Beresheet selfie taken just above the moon’s surface SpaceIL/Israel Aerospace IndustriesAfter the spacecraft Beresheet crashed into the moon this month, details are emerging about what may have gone wrong.SpaceIL and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) are performing a preliminary investigation of the causes of the failed landing. “According to preliminary investigation of the Israeli spacecraft Beresheet’s landing maneuver, it appears that a manual command was entered into the spacecraft’s computer,” SpaceIL said in a statement. “This led to a chain reaction in the spacecraft, during which the main engine switched off, which prevented it from activating further.”The investigation into the causes of the issue is ongoing, and the final results of the investigation are expected in the coming weeks.As the investigation continues, NASA scientists will be making an investigation of their own. Included in the equipment aboard Beresheet was a device called a Laser Retroreflector Array (LRA) which was provided by NASA. The device is an array of mirrors which can be used to provide a target for laser tracking and other location systems. As it does not require any power and is designed to be tough and robust, it is possible that the LRA survived the crash and could still be used for its intended function.NASA scientists working on the LRA will be trying to see if the device is intact. “We believe the laser reflector array would have survived the crash, although it may have separated from the main spacecraft body,” David Smith of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, principal investigator of the Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter (LOLA) instrument aboard NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) spacecraft, said to Space.com.“Of course, we do not know the orientation of the array,” Smith said. “It could be upside down, but it has a 120-degree angle of reception, and we only need 1 of the 0.5-inch cubes for detection. But it has certainly not made it any easier.”To search for the LRA, NASA will use its Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. The LRO will send out laser beams generated by the LOLA instrument and see if any of the beams hit the LRA and bounce back. However, the search may take a while as the LRO only passes over the crash site twice each month. Editors’ Recommendations See the impact site where the Beresheet spacecraft crashed into the moon The moon is shrinking as it loses heat, new images reveal Prepare for liftoff! Here are all the moon missions happening in the next decade Beresheet 2.0 won’t go to moon, will have another significant objective instead Orbiter spots Curiosity from space, shows our rover friend on surface of Mars
As is often the case, the news comes from the leaky supply chain around the upcoming smartphone. Case manufacturer Nodus and Forbes claim to have enough insider-info on the iPhone 8 to put together an accurate render of what we can expect. Specifically, Nodus says that, with CAD files detailing the iPhone 8’s design, most of the big questions about the handset’s form-factor can now be answered. In their interpretation, the rear camera will indeed be a dual-lens system as on the current iPhone 7 Plus. Fitting with previous rumors, it’ll be oriented vertically when the iPhone 8 is held in portrait: that could well improve the performance of the Portrait mode and other computational photography features when the iPhone 8 is turned and held in landscape orientation. On the front, meanwhile, gone are the current device’s sizable bezels. They’re shrunk down courtesy of OLED screen technology – which is expected to come, initially, solely from Samsung Display – which also lends its support for non-rectangular aspect ratios. Indeed, the iPhone 8 is expected to have a cut-out on the top of its 5.8-inch screen within which the front-facing camera and other sensors are embedded. Those sensors may well include an iris scanner, or other advanced sensing systems. There’s been much made of Apple’s approach to biometric security in the iPhone 8, particularly given that the smartphone’s full-face display leaves no room for the traditional Touch ID fingerprint sensor embedded in the home button. One possibility that has been well rumored is that Apple will instead look to the security potential of our eyes, or even full 3D facial scanning to go beyond just fingerprints alone. Alternatively, though, according to these rumors the iPhone 8 is expected to have a significantly larger power button on the side. That could well be to increase the size sufficiently to include a new, slim Touch ID sensor. Apple was awarded a patent on just such a design earlier this year. The case sources also claim the iPhone 8 will eschew USB-C, Apple’s port of choice on the MacBook and MacBook Pro, and instead stick with Lightning. Of course, what isn’t uncommon in the run-up to any high profile phone launch is leaks from accessory manufacturers. Often case-makers specifically, they generally operate on a combination of whispers and tidbits from inside phone factories with a generous dose of common sense. After all, as retailers prepare for the inevitable rush on device add-ons, it’s good business practice to have wares already in the market up for order.So, it’s worth taking any case-related leak of this sort with a pinch of salt. All the same, it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that this is accurate. There’s a booming business for paying employees in factories such as Foxconn’s facilities where the iPhone is manufactured. Though Apple and its partners do their level best to clamp down on staff sneaking out diagrams, documentation, and even prototype phones or shells, no production line is entirely watertight. Story TimelineiPhone 8 prototype puts screen in perspectiveiPhone 8 “mirror” variant is just begging to be dirtyiPhone 8 might also have a 3D sensor on its backThis iPhone 8 “preview” will give you goosebumps With all signs pointing to a trio of new Apple smartphones for 2017, the biggest questions have centered not on the largest or smallest, but the mid-sized phone. That’s expected to be the “true” iPhone 8, slotting in-between the refreshed but evolutionary iPhone 7S and iPhone 7S Plus, with a revolutionary design that opens the door to the iPhone’s next decade. Now, one source claims we know what this phone looks like.
Alongside the Google Pixel 2 this October 4th, it’s been tipped that a Google Home Mini will appear. This device will likely be revealed as a smaller version of what’s already out as Google Home, and will be released at a lower price, as a result. Amazon’s strategy with their Echo Dot (with Alexa onboard), the Google Home Mini is tipped to essentially be a smaller, less powerful version of the larger Home device. The Google Home Mini was tipped by a source speaking with Droid Life, pointing them toward an October 4th announcement date. This device would therefore be released right alongside the Google Pixel 2 and the Google Pixel 2 XL. These devices together form VOLTRON! Or a more complete Google Assistant family of devices.Three colors are apparently coming with the Google Home Mini, one each of the following: Charcoal, Chalk, and Coral. The chalk is more like a chalkboard gray, while the charcoal is more black. The Coral is coral, as you’ll see above and/or below. These units will work with Google Assistant, the internet, and a few multicolored LED lights, too!The Google Home Mini is said to be coming to the Google Store for around $50 USD. That’ll match the price of the Amazon Echo Dot, the primary competitor for a device this size with these capabilities. It’s time for this war to continue. Apple, you’re next!For more information on the original Google Home, have a peek at our feature Living with Google Home right this minute. It’s a real hoot and a half.
You can be forgiven if you feel a sense of deja vu. The ARCHOS Hello will probably call to mind the design of Lenovo Smart Display at first glance. Of course, that only lasts for a few seconds until you discover how much longer and narrower ARCHOS’ version is. Depending on which model you get, you either have an 8.4-inch FHD or 7-inch HD display, with a “high fidelity” speaker that’s nearly half the screen’s size.That does mean, or at least is advertised, that the ARCHOS Hello is quite a capable entertainment and productivity home companion. It does, after all, house Google Assistant inside. In fact, it runs Android Oreo, though it remains to be seen just how much of that Android nature will show through. It’s not an Android powerhouse, mind, running on an unnamed quad core processor with 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB of storage. Even mid-range phones probably have more muscle than that. AdChoices广告 Move over smart speakers. Smart displays are in the house! Rated as one of the fastest growing segments in the tech market these days, smart speakers of all shapes, sizes, and prices have invaded both homes and store shelves. At CES last month, Google took up Amazon on its Echo Show challenge and announced a new subclass of connected devices: smart displays. Better late than never, French manufacturer ARCHOS is joining the fray at MWC with its Hello smart display and speaker in one. Not only that, it also has another trendy device to cater to those still holding out for bitcoins and their kin. So what will you be able to do with the Hello? Aside from asking Google Assistant some questions, you can also stream music, make video calls with Google Duo using the 5 megapixel front camera, or watch YouTube for real. But if the small screen is still too small, you can easily cast it to a bigger screen, presuming you have one compatible with Google Cast. The ARCHOS Hello will go on sale in summer for 129.99 EUR ($160) for the 7-inch model and 179.99 EUR ($222) for the 8.4-inch one.ARCHOS also has something for cryptocurrency fans at MWC 2018. Given the surge in popularity and infamy, investors and users will probably want to safeguard their coins and keys. That’s what the puck-shaped ARCHOS Safe-T mini is for. It’s practically a hardware wallet for virtual coins. Technically, it’s an offline wallet that stores your private keys which, in turn, grants access to those coins. Simply attach the Safe-T mini to a computer via micro USB and your private keys are protected from any form of online intrusion while you’re using it. And should it be physically broken or stolen, a recovery seed key grants access to a secure backup. The ARCHOS Safe-T mini launches in June for 49.99 EUR ($62).
The Ins and the OutsThis device looks and feels a lot like a few other devices we’ve seen recently. The Honor Play comes to mind. As does the OPPO F9. But what we’re looking for here isn’t a direct comparison to devices that cost more than the F1. At least not at first. First we’re going to see if this device is worth what it costs.The Poco F1 comes with a body that’s 155.5 x 75.3 x 8.8 mm (6.12 x 2.96 x 0.35 in) large and weighs in at 180 g (6.35 oz). This device has a plastic backside and a Corning Gorilla Glass front (though we’re not quite sure which generation we’re looking at here). Under the glass we have a 6.18-inch IPS LCD capacitive touchscreen with 1080 x 2246 pixels (and a 403 pixels per inch pixel density). More on how it feelsThis smartphone reminds me a lot of phones like the Droid Razr from way back in 2012, and several generations of OnePlus phones that employed either Kevlar fiber backsides or Kevlar fiber official cases. This Poco F1 has a Kevlar fiber backside, and despite the fact that the phone is effectively plastic, it feels pretty generously high quality. Not like it’s made with metal and glass, mind you – but pretty OK. For what it costs, the F1 feels surprisingly robust. Above you’ll see the carbon-fiber-looking body of the device. It’s a relatively soft plastic, and comforting to handle. Gone are the days of hard and shiny plastic nonsense! Hopefully those days are gone, anyway. Also, a curiosity – have a peek above and below. This device has a little pip of plastic popping through its backside. Almost like it’s an industrial design flourish of some sort. We’ll have to dive deeper on this once we’re done with the formal review. We’ve only begun to scratch the surface with this device. We’re getting up close and personal to discover how well this machine was put together and what makes a $340 phone tick. Unlike most smartphones released today, this device is a shock – in a good way. We’ll see if it holds up to scrutiny once we’ve started using it like any other phone. Where and How MuchThe price of this smartphone is right around 300-Euro in several locations throughout the EU, ₹20,999 (Rs) in India, or approximately $340 (or so) if you’re in the USA right now. It’s not currently clear whether this phone will be offered in any other way than on Amazon inside the USA, but we’ll see. If nothing else, we can look to this phone as a sign of things to come. The industry suddenly found that Xiaomi could release a phone that appeared to have current-day specs with a price that’s well below their competition. Other manufacturers won’t take that lightly. Stick around for our full review of the Poco (Pocophone) F1 by Xiaomi. If you’ve got any questions, be sure to let us know! I’d love to run all the tests in the world and snap all the different sorts of photos and such. I’ll be going through the basics in our review, and I’ll be getting to specific questions you, the reader, have as well.EDIT: Whoops! Title was “Popcornphone” when this article was published. Thanks for the tip, SC! Time to start a new smartphone company with an even tastier title! Up front is a single 20MP camera – which is strange, since that’s far larger than what’s on the back, where larger cameras would normally be located. This frontside camera also has f/2.0 aperture and works with a 0.9µm pixel size. So while produced photos are bigger, they’re not necessarily better, since larger pixels are better in the end. Or so we’ve found in the past.This machine uses USB-C and has Bluetooth 5.0, A2DP, aptX HD, FM radio, accelerometer, gyroscope, proximity sensor, barometer, and “infrared face recognition” ready to roll. Location sensing is provided by A-GPS, GLONASS, and BDS (depending on where you’re located, of course). There’s a dual-sim card tray in here, and it’s got some tiny printing on it too. Unfortunately this tray did not have any secret messages written on it (unlike the Pixel, which has Google’s address), but this point is forgivable. Dual-SIM and dual-standby will more than make up for its slightly less fancy “FACE TO SCREEN.”And it has a headphone jack. A precious, fantastic, most beloved headphone jack. Thank you Xiaomi for sticking to your jacks when the world tries to peer-pressure you into cutting back. Keep that jack forever! The Pocophone F1 (aka POCO F1) from Poco by Xiaomi is a lightning bolt that’s shook the lower-end smartphone market worldwide. This device was launched to do battle with brands like OnePlus in India, but with the specifications and price this device is paired with, it’s not difficult to see why it’s made headlines. Today we’re taking a look in the box of the International Edition of the Xiaomi Pocophone F1. Inside is Android 8.1 with MIUI 9.6 (customized specifically for this phone). There’s a Qualcomm SDM845 Snapdragon 845 and either 256GB internal storage with 8GB RAM or 64/128GB internal storage with 6GB RAM. The version we’ve got here has 6GB RAM and 128GB internal storage (ROM). The backside of this phone has two cameras. One is a 12MP, f/1.9, 1/2.55″, 1.4µm, with dual pixel PDAF. The other is 5MP with f/2.0, and 1.12µm – this camera also serves as a depth sensor. These cameras also have a dual-LED flash system and can capture up to 2160p video at 30fps. Story TimelineWhy POCO F1 is the new Android iPhonePoco F1 can beat OnePlus 6: 10 points!POCO F1 teardown will make you wish other phones are like it
The new Surface Studio 2 boasts a display that is 38-percent brighter than the original model, also offering 22-percent better contrast levels and a sleek, modern design. The display supports the Surface Dial and the Surface Pen, the latter of which gets 4,096 levels of pressure with tilt sensitivity.As well, the updated model is said to offer 50-percent faster GPU performance and next-generation Pascal graphics. As demonstrated in the video above, the device is placed on a very flexible hinge, enabling the user to adjust Studio so that it is nearly flat on the surface or positioned fully upright, with other angles between those two also being an option.The new Surface Studio 2 2018 model can be preordered starting today in select markets with everyone else getting access starting early next year. The model is listed with a starting price of $3,499 USD on Microsoft’s website with a November 15 shipping date. The Surface Studio 2, as with the original model, is targeted at artists and other creative professionals who need a high-end display with precision pen capabilities. As the video below shows, the product isn’t limited only to drawing and image editing, though, also being useful for things like Web design. During a press event in New York today, Microsoft unveiled what it calls the “most powerful Surface ever.” The new Surface Studio 2 builds upon the company’s original Surface Studio model, bringing the same foundational experience with updated hardware and faster graphics performance. The display is arguably the most important part of the Studio, and that too has received an upgrade.
The name EQ, says Mercedes-Benz, means Electric Intelligence. It’s all about electric mobility, a new brand for a new age in electric vehicles from the car company. This new brand has been revealed this week alongside a brand new EQ concept car, thus coming in right up against the also-new Volkswagen EV platform/ecosystem by the name of Volkswagen I.D. – “The EV future VW is betting on.” Mercedes-Benz first EQ vehicle – again, a concept, goes by the name “Generation EQ.” Mercedes-Benz Generation EQ vehicle will embody the center of the company’s mobility of the future, said Dr Dieter Zetsche, CEO of Daimler AG and Head of Mercedes‑Benz Cars. “Connected, Autonomous, Shared, and Electric, ‘Generation EQ’ is the logical fusion of all four pillars.”“The emission-free automobile is the future. And our new EQ brand goes far beyond electric vehicles. EQ stands for a comprehensive electric ecosystem of services, technologies and innovations.” AdChoices广告 According to a Mercedes-Benz representative, “CASE – these letters will shape the future of Mercedes-Benz Cars. They stand for the strategic pillars of connectivity (Connected), autonomous driving (Autonomous), flexible use (Shared) and electric drive systems (Electric), which will be systematically advanced and intelligently combined by the company.”Generation EQ is being revealed in Paris this week with the ability to charge inductively (without need for a cable plug-in). This vehicle works with wheelbase, track width, and “all other system components” are what Mercedes-Benz calls “variable.” In this case, that means that the vehicle is part of a modular building-block system of the future. This one vehicle represents a “concrete preview” of a new generation of vehicles from Mercedes-Benz. The company also said this week that the Generation EQ represents the “starting signal” for their new EQ brand, the brand under which the company now places “all its electric-mobility activities.” Mercedes-Benz also made clear this week that their models from the “smart” lineup will also be playing a big role in this EQ future. In Paris the world premiere of the battery-electric versions of smart fortwo, smart forfour, and smart fortwo cabrio make smart the “first and only brand to make its entire portfolio available with both internal combustion engines and electric drive systems.”Stay tuned for more from Mercedes-Benz and the rest of the show this week through our Car Hub. Story Timeline2017 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Cabriolet and S63 AMG Cabriolet First Drive2017 Mercedes-Benz E400 4Matic Wagon is a sexy crossover alternativeMercedes-Benz G550 4×4² makes its US debut in 20172016 Mercedes-Benz S550 Review – Silicon Valley on wheelsMercedes-Benz AMG GT R will leave you green with envyMercedes-Benz Future Bus makes semi-automated trip on public roadsMercedes-Benz Urban eTruck is a fully electric big rigMercedes-Benz Vans Vision Van is all electric and carries drones
Exactly where the evolution started is uncertain, though I suspect the latest-generation of Ford’s F-150 played no small part in it. America’s best-selling vehicle had many iterations in which to demonstrate its workhorse-like talents and general ruggedness, but it was with the 2015 model year and Ford’s huge transition to aluminum that the F-150 broadened its ambitions from trucks to further afield. Though the decision to replace key steel sections of the thirteenth generation F-150 with lighter aluminum was certainly the most controversial aspect of the pickup’s launch, what was going on inside the cabin was arguably equally important. Certainly, what you’d need for work duties was there – the differentials, the off-road modes, and the trailer controls – but they shared space with a dashboard that felt a whole lot like it had been pulled from a Ford car, or at least inspired heavily by that. Factor in luxuries like massage seats, a more advanced touchscreen infotainment system than the FM/AM radio you might expect, and suddenly the F-150 was feeling a lot more grown-up. It worked, too. From the 2015 F-150 on, the idea of a “luxury pickup” was no longer a misnomer. Since then, we’ve seen legitimate high-end brands like Mercedes-Benz weigh in with luxe-trucks of their own – though Mercedes’ X-Class, a collaboration with Renault-Nissan, isn’t available in the US presently – as the segment as a whole raises its game. Towing talent and bed capacity are no longer the only metrics buyers care about. AdChoices广告The new 2019 Ranger, for example, not only follows its bigger F-150 sibling in having a more upscale interior, but Ford is also positioning it at the sort of adventure-loving (and expensive lease signing) millennials and Gen-Xers that might currently be looking at crossovers and small SUVs. That even includes avoiding the entry-level single cab configurations that would be more appealing to traditional pickup buyers. It’s not just Ford, of course. Chevrolet’s new 2019 Silverado billed its cabin technology, ride comfort, and family flexibility just as high as its towing capacity and engine torque when it was revealed at the Detroit Auto Show 2018 last week. The 2019 Ram 1500’s interior offers a vast touchscreen dashboard option, bigger and more flexible than you’d find in most luxury sedans. What’s coming down the line, though, underscores even further the fact that pickups are at a tipping point. Given the uncertainty – and outright ire – from truck traditionalists when automakers dared put turbochargers under the hoods instead of naturally-aspirated engines, the idea of a hybrid or all-electric pickup might seem a non-starter. However that’s just what’s in the pipeline. That Tesla is looking to go all-electric with its planned pickup probably doesn’t come as much of a surprise. Elon Musk has been vocal about wanting to challenge the status-quo in work vehicles for some years now, as the Tesla Semi illustrates. The instantaneous torque of a battery-electric drivetrain would be just as appealing for truck duties like towing, but what’s undoubtedly going to be a high-tech interior combined with the general quiet and refinement of an EV will help single the Tesla pickup out. It’s not just 21st century upstarts like Tesla, mind. Ford has confirmed that it’s working on a hybrid F-150 and, though critics might call that a halfway measure given it’ll still demand gasoline, it’s no small step given the number of trucks the automaker sells each year. Ram has pipped Ford to the post, indeed, with hybrid versions of both the V6 and V8 RAM 1500 set to arrive on forecourts this year.In short, tough emissions regulations, increasingly advanced electrification systems, and a buying audience more comfortable – and more demanding – about what fuel their vehicle runs on and how it cossets them inside are all adding up to a perfect pickup storm. As automakers old and new workshop America’s workhorse for a new generation of drivers, the last category of cars you might have expected to see embrace the future is finally catching up. Given Detroit’s history with the pickup, the fact that the North American International Auto Show 2018 was dominated by trucks probably wasn’t much of a surprise. All the same, it’s telling that these weren’t the rough and ready workhorses of pickup tradition. Consumer demand, more stringent regulations, and an undeniable appetite for raising sticker prices on the forecourt have all forced the unthinkable: the pickup truck is growing up.
Apple has announced its second quarter financial results for the year, revealing quarterly revenue of $58 billion, which includes new record Services revenue at $11.5 billion. Though the quarterly revenue was down 5-percent year-on-year, the company’s earnings met analysts’ expectations, joining strong iPad growth and more. The figures join a strong guidance for the company’s third quarter. Story TimelineApple removes Screen Time rival apps, cites privacy concernsApple hired Intel 5G lead before settling with QualcommThis striking foldable Mac concept imagines Apple’s Marzipan future Apple saw 61-percent of its second fiscal quarter’s revenue come from international sales, the company revealed on Tuesday. Apple had an $11.2 billion operating cash flow in the quarter that ended March 30; it, according to company CFO Luca Maestri, made ‘significant investments in all areas of’ business.Talking about the company’s second fiscal quarter is Apple CEO Tim Cook, who said:Our March quarter results show the continued strength of our installed base of over 1.4 billion active devices, as we set an all-time record for Services, and the strong momentum of our Wearables, Home and Accessories category, which set a new March quarter record. We delivered our strongest iPad growth in six years, and we are as excited as ever about our pipeline of innovative hardware, software and services. We’re looking forward to sharing more with developers and customers at Apple’s 30th annual Worldwide Developers Conference in June.Speaking to CNBC, Cook revealed the company’s performance in China saw an uptick at the end of the second quarter with overall greater results compared to the previous quarter. Of note, however, is that iPhone sales were ultimately down during the company’s second quarter.AdChoices广告Though revenue was down, Apple’s guidance for its third fiscal quarter has exceeded analysts’ expectations, including revenue between $52.5 and $54.5 billion, plus gross margin between 37- and 38-percent, operating expenses between $8.7 and $8.8 billion, and income/expense of $250 million.
For the money, I would gladly upgrade to the Fusion SE that includes a more powerful turbocharged 1.5-liter four-banger with 181-horsepower and 185 pound-feet of torque. It can still achieve 21/34 mpg which is slightly better than the 21/31 mpg of the base motor. For less than $24k you also get larger 17-inch wheels, power-adjustable front seats, a larger 8-inch touchscreen display with satellite radio and six speakers, and Apple CarPlay with Android Auto. The SE is also available in all-wheel drive. If you choose this option, Ford will throw in a lively 2.0-liter turbocharged engine that is good for 240-horsepower and 270-pound feet of torque. The SEL and Titanium trim gets the revised 2.0-liter motor along with standard luxury features such as keyless ignition with remote ignition, heated mirrors, a more powerful audio system, larger 19-inch wheels, ambient lighting, and LED fog lights. Ford is also offering the Fusion in V6 Sport trim. You get a turbocharged 2.7-liter motor with 325-horsepower and 350 pound-feet of torque, standard all-wheel drive, adjustable suspension, and a 12-speaker audio system.But there’s a catch. The V6 Sport Trim is hovering dangerously close to $42,000. In my humble opinion, this is too much money for a midsize sedan, and I would rather fork over $28k or $34k for the Fusion SEL and Titanium, respectively. For the money, the Ford Fusion is still one of the best choices in the midsize segment. This is high praise given the presence of the perennial and updated Toyota Camry and magnificent Honda Accord. What the Mazda6 lacks in comfort, the Ford Fusion more than makes up for it. 2019 Subaru LegacyI have to admit, the 2019 Subaru Legacy caters to a specific niche in the market. It is the only midsize sedan in this comparison that comes standard with all-wheel drive, and it’s a good one at that, if not the best in the market. The only thing that bothers me about the Legacy is the conservative and humdrum styling, especially in base and mid-level trim options.Of course, looks are entirely subjective, but you see where I’m getting at, right? Compared to the sexy Mazda6 and elegant Ford Fusion, the Subaru Legacy sedan is a bit boring. From the side, it even resembles a previous-model Honda Accord. It seems the Subaru Legacy is filling the conservative niche that the new Toyota Camry previously abandoned, and that’s not surprising isn’t it?But for a midsize family sedan that hack it over snow, mud, or rough roads, you can do no better than the Subaru Legacy. Like I said, even the base trim comes standard with symmetrical all-wheel drive and Subaru’s EyeSight driver assist technology that comes with lane keeping assist and sway warning, adaptive cruise control, pre-collision braking, and pre-collision throttle management. The Legacy in base 2.5i trim comes with 17-inch wheels, a 6.5-inch infotainment touchscreen with four speakers, Bluetooth connectivity, and satellite radio. All trim models of the 2019 Subaru Legacy are also equipped with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard equipment, and that’s nice. You get all of this for less than $23k. You also get a 2.5-liter Boxer motor that churns out 175-horsepower and 174 pound-feet of torque, which is mated to a CVT transmission. All of a sudden, the 2019 Subaru Legacy in base trim is starting to look like excellent value, right? The 2.5i Premium trim adds bigger 17-inch alloys, a 10-way power driver’s seat, dual-zone climate control, a leather steering wheel, a larger 8-inch touchscreen interface, and six speakers for less than $25k. The Sport trim starts at less than $27k and adds 18-inch alloys, LED fog lights, and keyless ignition. The Sport model also gets rear cross-traffic alert and blind spot monitoring for added safety. The Limited trim receives an upgraded suspension system along with full leather upholstery and a 12-speaker premium Harman Kardon audio system for less than $30k. Finally, the top-end 3.6R Limited will get you a bigger and throatier six-cylinder Boxer motor with 256-horsepower and 246 pound-feet of torque. With a starting price of around $31,000 the 3.6R Limited also comes with dual exhaust and turn-adapting LED headlights. The base 2.5-liter Boxer motor may be quiet and smooth, but it feels a bit sluggish compared to the four-cylinder motors in the Mazda6 and Ford Fusion. But it can return 34/25 mpg while the six-cylinder Boxer can achieve 28/20 mpg. The CVT is also tame and slow to respond but it does have simulated shifts to make it feel like you’re piloting a proper six-speed auto. When it comes to value, it is hard to ignore the 2019 Subaru Legacy. You will need to pay more money if you want an all-wheel drive Fusion, while the Mazda6 is only sold in front-wheel drive. The Legacy shines when you need it most, such as when faced with rough or demanding terrain.VerdictAll of our three midsize sedan contenders are excellent alternatives to the Camry and Accord. The 2018 Mazda6 is the perfect choice for enthusiast drivers. The 2019 Ford Fusion is an excellent family hauler with decent levels of sportiness. The 2019 Subaru Legacy offers the best bang for the buck in this category. All things considered, though, it’s the Mazda6’s dynamics – and dynamic looks – that push it to the top of our list. On the other hand, I always admired the performance-oriented attitude of the Subaru Legacy. The 2019 Legacy is still a great car to drive and is the only one in this test equipped with standard all-wheel drive. The Ford Fusion can be optioned with a similar drivetrain, but the Mazda6 only comes in front-wheel drive.All of our three contenders have a sub-$24k base price. If you are shopping in this category, both the 2018 models of the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry are the top picks. But if both of those cars are too mainstream for your palate, then the 2018 Mazda6, 2019 Ford Fusion, and 2019 Subaru Legacy are certainly worthy of attention. This is going to be an interesting battle. The 2018 Mazda6 is fresh from a major facelift for the current model year. I personally love this car. I think it’s the best-looking midsize sedan in the market today, apart from the fact it is gifted with an athletic demeanor. However, I also like the 2019 Ford Fusion. This is not because it still resembles an Aston Martin at first glance, but it remains a true driver’s car while still remaining civilized for the daily drive. 2018 Mazda6I’ll give it to you outright: the Mazda6 drives like a dream, but only if you’re the sporty type of driver. This car has the agility and reflexes of the smaller Mazda3. Even the steering feel is better than in the new Mazda MX-5. I know it’s a bold claim, but it’s the truth. Live with it. The 2018 Mazda6 can be driven hard and still ask for more. You can thrash this car the entire day without upsetting the magnificent balance of the chassis. It is a sporty midsize sedan and makes no qualms about it. The 2018 refresh gave the fascia a more refined look, but there’s no mistaking the aggressive face and the sensuous Kodo-inspired curves and body lines. The fact is you can drive the Mazda6 like a hooligan, but you won’t. It is more than that. Previous models were still relatively comfortable despite the sporting apprehensions, and new 2018 model is no different. There is a firmness to the ride that can only be appreciated by those who have driven a Bentley Continental. The ride is smooth but taut, and that’s not a bad thing.The base Sport trim starts at $23,000 and comes with 17-inch alloys, push-button start, a leather steering wheel, and a six-speed manual transmission. Power comes from a SKYACTIV 2.5-liter four-banger with 187-horsepower and 186 pound-feet of torque. The motor can achieve 26/35 mpg, which is above average given the power output. Also standard is an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Bluetooth connectivity and six speakers. You also get blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and a rearview camera. All in all, not bad for a base model, right? But if you don’t like rowing the gears yourself, stepping up for the Touring trim is the better option. You get the same engine in base trim but it comes mated to a slick 6-speed automatic. The Touring version starts at around $25k but includes bigger 19-inch alloys, heated front seats, power controls for the driver seat, proximity keyless entry, and automatic high beams. Also standard is the i-Activsense safety package that includes forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, and lane departure warning with lane keeping assist.The Mazda6 Grand Touring is my personal bet. You get all the goodies in the Touring trim along with a more powerful turbocharged 2.5-liter motor with 250-horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque. Despite the added horsepower, the engine can still return an impressive 23/32 mpg. The engine is mated to a six-speed auto and also comes with an 11-speaker audio system with satellite radio and standard navigation. The Grand Touring Reserve and Signature trim will hover around $31k to $34k and will add luxury features such as a heated steering wheel, memory settings for the driver seat, upgraded leather and interior trim, and LED lighting. Like I said, the Mazda6 is a driver’s car, but it’s still comfortable and relatively practical. If you need a family sedan that drives like a sporty compact, nothing comes close to the 2018 Mazda6. 2019 Ford FusionThe 2019 Ford Fusion is a different sort of animal. The driving experience is similar to the Mazda6, but the sportiness is toned down a bit to deliver more refinement. That’s not a bad thing to have in a midsize sedan. Older models were touted to be sportier and more responsive, but the new Fusion is still dynamically impressive despite the added refinement. All I can say is this: the Ford Fusion is a better driver’s car than the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord. It also comes with a luxurious interior and plenty of space for passengers and cargo. It may be a bit long in the tooth to be quite honest, but Ford managed to keep the Fusion fresh in the eyes of potential buyers. That’s why it’s a bit sad that Ford will stop making cars and sedans in favor of crossovers, SUVs, and electric vehicles. It’s a shame because the second-generation Fusion (released in 2013) is one of the best-looking and best-handling sedans that Ford churned out in the last 15 years or so. The current-generation Fusion is also sold in hybrid and plug-in models, and they’re not bad in the world of eco-conscious vehicles, either.But still, it’s glad to know the Fusion is still here. The base S model comes equipped with a 2.5-liter four-banger that churns out 173-horsepower and 174 pound-feet of torque. The motor is a connected to a six-speed automatic. It’s important to note the base engine in the Fusion is short on power compared to the Mazda6, and you will feel it in the open road. But still, the base trim comes well-equipped with 16-inch steel wheels (nasty), automatic headlights, a 4.2-inch infotainment screen with four speakers, Bluetooth, and a rearview camera for less than $23k. Oh and before I forget, Ford’s Co-Pilot360 Protect driver assist system is standard on the base S trim and includes blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, lane keeping assist, and forward collision mitigation. Higher trim models get an upgraded Ford Co-Pilot360 Assist system that adds dual-zone climate control, Ford Sync, adaptive cruise control, and a navigation system.
BMW Group has teamed with Umicore and Northvolt to develop a “closed life cycle loop” for electric car batteries. This EV battery recycling program includes more than harvesting materials, instead first designating used EV batteries for secondary uses, such as stationary energy storage devices. At the end of this life cycles, the batteries will be harvested for raw materials. The consortium will work on creating recyclable cell designs for these batteries, as well as a manufacturing process for them that primarily uses renewable energy. Following that, these batteries will serve a long period powering electric vehicles, but that won’t be the end of their usefulness.Once no longer suitable for powering cars, the batteries will be put to use as stationary storage devices — that is, as batteries for holding clean energy, such as from solar panels. When no longer useable for storing energy, the batteries will then be recycled, their raw materials harvested, and the product reused.BMW points toward its own existing work on developing battery cells and Northvolt’s focus on sustainable production as two key parts of this project. Umicore is named for its role in recycling resources, as well as developing and producing battery cell materials.BMW says it will be inaugurating a new battery cell centre of excellence next summer. Umicore, meanwhile, plans to construct a cathode material manufacturing plant in Europe soon, and it already has a facility for recycling li-ion batteries. According to BMW, Northvolt’s involvement will include a research facility for testing and industrializing battery cells ahead of mass production.SOURCE: BMW
One of the coolest things that Suzuki has produced in many years is the new Jimny SUV. The Jimny is a tiny SUV that isn’t being sold in the US, and many people are upset by that. Suzuki pulled out of the US market a while back as its sales were poor, but it sounds as if its new SUV might do well here if it had the chance. While the stock Jimny being sold in other parts of the world is interesting in its own right, a heavily modified version has turned up that takes the Jimny to another level. The new version is the Suzuki Jimny Black Bison. It looks like someone wanted a shrunken down Mercedes G-Wagen.Other than the epic looking exterior, the Jimny underneath is standard fare. That means it has a tiny 1.5L four that makes 99 horsepower and 95 pound-feet of torque. Throw a turbo on that four and wring 130hp or so out of it, offer Black Bison style at a reasonable price and this SUV could well mark the successful re-entry of the Suzuki brand into the States.Black Bison was created by a company called Wald and was on display at the 2019 Osaka Auto Messe. It has lots of exterior parts on the outside including LED light bars, a new hood, fancy bumper, a lift, and new wheels and tires.AdChoices广告Wald also fitted a spoiler to the roof of the vehicle. Despite that the vehicle was unveiled at the auto show, it’s not an official Suzuki vehicle. It would be a surprise to see Wald pass on making the Black Bison body components to sell for Jimny buyers down the road.
The Geneva Motor Show 2019 isn’t short on SUVs, but the Alfa Romeo Tonale concept manages to stand out by virtue of its combination of style and brand-firsts. Smaller sibling to the Stelvio, the new compact SUV previews a plug-in hybrid powertrain and a whole new selection of dashboard technology. Read on for what you need to know about the new Tonale. Story Timeline2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Review: The “Sport” in SUV2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio first drive The Tonale is Alfa Romeo’s first plug-in hybridElectrification waits for no automaker, and Alfa Romeo is finally jumping onboard the battery train. The Tonale has the distinction of being the brand’s first plug-in hybrid, pairing a gasoline internal-combustion engine with an electric drivetrain. However Alfa Romeo is playing coy with the actual details, beyond the fact that the gas engine is up front and the electric part is at the rear. How big a gas engine does it have? We don’t know yet. How many electric motors? Alfa isn’t saying. How much horsepower and torque will the whole thing deliver? That, my friend, is a mystery. Meanwhile that vital figure plug-in hybrid buyers always want to know, just how long it will go on a charge under electric power alone, is also unstated. Alfa Romeo just isn’t ready to say.AdChoices广告It’ll be the Alfa Romeo of hybridsThere are hybrids out there with sporting pretensions already, but Alfa Romeo believes the Tonale can still be something different in the category. “The electrification of Alfa Romeo comes at the service of sportiness and emphasizes the famous “Mechanics of Emotions” mission of the brand,” the automaker insists. Key to that are the drive modes.As with previous cars, there’s the Alfa D.N.A. set of modes to choose between. However they’ve been given different interpretations to relate to a hybrid and the various methods of mustering propulsion. “Dynamic” becomes “Dual Power,” for instance, cranking out the maximum from both the gas and the electric engines. “Natural” mode leaves the balance between the two down to the Tonale, which makes selections based on a compromise between performance and economy. “This translates into everyday energy and fuel savings,” Alfa suggests, “but not at the detriment of performance.”Finally, “Advance Efficiency” turns into “Advance E”: it’s the Tonale’s fully electric mode. A new E-mozione buttoned the touchscreen adds different throttle settings, sharper braking, and a more direct steering response for “Dual Power” mode. It’s also Alfa’s first compact utility vehicleAlfa Romeo expanded into SUVs with the launch of the Stelvio in 2017, promising the performance of its sedans and coupes but in a more family-friendly form. The Tonale slots in underneath Stevlio in size, the automaker’s first CUV or “Compact Utility Vehicle,” and it’s a handsome thing indeed.Stelvio cues are there, of course, but this isn’t just a mini-me of the larger SUV. The grille – which Alfa calls its “Scudetto” – has a new design, more three-dimensional than on previous cars. It’s flanked by a “3 plus 3” lighting array, three sections either side. They squint aggressively, with the sharp curve of the hood’s leading edge a permanent frown.At the back, the rear window is topped by a suspended wing. That actually helps bridge the rear glass and the transparent roof Alfa Romeo has used. Heavily stylized rear lighting adds some movement. As for the wheels, their 21-inches keep the phone dial design that the automaker has used since the 1960s, and they still look great. Exclusive Pirelli tires are used. The Tonale cabin sees a big tech upgrade arriveThe current range of Alfa Romeo cars have fairly compact infotainment displays, operated by a circular control wheel. The Tonale, though, kicks things up to a far more technological level. There’s a 12.3-inch digital cluster for the driver, replacing analog gages with a more flexible, customizable display. In the center console, meanwhile, there’s now a 10.25-inch touchscreen. That gets a new infotainment system to play with, including two new features for connected motoring. Alfista is an in-vehicle app which promises to link drivers to lifestyle features around the car and the brand. That includes news and updates, along with access to different events, and even a way to win tickets to VIP Alfa Romeo-sponsored events. Paddock, meanwhile, is an in-vehicle garage and market. There, the automaker says, owners will be able to buy “the latest interior and exterior performance upgrades and equipment.”As for space, Tonale is designed for four adults. There’s plenty of leather and Alcantara, paired with real aluminum and translucent backlit panels. Tonale previews a production car to comeAlfa Romeo is calling Tonale a concept car, but it’s also clear that the automaker has a production version in mind. That’s likely to keep the general look of this compact SUV, though presumably lose some of the more show-friendly detailing like the slender side-mirrors and pop-out door handles. The interior, too, would undoubtedly be toned down. When it might arrive at dealerships is unclear. Alfa Romeo is tight-lipped, unsurprisingly, though the general consensus in Geneva is that the production Tonale could only be a handful of years out. Given how popular the SUV segment is right now, Alfa arguably can’t afford to wait too long to give the Stelvio a sibling. Alfa Romeo Tonale Gallery
As the entity with the biggest influence on what we discover on the Internet, Google is seen both as custodian and also censor of the Wide Wild Web. The latter is an especially thorny subject when it comes to political topics, with the search giant accused of favoring either left or right wing agendas. One of the latest controversies involves images of former US President Bill Clinton and Jeffrey Epstein that certain parties claim have been removed by Google from its search results. The truth, however, might be too simple to be believed. Last weekend, known finacier and registered sex offender Jeffrey Epstein was arrested on charges of sex trafficking of minors. The crime itself was already controversial but netizens may have diverted attention away from the crime and the victims towards political scandal and conspiracy. Epstein has been known to have connections with both President Donald Trump and former president Bill Clinton.Unsurprisingly, media started showing images of Trump with Epstein and, unsurprisingly, not a few wanted to prove that the other side was just as dirty. The lack of photos of Epstein and Clinton together from Google Search, however, irked certain parties who then concluded that the tech company has yet again favored the anti-Trump faction by scrubbing or deindexing those images.Depending on who you ask, that may sound credible or at least a juicy conspiracy theory. Unfortunately, one claim went even further and said that DuckDuckGo, the privacy-respecting “anti-Google” search engine. Unfortunately for those theories, fact-checking site Snopes took on their challenge and searched for “bill clinton with jeffrey epstein” not only on DuckDuckGo but also on Bing, Yahoo, and Russian-based Yandex. The images that did turn up of the two occupying the same physical space turned out to be not so clever edits.AdChoices广告It isn’t the first time that Google has been accused of using its search engine to influence public opinion, either by emphasizing certain results or deindexing others. In this case, however, Google’s own rivals have become proof of innocence. It didn’t scrub any remove images from Search. The images didn’t exist in the first place.
HCA’s Profit Trail: Billing, Staffing And ER Care Changes The New York Times: A Giant Hospital Chain Is Blazing A Profit TrailHCA’s robust profit growth has raised the value of the firms’ holdings to nearly three and a half times their initial investment in the $33 billion deal. The financial performance has been so impressive that HCA has become a model for the industry. Its success inspired 35 buyouts of hospitals or chains of facilities in the last two and a half years by private equity firms eager to repeat that windfall (Creswell and Abelson, 8/14). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.
This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription. States are updating rules to better reflect how the health system has changed as a result of the Affordable Care Act, and the Los Angeles Times takes a look at confusion by doctors, as well as consumers, about who’s in the new networks.The Associated Press: US Law Prods States To Revisit Health Care RulesPrompted by the health care overhaul law, several states are updating their rules for insurance networks to better reflect who is covered and how people shop for and use their benefits. … For example, nurse practitioners and physician’s assistants now provide a significant share of primary care, and many consumers head to urgent care clinics instead of scheduling office visits, he said. And the current focus on hospitals ignores the reality that virtually every service provided during a short-term hospital stay is now available in other settings, including ambulatory surgical centers (Ramer, 5/31).Los Angeles Times: Thrown A Curve By Health NetworksThe problem involves not just consumers who are discovering their doctors are not covered by their plans. Some doctors have themselves been confused about whether they participate in various networks, making it difficult for them to instruct their patients. Other providers are dropping out of networks, leaving patients in the lurch (Zamosky, 5/30). States Focus on Network Adequacy, Other Issues
Today’s headlines include reports that a federal judge in Wisconsin heard arguments in a health law challenge brought by a U.S. senator. Kaiser Health News: In Unhealthy Eastern Tennessee, Limited Patient Options Bring Some Of The Country’s Cheapest PremiumsKaiser Health News staff writer Jordan Rau reports: “Angela Allen’s struggle to ease her neck pain has been a huge pain in the neck. Her regular spine doctor does not accept the new insurance she bought through the federal health marketplace. Allen, who has two slipped disks in her neck vertebrae, said the closest specialist she found who would see her and take her insurance works 34 miles away in another county. She belatedly learned that her physical therapist also is out of network and she owes $900. ‘It’s been a nightmare,’ said Allen, a 42-year-old office manager” (Rau, 7/8).Read the story, which also appeared in The Atlantic.Kaiser Health News: Insuring Your Health: Some Plans Skew Drug Benefits To Drive Away Patients, Advocates WarnKaiser Health News consumer columnist Michelle Andrews writes: “Four Florida insurers allegedly discriminate against people with HIV/AIDS by structuring their prescription drug benefits so that patients are discouraged from enrolling, according to a recent complaint filed with federal officials. The complaint, filed with the Office for Civil Rights at the federal Department of Health and Human Services, claims that the insurers—CoventryOne, Cigna, Humana and Preferred Medical—violated the health law and federal civil rights laws by placing all covered HIV/AIDS drugs, including generics, in the highest drug tiers that require significant patient cost sharing. The complaint was made by the AIDS Institute and the National Health Law Program, which are health advocacy organizations” (Andrews, 7/8). Read the column.The Wall Street Journal: Some Still Lack Coverage Under Health LawMonths after the sign-up deadline, thousands of Americans who purchased health insurance through the Affordable Care Act still don’t have coverage due to problems in enrollment systems. In states including California, Nevada and Massachusetts, which are running their own online insurance exchanges, some consumers picked a private health plan and paid their premiums only to learn recently that they aren’t insured (Armour, 7/7).Los Angeles Times: Healthcare.gov Site Stumps ‘Highly Educated’ Millennials. Here WhyMillennials who struggled to sign up for health insurance on HealthCare.gov have some simple advice for the Obama administration: Make the website more like Yelp or TurboTax. President Obama famously told doubters that they could use the government’s health insurance site to pick a health plan “the same way you shop for a plane ticket on Kayak, same way you shop for a TV on Amazon.” Speaking at a community college in Maryland last fall, he promised that the process was “real simple” (Kaplan, 7/7).The Washington Post: Six Months Into Obamacare, Some D.C. Insurance Brokers Still Wait To Be PaidWhen the District launched its federally mandated health insurance exchange last fall, officials went to great lengths to woo professional insurance brokers — launching a special broker web portal, establishing a “concierge” hotline just for brokers and holding broker-only training classes. Despite those efforts, many brokers have yet to be paid for the policies they’ve sold through the exchange, known as D.C. Health Link — generating frustration among professionals who say their patience in navigating the changes wrought by the Affordable Care Act has not been rewarded (DeBonis, 7/7).The Associated Press: Missouri Governor Vetoes Health Navigator LimitsMissouri Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed legislation Monday that would have limited who could work in the state as a health insurance guide and blamed a national conservative group for injecting an error into the model legislation. The vetoed bill would have required criminal background checks for people applying for state licenses as enrollment aides for a federally run health insurance website. Anyone with past convictions involving fraud or dishonesty would have been barred from the jobs (7/7).Los Angeles Times: Obama Awaits Another Court Ruling That Could Deal Blow To Health LawPresident Obama’s healthcare law could be dealt a severe blow this week if a U.S. appeals court rules that some low- and middle-income residents no longer qualify to receive promised government subsidies to pay for their health insurance. The case revolves around a legal glitch in the wording of the Affordable Care Act, which as written says that such subsidies may be paid only if the insurance is purchased through an “exchange established by the state” (7/7).The Associated Press: Judge Hears Arguments In Health Care LawsuitA Wisconsin senator on Monday argued that his lawsuit challenging rules that call for congressional members and their employees to seek government-subsidized health insurance through small-business exchanges should be allowed to move forward. U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, an Oshkosh Republican, contends the rules twist the Affordable Care Act to ensure senators, representatives and their staffers continue to receive generous health insurance subsidies and place them above the American people (7/7).Green Bay Press/Gazette/USA Today: Senator Gets Day In Court Against ObamacareA federal judge will issue a decision “in short order” on whether a Republican senator’s lawsuit against the Obama administration can proceed. Lawyers on both sides of the issue argued in Green Bay, Wis., for more than two hours Monday over whether U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., was harmed when the administration gave members of Congress and their staff subsidies to help pay for health insurance bought on the exchange (Srubas, 7/7).Los Angeles Times: Abortion Buffer Zone Laws Begin Falling After Supreme Court RulingLess than two weeks after a Supreme Court ruling struck down a Massachusetts law requiring protesters to stay outside a 35-foot buffer zone around abortion clinics, cities around the country are moving to repeal similar laws or are not enforcing the buffer zones. That is leading abortion rights advocates to worry that women may not seek the medical care they need because of fear of being harassed or intimidated outside clinics (Semuels, 7/7).Politico: Harry Reid: ‘We’re Going To Do Something’ On Hobby LobbySenate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Monday that Democrats will take up legislation in the “coming weeks” to address last month’s Supreme Court decision that allowed some employers with religious objections to opt out of Obamacare’s contraception mandate. Democrats on Capitol Hill have overwhelmingly criticized the high court’s ruling in the Hobby Lobby case and are working to craft a response that would restore the coverage, though no specifics have yet been outlined (Kim, 7/7).Detroit Free Press/USA Today: Hobby Lobby Ruling Boosts Eden Foods’ Insurance FightClinton, Mich.-based Eden Foods, a natural foods company that makes soy milk and other organic products, appears on track to win its fight with the federal government over funding insurance coverage of contraception in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s controversial Hobby Lobby ruling. Last week, after its ruling in the Hobby Lobby case, the U.S. Supreme Court vacated a judgment against Eden Foods and sent a lawsuit back to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit for further consideration (Snavely, 7/7).The Wall Street Journal’s Law Blog: Polarized Reaction To Wheaton College InjunctionOn the eve of Independence Day, the Supreme Court issued a temporary order giving an Illinois Christian school a way to avoid an arrangement offered by the Obama administration to religious nonprofits that object to health-care law’s contraception-coverage requirements. The reprieve granted to Wheaton College — accompanied by an unusual 17-page dissent by the court’s three female justices — could complicate efforts to sort out dozens of legal challenges tied to religious objections to the Affordable Care Act, says WSJ’s Jess Bravin (Gershman, 7/7).Politico: VA Whistleblowers To Detail RetributionHouse lawmakers will hear testimony on Tuesday from whistleblowers who accuse the Department of Veterans Affairs of retaliating against them for exposing shoddy medical care. he VA would often force whistleblowers into administrative leave after they raised concerns about lagging health care quality stemming from overworked nurses or under-staffed medical centers, according to testimony from four witnesses set to testify before the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs (French, 7/8).The Wall Street Journal: Jump In Appeals Dog The VA’s Progress On Disability ClaimsThe next secretary of Veterans Affairs will face well-known problems of mismanagement at VA hospitals and long waits for doctor appointments, but also will be confronted by an issue former Secretary Eric Shinseki hailed as a success: faster processing of disability claims. Under Mr. Shinseki, the VA slashed the backlog for things such as compensation claims for injuries sustained while in the service. But that progress masked a 60% jump in outstanding appeals of denied claims and a slowdown in processing claims for things like adding dependents to veterans’ files, VA data show (Kesling, 7/7).27/7 Wall St./USA Today: Countries Spending The Most On Health CareThe United States currently spends more per person on health care than any other developed country. Health outcomes in the U.S., however, are among the worst (Allen, 7/7).The Wall Street Journal: Cuomo Signs Bill Legalizing Medical MarijuanaNew York on Monday became the 23rd state to legalize certain forms of marijuana for medical reasons as Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation into law at an event in Manhattan. The measure, which passed both houses of the legislature during the final moments of the legislative session, in June, is significantly more restrictive than other medical-marijuana laws in the nation (Orden, 7/7). Check out all of Kaiser Health News’ e-mail options including First Edition and Breaking News alerts on our Subscriptions page. First Edition: July 8, 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 Friday was a bad day for clean air. First, the board of the South Coast Air Quality Management District voted to fire its longtime executive officer. Then, it reconfirmed its support for a plan to let oil refiners, power plants and other major polluters keep spewing emissions. (3/8) Defining and measuring quality in health care isn’t easy. New yardsticks from the Core Quality Measurement Collaborative are a step in the right direction … They include things like whether a doctor has done a specific test or recommended a specific treatment. But they ignore things that matter to most of us. (Mitch Rothschild, 3/8) Mr. Trump released a 10-paragraph health plan last week, perhaps in response to the criticism that he has no policy details … one detail that leapt out for comment is his endorsement of foreign pharmaceutical importation—an idea even liberals left for dead a decade ago. (3/8) The new standards are among the most important efforts to improve children’s health in the past two decades. Since 1980, obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents. Nearly a third of children and adolescents are either obese or overweight. In some states, the combined rate is close to 40 percent; among African American and Latino children, these rates are particularly high. And millions more children consume more sugar and empty calories than is healthy. (Steven Czinn, 3/8) American politicians and policymakers often tout consumer-based approaches, such as price transparency, comparison shopping, retail clinics, and high-deductible health plans featuring health savings accounts as answers to the nation’s pressing healthcare cost and access problems. But recent evidence suggests that these types of market-based solutions have severe limits. (Harris Meyer, 3/8) STAT: Health Care Quality Measures Should Matter To Patients The Wall Street Journal: Donald Trump’s Mexican Imports Bloomberg: Will Congress Get Serious About Zika? JAMA: The Ethical Challenges Of Compassionate Use This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription. Viewpoints: Medicare’s Art Of Compromise; Consumerism And Health Care A selection of opinions from around the country. The Columbus Dispatch: Needle Exchanges Curb Disease Coping with a public-health issue such as drug addiction is complicated, and when success is achieved in one area, new problems can arise elsewhere as a result. This is the case with efforts in recent years to shut down “pill mills,” in which some unscrupulous doctors made a practice of prescribing opioid painkillers to virtually anyone. When government and law enforcement successfully cracked down on such operations and increased monitoring of painkiller prescriptions, many of those who were addicted to pain pills turned to illegal drugs such as heroin instead. (3/9) Put simply, Sanders has promised to democratize access to our national resources. This includes our hospitals and medical facilities, our universities, our political system, and our economy. For Sanders, this is what true democracy entails – allowing all to participate and benefit regardless of location in the socio-economic hierarchy. (Tom Gill, 3/9) The Washington Post: New School Lunch Standards Are Working. So Why Does Congress Want To Knock Them Down? The Cleveland Plain Dealer: Bernie Sanders Has Rehabilitated The Idea Of Democratic Socialism Los Angeles Times: Partisan Politics On Air Pollution Are Helping To Make L.A. Smoggy Again Health Affairs Blog: Today’s Medicare Is Built On 50 Years Of Robust Compromise. Now What? Modern Healthcare: Why Consumerism Is No Panacea For Our Healthcare Problems Granting access to drugs, vaccines, biologics, and devices that have not yet been approved by governmental regulatory authorities is a growing challenge for physicians, public officials, patient advocacy groups, institutional review boards (IRBs), and patients.1 Although the issue of rapid access to investigational agents is not new, tracing back to the early days of the human immunodeficiency virus pandemic, the pace of requests has increased. This is attributable to many factors, including greater awareness of compassionate use on the part of patients and their physicians; more information available through the Internet and websites describing clinical trials; an increase in promising interventions, including genetic markers, immunotherapies, and recombinant vaccines; threats from potential epidemics such as Ebola, cholera, and influenza; and an increased willingness to try novel agents by patients who are chronically ill or dying. (Arthur R. Caplan and Amrit Ray, 3/8) The more doctors learn about the Zika virus, the more dangerous it appears. Is it too much to hope that this research will prod the U.S. Congress to take action? Of course, congressional action on any issue has been hard to come by lately. In the case of Zika, however, it’s worth examining what science says about its potential for harm. (3/8) If the Presidential race is any guide, many Americans do not like “politicians.” Weak-kneed and compromised by campaign contributions, “politicians” imperil our virtuous Republic. Or so we are told by ideologues on the Right and Left and by a distressing number of citizens whose interest in politics is but a quadrennial event. “Compromised.” A troubling word. Yet our system of government, with its divided powers, cannot function without “compromise” among competing interests and philosophies. Can we “compromise” without being “compromised”? Yes, and the resulting hybrid may even be superior to ideologically pure alternatives. (Glenn Hackbarth, 3/8)
As Public Outcry Swells, Chances Of Lowering Drug Prices Still Remain Close To Nil Congress would need to act to make a dent in the astronomical cost of drugs, but pressure from the pharmaceutical industry and political gridlock have stymied action. Meanwhile, a new study finds that nearly half of all Americans 75 and older took five or more prescription drugs in 2011, a trend which has significant financial ramifications. A recent study found that almost half (47 percent) of Americans age 75 and older took five or more prescription drugs in 2011, nearly double the 24 percent that did so in 1999, just 12 years earlier. The comparable percentage for Americans 65 to 74 also increased significantly — from 23 percent in 1999 to 33 percent in 2011. (Vernon, 3/21) Most Americans support it. Virtually all other developed countries already do it. And the two leading presidential candidates on both sides of the aisle agree: the federal government should lower drug prices. But experts say the chances for government action in the near-term are close to nil. The reasons are familiar: political gridlock in Washington, pharmaceutical industry influence and the structure of the U.S. health system itself, which limits government intervention. (Perrone, 3/18) CBS News: The High Cost Of Seniors’ Soaring Rx Drug Use The Associated Press: No Clear Path To Government-Lowered Drug Prices This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.
Impact Debated Of Large Nurses Strike At Boston-Area Tufts Medical Center The hospital is telling patients that care quality has not suffered as a result of the walkout by its nurses union. But studies indicate that such work stoppages can have negative consequences. Boston Globe: Tufts Medical CEO: Calm Tone, Tough Stance In Nurses Strike Tufts Medical Center has gone to great lengths to reassure patients during this week’s strike by nurses, but there is some evidence that medical care can suffer when nurses walk the picket line. One of the few studies examining this question found that more patients die and are readmitted to the hospital during nurses’ strikes. (Kowalczyk and Arnett, 7/13) Boston Globe: In Tufts Nurse Strike, Some Worry About Patient Care Union leaders say Wagner and other Tufts executives are the ones doing the bullying by denying nurses the compensation and better working conditions they deserve. The strike began after the union and the hospital failed to agree on wages, benefits, and staffing levels for the more than 1,200 unionized nurses at Tufts. (Dayal McCluskey, 7/14) This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.