A cardiac arrestdetecting smart speaker could save your life

first_imgTech improves our lives every day in a million ways beyond simply making things more convenient. Here are the companies and people fighting to make a difference. At UW, a team of researchers have developed a way to transform smart speakers into tools able to monitor people for potential cardiac arrest while they’re asleep. According to recent research, a patient’s bedroom is one of the most common locations for an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest. UW’s tool can carry out this detection without the need for any additional hardware and without touching the user in question. How? By taking advantage of smart speakers’ ability to always listen.The work was carried out by the lab of Shyam Gollakota, an associate professor in UW’s Allen School of Computer Science and Engineering. Gollakota’s team has carried out some fascinating work in the past, such as developing a smartphone app that can hear ear infections: thereby granting ordinary smartphones diagnostic abilities that would normally require specialist tools.“It is known that during a cardiac arrest, victims will … exhibit a symptom known as ‘agonal breathing’”“Smart speakers are increasingly becoming popular,” Gollakota told Digital Trends. “You don’t need them to be recharged, and so they are plugged in all the time. As a result, you don’t need to be worried about power.” Gollakota thinks that smart speakers, properly leveraged by researchers, offer a “unique opportunity in terms of medical diagnosis and care.” It’s one that goes way beyond the largely leisurely space that they currently occupy.The tool the team has developed is, in essence, an app (or, as Amazon’s Echo might term it, a “skill”) that listens for the signature sounds of cardiac arrest. In the event that these are identified, it can call for help: potentially alerting a caregiver or even emergency medical services.“It is known that during a cardiac arrest, victims will stop breathing normally, and in a majority of cases will exhibit a symptom known as ‘agonal breathing,’ a type of disordered gasping sound,” Gollakota said. Editors’ Recommendations Researchers at the University of Washington have developed an algorithm for a smart speaker or smartphone lets the device detect the sound of agonal breathing and call for help. Sarah McQuate/University of WashingtonTo recognize these “agonal” sounds, and differentiate them from the other sounds heard in a bedroom environment, the team developed what is known as a Support Vector Machine or SVM. This is a type of discriminative classifier; essentially a sorting machine which can be given labeled examples of what it is looking for and then categorize any new examples it experiences.“Our technology was tested on agonal breathing sounds obtained from 911 calls to Seattle King County’s EMS services during cardiac arrests from 2009 to 2017,” Gollakota said. “We evaluated our technology on 164 hours of sleep sounds, collected across 35 different bedroom environments, as well as 82 hours of sleep lab sounds where patients had apneas, hypopneas and snoring events. [These] can sound similar to agonal breathing. We showed that we can identify agonal breathing sounds accurately in all these scenarios.”The tool is not quite ready for prime time yet, Gollakota said. “To make the algorithm more robust, we will have to augment more data across different geographical areas beyond Seattle King County,” he noted.Will a similar transformation take place with smart speakers as they move beyond the early novelty phase?Nonetheless, the results prove extremely promising. According to a recent paper published in the journal npj Digital Medicine, the UW team’s tool can detect instances of agonal breathing with 97% accuracy from a distance of up to 20 feet away. They are currently looking to commercialize the technology through a spinoff company called Sound Life Sciences.The next generation of smart speakersThe work of Shyam Gollakota’s lab suggests a promising new way to use smart speakers. As he points out, this category of device is rapidly growing. In the U.S., smart speaker sales — covering the likes of Google Home and Amazon’s myriad Echo devices — are outpacing the adoption of both smartphones and tablets.However, until very recently these devices were largely confined to novelty use cases. Sure, it’s helpful for a smart speaker to set a kitchen timer or to find us the latest Kendrick Lamar track without having to suffer the indignity of physically scrolling down a list on Spotify. But these are not necessarily the “killer apps” that the devices might one day be known for.The Apple Watch. Julian Chokkattu/Digital TrendsA “killer app” is a piece of software or a software feature that’s good enough to sell a device on its own. In the 1980s, personal computers remained the province of hobbyists before a program called VisiCalc came along. VisiCalc was a computer spreadsheet, the first of its kind, which suddenly made owning a personal computer a necessity for anyone who had a small business or simply wanted a better way to manage their finances.More recently, health and wellness has turned out to be an enormous boon for the Apple Watch. Wearables have been around for many years now, but for most of those they remained niche products for tech geeks and, at their more functional, for select fitness freaks. When Apple launched the Apple Watch in 2015, it initially tried to expand wearables’ audience by presenting it as a fashion item. (Remember the $17,000 Apple Watch Edition?) Now, however, it has pivoted and embraced the life-saving features of the device — such as its ECG reader and fall detection — as major selling points. CEO Tim Cook has even said that Apple’s contributions to health care could turn out to be its biggest legacy.Will a similar transformation take place with smart speakers as they move beyond the early novelty phase? Other tools such as the Alexa Guard, which uses the far-field microphones built into Echo devices to listen for glass breaks and alarms from smoke or CO detectors, suggests that manufacturers are looking for more life-changing ways of advancing their products. “You can think of [our tool as being] like Alexa Guard, but now for cardiac arrest detection,” Gollakota said.Being able to say “Alexa, dim the lights and play my after-work playlist” is cool. But being able to say “Alexa, monitor my heart and listen out for other dangers”? That’s a game-changer.center_img Sarah McQuate/University of WashingtonWhether it’s picking the music we want to hear, controlling lights and other connected accessories in our smart home, or searching for a quick piece of information without having to type anything, smart speakers are pretty darn great. But could they soon make the leap from time-saver to life-saver? An innovative research project from the University of Washington suggests the answer may be a resounding yes. The best smart speakers for 2019 Amazon is reportedly planning a bigger, better Echo smart speaker The best smart displays for 2019 will up your smart home game Amazon cuts prices on TP-Link and Kasa smart plugs, light switches, and dimmers Amazon Echo Show 5 reviewlast_img read more

Medicare Spends About As Much Screening For Breast Cancer As Treating It

first_img This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription. Medicare spends $1 billion annually on breast cancer screening, a new study has found. Another report, this one from UnitedHealth, says changes to how the government coordinates patient care could save half a trillion dollars over a decade.Reuters: Medicare Spends $1 Billion On Mammograms: Study”It’s known that we’re spending over $1 billion on treating cancer, but we were surprised to find that we’re also spending over $1 billion for screening,” said Dr. Cary Gross, the study’s lead author from Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. Using a database of Medicare claims between 2006 to 2007, Gross and colleagues tracked about 137,000 women, who did not have breast cancer and who were over 66 years old, to see how much they spent on screening and initial treatment for breast cancer (Seaman, 1/8). MPR News: Changes To Govt. Health Care Could Save On Costs, UnitedHealth Group ReportsA report by UnitedHealth Group said the U.S. could reduce spending on Medicare and Medicaid by doing a better job of coordinating patient care, particularly for those with chronic illnesses such as diabetes. The report’s author, Simon Stevens, said the U.S. could save more than half a trillion dollars over a decade by changing how it cares for patients on those government health plans, which provide coverage for the elderly, disabled, and low income. … Stevens said while budget talks in Washington focused on cutting benefits or doctor’s pay to rein in program costs, there is another way (Stawicki, 1/9). And CMS released it’s annual assessment of Medicare spending –The Medicare NewsGroup: Medicare Sees 2011 Spending Spike While Overall Health Spending Hold SteadyMedicare spending rose an estimated 6.2 percent during 2011, driven by a big jump in payments to skilled nursing facilities, more spending at doctors’ offices and bigger outlays for Medicare Advantage plans, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) reported Monday in its annual survey of projected health spending. The report has projected figures for 2012 forward, and estimated figures for 2011 spending. Medicare’s total outlays reached $554 billion in 2011, an increase of $32 billion from the previous year. The 6.2 percent growth in spending accelerated from an expansion of 4.2 percent in 2010 (Rosenblatt, 1/8). Medicare Spends About As Much Screening For Breast Cancer As Treating Itlast_img read more

Businesses Consider Best Strategies To Cover PartTime Workers Spouses

first_img This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription. Decisions by Target, Home Depot and Trader Joe’s on workers’ insurance have implications for the success of the law.  Politico: In Target’s Wake, Businesses Plot Obamacare Paths Target became the latest big company to follow the old drill: drop health coverage for some workers, blame Obamacare and watch Republicans pounce. Home Depot and Trader Joe’s made similar changes to their health plans last year, and UPS limited coverage for spouses. … While each situation was a little different, the initial conclusion that Obamacare was leaving consumers worse off starts to gets squishy when the details are unpacked. … since many employers are still figuring out how to respond to the new law, it’s worth discerning lessons from Target’s announcement this week (Nather and Winfield Cunningham, 1/24).Also in the news – The Wall Street Journal: H&R Block Tackles Health-Care OpportunityIt is said that the only two certainties in life are death and taxes. A third might be that someone will try to make a buck off the first two. After all, the Grim Reaper doesn’t show up absent some illness or injury, while Uncle Sam requires lots of paperwork to assess his take. Both usually involve professional assistance. And the Affordable Care Act means the $2.8 trillion health-care and $19 billion tax-preparation industries just got much more complicated. Having faced uncertainty, health insurers and hospitals looked like winners in the overhaul. But tax preparers such as H&R Block could be surprise beneficiaries of the law’s heretofore messy implementation (Jakab, 1/26). Businesses Consider Best Strategies To Cover Part-Time Workers, Spouseslast_img read more

First Edition February 12 2014

first_imgToday’s headlines include reports about President Barack Obama’s comments yesterday on his administration’s decision to decision to give mid-sized businesses more time to comply with the health law’s employer mandate. Kaiser Health News: Telemedicine Bolsters ICU Care In Rural Maryland HospitalsReporting for Kaiser Health News, in collaboration with The Baltimore Sun, writes: “A critical care doctor 125 miles away was monitoring the patient’s health via voice, video and high-speed data lines constantly streaming information about vital signs, medications, test results and X-rays, a telemedicine service known as Maryland eCare. The physician quickly verified that the patient had the deadly infection and arranged immediate transfer to another hospital with a surgeon who could remove the infected tissue” (Rubin, 2/12). Read the story.Kaiser Health News: Questions And Answers On The Latest ACA DelayKaiser Health News staff writers Jay Hancock, Julie Appleby and Mary Agnes Carey report: “On Monday the Obama administration announced another delay in rolling out the Affordable Care Act, weakening the requirement to offer coverage next year for large employers and postponing it for smaller ones. Here’s what it means” (Hancock, Appleby and Carey, 2/11). Read the story.The Associated Press/Washington Post: Obama Doesn’t Want Health Law To PunishPresident Barack Obama says he’s giving mid-size businesses more time to comply with his health care law because the goal is not to punish anyone. Obama says the companies are trying to get right with the law and provide insurance for their employees. But they need more time to meet their responsibility (2/11).Los Angeles Times: Obama Says Latest Delay Is ‘Smoothing Out’ Shift To New Health LawPresident Obama said Tuesday the latest delay in implementing his healthcare law is an example of “smoothing out this transition” for a small group of midsize businesses struggling to meet the requirement that they provide health insurance to their employees (Hennessey, 2/11).Politico: Obama: Employer-Based Health Insurance System Not Going AnywherePresident Barack Obama on Tuesday described the latest delay in the implementation of the Affordable Care Act as a way of “smoothing out” the transition to the law and said he doesn’t see the employer-based health insurance system disappearing any time soon. “The goal is to make sure folks are healthy and have decent health care, so this was an example of administratively making sure we are smoothing out this transition giving people the opportunity to get right with the law but recognizing there are going to be circumstances people try to do the right thing and it may take time,” Obama said at a wide-ranging joint press conference with French President Francois Hollande (Epstein, 2/11).The Wall Street Journal: Some Small Firms See Little Relief In Latest Health-Law DelaySmall and midsize businesses stand to benefit the most from the latest delay in the health law’s employer insurance requirement. But farm co-owner Laura Pedersen doesn’t plan to take advantage of it. The Seneca Castle, N.Y., proprietor of a produce and grain farm last year rearranged her employees’ schedules and workloads to keep the farm’s full-time staff below 50 workers. Her goal was to avoid having to start providing insurance or pay a penalty in 2015 under the Affordable Care Act (Needleman and Colvin, 2/11).The Associated Press/Washington Post: Health Care Tweak: Big Companies Get Wiggle RoomBig retail stores, hotels, restaurants and other companies with lots of low-wage and part-time workers are among the main beneficiaries of the Obama administration’s latest tweak to health care rules. Companies with 100 or more workers will be able to avoid the biggest of two potential employer penalties in the Affordable Care Act by offering coverage to 70 percent of their full-timers (2/12).The Wall Street Journal’s Washington Wire: Top White House Aide Defends Health Law DelayA top White House aide defended the Obama administration’s latest decision to delay a part of the Affordable Care Act’s implementation, saying Tuesday that policy makers were trying to create a “smoother transition” for businesses. Gene Sperling, director of the White House’s National Economic Council, also blasted Republicans for criticizing the administration’s decision Monday to give many small businesses additional time to comply with parts of the law (Paletta, 2/11).The New York Times: Creators Still In Demand On Health Care WebsiteAfter denigrating the work of CGI and replacing it as the largest contractor on the federal health care website, the Obama administration is negotiating with the company to extend its work on the project for a few months. And the new prime contractor, Accenture, is trying to recruit and hire CGI employees to work under its supervision. The transition between the two companies has interrupted work on the “back end” of the computer system needed to pay insurers, people involved in the project said Tuesday (Pear and Austen, 2/11).The Associated Press/Washington Post: Md. Lawmaker Wants Probe Of Exchange ProcurementA Maryland lawmaker on Tuesday renewed a call for an investigation into the state’s defective health care exchange with a focus on the procurement process of the exchange’s board, which has approved multimillion dollar contracts (2/11).Los Angeles Times: Vaccination Exemptions Still On States’ Legislative AgendasEighteen state legislatures, including California’s, have considered exemptions to immunization mandates in the last several years — and the issue remains a topic of debate, researchers said Tuesday. Most of the bills introduced in those 18 states sought to expand the exemptions available to school immunization requirements, but none of those bills passed, researchers wrote in the Journal of the American Medical Assn. (MacVean, 2/11).The Washington Post: Va. Legislators Push Flurry Of Bills At Session’s Halfway PointVirginia’s General Assembly plowed through hundreds of bills Tuesday, reaching broad consensus on ethics, school testing and mental health reforms while also picking new partisan fights and bracing for a Medicaid battle that will test Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s ability to work across the aisle. Racing against a deadline to get bills out of one chamber and into the other, legislators put the final touches on measures aimed at limiting gifts to public officials, reducing standardized tests in public schools and improving the handling of psychiatric emergencies — all priorities that enjoy bipartisan support (Vozzella, Laris and Weiner, 2/11).Check out all of Kaiser Health News’ e-mail options including First Edition and Breaking News alerts on our Subscriptions page. First Edition: February 12, 2014 This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.last_img read more

State Highlights A Retreat On Mental Health Funding Big Hospital Insurer Fight

first_img For health-care workers taking care of Ebola patients in West Africa, one of the biggest logistical problems has been the “moon suits” they must wear to protect against being infected by the deadly virus. The suits are hot. Taking them off is a meticulous, multistep process that can leave no room for error. Now, a protective suit designed by a team from Johns Hopkins has been chosen as one of the winners in a global competition for solutions to increase the protection and comfort of front-line workers battling Ebola. (Sun, 12/13) Georgia Health News: Grady Says Figures Prove Blue Cross Is Unfair With Miami Beach employees and retirees locked out of the region’s largest healthcare system — Baptist Health South Florida — city officials on Friday said they will consider switching to a new health plan administrator, even if it costs more. Currently served by Humana, one of the largest health insurers in South Florida, an estimated 1,500 Miami Beach employees, retirees and their dependents enrolled in the city’s health plan essentially have become collateral damage in an on-going disagreement between Humana and Baptist Health. (Chang, 12/12) [E]ven though two more companies have joined the marketplace this year, academic centers such as BJC [HealthCare] and St. Louis University Hospital continue to find themselves on the outside of many insurers’ provider networks. BJC, SLU Hospital and national groups representing medical colleges have many explanations for the exclusions. But experts say it all comes down to pricing. (Shapiro and Liss, 12/14) Grady Health System has released financial data that it says buttresses its argument that it has been paid unfairly by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia. It’s the latest salvo in the contract battle between the major Atlanta safety-net provider and the state’s biggest health insurer. (Millers, 12/12) Fewer states increased their spending on mental health programs this year compared to last year, when a spate of horrific shootings by assailants with histories of mental illness prompted a greater focus on the shortcomings of the country’s mental health system. (Ollove, 12/15) The New York Times: Brownback’s Tax Cuts Not Set In Stone As Kansas Faces Budget Shortfall Stateline: Some States Retreat on Mental Health Funding The Washington Post: Johns Hopkins Team Wins U.S. Award For Improved Suit To Fight Ebola With 320 inmate deaths tallied as of Dec. 8, Florida’s prison system is on track to have the deadliest year in its history. This rise in prison deaths coincides with an aging of the prison population, but also with a doubling of incidents involving the use of force by officers over the past five years. Now, six months after the Miami Herald began an investigation into the questionable deaths of inmates in Florida’s state prisons, the U.S. Department of Justice is gathering evidence for a possible investigation into whether the agency has violated the constitutional rights of prisoners. (Brown, 12/13) Miami Herald: Miami Beach Considers Switching Health Plans center_img State Highlights: A Retreat On Mental Health Funding; Big Hospital, Insurer Fight In Ga. A selection of health policy stories from Georgia, California, Kansas, Missouri, Florida and Maryland. Since the federal health care law expanded Medicaid in some states, about seven million low-income Americans have gained new health insurance. But, in Los Angeles, health officials say that’s not enough and they want to try going further, using Medicaid dollars to pay for housing for the homeless. (Sreenivasan, 12/12) PBS NewsHour: Should A Federal Health Program Pay To House L.A.’s Homeless? Miami Herald: CDC Data Track Hospital-Acquired Infections In Florida, Nation Miami Herald: After Inmate Deaths, Department Of Justice To Probe Florida Prison System Most of Mr. Brownback’s solution to fill the current hole comes through transferring more than $200 million from various state funds, such as one for highway projects and another for early-childhood education programs, into the state general fund. He also ordered a 4 percent budget cut to many, though not all, state agencies. He spared things like classroom funding and Medicaid, which would have sparked a lot of controversy if they were cut. (Eligon, 12/14) St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Teaching Hospitals Left Out In The Push To Cut Insurance Premiums Seven Miami-Dade hospitals fell below national standards for combating infections acquired by patients in hospitals, and patients at one hospital — North Shore Medical Center in Miami — were more likely to develop infections than patients at any other hospital in South Florida, according to data collected by the federal government as part of a national effort to reduce such infections. (Nehamas and Rau, 12/13) This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.last_img read more

Venture Capital Shifts Attention To RareDisease Meds

first_img In other industry news – CVS Health Corp., the largest provider of prescription drugs in the U.S., posted fourth-quarter earnings that beat analyst estimates as demand for drugs outweighed the drop in revenue from a decision to stop selling tobacco products. CVS stopped selling cigarettes in September, making the fourth quarter the first full financial period without any tobacco-related revenue. CVS previously generated about $2 billion annually in tobacco sales. (Cortez, 2/9) Venture-capital funding of drug research and development has shifted in recent years to specialty and rare-disease medicines, according to a report released Monday by BIO, the biotechnology trade organization. Those medicines often carry high price tags that insurers have thus far fought less than some other drugs because there are no or few alternatives. (Sell, 2/10) Reuters: New Wave Of Drugs Poised To Shake Up Glaucoma Treatment Venture Capital Shifts Attention To Rare-Disease Meds According to a report released by BIO, a biotechnology trade group, these medicines are often more expensive but get less insurer push back because less-expensive alternatives are scarce. In addition, new glaucoma treatments are poised to shake up the multi-billion dollar market. For the first time in 20 years, patients suffering from the eye disease glaucoma may soon have new treatments as several young companies look to shake up the $5.6 billion global market. There is no cure for glaucoma, which damages the optic nerve and is expected to affect more than 4 million Americans by 2030, up from 2.7 million today. But treatments help patients manage the disease and may prevent the onset of blindness. (Clarke, 2/10) Bloomberg: Quitting Smoking Has Been Just Fine For CVS The Philadelphia Inquirer: Venture Capital Shifts To Specialty, Rare-illness Drugs This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.last_img read more

Perspectives On Americas Pain Problem Defending Data Sharing

first_img I spent my school years and college in Massachusetts and attended medical school in Poland, the country of my parents. But I trained as a doctor in England. I completed the British equivalent of medical residency in internal medicine in London, and lived there until I came to Boston in August. I returned home to view the provision of health care in the United States through Earl Grey-tinted glasses that make some aspects of our system particularly shocking and others particularly impressive. (Martin Kaminski, 10/31) Someday, researchers doing a cardiovascular trial could easily share their data with others conducting trials on cancer, kidney disease, or even schizophrenia and learn something that hadn’t been known before. These insights may help us design clinically informative trials that are not being misled by false relationships among the data. The problem is that we are in the early stage of the data-sharing process and there are not many examples of insights that have evolved from it. (Jeffrey Drazen and Isaac Kohane, 10/31) WBUR: British Vs. American Health Care, Through One Trainee Doctor’s Eyes  Arizona Republic: Colorado Officials Politely Ask Arizona’s Anti-Marijuana Group To Stop Lying Stat: In Defense Of Data Sharing, But Done In The Right Way Local governments — that is to say, local taxpayers — need to stretch every dollar these days, yet redundant services and duplicate costs continue to burden central Ohioans through overlapping city, county and township fire and emergency medical services. Until now, it’s been hard to pin down the cost of multiple emergency-medical services. But this past week, a Delaware County commissioner released an analysis that showed merging the region’s six independent EMS operations — five operated by townships and one by the city — with the existing county-run EMS would save taxpayers at least $17 million. (11/1) RealClear Health: Why Are We In So Much Pain? Kansas City Star: Medical Theater: The NFL Hopes You Trust Its Inadequate Concussion Test  center_img There are more than 100 million people in chronic pain in the United States. The rate of providing healing is hardly successful. Microglia, the ever-vigilant guardian cells of the central nervous system (CNS), are now providing a clue as to why some of us stay sick and fail to recover. Microglia are thin, thread-like immune cells responsible for collecting debris and pathogens in the brain. They become active in response to any number of stressors on the body, and when properly regulated, secrete inflammatory chemicals that allow for harmful bacteria to be killed, and for healing to occur. (Gary Kaplan, 10/31) Perspectives On America’s Pain Problem; Defending Data Sharing Opinion and editorial writers offer their thoughts on a range of health topics. This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription. The NFL, in its own protocol, says that athletes with concussions can pass the tests partly because, by definition, the in-game testing is brief. To put it as plainly as possible: Doctors using this test to determine whether a man has a concussion cannot know whether that man has a concussion. But off he goes anyway, back into the violent chaos of an NFL game, his potentially damaged brain made more vulnerable to what has been scientifically shown to be exponentially worse damage. (Sam Mellinger, 10/31) The Columbus Dispatch: EMS Mergers Make Sense According to the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, a group of elected officials from Colorado has sent a letter to the leaders of the anti-Proposition 205 group disputing the information (or misinformation) touted in the anti-marijuana campaign of Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy. The letter was sent to Seth Leibsohn and Sheila Polk, leaders of Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy, by Colorado Sen. Pat Steadman and Reps. Millie Hamner and Jonathan Singer. I’ll let you read it and decide. (EJ Montini, 10/31) last_img read more

The Hero from Dragon Quest is coming to Super Smash Bros Ultimate

first_img Sign up for the Mobile NewsletterSign Up Please keep me up to date with special offers and news from Goodtoknow and other brands operated by TI Media Limited via email. You can unsubscribe at any time. Show More Unlike other sites, we thoroughly review everything we recommend, using industry standard tests to evaluate products. We’ll always tell you what we find. We may get a commission if you buy via our price links.Tell us what you think – email the Editor Nintendo’s E3 2019 Direct kicked off with confirmation that ‘The Hero’ from Dragon Quest 11: Echoes of an Elusive Age will be coming to Super Smash Bros Ultimate. The beloved JRPG mascot will be based on his iteration from the latest Dragon Quest, but will seemingly have other forms based on past games with different attacks, animations and aesthetic. We saw some of the upcoming Smash Ultimate character in action alongside an exciting CGI trailer, and he looks super fun to play, with plenty of easter eggs to uncover from the series’ history.From watching back the footage from today’s direct, The Hero will possess a grand-total of seven forms, although some of these will only appear during his Ultimate ability. Either way, it’s lovely to see the series’ history respected in such an awesome way.He will be launching in Summer 2019, although no specific date has been announced. If you already own the Fighter’s Pass, he and all future downloadable content will be available as part of it.We had a lot of fun with Super Smash Bros Ultimate, and here’s a snippet from our review: “Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is the most refined Smash yet. There’s a ridiculous amount of content here and, if you’re a Smash Bros. fan you should absolutely buy this.  Unfortunately, the game loses something when it’s about anything more than its core local multiplayer experience.”Trusted Reviews is at E3 2019 covering all the latest news from major publishers like Xbox, Google, Square Enix, Bethesda and more. Be sure to keep it locked to our gaming section for all the latest news. We’d also like to send you special offers and news just by email from other carefully selected companies we think you might like. Your personal details will not be shared with those companies – we send the emails and you can unsubscribe at any time. Please tick here if you are happy to receive these messages.By submitting your information, you agree to the Terms & Conditions and Privacy & Cookies Policy. This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.last_img read more

Own a Xiaomi Mi 9 SE You may want to avoid this

first_img Sign up for the Mobile NewsletterSign Up Please keep me up to date with special offers and news from Goodtoknow and other brands operated by TI Media Limited via email. You can unsubscribe at any time. A recent software update is forcing select Xiaomi Mi 9 SE’s into an infinite reboot loop, according to fresh reports.The first reports of the issue appeared on the Xiaomi Mi community forum earlier this week and relate to Xiaomi’s latest mi 9se 10.3.1 software update.The post suggests once downloaded affected phones are bricking to display a “the system has been destroyed press power button to shutdown” error message. Pressing the power button reportedly just brings the phone back to the same message.The initial post has attracted 159 replies, with many Mi 9 SE owners reporting suffering the same issue. Trusted Reviews has contacted Xiaomi for comment on the reports and will update this article the moment we hear back.Related: Best cheap phones 2019The Xiaomi Mi 9 SE is an affordable variant of the excellent Xiaomi Mi 9. It pulls the same trick Samsung did with the Galaxy S10e and Galaxy S10, offering a similar design to the company’s flagship but with stripped down specifications and a lower price. The biggest change on the Mi 9 SE is the move to use a less powerful Qualcomm 712 CPU.We’re in the process of reviewing the Mi 9 SE, but considering how much we loved the full fat Mi 9 we have high hopes for the handset. The Xiaomi Mi 9 is one of a select few phones to score 5/5 during our review process. The handset offers top end, flagship phone features and performance but costs a modest £499, making it one of the best value handsets on the market.The news comes straight after Xiaomi unveiled a new line of CC series phones. The CC brand is reportedly designed “for young people”. What this exactly means, or how the CC brand will differentiate from Xiaomi’s existing Mi, Redmi and Mix lines remains to be seen. But the latest rumblings suggest the first CC phone will have an “advanced beauty” mode. Your guess is as good as ours what that means. This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply. We’d also like to send you special offers and news just by email from other carefully selected companies we think you might like. Your personal details will not be shared with those companies – we send the emails and you can unsubscribe at any time. Please tick here if you are happy to receive these messages.By submitting your information, you agree to the Terms & Conditions and Privacy & Cookies Policy. Show More Unlike other sites, we thoroughly review everything we recommend, using industry standard tests to evaluate products. We’ll always tell you what we find. We may get a commission if you buy via our price links.Tell us what you think – email the Editorlast_img read more

WatchToday we begin to fight back Jason Kenneys UCP wins majority in

first_img Jake Edmiston THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson Kevin Libin: On election day, Alberta confronts the betrayal that Notley made possible As Alberta election campaign winds down, Notley stays upbeat while Kenney campaigns deep in NDP territory Colby Cosh: With advance polling, prepare for extra suspense in Alberta’s election The economy has long been top of mind in the province. Since 2016, when the bottom fell out of the international oil market, Alberta has been in a prolonged recession; recovery, economists say, has stalled coming into 2019, with unemployment hovering around seven per cent.Kenney argued Notley’s government made a bad situation worse with higher taxes, more regulations and increases in minimum wage. Notley, in turn, said Kenney’s plan to freeze spending and pursue more private healthcare options would have a profound effect on students and patients.Sarah Hoffman, the former NDP health minister who held onto her seat in Edmonton, had tears in her eyes as she told reporters she was excited, despite it not being the outcome they’d wanted. “Honestly, it’s just so nice to see all the people who had your back,” Hoffman said. “I keep thinking about how we had thousands of more volunteers on this campaign than we did on the last one.”An NDP supporter watches as the polling numbers in Edmonton. Al Charest / Postmedia Twitter It was not a close call. Despite all the hand-wringing, all the reminders that the polls had gotten it wrong in Alberta before, in the end the province’s election unfolded precisely as expected: Jason Kenney’s United Conservative Party won, handily.Just after 4 a.m. MT Wednesday, the UCP led or had been elected in 63 of the province’s 87 ridings, with the NDP, diminished to opposition status after their single term in government, leading or elected in the remaining 24. The NDP looked set to hold nearly all of Edmonton, with the UCP sweeping much of the rest of the province.Kenney entered UCP headquarters at Calgary’s Stampede Grounds Tuesday night in the blue pickup truck he made famous on the campaign trail. As a “build that pipe” chant went up in the room, the UCP leader stopped the crowd to correct them. It’s not just one pipeline we need, it’s several, he said. “It’s build those pipes,” said Kenney.“Today, we Albertans begin to fight back.”Alberta United Conservative leader Jason Kenney on election night at Big Four Roadhouse on the Stampede grounds in Calgary. ‘Today we begin to fight back’: Jason Kenney’s UCP wins majority in Alberta election It was not a close call: Within 45 minutes after polls closed, it was clear Kenney would defeat Rachel Notley and the NDP Kenney has promised that his UCP government will start with a bang, launching a frantic first 100 days of legislation to undo the work of the previous NDP government. Beyond repealing the provincial carbon tax, their first move will be to make law a bill passed last year that would “turn off the taps” on oil and gas shipments to British Columbia, a move Kenney hopes will give him leverage if the west coast province tries to further interfere with the expansion of the Trans Mountain Pipeline.After that, Kenney will begin knocking down the many dominos contained in his massive campaign platform, with a focus on boosting investment in the province. Cutting the corporate tax rate, lowering the youth minimum wage and big push on deregulation are all on the docket in Kenney’s first session.“Tonight I send a message to businesses everywhere: if you want to benefit from what will be the lowest taxes in Canada, a government that will cut its red tape burden by at least one third, with Canada’s best educated population and a deep culture of enterprise and innovation, come to Alberta,” Kenney said in his victory speech.Kenney vowed to push back against environmental campaigns protesting Alberta’s oil industry, announcing plans for a public inquiry “into the foreign source of funds behind the campaign to landlock Alberta energy.”“When multinational companies like HSBC boycott Alberta, we’ll boycott them,” he said.Tuesday’s election is the latest in a series that have seen conservative governments taking power in provinces across the country. While Trudeau once enjoyed close working relationships with Liberal allies like former Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and former Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard, as well as Notley, conservative governments now hold power from Alberta through New Brunswick.With files from The Canadian Press, the Calgary Herald and the Edmonton Journal• Email: tdawson@postmedia.com | Twitter: • Email: sxthomson@postmedia.com | Twitter: stuartxthomson Facebook Share this story’Today we begin to fight back’: Jason Kenney’s UCP wins majority in Alberta election Tumblr Pinterest Google+ LinkedIn Kenney’s victory marked the culmination of a years-long plan. The former Conservative cabinet minister left his seat in Ottawa in 2016 — after holding it for nearly two decades — with hopes of uniting Alberta’s fractured provincial conservative movement. The 2015 election saw the Progressive Conservatives, who had governed the province since 1971, hobbled by a split with the breakaway Wildrose Party. Vote-splitting between the two right-wing parties allowed Notley’s New Democrats to take power for the first time in the province’s history.“As proud of I am of our record, the fact is the people of Alberta have spoken,” Notley, fighting a cold, told supporters at NDP headquarters on Tuesday night. It was a fiery concession speech, with Notley, who retained her seat, vowing to assume the role of opposition leader and “make sure that our vision of Alberta endures.”“I believe we have set a much higher standard for ethics and honesty in government.”Alberta NDP Leader Rachel Notley gives her concession speech following the 2019 election. Stuart Thomson and Recommended For YouDaily horoscope for Saturday, July 20, 2019Indigenous nation in Washington State seeks meeting with feds on Trans MountainU.K. doctor fired after refusing to refer to theoretical ‘six-foot-tall bearded man’ as ‘madam,’ sues governmentBraid: Trudeau paints conservative premiers as a threat to CanadaLashana Lynch will be first black woman to take over role of 007 in spy franchise — but not Bond Jason Franson / The Canadian Presscenter_img Reddit Email Darren Makowichuk / Postmedia She could barely get the opening bits of her speech out through the cheering and chants of “Rachel! Rachel! Rachel!” She thanked the “over-caffeinated, under-showered and overworked” campaign staff and volunteers.The rollicking 28-day campaign in Alberta saw sustained attacks on Kenney’s character, as the NDP unearthed and released controversial comments he made on LGBTQ rights. Kenney insisted it was simply a “fear and smear” campaign, meant to distract from the NDP’s economic record.“It was horrible,” said Dan Rose, a voter in Edmonton, told the Edmonton Journal. “I can’t think of a worse, more negative, more caustic campaign in my time. It was just awful.”Alberta United Conservative supporters cheer on leader Jason Kenney on election night at Big Four Roadhouse. 716 Comments David Bloom / Postmedia April 17, 20199:55 AM EDT Filed underCanadian Politics Tyler Dawson,  Kenney’s victory sets up a long-anticipated fight with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Liberal government in Ottawa. In his time on Alberta’s opposition benches, Kenney seemed to direct as much criticism at Trudeau as at Notley. The primary point of friction has been the federal climate change plan. Kenney has vowed to make scrapping Alberta’s carbon tax his first order of business. That would lead to the federal carbon-pricing plan being imposed in Alberta, but Kenney has vowed that under his leadership Alberta will use the courts to challenge the federal plan’s constitutionality, the same approach taken by Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and New Brunswick.Trudeau was asked in Kitchener, Ont., earlier Tuesday whether he was concerned about his climate plan should Kenney win.“We have chosen to put a price on pollution right across the country and there are conservative politicians who are using taxpayer money to fight a price on pollution in court,” he responded.“They are using your dollars to try to make pollution free again, which makes no sense.”But in a statement late Tuesday, Trudeau took a more conciliatory tone, offering Kenney “sincere congratulations.”“I look forward to working with the provincial government,” Trudeau said, “to create good, middle class jobs, build infrastructure, and grow the businesses and industries at the heart of Alberta’s prosperity so the province can remain competitive in our changing economy.”Alberta NDP Leader Rachel Notley and her son Ethan vote in the provincial election in Edmonton on Tuesday. 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For the first time in 10 years this key yield gauge is

first_img Gregor Stuart Hunter Some of the most accurate gauges of economic health are pricing in lower Fed rates for the first time in more than a decade.The little-known near-term forward spread, which reflects the difference between the forward rate implied by Treasury bills six quarters from now and the current three-month yield, fell into negative territory on Wednesday for the first time since March 2008. Two-year yields dipped below those on one-year paper in December.When market participants expected — and priced in — a monetary policy easing over the next 18 months, their fears were validated more often than not What you need to know about passing the family cottage to the next generation Share this storyFor the first time in 10 years, this key yield gauge is predicting a Fed rate cut Tumblr Pinterest Google+ LinkedIn January 2, 20191:52 PM EST Filed under News Economy Recommended For YouMoody’s to Sell Moody’s Analytics Knowledge Services BusinessU.S. retail sales beat expectations in JuneU.S. import prices post biggest drop in six monthsBevCanna Signs Exclusive Agreement with Dossier CreativeCelgene Selects Lead Oncology Therapeutic Candidate Under Bispecific Antibody Collaboration with Zymeworks More 0 Comments ← Previous Next → Featured Stories Email Twitter For the first time in 10 years, this key yield gauge is predicting a Fed rate cut ‘The market is predicting a rate cut at the beginning part of next year’ Join the conversation → “This is a crystal ball, it’s telling you about the future and what the market thinks of the Fed and what it will do with its policy rate,” Tony Crescenzi, market strategist and portfolio manager at Pimco, said in an interview with Bloomberg TV. “The market is predicting a rate cut at the beginning part of next year.”Federal Reserve economists said looking at forward rates relative to those on current Treasury bills has served traders well in the past.Ten stocks for 2019: What the pros are picking to outperform this year“When market participants expected — and priced in — a monetary policy easing over the next 18 months, their fears were validated more often than not,” Eric C. Engstrom and Steven A. Sharpe wrote in a research paper dated July 2018.When the near-term forward spread turns negative, it indicates bets on easier policy “over the next several quarters, presumably because they expect monetary policymakers to respond to the threat or onset of a recession,” they wrote.We won’t be roaring into the 20s like we did a hundred years ago, we could be stumbling into the 20s, is what the market is saying Money markets have been paring back expectations of rate hikes as economic data weaken and equities whipsaw. Last week, traders priced in no move in the Federal Funds rate this year and more than a 50 per cent chance of a rate cut in 2020.“We won’t be roaring into the 20s like we did a hundred years ago, we could be stumbling into the 20s, is what the market is saying,” said Pimco’s Crescenzi.Bloomberg.com Bloomberg News Reddit advertisement Facebook Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome PowellAP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File Sponsored By: Commentlast_img read more

Trudeau says Canada wants out of 13 billion deal to sell armored

first_img Canada was looking for a way out of a US$13 billion deal to export armored vehicles to Saudi Arabia, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a televised interview Sunday.“We are engaged with the export permits to try and see if there is a way of no longer exporting these vehicles to Saudi Arabia,” Trudeau told CTV on Sunday, without elaborating.Amid growing international outrage over the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the government has been reviewing the planned sale of the armored vehicles made by London, Ontario-based General Dynamics Land Systems, a unit of U.S.-based General Dynamics Corp.General Dynamics Land Systems in London, Ont. Reddit Derek Ruttan/The London Free Press/Postmedia Network What you need to know about passing the family cottage to the next generation More Share this storyTrudeau says Canada wants out of $13 billion deal to sell armored vehicles to Saudi Arabia Tumblr Pinterest Google+ LinkedIn Comment Join the conversation → Trudeau’s administration has said it wouldn’t issue new export permits during its review of the deal, which was signed by the previous government.The Canadian leader had indicated previously that his government’s hands were somewhat tied by the contract, saying it could cost $1 billion to cancel it.“The murder of a journalist is absolutely unacceptable and that’s why Canada from the very beginning had been demanding answers and solutions on that,” Trudeau told CTV.Bloomberg.com Email Bloomberg News Facebook Twitter Trudeau says Canada wants out of $13 billion deal to sell armored vehicles to Saudi Arabia Review of sale comes amid growing international outrage over the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi General Dynamics Land Systems Canada Lav 6 vehicles are shown carrying troops in 2016.Sgt Jean-Francois Lauzé/Combat Camera/General Dynamics December 17, 20187:03 AM EST Filed under News Economy Sponsored By: Natalie Obiko Pearson Recommended For YouGSK’s Dovato meets primary goal in late-stage HIV studyEuro zone growth, inflation outlook cut as risks from U.S. trade growUPDATE 1-WTO members concerned over U.S. farm spending, EU’s Brexit plansTrade, earnings caution weigh on stocks; oil dropsChina makes biggest U.S. sorghum purchase since April as trade talks resume advertisement 0 Comments Featured Stories ← Previous Next →last_img read more

BMW Unleashes The iNext Electric Autonomous SUV At Los Angeles Auto Show

first_imgRemember when BMW’s tagline in all of its ads was “The Ultimate Driving Machine?” That slogan is gone. Now BMW wants you to think of its iNext electric SUV as…The post BMW Unleashes The iNext Electric & Autonomous SUV At Los Angeles Auto Show appeared first on EV Obsession. Source: EV Obsession RSS Feedlast_img

Closer look at Teslas giant new building in Northern California

first_imgSource: Charge Forward Tesla has a giant new building under construction in Northern California. It’s rumored to be a distribution center and/or a manufacturing facility and now we get a closer look with a drone video. more…The post Closer look at Tesla’s giant new building in Northern California appeared first on Electrek.last_img

Electrek Podcast Tesla Model 3 SR ghosted leases new Autopilot strategy and

first_imgThis week on the Electrek Podcast, we discuss the most popular news in the world of sustainable transport and energy, including Tesla’s $35,000 Model 3 broken promise following lineup changes, Model 3 leases being introduced, a new Autopilot strategy, and more. more…Subscribe to Electrek on YouTube for exclusive videos and subscribe the podcast. Source: Charge Forward https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xVp0Cr2Pg4g&t=3308sThe post Electrek Podcast: Tesla Model 3 SR ghosted, leases, new Autopilot strategy, and more appeared first on Electrek.last_img read more

Fu fights back to defeat out of touch OSullivan

first_imgThis article is more than 10 years old Share on Twitter Share via Email Thu 19 Feb 2009 22.16 EST First published on Thu 19 Feb 2009 22.16 EST Snooker Shares00 • Hong Kong player completes eighth win over O’Sullivan• World No2 Maguire comes through against Ding Topics Share on Facebook Clive Everton This article is more than 10 years old Snooker Marco Fu’s 5-3 win over Ronnie O’Sullivan to reach today’s Welsh Open quarter-finals at Newport was his eighth over the world champion in 15 attempts. The world No14 from Hong Kong made a break of 117 in the second frame but trailed 3-1 before clearing up with 44 in the fifth after O’Sullivan had missed a tricky red and then produced a 93 to level at 3-3 after O’Sullivan had jawed a straight pink screwing back.When a basic blue eluded O’Sullivan in the seventh, Fu made 47 to lead 4-3 and completed his win impressively with a 115 break. O’Sullivan said that his disappointing performance “could have something to do with not playing enough lately and not being in touch with the game. I know there’s something I’ve needed to sort out for a while. I haven’t bothered but now I’ve got to solve the problem before [the world championship in] Sheffield.”Stephen Maguire, the world No2, now has a chance to close the gap on O’Sullivan at the top of the rankings after beating Ding Junhui 5-4 from the unpromising position of 2-4, 0-69 before clearing up with 71 in the seventh and adding the remaining two frames without Ding potting another ball. Fu fights back to defeat out of touch O’Sullivan … 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. Since you’re here… Support The Guardian newslast_img read more

SEC Enforcement Director Talks FCPA And Is On The Hot Seat Over

first_imgLast week, Andrew Ceresney testified before the House Financial Services in a hearing titled “Oversight of the SEC’s Enforcement Division.”As highlighted below, Ceresney’s testimony touched upon Foreign Corrupt Practices Act issues and during the hearing Ceresney was on the hot seat regarding the surge in SEC administrative proceedings to resolve enforcement actions.In his written testimony, Ceresney stated as following regarding the FCPA.“Pursuing violations of the FCPA remains a critical part of our enforcement efforts, as international bribery saps investor confidence in the legitimacy of a company’s performance and undermines the accuracy of a company’s books and records, among other negative impacts. The Division, and particularly the specialized FCPA unit, is active in this area, bringing significant and impactful cases, often in partnership with its law enforcement and regulatory counterparts both at home and abroad. Last fiscal year, the Commission obtained orders for over $380 million in disgorgement and penalties in FCPA cases. In FY 2013, the SEC and DOJ released A Resource Guide to the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. The guide takes a multi-faceted approach toward setting forth the statute’s requirements, providing insights into SEC and DOJ enforcement practices.In today’s globalized marketplace, Enforcement’s ability to protect investors and maintain fair and efficient markets is often dependent on the Division’s ability to investigate misconduct that takes place, at least in part, abroad. In coordination with the SEC’s Office of International Affairs, the Division has expanded its efforts to obtain evidence of potential wrongdoing from around the globe. Many of Enforcement’s FCPA investigations rely on evidence obtained from foreign jurisdictions, and often are conducted in parallel with foreign governments. Other areas, such as financial reporting and accounting fraud, asset management, and insider trading, also often rely on evidence obtained through foreign regulators.”Whether many of the SEC’s recent FCPA enforcement actions (such as Bruker Corp., Layne Christensen, Smith & Wesson and one against former employees of FLIR System, Inc ) were “significant and impactful” is of course subject to debate.During the hearing, Ceresney found himself on the hot seat over the SEC’s prominent use of administrative proceedings to resolve enforcement actions.  As highlight in this article, Rep. Scott Garrett (R-N.J.) reportedly stated as follows in an opening statement:“While bringing more cases through the administrative proceedings can lead to lower costs for the agency and increases in efficiency, it’s important to realize that those benefits come with a cost. The cost is less due process protections for defendants.”“Because the SEC’s administrative proceedings use the SEC’s procedural rules, respondents are forced to operate on a condensed timeframe and do not have the benefit of some of the fundamental due process protections under federal civil procedures.”As noted in the article:“Rep. Sean Duffy (R-Wis.) also hammered the agency’s head of enforcement, Andrew Ceresney, over the fairness of administrative law proceedings. Duffy questioned the SEC’s track record in these hearings, in which it won 100 percent of its cases last year.“You won every case. How about with regard to the cases you brought in federal court? One hundred percent there? No, you won 11 out of 18 [cases]. You think there could be any correlation when you actually hire the judges, and you set the rules, that you win all the cases?” Duffy asked somewhat sarcastically.”Concern as to the surge in the SEC’s use of the administrative process to resolve enforcement actions, including in the FCPA context, is warranted.As highlighted in prior posts, of the seven SEC corporate FCPA enforcement actions in 2014, six (86%) were resolved through SEC administrative orders meaning there was not one ounce of judicial scrutiny.Judge Jed Rakoff (S.D.N.Y.) has been among the more prominent critics of this surge. As highlighted in this prior post, Judge Rakoff has asked:  “is the SEC becoming a law unto itself?”last_img read more

Canadian Government Overhauls the Integrity Regime for Suppliers – Still Tough to

first_imgToday’s post is from Milos Barutciski and Matthew Kronby (partners with Bennett Jones in Toronto).It was originally published as a Bennett Jones Client Alert and is reposted below with permission.*****On July 3, the Government of Canada announced a new Integrity Regime to replace the previous rules for debarment (disqualification) from public procurement. The new Regime, which is effective immediately, responds to more than a year of steady criticism of the previous Integrity Framework first established in 2010 by Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC), the principal procuring arm of the Canadian federal government. That criticism, from business, legal and anti-corruption organizations, argued that the Integrity Framework had become so inflexible, punitive and far-reaching that it would be counterproductive to its objectives, namely to deter criminal misconduct and protect the integrity of the public procurement process. Commentators argued that the actual effect of the old Integrity Framework was to make it difficult for the government to find “clean” suppliers and to discourage companies from acknowledging and remediating wrongdoing.The Government signaled its intention to address these concerns in its April 2015 budget. The new Integrity Regime goes a considerable distance to correct many of the problems with the Integrity Framework, but falls short in some critical respects.The Concerns Giving Rise to the New Integrity RegimeUnder the former Integrity Framework, suppliers faced disqualification from PWGSC procurements for fraud or corruption offences they or their affiliates have committed. The definition of “affiliates”, which appears to have been drawn from the U.S. debarment rules, is very broad; it covers all relationships where one entity has the power to control the other or a third party has the power to control both. In 2012, the list of offences that could give rise to debarment was expanded to include the bribery of foreign public officials under the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act and other federal offences.None of this provoked particular concern until March 2014, when PWGSC adopted the latest in a series of “get tough” amendments to the Integrity Framework. One of these amendments imposed a mandatory 10-year ineligibility period for suppliers, with no scope for reduction due either to the gravity of the offending conduct or the remediation efforts of the business involved. In contrast with the U.S. and similar regimes elsewhere, which give credit for mitigating circumstances and remediation efforts in determining or subsequently reducing debarment penalties, companies doing significant business with the Canadian government have had little incentive to admit to and redress corrupt conduct and potentially a strong disincentive to do so.The 2014 amendments also expanded the ineligibility conditions to include foreign offences “similar” to the listed domestic offences. Since the Integrity Framework already extended to the conduct of far-flung affiliates, this meant that Canadian businesses could face automatic 10-year debarments from most federal procurement not only for their own corrupt conduct but for the foreign conduct of remotely related entities over which they exercised no oversight or control. Increasing international enforcement of regulatory laws, such as anti-corruption, economic sanctions, antitrust and competition offences, meant that Canadian companies could face automatic debarment in ever expanding circumstances with no connection to Canada.Key Elements of the New Integrity RegimeThe new Integrity Regime remains under the primary authority of PWGSC and its Minister. The elements of the Regime are set out in a new PWGSC Ineligibility and Suspension Policy. The new Regime introduces key changes in relation to (i) the potential to reduce the length of debarment through remediation in certain circumstances; (ii) interim debarment prior to conviction; (iii) the consequences of “affiliate” conduct, (iv) the impact of conviction for foreign offences, and (v) new administrative and review process within PWGSC.Potential Reduction of 10-year DebarmentThe Regime maintains the 10-year ineligibility period for participation in procurements, which will apply for any convictions for covered offences within the previous three years. However, suppliers, other than those convicted of fraudulent conduct in a government procurement, will have the opportunity to reduce their ineligibility by up to five years by co-operating with law enforcement authorities or implementing appropriate remediation to address the causes of the misconduct. To restore their eligibility, suppliers also will need to obtain independent third-party certification that they have successfully addressed the causes of the misconduct. Suppliers convicted of fraud in connection with Canadian government procurement will remain ineligible indefinitely until they have received a pardon.Ineligibility extends to sub-contractors as well. Suppliers who without prior Ministerial approval perform government contracts using sub-contractors deemed ineligible under the Integrity Regime will themselves face five-year debarments.Interim DebarmentIn addition to the 10-year ineligibility period, suppliers that have been charged with or admitted to any of the covered offences may be suspended from participating in procurement processes pending completion of the criminal proceedings.PWGSC will maintain a list of ineligible and suspended companies and individuals.AffiliatesThe actions of an affiliate no longer render the supplier automatically ineligible. Instead, a supplier will be ineligible for the conduct of an affiliate only where the supplier can be shown to have “directed, influenced, authorized, assented to, acquiesced in or participated in” the conduct that would give rise to ineligibility. The Integrity Regime also establishes a review process under which suppliers will have 30 days to contest determinations of ineligibility based on the conduct of affiliates.Foreign Offences“Similar” foreign offences remain a basis for ineligibility or suspension under the Integrity Regime. The regime now explicitly contemplates an assessment of that similarity as well as the fairness and legitimacy of the proceedings that produced the foreign conviction. However, it is unclear who will be charged with making those assessments; the Ineligibility and Suspension Policy contemplates suppliers hiring independent third parties to provide information about foreign conviction but states rather vaguely that the “opinion of Canada” will be determinative.Administrative ProcessAs under the Integrity Framework, the Government will be able to enter into a contract with an otherwise ineligible supplier where doing so is deemed necessary to the public interest, such as where no other suppliers can perform the contract or where failure to enter into the contract would pose risks to national security or public health.The Regime contemplates the use of administrative agreements imposing conditions and compliance measures that an ineligible supplier must take to have its 10-year ineligibility period reduced or suspension following charges lifted, or when the Government invokes the public interest exemption or maintains an existing contract with a supplier who has become non-compliant. Supplier compliance with these agreements will be subject to independent third-party monitoring.Impact AssessmentThe new Integrity Regime addresses the overreach and potential unfairness that were inherent in the Integrity Framework’s application to foreign convictions of supplier affiliates. More generally, it adds transparency to the process by which ineligibility decisions will be made.The elimination of automatic 10-year ineligibility is also a welcome development as it, to some degree, recognizes and encourages cooperation and remediation efforts by suppliers who have committed listed offences.However, the revised policy fails to make a clear distinction between punishment and deterrence of misconduct (the domain of criminal law) and protecting the integrity of federal procurement and taxpayer dollars (the domain of procurement rules). The growing severity of corporate fines and the risk of individual imprisonment in corporate criminal cases, together with the reputational harm suffered by companies found guilty of white collar crimes, are a very strong deterrent for repeat offences and a general deterrent for other companies. It is unlikely that an automatic five-year debarment from Canadian public procurement will contribute significantly further to deterrence. It will, however, have a detrimental impact on Canadian companies (and their employees) even when they have substantially overhauled their management and practices. The automatic debarment will also harm Canadian taxpayers by eliminating potential suppliers and reducing the number of competitors bidding on public contracts (with the consequential pricing impact of reduced competition).PWGSC’s claim that the new Regime will encourage suppliers to proactively disclose misconduct seems similarly misguided. Unlike the U.S., which can offer deferred or non-prosecution agreements to enable companies that voluntarily confess their sins to avoid debarment, the only benefit the Regime will offer such companies is that their ineligibility period can begin sooner. Those companies will still face a minimum ineligibility period of five years, more than long enough to have serious or even existential consequences if they are heavily dependent on federal procurement contracts. Companies facing legal exposure in Canada or abroad that include potential ineligibility under the Integrity Regime therefore will want to consider their options carefully, with the assistance of expert legal counsel.last_img read more