Tesla wants hundreds of employees testing full selfdriving offers free Autopilot upgrades

Source: Charge Forward Tesla is currently working on its self-driving program by leveraging their work on Autopilot and the data gathered through its fleet.Now the automaker is turning to its employees to help test their driving technology. more…The post Tesla wants hundreds of employees testing full self-driving, offers free Autopilot upgrades with new purchases appeared first on Electrek.

Tesla Q3 Production Eclipses 80000 Deliveries Exceed 83000

Tesla has just posted its Q3 2018 results and the numbers sure do impress.Our focus at InsideEVs is always on deliveries, not production, so here are those vital Tesla figures:Q3 deliveries totaled 83,500 vehicles: 55,840 Model 3, 14,470 Model S, and 13,190 Model X. To put this in perspective, in just Q3, we delivered more than 80% of the vehicles that we delivered in all of 2017, and we delivered about twice as many Model 3s as we did in all previous quarters combined.Congrats to Tesla on this amazing achievement.More Tesla Sales News Some additional highlights include:In Q3, we produced 80,142 vehicles, 50% more than our prior all-time high in Q253,239 Model 3 vehicles, which was in line with our guidance and almost double the volume of Q2In the last week of the quarter, we produced over 5,300 Model 3 vehicles, almost all of which were dual motor8,048 Model 3 vehicles and 3,776 Model S and X vehicles were in transit to customers at the end of Q3, and will be delivered in early Q4. Our overall target of 100,000 Model S and X deliveries in 2018 remains unchanged.Full release from Tesla below:Tesla Q3 2018 Vehicle Production and DeliveriesPALO ALTO, Calif., Oct. 02, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — In Q3, we produced 80,142 vehicles, 50% more than our prior all-time high in Q2, including:53,239 Model 3 vehicles, which was in line with our guidance and almost double the volume of Q2. During Q3, we transitioned Model 3 production from entirely rear wheel drive at the beginning of the quarter to almost entirely dual motor during the last few weeks of the quarter. This added significant complexity, but we successfully executed this transition and ultimately produced more dual motor than rear wheel drive cars in Q3. In the last week of the quarter, we produced over 5,300 Model 3 vehicles, almost all of which were dual motor, meaning that we achieved a production rate of more than 10,000 drive units per week.26,903 Model S and X vehicles, which was slightly higher than Q2 and in line with our full-year guidance.Q3 deliveries totaled 83,500 vehicles: 55,840 Model 3, 14,470 Model S, and 13,190 Model X. To put this in perspective, in just Q3, we delivered more than 80% of the vehicles that we delivered in all of 2017, and we delivered about twice as many Model 3s as we did in all previous quarters combined.Our Q3 Model 3 deliveries were limited to higher-priced variants, cash/loan transactions, and North American customers only. There remain significant opportunities to grow the addressable market for Model 3 by introducing leasing, standard battery and other lower-priced variants of the car, and by starting international deliveries.Demand for Model S and X remains high. In Q3, we were able to significantly increase Model S and X deliveries notwithstanding the headwinds we have been facing from the ongoing trade tensions between the US and China. Those trade tensions have resulted in an import tariff rate of 40% on Tesla vehicles versus 15% for other imported cars in China.In addition, Tesla continues to lack access to cash incentives available to locally produced electric vehicles in China that are typically around 15% of MSRP or more. Taking ocean transport costs and import tariffs into account, Tesla is now operating at a 55% to 60% cost disadvantage compared to the exact same car locally produced in China. This makes for a challenging competitive environment, given that China is by far the largest market for electric vehicles. To address this issue, we are accelerating construction of our Shanghai factory, which we expect to be a capital efficient and rapid buildout, using many lessons learned from the Model 3 ramp in North America.With production stabilized, delivery and outbound vehicle logistics were our main challenges during Q3. We made many improvements to these processes throughout the quarter, and plan to make further improvements in Q4 so that we can scale successfully. As part of this effort, we plan to continue to expand direct deliveries to customers at their home or office, a service we launched in Q3 to improve customer convenience.8,048 Model 3 vehicles and 3,776 Model S and X vehicles were in transit to customers at the end of Q3, and will be delivered in early Q4. Our overall target of 100,000 Model S and X deliveries in 2018 remains unchanged.Our net income and cash flow results will be announced along with the rest of our financial performance when we announce Q3 earnings.We want to thank the entire Tesla team for executing so well during this challenging ramp up in deliveries. We also want to thank all of our customers who volunteered to help us with deliveries, and our new customers who are showing their faith in Tesla by purchasing our products in such large numbers. It was beyond inspiring to see the contributions made by the whole Tesla community.***************Our delivery count should be viewed as slightly conservative, as we only count a car as delivered if it is transferred to the customer and all paperwork is correct. Final numbers could vary by up to 0.5%. Tesla vehicle deliveries represent only one measure of the company’s financial performance and should not be relied on as an indicator of quarterly financial results, which depend on a variety of factors, including the cost of sales, foreign exchange movements and mix of directly leased vehicles. Source: Electric Vehicle News UPDATE: Tesla Stock Surges: Loads Of Analysts Offer Tesla Model 3 Q3 Predictions Tesla Model 3 Sales Beyond Expectations: New Record In September Author Liberty Access TechnologiesPosted on October 2, 2018Categories Electric Vehicle News Musk Email: Let’s Go All Out Sunday For Victory Beyond All Expectations read more

MercedesBenz EQC 400 Spotted In The Wild Video

first_img Mercedes-Benz Presents EQC 400 4MATIC In Paris: Video Roundup Market launch is scheduled for 2019 with two production sites (first in Bremen, Germany and in 2019 also in Beijing, China). U.S. sales should start in 2020.Range of the EQC is expected to be well above 200 miles (320 km), but it’s not yet know what the exact figures will be.2020 Mercedes-Benz EQC 400 4MATIC preliminary specsdual motor (asynchronous), all-wheel drivesystem output of 300 kW (402 hp) and 564 lb-ft (765 Nm)0-60 mph in 4.9 seconds (0-100 km/h in 5.1 seconds)top speed of 112 mph (180 km/h)80 kWh battery (384 cells – two modules with 48 cells and four modules with 72 cells)more than 200 miles (320 km) of all-electric range (prelim est.) or over 280 miles (450 km) under NEDCDC fast charging (CCS Combo) in 40 minutes (110kW, 10%-80%)AC on-board charger – 7.4 kWtowing capability – 1,800 kg (3,968 lbs) 21 photos Let’s Take An Up-Close Look At The Mercedes EQC: Includes Cutaways This one is black.A car enthusiast comes across a Mercedes-Benz EQC prototype in Stuttgart. It’s one of the black ones, which we saw previously in motion.With silver elements and black wheels, it looks pretty cool, but it’s of course just a prototype with some details covered with tape.Mercedes-Benz EQCcenter_img Watch First Look At Mercedes-Benz EQC By Autogefühl Source: Electric Vehicle News Author Liberty Access TechnologiesPosted on October 22, 2018Categories Electric Vehicle Newslast_img read more

Tesla could fit a Gigfactory 1 at its new site in China

first_imgSatellite images show that Tesla could fit a building the size of the planned Gigafacoty 1 at its new site in China. Though the automaker probably won’t – at least for now. more…The post Tesla could fit a Gigfactory 1 at its new site in China appeared first on Electrek. Source: Charge Forwardlast_img

Green Deals Eufy Lumos Smart LED Light Bulb from 12 more

first_imgEufyHome (100% positive feedback) via Amazon offers its Lumos Smart LED Light Bulb for $11.99 shipped. Regularly $19, today’s deal is a new Amazon all-time low. You can grab the tunable model for $14.99 (Reg. $25) as well. Both LED lights offer smartphone control, making it easy to create schedules and save energy with unnecessary usage. They are also compatible with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant for voice control. Rated 3.9/5 stars. more…The post Green Deals: Eufy Lumos Smart LED Light Bulb from $12, more appeared first on Electrek. Source: Charge Forwardlast_img read more

Ford Transit Custom PHEV To Be Tested In Cologne Germany

first_img Ford Transit Custom PHEV Trial Expands, Volume Production In 2019 Author Liberty Access TechnologiesPosted on December 3, 2018Categories Electric Vehicle News Two Transit Custom PHEV commercial vehicles each will be operated by the following regional companies:AWB Abfallwirtschaftsbetriebe Köln (waste management)Cologne Bonn AirportHäfen und Güterverkehr Köln (harbour and freight traffic)Kölner Verkehrsbetriebe (public transport association)RheinEnergie (regional energy company).Gunnar Herrmann, chairman of the management board, Ford of Germany said:“Ford recognises Cologne as a city of strategic importance regarding future mobility. Together with the City of Cologne, we will start to investigate how we might in future look forward to urban areas that offer better air quality and can also be more productive,”.Henriette Reker, Mayor of the City of Cologne said:“For the rapidly growing city of Cologne, emission-free mobility is a crucial issue for the future. Every research project that works towards this will benefit our city. I am glad that Ford, as an automotive manufacturer, with its European headquarters in Cologne, will undertake this trial,”.The brief specifications of the Ford Transit Custom PHEV:up to 50 km (31 miles) of all-electric rangecharging in 3 hours (240 V, 32 A)series-hybrid driveline configuration with 1.0 litre EcoBoost petrol engine as a range extendertotal range of more than 500 kilometres (310 miles) 14 kWh liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery pack located under the load floorfull cargo volume offered by the standard vanover 1,000 kg of payload Ford Reveal Details On New Plug-In Hybrid Transit Van Ford Reveals Transit Custom Range-Extended PHEVcenter_img Ford Transit Custom PHEV More tests announced ahead of the market launchFord expands the trial project with its Transit Custom Plug-in Hybrid delivery van to the third city in Europe – after London and Valencia in Spain. From Spring 2019, 12 units will enter service in Cologne, Germany for 12 months.Ford promises that production and sales of the series-hybrid with plug-in capability will begin next year, but it will be a European-only car, so don’t expect the Transit Custom PHEV in the U.S.“From spring 2019, Ford, supported by the City of Cologne, will operate a fleet of 10 Ford Transit Custom PHEVs with regional companies in the city to investigate the extent to which PHEVs can help to achieve urban air quality goals. Funded by Ford, the trial will initially run for 12 months, in cooperation with municipal fleets serving the public sector, complementing testing in London and Valencia, in Spain, with larger fleets and small-to-medium fleets respectively.” Source: Electric Vehicle Newslast_img read more

Rivian R1S R1T Electric SUV Truck Featured In Fully Charged Video

first_imgWith such incredible electric SUVs and pickups, buyers will be abandoning passenger cars.Rivian with its two all-electric models – R1S and R1T – was trully the star of the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show.The promised performance, range and premium touch of Rivians is beyond anything we’ve seen so far. Moreover, the cars look very mature and refined – not like one-off fancy concepts.Rivian news Source: Electric Vehicle News Here is a very interesting episode of Fully Charged, which left us speechless about how great the electric future of automobiles is. Exciting times ahead and let’s keep our fingers crossed for Rivian.“Automotive startups always need to be viewed with a little caution, but as Jonny Smith discovers, Rivian have presented a very convincing launch. A large SUV and pick up truck at the LA motor show. Most impressive.” New Fascinating Details Emerge On Rivian Battery Pack Design Author Liberty Access TechnologiesPosted on January 12, 2019Categories Electric Vehicle News Here’s How To Gift A Rivian R1T & R1S Pre-Order Ford F-150 Versus Rivian R1T Electric Truck: Let’s Take A Look: Videolast_img read more

Thor Trucks becomes Xos delivers two Class 6 electric armored vehicles to

first_imgElectric truck startup Xos (formerly Thor Trucks) will retrofit two Loomis Armored Class 6 medium-duty trucks with electric drive. Loomis will evaluate the vehicles for 90 days, and says it will order 100 more if the two pilot vehicles work out.The new e-trucks would primarily be used in California. TheXos-built SV01 truck qualifies for a $90,000 incentive under California’s Hybridand Zero-Emission Truck and Bus Voucher Incentive Project.Loomis operates the largest cash-distribution network in theUS, with 200 locations and a fleet of 3,000 vehicles.“Electric vehicles make a lot of sense for cash-in-transitcompanies,” said Xos CEO Dakota Semler. “They do a lot of idling in citycenters as money is loaded in and out of the vehicles.”“Armored trucks operate mostly in urban areas, so they don’tneed a huge amount of range,” agreed Navigant analyst Sam Abuelsamid. “Electricitymakes a lot of sense in reducing costs and emissions.”“The weight penalty of the batteries compared to an internalcombustion engine is not an issue because the payload is relativelylightweight,” said Antti Lindstrom, an analyst with IHS Markit.Xos already has pilot programs underway with UPS, which istesting two medium-duty electric delivery trucks in the Los Angeles area, andother fleet operators.Xos was recently forced to change its name from Thor Trucksafter RV maker Thor Industries sued for trademark infringement. Xos is shortfor exosphere, the outermost sectionof the planet’s atmosphere – the term is meant to evoke cutting-edgetechnologies“Electrification encompasses so much more than justhardware, which gives us lots of opportunities to expand in directions weweren’t thinking about in the early days of the company,” said Xos COO GioSordoni.Source: Trucks Source: Electric Vehicles Magazinelast_img read more

VW Approves Big Investment In Battery Cell Factory

first_imgVolkswagen to invest just under €1 billion to set up a battery cell production facility with a partner.Source: Electric Vehicle Newslast_img

Former OchZiff Executives To Mount A Defense Against SECs FCPA And Related

first_img Free 90 Minute 2017 FCPA Year In Review Video A summary of every corporate enforcement action; notable statistics and issues to consider; compliance take-away points; and enforcement agency and related developments. Click below to view the engaging video tutorial. In the SEC’s release, Kara Brockmeyer (Chief of the SEC’s FCPA Unit) stated:“As alleged in our complaint, Cohen and Baros were the masterminds of Och-Ziff’s bribery scheme that improperly used investor funds to pay bribes through agents and partners to officials at the highest levels of foreign governments.” Viewcenter_img I am not suggesting that the following is a very meaningful statistic, but it is a fact: there has been more FCPA enforcement in the first week of the Trump administration than the first week of the Obama administration.But then again “assigning” to the Trump administration yesterday’s SEC enforcement action against Michael Cohen and Vanja Baros (former Och-Ziff executives) based on the same core conduct as the DOJ and SEC’s September 2016 enforcement action against Och-Ziff is foolish just as it is foolish to “assign” FCPA enforcement in the first months (indeed the first year) of the Obama administration to the Obama Administration.Yesterday’s enforcement action is not surprising as it was fairly obvious (as detailed in this prior post) that the main actors in the Och-Ziff matter were Cohen and Baros (even though not specifically named in the September 2016 resolution documents).That the SEC filed a meaty 80 page complaint against Cohen and Baros alleging FCPA and other offenses, is a clear signal that a negotiated settlement was unable to be reached and that the defendants will put the SEC to its burden of proof. Indeed, according to this report:“Ronald White, a lawyer for Cohen, said in a statement he “has done nothing wrong and is confident that when all the evidence is presented, it will be shown that the SEC’s civil charges are baseless.”Mark Cohen, a lawyer for Baros, said “when the facts come out, it will be clear that Mr. Baros did nothing wrong.”The SEC is rarely put to its burden of proof in FCPA enforcement actions (corporate or individual) and indeed has never prevailed in FCPA history when put to its ultimate burden of proof, thus this matter will be interesting to follow.In summary fashion, the SEC’s complaint alleges:“Michael L. Cohen and Vanja Baros (collectively, the “Defendants”) violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (the “FCPA”), the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 (the “Advisers Act”) and related statutory rules and provisions from 2007 through at least August 2012. Cohen and Baros carried out their scheme while the two worked for Och-Ziff Capital Management LLC (“Och-Ziff”), as well as for and with certain of its subsidiaries and affiliates. Och-Ziff is an institutional alternative asset manager or “hedge fund” that provides asset management services to its managed investment funds (“Och-Ziff Hedge Funds”). In violation of the FCPA, Cohen and Baros directed, caused and arranged for Och-Ziff to pay tens of millions of dollars in bribes to government officials on the continent of Africa through agents, intermediaries and business partners of Och-Ziff. The bribes were paid to secure and attempt to secure special access, special opportunities and preferential treatment for Och-Ziff in its pursuit of profitable business in Africa. The Advisers Act violations by Cohen and Baros resulted from material misrepresentations and omissions by Cohen, Baros, Och-Ziff and OZ Management LP (“OZ Management”), to Och-Ziff investors regarding multiple transactions in Africa, as well as failures by Och-Ziff and OZ Management to disclose conflicts of interest to investors, and undisclosed, improper uses of investor funds by Och-Ziff and OZ Management.Beginning in 2007 and continuing through at least August 2012, Cohen and Baros executed a sprawling scheme involving serial corrupt transactions and bribes paid to high-ranking government officials in African countries, including the State of Libya, the Republics of Chad, Niger and Guinea, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (the “DRC”). Cohen spearheaded and participated in all of the corrupt transactions. Baros began working with Cohen at Och-Ziff in 2007 and participated in multiple corrupt transactions that were part of the scheme. Cohen and Baros intended that the bribery scheme get Och-Ziff special access to investment opportunities in African countries; obtain or retain business for Och-Ziff, its subsidiaries and its business partners; and financially benefit Cohen and Baros, as well as the agents, intermediaries and business partners of Och-Ziff who participated with them in the corrupt transactions.As part of the scheme, Cohen and Baros worked on behalf of Och-Ziff to explore and obtain business opportunities in and to operate in African countries and industries known for corrupt business dealings. Cohen, Baros, and Och-Ziff specifically targeted, pursued, retained, engaged and worked with agents, intermediaries and business partners in those countries and industries. The agents, intermediaries and business partners promoted themselves, and were known to Cohen, Baros, and Och-Ziff, as having close relationships and connections with high­-ranking foreign government officials and typically had reputations for engaging in unsavory business practices that, among other things, exploited relationships and connections with government officials. Cohen and Baros structured, championed and arranged for Och-Ziff to enter into a series of corrupt transactions and investments in which bribes were paid through agents, intermediaries and business partners to various high-ranking government officials. Cohen and Baros identified, developed and carried out these corrupt transactions with the knowledge, the firm belief, or under circumstances that made it substantially certain that all or a portion of the money paid, loaned or otherwise provided to and through agents, intermediaries and business partners would be forwarded and paid as bribes to high-ranking foreign government officials.In most instances, bribes were paid with Och-Ziff Hedge Fund investors’ money rather than Och-Ziff’s own capital. Cohen and Baros arranged for and structured transactions for Och-Ziff and OZ Management to authorize the use of money from Och-Ziff Hedge Funds in transactions in which bribes were paid to high-ranking foreign government officials. In doing so, Cohen and Baros knew, held the firm belief, or operated under circumstances that made it substantially certain that investor funds would be used to pay bribes.The scheme also included the use of investor funds in self-dealing transactions to benefit Cohen, Och-Ziff’s agents, intermediaries and business partners, and Och-Ziff itself.Cohen and Baros crafted, developed and carried out the scheme, including the use of funding from the Och-Ziff Hedge Funds in most of the corrupt transactions, with the knowledge, the firm belief, or under circumstances that made it substantially certain that all or a portion of the money paid or loaned to agents, intermediaries and business partners subsequently would be paid as bribes to high-ranking government officials in order to secure special access and opportunities and preferential treatment for Och-Ziff in its pursuit and retention of profitable business in Africa. The corrupt transactions included:• In or about 2007, Cohen engaged in a corrupt transaction to secure an investment from the Libyan Investment Authority (“LIA”) of $300 million into the Och-Ziff Hedge Funds. To pursue the LIA investment, Cohen used the services of an agent (“Agent 1”) to act on his and Och-Ziff’s behalf. Cohen arranged for Och-Ziff to retain Agent 1’s services knowing, holding the firm belief, or operating under circumstances that made it substantially certain, that Agent 1 would bribe highranking Libyan government officials to secure the investment. In fact, Agent 1 paid more than $3 million in bribes to Libyan government officials in connection with securing and retaining the LIA investment for Och-Ziff.• In a second corrupt transaction that began in or about 2007, Cohen arranged for an investment of approximately $40 million of Och-Ziff funds in a Libyan real estate development project (the “Libya Real Estate Project”) in which Agent 1 was a main actor. The Project had the blessing of the Libyan government’s ruling family, secured and maintained through the payment and promise of bribes, which positioned it to be highly profitable. Cohen arranged for Och-Ziff to use investor funds to pay a bogus $400,000 “deal fee” to an entity controlled by Agent 1 as part of its investment. Cohen knew, held the firm belief, or operated under circumstances that made it substantially certain, that Agent 1 would use the deal fee for the continuing payment of bribes to high-ranking government officials in Libya, whose support was needed to maintain government support and protection for the Project.• In a third corrupt transaction that also began in or about 2007, Cohen and Baros arranged for a loan of more than $86 million and additional payments of more than $10 million of Och-Ziff Hedge Funds investor money to one of Och-Ziff’s South African partners in African Global Capital I (“AGC I”), an Africa miningfocused fund formed by Och-Ziff. A substantial amount of that money was ultimately funneled through a consultant working with AGC I (“Agent 2”), who acquired assets on behalf of AGC I, primarily through the payment of bribes to high-ranking government officials. Of the Och-Ziff Hedge Funds investor money Och-Ziff provided to its AGC I business partner, millions went towards a) bribes to high-ranking government officials, b) illicit payments to middlemen, c) the personal benefit of Och-Ziff’s business partners, and d) expenditures unrelated to the investment. Cohen and Baros knew, held the firm belief, or operated under circumstances that made it substantially certain, that monies from the loan and additional payments would be used in those manners.• In a fourth corrupt transaction that began in or about December 2007 and continued through at least October 2008, Och-Ziff Hedge Funds made a convertible loan (the “Convertible Loan”) of approximately $124 million from Och-Ziff investor funds through AGC I to an entity in the DRC, purportedly to purchase mining assets. During the same time frame, Och-Ziff invested $150 million in another DRC mining company using investor funds. Both DRC entities were controlled by a notorious Israeli businessman (“Agent 3”) who Och-Ziff partnered with at the behest of Cohen and Baros. Agent 3 purportedly would act as agent for and on behalf of Och-Ziff to purchase mining assets in the DRC. Monies from the Convertible Loan were used to pay bribes to high-ranking government officials related to the acquisition of such assets. Cohen and Baros knew, held the firm belief, or operated under circumstances that made it substantially certain, that monies from the Convertible Loan would be used to bribe high-ranking government officials in connection with the acquisition of assets on behalf of Och-Ziff.• In a fifth corrupt transaction, in or about November 2010 and February 2011, Cohen and Baros arranged for a margin loan (the “Margin Loan”) of approximately $130 million to be made from Och-Ziff Hedge Funds investor funds to a third entity controlled by Agent 3. Cohen and Baros arranged for and structured the transaction so that approximately $84.1 million of the loan proceeds went to Agent 3 with no restrictions or oversight by Och-Ziff as to how Agent 3 used the money. Cohen and Baros knew, held the firm belief, or operated under circumstances that made it substantially certain, that money from the Margin Loan would be used to bribe high-ranking government officials in connection with the acquisition of assets on behalf of Och-Ziff.• In a sixth corrupt transaction, in or about 2010 and 2011, and continuing to at least April 2012, Cohen and Baros arranged for African Global Capital II (“AGC II”), a second Africa-focused fund formed by Och-Ziff, to purchase shares in a London-based oil exploration company. Through the efforts of Cohen and Baros, Och-Ziff caused AGC II to purchase the shares from a South African business partner in order to provide him with capital to use for other purposes, including the payment of bribes. With the proceeds from the AGC II purchase, the South African business partner paid more than $25 million to an account under the control of the government of Guinea and $1 million to Agent 2, who then used a portion of those funds to bribe high-ranking government officials in Guinea. Cohen and Baros knew, held the firm belief, or operated under circumstances that made it substantially certain, that the South African business partner would use proceeds from the purchase by AGC to bribe high-ranking government officials related to the acquisition of assets on behalf of Och-Ziff.As part of their corrupt scheme, Cohen and Baros failed to disclose all material facts in communications with Och-Ziff and OZ Management investors and potential investors and, in certain circumstances, purposely omitted facts to ensure that corrupt transactions would proceed. Cohen and Baros also aided and abetted OZ Management’s failures to disclose all material facts to their investors in connection with several African transactions, and aided and abetted failures by OZ Management to disclose conflicts of interest and to control the use of investor funds. Cohen, Baros, Och-Ziff and OZ Management made material misrepresentations and omissions to investors and potential investors regarding the corrupt transactions detailed in paragraph 5 above, as well as in additional AGC II transactions as follows:• With respect to the AGC II purchase of shares in a London-based mining company for $77 million in 2011, Cohen and Baros knew, and failed to disclose to investors, that the $77 million transaction price would result in a $52 million windfall for Och-Ziff’s business partners. Nor did they disclose that the windfall would be used to fund, among other things, a $2.1 million payment back to OchZiff to satisfy an outstanding loan relating to AGC I, $25 million in payments to the government of Guinea to try to gain access to other business opportunities, $1 million to a consultant (Agent 2), in part to pay a $150,000 bribe to a highranking government official in Guinea, and millions of dollars of personal benefit to other agents, intermediaries and business partners of Och-Ziff.• As to a 2010 investment by AGC II in oil rights in the Republic of the Congo (“Congo-Brazzaville”) through an Africa-focused oil exploration company, Cohen knew and failed to disclose to investors, among other things, details about the origin of the transaction, the self-interest of AGC II business partners in the transaction, and the bases for payments to intermediaries.• As to a 2010 AGC II purchase of $20 million of shares in a privately held London-based mining holding company, Cohen knew and failed to disclose to investors, among other things, that of the $20 million purchase price, $4 million would be diverted to Cohen’s personal benefit. Further, Cohen and Baros knew and failed to disclose to investors that an additional $4 million would be funneled to an AGC II business partner for his personal benefit.Cohen and Baros also aided and abetted and caused Och-Ziff’s violations of Section 13(b)(2)(A) of the Exchange Act in which Och-Ziff failed to make and keep books, records, and accounts, which, in reasonable detail, accurately and fairly reflected its transactions and disposition of its assets. 9. In addition, Och-Ziff lacked sufficient internal accounting controls to prevent and detect violations of the FCPA and to provide reasonable assurances that the transactions were legitimate and recorded appropriately; that the transactions were executed in accordance with management’s general or specific authorization; that transactions were recorded as necessary to permit preparation of financial statements in conformity with generally accepted accounting principles or any other criteria applicable to such statements; and, to maintain accountability for assets. Despite being aware of and understanding the nature and extent of the corruption risk posed by doing business in, among other places, Libya, Chad, Niger, Congo-Brazzaville, Guinea and the DRC, Och-Ziff failed to implement an adequate system of internal accounting controls and failed to enforce the accounting controls it did have in place. As a result, the various investments, payments and loans to agents, intermediaries and/or business partners detailed above were not subject to meaningful review. Substantially all of the corrupt payments detailed above were made without adequate and appropriate due diligence inquiries and investigation, which permitted the bribe payments to be made.Cohen and Baros took steps to circumvent Och-Ziff’s internal controls so that Och-Ziff would falsely record the bribes detailed above as legitimate investments and/or operating expenses on Och-Ziff’s books and records, thereby violating Section 13(b)(5) of the Exchange Act and Exchange Act Rule 13b2-1.”last_img read more

As Is Fairly Typical Ubers FCPA Scrutiny Expands

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. All instances of Foreign Corrupt Practices Act scrutiny have a “point of entry” – an occurrence which gives rise to initial FCPA scrutiny.From there, FCPA scrutiny often expands into other business dealings, other countries, etc. This dynamic is a major reason why pre-enforcement action professionals fees and expenses are often the largest financial ramification of FCPA scrutiny, exceeding (often by multiples) settlement amounts in an actual FCPA enforcement action.Approximately three weeks ago, it was reported (see here) that Uber Technologies was under FCPA scrutiny.Bloomberg reports:“Uber Technologies Inc. facing a federal probe into whether it broke laws against overseas bribery, has embarked on a review of its Asia operations and notified U.S. officials about payments made by staff in Indonesia, people with knowledge of the matter said.As the Justice Department looks into a possible criminal case, Uber is working with law firm O’Melveny & Meyers LLP to examine records of foreign payments and interview employees, raising questions about why some potentially problematic business dealings weren’t disclosed sooner, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the details are private.Attorneys are focused on suspicious activity in at least five Asian countries: China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia and South Korea. For instance, Uber’s law firm is reviewing a web of financial arrangements tied to the Malaysian government that may have influenced lawmakers there, the people said.[…]Late last year, Uber had a run-in with Indonesia police over the location of an office in Jakarta providing support to local drivers, people with knowledge of the events said. Police officers said the space was outside city zoning for businesses, so an employee decided to dole out multiple, small payments to police in order to continue operating there, the people said. The transactions showed up on the employee’s expense reports, described as payments to local authorities.Uber fired the employee, the people said. Alan Jiang, the company’s head of Indonesia business who approved the expense report, was placed on a leave of absence and has since left the company. Jiang didn’t respond to requests for comment.At least one senior member of the legal team at Uber initially decided not to report the incident to U.S. officials when he learned of it late last year, the people said. After the Justice Department approached Uber about possible violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, Uber informed officials about what happened in Indonesia.”The article further states:“Uber’s law firm is also investigating a corporate donation, announced in August 2016, of tens of thousands of dollars to the Malaysian Global Initiative and Creativity Centre, a government-backed entrepreneur hub. Around that time, a Malaysian pension fund, Kumpulan Wang Persaraan, invested $30 million in Uber, said people familiar with the deal. Less than a year later, the Malaysian government passed national ride-hailing laws that were favorable to Uber and its peers. Lawyers are trying to determine whether there was any form of quid pro quo.[…]Dealings in China and South Korea are also under review, though the details are unclear.” Learn More & Registerlast_img read more

Andrews Kurth Advises SensoryEffects in 567 Million Transaction

first_img Password Remember me Not a subscriber? Sign up for The Texas Lawbook. Dallas-based private equity firm Highlander Partner is selling its portfolio company, SensoryEffects, to Balchem Corporation for $567 million . . .You must be a subscriber to The Texas Lawbook to access this content.center_img Lost your password? Usernamelast_img

Whats in Your Box

first_imgby, Dr. Bill ThomasTweet14Share67Share4Email85 SharesThe whole thing started with a battered cardboard box. It was the mid 1990’s and my wife, Jude Meyers Thomas, and I had stumbled on to something that seemed very much like magic.We had spent several years bringing life and a new sense of fair play to a handful of nursing homes and found that doing so brought people to life. The elders were happier and healthier. The staff were happier and healthier. We called this new approach to care– The Eden Alternative.Jude and I were determined to bring these new ideas and practices to every nursing home in the country. That’s where the battered cardboard box comes into the story.At first the only thing we knew how to do was load up our box with pictures and photocopies of our materials, visit nursing homes and tell our story. There was one problem. No one knew who we were and no one knew what we were talking about. I remember one fine spring day when Jude was pregnant with Haleigh. We were making a four hour drive to visit a nursing home where they actually wanted to talk to us! Jude was having morning sickness and we had to stop every now and then because of her nausea. I asked her if she just wanted to go home and she said, “No, this is too important.”It is still important.We are now twenty years into our journey and the message has changed. We are more aware than ever that our society is being damaged by ageism and the unthinking rejection of the virtues to which normal human aging entitles us. Next week I am setting out on a new journey that we are calling the Age of Disruption Tour. We will visit 30 cities in an effort to disrupt our culture’s misunderstanding of age and aging.And I need your help.I might have traded in the cardboard box for a tour bus but in many important ways, I am right back where I started. People find it hard to believe aging can be viewed as an asset that can enrich individuals and their communities. People think that aging is dull and boring.This is why I have created the “Life’s Most Dangerous Game” performance. It is intended to help people “peek around the corner” and catch a glimpse of an exciting, engaging, exuberant vision of age and aging.Here is how you can help.We know that people will enjoy the performance. Would you be willing to look at this list of city and dates and send people you know in any of these cities an email recommending “Life’s Most Dangerous Game”? They will thank you for doing so. And since you’re willing to take a chance on me, I will also take a chance on you — as of today guests can “name their price” for tickets to “Life’s Most Dangerous Game“.Those of us who are already committed to creating a new vision of aging can help others take hold of new possibilities. The thing is that it takes persistence (I have plenty of that!) and the support of a community of like-minded individuals and organizations to turn possibilities into realities.We are at the beginning of a new phase in our long journey and it is a good thing to remember Jude’s words from so many years ago.Me: Do you want to turn around and go back?Her: No, this is too important.Onward.Related PostsTribes of EdenIn the mid-1990’s I decided to write a book about aging. It was going to be a serious, deeply researched non-fiction book that would update the state of knowledge regarding aging. In the evenings, when I sat down to write this book — I had trouble concentrating. Instead of working…Minka the AirBnBNestled into the shore of Lake Cayuga in Upstate New York sits the very first Minka. The Minka prototype was created for Haleigh Jane Thomas. Haleigh is now graciously sharing her Minka through Airbnb. Any Tribes of Eden fans out there? This is your chance to be hosted by the…Highlighting the Green House Project Team: Debbie Wiegand, Project GuideElders have always been at the center of Debbie’s life. Not many of us could say that we knew both sets of our grandparents, a great grandmother & grandfather, and a great, great grandmother—but that is the case for Debbie. … Continue reading →Tweet14Share67Share4Email85 SharesTags: DisruptAging Life’s Most Dangerous Game The Eden Alternativelast_img read more

Landmark trial to test implantable defibrillator in diabetic patients with history of

first_imgMay 23 2018Loyola Medicine is enrolling patients in a landmark international trial to determine whether defibrillator devices can save lives when implanted in diabetic patients who have had prior heart attacks.An implantable defibrillator can prevent sudden death from cardiac arrest by treating life-threatening arrhythmias (abnormal heart rhythms). The device continually monitors the patient’s heart rhythm. If the heart begins to beat dangerously fast or chaotically, the device restores normal rhythm with an electric shock.Related StoriesImplanted device uses microcurrent to exercise heart muscle in cardiomyopathy patientsHeart disease is still the number 1 killer in Australia, according to latest figuresResearch opens possibility of developing single-dose gene therapy for inherited arrhythmiasDiabetic patients who have had a heart attack may be at risk of dying suddenly from life-threatening arrhythmias. However, there currently is no official recommendation to implant defibrillators in these patients. The trial will investigate whether implanting a defibrillator in such cases will save lives. Patients will be selected to either receive an implantable defibrillator along with standard medical therapy or medical therapy alone.Loyola is the only Illinois center participating in the trial, which is enrolling 1,800 patients from 100 centers in the United States, Europe and Israel.To be eligible for the trial, a patient must: Be age 65 or older Have diabetes Have experienced at least one heart attack Have a left ventricular ejection fraction of 36 to 50 percent (meaning heart muscle pumping function is mildly or moderately reduced) The device used in the trial is called a subcutaneous implantable cardioverter defibrillator (S-ICD). The battery and electronic circuitry of the S-ICD is implanted on the left side of the chest under the arm pit. A conductor wire from the device (called a lead) is implanted over the heart, just under the skin.center_img Source:https://www.loyolamedicine.org/last_img read more

Latinos and African Americans more likely to experience serious depression than Whites

first_img Source:https://www.nih.gov/news-events/news-releases/african-americans-latinos-are-more-likely-be-risk-depression-whites May 25 2018A new study published in the May 2018 issue of Preventive Medicine shows that African Americans and Latinos are significantly more likely to experience serious depression than Whites, but chronic stress does not seem to explain these differences. Dr. Eliseo J. Pérez-Stable, director of the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) was the senior author of the study, which also found that African Americans and Latinos were more likely to have higher levels of chronic stress and more unhealthy behaviors. NIMHD is part of the National Institutes of Health.To examine the relationship between unhealthy behaviors, chronic stress, and risk of depression by race and ethnicity, researchers used data collected on 12,272 participants, aged 40 to 70 years, from 2005 to 2012. These data were part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), a nationally representative health interview and examination survey of U.S. adults. This age range population was selected for this study to capture the effects of chronic stress over the lifetime of the participants.”Understanding the social and behavioral complexities associated with depression and unhealthy behaviors by race/ethnicity can help us understand how to best improve overall health,” said Pérez-Stable.The unhealthy behaviors examined were current cigarette smoking, excessive or binge drinking, insufficient exercise, and fair or poor diet. The researchers measured chronic stress using 10 objective biological measures, including blood pressure, body mass index, and total cholesterol. The researchers assessed risk for depression using results from the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9).Chronic stress during adulthood may be an important factor in depression. This effect may be worse among racial and ethnic minorities due to the stress experienced from social and economic inequalities, but the relationships between race/ethnicity, stress, behavior, and depression are not well understood. A theoretical framework called the Environmental Affordances model has been proposed to explain how chronic stress and risk behaviors interact to affect health. This model proposes, for example, that engaging in unhealthy behaviors actually reduces the effects of chronic stress on depression in African Americans.Related StoriesPesticide exposure may increase risk of depression in adolescentsCaregiver depression linked to increased emergency department visits for patients with dementiaNew structured approach to managing patients with depression in primary careThe investigators designed this research to gain a better understanding of the relationship between chronic stress and chance for depression by race and ethnicity. The study asked whether unhealthy behaviors (current smoking, excessive or binge drinking, insufficient exercise, and fair or poor diet) reduce the chance for depression due to chronic stress in African Americans but increase the chance for depression due to chronic stress in Latinos, compared with Whites.On average, Latinos and African Americans had more chronic stress, more unhealthy behaviors, and more chance for depression. However, the study found that engaging in more unhealthy behaviors was strongly associated with greater chance for depression only in African Americans and Whites.The study also found that for all three groups: the level of chronic stress did not affect the relationship between unhealthy behavior and chance for depression unhealthy behaviors did not alter the association between stress and chance for depression more education offered more protection against depressionContrary to previous research, this study found that in all three racial/ethnic groups, chronic stress levels were inversely related to excessive or binge drinking (i.e., more stress, less excess drinking). This study also found no evidence–as some previous research has suggested–that African Americans engage in unhealthy behaviors as a way to cope with chronic stress and reduce depression or those unhealthy behaviors interact with chronic stress in Latinos to increase depression. According to the researchers, the Environmental Affordances model was not supported for any of the racial/ethnic groups analyzed.The scientists point to differences in their research design and their use of physiological measures of chronic stress instead of self-reported measures as possibly contributing to their different findings. They note that their results highlight the complex relationships between chronic stress, unhealthy behaviors, and mental health among different racial and ethnic groups.last_img read more

CanFite BioPharma receives Australian and Chinese patents for new drug to treat

first_imgJul 17 2018Can-Fite BioPharma Ltd., a biotechnology company advancing a pipeline of proprietary small molecule drugs that address liver diseases, inflammatory diseases and sexual dysfunction, today announced that the Australian and Chinese patent offices have granted the Company a patent for the utilization of A3 adenosine receptor ligands in the treatment of sexual dysfunction, in a patent (Australian, No. 2013301125ZL, Chinese No. 2013800472970) titled, “A3 adenosine receptor ligands for use in treatment of a sexual dysfunction.”Related StoriesNew protein target for deadly ovarian cancerSugary drinks linked to cancer finds studyAntioxidant precursor molecule could improve dopamine levels in Parkinson’s patientsThe Company has been investigating compounds that target the A3 adenosine receptor (A3AR) and the Company’s CF602 drug candidate previously demonstrated a robust positive effect in the treatment of erectile dysfunction in preclinical studies. Can-Fite has been granted a similar patent in the U.S. for both the method for treating erectile dysfunction with different A3 adenosine receptor (A3AR) ligands and a composition of matter for allosteric compounds.”With this strong intellectual property around the erectile dysfunction indication, we are actively looking for a partner that will help us with the clinical development and marketing approval for this important indication. We believe that this approach in treating erectile dysfunction has the potential to supply the patients with an efficacious and safe drug,” stated Can-Fite CEO Dr. Pnina FishmanGrand View Research Inc. estimates that the value of the erectile dysfunction therapeutic market will reach approximately $3.2 billion by 2022. Source:http://www.canfite.comlast_img read more

Increasing dietary protein may lower risk of diabetes in people with NAFLD

first_imgAug 17 2018Increasing the amount of protein in the diet may reduce the liver’s fat content and lower the risk of diabetes in people with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). The study is published ahead of print in the American Journal of Physiology–Endocrinology and Metabolism.NAFLD–sometimes referred to as a “fatty liver”–occurs when more than 5 percent of the liver’s total weight is made up of fatty tissue. Excessive fat in the liver can lead to scarring, which may increase the risk of liver cancer or liver failure. People with NAFLD are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes, and people with type 2 diabetes are more likely to develop NAFLD. In fact an estimated 70 percent of people with type 2 diabetes also have a fatty liver. Obesity is also a major risk factor for NAFLD.Related StoriesInhibition of p38 protein boosts formation of blood vessels in colon cancerIntermittent fasting may regulate blood glucose levels even without weight lossMetabolic enzyme tied to obesity and fatty liver diseasePrevious studies have found that short-term protein supplementation helps reduce the fat content in the liver, but there have been few studies on the long-term effects of protein on NAFLD. Researchers conducted a two-year study to determine the long-term impact of dietary protein on a fatty liver after weight loss. This study was part of the PREVIEW study, which aims to identify the most efficient lifestyle pattern for the prevention of type 2 diabetes in a population of pre-diabetic overweight or obese individuals.Twenty-five adult volunteers–15 of whom had been previously diagnosed with NAFLD–participated in a low-calorie diet for eight weeks to lose up to 8 percent of their body weight. After weight loss, the volunteers were directed to maintain their weight for two years and to follow either a moderate- or high-protein diet averaging from 0.8 to 1 grams of protein per kilogram (2.2 pounds) of body weight. The research team took blood and urine samples and performed body scans to assess liver fat content and the amount of protein eliminated from the volunteers’ bodies at three intervals: the start of the weight maintenance phase and again six months and then two years later.After two years maintaining their weight loss, the increase in dietary protein was associated with reduced liver fat content in the volunteers. In addition, more than half of the participants who were previously diagnosed with NAFLD no longer had a fatty liver.”These findings stress the clinical implications and potential benefits of increased protein intake after weight loss for people with NAFLD at risk to develop diabetes,” the researchers wrote. Source:http://www.the-aps.org/mm/hp/Audiences/Public-Press/2018/48.htmllast_img read more

Measles Outbreak Traced to Fully Vaccinated Patient for First Time

Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Get the measles vaccine, and you won’t get the measles—or give it to anyone else. Right? Well, not always. A person fully vaccinated against measles has contracted the disease and passed it on to others. The startling case study contradicts received wisdom about the vaccine and suggests that a recent swell of measles outbreaks in developed nations could mean more illnesses even among the vaccinated.When it comes to the measles vaccine, two shots are better than one. Most people in the United States are initially vaccinated against the virus shortly after their first birthday and return for a booster shot as a toddler. Less than 1% of people who get both shots will contract the potentially lethal skin and respiratory infection. And even if a fully vaccinated person does become infected—a rare situation known as “vaccine failure”—they weren’t thought to be contagious.That’s why a fully vaccinated 22-year-old theater employee in New York City who developed the measles in 2011 was released without hospitalization or quarantine. But like Typhoid Mary, this patient turned out to be unwittingly contagious. Ultimately, she transmitted the measles to four other people, according to a recent report in Clinical Infectious Diseases that tracked symptoms in the 88 people with whom “Measles Mary” interacted while she was sick. Surprisingly, two of the secondary patients had been fully vaccinated. And although the other two had no record of receiving the vaccine, they both showed signs of previous measles exposure that should have conferred immunity. A closer look at the blood samples taken during her treatment revealed how the immune defenses of Measles Mary broke down. As a first line of defense against the measles and other microbes, humans rely on a natural buttress of IgM antibodies. Like a wooden shield, they offer some protection from microbial assaults but aren’t impenetrable. The vaccine (or a case of the measles) prompts the body to supplement this primary buffer with a stronger armor of IgG antibodies, some of which are able to neutralize the measles virus so it can’t invade cells or spread to other patients. This secondary immune response was presumed to last for decades.By analyzing her blood, the researchers found that Measles Mary mounted an IgM defense, as if she had never been vaccinated. Her blood also contained a potent arsenal of IgG antibodies, but a closer look revealed that none of these IgG antibodies were actually capable of neutralizing the measles virus. It seemed that her vaccine-given immunity had waned.Although public health officials have assumed that measles immunity lasts forever, the case of Measles Mary highlights the reality that “the actual duration [of immunity] following infection or vaccination is unclear,” says Jennifer Rosen, who led the investigation as director of epidemiology and surveillance at the New York City Bureau of Immunization. The possibility of waning immunity is particularly worrisome as the virus surfaces in major U.S. hubs like Boston, Seattle, New York, and the Los Angeles area. Rosen doesn’t believe this single case merits a change in vaccination strategy—for example, giving adults booster shots—but she says that more regular surveillance to assess the strength of people’s measles immunity is warranted.If it turns out that vaccinated people lose their immunity as they get older, that could leave them vulnerable to measles outbreaks seeded by unvaccinated people—which are increasingly common in the United States and other developed countries. Even a vaccine failure rate of 3% to 5% could devastate a high school with a few thousand students, says Robert Jacobson, director of clinical studies for the Mayo Clinic’s Vaccine Research Group in Rochester, Minnesota, who wasn’t involved with the study. Still, he says, “The most important ‘vaccine failure’ with measles happens when people refuse the vaccine in the first place.” 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 read more

Researchers closer to engineering yeast that make morphine spurring worries

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Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) 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 William DeLoache at UC Berkeley Opiates belong to a class of compounds called benzylisoquinoline alkaloids (BIAs), which together with related families of molecules contains some 2500 known compounds. In addition to morphine, these include thebaine, a precursor to the pain relievers oxycodone and hydrocodone, as well as commonly used antispasmodic compounds, antibiotics, and anticancer agents. BIAs are complex, multiringed structures that are difficult and expensive to synthesize in a lab. Medicinal chemists have long sought an easier and cheaper route to making these compounds, in hopes that they might find new medicines. Health professionals have also sought versions that pose fewer side effects, such as risks of suppressed breathing and addiction that come with morphine. But so far engineering opium poppies to produce new compounds has proven difficult.“Plants have slow growth cycles, so it’s hard to fully explore all the possible chemicals that can be made from the BIA pathway,” says William DeLoache, a Ph.D. bioengineering student at the University of California, Berkeley, and lead author of the new work on engineering yeast. “Moving the BIA pathway to microbes dramatically reduces the cost of drug discovery. We can manipulate and tune the DNA of the yeast and quickly test the results.”A long pathEfforts to insert the BIA pathway into yeast have been under way for the better part of a decade. But it’s a major challenge, says Vincent Martin, a microbiologist at Concordia University in Montreal, Canada, whose lab has been working on the project since 2009. Engineering yeast to produce morphine, Martin notes, requires adding genes to produce enzymes that carry out a chain of 15 separate chemical transformations. By contrast, one of synthetic biology’s greatest successes to date—the synthesis of the antimalarial drug artemisinin—required giving yeast the genes to carry out just five chemical steps.In reengineering yeast to make BIAs, researchers typically divide the project up into two parts. In the first part, researchers splice in genes for enzymes that convert the amino acid tyrosine into an intermediate compound called S-reticuline; this step creates a key branching point that can lead to the synthesis of many different BIA compounds. One trail leads to morphine and codeine, while others lead to antibiotics and anticancer compounds. To create morphine, S-reticuline is first converted to a very closely related compound called R-reticuline, which is then transformed into thebaine and ultimately to morphine.Last year, researchers led by Christina Smolke, a synthetic biologist at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, reported that they had given yeast the enzymes needed to carry out the thebaine to morphine steps at the end of the second part of the pathway. And last month, Martin and colleagues reported in PLOS ONE that they had engineered yeast to complete all of the second-half steps moving from R-reticuline to morphine.Meanwhile, the first part of the pathway has been harder to pull off in yeast. Going from glucose to tyrosine is easy: Yeast do that naturally. In 2011, researchers in Japan reported that they got the complete first half of the pathway to work in Escherichia coli bacteria, transforming tyrosine to S-reticuline. But to date that set of steps hasn’t worked well in yeast. The biggest roadblock has been the first step: converting tyrosine into a compound called L-Dopa. When the gene that directs that step is engineered into yeast, the bacterial enzyme works poorly at best, says Pamela Peralta-Yahya, a synthetic biologist at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta.But John Dueber, a bioengineer at Berkeley; DeLoache; and their colleagues caught a break when they were working on a separate project to see whether L-Dopa was present in certain cells. The found that an enzyme, called DOPA dioxygenase, converted L-Dopa into a yellowish pigment. They quickly realized that they could use this enzyme as a color sensor to detect whether any other enzyme was able to convert tyrosine to L-Dopa. An enzyme engineered into yeast allows researchers to see which microbes are making L-Dopa (yellow), a key step in the pathway to making opiates. The opium poppy may soon meet its match. Researchers in the United States and Canada report today that they are closing in on a long-standing goal of engineering a complex suite of genes into yeast that would allow the microbes to synthesize morphine, codeine, and other medicines that have been harvested from poppies since before written history began. The new work holds out the prospect of being able to cheaply and easily produce widely used medicines with new capabilities and fewer side effects. At the same time, policy specialists worry that the new yeast strains could allow narcotics dealers to convert sugar to morphine or heroin as easily as beer enthusiasts create homebrews today.“There really is potential for screwing things up,” says Kenneth Oye, a biotech policy expert at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge. “If you get the integrated pathway for one-pot synthesis of glucose to morphine, that’s not controllable if it gets out. You better darn well get on top of it before that happens,” says Oye, who offers several ideas for increasing oversight of the new biotechnology in a commentary released online today in Nature.Morphine, heroin, and other opiates produced from poppies already wreak plenty of havoc. Some 16 million people worldwide use the drugs illegally. In the United States alone, nearly 14,000 people died from overdoses of heroin and other opiate pain relievers between 2010 and 2012, according to data compiled from 28 states by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Oye says the concern is that those numbers could skyrocket if dealers and users can brew their own drugs. Next, they teamed up with Martin and his Concordia colleagues. The group tested an enzyme from sugar beets called a tyrosine hydroxylase. That beet enzyme was able to convert tyrosine to L-Dopa in yeast, in the process turning the petri dish yellow (see image, above), the team reports today in Nature Chemical Biology. They were able to increase the L-Dopa output by nearly threefold by randomly mutating versions of the enzyme and using their biosensor to track those that worked the best.“It’s very nice work,” Smolke says. For now, she adds, the bacteria still produce higher yields of L-Dopa than the yeast. “But it sets the stage for being able to integrate these pathways in one organism,” Smolke says.For now, the only missing step is being able to convert S-reticuline into R-reticuline, which links the first and second halves of the full pathway. But apparently that’s close at hand as well. Researchers at the University of Calgary have posted an abstract of a Ph.D. dissertation online that says they’ve identified a plant enzyme that carries out this S to R conversion, though the work has yet to be published. Once it is, researchers will be able to insert the gene in yeast, completing the full glucose to morphine pathway. “I think it’s doable within 2 to 3 years,” Dueber says. “This area is moving much faster than we thought.”Social and legal concernsGiven this speed, about a year ago Dueber and Martin reached out to Oye, asking if he would be willing to explore ideas for how the scientific community can prevent engineered yeast from exacerbating the illegal drug trade. In their Nature commentary, Oye and colleagues make several recommendations. First, they suggest that companies that now synthesize and distribute long stretches of DNA should consider carefully reviewing requests for the genes that code for key drugmaking components, and block suspicious requests. Such companies already undertake a similar process for gene sequences involved in microbes that could be used as bioweapons, and voluntarily report requests for such genes to law enforcement agencies.Other possible measures would be to require researchers to engineer morphine producing yeast strains so that they also produce toxins unwanted by homebrewers, or inserting genetic watermarks into the strains to make them easier to track in the event that the strains fall into the hands of outsiders.Although such measures may help deter criminals, any watermarking or toxinmaking genes could also be removed by a trained and skilled microbiologist, Martin notes. One other option for slowing the spread of the technology would be to request that journals not provide the full genetic details of any organisms that can complete the full transformation. (Dueber and Martin say they haven’t yet received any request to omit data.)In the end, a new technology for producing morphine could have a profound impact on law enforcement agencies. But for now, agencies such as the FBI “aren’t recommending any specific regulatory measures,” says Edward You, a supervisory special agent for the FBI’s Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate’s Biological Countermeasures Unit in Washington, D.C. But he says the FBI is already part of an interagency working group, which includes representatives from the National Institutes of Health and other research funding organizations, that is considering ways to keep modified yeast strands out of the hands of illicit drugmakers. And ongoing engagement with scientists and policy analysts “will definitely facilitate those discussions,” You says. “There is a window of opportunity here to negotiate the security issues.”Regulatory backlash?Still, some researchers are concerned that hype over fears of homebrewed heroin could cause a harmful regulatory backlash. “I do believe that a thoughtful discussion of risks, opportunities, and regulatory needs is important with this technology,” Smolke says. However, she says she believes Oye’s commentary, for one, was “inflammatory.” The new technology could, in the long run, bring improvements over the existing poppy-driven drug trade and all the social ills that it brings, she and others note. Lab-derived drugs, for example, could be easier to nations to regulate, and reduce the environmental damage, social unrest, and violence associated with plant-derived drugs.Smolke also emphasizes that researchers remain a considerable distance from putting together the full chain of chemical transformations needed for yeast to make morphine. And if and when that occurs, the organisms will still make only vanishingly small amounts of the drug. “In fact, it is more likely that a person could more easily access morphine by dumping a bunch of poppy seeds in their homebrew (or tea),” she says.The question is, how long will this remain the case?last_img read more

Giant centipedes can kill prey 15 times bigger than they are thanks

first_img Giant centipedes can kill prey 15 times bigger than they are, thanks to this critical toxin Francesco Tomasinelli/Science Source By Katie LanginJan. 22, 2018 , 3:01 PMcenter_img Centipede venoms pack a serious punch—causing rapid paralysis in lizards, cockroaches, and other animals unlucky enough to be on the invertebrate’s dinner menu. They’ve even been known to kill people, but until recently, we had no idea why. Now, scientists have identified a nasty toxin in centipede venom that wreaks havoc on the cardiovascular, respiratory, and nervous systems of other animals—allowing centipedes to kill mice 15 times their size in 30 seconds flat. The team first purified multiple toxins from the venom of the 20-centimeter-long golden head centipede (above), which lives in forests, farmlands, and cities across eastern Asia. Then, they experimented with the toxins, one by one. They found that something called Ssm Spooky Toxin shut off the channels that pump potassium in and out of cells—channels that are critical for sending brainwaves, maintaining a regular heartbeat, and controlling a whole host of other bodily functions, the team reports today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Without this one critical toxin, the venom isn’t nearly as deadly—giving scientists hope that an antivenom treatment could be made using drugs that open potassium channels.(A video of one deadly centipede-mouse encounter has been posted by the scientists here, but it may disturb some viewers.)last_img read more