The logo of US company General Electric is seen at a factory of the group in Montoir-de-Bretagne, western France This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. Citation: General Electric shares rise despite 1Q loss on hefty legal charge (2018, April 20) retrieved 18 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-04-electric-bn-loss-1q-reaffirms.html Slumping industrial conglomerate General Electric won a reprieve on Wall Street Friday after reporting strong results in some divisions even as it suffered a quarterly loss due to a hefty legal charge. Explore further © 2018 AFP GE reports 4Q loss of $9.8 bn on insurance, tax charges GE, which has been hurt by weakness in its power and oil and gas businesses, reported a first-quarter loss of $1.2 billion, due to $1.5 billion in reserves to cover legal settlements connected to a subprime lending unit it exited.However, investors took heart after GE reaffirmed its full-year financial targets and avoided fresh negative surprise announcements that have plagued recent results. Revenues increased 6.7 percent to $28.7 billion.”The first quarter is a step forward in executing on our 2018 plan and we are seeing signs of progress,” said chief executive John Flannery. GE has been signaling for months that its encumbered power division would be an earnings vulnerability for some time to come, but Flannery said Friday that the outlook was even worse than previously thought.The company now expects the overall market for new gas turbine orders to be less than 30 gigawatts, compared with the prior estimate of 30 to 34. Factors driving the weakness include the rising share of renewable energy, energy efficiency efforts and some delays in orders, Flannery said. Since Flannery became CEO last summer, GE has trimmed costs, streamlined its board, cut its dividend and revamped employee compensation. The company also has announced plans to sell $20 billion in industrial assets. Flannery reaffirmed he is open to further overhauling GE, raising speculation of a breakup of the company.”There’s no sacred cows,” he said during a conference call with analysts. “We’re reviewing a number of structures. We’re working through this right now in great detail with the board, including new board members.”GE was the biggest gainer in the Dow, rising 2.8 percent to $14.38 in midday trading.Oil rebound?GE’s other problem division of late, oil and gas, could be poised for a turnaround in the foreseeable future due to strengthening oil prices. Major producers including Saudi Arabia and Russia signaled Friday they plan to extend a production accord to defend higher oil prices.Baker Hughes, an oil services company in which GE holds a majority stake, offered an upbeat outlook when it reported results Friday, saying “market fundamentals remain supportive” due to stable oil prices.GE scored higher profits compared with the year-ago period in four divisions, including healthcare and aviation, which have been the strongest businesses.GE has previously signaled that it expected additional legal costs connected to WMC. In a February US securities filing, the company said it believed the US Department of Justice would assert the company violated US law “in connection with WMC’s origination and sale of subprime mortgage loans in 2006 and 2007.”GE chief financial officer Jamie Miller said the company set aside the $1.5 billion in reserves “based on our discussions with the DOJ and a review of settlements by other banks.”CFRA Research analyst Jim Corridore praised some aspects of GE’s performance and noted that it exceeded its cost-cutting targets. But he cut his earnings estimate and share price target.”Given the severity of the downturns at oil & gas and power, and ongoing losses from GE Capital, we do not think it’s worth wading into the shares despite the below-market valuation,” Corridore said in a note.
A cross-campus collaboration led by Ulrich Wiesner, professor of engineering in the at Cornell University, addresses this demand with a novel energy storage device architecture that has the potential for lightning-quick charges.The group’s idea: Instead of having the batteries’ anode and cathode on either side of a nonconducting separator, intertwine the components in a self-assembling, 3-D gyroidal structure, with thousands of nanoscale pores filled with the elements necessary for energy storage and delivery.”This is truly a revolutionary battery architecture,” said Wiesner, whose group’s paper, “Block Copolymer Derived 3-D Interpenetrating Multifunctional Gyroidal Nanohybrid for Electrical Energy Storage,” was published May 16 in Energy and Environmental Science, a publication of the Royal Society of Chemistry.”This three-dimensional architecture basically eliminates all losses from dead volume in your device,” Wiesner said. “More importantly, shrinking the dimensions of these interpenetrated domains down to the nanoscale, as we did, gives you orders of magnitude higher power density. In other words, you can access the energy in much shorter times than what’s usually done with conventional battery architectures.”How fast is that? Wiesner said that, due to the dimensions of the battery’s elements being shrunk down to the nanoscale, “by the time you put your cable into the socket, in seconds, perhaps even faster, the battery would be charged.”The architecture for this concept is based on block copolymer self-assembly, which the Wiesner group has employed for years in other devices, including a gyroidal solar cell and a gyroidal superconductor. Joerg Werner, Ph.D. ’15, lead author on this work, had experimented with self-assembling photonic devices, and wondered if the same principles could be applied to carbon materials for energy storage.The gyroidal thin films of carbon—the battery’s anode, generated by block copolymer self-assembly—featured thousands of periodic pores on the order of 40 nanometers wide. These pores were then coated with a 10 nm-thick, electronically insulating but ion-conducting separator through electropolymerization, which by the very nature of the process produced a pinhole-free separation layer.That’s vital, since defects like holes in the separator are what can lead to catastrophic failure giving rise to fires in mobile devices such as cellphones and laptops.The next step is the addition of the cathode material—in this case, sulfur—in an amount that doesn’t quite fill the remainder of the pores. Since sulfur can accept electrons but doesn’t conduct electricity, the final step is backfilling with an electronically conducting polymer—known as PEDOT (poly[3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene]).While this architecture offers proof of concept, Wiesner said, it’s not without challenges. Volume changes during discharging and charging the battery gradually degrade the PEDOT charge collector, which doesn’t experience the volume expansion that sulfur does.”When the sulfur expands,” Wiesner said, “you have these little bits of polymer that get ripped apart, and then it doesn’t reconnect when it shrinks again. This means there are pieces of the 3-D battery that you then cannot access.”The group is still perfecting the technique, but applied for patent protection on the proof-of-concept work. , Energy & Environmental Science Researchers create first self-assembled superconductor Explore further The world is a big place, but it’s gotten smaller with the advent of technologies that put people from across the globe in the palm of one’s hand. And as the world has shrunk, it has also demanded that things happen ever faster—including the time it takes to charge an electronic device. More information: J. G. Werner et al. Block copolymer derived 3-D interpenetrating multifunctional gyroidal nanohybrids for electrical energy storage, Energy & Environmental Science (2018). DOI: 10.1039/C7EE03571C A rendering of the 3D battery architecture (top; not to scale) with interpenetrating anode (grey, with minus sign), separator (green), and cathode (blue, plus sign), each about 20 nanometers in size. Below are their respective molecular structures. Credit: Wiesner Group Provided by Cornell University Journal information: Energy and Environmental Science Citation: Self-assembling 3-D battery would charge in seconds (2018, May 17) retrieved 18 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-05-self-assembling-d-battery-seconds.html This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.
German software giant SAP raises dividend So-called “cum-ex” and “cum-cum” deals—complex stock transactions around the days when companies pay out dividends—have cost taxpayers as much as 55 billion euros ($63 billion) in lost revenue or outright fraud since 2001.The schemes were first uncovered in Germany in 2012.But beyond Europe’s largest economy, Thursday’s investigation found evidence of the practices in France, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, Denmark, Belgium, Austria, Finland, Norway and Switzerland.Accounting for the bulk of the total at 46 billion euros, technically legal “cum-cum” tax avoidance exploits varying treatment of domestic and foreign shareholders.Foreign investors holding shares in a company temporarily sell the stock to a bank based in the same country as the firm ahead of the day dividend gets paid out.This allows them to escape higher taxes on the dividend charged to shareholders from abroad, before buying back their holdings quickly afterwards.Such deals deprived Germany of 24.6 billion euros in tax revenue, France 17 billion and Italy 4.5 billion, according to the investigation led by investigative journalism website Correctiv with big-name outlets like German public broadcaster ARD and French newspaper Le Monde.Criminal investigationsMeanwhile, clearly fraudulent “cum-ex” deals draw in more parties in a complex dance around the taxman.Reportedly conceived by well-known German lawyer Hanno Berger, the cum-ex method relies on several investors buying and selling shares in a company amongst themselves around the day when the firm pays out its dividend.The stock changes hands so quickly that the tax authorities are unable to identify who is the true owner.Working together, the investors can claim multiple rebates for tax paid on the dividend and share out the profits amongst themselves—with the treasury footing the bill.This practice cost Germany 7.2 billion euros, Denmark 1.7 billion and Belgium 201 million, the investigation found.Since 2012 six criminal investigations have been opened in Germany, including against tax lawyer Berger and several stock market traders.Norway’s tax authority told AFP that it had uncovered a fraud worth 580,000 crowns ($70,533 or 61,304 euros) in 2013 and blocked several later attempts after a warning from Denmark.The country has since strengthened its surveillance, it added.Meanwhile Danish prosecutors have been studying tax practices around dividends since 2015 and are examining “whether there is a basis for criminal proceedings against people or companies involved,” spokesman Simon Gosvig said.Pierre Moscovici, European Commissioner for economic and financial affairs, tweeted in response to the investigation that European tax authorities should share more information and improve transparency.”If the fraudsters’ imagination is limitless, my determination is as well!” he wrote. Two closely-related tax schemes have helped banks and investors avoid tax or even syphon cash directly out of European treasuries totalling billions more than previously thought, an investigation by 19 media revealed Thursday. So-called “cum-ex” and “cum-cum” deals were first uncovered in Germany in 2001, while a 2018 media investigation found evidence of the practices in France, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, Denmark, Belgium, Austria, Finland, Norway and Switzerland © 2018 AFP Explore further Citation: Mass tax trickery cost Europe 55 bln euros: report (2018, October 18) retrieved 17 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-10-mass-tax-trickery-europe-bln.html This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.
Sweden has the safest roads in the EU, with 25 deaths per million inhabitants, whereas Romania has almost four times as many with 99. Credit: Horizon This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. When you’re sleepy, stressed or have had a few drinks, you’re not in the best position to drive – or even make that decision. But automated cars could soon make that call for you. Provided by Horizon: The EU Research & Innovation Magazine Many drivers are unfit to drive from the beginning of their journey, say researchers. Credit – Takahiro Taguchi/Unsplash This could be alleviated by allowing an automated bus to support the driver – for example through automated docking at bus stops – while ensuring the driver still has control in unforeseen circumstances. Helping the vehicle and the driver to work together can lead to safer roads, she says.IndividualShe also notes that each person varies and reacts differently in both normal and impairment states, such as sleepiness, and therefore the systems should work on an individual level. To measure heart rate variability accurately, for example, information such as age and gender should be included or the initial state of the driver should be used as a reference.”It’s important to develop systems where your individual preferences and behaviours are incorporated,” said Dr. Anund. “So we will also focus on individualising the detection system but also the HMI (human-computer interaction).”If the user can design how they want the communication between human and vehicle to be done, then there’s more trust and acceptance, she explains.Another problem in road safety is driving under the influence of alcohol. About 25% of all road deaths in Europe are alcohol-related. As alcohol concentration in the drivers’ blood increases, the crash rate does too.One of the recommendations to the EU suggested in a 2014 report by Ecorys, a research and consulting company, is to make alcohol interlock devices—in which drivers have to take a breathalyser test before they can start the ignition—mandatory for certain categories of drivers or vehicles, such as repeated drink-driving offenders, professional drivers or commercial good vehicles.Previous studies have shown that alcohol ignition interlock devices are 40%-95 % more effective in preventing drink-driving recidivism than traditional measures such as licence withdrawal or fines. The risk of reoffending is reduced by 28%-65 % when these devices are installed, and rises again if they’re removed.Julian Sofroniev, CEO of Bulgarian company Global Technology Biodit, which manufactures biometric security products, said: “These devices are really important. We could save more than 25,000 lives by preventing car engines to start when people have high levels of alcohol in their blood.”Biodit is developing a device that combines alcohol detection with biometric identification to prevent a drunk driver from starting a vehicle, through a project called PREVENT.The idea is that the ignition lock would replace the start/stop button and would be pressed by the driver when they get into a car. The device would use a laser to measure different physiological parameters – such as heart beats or sweat, for example – and if they’ve had too much to drink then the car’s ignition would simply not start.”In these cases you could call a taxi, but you definitely can’t use your car,” said Sofroniev.To avoid the risk of someone other than the driver taking the test, the device will also use finger vein recognition, where vein patters are matched to records, to confirm the driver’s identity. Blood vessel patterns are unique to each individual and are almost impossible to fake because they are located beneath the skin’s surface.In its first stage of research, PREVENT confirmed a market need for such a device. Consequently, Sofroniev and his team are continuing to develop their device and hope it will hit the market by the end of next year. Explore further Citation: Fit to drive? The car will judge (2019, March 4) retrieved 17 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2019-03-car.html In Europe, more than 25,000 people lose their lives on the road every year, while another 135,000 are seriously injured. The main culprits are speed, alcohol or drug driving, non-use of seat belts, distraction, and fatigue. Europe is the world’s safest region with 49 deaths per million inhabitants, but given that the EU aims to bring road safety deaths down to almost zero by 2050, there is still more to be done.The type of automated cars on the road today provide steering, brake and acceleration support while the driver is still at the wheel and constantly monitors the driving. These are known as level two on the autonomy scale, but cars could reach up to level five on the six-level scale in the future—becoming a completely driverless car.However, we are not there yet and we have to take it step-by-step, says Dr. Anna Anund from the Swedish National Road and Transport Research Institute (VTI).She and her team are developing sensor-based systems as part of the ADAS&ME project to move towards level three, in which the driver can rest and would only be expected to drive when the car requests it.These systems would also automatically transfer control between vehicle and driver to ensure road safety, especially when the driver is sleepy, stressed, distracted or anxious.”We want to make sure that we don’t give the control back to drivers that are not fit to drive, and also that we can use the automated functionality to take over the control if the driver is not fit to drive,” said Dr. Anund. “What we would like to achieve is a safe and acceptable transition in order to avoid severe crashes with people being severely injured or even killed.”UnfitA lot of drivers are unfit to drive from the beginning—sometimes they’re fatigued, sometimes they fall asleep as they drive in the middle of the night, sometimes they’re worried, stressed or inattentive, she explains. A driver’s state, but also other factors, such as their health, what road they are driving on, the weather conditions and what time of the day it is, influence driving and increase the risk of crashes. According to information published by the European Commission, driver fatigue is a major factor in 10%-20% of road crashes. However, because it is hard to measure fatigue or sleepiness, it has received relatively little attention over the years in conjunction with traffic and traffic accidents, says Dr. Anund. The ADAS&ME team are looking specifically at seven different driving scenarios in various vehicles, including cars, trucks, buses and motorcycles.In one scenario, a car needs to take over emergency braking when a driver on a motorway is on their mobile phone and the car in front brakes abruptly. In another, a motorcycle is able to detect that a rider has fainted and turns on the hazard lights, decelerates and pulls over to the side of the road.The systems use many types of sensors to monitor the drivers’ state, such as eye trackers and sensors to measure heart rate and changes in voice or face images, most of which are on the vehicle’s dashboard, wheel or seat. These sensors exist and is matter of using them together in a driving context, says Dr. Anund.Dr. Anund and her team have found that one group of drivers at risk of fatigue are bus driver, whose split shifts affect their sleepiness and performance during afternoon drives.”We know that about 40% of bus drivers in the city have to fight to stay awake 2-4 times a month or more often due to high levels of stress,” said Dr. Anund. Autonomous driving – hands on the wheel or no wheel at all