Losing the narrative: Mayor’s signature issue slipping away

first_imgThis story was originally published in February 2020.Five months into his mayoralty, Bill de Blasio blasted out a press release that quoted 80 elected officials, developers and advocates praising his new $41 billion housing plan. He’s been taking victory laps ever since to celebrate its progress.But Vicki Been, his deputy mayor for housing and economic development, acknowledged last fall that some New Yorkers aren’t buying it. In fact, many have come to believe that the hundreds of thousands of new apartments de Blasio vowed would keep their rents down will instead drive them up.“We’ve lost the narrative,” Been lamented at an October forum. “We’ve lost the hearts and minds of neighborhoods in the sense that they are worried about being pushed out when they see affordable housing that is not affordable to them or to their neighbors.”Her words proved prescient. The mayor’s housing plans have suffered a string of setbacks in the past two months, as three sweeping rezonings hit roadblocks and a major apartment project in Queens was shelved.The task of reclaiming the narrative — and salvaging the mayor’s housing legacy — is now in the hands of a team he tapped just last year following Alicia Glen’s departure. Led by Been, it also includes new heads at the Department of Buildings, Department of Housing Preservation and Development and New York City Housing Authority.“Throughout the administration we’ve been raising the bar to do more and more and more,” Been told The Real Deal, downplaying the idea of a new urgency. “That pressure has always been there.”But now it’s greater than ever, as losses continue to pile up halfway through de Blasio’s final term — especially when it comes to his signature Mandatory Inclusionary Housing program, which depends on rezonings. Key City Council members last month came out against big rezonings planned for Bushwick and the South Bronx on the heels of a judge in December annulling the mayor’s rezoning of Inwood.That leaves de Blasio with less than two years to rezone nine of the 15 neighborhoods his administration has targeted. Of course, the mayor has made significant strides toward his goal of creating or preserving 300,000 affordable units by 2026 (up from his original target of 200,000 by 2024). Administration officials say they are on pace with 137,000 affordable housing units created or preserved since 2014. At the same time, criticism is mounting about the levels of affordability offered in these projects and their perceived effect of increasing area rents.“It’s difficult for us to believe the administration or City Planning when they say, ‘We’re not going to displace the community,’ when they aren’t studying it,” Bronx Council member Rafael Salamanca said in an interview. Last month he declared his opposition to the rezoning of 130 blocks in his district, effectively killing it before the public approval process could even begin.    Developers are increasingly looking to affordable housing as a profitable alternative to markets that are lagging, such as luxury residential. But such projects require heavy subsidies, and the city and state’s resources are strained. Just as daunting are the political obstacles, as advocates continue to argue that the administration is placing too much emphasis on the volume of apartments and not enough on affordability by the city’s most vulnerable. “I think that the legacy as it stands now is a really mixed bag,” said Emily Goldstein, director of organizing and advocacy at the Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development. “There have been huge leaps forward,” she explained. “On the flipside, this mayor’s housing plan is actually remarkably similar to [those of] previous administrations. It focuses so much on a unit count and loses sight of some of the things that matter more.”The high cost of low rents The City Council approved de Blasio’s MIH program in March 2016, implementing affordability requirements that he hoped would be welcomed by communities otherwise resistant to development.The program, a cornerstone of the mayor’s housing plan, requires developers to set aside affordable units when they build in neighborhoods rezoned to allow larger projects. Its structure of income tiers was designed to make projects profitable as well as socially diverse, rather than concentrating poverty as past housing programs had.“Years from now, when working-class families and seniors are living soundly in their homes without fear of being priced out, we will look back on this as a pivotal moment when we turned the tide to keep our city a place for ALL New Yorkers,” de Blasio said in a statement at the time.However, critics from both sides of the political spectrum have questioned the program’s efficacy. Conservatives lament that it hasn’t produced much affordable housing construction without significant subsidies.Just over 2,000 MIH units were permitted or constructed from the start of the program through September 2019, according to an analysis by the Manhattan Institute, a think tank that advocates for free markets. In about twice as much time, more than 8,400 affordable units under previous mayors’ voluntary inclusionary housing plans have been approved since de Blasio took office. Those projects were eligible for tax exemptions but didn’t receive other subsidies, the study noted.Goldstein faulted the de Blasio administration for having only rezoned low-income communities of color, such as East Harlem and East New York.And while voices on the left claim that poor communities have been targeted — portraying the mayor’s ballyhooed rezonings as a burden — the Manhattan Institute’s report points to the effect of wealthy ones being spared: The administration has yet to rezone a housing market that can support MIH’s affordability requirements without public subsidy.But it has done so for individual sites. The report’s author, former city planner Eric Kober, pointed to one in West Chelsea as a rare example of the program succeeding.Douglaston Development is building two rental towers at 601 West 29th Street with 25 percent of the 931 units pegged as affordable. There is no subsidy beyond a tax abatement unrelated to MIH, according to its developer. In a weaker housing market, such as Downtown Far Rockaway, that would not be possible.“When you are building in emerging areas, the market rents in these areas are not the market rents that you would experience in Manhattan or the Brooklyn-Queens waterfront,” said Douglaston’s chairman, Jeff Levine. “You’re in a tough place.”The mayor’s office picked the first neighborhoods to rezone in part because the local City Council members were open to the idea (lawmakers customarily fall in line with the member whose district is affected). City planners are thus loath to commence the long, arduous rezoning process without a clear path to approval. The public review alone takes seven months and must be preceded by extensive preparation and environmental studies.During a Jan. 24 appearance on the Brian Lehrer Show, de Blasio said in his time left as mayor, he wants to continue to focus on rezoning efforts where there is support at the outset.“Do we need more affordable housing in areas that are privileged? … Of course, the answer is yes,” de Blasio said. “We have to be honest. We fought these battles in brownstone Brooklyn. If you lock in place a privileged community, you are on that pathway to San Francisco.”The mayor often cites the California city to argue that if growth is not accommodated, demand for housing will send prices skyrocketing and push the non-wealthy to distant neighborhoods.But even in poor and working-class communities, opposition to his plans has been significant. The mayor’s office has had to make concessions and promise substantial city funding to secure the necessary political support for the rezonings accomplished to date. And in Inwood, local opponents sued anyway — and were pleasantly surprised when a judge ruled that the city didn’t adequately examine the rezoning’s potential socioeconomic impacts. The administration is appealing.“The MIH program has a ton of potential, but the devil is in the details,” said Michael Tortorici, a founding member of the commercial brokerage Ariel Property Advisors. “It’s a delicate balance between the goals of the administration and what the local communities allow.”The administration’s plan to rezone Bushwick suffered a potentially fatal blow last month as the local Council members, Antonio Reynoso and Rafael Espinal, backed a highly restrictive alternative proposed by community groups. (Espinal, who has since resigned to run the Freelancers Union, had carried the mayor’s initial rezoning, in East New York, across the finish line despite some local opposition.) And the city’s South Bronx rezoning was pre-emptively killed by Salamanca, who argued it would gentrify his district. Salamanca, who chairs the City Council’s powerful land use committee, is backing a bill proposed by Public Advocate Jumaane Williams that would mandate racial-impact studies for land-use actions requiring an environmental review. Neighborhood-wide rezonings allow developers to build larger projects without the added cost and uncertainty of negotiating for the local Council member’s approval. But Salamanca said he is better off working with developers on a project-by-project basis so that he can push for deeper levels of affordability.As the mayor coped with the rezoning troubles, the Durst Organization shelved its seven-building, 2,000-unit Halletts Point rental project in Astoria that was set to include hundreds of affordable apartments. The developer contends that the mayor insisted on terms that made it uneconomical. “A project as large and complex as Halletts Point requires a partnership between the developer and the city,” Durst spokesperson Jordan Barowitz told Politico. “Unfortunately, we have never been able to forge this partnership, and without it, the project is impossible to build.”Hard numbers gameTax exemptions and abatements play a major role in the mayor’s affordable housing agenda.The city gave up $2.3 billion in residential property taxes in fiscal year 2019, according to the city’s Department of Finance, although not all of that was tied to affordability. The old 421a program granted tax breaks lasting up to 25 years to new apartment projects, but only in the city’s pricier neighborhoods did it require some units to be affordable.The new version of 421a, dubbed Affordable New York, only grants the exemption if a certain portion of a project is affordable. Other tax breaks adhere to that same principle.In June, a joint venture between Camber Property Group and Belveron Partners bought a 400-unit apartment building called Highbridge House from Stellar Management for $76.3 million. The partners re-regulated rents for the property’s 400 units to get a 40-year tax exemption through a program known as Article XI. (The deal closed just after the state passed a rent law that made it nearly impossible for landlords to deregulate apartments.)Camber’s Rick Gropper said he expects more developers to turn to affordable housing construction as New York’s luxury residential market continues to slow. “There’s more demand than ever for city resources for affordable housing,” he said.De Blasio knew from the beginning that ample public funds would be needed to build affordable housing at scale in weaker markets. He allocated $5.9 billion through September 2019 and has pledged more than $9 billion between now and 2029, although his successor is not bound by that commitment.Alan Wiener, head of Wells Fargo Multifamily Capital, said de Blasio’s successor must dedicate significant public resources to meet the city’s ballooning housing needs. But the longtime banker also praised de Blasio for his housing record. “I think it’s actually one of his crowning achievements,” Wiener said. “They’ve made it and kept it as a priority.”City officials have become more deliberate, however, in doling out housing dollars.“For a while it was gangbusters, and then it was, ‘Whoop, we don’t have any money,’” said Lisa Gomez, chief operating officer and partner at affordable housing builder L+M Development. “There’s finite resources even in a city like New York. There’s a very long queue for financing.”Been, who previously served as de Blasio’s HPD commissioner before leaving in early 2017 for a 28-month stint in academia, said there has been no decline in capital financing. But she said the administration has worked to be more transparent about the federal cap on tax-exempt bonds, which finance tens of thousands of affordable units across the state each year.The wait for financing isn’t the only bureaucratic hurdle for affordable housing developers. Real estate attorney Alvin Schein said there is “little coordination between HPD and DOB” on aspects of the building process.One issue Schein has encountered is securing a waiver from the buildings department to include less parking than normally required with a development, as permitted for projects near mass transit under a measure approved in 2016 called Zoning for Quality and Affordability. The agency sometimes declines to issue a waiver without documentation that a project includes affordable housing. But Schein said Affordable New York developments don’t receive such documentation until after construction is complete. “In most cases it just slows down the project [and] makes the project more expensive,” he said. “The mindset should be, ‘Let’s get affordable housing out in the market as fast as we can.’”A representative for HPD denied any lack of coordination, noting that projects are presented to the two agencies at different times.Housing for the poorestA perennial criticism of de Blasio’s housing plan is that it doesn’t help enough of the city’s lowest-income residents.In a 2018 report, City Comptroller Scott Stringer called on the administration to redirect housing funding to severely rent-burdened New Yorkers, noting that the average city household with income between $10,000 and $20,000 spent 74 percent of that on housing.Meanwhile, the city’s homeless shelter population, although it has edged down 1 percent in the past year, is still nearly 60,000, about 18 percent higher than when de Blasio was sworn in.Last month, Stringer — who is running for mayor — criticized the MIH program, saying it has failed to create enough deeply affordable units and has “cherry-picked” communities for rezonings that exacerbated speculative buying.“In the name of development and in the name of growth, we’re leaving far, far too many of our people behind,” the comptroller said. “The status quo is nothing less than taxpayer-funded gentrification.”The latest data from the de Blasio administration shows it has created or preserved about 23,500 units for tenants who make 30 percent or less of the area median income. Its most robust tier has been for those making 51 percent to 80 percent of AMI: more than 57,000 apartments.The administration often notes that housing for very low-income tenants requires a lot of subsidy, reducing the number of units that can be built for working-class and middle-class households. That’s important because middle-income earners who don’t win lotteries for subsidized units then outcompete lower earners for other housing, pushing many into living doubled-up or homelessness, the mayor’s housing officials say.But their argument that adding housing at all levels indirectly helps low earners has not resonated. And while the mayor talks of the benefits to the poor of living in economically diverse areas, community activists characterize it as gentrification that forces minorities to leave their neighborhoods.“Many people believe you can ask for more [affordability in private projects]. You can ask for more, but they are not the ones looking at the data, the spreadsheets, the pro formas every day,” Been said. “At the end of the day, you push too hard, you get absolutely nothing.” (The Durst Organization said its Astoria project is case in point.)But the deputy mayor acknowledged that the messaging about unit count has not won over New Yorkers.“I don’t think people relate all that well to just numbers,” Been noted. “We need to be telling people a lot more about the actual people who are being helped.”Shifting gearsOver his tenure, the mayor has turned more of his attention to very low-income and homeless New Yorkers.Late last year he compromised on a City Council bill that aimed to reserve more housing for people emerging from homelessness. The bill, which passed in December, requires city-funded projects of 41 units or more to set aside 15 percent of them for homeless individuals.De Blasio had opposed an earlier version that applied to all city-funded projects, arguing that it would make some unviable. Before that, in February 2017, the mayor had dedicated $1.9 billion to set aside another 10,000 apartments for New Yorkers earning less than $40,000.In December 2018, the mayor launched NYCHA 2.0, a 10-year plan to help address what is now $40 billion in capital repairs needed by the city’s public housing.While the administration is privatizing the management of many of the Housing Authority’s properties to pay for renovations, its plan to allow private development on underutilized land and to sell development rights to raise $2 billion has been stalled by opposition from tenants.The Bloomberg administration had the same idea and ran into the same problem. To date, not a single private housing development on NYCHA land has been approved.De Blasio will not be cutting ribbons on any such projects before leaving office in 23 months. Nor can he expect to finish nine more neighborhood rezonings. Meanwhile, the developers who were counting on de Blasio’s housing plan may have to rely on his successor to finish the job.But it remains to be seen how much the mayor can build on the efforts of his first six years and what that will ultimately mean for his legacy.“I think that the administration has made a lot of strides,” Tortorici said. “The seeds that they plant today will take a long time to come to fruition.” Share on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on LinkedinShare via Email Share via Shortlink Share via Shortlinkcenter_img TagsMayor Bill de Blasiolast_img read more

Why 2m sales means the Human: Fall Flat developer never has to work in IT again

first_imgWhy 2m sales means the Human: Fall Flat developer never has to work in IT againWe speak to Tomas Sakalauskas of one-man studio No Brakes Games about the career-changing success of his physics-based puzzlerJames BatchelorEditor-in-ChiefThursday 15th February 2018Share this article Recommend Tweet ShareTomas Sakalauskas did not want to work in IT anymore. Not everyone does, and in this wonderful age of internet-enabled self-improvement, no one is tied to a single career path for life.In 2012, he decided to abandon his business and try out video game development. After a few years spent on unsuccessful projects, he eventually created the title that would secure his newfound freedom long-term – the physics-based smash hit Human: Fall Flat. Having successfully emerged from Early Access, the game has since been released on Steam, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and even Nintendo Switch, thanks to the publishing support of Curve Digital. It has impressed audiences at games shows and conventions around the world and been played by celebrities on UK TV game show, Dara O’Briain’s Go 8 Bit. And today Sakalauskas is able to announce it has sold more than two million copies worldwide.Tomas Sakalauskas, No Brakes GamesWe caught up the designer behind this indie sensation and his one-man studio No Brakes Games, to find out more about the journey towards this milestone.”Human: Fall Flat was my last chance at games development,” he tells GamesIndustry.biz. “Before that I was making mobile games, so I spent two years with a team on a mobile racing game but I had to let the studio go because we ran out of money. If Human: Fall Flat did not [take off], I would have returned to business software development.”But now I no longer have to worry about a different career path. I can stay in games development, which is what I always wanted to do.”There are tales of indies whose lives have been transformed by a single hit, trading in their runarounds for sports cars, but Sakalauskas tells us his personal life is “pretty much like it was beforehand” – albeit funded by a more satisfying career.”Human: Fall Flat was my last chance at games development. If it did not [take off], I would have returned to business software development” “I used to run an IT business, so it’s not that I haven’t been operating these kind of budgets before,” he says. “While developing Human: Fall Flat, I was really low on personal finances. Before I started receiving the first cheques from [game sales], I think I had €1,000 across all my accounts – that’s quite dangerous, given that I have three kids to support and a mortgage to pay. I was getting a little bit nervous at that time, but then Itch.io sales started coming in and I could relax a little bit. But it wasn’t on the level that showed any long-term stability.”I can now afford things I was deprived of over the past four years while building the game. Things got back to normal, more and less. With current sales, I could afford a sports car – but I already had one, so now I can install a rollcage on that and do some racing again. But no dramatic [purchases] on the way at the moment.”During playtests, most players tried to find alternative paths around the puzzles – leading to a key shift in the game’s designYou would think that getting down to your last €1,000 would cause tension at home, particularly given how competitive the games market has become. There was no guarantee Human: Fall Flat would reach two hundred sales, let alone two million, but Sakalauskas reports he was backed up by “tremendous support from family.””That’s why they’re in the game credits as well,” he says. “I felt no pressure from them because I could always go back to [working at] IT companies. It was not life or death, it was just a career choice and I really wanted to be in games, which is why I continued until the very last moment. Of course I had a lot of faith in the game when it launched on Itch.io, so I thought everything would be fine. I’m happy that it all went that way.””Before I received the first cheques, I had €1,000 across all my accounts – that’s quite dangerous with three kids to support and a mortgage to pay” Perhaps the biggest barrier to indie success is not game quality, but discoverability. With countless Sakalauskases hoping to move into games, how could he ensure Human: Fall Flat attracted the audience he needed? The answer, it turned out, was YouTube.”I got in contact with [various YouTubers] via Twitter – but I was not trying to reach the top channels, just some of the ones who are into games,” Sakalauskas says. “Initially I gave the game to small YouTubers, with channels under 100 subscribers, just to start getting noticed and most importantly to get playtesting footage – being a one-man studio, I cannot hire enough players to sit in a one-way mirror room and be taped. With YouTubers and small streamers, it was a nice collaboration because they got to play a new game and I got all the video footage, which is core to game design – you need video footage of people playing your game. It was a win-win situation.”Then there were viewers of those streamers who started promoting the game to streamers who were a little bit bigger, and then much bigger streamers, and its snowballed from there. My first Twitch broadcast was my family watching and one friend of the streamer, and it’s been magnificent fun to see that [grow]. So don’t ignore the small people making videos out there – they can be as helpful for you as you can be for them.””My first Twitch broadcast was watched by my family and one friend of the streamer, and it’s been fun to see that [grow]. Don’t ignore the small people making videos out there” Sakalauskas believes that Human: Fall Flat is just one of many titles that proves one-man developers can still make their mark on today’s industry. They may not be able to create the same premium-style products as big studios, but the chances of succeeding – to the point where it can sustain your career – are just the same. In fact, they could be higher if one-man studios invested even more time and energy into honing their craft.”The reason the rate of one-man successes are relatively low is because most of those are first-time projects where they are learning about game development and design, so of course their success rate is quite low,” Sakalauskas says, reminding us of his years spent creating mobile games prior to Human: Fall Flat. “If you check SteamSpy numbers, there are around 30 to 40 games that sell more than one million year in, year out. Yes, more games are being produced [each year] but in general, every year 100 people make good games. That did not change from 2013 to 2016 – I haven’t check last year’s numbers yet.”Human: Fall Flat has proven to be so successful that the developer is keen to continue expanding it, with no new project currently in mindBut with more than 7,000 games released on Steam last year alone, it’s getting harder and harder to be heard over the noise and become one of those 30 to 40 hits. Sakalauskas’ advice is that while quality is important, fresh ideas are the real key to success.Crucially, a firm understanding of game design is required. There are already plenty of books and courses available out there, and anyone planning to make a game alone needs to be ready to invest in all this and more if they want to content with multi-person teams. “The rate of one-man successes is relatively low because most of those are first-time projects where they are learning about game development and design” “If you just get Unity and buy an online tutorial, the chances that you’ll make a hit are not very great,” says Sakalauskas. “But if you know things about game design and playtesting, if you have interesting mechanics, the chances are quite good.”He continues: “The only way a small developer can make something that stands up is to make it a really unique experience. I was playtesting and retooling it a lot to make it fun to play. Of course, that doesn’t guarantee anything – all you can do as a game developer is essentially buy a lottery ticket, and you chances are based on luck. Will it go [big] or not? You never know. But you increase your chances by making a unique game, something that you would want to play yourself.”I wanted to make a game that was a child of Portal and Limbo, with a quite linear way to progress and Portal-sized puzzles. But after seeing people trying to hack the puzzles, levels started growing bigger and the focus shifted to alternative paths and connecting things together to allow speedruns. I ended up with totally different design goals compared to what I had planned initially.””If you just get Unity and buy an online tutorial, the chances that you’ll make a hit are not very great” Herein lies another vital lesson learned from Human: Fall Flat – listening to your community. As Sakalauskas says, seeing that his YouTubing playtesters were more interested in finding ways around puzzles and experimenting with the figures changed his priorities. As he drew on more feedback, he attempted to build the game his audience was expecting, not just the one he wanted. Of course, taking in every comment and suggestion while building an entire game on your own can be a challenge.”In the end, I’m the game designer so I have to filter that feedback – you cannot just take that random comments, throw the ideas into the game and see how it works,” says Sakalauskas. “I usually read everything on Steam, although when I’m working on new features like I am now, it can be a month or two where I’m not looking at feedback because it can easily throw you off your plans. “Eventually, I got a few nice members of the community to take care of the majority of the feedback – so if someone is having difficult playing with a certain controller, it can be something the community takes care of.”Sakalauskas believes that any one-man developer can create a million-selling hit with the right time, effort and fresh ideasThat community has continued to be the driving force behind how Human: Fall Flat has evolved. Back in November, Sakalauskas released a multiplayer update that enables eight players to enjoy the game simultaneously. Initially, he was reluctant to build multiplayer on this scale, but when some players experimented with implementing it themselves with Nvidia tools, he realised it not only feasible but could be popular.”Most of the features in Human: Fall Flat come from community feedback – not necessarily exactly as expressed by the community but by reading a lot of the feedback you can get a general idea of where your audience wants to take your game,” says Sakalauskas.Next on the agenda for Human: Fall Flat is Steam Workshop support, something Sakalauskas hopes will further invigorate his audience into creating their own content and forging a way for the game to live on – even without him.”I would be redundant at that point in the process,” he laughs. “I would really love to see the game carry on that way.”Related JobsSenior Game Designer – UE4 – AAA United Kingdom Amiqus GamesProgrammer – REMOTE – work with industry veterans! North West Amiqus GamesJunior Video Editor – GLOBAL publisher United Kingdom Amiqus GamesDiscover more jobs in games Until that’s finished, he isn’t even considering what his next project might be. Instead, he’s just happy to know that making another game is an option for him, buoyed by the success of this first hit.When asked if he would have done things differently with the knowledge he has today, Sakalauskas maintains that Human: Fall Flat is everything he wanted it to be and more.”I only wish I knew mobile was so hard five years ago when I started going in that direction,” he says. “I spent too much energy before working on Human. On the other hand, I got a lot of experience so maybe I would just keep everything the same – I’m quite content with where I am now.”Celebrating employer excellence in the video games industry8th July 2021Submit your company Sign up for The Publishing & Retail newsletter and get the best of GamesIndustry.biz in your inbox. Enter your email addressMore storiesEA leans on Apex Legends and live services in fourth quarterQ4 and full year revenues close to flat and profits take a tumble, but publisher’s bookings still up double-digitsBy Brendan Sinclair 4 hours agoUbisoft posts record sales yet again, delays Skull & Bones yet againPublisher moves away from target of 3-4 premium AAA titles a year, wants to build free-to-play “to be trending toward AAA ambitions over the long term”By Brendan Sinclair 8 hours agoLatest comments Sign in to contributeEmail addressPasswordSign in Need an account? Register now.last_img read more

Neo Solar Power buys 30% stake in Phanes Group

first_imgNeo Solar Power buys 30% stake in Phanes GroupThe Taiwanese PV cell maker has expanded its downstream activities by buying a stake in Emirati/Swiss project developer Phanes Group. October 2, 2015 Christian Roselund Finance Manufacturing Markets Markets & Policy Share Taiwan’s PV cell makers have been under pressure since the expansion of U.S. duties on Chinese solar products was expanded to Taiwanese cells. Companies have reacted to this in various ways, including expanding into module production and even plans to build factories overseas.Others have taken the well-traveled path of global solar PV manufacturers and moved downstream into PV project development. As Taiwan’s PV market is relatively small, for growth this inevitably means expanding beyond Taiwan.Leading this trend is Taiwan’s largest PV maker, Neo Solar Power (NSP), which on Wednesday announced that its project development subsidiary General Energy Solutions (GES) will acquire a 30% share in Phanes Group. Taipei Times put the value of the sale at US$15 million.GES has already built PV projects in the United States, the UK and Japan, as well as Taiwan. By acquiring a stake in Phanes, NSP estimates that it will gain access to project development rights for over 800 MW of PV projects located in Western Europe, Africa, Latin America, the Middle East and Southeast Asia. The company notes that 400 MW of these projects will begin construction in the next 10-12 months.NSP says that this is the outgrowth of a strategic partnership between the two companies, and cites the combination of Phanes’ expertise in project development and capital market insight with NSP’s management experience and financial support.In a brief press statement, NSP also hints at how this move is part of its larger strategy. “These high quality and high IRR solar farms will also become the main revenue and profit driver for NSP Group,” states the release. While NSP reported a loss in its first half 2015 results, the company expects GES to turn a healthy profit.This may also allude to NSP’s plans to form a yieldco vehicle to hold completed projects, which the company announced in May. NSP said at the time that it planned for the yield vehicle to be publicly listed by the first quarter of 2016 at the latest, but has declined to provide an update to pv magazine.Part of the delay may be the general malaise in solar stock prices, which has included yieldcos.This content is protected by copyright and may not be reused. If you want to cooperate with us and would like to reuse some of our content, please contact: [email protected] content The Hydrogen Stream: 20 MW green hydrogen plant in Finland, two Australian projects move forward Sergio Matalucci 20 April 2021 pv-magazine.com Storegga, Shell and Harbour Energy want to set up a 20 MW blue hydrogen production facility in the U.K. Australia’s Origin Energy wants to build a hy… Enabling aluminum in batteries Mark Hutchins 27 April 2021 pv-magazine.com Scientists in South Korea and the UK demonstrated a new cathode material for an aluminum-ion battery, which achieved impressive results in both speci… ITRPV: Large formats are here to stay Mark Hutchins 29 April 2021 pv-magazine.com The 2021 edition of the International Technology Roadmap for Photovoltaics (ITRPV) was published today by German engineering association VDMA. 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Yet sometimes, even when best practice is applied – and without particul… The Hydrogen Stream: 20 MW green hydrogen plant in Finland, two Australian projects move forward Sergio Matalucci 20 April 2021 pv-magazine.com Storegga, Shell and Harbour Energy want to set up a 20 MW blue hydrogen production facility in the U.K. Australia’s Origin Energy wants to build a hy… Enabling aluminum in batteries Mark Hutchins 27 April 2021 pv-magazine.com Scientists in South Korea and the UK demonstrated a new cathode material for an aluminum-ion battery, which achieved impressive results in both speci… ITRPV: Large formats are here to stay Mark Hutchins 29 April 2021 pv-magazine.com The 2021 edition of the International Technology Roadmap for Photovoltaics (ITRPV) was published today by German engineering association VDMA. The re… Solar park built on rough wooden structures comes online in France Gwénaëlle Deboutte 26 April 2021 pv-magazine.com French company Céléwatt energized its 250 kW ground-mounted array, built with mounting structures made of raw oak wood.April 26, 2021 Gwénaëlle Debo… Spanish developer plans 1 GW solar plant coupled to 80 MW of storage, 100 MW electrolyzer Pilar Sánchez Molina 22 April 2021 pv-magazine.com Soto Solar has submitted the project proposal to the Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge (Miteco). The solar plant could start produc… We all trust the PV performance ratio test Dario Brivio, Partner 20 April 2021 pv-magazine.com The performance ratio test is at the core of the handover from EPC to owner. Yet sometimes, even when best practice is applied – and without particul… The Hydrogen Stream: 20 MW green hydrogen plant in Finland, two Australian projects move forward Sergio Matalucci 20 April 2021 pv-magazine.com Storegga, Shell and Harbour Energy want to set up a 20 MW blue hydrogen production facility in the U.K. Australia’s Origin Energy wants to build a hy… 123456iAbout these recommendationsShare Christian Roselund Christian Roselund served as US editor at pv magazine from 2014 to 2019. Prior to this he covered global solar policy, markets and technology for Solar Server, and has written about renewable energy for CleanTechnica, German Energy Transition, Truthout, The Guardian (UK), and IEEE Spectrum.More articles from Christian Roselund [email protected] Related content Submarine cable to connect 10.5 GW wind-solar complex in Morocco to the UK grid Emiliano Bellini 22 April 2021 pv-magazine.com UK-based Xlinks is planning to build 10.5 GW of wind and solar in Morocco and sell the power generated by the huge plant in the UK. ITRPV: Large formats are here to stay Mark Hutchins 29 April 2021 pv-magazine.com The 2021 edition of the International Technology Roadmap for Photovoltaics (ITRPV) was published today by German enginee… The Hydrogen Stream: 20 MW electrolyzer in Spain, hydrogen alliance between Russia and Germany Sergio Matalucci 30 April 2021 pv-magazine.com BP, Iberdrola and Enagás will power a 20 MW electrolyzer with 40 MW of solar in Spain. Automotive manufacturers Hyundai,… Asia Pacific’s solarized digitization agenda Selva Ozelli, Esq. 23 April 2021 pv-magazine.com The virtual 7th Asia-Pacific Climate Change Adaptation Forum was hosted in March by Japan’s Ministry of the Environment,… Chinese PV Industry Brief: Polysilicon prices keep rising, NEA says newly deployed PV reached 5.33 GW in Q1 Max Hall 27 April 2021 pv-magazine.com Polysilicon prices rose to RMB145-150/kg this week, prompting a varied response from the major wafer suppliers. Longi wo… Higher performance with bigger modules a ‘no brainer’ Sandra Enkhardt 26 April 2021 pv-magazine.com Jan Bicker, who replaced Steve O’Neil as the CEO of REC on March 1, says that one of his top priorities is the ongoing d… iAbout these recommendations Elsewhere on pv magazine… MIBEL alcanzó nuevamente los precios más bajos de Europa mientras subieron en el resto de mercados eléctricos pv magazine 23 March 2021 pv-magazine.es En la tercera semana de marzo los precios de la mayoría de mercados eléctricos europeos subieron, mientras que MIBEL mar… Tasmanian Labor installs solar at the top of its campaign promises Blake Matich 8 April 2021 pv-magazine-australia.com Tasmania (TAS) is going to the polls on May 1, and the opposition Labor Party has put forth a $20 million plan to fund l… India closing in on 7 GW of rooftop solar pv magazine 13 April 2021 pv-magazine-australia.com India’s cumulative installed capacity of rooftop solar stood at 6,792 MW as of December 31, 2020, with 1,352 MW having b… Spotlight on Australian solar Bella Peacock 21 April 2021 pv-magazine-australia.com Calculating the average sunlight hours data from the Bureau of Meteorology from January toDecember 2020, Darwin was cro… Q&A: EEW’s $500 million Gladstone solar to hydrogen project is just the start Blake Matich 18 March 2021 pv-magazine-australia.com pv magazine Australia: Australia is the testing ground for a lot of different aspects of the future green hydrogen market. Cracking the case for solid state batteries pv magazine 29 April 2021 pv-magazine-australia.com Scientists in the UK used the latest imaging techniques to visualize and understand the process of dendrite formation an… iAbout these recommendations Leave a Reply Cancel replyPlease be mindful of our community standards.Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *CommentName * Email * Website Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. By submitting this form you agree to pv magazine using your data for the purposes of publishing your comment.Your personal data will only be disclosed or otherwise transmitted to third parties for the purposes of spam filtering or if this is necessary for technical maintenance of the website. 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For more information please see our Data Protection Policy. Subscribe to our global magazine SubscribeOur events and webinars Out with the old… A guide to successful inverter replacement , pv-magazine.com Discussion participantsRoberto Arana-Gonzalez, Service Sales Manager EMEA, SungrowFranco Marino, Regional Service Mana… Reducing solar project risk for extreme weather 20 April 2021 pv-magazine.com Discussion participantsDaniel H.S. 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Tara Metzner and Next Monday Victorious in $10,000 Championship

first_img Horse Sport Enews SIGN UP We’ll send you our regular newsletter and include you in our monthly giveaways. PLUS, you’ll receive our exclusive Rider Fitness digital edition with 15 exercises for more effective riding. Subscribe to the Horse Sport newsletter and get an exclusive bonus digital edition! It was a banner weekend for Tara Metzner and Nick Haness in the California Professional Horsemen’s Association (CPHA) West Coast Green Hunter Incentive Championships. Riding Davlyn Farms’ Next Monday, Metzner captured the inaugural $10,000 3’6” & 3’9” Incentive Championship. In the sixth annual $15,000 3’0” & 3’3” Championship, Nick Haness and West Coast Equine Partners LLC’s Fan Club topped the field.Tara Metzner Rides Next Monday into the Winner’s CircleOf six entries in the 3’6” & 3’9” section, it was the eight-year-old mare, Next Monday, ridden by Tara Metzner and owned by Davlyn Farms, who led the victory gallop earning consistent scores of 82 in Round 1 and 87 in Round 2 for an overall average of 84.5. Coming in second by a narrow margin was West Coast Equine Partners LLC’s Reese’s with Nick Haness aboard who scored 86 in Round 1 and 82 in Round 2 for an 84 average. Gabriella Pattinson rode Exquisite RW, owned by Amy Eynon to a third-place finish, with an average of 78 points.Metzner expressed gratitude for CPHA’s Green Hunter Incentive Program, “I think the program is great to help build the green hunter divisions here on the west coast. It’s really special for those owners who support riders with young horses to have a year-end goal that isn’t necessarily going to indoors. I hope the entries continue to grow in the future.”Next Monday, “Rosie,” has been Metzner’s partner for the past few years, “She was imported as a four-year-old by Eric Lamaze, and we bought her in Florida as a five-year-old. We have done some national derbies with her so far and the goal will be to step up into the international derbies in 2021.”The 3’6” & 3’9” section of the CPHA Green Hunter Incentive Final was held on Thursday in Hunter 1. Reflecting on her rounds, Metzner noted, “Classes like this should be as special as possible and I am grateful that CPHA and Blenheim make the effort and find time to hold these types of finals. They continue to ask the riders and owners for our input as to how to make things better so our sport can grow, and I really appreciate that.”Watch their second round here:Nick Haness Has a Fan ClubWelcoming sixteen entries on the grass Pacific Field, Haness, aboard Fan Club, impressed judges Bill Ellis and Andrea Wells to earn an 87 in Round 1 and 88 in Round 2 for an 87.5 average and the top call. Lexie Looker’s Dot Com and Katie Taylor earned top scores to finish in the reserve championship position, scoring 86 in each round. John Bragg earned the yellow ribbon with Bridgeport Farms’ entry, Macarthur with scores of 84 and 85.The CPHA Incentive Finals had been one of Haness’ goals with Fan Club and his mount in the 3’6” & 3’9” section, Reese’s. “I love the CPHA Incentive program. I think it’s wonderful that our west coast has a program like this for our young hunters. The final is a great experience and special ambiance for our west coast green horses.”The 3’0” and 3’3” section had the pleasure of competing on the expansive Pacific Field, with the green hunters galloping across the grass. Haness enjoyed the opportunity, “The courses were very fun. Of course, the grass is a beautiful setting and I loved the ability to let the horses canter forward and hunt around the bigger sized arena. It was inviting for the youngsters and allowed the horses to showcase their jumping ability.”These green hunters definitely have a bright future ahead of them. Fan Club’s plan for the 2021 season is to compete in the 3’6” green and incentive classes, including the incentive finals. Haness has been the mare’s teammate since her very first horse show, “It’s been a lot of fun developing her and letting her become the champion she is. Kent Farrington found her and approached me to work together with her. When I saw her, I fell in love. She is the kindest mare in the barn, loves attention, and has been one of my most consistently successful horses. I’m thankful to Gail Ellis & West Coast Equine Partners for being a great owner and letting her campaign her way up the ranks.”CPHA West Coast Green Hunter Incentive Program offers an opportunity for green hunters to win prize money year-round in Incentive Stake classes and participate in the fall season Championships. In addition to the Finals prize money, ribbon winners also earned hats, saddle pads, and coolers, courtesy of DaMoor’s Tack & Feed. The top 4 also rode away with Mary’s Tack & Feed Gift Certificates.CPHA West Coast Green Hunter 3’ & 3’3” Incentive ChampionshipPlace – Entry Number – Horse – Rider – Owner – Rd 1/Rd 2 = Average855 – Next Monday – Tara Metzner – Davlyn Farms – 82/87 = 84.5567 – Reese’s – Nick Haness – West Coast Equine Partners, LLC – 86/82 = 84743 – Exquisite RW – Gabriella Pattinson – Amy Eynon – 72/84 = 78601 – Philadelphia Story – Leslie Steele – Balmoral – 68/78 = 73723 – Cavito 2 – Alec Lawler – Emma Borders – 70/70 = 70252 – Magic – Jenny Karazissis – Heidi Kane – 32/80 = 56CPHA West Coast Green Hunter 3’ & 3’3” Incentive ChampionshipPlace – Entry Number – Horse – Rider – Owner – Rd 1/Rd 2 = Average565 – Fan Club – Nick Haness – West Coast Equine Partners LLC – 87/88 = 87.5273 – Dot Com – Katie Taylor – Lexie Looker – 86/86 = 86400 – MacArthur – John Bragg – Bridgeport Farms – 84/85 = 84.5624 – Serengeti – Peter Lombardo – Janie Andrew – 85/82 = 83.5566 – Game Day – Nick Haness – West Coast Equine Partners LLC – 82/83 = 82.5221 – Picnic – Jenny Karazissis – JKLM Partners – 80/82 = 81468 – Cartier Du Rouet – Jenny Karazissis – Heidi Kane – 78/80 = 79613 – Calida – Krystalle Glosser – Julia Koetting – 75/77 = 76623 – Monaco – John Zambrano – Glenda Monkarsch – = 73/76 = 74.5284 – Wilten’s Bubblegum – Katie Taylor – Lexie Looker – 70/78 = 74622 – Graduate – Peter Lombardo – Ann Adams – 73/45 = 59669 – Lift Off – Daphne Foran – Mandy Hosford – 43/68 = 55.5 Tags: Blenheim EquiSports, Tara Metzner, Nick Haness, California Professional Horsemen’s Association, West Coast Green Hunter Incentive Championships, Next Monday, Email* More from News:MARS Bromont CCI Announces Requirements For US-Based RidersThe first set of requirements to allow American athletes and support teams to enter Canada for the June 2-6 competition have been released.Canadian Eventer Jessica Phoenix Reaches the 100 CCI4*-S MarkPhoenix achieved the milestone while riding Pavarotti at the inaugural 2021 CCI4*-S at the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event.Tribunal Satisfied That Kocher Made Prolonged Use of Electric SpursAs well as horse abuse, the US rider is found to have brought the sport into disrepute and committed criminal acts under Swiss law.Washington International Horse Show Returns to TryonTIEC will again provide the venue for the WIHS Oct. 26-31 with a full schedule of hunter, jumper and equitation classes.last_img read more

2 students killed in California school shooting, 16-year-old suspect in hospital: Live updates

first_imgChiccoDodiFC/iStock(LOS ANGELES) — A 14-year-old boy and 16-year-old girl are dead and three other students are injured after a classmate opened fire at a high school in Southern California Thursday morning, officials said.The 16-year-old male suspect was taken into custody and is in the hospital in “grave condition” from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, authorities said.Detectives reviewed video from the scene which showed the gunman in the quad of Saugus High School in Santa Clarita when he took a gun from his backpack, shot five people and then shot himself in the head, authorities said. The early morning school shooting was on the suspect’s birthday, authorities said.The surviving victims are a 14-year-old girl, a 15-year-old girl and a 14-year-old boy.Terrified students barricaded in classrooms before they fled the campus to search for their concerned parents, who had gathered in the streets.“I just started running,” sophomore Brooklyn Moreno said. “There was girls falling in front of me and I tried to help them up, then just kept running ’cause I didn’t want to get hurt, either.”The weapon, a .45 caliber semiautomatic pistol, was recovered with no more bullets left, authorities said.The suspect’s girlfriend and his mother are speaking with detectives, authorities said.The shooting was reported at 7:38 a.m. local time during what’s called “Zero Period,” roughly an hour before the school day officially begins at 8 a.m. and is often used for extracurricular classes, police said.When 17-year-old Hayden Trowbridge heard the gunshots, his classmates pushed their desks to the door as a barricade, he told ABC News.The teen said he grabbed his metal water bottle to use as a weapon as they all hid under their desks, crying and holding each other.Trowbridge said he had also practiced putting a book in front of his chest to protect against a fatal shot, but he didn’t have anything big enough nearby.Choir teacher Kaitlin Holt said one girl, shot in the hip and shoulder, was rushed into her classroom by other students. Holt told ABC News she gave the girl first aid and called 911.Moreno said she was in the school’s quad when she heard what she thought was a balloon popping. She took off running.“I never thought this would happen at my school,” Moreno told ABC Los Angeles station KABC. “I’m still kinda in shock right now. I’ve been shaking and crying a lot — I’m an emotional wreck.”As the search for the suspect was unfolding, officials urge those who live in the area to lock their doors and other schools were placed on lockdown.Misty Wolf, a Saugus High School graduate whose 16-year-old daughter goes to a nearby school, said they were just arriving when her daughter’s school was placed on lockdown.“We were all getting there and parents heard shots — or what we thought were shots,” Wolf told ABC News. “The nice guy who waves us in the lot every morning started shouting at the kids walking to get out of the way get up the hill. We were all trying to get out. People were confused.”“Having my kid, who is already dealing with things in life, being scared because I told her to duck down because they don’t know where the shooter is — is hard,” Wolf said. “There was another [school lockdown] a few years ago and she never wanted to leave her classroom after it. I’m worried that this will make her not want to be at school because she doesn’t feel safe.”Moments before news of the shooting broke, Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., was on the Senate floor calling on his colleagues to bring up a universal background checks bill that was passed by the House earlier this year.He asked for unanimous consent to pass the legislation dubbed the “Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019” that would establish new background check requirements for firearm transfers between private parties. The House approved of the measure in February in a 240-90 vote.His fellow Democratic Connecticut senator, Richard Blumenthal, was in the middle of his remarks on gun violence when he was handed a note informing him of the reported shooting.In August, the William S. Hart Union High School District, which includes Saugus High School, voted to extend a contract for school safety for another year for $1.05 million, local newspaper, The Santa Clarita Valley Signal, reported. Schools in the district began holding lockdown drills several years ago, a public information officer for the school district told Santa Clarita radio station KHTS in 2018 after the Parkland shooting in Florida.Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.last_img read more

Suspect in disappearance of Aniah Blanchard ordered to take DNA test

first_imgiStock(AUBURN, Ala.) — The suspect charged with kidnapping 19-year-old Aniah Blanchard, the stepdaughter of UFC heavyweight fighter Walt Harris, has been ordered by a judge to take a DNA test, according to reports.Blanchard was last seen at a convenience store in Auburn, Alabama, on Oct. 23. Surveillance video from inside the convenience store showed both Yazeed and Blanchrad inside at the same time, and a witness outside the store said he saw Yazeed force her into her car, according to an arrest affidavit.The witness who saw Blanchard being forced into her car told police that he cried after not immediately telling police about the encounter, saying his girlfriend told him not to get involved, Mixon said.Yazeed was arrested on Nov. 7 in Escambia County, Florida, and was extradited back to Alabama. He is charged with kidnapping in the first degree, a designation that includes the intent to inflict physical injury.When he was arrested in Pensacola, Yazeed allegedly admitted to authorities that it was him in the surveillance video but requested legal counsel after, prosecutors said in court, ABC Birmingham affiliate WBMA-TV reported.It was also revealed in court that a man had driven Yazeed from Montgomery to Pensacola, according to the station.Blanchard’s vehicle, a black 2017 Honda CRV, was found on Oct. 25 near an apartment complex in Montgomery, Alabama, about 50 miles away from the convenience store. She was reported missing by her family the day before.Blood evidence “indicative of someone suffering a life-threatening injury” was found on the passenger side of vehicle, according to the arrest affidavit. The blood was confirmed to be Blanchard’s.At the time of Yazeed’s arrest, he was out of jail on $60,000 bond. Bush denied a request from Yazeed’s defense attorney to grant Yazeed bail as well as a request to have prosecutors disclose the identity of the witness.Yazeed has 26 prior arrest, prosecutors said in court, according to WBMA-TV.Yazeed’s attorney, Elijah Beaver, declined to comment on the case to ABC News, citing a gag order imposed by the court.Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.last_img read more

Hearing and Compliance Officer

first_imgJob Description:The Office of Community Standards at the State University of NewYork College at Oneonta invites applications for the position ofHearing and Compliance Officer. This is a 10-month, full-timetemporary position, starting August 1st. The Hearing Officer isresponsible for assisting in the day-to-day operations of thestudent conduct and COVID compliance systems. The Officer will beinvolved in a variety of activities pertaining to the studentconduct and compliance processes. Additional Information:For other employment and regional opportunities, please visit ourwebsite at: https://suny.oneonta.edu/employment .Pursuant to Executive Order 161, no State entity, as defined by theExecutive Order, is permitted to ask, or mandate, in any form, thatan applicant for employment provide his or her currentcompensation, or any prior compensation history, until such time asthe applicant is extended a conditional offer of employment withcompensation. If such information has been requested from youbefore such time, please contact the Governor’s Office of EmployeeRelations at (518) 474-6988 or via email at [email protected] Oneonta values a diverse college community. Please visit ourwebsite on diversity at: https://suny.oneonta.edu/diversity . Moreover, theCollege is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action employer. Women,persons of color, persons with disabilities, and protected veteransare encouraged to apply. Requirements:Required qualifications: master’s degree in higher educationadministration -OR- bachelor’s degree with significant experience;experience administering conduct hearings (assigning charges,hearing cases, writing decision rationale).Preferred: familiarity with Maxient Conduct Management system;skilled with Microsoft Office especially Teams and Excel; andexperience working with and serving diverse populations. The primary responsibility of the Office of Community Standards isto adjudicate violations of the Code of Student Conduct. Theconduct process is designed to be an educational one which fostersstudent learning, personal integrity, and ethical development, aswell as the promotion of a safe and healthy campus environment. Tolearn more about the College or the Office, please visit https://suny.oneonta.edu/ or https://suny.oneonta.edu/office-community-standards. About SUNY Oneonta:SUNY Oneonta is a public college in Central New York, enrollingabout 6,500 students in bachelor’s, master’s and graduatecertificate programs. Most of SUNY Oneonta’s main campus lieswithin the City of Oneonta, which is located in the northernfoothills of the Catskill Mountains, about a four-hour drive fromNew York City, Boston and Philadelphia. With a population just shyof 14,000, the City of Oneonta is the largest municipality in arural region dominated by agriculture and tourism.Known as an exemplary residential campus that values inclusion,service and sustainability, SUNY Oneonta is a nurturing communitywhere students grow intellectually, thrive socially and livepurposefully. Employees give SUNY Oneonta high marks for work/lifebalance and culture. The College’s indeed.com and glassdoor.comratings are 4.5 and 4.1, respectively.Beyond campus, many residents enjoy the natural beauty of theCatskills. Outdoor activities such as hiking, biking and runningare among the most popular. Several ski areas nearby typicallyoperate for seasons lasting over 100 days beginning in lateNovember or early December. During the summer, boating, swimmingand other water sports are popular on lakes throughout theregion. Maintain student compliance databases for COVID compliancerelated to Daily Health Screening and Weekly Testing.Monitor automated administrative actions, such as ID carddeactivation.Communicate with individual students regarding their COVIDcompliance concerns and/or questions.Adjudicate cases for students repeatedly out ofcompliance.Liaison with Residence Life professional staff regardingin-hall COVID cases and compliance concerns or questions.Maintain open communication with IT and academic staff toaddress unique compliance concerns.Evaluate student requests for testing exemptions; placeexemptions in database when approved.Assist with investigation and adjudication of reported Code ofConduct violations. Application Instructions:To apply online go to: http://oneonta.interviewexchange.com/candapply.jsp?JOBID=130288Please upload a letter of interest and resume. Contact informationfor three professional references is required.last_img read more

Evidence that coronavirus originated at Chinese lab is ‘inconclusive,’ top general says

first_imgMilley’s assessment contrasts with that of Brig. Gen. Paul Friedrichs, who shot down the idea that the virus originated in a laboratory as part of experiments involving bioweapons.“And if I could just be clear, there is nothing to that,” Friedrichs, the Joint Staff surgeon, said on April 6. “Someone asked me if I was worried. That is not something that I’m worried about. I think, you know, right now what we’re concerned about is how do we treat people who are sick, how do we prevent people from getting sick. But no, I am not worried about this as a bioweapon.” Also On POLITICO Coronavirus in Europe: Coverage in full By POLITICO The top U.S. general said evidence that the coronavirus originated at a Chinese research lab is “inconclusive,” following a report that U.S. officials warned of safety concerns at a research facility in the city of Wuhan two years ago.“We’ve had a lot of intelligence take a hard look at that,” Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley told reporters today. “At this point it’s inconclusive, although the weight of the evidence seems to indicate natural. But we don’t know for certain.”The comments come hours after The Washington Post reported that U.S. officials were concerned about inadequate safety at a Wuhan lab that was conducting studies on coronavirus from bats. According to the Post, U.S. officials who had visited the lab dispatched diplomatic cables in January 2018 back to Washington warning about safety and management weaknesses at the lab, and also that the facility’s work on bat coronaviruses represented a risk of a new SARS-like pandemic.last_img read more

Harvard faculty members discuss state of research

first_imgA panel of experts said Tuesday (March 11) that stem cell research’s biggest impact on patients’ health likely won’t come from therapies that inject stem cells or implant tissues made from them, but rather from the knowledge gained by examining diseased tissues grown from the cells.Kenneth Chien, Charles Addison and Elizabeth Ann Sanders Professor of Basic Science at Harvard Medical School, head of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute’s Cardiovascular Program, and director of Massachusetts General Hospital’s Cardiovascular Research Center, said he expected stem cell research to transform our understanding of diseases over the next 10 years or so and lead to new drugs and treatment strategies.Stem cells’ impact on that transformation will come as scientists study diseased tissues grown from the cells of people afflicted by particular ailments. By growing cells themselves, they can watch as a disease progresses and better understand the driving forces behind it.Chien was less optimistic about stem cells’ impact on the future of cell replacement therapy — growing new cells, tissues, and even organs from stem cells to replace a patient’s diseased ones. For some ailments, he said, implanting replacement tissues grown from stem cells may turn out to be the best approach. But he also said stem cell-based therapy comes with its own complications — like the danger of an implanted cell turning cancerous — and he doesn’t see such therapy ever completely replacing pharmaceuticals and other traditional approaches.Chien made his comments during a public forum sponsored by the Harvard Stem Cell Institute Tuesday evening at the Fairchild Biochemistry Building. The event, attended by about 80 people, was the third in the institute’s public forums this year, which aim to stimulate discussion of the many aspects of stem cell research, such as science, health care, ethics, and government policy.The event, “Stem Cells and Key Diseases,” was moderated by Assistant Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology Kevin Eggan and featured experts in three different areas of stem cell science: diabetes, neurology, and cardiology. Joining Chien were Professor of Medicine Gordon Weir, head of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute’s Diabetes Program and head of the Joslin Diabetes Center’s Section on Islet Transplantation and Cell Biology; and Professor of Surgery and of Neurology Jeffrey Macklis, head of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute’s Nervous System Program and director of Massachusetts General Hospital’s Center for Nervous System Repair.Weir kicked the event off, discussing goals and progress in diabetes-focused stem cell research. The goal in such work is, he said, simple: to increase the number of insulin-producing cells. There are two main thrusts for research — one focuses on creating new cells for implantation, and the second focuses on getting the remaining cells in the pancreas to multiply.“All we want to do is replicate insulin-producing islet cells,” Weir said. “In the end, the cause of diabetes is not enough [insulin-producing] cells.”Though the goal is simple, achieving it is not. Diabetes is an autoimmune disease, where the body for some reason destroys its own cells, which complicates transplanting cells made from a person’s own tissues. Research aimed at creating new insulin-producing cells is focused on understanding the developmental steps a cell goes through to develop from a stem cell to an insulin-producing beta cell.Considerable progress has been made on this front already. In February, researchers reported that they implanted cells into mice that are precursors to beta cells. The cells went on to develop into mature beta cells. The problem, the researchers reported, is that some of the cells also became cancerous, which has to be addressed before such therapy is used in people.Macklis gave the audience a view of the complexity of the nervous system, saying its diversity presents a hurdle to any work on regenerative medicine. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of types of different neurons in the brain, he said. They function as differently as a family sedan and a jet plane. Some of the research today focuses on understanding the specific types of neurons that are attacked in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig’s disease, so they can try to prevent the death of those cells, support diseased ones, and enhance regeneration.Chien drew an analogy between today’s stem cell research and heart transplantation surgery in the past, saying it took 20 years for researchers and clinicians to get it right. We’re at the beginning of a similar process with stem cells, he said, but the scientific work will eventually lead somewhere.“We have to be careful about not raising false hopes,” Chien said. “We have to let science take us there.”[email protected]last_img read more

Cardboard Bicycle Can Change the World, Says Israeli Inventor

first_imgAddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to FacebookFacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterTwitterShare to EmailEmailEmailShare to RedditRedditRedditShare to MoreAddThisMoreA sturdy bicycle made entirely of cardboard is an eco-friendly way to bring transportation to developing nations for just ten bucks.A coat of waterproofing resin and a layer of gray paint makes this cheap bike look slick and operate smoothly.Its Israeli inventor, Izhar Gafni, 50, is an expert in designing automated mass-production lines. He is an amateur cycling enthusiast who for years toyed with an idea of making a bicycle from cardboard. He told Reuters that after much trial and error, his latest prototype has now proven itself and mass production will begin in a few months.(READ the story from Reuters)AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to FacebookFacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterTwitterShare to EmailEmailEmailShare to RedditRedditRedditShare to MoreAddThisMorelast_img read more