Panel faults NIH risk assessment for Boston biodefense lab

first_img Klare Allen, a community organizer who has led opposition to the lab’s construction, told the Washington Post that she was pleased with the NRC’s findings. “The NRC pretty much confirmed everything we’ve been saying for the last 5 years,” she said. Dec 5, 2007 (CIDRAP News) – Amid controversy around the construction of a biodefense laboratory in Boston, a project risk assessment from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which is funding the lab, has been condemned as unsound by the National Research Council (NRC). An NRC committee was named to look into the NIH’s risk assessment of the biosafety level 4 lab, which will be located at Boston University, in response to a request from the state of Massachusetts, according to the NRC report. The state made the request after a court challenge invalidated the state’s finding that the NIH’s draft environmental impact report was adequate. See also: The NRC report will be among other public comments the NIH will review as it finalizes its risk analysis, according to a Nov 30 Washington Post report. The Post story, published Nov 30, said the lab is 70% complete. Federal officials have said that if they lose court battles over the lab, it will be used to study less dangerous pathogens, according to the story. Nov 29 NRC press release “Environmental justice communities are often faced with environmental stressors that wealthier communities do not face,” the committee wrote, adding that the South End neighborhood where the new lab is located could face extra health challenges if residents’ health is poor, public health services are lacking, or insects or rodents are common in the area. Besides voicing several detailed concerns about the NIH’s risk assessment methodology, the advisory committee said the agency’s report glossed over “environmental justice” issues related to the lab’s inner-city setting. Also, the committee faulted the NIH report for focusing mainly on a single individual or a small number of lab workers in analyzing the probability of a release of a lethal agent. The NIH should have included other possibilities, such as equipment failure, security breaches, and malevolent action, the report states.center_img “The NIH draft report has serious weaknesses, in particular regarding selection of pathogens and lack of transparency of the modeling, leading the committee to conclude that the draft is not sound and credible,” said NRC committee chairman John Ahearne, executive director emeritus of Sigma Xi, the Scientific Research Society, in the NRC press release. One of the advisory committee’s criticisms centers on the pathogens the NIH selected in the scenarios modeled and described in the risk assessment: Ebola hemorrhagic fever virus, monkeypox virus, Sabia hemorrhagic fever virus, and Rift Valley fever virus. The findings from the NRC, an arm of the National Academies, were released on Nov 29 in a 28-page report posted on the NRC’s Web site. The National Academies consist of four private, nonprofit, congressionally chartered institutions that advise the US government on science, technology, and health policy issues. After it lost the court challenge, the state asked the NIH to produce a risk assessment addressing additional worst-case scenarios, alternative sites for the lab, and mitigation issues in the event of a pathogen release from the lab. NRC report on NIH risk analysis of Boston BSL 4 laboratory “The committee acknowledges the need for biocontainment laboratories in the United States, including BSL 4 laboratories, and recognizes that BSL 4 laboratories are being operated in other major urban areas,” he wrote. In a letter to Massachusetts officials that accompanies the report, Ahearne emphasized that the report focuses only on the quality of the NIH risk assessment and shouldn’t be viewed as a statement about the risk of a biocontainment facility in Boston or any other city. The committee said that worst-case scenario planning should have involved agents, such as those that spread by aerosol droplets, that have higher person-to-person transmission rates than most of the agents the NIH included.last_img read more

Lakers’ LeBron James to launch ‘More Than a Vote’ to energize voters, combat voter suppression

first_imgCalifornia Governor Gavin Newsom tweeted a quote from LeBron James on Wednesday night: “This is the time for us to finally make a difference,” adding the hashtag: #VOTE.The tweet was in reference to a New York Times story detailing the Lakers superstar’s plans to launch a voting initiative aimed at protecting African-Americans’ voting rights.James reportedly will partner with other figures from the basketball world and beyond on a project that will be aimed at inspiring African-Americans to register and to cast a ballot in November. Others involved reportedly include Trae Young, Eric Bledsoe, Udonis Haslem, Chiney Ogwumike, Skylar Diggins-Smith, Kendrick Perkins, Sam Perkins, Jalen Rose, as well as the NFL’s Alvin Kamara and comedian Kevin Hart.Going beyond traditional celebrity get-out-the-vote efforts, James told the Times that he’ll use his social media platform to combat voter suppression and that he intends to be vocal about drawing attention to any attempts to restrict the franchise of racial minorities. Trail Blazers beat Grizzlies in play-in, earn first-round series with the Lakers James has long been active off the court, spending millions of dollars in his native Ohio, helping underwrite college tuition for low-income students to attend the University of Akron in addition to opening the I Promise School there.He’s also made his mark in entertainment, launching a media production company with his friend Maverick Carter that has produced an HBO series, “The Shop” — on which Newsom has been a guest, signing California’s “Fair Pay to Play” act in a barber chair beside James.The killing last month of George Floyd by the Minneapolis police reportedly moved James to want “to get out and do a little bit more.”“I’m inspired by the likes of Muhammad Ali, I’m inspired by the Bill Russells and the Kareem Abdul-Jabbars, the Oscar Robertsons — those guys who stood when the times were even way worse than they are today,” James said. “Hopefully, someday down the line, people will recognize me not only for the way I approached the game of basketball, but the way I approached life as an African-American man.”KOBE BRYANT TO RECEIVE EMMYKobe Bryant will be posthumously awarded the 72nd Los Angeles Area Emmy Governors Award for his work beyond the basketball court, the organization announced Wednesday.Spectrum SportsNet nominated the Lakers legend for the honor, which is presented to an individual, company, or organization that has made an outstanding, innovative and visionary achievement in the arts, sciences or management of television, as well as a substantial contribution to the greater L.A. area.Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others died Jan. 26 when the helicopter they were on crashed into the hills near Calabasas.As a five-time NBA champion and two-time Olympic gold medalist, Bryant was not only “a legendary fixture on Southern California television screens for over 20 years,” as the release from the Television Academy said, but someone who also was made an impact in retirement — including on the screen. His “Dear Basketball” won an Oscar for animated short in 2018.Related Articles AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREUCLA alum Kenny Clark signs four-year contract extension with Packers“Yes, we want you to go out and vote, but we’re also going to give you the tutorial,” James told the Times. “We’re going to give you the background of how to vote and what they’re trying to do, the other side, to stop you from voting.“Because of everything that’s going on, people are finally starting to listen to us — we feel like we’re finally getting a foot in the door,” James added. “How long is up to us. We don’t know. But we feel like we’re getting some ears and some attention, and this is the time for us to finally make a difference.”“This is the time for us to finally make a difference.” – @KingJames#VOTE https://t.co/vcwehckNLb— Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) June 11, 2020 Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error How athletes protesting the national anthem has evolved over 17 years center_img “Following his storied NBA career, Bryant continued to inspire others with his passion, purpose and goodwill through countless charitable contributions in the greater Los Angeles and Southern California communities,” the Television Academy said in its release. “He championed a number of worthy causes and critical issues, becoming an ambassador for women’s basketball, a mentor and youth advocate, and raised awareness of homelessness in Los Angeles.”The award will be presented at the 72nd Los Angeles Area Emmy Awards, which will be streamed at 7 p.m. July 18 on Emmys.com. Lakers practice early hoping to answer all questions Trail Blazers, Grizzlies advance to NBA play-in game; Suns, Spurs see playoff dreams dashed Lakers, Clippers schedules set for first round of NBA playoffs last_img read more

West Side Lofts Looking Pretty

first_imgBy John BurtonRED BANK – To the casual eye, it’s largely a construction project still under way, with the dust, and noise of machines and men still hard at work. But in the very near future, “You’ll be living in luxurious surroundings in a downtown atmosphere,” said Lewis Zlotnick, president of Woodmont Properties, one of the partners in building West Side Lofts, as he provided a tour of the project.Woodmont, headquartered in Fairfield, is partnering with Metrovation Terranomics to construct West Side Lofts the large residential and retail development at the corner of West Front Street and Bridge Avenue in the heart of the borough’s west side Arts and Antique District.Metrovation Terranomics is a Washington State-based real estate development firm that counts among its properties The Grove and The Grove West shopping centers, in Shrewsbury.The multiyear project is nearing completion, expected to be finished by February or March, with tenants moving in at that time.On the residential side, the development has 92 rental apartments units, mostly one- and two-bedroom units along with two-story townhomes and three, three story live/work maisonettes spaces, “for those who want to live above their work,” said Lewis Zlotnick, president of Woodmont Properties, believing this concept, “is unique in this area.”Under the residential units and planned amenities is the retail component with approximately 25,000 square feet. So far, Metrovation and Woodmont have leased roughly 12,000 square feet to Triumph Brew Pub and restaurant, which has locations in Princeton and New Hope, Pennsylvania. Zlotnick also announced the latest retail tenant: West Elm home furnishings, which will be using about 11,000 square feet. As for the remaining approximately 2,000 square feet of retail space, Zlotnick said, “We’re waiting on some counter offers.”The project includes a 221-stall enclosed parking garage intended to provide spaces for the commercial and residential tenants, customers as well as making spaces available for the public at large, according to Zlotnick.The developers had previously offered a VIP registration for early leasing of residential units, getting about 2,000 potential tenants to sign up. The registration resulted in 26 leases signed. “That’s a very good statistic, Zlotnick noted, “given the building is not completed.”Rents on the residential units will range from $2,200-$4,400 monthly, depending on the units, Zlotnick said.To give hopeful residents an idea the site has a completed and furnished model, displaying one of the live/work maisonettes spaces. That space has two baths, two bedrooms and full kitchen in the two-tier living quarters, and “it has all the feel of a luxury home,” Zlotnick offered.Every apartment comes with its own hot water heater and washer and dryer, he said.One of the major selling points the representatives stressed is the site’s offerings of available shared space and services. “What’s also great is the amenities,” said Mark Anderson, community manager for West Side Lofts. And those include a lobby area which is planned to have seating and TVs available and a fireplace. There will also be a game room and gym area. “So, you’ll have very little excuse to not get your workout in,” Anderson kidded.The rooftop lounge area, on top of the contemporary architecture building’s five floors, will have a hot tub installed and a kitchen area for the residents, as well as a view of area that takes in both the Navesink and Swimming rivers.In this location “You’re not a prisoner of your apartment,” Zlotnick said. “It’s conducive to socializing, meeting your neighbors.”Another big draw and a major thrust of the marketing is the location: situated a short walk to the borough’s downtown and even shorter walk to the NJ Transit commuter station will be a draw for many, Zlotnick explained.“There is an opportunity for downtown living,” he said, noting the project is being marketed to young professionals and Baby Boomers who are looking to downsize.Local officials have long touted the project seeing it a cornerstone for the burgeoning west side redevelopment.last_img read more

Youwecan Ventures looks to back healthcare, education startups

first_imgNew Delhi, Mar 13 (PTI) Cricketer Yuvraj Singhs investment initiative Youwecan Ventures is looking to back startups in healthcare services, education and sports talent scouting even as it gears up to leverage on celebrity fan following on social media for digital marketing.The venture, which has earmarked Rs 30-50 crore corpus for investments in three years, is also considering backing entrepreneurs in fashion space. “We are looking to invest in healthcare services, education and sports talent scouting from grassroots level. Yuvraj himself is very keen on these sectors,” Youwecan Ventures Founder and Chief Investment Officer Nishant Singhal told PTI. Besides, he said the venture is also keeping a keen eye on the fashion vertical, which has a lot of potential. When asked about funds that could be deployed, he said: “We do not have specific targets. We are early stage investors and since we started, we have made 12 investments and deployed about USD 1.5 million.” Each investments is about Rs 30-50 lakh, he added. Commenting on the companys latest initiative, Yral in partnership with AdLift, a digital marketing firm, Singhal said: “We are a significant minority stake holder in the venture. This will help brands reach customers by engaging with celebrities in the digital space.” Bullish on its potential, he added: “The total reach of the top 50 celebrities is close to 100 million which is 33 per cent of Indias internet population. Digital marketing spends are estimated to reach USD 2 billion by 2019 and if only 5 per cent is led by celebrities we estimate the market size to be USD 100 million.” AdLift CEO & Co-Founder Prashant Puri said Yral will help brands to connect with celebrities directly to leverage on their immense fan following bypassing multiple agencies. He said Yral will deliver the right audience and scalable reach to its advertisers by leveraging modern social media platforms of celebrities. Youwecan Ventures has so far invested in startups, including healthians.com, sportybeans.com, Cartisan, JetSetGo, Vyomo and Moovo. PTI RKL MR ABMadvertisementlast_img read more

The Broncos And Chiefs Are Still Running The AFC West

How will your favorite NFL team do this year? See all of our predictions for the 2016 season » Kansas City ChiefsYou know what else Elo doesn’t know? The crushing, numbing experience of an Andy Reid playoff meltdown. Three seasons ago, Reid’s Chiefs blew a 28-point lead to Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts in the wild-card round. After going 9-7 in 2014, the Chiefs sprang to life in the second half of 2015 and entered the playoffs as one of the hottest teams in the league. With their win in the wild-card round, their Elo rating spiked to 1699, the highest it’s been since they beat the Vikings in the 1970 Super Bowl. And then, of course, disaster. Trailing the New England Patriots 27-13 with six and a half minutes remaining, the Kansas City offense snapped off a five minute, 16 second 16-play drive to get within one score. It was astonishing and horrifying to watch it play out in real time, and all too familiar to anyone who’d watched Reid’s Philadelphia Eagles over the years.It’s conventional nerd wisdom that results in close games are a matter of luck, not skill, but that refers to the generic scoreline — “games decided by 7 or fewer points” or whatever cutoff you like. There are, in fact, diagnosable maladies for teams, such as having difficulty stringing two scoring drives together in a short period of time. For teams with such issues, the saving grace has been the corresponding maxim: Good teams don’t play close games; good teams win in blowouts. But what comfort is that to a fan base that was only just recovering from somehow losing a playoff game it had been winning by four touchdowns? To Elo, the Chiefs lost two close playoff games to two very good teams and come into 2016 as the fourth-strongest team in the league. This is a good team with a very good chance of making the playoffs. If they do, we’ll know a good bit more than Elo does about what’s waiting in store.San Diego ChargersThe Chargers were bad last season. The team went 4-12, ranked 24th in overall team Defense-adjusted Value Over Average (DVOA) and 28th in defensive DVOA, and finished the season with its lowest Elo rating since the 2004 draft in which it acquired Philip Rivers. The Chargers haven’t bought themselves much leeway off the field. After holding fans hostage all of last season, playing what many thought would be their final game in San Diego, they ended up in a madcap push to drum up support for a hugely unpopular $1.8 billion stadium/convention center proposal. If (when) the vote fails, the Chargers will have to decide by January if they’ll move to Los Angeles. In the meantime, the team chased off Eric Weddle, one of its best defensive players, and turned the good fortune of getting Joey Bosa — by many accounts the best player in the draft — into a sideshow. The Chargers engaged in an all-out assault on Bosa over contract provisions that are standard practice with every other team, which resulted in a 31-day holdout by Bosa.Elo predicts that the Chargers will see six to seven wins this season. That’s a little ungenerous, considering the number of injuries the Chargers have had the past few seasons (and with the re-addition of Ken Whisenhunt as offensive coordinator potentially jazzing up the passing game), but generosity is hard to come by after an offseason like San Diego’s.Oakland RaidersThe other team trying to pack up and leave town is, shockingly, in considerably better condition than San Diego. With Derek Carr and Amari Cooper, the Raiders have a proven backbone of a functional offense for the first time in a decade. And the defense, which finished the season in the bottom half of DVOA, came on late, with negative ratings (on defense, that’s good) for the final six games of the season. Things are looking up for the Raiders.Unfortunately, they’re looking even upper for the rest of the division. The AFC West is stacked, and Elo gives Oakland just a 19 percent chance of making the playoffs, with 6.8 projected wins. And that seems about right in the cadence of the NFL — it’s the inverse of the Broncos, in a way. The foundational elements of a good team are all here, but it takes a long time to stock a roster with the talent needed to contend at the highest rungs.VIDEO: How one spurned Rams fan found a new team To go with our 2016 NFL predictions, FiveThirtyEight is previewing each division. Denver BroncosThere are a lot of things Elo doesn’t know. Coming into the season, it didn’t know that the Broncos lost their Hall of Fame quarterback and replaced him with the most deliberately uncertain QB situation we’ve seen on a contender in recent years. After Thursday night, it didn’t know that Denver escaped with its Week 1 win thanks to a missed kick in the waning moments and a night of Panthers QB Cam Newton taking illegal hits that pretty clearly sapped the life out of him in the second half. It just knows that the Broncos were a fabulously good team last season, and they beat a very good team in Week 1. And actually, that might be all it needs to know.The Broncos had a lively offseason. They let last season’s backup quarterback, Brock Osweiler, abscond to Houston, drafted Paxton Lynch out of Memphis in the first round, brought in Mark Sanchez to compete for the job, and eventually gave the Week 1 starting job to Trevor Siemian, a seventh-round pick in 2015. They lost standout defensive end Malik Jackson to Jacksonville, and Von Miller took his sweet time signing his contract. But in the end, the defense is mostly intact. And to hear the Broncos tell it, that’s all that really matters:“We feel like we don’t care if George Bush was playing quarterback — we’re going to win because you can’t score,” says safety T.J. Ward. “You can’t score, you can’t win. That’s our mentality.“So, you want to come play quarterback for the Denver Broncos? That’s how we feel — it doesn’t matter who’s back there. We’re going to carry this team, and we’re going to get it done like we did last year.”This would obviously be a different story if Peyton Manning had provided more production last season, but he was terrible, so Elo’s blind spot was mostly about whether Siemian could hang against a good NFL defense. A lot of things go into an NFL team’s fortunes, enough that outside of a seismic catastrophe at the quarterback position, there’s a good chance a team’s fundamental level will carry over from year to year, with less regard to offseason moves than fans might think. Now that we know Siemian isn’t a lump, we have a pretty good idea what the Broncos are as well: the same terrifying defensive team as last year, just with George Bush lining up under center. read more