 2005 and 2009. While these men and women worked to rebuild post-war Iraq, they were attacked by a terrorist group funded in part by Defendants’ corrupt sales practices. The terrorist-finance mechanism was straightforward: the terrorists openly controlled the Iraqi ministry in charge of importing medical goods, and Defendants – all of which are large Western medical-supply companies – obtained lucrative contracts from that ministry by making corrupt payments to the terrorists who ran it. Those payments aided and abetted terrorism in Iraq by directly financing an Iran-backed, Hezbollah-trained militia that killed or injured thousands of Americans. The allegations below are based on 12 Confidential Witnesses with direct and indirect knowledge of the alleged facts; public and non-public reports, contracts, and emails; U.S. diplomatic and military cables (as published by WikiLeaks); Iraqi market data and regulations; public statements by U.S. and Iraqi government officials; Englishand Arabic-language press reports; and Plaintiffs’ own recollections.In pertinent part, the complaint alleges:Defendants’ transactions were part of a pattern and practice of corrupt business dealings in Iraq dating back to Saddam Hussein. During Saddam’s rule and ever since, Iraq has maintained a government-run healthcare system that in theory offers free medical care to all Iraqis. That system of socialized medicine has long given the Iraqi Ministry of Health (“MOH” or “Ministry”) and Kimadia (MOH’s state-owned import subsidiary) significant leverage over medical-goods suppliers seeking to do business in Iraq. It also has been a recipe for pervasive corruption in the medical-goods procurement process. Under Saddam from 2000-2003, Kimadia officials used their leverage over foreign suppliers to extract sizable kickbacks on medical-goods contracts awarded under the U.N. Oil-for-Food Program. Most Defendants (or their predecessors or affiliates) made such corrupt payments to Saddam’s regime. In doing so, they supplied Saddam’s regime with illicit funding in direct contravention of Oil-for-Food Program restrictions designed to prevent Saddam from raising money to finance terrorism abroad.By late 2004, after the collapse of Saddam’s government, MOH fell under the control of a Shiite terrorist group known as Jaysh al-Mahdi (Arabic for “The Mahdi Army”)1 whose members swore fealty to anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. The Jaysh al-Mahdi controlled MOH functioned more as a terrorist apparatus than a health organization. Public hospitals were converted into terrorist bases where Sunnis were abducted, tortured, and murdered. MOH ambulances transported Jaysh al-Mahdi death squads around Baghdad. Armed terrorists openly patrolled the halls of MOH headquarters in downtown Baghdad, which became too dangerous for Americans to enter and which one percipient witness described as a “Mahdi Army camp.” And the Deputy Minister of Health – who conducted Ministry business while surrounded by Jaysh al-Mahdi fighters and weapons – tortured and killed Sadr’s enemies with the help of the Ministry’s Facilities Protection Service (itself a notorious Jaysh al-Mahdi division). At the same time, Jaysh al-Mahdi nearly destroyed the Iraqi healthcare system by systematically purging secular doctors, commandeering MOH facilities, and looting MOH’s inventory for profit. After late 2004, companies selling medical goods to MOH were dealing with a counterparty that was not a genuine medical institution; it was a de facto terrorist group.Despite Jaysh al-Mahdi’s open control of MOH, Defendants continued their Saddam-era practice of making corrupt payments to officials inside the Ministry. In or about late 2004, Jaysh al-Mahdi implemented a requirement that medical-goods suppliers seeking access to Iraq’s lucrative healthcare market pay Jaysh al-Mahdi agents a Khums, which is an Islamic concept translating roughly to a 20% religious tax. Companies seeking to win sales contracts from MOH after late 2004 had to pay that tax by providing Jaysh al-Mahdi agents with so-called “commissions” (an Iraqi euphemism for bribes) worth at least one-fifth the contract’s value. During this time period, as explained in a contemporaneous memorandum by U.S. government investigators documenting an interview of an MOH source, “official corruption [was] tolerated at the MOH because it ha[d] become the ministry occupied by the Mahdi Army.”One common way that Defendants made corrupt payments to Jaysh al-Mahdi agents involved the transfer of “free goods.” Under the “free goods” scheme, which was carried over from Oil-for-Food, medical-goods suppliers structured their transactions to provide MOH officials with additional batches of in-kind drugs and equipment, free of charge, on top of the quantities for which MOH had actually paid. Suppliers included those extra goods in the same shipments as the purchased goods and packaged them in a manner conducive to street resale, which ensured that MOH officials could efficiently take the extra goods and monetize them on the black market. Because of the way the contracts were structured, MOH officials did not have to account for such free goods in the national inventory. Jaysh al-Mahdi agents working at MOH were thus able to divert the extra goods and re-sell them for cash at sizeable mark-ups.Another common way that Defendants made corrupt payments to Jaysh al-Mahdi agents was through commercially unreasonable clauses drafted into MOH contracts. Under this scheme, also carried over from Oil-for-Food, suppliers bribed MOH officials by funneling cash payments through their corrupt local agents. In theory, companies promised to provide MOH with after-sales support and other services ostensibly related to the product they sold, and they funded those ostensible services by giving money to their local agents. In reality, such services were illusory and functioned merely to create a slush fund the local agents could use to pass on “commissions” to corrupt MOH officials.Defendants used both techniques to finance Jaysh al-Mahdi throughout the period between 2004 and 2013, much as they had previously used them to finance Saddam’s regime under Oil-for-Food. Plaintiffs have obtained specific evidence of many of Defendants’ corrupt payments in connection with their MOH contracts, including documents memorializing such payments; contract numbers corresponding to Defendants’ corrupt transactions; and particular percentages of “free goods” that Defendants delivered to MOH officials.Defendants’ corrupt transactions aided and abetted Jaysh al-Mahdi’s terrorist operations against Americans in Iraq. Control of MOH, and the illicit revenue that came with it, was essential to Jaysh al-Mahdi’s terrorist machine: in the words of one MOH insider, Kimadia was Sadr’s “gold mine” that Jaysh al-Mahdi used to “finance their empire” in Iraq. Cash bribes provided to Jaysh al-Mahdi agents within MOH flowed directly into Jaysh al-Mahdi’s coffers and helped the militia buy weapons, training, and logistical support for its terrorist attacks. Similarly, Defendants’ provision of “free goods” to MOH officials gave Jaysh al-Mahdi agents valuable cash equivalents they used to fund attacks. Regional and local black markets provided ample opportunities to re-sell such drugs and devices; as the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad explained in a sensitive-but-unclassified 2006 report, Jaysh al-Mahdi relied on those black markets to “finance[] operations from diverted medicines.” Indeed, concerns about Jaysh al-Mahdi’s use of MOH to finance terrorist attacks prompted Coalition forces to raid MOH headquarters in February 2007 and arrest the Deputy Minister of Health for “orchestrat[ing] several kickback schemes” to “funnel[] millions of U.S. dollars to militia elements.”Defendants’ corrupt transactions with MOH also aided and abetted terrorism by supplying Jaysh al-Mahdi with the means to pay its rank-and-file terrorist fighters. Some U.S. government personnel in Iraq called Jaysh al-Mahdi “The Pill Army,” because Sadr and his Jaysh al-Mahdi commanders were notorious for paying their terrorist fighters in diverted pharmaceuticals, rather than cash. Those fighters – most of whom were poor, uneducated, young Shi’a men – accepted such payment because they could re-sell the free drugs on the street or could consume the pills themselves as a form of intoxication. This payment-in-pills scheme, which helped Jaysh al-Mahdi retain its legion of impoverished terrorist fighters, depended on the large volumes of divertible drugs that Defendants delivered to the terrorist-run MOH.Defendants knew or recklessly disregarded that their corrupt transactions helped finance Jaysh al-Mahdi’s terrorist attacks on Americans. Defendants’ agents negotiated and memorialized those transactions at in-person meetings inside the Ministry’s headquarters building in Baghdad, where their physical surroundings made clear that they were dealing with terrorists. Beginning in late 2004, the MOH headquarters building was decorated with hundreds of pictures of known terrorist Muqtada al-Sadr (often joined by his famous, martyred Grand Ayatollah father) alongside Shi’a terrorist slogans declaring “Death to America.” The entrance to the building also contained a large mural paying homage to the Sadr family next to the unmistakable, all-black terrorist flag of Jaysh al-Mahdi. As USA Today reported in 2008, such Sadrist terrorist propaganda throughout the Ministry “remove[d] any doubts about who runs the place.” Companies whose agents memorialized their corrupt transactions in the shadow of jihadist propaganda paying homage to Jaysh al-Mahdi’s world-famous terrorist leader assuredly knew (or at least consciously overlooked) whom their transactions were benefiting.Jaysh al-Mahdi’s control of MOH also received extensive press coverage that Defendants knew about or recklessly disregarded. Beginning in 2005, public reports repeatedly documented the link between Sadr’s terrorist militia and the MOH procurement process: major newspapers reported that MOH had fallen “under the control of the Shia cleric Moqtada alSadr”; that Sadrist MOH officials oversaw “the diversion of millions of dollars to a Shiite Muslim militia”; and that medical supplies were routinely “siphoned off and sold elsewhere for profit because of corruption in the Iraqi Ministry of Health,” which was “in the ‘grip’ of the Mahdi Army.” Those reported facts led to the highly publicized arrest and trial of the Deputy Minister of Health (himself a famously corrupt and violent Jaysh al-Mahdi commander), who was acquitted only after Jaysh al-Mahdi intimidated the witnesses into recanting. All of this was major, international news that Defendants could not have overlooked in good faith.Defendants’ contacts with the United States were essential to their financing of Jaysh al-Mahdi. Each Defendant is part of a globally integrated company with a significant presence in the United States, and all but AstraZeneca and Roche maintain their worldwide headquarters in the United States. In some cases, Defendants contracted with MOH through American companies, with those American companies negotiating with Kimadia and executing the corrupt transactions. Because Kimadia insisted on doing business in U.S. dollars, Defendants also generally used the New York banking system to pay for letters of credit guaranteeing their corrupt transactions. And, in all cases, Defendants’ corrupt transactions relied at least in part on goods sourced from U.S. facilities that they touted as a key component of their global supply networks. Indeed, many of Defendants’ most valuable goods – and thus the goods most attractive to Jaysh al-Mahdi agents looking to profit on the black market – were manufactured by American affiliates in the United States. Because the terrorists placed a premium on obtaining (and re-selling) such American-made goods, they demanded that Defendants memorialize their goods’ country of origin in the contracting documents. Defendants thus often had to certify their connection to the United States as a condition of obtaining the corrupt sales contracts at issue.The Jaysh al-Mahdi attacks that Defendants’ corrupt payments aided and abetted were acts of “international terrorism.” 18 U.S.C. § 2333(a). Sadr, working with Lebanese Hezbollah, founded Jaysh al-Mahdi in 2003 as an Islamic militia whose primary goal was to expel Americans from Iraq. In furtherance of that goal, Jaysh al-Mahdi waged a violent campaign that involved an array of asymmetrical terrorist tactics: Jaysh al-Mahdi fighters attacked civilians and service members indiscriminately; engaged in mass sectarian cleansing; targeted medics in attacks; conducted kidnappings, torture, and executions; and hid from U.S. troops in mosques, schools, ambulances, and hospitals. In reaction to such tactics, the Pentagon’s press service referred to Sadr’s militia as “the Jaysh al-Mahdi terrorist organization.”In total, Jaysh al-Mahdi’s terrorist attacks throughout Iraq likely killed more than 500 Americans and wounded thousands more – likely making it responsible for more American casualties in Iraq than any other terrorist group. That prompted the U.S. military leadership to observe in 2007 that Jaysh al-Mahdi was “more of a hindrance to long-term security in Iraq than [Al-Qaeda in Iraq],” the Sunni terrorist group that became ISIS.Jaysh al-Mahdi’s terrorist attacks against Americans in Iraq were “planned” and “authorized” by Hezbollah, 18 U.S.C. § 2333(d), the militant Lebanese terrorist group that the U.S. State Department has designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization since 1997. In April 2003, Hezbollah dispatched to Iraq its chief terrorist mastermind, Imad Mugniyeh, to help Sadr found Jaysh al-Mahdi. Mugniyeh and other Hezbollah operatives subsequently recruited, trained, and equipped Jaysh al-Mahdi soldiers to carry out attacks against Americans in Iraq. At the same time, both Hezbollah’s Secretary-General and its Grand Ayatollah spiritual leader took to the airwaves to call on Iraqi Shi’a to join Jaysh al-Mahdi in its attacks against Americans in Iraq. Hezbollah’s training, weapons, and personnel – along with the moral and religious authority provided by Hezbollah’s incitement of Shiite religious violence – were essential to Jaysh al-Mahdi’s terrorist campaign. As a prominent embedded war correspondent reported in 2007: “The Mahdi Army is Iran’s proxy in Iraq. It is, in effect, the Iraqi branch of Hezbollah.”Plaintiffs are U.S. citizens, and their family members, who served their country in Iraq between 2005 and 2009 and who were killed or wounded in terrorist attacks for which Jaysh al-Mahdi was responsible. As alleged below, Plaintiffs are entitled to recover for their injuries under the federal Anti-Terrorism Act (“ATA”) and state law. Defendants violated the ATA by structuring their transactions with MOH to make payments to Jaysh al-Mahdi members who they knew or recklessly disregarded would use such payments to help fund terrorist attacks on Americans in Iraq. Specifically, Defendants are liable under the ATA, 18 U.S.C. § 2333(d), for aiding and abetting Jaysh al-Mahdi’s campaign to commit terrorist attacks in Iraq that were planned and authorized by Hezbollah, a designated Foreign Terrorist Organization. Additionally, Defendants are liable under the ATA, 18 U.S.C. § 2333(a), as courts have construed it, for providing material support to Jaysh al-Mahdi in violation of U.S. criminal law.”Informed readers no doubt recognize that all of the named defendants (with the exception of Roche) have previously resolved FCPA enforcement actions. In this regard the complaint contains a section for each company generally alleging how the company’s corrupt commercial transactions in Iraq “comport with its historical sales practices in international markets.” Elevate Your Research Elevate Your FCPA Research There are several subject matter tags in this post. However, only subscribers to FCPA Professor’s premium search feature can see and use them in research. Efficient and cost-effective FCPA research is just a click away.last_img read more

Sleep and ShortTerm Memory

first_imgby, Ronni Bennett, ChangingAging ContributorTweetShareShareEmail0 Sharescategory_bug_journal2.gif Old people regularly lament our short-term memory lapses and we often do it with rueful jokes as if we are whistling past the graveyard of brain cells. An example from a story here in 2009 when I lived in Maine:”ITEM: I go the kitchen for a glass of water. I am momentarily distracted because the cat wants a pet and then I return to the library before I recall that I am thirsty.“ITEM: I bundle myself into my winter outdoor gear and walk the six blocks to the local mini-grocery for a single item – a loaf of their excellent sour dough bread. While I’m there, the owner offers me a taste of a new cheese he has received. I buy a chunk and return home without the bread…“Basically, these days, I do many things twice,” I wrote, in an attempt to lighten the fear too many of such incidents incur.In the four years since I posted that, my short-term memory has gotten even shorter. It appears now that it is possible, in the second or two it takes to pick up a pen, to forget what the reminder is that I had intended to jot down.That quote above was the lead-in to a study I was reporting that compared the memories of young and old people and showed, said the researchers, that elder brains have trouble ignoring extraneous information which results in overload and, therefore, dropped bits of information.It was a reassuring study implying that if elders focused more carefully and indulged in less multi-tasking, our forgetfulness might be alleviated or, at least, reduced.Now comes a new young/old brain study reported in The New York Times on Sunday suggesting something different:”…that structural brain changes occurring naturally over time interfere with sleep quality, which in turn blunts the ability to store memories for the long term.”Alarmingly, those “structural brain changes” involve loss of brain tissue [emphasis is mine]:”In the study, the research team took brain images from 19 people of retirement age and from 18 people in their early 20s. It found that a brain area called the medial prefrontal cortex, roughly behind the middle of the forehead, was about one-third smaller on average in the older group than in the younger one — a difference due to natural atrophy over time, previous research suggests.”The tests involved word memorization. Each age group was asked to recall the same sets of words and after about 25 minutes, the young group outscored the old group in recall by about 25 percent. But the bigger difference occurred after a night’s sleep:”On a second test, given in the morning, the younger group outscored the older group by about 55 percent.“The estimated amount of atrophy in each person roughly predicted the difference between his or her evening and morning scores, the study found. Even seniors who were very sharp at night showed declines after sleeping.“The analysis showed that the differences were due not to changes in capacity for memories, but to differences in sleep quality.”Nothing can be done about the pre-frontal brain atrophy, but there may be other options:”The findings suggest that one way to slow memory decline in aging adults is to improve sleep, specifically the so-called slow-wave phase, which constitutes about a quarter of a normal night’s slumber…“…at least two groups are experimenting with electrical stimulation as a way to improve deep sleep in older people.“By placing electrodes on the scalp, scientists can run a low current across the prefrontal area, essentially mimicking the shape of clean, high-quality slow waves.“The result: improved memory, at least in some studies. ‘There are also a number of other ways you can improve sleep, including exercise,’ said Ken Paller, a professor of psychology and the director of the cognitive neuroscience program at Northwestern University, who was not involved in the research.”I hope you noted the important reference to exercise in the last paragraph.I try to counter my short-term memory holes with lists and to a reasonable degree, they work. It’s those five-second walks from one room to another during which the goal disappears from my brain that are most irritating.I’d sure like to find some that electrical stimulation therapy to improve my sleep.You can read The Times story here. The full study in Nature Neuroscience is behind a pay firewall.At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Marc Leavitt: Proof of Age Related PostsResting our Brains to Improve MemoryIt is, probably, the number one fear old people have: loss of memory. To not remember is literally to lose our selves, the core of our being, the entire definition of who we are. Although there is not much anyone…Tales of Old Age MemoryOn Monday at The Elder Storytelling Place, our friend William Weatherstone entertained us with a 17-year-old column from newspaper editor, Colin McKim, about “losing it” as we get older. A sample line or two: ”These days I find I can’t…INTERESTING STUFF: 14 January 2012IT TAKES A CAT… …to know how to puncture human pomposity. We could put this one to good use on the Republican presidential campaign trail. NICE BOOKSHELVES Having spent the past couple of days assembling 14 feet of bookcases six…TweetShareShareEmail0 SharesTags: brain ChangingAging health memorylast_img read more

Intelligent dressing system could help people with dementia in getting dressed

first_imgMay 2 2018A new study published in JMIR Medical Informatics describes how a “smart home” prototype may help people with dementia dress themselves through automated assistance, enabling them to maintain independence and dignity and providing their caregivers with a much-needed respite.People with dementia or other cognitive disorders have difficulty with everyday activities – such as bathing, dressing, eating, and cleaning – which in turn makes them increasingly dependent on caregivers. Dressing is one of the most common and stressful activities for both people with dementia and their caregivers because of the complexity of the task and lack of privacy. Research shows that adult children find it particularly challenging to help dress their parents, especially for opposite genders.Researchers at NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing, Arizona State University, and MGH Institute of Health Professions are applying “smart home” concepts to use technology to address the challenges of dressing people with dementia. Using input from caregiver focus groups, they developed an intelligent dressing system named DRESS, which integrates automated tracking and recognition with guided assistance with the goal of helping a person with dementia get dressed without a caregiver in the room.The DRESS prototype uses a combination of sensors and image recognition to track progress during the dressing process using barcodes on clothing to identify the type, location, and orientation of a piece of clothing. A five-drawer dresser – topped with a tablet, camera, and motion sensor – is organized with one piece of clothing per drawer in an order that follows an individual’s dressing preferences. A skin conductance sensor worn as a bracelet monitors a person’s stress levels and related frustration.The caregiver initiates the DRESS system (and then monitors progress) from an app. The person with dementia receives an audio prompt recorded in the caregiver’s voice to open the top drawer, which simultaneously lights up. The clothing in the drawers contains barcodes that are detected by the camera. If an item of clothing is put on correctly, the DRESS system prompts the person to move to the next step; if it detects an error or lack of activity, audio prompts are used for correction and encouragement. If it detects ongoing issues or an increase in stress levels, the system can alert a caregiver that help is needed.Related StoriesCalling on global community to prevent dementia by preventing strokeLiving a healthy lifestyle may help offset genetic risk of dementiaMetformin use linked to lower risk of dementia in African Americans with type 2 diabetes”Our goal is to provide assistance for people with dementia to help them age in place more gracefully, while ideally giving the caregiver a break as the person dresses – with the assurance that the system will alert them when the dressing process is completed or prompt them if intervention is needed,” said Winslow Burleson, PhD, associate professor at NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing, director of the NYU-X Lab, and the study’s lead author.”The intent of the DRESS prototype is to integrate typical routines and humanized interactions, promote normalcy and safety, and allow for customization to guide people with dementia through the dressing process.”In preparation for in-home studies, the study published in JMIR Medical Informatics tested the ability of the DRESS prototype to accurately detect proper dressing. Eleven healthy participants simulated common scenarios for getting dressed, ranging from normal dressing to donning a shirt inside out or backwards or partial dressing – typical issues that challenge a person with dementia and their caregivers.The study showed that the DRESS prototype could detect clothing orientation and position as well as infer one’s current state of dressing using its combination of sensors and software. In initial phases of donning either shirts or pants, the DRESS prototype accurately detected participants’ clothing 384 of 388 times. However, the prototype was not able to consistently identify when one completed putting on an item of clothing, missing these final cues in 10 of 22 cases for shirts and 5 of 22 cases for pants.Based on their findings, the researchers saw opportunities to improve the prototype’s reliability, including increasing the size of the barcodes, minimizing the folding of garments to prevent barcodes from being blocked, and optimal positioning of participants with respect to the DRESS prototype.”With improvements identified by this study, the DRESS prototype has the potential to provide automated dressing support to assist people with dementia in maintaining their independence and privacy, while alleviating the burden on caregivers,” said Burleson, who is also affiliated with NYU’s Tandon School of Engineering, Steinhardt School, Courant Institute, and College of Global Public Health. Source:https://www.nyu.edu/about/news-publications/news/2018/may/_smart_-dresser-prototype-guides-people-with-dementia-in-getting.htmllast_img read more

Weight loss surgery may lead to longterm skeletal consequences

first_imgMay 2 2018A new JBMR Plus review examines the negative impacts of weight loss surgery on bone health.The review of published studies notes that weight loss surgery can cause declines in bone mass and strength, and it is linked with an increased risk of bone fractures. Skeletal changes after surgery appear early and continue even after weight loss plateaus and weight stabilizes. Nutritional factors, mechanical unloading, hormonal factors, and changes in body composition and bone marrow fat may contribute to poor bone health.Related StoriesAre DNA-based diets and personalized ‘medical foods’ the future for weight loss?UNC receives $3.8 million grant to assess impact of Med-South behavioral weight loss programTen-fold rise in tongue-tie surgery for newborns ‘without any real strong data’Most studies have examined the effects of the Roux-en-Y gastric bypass procedure, which was the most commonly performed weight loss procedure worldwide until it was very recently overtaken by sleeve gastrectomy. Because sleeve gastrectomy is a newer procedure, its skeletal effects have not yet been well defined.The review’s findings indicate that clinical guidelines on weight loss surgery should address bone health as a priority. “Current clinical guidelines do address bone health, but most recommendations are based on low-quality evidence or expert opinion,” said co-author Dr. Anne Schafer, of the University of California, San Francisco and the San Francisco VA Health Care System. “Future studies should address strategies to avoid long-term skeletal consequences of these otherwise beneficial procedures.” Source:http://newsroom.wiley.com/press-release/weight-loss-surgery-may-cause-significant-skeletal-health-problemslast_img read more

Researchers examine complications across different types of breast reconstructive surgeries

first_imgJun 21 2018In a new study of breast cancer patients who had breast reconstruction, researchers examine complications across the different types of surgeries.For many women facing treatment for breast cancer, breast reconstruction after mastectomy is a quality of life issue. It is linked with feeling more feminine, or “whole again” after surgery. But choosing the type of reconstruction is a complex process, and the decision can be difficult and stressful.A new study from a multicenter research consortium sponsored by Michigan Medicine aims to help breast cancer patients make these decisions while armed with important data about the risks and rewards associated with each surgical option. The study was published in JAMA Surgery.”Imagine you’re a woman facing a mastectomy,” says study author Edwin Wilkins, M.D., professor and researcher at Michigan Medicine. “Then a plastic surgeon walks in the door and says you can have breast reconstruction, and there are six or seven different options. How do you know what to choose?”In this study, Wilkins, along with a team of researchers from the Mastectomy Reconstruction Outcomes Consortium (MROC), followed more than 2,300 women who had breast reconstruction surgery at one of the 11 participating centers.Complication rates and patient-reported outcomes were tracked for two or more years after the surgery to compare the commonly used techniques for breast reconstruction.”We were particularly focused on assessing the risks and benefits from a patient’s eye view,” says Wilkins. The study measured a wide range of outcomes, including patient satisfaction, quality of life, body image, social functioning, physical well-being and pain. “Our ultimate goal is to empower consumers with information to work with their doctors to make decisions tailored to patients’ values and preferences.””Based on these results, what I now tell new patients is that even with the bumps in the road, we usually get where we’re going with reconstruction.”Edwin Wilkins, M.D.Comparing complicationsClose to a third of women who had breast reconstruction had some kind of post-surgical complication. Some were as minor as a wound that took extra time to heal, requiring an antibiotic ointment. But 19 percent of patients required follow-up surgery to address a complication. And 5 percent of all patients in the study had reconstructive failure, meaning the implant or tissue had to be removed.Related StoriesNew therapy shows promise in preventing brain damage after traumatic brain injuryImplanted device uses microcurrent to exercise heart muscle in cardiomyopathy patientsTransobturator sling surgery shows promise for stress urinary incontinenceThe researchers found significant differences across the different reconstruction types. Generally, those who had one of several types of flap reconstruction -; which uses a patient’s own natural tissue, usually taken from their abdomen -; had a higher risk of complications than those who had breast implants. But natural tissue reconstruction had a much lower risk of failure than breast implants.”The message here is that these operations are not without risk,” says Wilkins. “Complications are fairly common, but thankfully failure is uncommon. Based on these results, what I now tell new patients is that even with the bumps in the road, we usually get where we’re going with reconstruction.”Patients who had flap, or natural tissue, reconstruction were significantly more satisfied with their breasts and breast-related quality of life two or more years after surgery than those who had implants, even showing satisfaction levels that exceeded their pre-surgery baselines. But for some women, tightness and pain in the abdominal wall persisted for years after surgery.”The key takeaway from this research is that these are complicated decisions,” says Wilkins. “As with all health care decisions, patients need up-to-date information that empowers them to actively work with their doctors to choose what’s best for them.”Wilkins and his team are working with the U-M Center for Health Communications Research to use the data gathered from the MROC study to build a web-based decision-making platform. Patients will be able to enter variables -; height, weight, age, whether they smoke, if they have had radiation -; and will receive information tailored for them that will help guide them through the decision-making process and each step of the operation and recovery.Source: https://labblog.uofmhealth.org/rounds/risks-outcomes-differ-depending-on-breast-reconstructive-surgery-typelast_img read more

Managing multiple ipsilateral breast cancer with potential new surgical options

first_img Source:http://www.dartmouth-hitchcock.org/ Jul 13 2018A new multi-institutional clinical trial compared outcomes of women with multiple ipsilateral breast cancer, or more than one site of disease in the same breast, who underwent breast-conserving surgery, with outcomes of those who converted to mastectomy. Out of 198 eligible women in the trial, 184 (92.9%) successfully completed breast-conserving surgery, 134 of those with a single operation. These findings have just been published online first in Annals of Surgical Oncology.Advancements in breast cancer care allow for improved control over local disease in patients undergoing breast-conserving surgery. Other advancements such as more sensitive imaging techniques also now result in higher detection rates, which opens up new questions for both breast cancer patients and clinicians about how to best manage disease.Related StoriesSugary drinks linked to cancer finds studyNew research links “broken heart syndrome” to cancerUsing machine learning algorithm to accurately diagnose breast cancerThe question was approached in a new collaborative, multi-institutional study conducted by the Alliance for Clinical Trials in Oncology and led by Kari Rosenkranz, MD, a surgical oncologist and medical director of the Comprehensive Breast Program at Dartmouth’s Norris Cotton Cancer Center and associate professor of surgery at Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth. “Our study is the first prospective study to assess the feasibility and safety of breast conservation in women with two or three malignant lesions in a single breast,” says Rosenkranz. The endpoints measured include local recurrence at 5 years, as well as rates of surgical conversion to mastectomy or second surgeries due to positive margins (malignant tissue around the disease site remaining after surgery).Based on retrospective studies from previous decades, mastectomy has been, and is still, the predominant surgical treatment option for women with multiple ipsilateral breast cancer. These studies, from an era prior to modern technology and multimodality breast cancer care, showed higher rates of local recurrence, ranging from 23-40%, for women in this category who underwent breast-conserving therapy.This new study finds that for the majority of women enrolled in the trial, 92.9%, breast-conserving surgery is technically feasible. “Results show an acceptably low rate of conversion to mastectomy, and most women successfully achieving breast conservation with negative margins in a single operation,” says Rosenkranz. “These data may inform conversations between patients and surgeons regarding management of multiple ipsilateral breast cancer.”Next steps include assessment of the primary study end point, which is local recurrence rates, as well as additional secondary endpoints including breast cosmetic improvement and appropriateness of radiation fields in this patient population.last_img read more

Availability of alcohol to young adults may have large effects on risky

first_img Source:https://newsroom.wiley.com/press-release/contemporary-economic-policy/what-are-effects-alcohol-access-risky-behaviors-young-adu Reviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Sep 6 2018Results from a recent analysis reveal that the availability of alcohol associated with turning 21 years old may have relatively large effects on risky behaviors, especially in men. The findings are published in Contemporary Economic Policy.The analysis of national survey data from the Add Health (a school-based study of the health-related behaviors of adolescents and their outcomes in young adulthood) found evidence that Minimum Legal Drinking Age (MLDA) laws produce sharp differences in alcohol consumption and a variety of risky behaviors related to alcohol use for youths on either side of the age 21 cutoff. The MLDA reduces binge drinking by approximately 5 percentage points as well as a variety of other consumption measures. For males, there are marked increases in reports of drunk driving, risky sexual activities, violence, and interpersonal problems with friends.last_img read more

Study of gay brothers may confirm X chromosome link to homosexuality

first_imgDean Hamer finally feels vindicated. More than 20 years ago, in a study that triggered both scientific and cultural controversy, the molecular biologist offered the first direct evidence of a “gay gene,” by identifying a stretch on the X chromosome likely associated with homosexuality. But several subsequent studies called his finding into question. Now the largest independent replication effort so far, looking at 409 pairs of gay brothers, fingers the same region on the X. “When you first find something out of the entire genome, you’re always wondering if it was just by chance,” says Hamer, who asserts that new research “clarifies the matter absolutely.”But not everyone finds the results convincing. And the kind of DNA analysis used, known as a genetic linkage study, has largely been superseded by other techniques. Due to the limitations of this approach, the new work also fails to provide what behavioral geneticists really crave: specific genes that might underlie homosexuality.Few scientists have ventured into this line of research. When the genetics of being gay comes up at scientific meetings, “sometimes even behavioral geneticists kind of wrinkle up their noses,” says Kenneth Kendler, a psychiatric geneticist at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond. That’s partially because the science itself is so complex. Studies comparing identical and fraternal twins suggest there is some heritable component to homosexuality, but no one believes that a single gene or genes can make a person gay. Any genetic predispositions probably interact with environmental factors that influence development of a sexual orientation. Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country 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 Email Several genomic studies have suggested regions that might influence sexual orientation, but they have relied on small numbers of participants and have been challenged repeatedly. In 1993, Hamer, then at the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Maryland, published the first of these studies, suggesting that a specific stretch of the X chromosome called Xq28 holds a gene or genes that predispose a man to being gay.The finding made some evolutionary sense. An X-linked gene for homosexuality has long been proposed as a way to explain how the trait persists in the population even though gay men tend to have fewer offspring: The gene could increase fertility in females, who would have two “chances” to inherit it.Many researchers were skeptical that an analysis of only 38 pairs of gay brothers was reliable, and several other groups failed to replicate the results. “In my circles, it was seen as ‘Oh, another false-positive finding,’ ” Kendler says. “Findings in this general area of human behavioral genetics were at that time really plagued by concerns about replicability.”The paper also ignited social debate: Some speculated that a genetic test for homosexuality would lead to more discrimination, while others attacked the premise that being gay has a biological basis. “For a long while, if you Googled my name, you would find right-wing religious webpages saying that I was a liar,” says Hamer, who formally retired from NIH in 2011.J. Michael Bailey, a psychologist at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, wanted to put questions about Xq28 to rest. “I thought that Dean did a fine but small study,” he says. “If I had to bet, I would have bet against our being able to replicate it.” In 2004, he began to recruit families with at least two gay male siblings for a genetic linkage analysis, which searches for regions of DNA consistently shared between people with a common trait.When Bailey and his colleagues analyzed the DNA of the 409 pairs of brothers they had recruited, they were surprised to see linkages on both Xq28 and a region of chromosome 8, which Hamer had also previously suggested held genes related to sexuality.The work, published online today in Psychological Medicine, took longer to come to light than many expected. After more than 7 years chipping away at the analysis between other projects, Bailey and psychiatrist Alan Sanders of NorthShore University HealthSystem Research Institute in Evanston, who led the investigation, began to discuss their findings at meetings. But it would be nearly 2 more years to publication, and Sanders acknowledges that at least one journal rejected the work.In the meantime, the genetic linkage technique has largely been replaced with genome-wide association (GWA) studies. A linkage study identifies only broad regions containing dozens or even hundreds of genes, whereas GWA studies often allow the association of a specific gene with a certain trait in the population. That approach would be preferable, but a linkage study was the only way to directly replicate Hamer’s work, Sanders says.Kendler, who is an editor at Psychological Medicine, says it was somewhat surprising to get the submission from Sanders and Bailey’s team using the older technique. “Seeing linkage studies in this world of GWAs is rare,” he says, but he maintains that the study “really moves the field along.”Neil Risch, a geneticist at the University of California, San Francisco, disagrees. The paper does little to clear up question about Xq28, he says. Risch collaborated on a 1999 study that found no linkage at that region and says that more recent evidence casts further doubt. He also says the two linkages reported in the new work are not statistically significant.Sanders admits that although the strongest linkage he identified on chromosome 8, using an isolated genetic marker, clears the threshold for significance, the Xq28 linkage does not. But he says both cases are bolstered by (also less-than-significant) data from neighboring markers, which appear to be shared at higher rates between pairs of brothers. “The convergence of the evidence pointed towards” Xq28 and chromosome 8, he asserts.Bailey and Sanders may soon have more data to back their claim—or refute it. They’re now working on a GWA study, which includes genetic data from the just-published work plus DNA samples from more than 1000 additional gay men. Based on the results published today, “it looks promising for there being genes in both of these regions,” Bailey says, “but until somebody finds a gene, we don’t know.”last_img read more

Vultures surf on heat from power plants

first_imgIf you see vultures circling overhead, it doesn’t mean you’re about to die—in fact, you could just be near a power plant. The large, bald-headed birds float on rising currents of warm air known as thermals, which they use to soar high into the sky without beating their wings, thereby saving energy. Now, scientists have shown that vultures also use air currents from power plants to get a lift. Thermal power plants, which produce power through steam, generate stronger and hotter thermals than those that occur naturally, making for an extra speedy vulture elevator. Researchers surveyed six power plants in the central Amazon in Brazil and found black vultures or turkey vultures soaring above the plants in nearly 80% of the surveys, they report in the current issue of The Wilson Journal of Ornithology. The researchers counted the largest numbers of vultures in late afternoon, but location mattered: Power plants near areas where the vultures tended to roost had more visitors in the early morning and late afternoon, whereas power plants near feeding sites had more at midday. Birds congregating at power plants could be bad news for airplanes—vulture strikes are a significant problem in Brazil. The authors suggest that new thermal power plants should be built more than 20 kilometers from airports, and air traffic controllers should alter flight paths to avoid existing ones.last_img read more

Major grant in limbo NIH revisits ethics of animalhuman chimeras

first_imgFew grants are more coveted than a Pioneer Award from the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), which provides up to $500,000 annually for 
5 years to a researcher pursuing innovative, potentially ground-breaking research. So when Juan Carlos Izpisúa 
Belmonte, a developmental biologist at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in San Diego, California, heard from NIH  earlier this year that his was among the top-ranked applications, he was thrilled—but there was a catch. The application is on hold, the agency has told him, as NIH reconsiders its rules for the kind of experiments he wants to do: mixing human stem cells into very early animal embryos and letting them develop, a strategy that could produce tissues or organs for transplantation.On 23 September, NIH issued a notice saying that it will not fund such research “while the Agency considers a possible policy revision in this area.” And it has invited scientists and bioethicists to a meeting on 6 November to discuss the ethical questions raised by such experiments. Izpisúa Belmonte took the news in stride. “I’m not upset. Quite the opposite. I think it is great that we openly discuss this and hope that a conclusion is reached,” he says.The mixtures of cells under debate are called chimeras, named for a monster of Greek mythology that had the body and head of a lion, a fire-breathing goat’s head on its back, and a snakelike tail. In ancient Greece, the chimera was a bad omen, appearing before shipwrecks, volcanoes, and other disasters. Email Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country ADAPTED FROM H. NAKAUCHI BY G. GRULLÓN AND A. CUADRA/SCIENCE center_img Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Scientists see the term in a more positive light, using animal chimeras in a range of developmental biology and stem cell experiments. Chimeras that combine animal and human cells, especially those that involve pluripotent human cells, raise ethical questions, however. Pluripotent cells are a powerful type of stem cell that can become any cell type in the body. Some worry that such human cells, when combined with animal embryos, could develop into brain cells, sperm, or egg cells in the chimeric offspring.The U.S. National Research Council and the Institute of Medicine recommended limits on such research in 2005, among them that no human stem cells be added to primate embryos and that animal-
human chimeras not be allowed to breed. Current NIH funding guidelines, finalized in 2009, reflect those recommendations. They prohibit breeding animals in which human stem cells might have become sperm or eggs, and they rule out primate-human experiments. They do not, however, prohibit injecting human pluripotent cells into the embryos of other animals and letting the chimeras develop.That is what several groups of researchers are now trying to do. Their goal is to learn how to coax stem cells to become specific tissues or organs. Doing that in the lab, by recreating the 3D environment of a developing organ and reproducing all the signals it receives, is very difficult. “We don’t know how to guide the cells to become the cells we want,” Izpisúa Belmonte says. Instead, he and his colleagues want “to use the animals as an incubator. We don’t know how they do it, but every day [developing animals] produce perfect organs.” So, Izpisúa Belmonte and others have set out to knock out the genes that drive the creation of specific organs or tissues, such as the pancreas, in an animal embryo and then inject human pluripotent stem cells into it. They hope that the human cells will preferentially fill the void left by the animal’s missing pancreatic cells, forming a human pancreas in the developing animal.Earlier this year he and his colleagues identified a new type of human pluripotent stem cell that seems to be especially good at contributing to animal embryos. By injecting these cells into pig embryos, they have now made chimeras that have developed for 2 to 
3 weeks. (He uses non-NIH funds for the work.) So far, Izpisúa Belmonte says, no human cells have been seen in the nervous system. The cells do, however, contribute to the developing pancreas 
and heart.The Pioneer Award would have enabled him to take the effort further, but last month Izpisúa Belmonte received a letter from NIH saying that the application had been put on hold and inviting him to the upcoming meeting on chimeras. Izpisúa Belmonte will be there. “I applaud this workshop. It’s important to have guidelines so that researchers have a clear path in this promising and fast-moving area.”An NIH spokesperson tells Science that the agency wants to “evaluate the state of the science in this area, the ethical issues that should be considered, and the relevant animal welfare concerns.” NIH says that no current grant has been halted by the funding pause, but other scientists fear that the workshop is a step toward broader restrictions, says Steve Goldman, a neuroscientist at the University of Rochester in New York whose work involves injecting human stem cells into mouse brains. That approach is not affected by the new rule, since he doesn’t work with early embryos, but NIH has asked him to speak at the November meeting.  Sean Wu, who studies heart stem cells at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California,  says the NIH notice prompted Stanford to urge scientists to be sure their experiments didn’t violate the new rules. “We were bombarded” with emailed warnings, says Wu, who received an NIH New Innovator Award in 2008 to study interspecies chimeras. The university announcement came “out of the blue”, he notes, and has spread confusion and concern. An NIH decision not to fund the work would be a big blow to the field, Wu says. “No one wants to do it if NIH won’t fund it.”For Hiromitsu Nakauchi, a stem cell scientist at Stanford University, and the University of Tokyo, the debate is familiar. He showed in 2010 that by adding rat stem cells to mice embryos lacking a pancreas gene, he could grow a rat pancreas in a mouse. The technique also enabled his team to grow a pancreas from one pig species in the body of another. But the follow-up experiments he wanted to do with human stem cells in goat or pig embryos were forbidden in Japan. An ethics commission decided that the experiments should be allowed, but official regulations still aren’t in place, Nakauchi says. In part because of the restrictions in Japan, he accepted a position at Stanford University, where he received $6.2 million for the work from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM).Nakauchi’s project is proceeding with colleagues at the University of California, Davis, and at Stanford, where they have injected human induced pluripotent stem cells into sheep embryos. He  was planning to apply for NIH funding to 
continue the work, and the agency’s announcement surprised him.Using chimeras to grow human tissues is a long way from the clinic, Izpisúa Belmonte stresses, but his initial results have him optimistic that the approach is a viable one. “I am very excited about this project,” he says. “We need to do the experiments and see.” Whether NIH will support that work may be determined next month. With reporting by Jocelyn Kaiser.last_img read more

NASA weighs trimming WFIRST to hold down costs

first_img NASA NASA weighs trimming WFIRST to hold down costs Email By Daniel CleryOct. 23, 2017 , 4:10 PM Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) NASA assembled that panel in April this year and it recently submitted its conclusions. The agency has not released its report, as it is due to be discussed by the Committee for Astronomy and Astrophysics of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine this week, but it did release a memo from Zurbuchen to Christopher Scolese, director of the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, which is leading the project.In it, Zurbuchen directs the lab “to study modifying the current WFIRST design … to reduce cost and complexity sufficient to have a cost estimate consistent with the $3.2 billion cost target [set last year].” Though the panel heaped praise on the WFIRST team for the work done so far, according to Zurbuchen’s memo, it faulted NASA managers for creating several challenges that have made the project “more complicated than originally anticipated.”Paul Hertz, head of NASA’s astrophysics division, told ScienceInsider that one major demand was enlarging the spacecraft to accommodate a 2.4-meter mirror that the National Reconnaissance Office donated in 2012. Another was adding an instrument called a coronagraph.WFIRST, which will have the sensitivity of the Hubble Space Telescope but with 100 times its field of view, was originally designed to survey the sky for signs of cosmic acceleration caused by dark energy. But when exoplanet researchers realized it would also benefit their field they lobbied for the inclusion of a coronagraph. This device acts as a mask inside the telescope to block out the glaring brightness of a star and reveal any dim planets around it.NASA also decided to split the ground segment for the mission between the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Maryland, and the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. And in an act of future-proofing, NASA wanted WFIRST to carry equipment making it compatible with a starshade, a proposed spacecraft that can be stationed at a distance to block out starlight and reveal exoplanets (more effectively than a coronagraph). “All these things added complexity,” Hertz says.Zurbuchen’s memo to Scolese directs the lab to retain the basic elements of the mission—the 2.4-meter mirror, widefield camera, and coronagraph—but to seek cost-saving “reductions.” Hertz says this will require reducing the capabilities of instruments but ensuring they remain “above the science floor laid down by the decadal survey.” The coronagraph will be recategorized as a “technology demonstration instrument,” removing the burden of achieving a scientific target. The change will also save money, Hertz explains.Hertz says exoplanet researchers shouldn’t worry about the proposed changes. “We know we’ll get good science out of the coronagraph. We’ll be able to see debris disks, zodiacal dust, and exoplanets in wide orbits,” he says. Astronomers wanting to see Earth twins in the habitable zone may be disappointed, however.Zurbuchen also asked project managers to save money in the ground segment and by letting industry build some components or subsystems. The WFIRST team will need to submit a revised design by February 2018, before vendors are chosen, to begin building the hardware.If costs continue to escalate, Zurbuchen says in his memo, NASA may need to abandon the 2.4-meter mirror and revert to the original, cheaper design using a 1.5-meter one. “That is plan B,” says Hertz, “but we very much like the 2.4-meter mirror.”center_img Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country NASA will have to scale back its next big orbiting observatory to avoid busting its budget and affecting other missions, an independent panel says. The Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST) is due for launch in the mid-2020s. But 1 year after NASA gave the greenlight its projected cost is $3.6 billion, roughly 12% overbudget.“I believe reductions in scope and complexity are needed,” Thomas Zurbuchen, head of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington, D.C., wrote in a memo that NASA released last Thursday.Designed to investigate the nature of dark energy and study exoplanets, WFIRST was chosen by the astronomy community as its top space-based mission priority in the 2010 decadal survey entitled New Worlds, New Horizons in Astronomy and Astrophysics. But the start of the project was initially delayed by the huge overspend on its predecessor, the James Webb Space Telescope, which will be launched in 2019. Then last year, a midterm review of the 2010 decadal survey warned that WFIRST could go the same way and advised NASA to form a panel of independent experts to review the project.  The proposed Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescopelast_img read more