Feb 15, 2012 (CIDRAP News) – The acute need for clearer policies concerning the handling of potentially risky life-sciences research was the main theme that came across today in a Harvard forum on the controversy over studies on H5N1 avian influenza viruses with increased transmissibility.”This is an area that is really ripe for policy definition,” said Jean Guillemin, PhD, senior advisor in the MIT Security Studies Program and author of the book American Anthrax, one of four experts who participated in the hour-long discussion, which was presented by the Harvard School of Public Health.Others on the panel spoke of the need for policy discussions at the international level. The first such discussion will begin tomorrow, when the World Health Organization (WHO) convenes a group of experts in Geneva to talk about issues raised by the two H5N1 studies.The two studies involved the generation of an H5N1 virus and an H5N1-H1N1 reassortant that spread among ferrets by the airborne route. In December the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB), which advises the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), recommended that the details be deleted from the two reports before they are published. HHS agreed and passed the recommendation to Science and Nature, the journals considering publishing them.The two journals have said they will go along with the recommendation if a way can be found to provide the details of the reports to scientists with a legitimate need for them. But since the NSABB recommendation was unveiled, scientists, biosecurity experts, and public health officials have vigorously debated the issue in the media and in journal commentaries.Today’s forum, which was streamed over the Web, was shorter and less heated than a discussion presented on Feb 2 by the New York Academy of Sciences. In that session, experts supporting and opposing the NSABB recommendation argued about the threat represented by the mutant viruses, the potential public health benefits of the research, and related issues.Biodefense vs public healthThe general shape of H5N1 research controversy was sketched by panelist Marc Lipsitch, PhD, professor of epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health and director of the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics. He was followed by Barry R. Bloom, DSc, PhD, former dean of the school and a professor in its Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, who outlined the major arguments and counterarguments in the debate.The central questions, Bloom said, come down to two: “What do we publish, what do we make available? And how do we work with recombinant viruses?”Guillemin said the controversy has exposed the divide between the biodefense and public health worlds. By way of background, she noted that the spate of biodefense funding unleashed by the terrorist attacks of 2001 focused initially on class A bioterror pathogens, including anthrax, plague, and smallpox.But over the years the emphasis shifted to global emerging diseases (such as H5N1), a category that now claims about 60% of the money, while about 28% goes to the bioterrorism area. The SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) epidemic of 2003 did much to shift the emphasis away from bioterrorism, she said.”Uniting the bioterrorism threat with the infectious disease threat meant the merger of two very different camps,” Guillemin said. “The biodefense mentality is very allied to a military mentality of getting ahead of the enemy. You try to figure out what the pathogens are going to do and get ahead of them.”In defense research, secrecy is one of the things scientists routinely accept in return for their funding, she went on. In contrast, she said, “From the public health point of view, the idea is that the protection of the public is an absolute priority, and secrecy is the last thing you want.”You can look at all sorts of outbreaks . . . where secrecy was a factor in the playing out of an epidemic, and people died. That’s a very strong public health position. There is kind of a conflict of cultures.”This conflict points up the need for clear policies on the conduct and dissemination of potentially dangerous research, she added.The other panelist was David R. Franz, DVM, PhD, an NSABB member and former commander of the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases. He expressed concern about the ability to mount an adequate public health response if a highly transmissible H5N1 virus got loose.The powerful tools now available to life-sciences researchers have been used for good and will continue to be used for good, he said, “But we can’t ignore the possibility that they’ll be used for harm.””This particular virus is special,” he said, referring to the mutant viruses generated in the two studies. “This is one that has really made us stand up and take notice.”Lab safety worries”We may not be able to mount an appropriate and adequate public health response for something like this . . . if it were lethal and transmissible,” Franz added. “I’m not sure we could get medical countermeasures to the right places and in the right quantities. On this one I’m more concerned about [lab] safety than about security. I think there’ll be more scientists working in legitimate labs on bugs like this than bioterrorists working in caves.”Lipsitch said the H5N1 studies are valuable because they remind the world that the H5N1 pandemic threat is real in the face of growing complacency. At the same time, he seconded Franz’s concern about the risk of lab accidents that could release the mutant viruses. He noted that the two H5N1 studies were done in biosafety level 3 (BSL-3) labs, a notch below the top biosecurity level.”I feel strongly that this [research] should be done under very high containment,” he said. “On balance I’d favor redacting the details [of the studies], but I don’t feel as strongly about that as about the containment issue. This should not be in hundreds of labs around the world.”Bloom dissented on the need to use BSL-4 restrictions for this type of research: “I disagree with Marc on working in extreme containment. Working in a space suit and rubber gloves seems like a way to predispose to accidents and spills. Containment is in your fingers and concentration and in the training you have.”Skepticism on bioterrorismThe panelists voiced some skepticism about the risk of bioterrorist exploitation of the H5N1 studies. Guillemin said such an eventuality would be “amazing,” commenting, “the one case we had, if the FBI is right, came from an insider at a military lab.”Panel moderator Sharon Begley, senior US health and science correspondent for Reuters, noted that one of the H5N1 viruses was generated by passing it 10 times through ferrets. She asked if someone with a B.S. degree and access to mail-order could do that.Lipsitch replied that both experiments involved a combination of genetic engineering and passaging in ferrets. To suggest that terrorists in caves are the main concern is a little misleading, he said, adding, “There are countries that have aspirations to cause destruction in other countries, and they have a certain amount of technical sophistication.”Bloom said his view is that “transparency and openness is the best constraint for people intending to do harm.” He added, “The general public of all countries should know what we’re up to and know that there are people concerned about their safety.”Bloom and Franz both called for global discussions to develop policies on dual-use research.”I hope the WHO meeting will lead to clear guidance,” said Franz. “But more important, I hope that in future they might bring together the other 190 states of the world that have a vote and are involved, so that we might think about this as a truly global problem.”Guillemin called for the United States to take the lead: “I think the US leads the way in defining norms and policies that influence the rest of the world, and I think it would be wonderful if we could hold a kind of Asilomar conference . . . to talk about how the money should be spent.” She referred to a conference in 1975 at which scientists developed guidelines for research involving recombinant DNA.See also: Harvard School of Public Health forum pageFeb 15 CP story on the WHO meetingFeb 3 CIDRAP News story “Live debate airs major divisions in H5N1 research battle”
SAN DIEGO, Calif. – Schwartz Advisors LLC, a mergers and acquisitions advisory and management consulting firm focused on the automotive aftermarket, recently added two new partners. Dennis Welvaert and Mitch Williams have joined Schwartz Advisors and will work on M&A initiatives and strategic consulting projects. Dennis Welvaert recently retired as president of the Dayco North American aftermarket division and also was responsible for Dayco’s Australian operations. While with Dayco, Welvaert held senior executive-level positions in the OEM, industrial and aftermarket divisions. He also held the position of vice president and general manager of the aftermarket for Mark IV Industries, which consisted of Purolator Filtration, Eaglemotive Fan Clutch and Dayco. Mitch Williams is former president and COO of Hella Inc., where he was responsible for special OE and aftermarket activities for Hella in the United States and Canada. He also served as the COO of Pilot Automotive, a supplier of accessory products to the automotive aftermarket. Williams’ experience at Hella and Pilot included work in the OEM, traditional aftermarket, performance, Internet and mail order, automotive retail, mass merchandise and heavy-duty channels of distribution. “We are excited to have Denny Welvaert and Mitch Williams on our team,” said Rick Schwartz, Schwartz Advisors Managing Partner. “In addition to the success both men had at their respective companies, Denny and Mitch have held other leadership positions in the automotive aftermarket. Denny is current chairman of the Global Automotive Aftermarket Symposium and he is former chairman of AASA, a former member of the University of the Aftermarket Foundation Board of Trustees and a past member of the AAIA board of directors. Mitch Williams is former Chairman of SEMA, and he has been active throughout his career in other aftermarket industry trade association work.” Schwartz added that Welvaert and Williams join Mort Schwartz, Rick Keister, Larry Samuelson, Gary Paulson, Lou Basenese, Glenn Martin, John Passante and Steve Ganster on the Schwartz Advisors team. “I am excited to be on the Schwartz Advisors team. No other consulting or advisory group has the same level of industry knowledge and operating experience in the aftermarket,” said Welvaert. AdvertisementClick Here to Read MoreAdvertisement Williams added, “I was attracted to the Schwartz Advisors team due to the caliber of professionals on the staff. We have an incredible group of people here.”
E.ON Global Commodities (EGC), E.ON SE’s Düsseldorf – based energy trading unit, has appointed two new Chief Commercial Officers, thus completing the restructuring of its Board of Management. Effective November 1, David Finch will become Chief Commercial Officer for global trading in coal, oil, LNG and freight. Finch currently heads EGC’s coal and freight trading division. Stephen Asplin has been named Chief Commercial Officer for power and gas trading. Asplin will join EGC from Vattenfall Energy Trading, where he is currently Managing Director. His start date will be determined shortly. Egbert Laege, Board member in charge of asset optimization, is leaving the company at his own request as of December 1 to take up new challenges elsewhere. He will continue to hold his seats on the supervisory boards of two energy exchanges, the European Power Exchange and Powernext.Leonhard Birnbaum, Chairman of the EGC Supervisory Board, thanked Egbert Laege for his contribution to E.ON: “Egbert combined and managed two key energy trading functions for the E.ON Group – Asset Optimization and Dispatch – within the scope of our reorganization at the European level. He also played an invaluable role for our company in integrating the Ruhrgas AG portfolio into our energy trading activities. We greatly regret his departure and wish him all the best for the future. On the other hand, with David Finch and Stephen Asplin we have gained two outstanding managers with long-standing experience in the international wholesale markets for the Board of Management.”Christopher Delbrück, Chairman of the EGC Board of Management said: “The new configuration of our trading operations reflects our focus areas: first, the trading of physical commodities on globally interconnected markets and, second, asset-based power and gas activities in Europe and the US. With this new set-up, E.ON Global Commodities will pursue its ambitious growth targets and at the same time ensure that E.ON secures maximum added value from its power plants and other assets in European and US power and gas markets.”US-born David Finch joined E.ON in 2009 after posts at Essent Trading, Duke Energy and Coastal Corporation. Since then he has successfully developed EGC’s coal and freight business. Stephen Asplin, born in the UK, was manager at Mobil, Enron and Nuon Energy Trade & Wholesale before taking up his current position at Vattenfall Energy Trading.In October EGC announced the appointments of David Port and Damian Bunyan to the Board of Management as Chief Risk Officer and Chief Process Officer, respectively.[mappress]LNG World News Staff, October 22, 2013
Lerwick’s Holmsgarth North project reached a major milestone recently with completion of the sheet pile walls of the new pier, undertaken by contractor Tulloch Developments.The new jetty is already providing a significant shelter improvement.The overall project is due for completion one year from now.This photo, taken by John Coutts and published by the Lerwick Port Authority today, shows a good impression of the 805 meters (half an imperial mile) of quay walls that are now installed.The new jetty will provide deeper berthing and more working area for the fishing fleet, while the outer arm of the L-shaped jetty will create a dock sheltering a planned new white fish market. The outer arm will also be suitable for berthing offshore industry vessels.[mappress mapid=”21290″]
Today’s news that inflation turned negative in April has made headlines and prompted debate on how this actually impacts on the economy – and therefore the construction sector?The first response to this is to answer the question of why deflation is bad for an economy. Recent experience of deflation in western economies shows that it affects the natural order because the value of real money actually increases over time. This benefits creditors and harms debtors as it means the real value of debt increases – creating disincentives for firms to make investments in the future. Other reasons for economists disliking deflation are that it weighs negatively on future expectations of economic performance. For example, wage growth becomes suppressed harming overall output and disposable income for employees. These impacts would of course be relevant for the construction sector as well as the economy as a whole.At the moment the cause of negative inflation is largely down to falls in the cost of transport (mainly due to the falling oil price) and the fall in food prices. The impact of the low oil price is therefore likely to disappear from the figures in the coming monthsSo should the construction sector be worried about today’s figures? At the moment the cause of negative inflation is largely down to falls in the cost of transport (mainly due to the falling oil price) and the fall in food prices. The impact of the low oil price is therefore likely to disappear from the figures in the coming months since the price of a barrel of oil has been increasing in recent months. It is therefore likely that CPI will turn positive again and therefore the real danger of deflation, when it persists and consumers and producers factor in falling prices, should be avoided.For construction it is also important to note that the CPI index does not include housing costs (mortgages) and that the House Price Index was also released today which showed prices increased 9.6% over the past year. Given that so much of construction’s recent growth has been down to the housing sector it is more likely that the industry will be affected by this measure rather than CPI as a whole.Michael Dall is an economist at construction market analyst Barbour ABI
WWL has been operating in Barcelona since 1987 through its agent Agencia Maritima Espanola Evge (Evge), as well as through an inland transportation company providing trucking and other inland transport services.The new Iberia branch will be headed up by Ramon Oliete – previously head of the WWL operations at Evge – and eight additional staff members from Evge have transferred into the new branch.”Spain and Portugal have been suffering from the economic downturn in Europe over the past few years. However, a more recent trend is that auto and equipment companies have relocated production to Spain, resulting in increased export and demand for logistics services,” said Erik Noeklebye, head of region Europe at WWL.”When a market grows to this extent we ramp us our services to support our customers’ logistics needs both on the ocean and on land,” he added.Evge will remain WWL’s husbandry agent for Spain, as well as continuing as the company’s agent in Greece and Turkey.www.2wglobal.com
Swire Shipping will deploy two Miho-class vessels to service the route, which will have the following port rotation: Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane (Australia), Noumea, Prony Bay (New Caledonia), Suva (Fiji), Port Vila, Santo (Vanuatu), Prony Bay, Melbourne.The Pacific Islands service will also provide connections to Tarawa (Kiribati), Majuro (Marshall Islands), Apia (Samoa), Pago Pago (American Samoa) and Nuku’alofa (Tonga). It will also improve Swire Shipping’s Fiji to Vanuatu connection with three sailings per month, said the shipping line.In conjunction with the introduction of the Pacific Islands service, Swire Shipping will enhance its Australia to Papua New Guinea (PNG) trade with an eight-day frequency from Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney to Port Moresby and Lae.Meanwhile, Swire Shipping’s connection from New Zealand and Fiji to PNG will be boosted with the addition of a Port Moresby call on every sailing. The service frequency will also be improved to 16 days.In addition, the carrier will enhance port rotation from Asia to the Pacific, offering a monthly frequency to Fiji, Samoa, American Samoa and Tonga.www.swireshipping.com
Newly merged Eversheds Sutherland has topped a list of best law firm brands for the third year running. According to the Acritas UK Law Firm Brand Index, published today, the firm’s national coverage and ability to get brand recognition in regions where the City-based firms don’t have much coverage, was key to its success.The firm has offices across the UK, including London, Birmingham, Edinburgh and Cardiff as well as internationally. Earlier this year, the Gazette reported that what was then Eversheds had completed a merger with US firm Sutherland Asbill & Brennan, creating a global firm called Eversheds Sutherland with combined revenue of more than £600m.The index was first published in 2012 and is based on surveys and interviews with managers of businesses that require legal services, carried out by research company Sharplegal.The analysis takes into account: name awareness, favourability towards each firm, reputation in top level litigation and mergers and acquisitions, as well as which firms are most used for high value work.Lee Ranson, chief executive at Eversheds Sutherland, said: ‘This outstanding result speaks for itself, with Eversheds Sutherland achieving a number one ranking for a record third consecutive year.’The rest of the list was dominated by the major City firms.Pinsent Masons, which has alternated between second and third place in the index over the last five years, has risen one place since 2016 to take second place.Making up the rest of the top five is international firm DLA Piper and magic circle firms Slaughter and May and Linklaters.Clifford Chance is ranked sixth while Allen & Overy, Baker McKenzie, Herbert Smith Freehills and Clyde & Co make up the rest of the top ten.
FAIVELEY recorded net sales of €619·3m for the year to March 31 2007, in line with company’s forecasts and up 8·9% on the €568·9m reported for 2005. Adjusting the figures to reflect changes to the group structure in the past year gives an increase of 7·4%, or 7·7% at constant exchange rates. The order book was up 17% from the March 31 2006 figure of €737m, standing at €862m on the same date this year, including business acquired with the purchase of Espas Group in February (RG 4.07 p231).
ANGEL TRAINS: Royal Bank of Scotland’s long-anticipated sale of rolling stock leasing company Angel Trains to a consortium led by Babcock & Brown was announced on June 13.Definitive agreements with an enterprise value of £3·6bn of have been signed, and subject to regulatory approval the transaction is expected to be completed by the end of 2008. Angel Trains is being acquired by a consortium of investors including the €2·2bn Babcock & Brown European Infrastructure Fund, Australian investment manager AMP Capital Investors, Deutsche Bank and pension funds advised by Access Capital Advisers. On completion of the deal, Australia-based Babcock & Brown will have global interests in rail assets worth more than A$9bn, including around 26 000 vehicles. Thus includes European leasing company CB Rail, a joint venture between Babcock & Brown and HBOS of the UK. Angel Trains currently provides UK operators with around 4 100 passenger vehicles and 280 locomotives, and is a partner in the Express Rail Alliance bidding to supply the IEP next generation of inter-city trains. Angel Trains Cargo and Angel Trains Europa provide 240 locomotives and 180 multiple-units to operators in 11 other European countries, and the first wagon leasing contract was announced in February. Head of AMP Capital’s European infrastructure activities, Rob Gregor said the consortium is a long term investor, and it will be ‘business at usual’ Angel Trains. ‘We have agreed this acquisition at a time of continued growth of the rail freight and passenger markets in the UK and Europe, and we believe that the liberalisation of the European market and government investment in the UK mean that this is an exciting time to be investing in the UK and European rail sectors.’