A graduate student at St Anthony’s College, has been killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan while working for the US government. Michael Bhatia, who was serving as a social scientist in consultation with the US Defence Department, was killed in an attack last Wednesday on a convoy of four military vehicles. Bhatia was travelling in a Humvee at the front of the convoy when an Improvised Explosive Device went off, immediately killing Bhatia and two American soldiers. Two other soldiers sustained critical injuries. 31-year-old Bhatia had been educated at Brown University in America and was a Marshall Scholar working on his doctoral dissertation at St. Anthony’s College. His thesis was entitled: ‘The Mujahideen: A Study of Combatant Motives in Afghanistan, 1978-2004.’ Professor Margaret MacMillan, Warden of the college, expressed “great sadness…on behalf of the whole college community” at the news of Bhatia’s untimely death. “Michael was very dedicated to the people of Afghanistan and had a bright future ahead of him,” she added. An expert on International Relations, the Brown graduate had dedicated his time and knowledge to research and humanitarian aid in war-torn areas such as East Timor, Kosovo and Afghanistan. Seth Resler, a friend of Bhatia, remarked, “Mike was a true academic, but in many ways he was more like Indiana Jones.” In the three-part photo essay ‘Shooting Afghanistan – Beyond the Conflict’, published in The Globalist, Bhatia wrote, “Though I have spent the majority of my time researching the ongoing conflict, war and those involved in it, conflict is not my primary memory and way of knowing [Afghanistan].” A Facebook group, called ‘Honouring and Celebrating the Life of Michael Vinay Bhatia’, was set up in memory of Bhatia’s life and already has 247 members. A description of the group reads, “A 2001 Marshall Scholar and faculty member at Brown, he could have relaxed with a well-paying, comfortable job. Instead, he spent his life in far-away places, helping poor, marginalized victims of violent conflict and protecting American troops.” The creator of a memorial sight for Bhatia at Respectance.com, Seth Resler, says, “To me, he wasn’t an author or a professor or a scholar. To me, he was a friend.” In addition to his humanitarian work and academic success, Bhatia is fondly remembered by friends on both sides of the Atlantic. One fellow St. Anthony’s student, Diego Fleitas, fondly recalled that on arrival in Oxford “with a big smile [Michael] helped me to start up in the college life…he turned into a great comrade of academic discussions, rowing and parties, always with generosity and an open mind.” Katie Schaefer, a friend from Bhatia’s high school days in Massachusetts, also remembered his personal warmth. “I always knew he would do amazing things in his life – he was such a history buff, so smart, kind, funny and always smiling…How tragic is this loss,” she said. Bhatia had already co-authored two books, and was a visiting fellow at Brown University’s Watson Institute for International Studies until July 2007. He spent much of his time away in south-east Afghanistan, with the Army’s 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, as part of the Human Terrain System. The memorial for Bhatia by the US Army Training and Doctrine Command claims that, “During the course of his seven-month tour, Michael’s work saved the lives of both US soldiers and Afghan civilians.” St Anthony’s will be holding “A celebration of Michael’s life” in the Buttery at 6pm on 16 May, with all welcome to attend.
We hope that today’s “READERS FORUM” will provoke honest and open dialogue concerning issues that we, as responsible citizens of this community, need to address in a rational and responsible way.HERE’S WHAT’S ON OUR MIND TODAYWhy In The World Did The Vanderburgh County Prosecutor’s Office Ask The Case To Be Dismissed Of Accused Of Child MolestationWHAT’S ON YOUR MIND TODAY?Todays “Readers’ Poll” question is: Who do feel is the most conservative elected body in Vanderburgh County?Please go to our link of our media partner Channel 44 News located in the upper right-hand corner of the City-County Observer so you can get the up-to-date news, weather, and sports.If you would like to advertise on the CCO please contact us at City-County [email protected] LinkEmail,Todays “Readers’ Poll” question is: Who do feel is the most conservative elected body in Vanderburgh County?Please go to our link of our media partner Channel 44 News located in the upper right-hand corner of the City-County Observer so you can get the up-to-date news, weather, and sports.If you would like to advertise on the CCO please contact us at City-County [email protected]
Thanks to the hard work of the British people, and the fundamental strength of our economy, we’re in a position to further increase funding for our NHS, ensuring quick access to quality healthcare for those who need it. This £1.8 billion for frontline services will not just go towards better equipment and technology, but important upgrades of hospitals across the country. More beds, new cutting-edge equipment and additional wards will be delivered at hospitals across the country, as the Prime Minister confirms a new £1.8 billion NHS cash injection.Visiting a Lincolnshire hospital today, Boris Johnson will announce the 20 hospitals set to share £850 million of new funding to upgrade outdated facilities and equipment – helping improve patient care and ultimately save more lives.The Prime Minister will also confirm a £1 billion boost to NHS capital spending, allowing existing upgrade programmes to proceed and tackling the most urgent infrastructure projects.Later this week, the Health Secretary will also set out further changes to the NHS pension scheme to support senior doctors and GPs taking on extra shifts.Ahead of his visit today, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: This is a significant start to the much needed capital investment so that our nurses, doctors and other NHS staff will be able to care for their patients in modern facilities with state of the art equipment. The concrete steps being set out this week will mean investment flows directly to frontline services, providing new clinics and wards. As they come on line, as part of our NHS Long Term Plan, patients will benefit from reduced waits for treatment and wider upgrades to the quality of care the health service is able to offer. North West University Hospitals Birmingham – £97.1 million to provide a new purpose built hospital facility in Birmingham, replacing outdated outpatient, treatment and diagnostic accommodation. United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust – £21.3 million to improve patient flow in Boston by developing urgent and emergency care zones in A&E. Wye Valley NHS Trust – £23.6 million to provide new hospital wards in Hereford, providing 72 beds. University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust – £17.6 million to create 3 new modern wards to improve capacity and patient flow in Stoke, delivering approximately 84 beds for this winter. Luton & Dunstable University Hospital NHS FT – £99.5 million for a new block in Luton to provide critical and intensive care, as well as a delivery suite and operating theatres. Norfolk & Norwich University Hospitals NHS FT – £69.7 million to provide Diagnostic and Assessment Centres in Norwich, Great Yarmouth and Kings Lynn to aid rapid diagnosis and assessment of cancer and non-cancerous disease. Norfolk and Suffolk NHS FT – £40 million to build 4 new hospital wards in Norwich, providing 80 beds. NHS South Norfolk CCG – £25.2 million to develop and improve primary care services in South Norfolk. Chief Executive of NHS England Simon Stevens said: Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust – £99.9 million to build a new Women’s and Children’s Hospital in the centre of the Royal Cornwall Hospital site in Truro. I love the NHS – and so do the millions of taxpayers and their families cared for by our NHS every month. We owe it to them to make sure they can get the best treatment in the best hospitals. On top of the extra £33.9 billion a year we are giving the NHS, today we are making a downpayment for the future of NHS buildings and facilities, with a £1.8 billion fund to revitalise our hospitals and immediate funding for bigger wards, better mental health units, and state of the art children’s hospitals in areas that need them the most. This is just the start of our Health Infrastructure Plan, with patients set to see and feel the benefits for years to come. Barking, Havering and Redbridge CCGs and North East London NHS Foundation Trust – £17 million to develop a new health and wellbeing hub in North East London. Croydon Health Services NHS Trust – £12.7 million to extend and refurbish critical care units at the Croydon University Hospital, Croydon. Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust – £72.3 million to build a new adult mental health inpatient unit in Manchester. Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust – £33 million to provide a new 40 bed low secure unit for people with learning disabilities. Stockport NHS FT – £30.6 million to provide a new Emergency Care Campus Development at Stepping Hill Hospital in Stockport, incorporating an Urgent Treatment Centre, GP assessment unit and Planned Investigation Unit. NHS Wirral CCG – £18 million to improve patient flow in Wirral by improving access via the Urgent Treatment Centre. Tameside and Glossop Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust – £16.3 million to provide Emergency and urgent care facilities at Tameside General Hospital in Ashton-under-Lyne. Midlands London Isle of Wight NHS Trust – £48 million to redesign acute services for Isle of Wight residents. North East and Yorkshire Today’s announcement delivers on the Prime Minister’s pledge when entering Downing Street to urgently upgrade 20 hospitals, and ensure money invested in the NHS is reaching the frontline as soon as possible.On the visit later today, Boris Johnson is expected to speak to doctors, nurses and other frontline staff to hear directly their thoughts on where the NHS could be better supported.The £1.8 billion funding is in addition to the extra £33.9 billion, in cash terms, the NHS is set to receive every year by 2023/24 through the Long Term Plan agreed last year. Over £1 billion of this will be spent this year, meaning an annual increase in the NHS’s capital budget of 30%.The devolved administrations will receive additional Barnett funding in the normal way; indicative allocations are around £110 million for Wales, £180 million for Scotland and £60 million for Northern Ireland.The Chancellor of the Exchequer Sajid Javid said: The NHS is always there for us – free at the point of use for everyone in the country. With our doctors and nurses working tirelessly day in day out, this treasured institution truly showcases the very best of Britain. That’s why I made it my immediate task to make sure frontline services have the funding they need, to make a real difference to the lives of NHS staff, and above all, of patients. Today I’m delivering on this promise with a £1.8 billion cash injection – meaning more beds, new wards, and extra life-saving equipment to ensure patients continue to receive world-class care. It’s time to face up to this challenge and make sure the NHS receives the funds it needs, to continue being the best healthcare service in the world. Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said: South East The 20 hospitals set to be upgraded, at a cost of £850 million, include:East of England South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw Integrated Care System – £57.5 million for primary Care investment across South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw. The Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust – £41.7 million to improve Paediatric Cardiac Services in the North East. Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust – £12 million to provide a single Laboratory Information Management System across West Yorkshire and Harrogate, covering all pathology disciplines. South West
Every year, an estimated 48 million Americans get sick from foodborne illnesses, resulting in some 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This public health problem is compounded by billions in economic damage from product recalls, highlighting the need to rapidly and accurately determine the sources of foodborne illnesses.With the increasing complexity of global supply chains for the myriad foods available to consumers, however, the task of tracing the exact origin of contaminated items can be difficult.In a novel solution that can help determine the origin of agricultural products and other goods, Harvard Medical School (HMS) scientists have developed a DNA-barcoded microbial system that can be used to label objects in an inexpensive, scalable and reliable manner.A flask of DNA-barcoded spores. Photos courtesy of Jason QianReporting in Science on June 4, the research team describes how synthetic microbial spores can be safely introduced onto objects and surfaces at a point of origin, such as a field or manufacturing plant, and be detected and identified months later.The spores are derived from baker’s yeast and a common bacterial strain used in a wide variety of applications, such as probiotic dietary supplements, and designed to be incapable of growing in the wild to prevent adverse ecological effects.“Spores are in many ways an old-school solution and have been safely sprayed onto agricultural goods as soil inoculants or biological pesticides for decades. We just added a small DNA sequence we can amplify and detect,” said study corresponding author Michael Springer, associate professor of systems biology in the Blavatnik Institute at HMS.“We also worked hard to make sure this system is safe, using commonplace microbial strains and building in multiple levels of control,” Springer added. “We hope it can be used to help solve problems that have enormous public health and economic implications.”In recent years, scientists have learned a great deal about the interactions between microbes and their environments. Studies show that microbial communities in homes, on cell phones, on human bodies and more have unique compositions, similar to fingerprints. Attempts to use microbial fingerprints to identify provenance can be time consuming and are not easily scaled, however.The use of custom-synthesized DNA sequences as barcodes has been shown in principle to be effective for labeling food and other items. To be widely useful, DNA barcodes must be produced cheaply in large volumes, persist on objects in highly variable environments, and able to be reliably and rapidly decoded — hurdles that have thus far not been overcome because DNA is fragile.Heavy-duty packagingIn their study, Springer and colleagues set out to determine if DNA barcodes packaged within microbial spores, which can be sprayed onto crops and identified months later, could help solve these challenges.Many microorganisms, including bacteria, yeasts and algae, form spores in response to harsh environmental conditions. Analogous to seeds, spores allow microorganisms to remain dormant for extraordinarily long periods and survive extreme conditions such as high temperatures, drought and UV radiation.The research team created custom-made DNA sequences that they integrated into the genomes of the spores of two microorganisms — Saccharomyces cerevisiae, also known as baker’s yeast, and Bacillus subtilis, a common bacterium that has numerous commercial uses, including as a dietary probiotic, a soil inoculant and a fermenting agent in certain foods. These spores can be cheaply grown in the lab in large numbers.The synthetic DNA sequences are short and do not code for any protein product and are thus biologically inert. Inserted into the genome in tandem, the sequences are designed so that billions of unique barcodes can be created.The team also ensured that DNA-barcoded spores could not multiply, grow and spread in the wild. They did so by using microbial strains that require specific nutritional supplementation and by deleting genes required for the spores to germinate and grow. Experiments involving from hundreds of millions to more than a trillion of the modified spores confirmed that they are unable to form colonies.To read the DNA barcodes, the researchers used an inexpensive CRISPR-based tool that can detect the presence of a genetic target rapidly and with high sensitivity. The technology, called SHERLOCK, was developed at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, in a collaboration led by institute members James Collins and Feng Zhang.“Spores can survive in the wild for an extremely long time and are a great medium for us to incorporate DNA barcodes into,” said study co-first author Jason Qian, a graduate student in systems biology at HMS. “Identifying the barcodes is straightforward, using a blue light source, an orange plastic filter and a cell phone camera. We don’t envision any challenges for field deployability.” Real worldThe team examined the efficacy of their barcoded microbial spore system through a variety of experiments.They grew plants in the laboratory and sprayed each plant with different barcoded spores. A week after inoculation, a leaf and a soil sample from each pot were harvested. The spores were readily detected, and even when the leaves were mixed together, the team could identify which pot each leaf came from.When sprayed onto grass outside and exposed to natural weather for several months, spores remained detectable, with minimal spread outside the inoculated region. On environments such as sand, soil, carpet and wood, the spores survived for months with no loss over time, and they were identified after disturbances such as vacuuming, sweeping and simulated wind and rain.Researchers built a sandpit to test the barcoded microbial spore system in simulated real-world environments.Spores are very likely to persist through the conditions of a real-world supply chain, according to the researchers. As a proof-of-principle, they tested dozens of store-bought produce items for the presence of spores of Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), a bacterial species that is widely used as a pesticide. They correctly identified all Bt-positive and Bt-negative plants.In additional experiments, the team built a 100-square-meter (~1,000 square feet) indoor sandpit and found that the spread of spores was minimal after months of simulated wind, rain and physical disturbances.They also confirmed that spores can be transferred onto objects from the environment. Spores were readily identified on the shoes of people who walked through the sandpit, even after walking for several hours on surfaces that were never exposed to the spores. However, the spores could not be detected on these surfaces, suggesting that objects retain the spores without significant spread.This characteristic, the team noted, could allow spores to be used to determine whether an object has passed through an inoculated area. They tested this by dividing the sandpit into grids, each labeled with up to four different barcoded spores. Individuals and a remote-control car then navigated the sandpit.They found that they could identify the specific grids that the objects passed through with minimal false positives or negatives, suggesting a possible application as a complementary tool for forensics or law enforcement.The team also considered potential privacy implications, noting that existing technologies such as UV dyes, cell phone tracking and facial recognition are already widely used but remain controversial.“As scientists, our charge is to solve scientific challenges, but at the same time we want to make sure that we acknowledge broader societal implications,” Springer said. “We believe the barcoded spores are best suited for farming and industrial applications and would be ineffective for human surveillance.”Regardless, the use and adoption of this technology should be done with a consideration of ethics and privacy concerns, the study authors said.The researchers are now exploring ways to improve the system, including engineering potential kill-switch mechanisms into the spores, finding ways to limit propagation and examining if the spores can be used to provide temporal information about location history.“Outbreaks of harmful foodborne pathogens such as listeria, salmonella and E. coli occur naturally and frequently,” Springer said. “Simple, safe synthetic biology tools and knowledge of basic biology allow us to create things that have a lot of potential in solving real world safety issues.”Study co-first authors include Zhi-xiang Lu, Christopher Mancuso, Han-Ying Jhuang,Rocío del Carmen Barajas-Ornelas, and Sarah Boswell.Additional authors include Fernando Ramírez-Guadiana, Victoria Jones, Akhila Sonti, Kole Sedlack, Lior Artzi, Giyoung Jung, Mohammad Arammash, Mary Pettit, Michael Melfi, Lorena Lyon, Siân Owen, Michael Baym, Ahmad Khalil, Pamela Silver, and David Rudner.This work was supported by DARPA Biological Robustness in Complex Settings (grant HR001117S0029).
78-year-old screen icon Diahann Carroll has withdrawn from the upcoming Broadway revival of A Raisin in the Sun midway through rehearsals, with LaTanya Richardson Jackson now taking over the role of Lena Younger. Interestingly, 64-year-old Jackson is only five years older than leading man Denzel Washington, who will play her son, Walter Lee Younger.The Kenny Leon production of the Lorraine Hansberry masterpiece has skewed older in its casting from the start. At 59, Washington is more senior than Broadway’s previous Walters, 34-year-old Sean Combs in the 2004 revival and 32-year-old Sidney Poiter in the 1959 original. And in the role of Lena Younger, Phylicia Rashad was 55 when she earned a Tony in the revival and original star Claudia McNeil was only 41 when she originated the role opposite Poitier!Jackson, who is married to screen and stage star Samuel Jackson, was seen on Broadway in the 2009 revival of August Wilson’s Joe Turner’s Come and Gone. Off-Broadway credits include Love, Loss and What I Wore, For Colored Girls…, Elliot Loves and From the Mississippi Delta. In addition, she has dozens of film and TV credits.A Raisin in the Sun will start performances on March 8 at the Barrymore Theatre, with opening night set for April 3. The limited run is set to end on June 15. In addition to Washington and Jackson, the cast features Tony winner Anika Noni Rose and Oscar nominee Sophie Okonedo, who will make her Broadway debut as Washington’s wife, Ruth.Get your tickets now for this one. No, seriously! View Comments Diahann Carroll Show Closed This production ended its run on June 15, 2014 Star Files A Raisin in the Sun Related Shows LaTanya Richardson Jackson
The world premiere of David Grimm’s Tales from Red Vienna has its official opening night off-Broadway March 18. Starring Nina Arianda and Michael Esper, the Manhattan Theatre Club production is playing at MTC at New York City Center — Stage I. View Comments Directed by Kate Whoriskey, Tales From Red Vienna tells the story of Helena (Arianda), a woman who, having lost her husband and financial security in World War I, struggles to maintain her way of life as she becomes a part of an illicit underworld. She manages to separate her secret life from her public persona until she crosses paths with someone who has the power to expose and ruin her. Star Files Nina Arianda The show also features Tina Benko, Michael Goldsmith, Lucas Hall and Kathleen Chalfant. Michael Esper
View Comments We have some casting news and it’s…astounding. (Time is fleeting…) Ryan McCartan, who starred as high school troublemaker J.D. in off-Broadway’s Heathers musical, will play Brad in Fox’s The Rocky Horror Picture Show TV remake, reports Deadline. Reeve Carney, who originated the web-slinging, proscenium-scaling titular role in Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, will lead viewers in the “Time Warp” as Riff Raff.Joining the two are Victoria Justice—known on the small screen for her work on Victorious, Zoey 101, Eye Candy and more—as Janet and model Staz Nair, who will appear in the upcoming season of Game of Thrones, as Rocky. As previously announced, Orange is the New Black Emmy nominee Laverne Cox will play Doctor Frank-N-Furter.The two-hour TV movie (not a live telecast) is produced by a team including Kenny Ortega. Filming is scheduled for the coming months with a premiere set for this fall; an exact date and additional casting will be announced later. In the meantime, you can get your musical fix on the network later this month when Grease: Live, starring Aaron Tveit and Julianne Hough, airs on January 31.
Editorial: ‘Same old trick’ in debt restructuring at Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Caribbean Business News:The most recent announcement of a preliminary deal between Prepa and its bondholders includes a transition charge to help pay for a bond exchange with creditor constituencies that do not include the monoline bond insurance companies and the fuel-line lenders. This is akin to stalled hyper-mitosis in cell division prior to birth—a Prepa deal takes at least two-thirds of the creditor groups brought into the fold to bind the holdouts in a consensual deal. Much work remains to be done.Early in Puerto Rico’s debt game, the complex makeup of that bankrupt utility’s creditor constituencies—somewhat emblematic of Puerto Rico’s debt—made it an important target in the restructuring jamboree inside the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management & Economic Stability Act (Promesa).Thus, Promesa’s circus master, U.S. House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop (R-Utah) tasked staff director Bill Cooper to codify the deal into law when he was enacting Promesa in 2016. But the rate case then, as now in this latest iteration, is likely to sting.Try as they might to privatize Prepa, members of U.S. Congress who have invested considerable political capital—some with midterms upon them, no less—would like to see a securitization mechanism that will not blow Puerto Rico’s rates sky high. After all, the discourse employed by the energy brigades on Capitol Hill—that Puerto Rico needs affordable and reliable power to chart a path to growth—rings a bit hollow if the people have to foot the bill for a 20 percent hike in their electric bills five years afield.The inevitability of a rate hike first reared its ugly head when Prepa’s Chief Restructuring Officer Lisa Donahue took a crack at restructuring the power company’s massive $9 billion debt load under the administration of then-Gov. Alejandro García Padilla. Donahue managed to work out 17 forbearance agreements with creditors that showed a propensity to push debt-payment deadlines down the road as they tried mightily to strike a bond exchange. Then, as now, somebody was going to pay dearly—the answer always came back to shared pain by the people.Today, the declining population continues to present high-wire dangers in the restructuring of Prepa’s debt. There seems to be no way around the transition charge as the deal is currently structured. The transition charge, which is a fee that will be used to pay for debt service, will be 2.35 cents per kWh for years one to five; 2.7 cents for years six to 10; and 2.8 cents for year number 11. However, starting in year 12, there will be annual 2.5 percent increases over the prior year’s transition charge. Shared pain by the people, indeed.In fact, the language in a draft bill to privatize Prepa, authored by Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) and circulated on the Hill several weeks ago, implies significant challenges in the privatization of the utility tied specifically to a shaky profit and loss forecast absent rate hikes. That self-evident truth prompted the inclusion of language enabling a $3 billion backstop structure financed by U.S. Treasury to fill any funding gaps by investors who purchase Prepa generation assets.This newspaper made a quick visit to Capitol Hill two weeks ago to see firsthand which way the currents of change were blowing. Frustration was a very common emotion etched on faces of those dealing with Prepa. As one House Natural Resources aide put it: “We could have had this done two years ago and avoided all this mess.” Yes; but at what cost and paid for by whom? If the answer is by “we the people,” then the Prepa overhaul for the people, by the people is a sham. And economic development will be a decades’ old memory, a story told in history books, but not seen in our lifetime.More: Same Old Tricks in Prepa Circus
Briefs September 15, 2005 Regular News Briefs THE LAW OFFICES OF ROSENTHAL & LEVY recently participated in a Habitat for Humanity of Martin County “Saturday build.” In just under two hours, volunteers from the firm painted the entire exterior of a house in the final stages of construction. The house is one of two Habitat Homes located on Clayton Street in Stuart. During the build, the crew from Rosenthal & Levy took the opportunity to meet the recipients of both houses. This “build” marks Rosenthal & Levy’s third Habitat project in less than two years. MORE THAN 350 incoming first year students at Nova Southeastern University’s Shepard Broad Law Center recently participated in the NSU Law Public Service Day Annual Beach Cleanup at John U. Lloyd Beach State Park in Hollywood. The cleanup is part of the school’s orientation program, and participation automatically enrolls students in NSU Law’s Pro Bono Honor Program, which recognizes students who work pro bono for the public interest while enrolled in law school. The goals of the pro bono honor program are to educate students in the role of public service attorneys, make students aware of critically unmet needs in their communities, assist agencies in trying to meet these needs, and build a tradition of pro bono work that will accompany students into their professional careers. CHIEF JUSTICE BARBARA PARIENTE, center, recently spoke at the Family Law Section’s annual awards luncheon as a guest of Jorge M. Cestero, left, the section’s new chair. Pariente, last year, encouraged Cestero to take on a pro bono case involving a teenage boy. He did and said he was overwhelmed at how gratifying it was and is now challenging each Family Law Section member take on a pro bono case involving a child or teen in need and has established “The Family Law Section Children’s Pro Bono Service Award” that will be presented at the end of his term as chair. Also pictured is Evan Marks, the section’s outgoing chair. AT THE FLORIDA CHAPTERS of the American Board of Trial Advocates’ recent annual convention in Coral Gables, Florida Attorney General Charlie Crist served as the guest speaker during the awards banquet. Also on hand were former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno and former Florida Attorney General Bob Butterworth, who are both honorary diplomat members of ABOTA. Pictured from the left are Butterworth, Crist, Reno, FLABOTA President Herman Russomanno and Miles McGrane, a past president of the Miami chapter of ABOTA, who introduced Crist. MELISSA MARTIN, center, of Barry University, received the Lion of Justice Award from the Standing Committee on Professionalism and a $1,000 check from the Young Lawyers Division for her essay on professionalism. From the left are committee Chair James Floyd, YLD President Jamie Moses, Martin, Carl Zahner, director of the Bar’s Center for Professionalism, and Supreme Court Justice Peggy Quince, who presented the award and the check during a ceremony at the Supreme Court in Tallahassee.
Michael Pollan letter: “Letter to the Farmer-in-Chief”http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/12/magazine/12policy-t.html “At bare minimum, we should be able to count on our government keeping our kids safe when they eat peanut butter,” he told Matt Lauer of the “Today” show in an interview aired this morning and a transcript released by NBC News. “That’s what [younger daughter] Sasha eats for lunch probably three times a week. I don’t wanna have to worry about whether she’s gonna get sick as a consequence.” Nicholas D. Kristof, “Obama’s ‘Secretary of Food’?”http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/11/opinion/11kristof.html “Within both FDA and USDA, food safety is not the top priority,” the nonpartisan, nonprofit organization Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) said in an April 2008 report called “Fixing Food Safety: Protecting America’s Food from Farm-to-Fork.” “At FDA, pharmaceuticals and medical devicesthe ‘drug’ part of the Food and Drug Administrationreceive priority attention. At USDA the focus is on promoting US farm commodities abroad and helping farmers and agribusiness at home.” There is no specific food-safety policy language in the new administration’s agenda, listed at WhiteHouse.gov. Two days after the election, though, senior campaign adviser Neera Tanden told the Associated Press: “[Obama] thinks this is a fundamental role of government to ensure that people’s food is safe and he has been concerned that we are not in a position to ensure that.” 2008 outbreak was catalystMany of the calls for change were inspired by last summer’s 3-month-long Salmonella Saintpaul outbreak, which sickened more than 1,400 people before the culprit food, fresh hot peppers, was identified (and 6 weeks after the culprit food was misidentified as tomatoes). They have been renewed with the current Salmonella Typhimurium outbreak centered on institutional peanut butter and peanut paste that is a component of processed food. Varied foodborne expertise in states “isn’t from lack of desire or commitment on the part of state health departments; it really is as simple as not having the resources or the staff,” Levi said. “This core public health function has been chronically underfunded.” GAO’s 2009 list of high-risk issueshttp://www.gao.gov/new.items/d09271.pdf In a budget imbalance that dates well back in the 20th centurybefore consolidation greatly reduced the number of US family farms and before processed food became an important marketplace sectorFDA is responsible for regulating 85% of food products in the United States, but has only half the budget and one-fourth the staff of the USDA FSIS, which accounts for the other 15%. Feb 2, 2009 CIDRAP News President Barack Obama called today for a “complete review” of the operations of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the wake of the ongoing outbreak of Salmonella in peanuts and peanut butter. “The disruption of moving to a government-wide single food safety agency, in a very short period of time, may actually weaken things for a while rather than strengthen them,” Dr. Jeffrey Levi, executive director of TFAH, said in an interview. “So our hope is that the first step in the process is creating a separate food safety agency within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), to strengthen systems that are already in place.” IOM report “HHS in the 21st Century: Charting a New Course for a Healthier America”http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=12513 After the election, more than 58,000 people signed an online petition asking that the new secretary of agriculture be a champion of sustainable agriculture. That recommendation joins those made in December by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) in the report “HHS in the 21st Century: Charting a New Course for a Healthier America,” which proposes unifying all federal food safety effortscurrently diffused across 12 agencies, including the USDAwithin the FDA. Monday’s announcement was Obama’s clearest statement yet on food safety. Limited reform was part of his campaign platform, which said in part, “The USDA and FDA need more authority to issue and enforce recalls for contaminated food.” He also introduced a food-safety bill into the Senate while campaigning last July. Obama administration rural and farm agendahttp://www.whitehouse.gov/agenda/rural/ The agencies’ prescriptions back up repeated efforts by some members of Congress, notably Sen. Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., and Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., who several times have proposed creating a single new food agency out of the food-safety system’s many parts. Those efforts have been matched by more general calls from citizens for revamped food policy in the new government. They range from New York Times columnist Nicholas D. Kristof, who was raised on a family farm, proposing a new Cabinet position, “Secretary of Food,” to author and University of California, Berkeley professor Michael Pollan publishing an open letter urging food reform as a prerequisite to action on healthcare reform, energy independence, and climate change. Seeking one food-safety agencyUltimately, those currently calling for reform hope to see a new federal food-safety agency that would unite the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) within USDA, which oversees meat and poultry production, with the food functions of several FDA departments that oversee everything else. Calls for change in the food-safety system are not new: Ten years ago, the IOM report “Ensuring Safe Food: From Production to Consumption” called for naming a national food-safety official, updating statutory authority under a single food-safety law, and revamping organization of food safety into one administrative structure, either a new agency or a council of representatives from the existing agencies. Ultimately, fresh attention to food safety will require not just new agency architecture, but a fresh stream of funding sent toward the states, Levi underlined. The Salmonella outbreaks have pointed up different levels of capability among state health departments: The Minnesota Department of Health identified the correct culprit food in both cases, challenging epidemiology done in other states and at the CDC. See also: In 2007, a subcommittee of the FDA’s own Science Board, the advisory group to the FDA commissioner, warned starkly: “The nation’s food supply is at risk. Crisis management in FDA’s two food safety centers, Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition and Center for Veterinary Medicine, has drawn attention and resources away from FDA’s ability to develop the science base and infrastructure needed to efficiently support innovation in the food industry, provide effective routine surveillance, and conduct emergency outbreak investigation activities to protect the food supply.” An essential part of that change would be naming one official within HHS who would have line authority over food safety functions. No such position exists now; food safety is a midlevel responsibility within the various HHS agencies, putting it far away from any policy-making power. Online petition, “Introducing the Sustainable Dozen!”www.FoodDemocracyNow.org Push for reform goes back yearsAnalysts of food safety and FDA operations, including some within the FDA itself, have been pressing for change for a while. Produce Safety Project report “Breakdown: Lessons to Be Learned from the 2008 Salmonella Saintpaul Outbreak”http://www.producesafetyproject.org/reports?id=0001 The day after the inauguration, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a set of “high risk” issues that it recommended the new administration address immediately. “Revamping Federal Oversight of Food Safety” was on the list. Obama interview transcripthttp://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/28975726/ Ten years on, much of the reform effort echoes those recommendations. “It should be at the highest level possible, preferably someone who reports to the secretary of HHS,” O’Hara said. “It needs to be seen as a priority of the department.” In calling for the review, President Obama is likely to hearten activists who have been pushing for reform of the nation’s food safety system. Overlapping coalitions of members of Congress, policy think tanks, and a substantial grassroots movement, spurred by repeated national foodborne epidemics, have been pressing the new administration to enact change at the FDA, which shares food-safety duties with the Department of Agriculture (USDA). In November, the Produce Safety Project of Georgetown University (funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts) issued an after-action report on the Salmonella Saintpaul outbreak that said the FDA has not exercised its authority to set mandatory, preventive safety standards for produce, though it has done so for seafood and eggs. Interim steps suggestedBut because rewiring so many components could take a whilebringing together every food-safety function could potentially wrap in even foodborne epidemiology at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)those pressing for change have advanced interim steps. “Our argument to the Obama administration would be that it is long past time to act on this issue,” Jim O’Hara, the project’s director and a former associate commissioner at the FDA, said in an interview. FDA Science Board report “FDA Science and Mission at Risk: Report of the Subcommittee on Science and Technology”http://www.fda.gov/ohrms/dockets/ac/07/briefing/2007-4329b_02_01_FDA%20Report%20on%20Science%20and%20Technology.pdf> Obama campaign platformhttp://my.barackobama.com/page/content/ruralplan/ TFAH report “Fixing Food Safety: Protecting America’s Food from Farm-to-Fork”http://healthyamericans.org/reports/foodsafety08/FoodSafety08.pdf IOM Report “Ensuring Safe Food: From Production to Consumption”http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=6163 Presciently, given that its recommendations were ignored for a decade, the report said, “Food safety in the United States lacks integrated Congressional oversight . . . and sustained political support.”