Category: ielwinqm

Probing genes for disease risk

first_img Read Full Story New research by Alkes Price, associate professor of Statistical Genetics at Harvard School of Public Health, and colleagues focuses on new approaches to characterizing and identifying genetic factors in complex disease.HSPH: What’s the basic finding of your new research?PRICE: Our study could help scientists determine the best way to search for genetic risk factors associated with disease. The study outlines a new way of estimating how much of variation in a particular trait is due to genetics. Examples we looked at in our paper include height, body mass index, and prostate cancer. Until about five years ago, the amount of variation in diseases or traits that is determined by genetic variation — called heritability — had been based on studies of twins, which look at differences in disease or trait values among identical vs. fraternal twins. In our new study, we describe an approach that relies instead on populations of mixed ancestry called “admixed” populations — in this case, African Americans, who inherit ancestry from both African and European ancestors. It’s useful to study these populations because — even though genetic differences between populations are generally much smaller than genetic differences within populations — the genomes of different continental populations contain valuable clues that can help geneticists determine the best way to search for genetic disease risk factors.last_img read more

Realizing The Potential of Data Monetization…Do I Have Your Attention Now?

first_imgBuild analytic profiles to facilitate analytic capture and re-use—analytics profiles are structures that standardize the collection and re-application of analytics across multiple uses cases. Identify and prioritize data sources loaded into a data lake—the data lake supports the data science processes of refining the data into actionable analytics to create financial or economic value.It is our hope that this research paper will foster new ways for organizations to re-think how they value their data and analytics from an economic and financial perspective.  The concepts covered in this research paper seek to provide a common vocabulary and approach that enables business leadership to collaborate with the IT and Data Science organizations on identifying and prioritizing the organization’s investments in data and analytics; to create a common collaborative value creation platform.The complete paper can be viewed here: USF The Economics of Data and Analytics 7.0 The importance of data has changed. As the volume, variety and velocity of the data grew over the past few years, the data has been transformed to provide organizations a broader, more granular and more real-time range of customer, product, operational and market interactions. Today, business leaders see data as a monetization opportunity, and their organizations are embracing data and analytics as the intellectual capital of the modern organization.The Internet of Things is accelerating this drive towards “data monetization.”  However organizations are quickly learning that you don’t necessary monetize the data as much as you monetize the customer, product, and operational insights derived from the data to create new revenue opportunities: new products, new services, new channels, new markets and new partnerships (see Figure 1).But to help organizations realize these new monetization opportunities, organizations need to transform the way that they create and even account for data and analytics.  To support that organizational transformation, I recently completed a research paper with Professor Mouwafac Sidaoui, Department Chair and Associate Professor of Business Analytics and Information Systems at the University of San Francisco, titled “Applying Economic Concepts To Big Data To Determine The Financial Value Of The Organization’s Data And Analytics Research Paper”.  The research paper seeks to integrate leading academic thinking with practical real-world consulting experience to advance the cause for organizations to embrace data and analytics as unique corporate assets.More and more companies are contemplating the organizational and business challenges of accounting for data as a “corporate asset”. Data as an asset exhibits unusual characteristics when compared to other balance sheet assets.  Most assets depreciate with usage, however data appreciates or gains more value with usage; that is, the more the organization uses the data across more use cases, the more valuable, complete and accurate the data becomes.Taking the idea of data as an asset one step further, what if organizations viewed data as a form of currency? While most currencies are constrained to a one-to-one transactional relationship, data and analytics do not suffer from that limitation.  Data as a currency exhibits a network (or multiplier) effect, where the same data can be used simultaneously across multiple business use cases thereby increasing its financial and economic value to the organization.However, there are severe limitations in valuing data in the traditional balance sheet framework. It is important that firms identify a way to not only account for their data, but to maximize the economic value of it across the organization. To accomplish this, we created what we like to call the collaborative value creation platform. This framework seeks to:Identify and prioritize the highest potential business use cases—using a prioritization matrix can facilitate the discussion between business and IT stakeholders in identifying the right use cases upon which to focus the organization’s analytic resources.last_img read more

Speaker examines connection between service, passion in business

first_imgChris Collins | The Observer Three seniors involved with a local tax assistance program contribute to a panel discussion during a lecture about the ethics of helping the community through business professions. Throughout his talk, Burke said he sees value in taking chances and forgoing the safest or most comfortable option. The pay cut, he said, is worth it. “You will learn far more doing service than any for-profit job you can find in America,” Burke said. “Why? Because a nonprofit has limited resources, which means they have to stretch you. They have to have you do 12 different jobs, not one job. My point is, take a chance. Do something different. There is no risk at your age. There is no risk. The only risk is not taking that chance, doing something different and really doing it.”Burke said he started the tax-assistance program that would become Ladder Up as a young employee at Arthur Andersen in Chicago following his 1994 graduation from Notre Dame. He said he pitched the program as a way to develop young employees’ skills in finding client needs. His business model, Burke said, was based on three corporations: Walmart, Coca-Cola and McDonald’s.“Walmart in the sense of a superstore: You go into Walmart. You can get Goldfish. You can get clothes. You can get groceries,” he said. “You walk into one of our Ladder Up organizations, and no matter what your situation is, we can help you — supercenter of service.”The program was immediately successful, Burke said, so he convinced Arthur Andersen’s biggest clients and other accounting firms to get involved. Since then, Ladder Up has expanded into 12 cities across the United States, he said. Through the difficult task of growing a nonprofit, Burke said he learned three skills applicable to any entrepreneurial endeavor.“One, how to motivate people without material incentive,” Burke said. “No. 2, how to be a good steward of people’s money, not only in terms of foundations and contributions, but the clients you’re helping. The poorest of the poor need your help more than any client you’ll serve at any Big Four firm. I repeat, the clients you serve need your money and your advice moreso than any client you’ll serve in the for-profit world.”Another valuable skill, he said, involves properly formatting an organization to allow everyone to contribute.“The third thing is how to build scale through standardized operating procedures,” Burke said. ”At Ladder Up, we have defined roles and responsibilities for every single person in the organization.”Those responsibilities include making clients feel welcome and comfortable during the intimate process of relaying financial information, marital status, social security numbers and other highly personal information, he said. To do the job well, Burke said, building relationships and trust is necessary.“The ability to serve somebody is a gift,” Burke said. “You get more out of it than what you’re helping with a family. There’s dignity in service.”Burke said working in nonprofit has been far more rewarding than his work in the for-profit company he also founded. For some of the families Ladder Up serves, Burke said, their tax return is their single largest paycheck of the year.Following Burke’s talk, three seniors involved in Notre Dame’s local tax-assistance program in the South Bend community expressed similar feelings toward their interactions with clients.“When you’re applying specialized knowledge, in this case tax knowledge, to help people … that can be really empowering and exciting, because you know that if you were not there, if you hadn’t learned those things in your classes, if you hadn’t put the time in to learn how to do that stuff, then these people would not be able to accomplish what they’re trying to accomplish,” senior Asher Enciso said. “It’s really gratifying to talk to these people and know you’re making an impact.”Burke said he advises people to do what they love rather than to do what others perceive to be the smart decision.“To me, if you’re doing something you’re passionate about, you don’t look at it as a job,” Burke said. “If you’re punching the clock and you have one of these traditional jobs, I think there’s only so much satisfaction you can get.”Tags: Arthur Andersen, Ethics week, Ladder Up, mendoza college of business, Tax Assistance Program, Walmart Mendoza College of Business kicked off its Ethics Week — which offers lectures from experts in a range of professional fields — Monday afternoon with a talk and panel featuring Bob Burke, founder of Ladder Up, which is a nonprofit tax-assistance program for low-income families and individuals.last_img read more

Vermont reaps benefits of new Farm Bill, Senate vote is Thursday

first_imgLeahy Ensures That VermontIs A Big Winner In New Farm Bill –Major Boosts For State’s Dairy,Organic,Anti-Hunger And Lake Champlain Priorities ORGANICSAs the father of the national organic standards andlabeling program and author of the 1990 Organic Foods Production Act, SenatorLeahy remains organic agriculture’s leading champion and has again madethe further development of organic agriculture a top priority in the FarmBill.  Vermont has taken a strong leadership role in transiting to organicagriculture and now leads in the nation on a per capita basis in organic farmconversions – now with more than 500 organic operations; more than 200are dairies.  In Vermont and elsewhere across the country, organic agriculturealso is beginning to create major new export opportunities for U.S. farmproducts.    Organic Certification Cost Share – The 2008 Farm Bill provides $22 million in guaranteed funding for a national organic certification cost share program to assist producers of agricultural products in obtaining certification under the National Organic Program established by Leahy under the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990.  Each producer will be eligible for a reimbursement of up to 75 percent of the costs of certification, not to exceed $750 annually.  Last year Vermont producers received $165,000 under this Leahy-led effort to assist organic certification. VermontHighlights2008 Farm BillMay 14, 2008Renewal & Expansion Of MILCProgram;More Funds For Lake Champlain Cleanup;Expanded Help For Vermont’s Anti-Hunger Efforts;Another Big Boost For Vermont’s Organic Sector DAIRY FarmlandProtection Program (FPP) — The highly successful and popularFarmland Protection Program was created by Senator Leahy in the 1996 Farm Billand grew out of Vermont’s “Farms for the Future” program. Preserving Vermont’s agricultural lands helps to combat urban sprawl andkeep Vermont farms viable.  Funding for FPP will be increased by more than$700 million over the life of the Farm Bill, allowing FPP to provide matchingfunds to help purchase development rights to keep productive Vermont farmsin agricultural uses.  Total FPP enrollment in Vermont since inception ofthe program is 50,000 acres. “First and foremost,” Leahy said, “this bill makes adramatic improvement in the MILC program that will better help Vermont’sdairy producers compete for a fair price.  By adding the feed costadjuster, the MILC program target price will help keep pace with skyrocketingproduction costs.  And increasing the payment rate and eligible productionwill be essential when the price of milk drops.  These improvements willhelp ensure that dairying remains a vital part of Vermont’s economy andVermont’s heritage.”  Leahy led the MILC negotiations on theAgriculture Committee, and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Peter Welch(D-Vt.) worked outside the committee to build support for the plan. Organic Conversion Assistance — The 2008 Farm Bill will expand eligibility of the Environmental Qualities Incentives Program (EQIP – see above) to directly assist producers by defraying the substantial costs of implementing conservation practices when transiting to organic production.  During the required three-year conversion process, producers – especially smaller farms — often struggle to complete the conversion to organic production.  This new initiative will offer producers up to $20,000 per year for up to four years of financial assistance to help in the conversion to organic production.    Organic Data Collection — The Farm Bill will provide $5 million in mandatory funds to ensure that data on the production and marketing of organic agricultural products is included in USDA’s collection of data about agricultural production and marketing.  This mandate and these funds are vital in establishing adequate crop insurance coverage for organic crops in the future.Organic Research — The Farm Bill makes a major commitment for the first time to funding research in organic agriculture.  The bill provides $78 million in new mandatory funds for organic agriculture research and extension, to enhance the ability of organic producers and processors to grow and market organic food, feed and fiber.Organic Crop Insurance Reform – The bill will bar USDA from charging unnecessary and unwarranted premium surcharges on organic crop insurance policies. NUTRITIONThe nutrition title of the Farm Bill, like theSenate’s earlier version, contains crucial anti-hunger efforts such asstrengthening the Food Stamp Program and The Emergency Food AssistanceProgram.  Senator Leahy has long been a leader on these programs, whichoffer a vital safety net to millions of Americans and thousands ofVermonters.  In recent months the number of Vermonters receiving FoodStamps has risen to a 15-year high, with more than 53,000 individuals receivingFood Stamp help.  The new funding for the Food Stamp program in the FarmBill will mean that as many as 23,000 Vermonters will receive as much as $1.5million in new food assistance each year.  The bill includes initiativesto encourage better health and nutrition for children and seniors and tosupport self-sufficiency and food security in low-income communities.  Italso includes a new program authored by Leahy that will assist low-incomepeople by helping food banks acquire perishable food that would otherwise bewasted.  Strengthening Food Purchasing Power of Low-Income Vermonters — When calculating the Food Stamp help an individual or family receives, the rules of the program allow a standard deduction for the cost of such items as housing, utilities and transportation.  A decade ago, the standard deduction was frozen at $134, a move that has caused significant erosion in the purchasing power of Food Stamps, as costs for these items have risen and benefits have not kept pace.  The 2008 Farm Bill increases the standard deduction from $134 to $144 and indexes it to inflation, ending the erosion of benefits and increasing Food Stamp assistance for 20,000 Vermont families.Working Families with Childcare Expenses — Food Stamp rules allow households to deduct up to $175 per month for the cost of childcare, but this deduction has not been adjusted in more than a decade and now covers only about a quarter of the monthly cost of childcare in the United States.  To better support working families, the 2008 Farm Bill will eliminate the existing cap on the deductibility of childcare expenses.  As many as 1000 Vermont families are expected to benefit from this provision.Food Stamp Asset Reform — Despite broad agreement about the importance of family savings, the Food Stamp “asset test” has remained largely unchanged since implemented in 1977 and fails to exempt tax-preferred savings accounts from the current asset limit.  To encourage savings among low-income families, the 2008 Farm Bill will increase the current asset limit to keep pace with inflation and exempts tax-preferred education and retirement accounts from counting against the asset limit. Minimum Benefit – When calculating the monthly benefit for a Food Stamp recipient, if the amount they are eligible for is less than $10 they are guaranteed the minimum benefit.  Seniors and individuals with disabilities make up a significant portion of households that receive the minimum benefit, which for more than 30 years has remained at $10.  For the more than 3000 Vermonters who receive the minimum benefit, the 2008 Farm Bill will increase the level to $14 a month and index it to keep pace with increases in the cost of food.The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) — TEFAP provides commodity food products to food banks across the country, which then distribute those products to food pantries and other community food providers.  The Farm Bill will provide more than $1.2 billion in mandatory commodity purchases for distribution through food banks.  This will nearly double the commodity purchasing clout the Farm Bill will offer to the Vermont Foodbank, with an additional $1 million through the first five years of the bill — enough to provide 770,000 additional meals for low-income Vermonters through the food bank and local food shelves. Fruit and Vegetable Program — To promote child health and nutrition, the Farm Bill expands the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program to include every state in the country, targeting those benefits to low-income children.  The proposed funding level would ensure that Vermont receives at least $2.25 million a year to assist in providing free fresh fruits and vegetables to children at school.Senior Farmers Markets and Community Food Projects — Funding for two programs fathered by Senator Leahy — the Senior Farmers Market Program (which provides vouchers for WIC recipients and low-income seniors to use at farmers markets), and Community Food Projects, (which promote self-sufficiency and food security in low-income communities) – are increased by $5 million annually in assured funding in the Farm Bill.  In Vermont, Community Food Project grants have supported the farm-to-school projects which increase access to fresh, healthy, local Vermont foods. Rural Food Bank Infrastructure Grant Program – After consultations with the Vermont Foodbank about the amount of food — especially perishable items — that could be donated to charity but instead are wasted, Senator Leahy proposed the creation of a new targeted grant initiative.  This new program in the Farm Bill will provide grants to assist emergency food organizations in acquiring some of the 96 billion pounds of food that are wasted each year.  For example, the Vermont Foodbank typically cannot afford to receive donated produce from west of the Mississippi due to the high cost of transportation.  This means that substantial amounts of fresh produce available from Western specialty crop states are lost to low-income Vermonters during the winter months when local sources are not available.  By tapping the new Leahy program, the Vermont Foodbank will be able to provide fresh produce and healthy food products at no cost to low-income households and individuals who otherwise could not afford these nutritious foods.   He said the bill’s anti-hunger efforts will make a difference inthousands of Vermonters’ lives.  “When the economy sputters,families suffer in many ways, including hunger and poor nutrition.  Thisbill is a chance to make a bad situation better.  More than 53,000Vermonters rely on federal nutrition programs each year, while thousands morewill receive assistance on an emergency basis to help them through difficulttimes.  The $10.4 billion in additional anti-hunger relief in this bill isvital, and it comes at a crucial time.” COMMODITY PROGRAM REFORM  Senator Leahy led abipartisan coalition in working for several months to secure renewal of andimprovements to the basic safety net for dairy farmers, the Milk Income LossContract (MILC) program.  In the end the MILC program received one of thelargest funding boosts of any commodity in the Farm Bill.  In addition tothe difficult achievement of extending the MILC Program for five years, Leahyand his allies succeeded in including provisions that will expand the MILCprogram in three important ways: 1.  Feed CostAdjuster – For the first time in nearly a decade the $16.94 perhundred weight MILC target price will increase when feed costs increase. The new Leahy-authored feed cost adjuster will increasethe MILC target price any time the composite monthly price of feed (corn,soybeans and alfalfa hay) rises above $7.30 per hundred weight.  For themonth of April, for example, the new MILC target price would be $19.13 perhundred weight.2.  Payment Rate – In 2002 when the MILC program wasestablished, whenever the federal minimum price for fluid milk in Boston fellbelow $16.94 per hundred weight, participating dairy farmers were eligible forpayments on 45 percent of the difference.  In the Fiscal Year 2006 OmnibusReconciliation Bill, the payment rate was reduced to 34 percent in order tomake it possible to extend the program until the Farm Bill could be rewrittenin 2008.  The 2008 Farm Bill will restore the original 45 percentpayment rate for the MILC program. 3.  EligibilityIncrease – Currently producers are eligible to receive MILC paymentson 2.4 million pounds of production per year (approximately 125 cows). The 2008 Farm Bill will increase the eligibility to 2.985 million pounds peryear (approximately 165 cows).  Of Vermont’s approximately 1100dairies that average about 120 cows per operation, more than 85 percent ofVermont’s farms now would be fully eligible for MILC payments under theFarm Bill.  Dairy Product Price Support – The 2008 Farm Bill establishes individual product prices for cheddar cheese, butter, and nonfat dry milk. Commodities — The bill extends the current farm safety net through the 2012 crop year, retaining current base acres and establishing base acres for newly eligible crops.  Target prices for crops are rebalanced and direct payments are maintained.Average Crop Revenue — A new Average Crop Revenue option is added for farmers, including fixed payment rates, recourse loans, and a state-level revenue program for covered commodities and peanuts. The new Farm Bill advances key Vermont agriculture, anti-hunger andenvironmental priorities championed by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), the mostsenior member of the Senate Agriculture Committee of either party, who was aprincipal architect and negotiator of the bill. Father of the national organic standards and labeling program, Leahynoted that organic farming has become the fastest-growing sector of Americanagriculture and is especially robust in Vermont.  “This bill makesthe organic option a realistic option for more farmers in Vermont,” hesaid.  “That’s good for smaller farms in particular, andit’s a solid investment in growing Vermont’s economy.” CONSERVATION/LAKECHAMPLAIN CLEANUP Agricultural conservation, responsible stewardship andenvironmental quality are important to Vermont’s farmers and communitiesand were high priorities for Senator Leahy in writing the 2008 Farm Bill. Several years ago as chairman the Agriculture Committee, Leahy crafted andenacted the first “Green Farm Bills” which forged partnershipsbetween farmers and environmental goals, and since then the Farm Bill hasbecome the most significant ongoing nationwide funding source for conservationand environmental quality efforts such as the cleanup of Lake Champlain. Several of Leahy’s conservation initiatives began as pilot programs inVermont, proved themselves, and since then have expanded nationwide.  Muchof the available funding in the 2008 Farm Bill for Vermont will be directed toaddressing the water quality challenges in the Lake Champlain Basin.  Thiscrucial cleanup funding will be added to the more than $100 million SenatorLeahy has already secured in Lake Champlain cleanup funds. EnvironmentalQuality Incentive Program (EQIP) — A program created bySenator Leahy in the 1996 Farm Bill, EQIP has quickly become a major factor inthe ongoing efforts to clean up Lake Champlain.  Phosphorus levels are oneof the foremost challenges in the Lake’s restoration, and EQIP helpsproducers implement new practices that reduce the phosphorus loading in theLake and its tributaries.  With an increase in funding of $3.4 billion over ten years, theprogram will continue to help producers comply with the State ofVermont’s water quality regulations and assist dairies in implementingenvironmentally beneficial changes in their operations.  The final version of the Farm Bill, filed in Congress only Tuesday,would not only renew but also expand the basic safety net for dairy farmers,the Milk Income Loss Contract (MILC) program; it would bring to Vermont recordlevels of funding and wider access to farmland conservation programs that havebecome crucial engines in the cleanup of Lake Champlain; it would dramaticallyincrease support for food banks and the Food Stamp program; and it would offermore support to help farmers make the transition to the booming organic sector. The 2008 Farm Bill takes significant strides in reforming who iseligible to receive commodity program payments.  First the bill tightensthe adjusted gross income eligibility test by setting new standards for farmcommodity and disaster program benefit eligibility.  To receive farmprogram benefits, an individual’s non-farm income may not exceed$500,000.  If farm income exceeds $750,000, an individual will no longerbe eligible to receive direct payments.  In addition, this Farm Bill alsoincreases transparency and accountability through the creation of a new directattribution rule which will link farm program payments directly to individuals,rather than to corporations and partnerships.  Finally, the three-entityrule, which previously enabled a farmer effectively to receive twice theenacted payment limit, has been eliminated. Leahy said improvements in the Farm Bill’s conservation programswill help limit phosphorus runoff into Vermont’s streams, rivers, andLake Champlain.  “These conservation programs have helped farmersbecome partners in achieving some of Vermont’s most pressingenvironmental goals.  These investments on the farm are important buildingblocks for real on-the-ground action for cleaning up the Lake.” Rural Energy for America Program — Funded in the Farm Bill at $250 million, this program (previously called Sec Below are Vermont highlights of the final 2008 Farm Bill, releasedWednesday by Leahy’s office: $15 Million Small State Minimum – The Leahy “Regional Equity” provision he sponsored in the 2002 Farm Bill will be increased from $12 million to $15 million a year per state.  This Leahy effort helps bring more Farm Bill resources to Vermont and other Northeastern states.  This Leahy provision requires that Vermont and each state receive an allocation of at least $15 million a year in the following working-lands conservation programs: EQIP, FPP, Grassland Reserve Program, and the Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program.  This small state minimum guarantees that states like Vermont will receive the necessary program funding to better help farmers in their stewardship of the land.Agricultural Management Assistance (AMA) – A program especially important to Vermont, AMA provides $15 million a year in mandatory funding to agricultural producers to voluntarily address issues such as water management, water quality and erosion control, by incorporating conservation into their farming operations.Public Access – The bill will create a new $50 million grant program for states that run programs to encourage owners of private land to allow public access for wildlife-related recreation such as hunting, fishing and birding. ENERGY/RENEWABLEENERGY WASHINGTON (Wednesday, May 14) — Vermont’s clout in agriculturepolicy again is paying big dividends as Congress races to finish work on a newbipartisan five-year Farm Bill.  The House Wednesday passed the newlynegotiated Farm Bill by a veto-proof vote of 318 to 106, and the Senate has setits vote on the bill for Thursday.  The Senate is also expected to passthe bill with more than enough votes to override a threatened presidentialveto.last_img read more

Daily Dirt: WNC Land Preservation, Coal Ash Spill, Paddling Bill Defeat

first_imgYour daily news update for February 5th, the day the largest Jell-O (9,246 gallons) was made in Brisbane.Land Preservation in WNCAnother major win for outdoor enthusiasts was announced this Tuesday in Transylvania County.The North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, The Conservation Fund, and the U.S. Forest Service issued a statement declaring plans to conserve nearly 8,000 acres along the Blue Ridge Mountains in the area. In 2013, more than 3,200 acres of working forestland and a large portion of the headwaters of French Broad River’s east fork were obtained and protected by the North Carolina Forest Service. A grant from the U.S. Forest Service’s Forest Legacy Program, along with state and private funding, made this acquisition possible.Located on the border of North Carolina and South Carolina, the newly-protected acreage will become part of the prospective Headwaters State Forest. The area sits adjacent to 100,000 acres of existing conservation lands in both states, providing habitat for endangered plant and animal species.Ranked 7th on the 2013 national Forest Legacy Program priority list,  the State and The Conservation Fund utilized a $3 million grant to purchase 711 acres of land. Additional private and state funding of $5.4 million allowed for the protection of another 1,186 acres. Additional acquisitions are expected to made in 2014.The N.C. Forest Service plans to create a multi-use management plan for the land, allowing sustainably managed timber production alongside a variety of public recreational uses, including hunting and hiking.Coal Ash Spill in NCDuke Energy reported Monday that 50,000 to 82,000 tons of coal ash (enough to fill 20-32 Olympic-sized swimming pools) spilled into the Dan River from an unlined pond at its retired power plant in Eden.A 48-inch stormwater pipe beneath the unlined ash pond broke on Sunday afternoon, draining water and ash from the 27-acre pond into the pipe. A team of specialists from Appalachian Voices remains on-site to sample the water for toxics such as arsenic, as well as other contaminants. Yesterday, two members of the team were on the water in canoes, scouting the river from the point of discharge at the retired power plant to a few miles downstream. Their reports show signs of discolored water and ash that stretches close to 20 miles downstream.Environmental groups have previously filed lawsuits in an attempt to force Duke and other utility services to remove ash stored near waterways faster and more consciously. Greenpeace in particular has stepped to the forefront of the spill aftermath, forcing Duke Energy to answer accusations and questions on drinking water safety.This is the second incident this year where hazardous materials leaked into a waterway and threatened the local drinking water. Residents in West Virginia are still without clean water due to the chemicals that spilled into the Elk River last month.Freedom to Float Bill Defeated in the SenateVirginia paddlers were turned upstream on Friday when the Freedom to Float bill was defeated in the Senate 10 to 30.The American Canoe Association believes this bill was a reasonable approach for non-motorized vessels to use non-tidal rivers, streams, and creeks for recreational purposes. Paddlers would have been allowed to float on drainage areas of at least seven square miles without being held liable for civil or criminal trespass.For more information on the issue of river access, check out this story by BRO contributor Beau Beasley.last_img read more

New York expands coronavirus travel quarantine as US pandemic widens

first_imgDean Davis, 32, who lost his job due to the pandemic, said he arrived at the testing site at 3 a.m. on Tuesday after he waited for hours on Monday but failed to make the cutoff. “I was like, let me get here at 3, maybe nobody will be here,” Davis said. “I got here, there was a line already.”New COVID-19 infections are rising in 42 states, based on a Reuters analysis of cases for the past two weeks compared to the prior two weeks, putting the Unites States close to 3 million total cases.More than 130,000 Americans have died of COVID-19 – about a quarter of the global total – and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has forecast that the death toll could reach 160,000 later this month.The surge has forced authorities to backpedal on moves to reopen businesses, such as restaurants and bars, after mandatory lockdowns in March and April reduced economic activity to a virtual standstill and put millions of Americans out of work.Miami, one of the current hot zones for the rise in new infections, has imposed a mask wearing requirement and ordered some businesses to close, with penalties imposed on those who do not comply.”We’re trying to put in a series of measures to once again flatten the curve, which unfortunately has completely spiked out of control in the city,” Miami Mayor Francis Suarez told MSNBC on Tuesday.Suarez said the “extreme measures” were necessary because more COVID-19 patients were on ventilators and the availability of intensive care unit beds was dwindling rapidly.School reopeningsMore states are reporting a troubling increase in the percentage of COVID-19 diagnostic tests coming back positive – a key indicator of community spread that experts refer to as positivity rate.Two dozen states, mostly in the South and West, have averaged positivity rates over the past week exceeding 5%, a level the World Health Organization considers to be concerning, data collected by Reuters shows.California’s positivity rate has also risen over the past two weeks. But Governor Gavin Newsom on Monday cited a 50% two-week spike in hospitalizations as impetus for beefed-up enforcement actions during the recent Fourth of July holiday.President Donald Trump, whose handling of the coronavirus crisis has been widely criticized, said on Monday that US schools must open in the fall, a decision over which he has little power.Colleges and universities have been forced to adjust reopening plans, including altering their calendars and holding some courses online. Harvard University said on Monday all of its courses would be online for the upcoming academic year.Trump, who is running for re-election on Nov. 3, will discuss school reopenings at the White House later on Tuesday.Topics : New Jersey, which along with New York had experienced the brunt of the early part of the US outbreak, also added the three states to its quarantine order.Parts of the United States, including Florida, Texas and California, have experienced a sharp rise in infections in the past two weeks, an indication that the pandemic remains largely uncontrolled despite the end of lockdowns to control its spread.A line of more than 200 cars snaked around the United Memorial Medical Center in Houston on Tuesday as people waited for hours in sweltering heat to get tested for COVID-19, the sometimes fatal illness caused by the coronavirus. Some had arrived the night before in order to secure a test at the drive-thru site.”I got tested because my younger brother got positive,” said Fred Robles, 32, who spent the night in his car. “There’s so many people that need to get tested, there’s nothing you can do about it.” Visitors from three more US states who travel to New York will be required to quarantine for 14 days to control the spread of coronavirus, Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Tuesday, as alarm grew over a surge in infections in large parts of the country.New York state, which had been the early epicenter of the US outbreak, unveiled the travel advisory last month in an effort to prevent a resurgence after the state got its outbreak under control.Delaware, Kansas and Oklahoma, all of which are grappling with “significant” community spread of the virus, have been added to the list, Cuomo announced in a statement, bringing the total number of states under the travel advisory to 19.last_img read more

Governor Wolf Announces 250 New Jobs with Company Expansion in Franklin County

first_img Jobs That Pay,  Press Release Harrisburg, PA – Governor Tom Wolf announced today that Manitowoc Cranes LLC, a global manufacturer of cranes and lift solutions, will expand its presence in Antrim Township, Franklin County by consolidating an out-of-state site into its site in Pennsylvania — a move that will create 250 new jobs over the next three years. Additionally, Manitowoc has agreed to maintain new, and retain its current positions, for an additional four years.“As a major employer in Franklin County for many years, we welcome Manitowoc’s decision to move its operations, and create more than 250 new jobs to Pennsylvania,” Governor Wolf said. “Manitowoc is committed to the community in Franklin County and understands that this is the best location to grow its business and make impactful investments within the region and beyond.”To optimize its manufacturing footprint, reduce costs, and expand margins, Manitowoc will relocate its manufacturing operations from Manitowoc, Wisconsin to Shady Grove, Pennsylvania. The company has committed to an investment of at least $19 million in the project, which consists of relocation and the purchase of equipment to support new product lines. Manitowoc has also committed to the creation of 250 new, full-time jobs over the next three years, and the retention of its current Pennsylvania workforce of 891 employees“After a comprehensive analysis and review of our current manufacturing footprint, coupled with current market conditions, we believe this restructuring initiative will ensure that our business continues to meet and exceed the needs of our customers every day,” said Barry Pennypacker, Manitowoc president and chief executive officer.Manitowoc received a funding proposal from the Department of Community and Economic Development that consists of a $1.35 million Pennsylvania First program grant.The project was coordinated by the Governor’s Action Team, an experienced group of economic development professionals who report directly to the governor and work with businesses that are considering locating or expanding in Pennsylvania, in collaboration with the Franklin County Area Development Corporation (FCADC).“The Manitowoc decision to consolidate and expand its crane production in Shady Grove is the result of the collaborative efforts of the FCADC, Governor’s Action Team, and SCPa Works, coupled with  Pennsylvania ‘s pro-business climate,” Mike Ross, FCADC president. “Today’s decision stands to have very favorable long-term impacts on our local manufacturing economy.”Founded in 1902, Manitowoc is a leading global manufacturer of cranes and lift solutions with manufacturing, distribution, and service facilities in 20 countries. Manitowoc is recognized as one of the premier innovators and providers of crawler cranes, tower cranes, and mobile cranes for the heavy construction industry, which are complemented by a slate of industry-leading aftermarket product support services.For more information on Manitowoc, visit www.manitowoc.com.For more information about the Governor’s Action Team or DCED, visit dced.pa.gov.Like Governor Tom Wolf on Facebook: Facebook.com/GovernorWolf SHARE Email Facebook Twitter Governor Wolf Announces 250 New Jobs with Company Expansion in Franklin Countycenter_img August 09, 2016last_img read more

Manager search study shows global shift towards non-traditional mandates

first_imgAltogether, the consultancy undertook 760 searches last year globally, down from 776 in 2012.Deb Clarke, global head of investment research at Mercer, said: “The trend away from traditional asset classes observed in recent years continues, driven mainly by investors seeking to diversify their growth portfolios and ensure they incorporate multiple return drivers.”She said investors were continuing to raise their allocations to global strategies, as well as to more diverse mandates, including investment in diversified growth funds and alternative assets.The firm said demand for multi-asset strategies was still strong, and that the number of searches in this area had risen by more than a third during the year. These searches were mainly in the UK and the US, but also seen in several other regions, it said.In the UK, the number of manager searches rose by 5% last year, and assets placed climbed to $22bn (€16bn) from $17.8bn, according to the survey.International multi-asset strategies were the most popular searches there, but, in terms of the weight of assets placed, developed market equities continued to dominate search activity, it said.Search activity rose in the rest of Europe, driven primarily by a big hike in both search numbers and assets placed in Germany.Infrastructure and timber were the most popular search categories in the region, it said.In Asia, manager search activity jumped to 66 in 2013 from 17 the year before, while assets placed rose to $3.5bn from $2bn.In Australia, search activity dropped to 85 from 111, with assets placed rising to $13.7bn from $6.8bn.In the US, meanwhile, manager searches continued to decline across defined benefit (DB) and defined contribution mandates.Within DB in the country, Mercer said, equity and bond searches fell while interest in alternatives grew. The most popular search category in the US last year was emerging market equities, although Mercer said US fixed income had had the largest share of assets placed. Manager search asset volumes around the world grew last year, and the pattern of activity reflected a shift towards non-traditional mandates, according to a study by Mercer.The consultancy said its 2013 global manager search trends report showed fixed income search activity had continued to move away from government and credit-benchmarked mandates.The survey, based on activity reported through Mercer’s client base internationally, revealed the number of searches had grown between 2012 and 2013 in the UK, the rest of Europe and Asia, but had decreased in Australasia and North America.However, across these regions as a whole, the value of assets placed increased markedly, it said.last_img read more

10 years on from Lehman: seven trends that have shaped the industry

first_img4Legal & General Investment Management298,509 2Credit Agricole Asset Management343,634 2. Dutch occupational pensions consolidate: The dominant Dutch duo of ABP and PFZW have roughly doubled in size as the Netherlands has pushed on with its consolidation efforts. They have been joined in the top 10 by one of the Netherlands’ two metal industry schemes, PMT.3. PIIGS: In contrast, Spain’s social security fund – the fifth biggest in Europe in 2008 although in reality simply a silo for government debt – has collapsed from €56.3bn to just €8.1bn at the end of 2017 as the country’s government drew down on its reserves. This has cast doubt on Spain’s ability to sustain its state pension system. Ireland also drew down on is National Pensions Reserve fund in the aftermath of the financial crash, converting it into the domestically focused Ireland Strategic Investment Fund, which now manages over €19bn.4. British DB schemes cashflow negative: The UK’s Coal Pension Trustees , which runs two industry-wide schemes, has also dropped out of the top 10: it ranked 53rd in this year’s Top 1000 with €24.5bn in assets, compared to €33.7bn a decade ago. The pension funds have both been cashflow negative for some time owing to their particular demographics.IPE’s Top 1000 Pension Funds in 2008: Rank Fund/entityAUM (€m)Country 9UBS Global Asset Management141,861 2ABP205,000Netherlands 8Universities Superannuation Scheme73,279UK 3PFZW88,200Netherlands 5Reserva de la Seguridad Social55,900Spain 5Amundi384,135 10KLP66,226Norway 1Norway Government Pension Fund Global242,100Norway What has changed in pensions and institutional asset management since the collapse of Lehman Brothers? Pension fund assets Top 10 total 2,028,398 IPE’s Top 1000 Pension Funds assets under management, 2008 to 2018; Source: IPE1. Sovereign pension fund asset growth: Norway’s giant Government Pension Fund Global (GPFG) has been the biggest success of the past decade in sheer asset growth terms, having increased in size by more than 250%. This is despite the oil price falling dramatically during 2014 and 2015 (the GPFG is primarily funded by oil revenues). Fellow Norwegian investor KLP – which runs local government pensions – has nearly trebled in size, helped in part by the withdrawal of a number of public sector providers in 2013 and 2014. 10Goldman Sachs Asset Management210,728  CompanyAUM (€m) 4APG473,654 7SocGen Asset Management153,078 1Natixis Global Asset Management344,576 4Arbejdsmarkedets Tillaegspension103,215Denmark 9Universities Superannuation Scheme36,023UK Top 10 total 854,052 9PIMCO240,691 10Coal Pension Trustees33,708UK IPE’s Top 1000 Pension Funds in 2018: 6BT Group53,955UK 6M&G Investment Management195,301 5Bayerische Versorgungskammer87,000Germany 2ABP404,029Netherlands Top 10 total 2,340,608 7Alecta42,686Sweden 3PFZW196,512Netherlands Plus, in this month’s issue of IPE, we look back at lessons learned since the collapse of Lehman Brothers, and ahead to future stresses with a particular focus on asset management regulation.We also speak to economists and politicians about their experiences and views of the longer-term impacts of the events of 2007-09, including the credit crunch, the banking crisis and the market crash.See also IPE’s latest Top 400 Asset Managers report, and the Top 1000 Pension Funds report. 3Barclays Global Investors325,190  CompanyAUM (€m) 8Bayerische Versorgungskammer40,198Germany 6Aberdeen Standard Investments304,720 Source: IPEIPE’s Top 400 Asset Managers assets under management, 2008 to 2018The asset management industry has seen dramatic changes since the collapse of Lehman Brothers, with Europe’s biggest institutional providers in particular changed by problems suffered by investment banks. 8Allianz Global Investors148,139 5State Street Global Advisors260,104 Credit: Robert Scoble Reporters outside Lehman Brothers’ New York headquarters on 15 September 20085. Post crisis M&A: The investment arms of Credit Agricole, Société Générale and Barclays all featured in 2008’s top 10. These entities no longer exist after their parent companies were forced to restructure their businesses amid the banking sector problems.Credit Agricole Asset Management combined with Société Générale Asset Management to create Amundi in 2010. Aided by subsequent major acquisitions, Amundi has since established itself as one of the biggest investment houses in the world, running €1.4trn at the end of 2017.Lehman Brothers’ asset management arm was sold to its management as part of the bankruptcy proceedings – a move that has paid off, with Neuberger Berman (as it is now known) running €245.8bn.Meanwhile, BlackRock – which was just outside the top 10 in 2008 – catapulted itself to the top of the European institutional market in 2009 with the purchase of Barclays Global Investors.Mega-mergers are still a significant feature of the fund management sector: Last year’s deal between Aberdeen Asset Management and Standard Life brought the combined business into Europe’s top 10, while Janus and Henderson also sealed their merger last year to create a €308.8bn company. 6. The rise of LDI: Other factors have helped shape some businesses. UK-based Insight Investment – ranked 20th in 2008 – has specialised in fixed income and liability-driven investment (LDI) at a time when defined benefit schemes have been closing in large numbers, helping the asset manager to increase its asset base more than sevenfold.Legal & General Investment Management also benefitted from the shift to LDI, but has also seen huge growth in its defined contribution services – its master trust has more than €5.6bn under management – and its real assets business.7. Dutch pension funds compete for business: APG joined IPE’s Top 400 in 2009 when ABP spun off its asset management arm for regulatory reasons and embarked on a new strategy to take on external business. It would have ranked 6th in 2008 had it been eligible for inclusion. As a standalone asset management entity, PGGM is now also a significant player, with over €200bn in client assets, according to IPE’s most recent Dutch institional asset management survey.IPE’s Top 400 Asset Managers in 2008 – the top 10 managers of European institutional assets 10AXA Investment Managers130,216 1BlackRock946,393 9PMT71,586Netherlands Top 10 total 4,485,475 6Alecta84,315Sweden 3Insight Investment588,784 IPE’s Top 400 Asset Managers in 2018 – the top 10 managers of European institutional assets 7State Street Global Advisors287,544 7PFA80,075Denmark 2Legal & General Investment Management807,775 8DWS241,051 Europe’s top asset managers 4Arbejdsmarkedets Tillaegspension56,282Denmark Rank Fund/entityAUM (€m)Country 1Norway Government Pension Fund Global862,161Norwaylast_img read more

EMEC Metocean Data for Scottish Open Innovation Competition

first_imgThe European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) has provided a series of metocean data sets to be used in a new Scottish open innovation competition aiming to stimulate creative thinking and data science to design new data products for the benefit of the marine environment, communities and economy.Organised by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) and the Data Lab, Scotland’s Blue Growth Data Challenge will make available data sets from 2015 in-situ observations and numerical modelling from EMEC’s wave and tidal energy test facilities in Orkney.The data sets include wave conditions at EMEC’s Billia Croo wave test site; meteorological observations in two locations adjacent to EMEC’s wave and tidal test sites, collected using MetPak weather stations; data from a short tidal current observational campaign using TRDI Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler; and numerical modelling results for four locations around Orkney, showing simulated timeseries of tidal water level and currents.Data sets will also be provided by the Scottish Centre of Excellence in Satellite Applications (SoXSA).The Challenge is open to those who are studying, researching or working with data or the marine environment and who believe they can creatively work with open data to create a useful output. The Challenge aims to stimulate people to create new or innovative solutions to a problem without predetermining what those solutions will look like.Prizes will be awarded to teams and individuals that are judged to have produced the best output for the benefit of the Highlands and Islands region and the winner will receive a package of support to help further develop their idea.last_img read more