News Article | April 18, 2017
ODA says that the pushing out apartments in this way creates 30 percent more outdoor space than would have been available without the protrusions (Credit: Miguel de Guzmán) ODA New York has designed an unusual apartment building in Long Island City, Queens, NYC. Named 2222 Jackson, its brutalist-like pixelated design isn't purely aesthetic, but serves a practical purpose too, providing generous outdoor living space for residents in the form of terraces. Like a lot of buildings of this style, 2222 Jackson brings to mind Moshe Safdie's Habitat 67 (or even the game Minecraft if you're unfamiliar with that classic building), but the resemblance is a lot less pronounced than some other firm's projects, such as BIG's King Street West, for example. It takes the basic form of an L-shape, but with apartments pushed out at carefully-calculated points to create a total of 50 terraces. The firm says that playing around with the form of the building like this creates 30 percent more outdoor space than would have been available without the protrusions, while still meeting NYC zoning requirements. Inside, 2222 Jackson has 168,000 sq ft (15,607 sq m) of floorspace, spread over 11 floors. A total of 175 rental units come in studio apartments, and one, two, and three bedroom configurations. Each one boasts floor-to-ceiling windows and high-end appliances. 2222 Jackson is entered by an attractive triple-height lobby and amenities include an indoor pool that sports a large glazed roof for natural lighting, a residents' lounge and fitness center, and a rooftop deck that offers choice views of Manhattan's famous skyline. The project continues ODA's modus operandi of designing buildings with unusual shapes to maximize desirable features. For example, its skinny Manhattan skyscraper "stretches" to offer generous garden space and its waterfront high-rise proposal would twist significantly to offer an excellent view. "ODA rejects what would otherwise be a generic rental box, instead producing a new template for working within common zoning constraints: an axonometric structure with a uniquely articulated facade accommodating substantial outdoor areas (highly coveted though often conventionally impractical amenities in many urban environments)," says the firm in a press release.
News Article | April 19, 2017
The development of rapid diagnostic tests to identify existing and emerging diseases, such as Ebola or SARS, with the same speed and efficiency as a pregnancy test, is being hindered by lack of profile and financial barriers, suggests a joint report from a meeting organised by the Academy of Medical Sciences and the InterAcademy Partnership for Health. Such tests, which can also play a critical role in tackling antibiotic resistance, need to be prioritised by governments and funders internationally alongside drugs and vaccine development to improve global health. The report, 'Improving the development and deployment of rapid diagnostic tests in Low and Middle Income Countries', published today (20 April 2017 in the UK), summarises the conclusions of an international meeting held in London on the 21 November 2016, to discuss the growth of this technology and how rapid diagnostic tests could be accelerated to become widely adopted globally. It highlights the need for the establishment of a new international body to advocate for rapid diagnostic tests, share information and coordinate international research and development efforts. The report also proposes the creation of an Essential Diagnostics List to raise the profile of the most important diagnostics required for a functioning healthcare system, similar to the WHO Essential Medicines List. The major social and global benefits that rapid diagnostic tests can provide, such as targeting the use of antibiotics only to those who will benefit, limiting unnecessary use and delaying the development of antibiotic resistance, were stressed at the meeting. Rapid diagnostics were also described as essential for disease surveillance to support healthcare planning, to spot trends such as antibiotic resistance, and to identify, monitor and control emerging infections such as Zika virus and pandemic influenza. Professor Sanjeev Krishna, Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences, who chaired the meeting, said: "Diagnostics save lives - doctors cannot treat a disease properly unless they know what it is. Rapid diagnostic tests are also essential for tackling major healthcare challenges, such as controlling emerging diseases and reducing antibiotic resistance. "We need diagnostics to move into the spotlight, taking their rightful place as a priority alongside drugs and vaccines to improve global health. Governments around the world will need to prioritise development and implementation of rapid diagnostics, while a new international body is needed to help coordinate global efforts." Financial incentives are also required to encourage companies to develop new tests, the report suggests. Rapid diagnostic tests are not always seen as being a lucrative market for big companies, while smaller companies may not have the resources to scale up production. Rapid diagnostic tests are particularly useful in countries where there are less developed healthcare systems, such as low and middle-income countries. Developing rapid diagnostic tests for these countries is challenging, because they have to be both economical and robust enough to cope with difficult environmental conditions. Professor Sanjeev Krishna, added: "Everyone has heard of a pregnancy test -- a cheap, portable and efficient handheld diagnostic. We need to see more of these types of test developed for infectious diseases and we need to see them used widely in countries with less developed healthcare systems to quickly and cheaply identify disease. "We have seen great successes with rapid diagnostic tests for malaria, HIV and TB, but we need to do more to build on this. Rapid diagnostics tests that can work in real world conditions and can be operated with minimum training could completely transform the way we treat patients, but we need the political will, financial incentive and coordination of effort to move forwards." The report summarises the conclusions of a workshop that brought together 56 experts from countries including the UK, Nigeria, Morocco, Guatemala, Uganda, Philippines, Brazil, Malaysia, Bangladesh and Trinidad and Tobago. The workshop was organised by the Academy of Medical Sciences and the InterAcademy Partnership for Health with funding from the UK Global Challenges Research Fund. To interview a spokesperson, or to request a copy of 'Improving the development and deployment of rapid diagnostic tests in Low and Middle Income Countries', please contact Giorgio De Faveri at email@example.com, +44 (0)20 3141 3206, or Claire Bithell at firstname.lastname@example.org, +44 (0)20 3141 3207. 1. The Academy of Medical Sciences is the independent body in the UK representing the diversity of medical science. Our mission is to promote medical science and its translation into benefits for society. The Academy's elected Fellows are the United Kingdom's leading medical scientists from hospitals, academia, industry and the public service. We work with them to promote excellence, influence policy to improve health and wealth, nurture the next generation of medical researchers, link academia, industry and the NHS, seize international opportunities and encourage dialogue about the medical sciences. http://www. 2. The Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) is a £1.5 billion fund announced by the UK Government to support cutting-edge research that addresses the challenges faced by developing countries through: GCRF forms part of the UK's Official Development Assistance (ODA) commitment, which is monitored by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). ODA-funded activities focus on outcomes that promote the long-term sustainable growth of countries on the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) list. GCRF funding is awarded in a manner that fits with Official ODA guidelines. 3. For more information on the Academy's GCRF programme of workshops please visit http://www. . 4. The InterAcademy Partnership (IAP) is an umbrella organisation that brings together three international network of academies of science and medicine: IAP for Science, IAP for Research and IAP for Health. Its more than 130 national and regional member academies, including 78 in the IAP for Health section, harness the expertise of scientific, medical and engineering leaders to advance sound policies, promote excellence in science education, improve public health and achieve other critical development goals. The InterAcademy Partnership that brought together the three original networks was formally established in March 2016. For more information, see http://www. .
News Article | May 15, 2017
Everything you need to know but were afraid to ask TORONTO, ON--(Marketwired - May 15, 2017) - It's almost Victoria Day weekend, the unofficial start to summer for many of us. That means relaxing in the sun, getting a pedicure and maybe even brightening your teeth for all the vacation pictures you'll take in the weeks ahead. The Ontario Dental Association (ODA) understands wanting to look your best when you say "cheese!", but are your teeth healthy enough? For soft or eroded tooth enamel, sensitive teeth and restorative dental work, tooth whitening products may cause damage to your teeth. Before you slap on a whitening strip, it's important to understand why teeth become discoloured in the first place and the various ways that may be reversed. Teeth aren't naturally white! The search for a bright white smile isn't one based on reality because natural teeth have gray or yellow shades to them. Your skin tone and any use of make-up can also affect how white your teeth appear. How teeth stain. It happens naturally with age, if you drink tea or coffee and if you like to eat certain foods, like berries. They all leave a mark on your teeth over time, as does smoking and chewing tobacco. Surface whiteners include toothpaste or chewing gum containing mild abrasives to help lessen the severity of surface stains but they don't replace a proper cleaning at the dentist. Bleaching products usually have a peroxide base and are safe to use on healthy teeth but can cause irritation in the soft tissues of the mouth, like along the gum line. For the best and safest results, always discuss use of these products with your dentist first. When it comes to brightening your smile, ODA President Dr. Jack McLister says, "It's a good idea to talk to your dentist before undergoing any teeth whitening treatments, either at the dentist's office or doing it yourself at home. They can tell you if your teeth are strong enough to handle bleaching products and which, if any, method is suitable for you and what kind of realistic results you can expect from the treatment." The ODA has been the voluntary professional association for dentists in Ontario since 1867. Today, we represent more than 9,000, or nine in 10, dentists across the province. The ODA is Ontario's primary source of information on oral health and the dental profession. We advocate for accessible and sustainable optimal oral health for all Ontarians by working with health-care professionals, governments, the private sector and the public. For more information on this and other helpful dental care tips, visit www.youroralhealth.ca.
News Article | May 29, 2017
Room-temperature switchable dielectric materials are of interest for many applications, including solar energy storage, smart switches, automatic filters, and next-generation sensors. Here, a temperature-triggered dielectric switchable nanocomposite by dispersing octadecylamine-grafted multiwalled carbon nanotubes (ODA-MWCNTs, for short) into hexadecane is reported. The composite has low permittivity at molten state and high permittivity at frozen state, and the permittivity switch is triggered around 18 °C. The highest permittivity contrast ratio reaches 106.4 at 2.0% CNT volume fraction. The composite shows frequency-sensitive and temperature-ramping-rate-sensitive properties. Further investigation indicates that the permittivity switch is caused by the change of the ODA-MWCNT percolating networks during phase transition.
News Article | May 24, 2017
OTO Development's new AC Hotel in Chapel Hill NC is incorporating modular construction into its build process. Guestrooms were built in a factory in Liverpool PA, then trucked to the jobsite and stacked into place. This is only the second Marriott-branded hotel in the US and the first on the east coast to go modular. Chapel Hill, NC, May 24, 2017 --( Progress, however, had been steadily under way. Guestrooms were indeed being built - but simply out of sight, at a modular manufacturing facility in Liverpool PA rather than on site in bustling downtown Chapel Hill. This OTO Development project - a 4-story, 123-room lifestyle hotel within the Marriott brand portfolio - is the hospitality industry's first modular construction project in the region and, as such, provided Chapel Hill a look at what's become a growing trend amongst hotel developers. Building from Afar While guestrooms didn't show up on the AC Hotel Chapel Hill job site until mid-May, they had begun taking shape elsewhere months before. "Champion started mass production of room modules at our Liverpool facility back in late January," says Chris Waters, Director of Business Development at Champion Commercial Structures. "Everything was completed in a climate-controlled factory - away from inclement weather and other delays typically encountered on conventional jobsites." Building within a controlled environment yields a variety of benefits - accelerated production schedule, better quality control and improved cost efficiencies - while also addressing challenges such as the ongoing shortage of skilled-labor in many markets. OTO Development has developed more than 60 hotels over the past 13 years, but AC Hotel Chapel Hill Downtown is the first time the company has incorporated prefabricated guestrooms into a construction project. It's also the first Marriott-branded project on the east coast to do so - part of Marriott International's recent embrace of modular construction with a goal of signing 50 such projects in 2017. "We'd been watching modular for several years," says Dennis Mitchell, Development Manager at OTO. "Marriott's support for modular construction was key in making the decision. Marriot ran the due diligence, and ran through a lot of the design considerations - the brand was truly a partner in this process." Also partnering with OTO on its initial foray into modular construction were ODA, architectural design; and LeChase Construction Services, general contractor. Ideal for Urban Located at the corner of Rosemary and Church in downtown Chapel Hill, the AC Hotel project makes for a tight, urban job site - a challenging set of circumstances that further encouraged OTO to give the prefab process a go. "Modular construction helps lessen impact on the surrounding neighborhood," Mitchell says. "The noise, construction debris and other disturbances typically generated on a conventional job site were relocated to the manufacturing facility." That all took place at the Champion factory. Typically, it took two weeks for each guestroom module to make it through all stations of the production line. The process of "stacking" these prefabbed rooms began mid-May, as the modules were trucked from the manufacturing site to the job site, then craned in and stacked up over the conventionally-built main level platform. After stacking, further details were completed on site. Wiring, pipes and ductwork for the electrical, communications, plumbing and HVAC systems were connected between guestroom and corridor, then hallways were finished. Exterior siding and trim were installed, followed by the finished roof system. As far as the factory-built guestrooms themselves, the on-site crew merely needed to hang pictures and unbox floor lamps, mini-fridges, coffee tables, safes ... and then bring in pillows, sheets and towels. Rooms to Grow A leading commercial modular supplier, Champion has been serving the hospitality industry for the past five years - and finds it a perfect fit with plenty of room to grow. "Modular hotel guestrooms are nearly an ideal product line for our build process," says Waters, explaining that two finished guestrooms and an unfinished double-loaded corridor are easily shaped within each module. "In simple terms, everything 'stays within the confine of the rectangle' and, essentially, creates a true Lego effect." AC Hotel Chapel Hill Downtown's U-shape structure made this project particularly interesting for Champion. "The design offers insight into the many possibilities of what can be done in a modular scheme," Waters says. "It proves that modular can be used in something other than large rectangular design/build scenarios. The articulation of the stair-type elevation at both ends of the structure is also noteworthy, as it displays the architectural flare that can be achieved with modular." As AC Hotel Chapel Hill Downtown began the stacking process, it seemed as if the project came together right before spectators' eyes. The completed hotel will meld modern architecture with local accents, including a community mural. An AC Lounge, open to guests and locals alike, will feature tapas, light fare, specialty drinks ... and a serving of Southern Hospitality flavored with a hint of European flare. Chapel Hill, NC, May 24, 2017 --( PR.com )-- AC Hotel Chapel Hill Downtown is slated to open late September. And yet, just four short months shy of welcoming its first guests, the hotel job site comprised little more than underground parking and a main level platform - nary a guestroom in sight.Progress, however, had been steadily under way. Guestrooms were indeed being built - but simply out of sight, at a modular manufacturing facility in Liverpool PA rather than on site in bustling downtown Chapel Hill.This OTO Development project - a 4-story, 123-room lifestyle hotel within the Marriott brand portfolio - is the hospitality industry's first modular construction project in the region and, as such, provided Chapel Hill a look at what's become a growing trend amongst hotel developers.Building from AfarWhile guestrooms didn't show up on the AC Hotel Chapel Hill job site until mid-May, they had begun taking shape elsewhere months before."Champion started mass production of room modules at our Liverpool facility back in late January," says Chris Waters, Director of Business Development at Champion Commercial Structures. "Everything was completed in a climate-controlled factory - away from inclement weather and other delays typically encountered on conventional jobsites."Building within a controlled environment yields a variety of benefits - accelerated production schedule, better quality control and improved cost efficiencies - while also addressing challenges such as the ongoing shortage of skilled-labor in many markets.OTO Development has developed more than 60 hotels over the past 13 years, but AC Hotel Chapel Hill Downtown is the first time the company has incorporated prefabricated guestrooms into a construction project. It's also the first Marriott-branded project on the east coast to do so - part of Marriott International's recent embrace of modular construction with a goal of signing 50 such projects in 2017."We'd been watching modular for several years," says Dennis Mitchell, Development Manager at OTO. "Marriott's support for modular construction was key in making the decision. Marriot ran the due diligence, and ran through a lot of the design considerations - the brand was truly a partner in this process."Also partnering with OTO on its initial foray into modular construction were ODA, architectural design; and LeChase Construction Services, general contractor.Ideal for UrbanLocated at the corner of Rosemary and Church in downtown Chapel Hill, the AC Hotel project makes for a tight, urban job site - a challenging set of circumstances that further encouraged OTO to give the prefab process a go."Modular construction helps lessen impact on the surrounding neighborhood," Mitchell says. "The noise, construction debris and other disturbances typically generated on a conventional job site were relocated to the manufacturing facility."That all took place at the Champion factory. Typically, it took two weeks for each guestroom module to make it through all stations of the production line. The process of "stacking" these prefabbed rooms began mid-May, as the modules were trucked from the manufacturing site to the job site, then craned in and stacked up over the conventionally-built main level platform.After stacking, further details were completed on site. Wiring, pipes and ductwork for the electrical, communications, plumbing and HVAC systems were connected between guestroom and corridor, then hallways were finished. Exterior siding and trim were installed, followed by the finished roof system.As far as the factory-built guestrooms themselves, the on-site crew merely needed to hang pictures and unbox floor lamps, mini-fridges, coffee tables, safes ... and then bring in pillows, sheets and towels.Rooms to GrowA leading commercial modular supplier, Champion has been serving the hospitality industry for the past five years - and finds it a perfect fit with plenty of room to grow."Modular hotel guestrooms are nearly an ideal product line for our build process," says Waters, explaining that two finished guestrooms and an unfinished double-loaded corridor are easily shaped within each module. "In simple terms, everything 'stays within the confine of the rectangle' and, essentially, creates a true Lego effect."AC Hotel Chapel Hill Downtown's U-shape structure made this project particularly interesting for Champion."The design offers insight into the many possibilities of what can be done in a modular scheme," Waters says. "It proves that modular can be used in something other than large rectangular design/build scenarios. The articulation of the stair-type elevation at both ends of the structure is also noteworthy, as it displays the architectural flare that can be achieved with modular."As AC Hotel Chapel Hill Downtown began the stacking process, it seemed as if the project came together right before spectators' eyes. The completed hotel will meld modern architecture with local accents, including a community mural. An AC Lounge, open to guests and locals alike, will feature tapas, light fare, specialty drinks ... and a serving of Southern Hospitality flavored with a hint of European flare. Click here to view the list of recent Press Releases from OTO Development
News Article | May 8, 2017
Poverty reduction in the world’s poorest countries risks being diluted by the government’s increasing tendency to devote a bigger slice of Britain’s aid budget to pursuing the national interest, the Institute for Fiscal Studies has warned. The thinktank estimated that overseas development assistance would rise by £1bn during the course of the next parliament as a result of Theresa May’s pledge to continue meeting the United Nations 0.7% aid target. But it said that in recent years less of ODA spending was being channeled through the Department for International Development, with a growing emphasis on ensuring UK firms benefited. In a pre-election analysis, the IFS said Britain’s spending on aid had almost doubled since Tony Blair promised to meet the UN target at the Gleneagles summit in July 2005. Spending had risen in inflation-adjusted terms from £7.4bn to £13.6bn in 2016 and was on course to reach almost £15bn by 2021. Cross-party adherence to the 2005 promise meant that DfID was spared the austerity that affected most government departments after the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition came to power in 2010, the IFS said. DfID’s budget had risen by 24% between 2010-11 and 2015-16, while the average cuts for departments outside of the NHS, education and defence were 28%. But the IFS said there had been a change of emphasis since 2015, with more than a quarter of the aid budget now being spent outside DFID in 2016 up from 14% two years earlier. “So far Theresa May has made it clear that if she wins the election she will uphold the UK’s commitment to spending 0.7% of GNI [gross national income] on ODA”, the IFS report said. “However, across the main parties, there has been little indication of how this money will be spent and what balance they will aim to strike between national interest and global poverty alleviation goals in UK aid spending going forward.” May has been under pressure from some of her own MPs and from Conservative-supporting newspapers to cut aid spending, but announced last month that she would be renewing the 0.7% pledge. Diverting some of the money to other departments – such business, energy and industrial strategy – is seen as a way of blunting the attacks. The IFS said that despite criticism of aid being squandered, overseas assistance was the most heavily scrutinised part of government spending, with oversight from the International Development Committee, the National Audit Office and the Independent Commission for Aid Impact. Sonya Krutikova, an author of the IFS report, said: “The UK is now recognised internationally as leading on shaping the global development agenda and the Department for International Development scores highly on the international Aid Transparency Index. “A change of strategy since 2015 means that more emphasis is now put on using ODA spending for the UK’s national interest. There is clearly a trade-off between this, spending outside of ODA altogether, and ensuring the money is used most effectively for global poverty alleviation.”
News Article | February 15, 2017
AMHERST, Mass. - A new analysis by health policy researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst who studied the effectiveness of the 1983 Orphan Drug Act (ODA) finds that current incentives "are not sufficiently stimulating orphan drug development" by pharmaceutical companies, and patients with rare diseases and conditions still have unmet needs. Further, barriers to ethical and timely access remain. Associate professor Rosa Rodriguez-Monguio and doctoral student Tai Spargo at UMass Amherst's School of Public Health and Health Sciences, with Enrique Seoane-Vazquez of the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, Boston, analyzed all orphan designations and U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approvals since the ODA was enacted in 1983 through 2015. Details appear in a recent issue of Orphanet Journal of Rare Diseases. The researchers say, "Advocates are reluctant to point out any flaws based on the fear of stifling innovation, but with over 6,500 diseases needing treatment, there is evidence to suggest patients' unmet health needs remains a concern and more effective incentives have to be implemented. There is an ethical imperative of addressing patients with rare diseases access to orphan drugs." The definition of orphan drugs was expanded in 1984 to include drugs for any disease or condition affecting fewer than 200,000 people in the U.S. Today more than 6,800 rare diseases and conditions have been identified affecting an estimated 25 to 30 million Americans. Pharmaceutical companies claim that such small populations and difficulty in recovering research and development (R&D) costs contribute to a lack of alternatives for prevention and treatment of rare diseases and conditions. For this work, the researchers conducted a search of peer-reviewed papers on incentives for developing orphan drugs and the ethical dilemmas to be considered when funding research for rare diseases and conditions. Of 262 articles, they identified 24 that met study criteria. Rodriguez-Monguio acknowledge that "regulatory initiatives and R&D efforts during the past three decades resulted in the development and approval of a significant number of drugs for rare diseases and conditions." From 1983-2015, they say, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted 3,647 orphan drug designations and 554 orphan drug approvals. The approvals correspond to 438 different brand names, and 53 branded drugs had more than one orphan approval. The orphan drug approvals targeted 277 rare diseases, with cancer seeing the highest number of approvals, 32 percent of the total. Other high-approval diseases were hemophilia and acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Rodriguez-Monguio says this emphasis on cancer could represent a trend towards more stratified medicine or an attempt by the industry to use ODA incentives to approve oncology drugs for orphan drug indications that, once approved, are often used off-label. However, she and colleagues add, "In spite of the significant increase in the number of orphan drugs approved by the FDA since the enactment of the ODA in 1983 and the faster-than-the-economy increases in orphan drug prices, the economics of the orphan drug market remain controversial among some scholars and stakeholders." They say orphan drugs represent an increasingly important component of the U.S. pharmaceutical market and she challenges the assumption that developing orphan drugs without public support is not profitable for pharmaceutical companies. Indeed, orphan drugs can be profitable even in rare diseases with very small number of patients, she adds. Further, the R&D cost is lower for orphan drugs due to accelerated review processes that allow using surrogate endpoints in clinical trials for rare diseases. The researchers say high drug prices and a favorable reimbursement system for these drugs has brought the companies billions of dollars in revenue. Topics for more attention include that the U.S. and European Union use different methods and population thresholds to determine if a drug qualifies for orphan designation, the authors say. Also, the ethics of resource allocation for funding orphan drugs have not been agreed upon and "there is no consensus" on whether patient population is a justifiable factor in cost-effectiveness. Estimating average cost per patient or per rare disease is challenging, as well, and this average is often skewed by a few patients who require greater resources. "There is not a comprehensive moral or ethical justification for the allocation of these resources codified" by society, they note. The authors call for "a comprehensive understanding of the ethical considerations of access to safe and effective orphan drugs" as research continues and public policies are adopted that could affect patients' ability to afford treatment. Rodriguez-Monguio and colleagues suggest, "While orphan drugs improve the health status and quality of life of patients, the cost of new orphan drugs also limit patients' access to treatment. The unmet needs of patients with rare diseases and conditions suggest that the current financial incentives are not efficiently stimulating orphan drug development and marketing."
News Article | February 12, 2017
Corruption is a curse. It stunts development, breeds conflict in fragile states, makes taxpayers in rich countries dubious about providing aid to poor countries, and gives crooked firms an advantage over those that play by the rules. Governments have become less tolerant of dirty business dealings over time, as Rolls-Royce has found to its cost. The aerospace company – one of the UK’s genuinely world class manufacturing firms – will this week announce one of Britain’s biggest ever corporate losses, in part the result of the £671m cost of settling bribery actions. The cases were brought by the authorities in Britain, Brazil and the US and involve allegations that Rolls bribed middlemen around the world between 1989 and 2013 to win contracts. Warren East, the company’s chief executive, has called the behaviour “completely unacceptable”. America has been at the forefront of the international fight against corruption ever since the passing of 1978 Foreign Corrupt Practices Act which sought to prevent multi-national corporations from bribing crooked officials in order to win contracts. There was an element of self-interest in this. The US was confident that in a fair fight its companies would win overseas contracts more often than not. Corruption simply allowed less well-managed firms to deprive US corporations of deals they would otherwise get. There has also been a recognition that the US will always be out-gunned when it comes to corruption. Despite Eisenhower’s famous warning about the influence of the military-industrial complex, the US system of governance has checks and balances that limit criminal activities. It has suited the US to present itself as the sheriff riding into town to sort out the bad hats. Up until now. Four weeks of Donald Trump’s presidency have put at risk four decades of progress in the fight against corruption and gladdened the heart of every kleptocrat around the world. What’s happened is this. Both houses of Congress have voted to gut a law that would have forced US oil, gas and mining companies to disclose their royalty, licensing and other payments to foreign governments. The law was a bipartisan initiative between Democratic Senator Ben Cardin and former Republican Senator Richard Lugar, and formed an amendment to the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act, the law designed to clean up Wall Street after the financial crisis. The Cardin-Lugar law compelled America’s financial watchdog – the Securities and Exchange Commission – to draw up tough transparency rules for energy and mining companies. Unsurprisingly, the big oil companies were strongly opposed to revealing what they were up to at such a granular level. The American Petroleum Institute, one of the biggest and best resourced lobbying groups on the planet, has opposed Cardin-Lugar from the start, but decided to play a long game. By dragging matters through the courts, the API succeeded in delaying implementation of Cardin-Lugar and as a result the new transparency rules – which would oblige companies to report annually on a project by project basis – were only due to come into force in 2019. The API’s strategy was to delay and hope that something would turn up. Now it has with Trump’s election. The new president has insisted that America has been harming itself with borders that are too porous, trade rules that are too lax, taxes that are too high, and red tape that is too onerous. He can expect the full support of his secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, the former boss of ExxonMobil, a prominent member of the API. The oil and gas lobby group has successfully portrayed Cardin-Lugar as another bit of excessive bureaucracy that will put American companies at a competitive disadvantage. Other countries will not insist on gold-plating anti-corruption rules in such a way, it has insisted. The SEC has now been told to go away and draw up new regulations because Congress says the original plan would have led to rising business costs that would have been bad for growth and jobs. This is nonsense. For a start, companies have all the information readily available and could easily adhere to the Cardin-Lugar law. The red tape argument is a red herring. But there’s a bigger point: to argue that easing up on the fight against corruption is good for business is to turn truth on its head. Corruption is actually very bad for businesses, which is why bodies such as the Paris-based Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development have been so active in trying to tackle it. The cost of corruption is thought to equal more than 5% of global GDP each year – about $2.6tn (£2tn) – and is estimated to raise the cost of doing business by 10% a year. The $1tn paid out in bribes is a tax that is put to no good purpose whatsoever. It builds no schools or hospitals. Corruption is particularly high in the extractives sector. The cost of private sector corruption in developing countries was above $500 bn in 2012 – representing 3.7 times the amount of global official development assistance (ODA) disbursed. Jamie Drummond, director of the campaign group, One, described the decision by Congress as a “really worrying development” that needed to be fought. “It is pro-business and pro-private sector to fight corruption,” he added. All the recent evidence is that what the US does acts as an international benchmark. In 1998, other developed countries, prodded by Washington, signed an international anti-bribery convention that mirrored the US law. What’s more, the SEC and the Department of Justice have not pussy-footed around. They have enforced the law vigorously, imposing massive fines on wrong-doers. This enforcement action has encouraged the authorities in Europe to become more vigilant. The Cardin-Lugar law is a case in point. Europe saw what the Americans were doing and brought in energy transparency and forestry legislation of its own. Following the US lead, the European parliament approved legislation similar to the energy transparency law and included forestry companies to the other natural resources firms that must comply. A number of major extractive companies have publicly supported the SEC’s rule or the very similar laws in the EU and Canada. More than 120 companies have disclosed payments worth more than $150bn in more than 100 countries under the EU’s rules to date. Now the US has signalled that it intends to be less transparent and less rigorous in fighting corruption, companies in other developed countries will get the message. European-based companies are likely to start lobbying their governments for a similar regime to that which operates in the US. Let’s be clear. Cardin-Lugar would not have ended corruption, but it did ratchet up the pressure on those giving bribes and on those receiving them. Trump has been what Lenin called a useful idiot, the unwitting channel for a move that will be bad for development, bad for global security and bad for America.
News Article | February 15, 2017
Make the Effort to Love Your Mouth, All Year Round TORONTO, ON--(Marketwired - February 10, 2017) - It's almost Valentine's Day, a time of enchantment and affection. But how much love and attention do you show your mouth? If you're not making the effort to practice good oral hygiene habits like brushing twice a day, flossing daily and going to the dentist for regular check-ups, then you're falling short of being a good partner in your mouth's fight against tooth decay, gum disease and bad breath. We all know fresh breath and a healthy smile are important, so the Ontario Dental Association (ODA) is passing along some helpful hints on how to be ready for Valentine's Day or any day! ODA President Dr. Jack McLister, says, "While persistent bad breath can be a sign of a more serious health condition, most of the time it's due to poor oral health-care routines. Show your mouth that you care by brushing and flossing every day." The ODA has been the voluntary professional association for dentists in Ontario since 1867. Today, we represent more than 9,000, or nine in 10, dentists across the province. The ODA is Ontario's primary source of information on oral health and the dental profession. We advocate for accessible and sustainable optimal oral health for all Ontarians by working with health-care professionals, governments, the private sector and the public. For more information on this and other helpful dental care tips, visit www.youroralhealth.ca.
News Article | March 3, 2017
It's a Friday night and I'm about to meet a hot date I hooked up with on a dating app. But how do I know he's really who he says he is? After all, online dating fraud is on the rise and it seems easy for people to adopt false identities, stealing photos from other websites and concocting plausible back stories. Luckily, my date seemed legit, but if I'd been concerned I could have used a service like Circle 6. You can let six of your closest friends know where you are at all times, and with just one tap you can contact them should you feel in danger while out on a date. Online dating is a big and growing business - dating apps are worth $2.5bn (£2bn) in the US alone, according to Marketdata Enterprises. New stats from campaign Get Safe Online reveal that seven reports of dating fraud are received by the UK's Action Fraud every day - an increase of 32% over two years. So what are these companies doing to keep their members safe? A few of the smaller apps are using technology such as Jumio, a digital identification service, to filter out scammers. Dating app TrueView, for example, uses it and has adopted a trust score verification system. "We didn't want to create just another dating app, there are tonnes of those," says co-founder Matt Verity. "We wanted to create one where people felt confident about who they're talking to. The more social media accounts you link to it, the more your trust score goes up," says Mr Verity. But social media accounts can be bogus, too, and set up in a matter of minutes, so as well as using Jumio to delve into these accounts, they adopt another layer of identification. "An added level of this trust score is getting users to scan in driving licences and passports - allowing you to verify who you say you are," says Mr Verity. "The more your trust score goes up, the more trustworthy you'll look on the site." Users can then choose to filter out anyone who doesn't have the same level of trust verification as themselves. But, he insists, anyone with a very low level trust score for a long period would be looked into further. Yoti may be useful to check out the credentials of someone you're interested in dating. The app gives anyone the ability to check the name, photo and age of people they meet online. Once you've made contact with someone you can simply send them a text via the app, asking them to verify themselves using a selfie, mobile number and ID, such as a passport. A handful of other small dating sites and apps - Mai Tai for example - use similar verification systems. But VieLoco believes video is also a useful tool. "Live video chat is the best way to discover if someone doesn't look like their photos or behaves how you might expect them to, which may be a sign that you should proceed with caution," says co-founder Nora Lee Notzon. But what are the bigger dating companies doing to ensure our safety? Many issue guidelines, such as never to give out personal information and to watch out for odd language in messages or personal profiles, for example. Many insist they apply security measures, but won't reveal what systems they use. A spokesman for Match.com told the BBC: "We have a dedicated team who monitor security on the site, through both up-to-date technology and human checks. "But, like many companies, we do not disclose details of our security and fraud prevention tools as this provides valuable information to those with criminal intentions." So we just have to trust them? "Bigger organisations will use a variety of datasets as part of their counter-fraud solutions," says Andrew McClelland, chief executive of the Online Dating Association (ODA). "They are able to automate much of this using feeds from data providers that use sources such as the DVLA [the UK's Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency]." While the ODA does provide a code of practice on how dating websites should be run and how they should keep members safe, he admits that it does "require members to carry out checks, but doesn't prescribe how these checks are done". "They definitely have systems in place. However, if revealed, they can easily be mirrored by competitors," says Tom Bourlet, a former digital marketing consultant at a dating website. "Most use photo-recognition software. If the image is a duplicate from another website, it is instantly deleted. We also built an algorithm to read the content for duplication or syndication." Some experts believe dating sites could be doing more to analyse the language people use. Last year Tom van Laer and a group of researchers at London's City University compared tens of thousands of emails pre-identified as lies with those known to be truthful. The algorithm analysed their word use, structure and context for linguistic differences. "Liars cannot generate deceptive emails from actual memory so they avoid spontaneity to evade detection," says Mr van Laer. Algorithms can pick up on these traits, he says. A recent investigation by Wired magazine revealed just how cavalier some of these dating sites services can be with our personal data. And with many dating companies not being transparent about what systems they use to protect us, are we in danger of losing faith in them? A recent YouGov survey revealed that only half of UK consumers are confident that the personal details on someone's dating profile are true. But that doesn't seem to be stopping hundreds of millions of people around the world from using online dating sites and apps. And many have found love through them. But until there is a bulletproof way of weeding out the fraudsters, the advice must be: proceed with caution. Follow Technology of Business editor Matthew Wall on Twitter and Facebook Click here for more Technology of Business features