Sibling on a mission

first_img“What has been most challenging in the past two years is that his behavioral issues [have been very] severe at times, so that’s causing me to be more involved [with his medical care],” Grant said. “I do a lot of research online, looking at what kinds of treatments have been possible for these kids and what has been done to help with some of their severe behaviors. My MCB classes and anthropology classes have helped me learn how to do those literature searches and look for medications, as well some possible outcomes.”He still does it. “I was looking at medications, and I was talking to my mom about how the behavioral pharmacology class [I took] this semester taught me so many of the terms that I was reading in this paper about a medicine we’re looking into for Nik.”Grant also uses what he learned in class to advocate for families like his by writing perspective pieces in medical journals. One in Molecular Genetics and Metabolism Reports focused on including more siblings in research on people with disabilities. Another in in the British Medical Journal focused on raising awareness of the experiences and needs of families caring for children with complex health conditions.At Harvard, Grant helped start a program in which the Harvard Premedical Society invites people with a variety of diseases, their family members, doctors, and researchers to discuss what it’s like having the illness, caring for someone with it, and treating it. As part of the Harvard Undergraduates Raising Autism Awareness club, Grant helped put together Friday events that invited children and teenagers with autism to Harvard for social activities like movie nights and game nights.“That’s something that’s allowed me to stay connected with people like my brother while I’m at School,” Grant said.Next year, Grant plans to travel to the University of Cambridge’s Emmanuel College as a recipient of the 2020 Paul Williams Scholarship, a Harvard-U.K. fellowship. He hopes to continue some of the work he started here.“Using my story with Nik’s struggles … and using that to help other siblings, other families, or people who have similar struggles at home, that’s what’s been so rewarding to me,” Grant said. “Instead of just feeling alone in my experiences with my brother, I’ve been able to connect with others who have the same experiences. I learn from their stories.”There’s another person he learns a lot from, too — Nik.“Nik teaches me a lot of positive life lessons,” Grant said. “Even though he has this rare disease, he’s still very, very happy and pushes each day [despite pain] to live life to the fullest.“[I’ve learned] it’s always important to just enjoy the little things like how Nik enjoys getting toys, getting apples [which are his favorite food], and going to restaurants with us.” This is one in a series of profiles showcasing some of Harvard’s stellar graduates.A lot of what Nathan Grant did while at Harvard — and plans to do now — circles back to his twin brother, Nik.At 3 years old, Nik was diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder called Hunter syndrome, also known as MPS II. It is progressively debilitating, causing stunted growth, developmental disabilities, respiratory problems, and shortened life expectancy. Doctors thought Nik might not make it beyond 10.“My brother has definitely surpassed that. He’s now 22,” said Grant, a Dunster House alumnus from Cincinnati. “There is a lot of research going on with this disease, and there’s a lot of answers in health care so people are living longer.”Grant concentrated in molecular and cellular biology (MCB) to become part of finding those answers. “I wanted to learn more about the genetics of MPS and what can be done in terms of medicine,” he said.But his focus is even wider. Having grown up seeing the toll diseases like MPS can take on a whole family, he’d also like to help improve the day-to-day management of such maladies and find ways to support families of those with cognitive and genetic disorders.To that end, he spent much of his time at Harvard working on programs providing families with space to talk about their experiences and resources to support them.Nathan Grant with Nik and their parents, Robert and Viji Grant.“What I’m hoping to do is work in medicine to help patients as well as to help parents who are caregiving, to help siblings, to help the whole family through clinical practice but also through researching the support needs of families and different interventions that can be done,” said Grant, who also earned a secondary in social anthropology.One way he’s done this has been through Siblings with a Mission, an organization he started to help siblings of people with disabilities. The website is a way for families to find resources on specific diseases, share experiences, and participate in conferences and workshops.The group has almost 500 active members from 25 states and 15 countries. Members post stories online about issues such as the uncertainty of having a sibling suddenly land in the hospital, or what it’s like dating while having a sister with special needs, or reflections on the last days of a brother’s life. For their first in-person event in July 2017, they partnered with the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center for a symposium that brought together more than 100 members and medical researchers.“It’s been really special because siblings have come up to tell me that they didn’t really have a place where they could meet others who ‘got it,’ who really understood the experiences,” Grant said.Grant started Siblings with a Mission in 2015, before he came to Harvard, but it didn’t take off until his first year in College, when he became more vocal about his experiences and desire to advocate for siblings, like him, who will eventually take over caregiving responsibilities.“Our relationship is different,” Grant said. “Some of my friends talk more about sibling relationships being more about rivalry at a young age and trying to grow apart. For me, my brother’s needed as much help as he could get from all of us in the family. I’ve really taken more of a role to help him and provide care for him, which has made me stay so connected to him.”However, he wouldn’t be much of a brother if there wasn’t at least some mischief, he admits.“We still do fun activities,” Grant said. “We still go on Halloween for trick-or-treating — I like doing that a lot with him. We also really like going out to restaurants. That is his favorite: going out to eat. So that’s also part of my role: to restore some sense of normal sibling social activities for him that he doesn’t get from my parents. I like to do that when I come back home from College.”While at Harvard, Grant used his education to help Nik. “Using my story with Nik’s struggles … and using that to help other siblings, other families, or people who have similar struggles at home, that’s what’s been so rewarding to me.” — Nathan Grant ’20last_img read more

The conundrum for international students

first_img Harvard president, recipients, and professors hope it will lead to more comprehensive immigration reform Related Higher ed leaders back Harvard-MIT fight against ICE rules Guidelines would force international students to attend in-person classes amid pandemic or risk deportation, visa denial Supreme Court decision shielding DACA draws relief, celebration GAZETTE: Impressive as these efforts are, clearly this is a difficult time to be a foreign student in the U.S. What would you say is ultimately at stake, even thinking to times when the pandemic is at last behind us?ELLIOTT:  It is a difficult moment for them, no question about it. It’s already not easy to make the decision to study in a foreign country, and even under normal circumstances there is a lot to adjust to. Now, though, there is all this other stuff to deal with. Having been a foreign student myself once upon a time, I completely sympathize with the predicament so many are finding themselves in.As to what is at stake in the long run, for Harvard, the answer is simple: Our future is at stake. American higher education is the undisputed global leader because of our ability to attract hard-working and creative students and scholars from all over the world to our institutions. Our colleges and universities are the best, our medical research is the best, our entrepreneurial climate is the best, because we draw from a 7-billion-person talent pool and offer students from all over the world opportunities to fulfill their dreams of achievement and self-realization that they may not otherwise have. The tragedy is that our own federal government is in the process right now of diminishing that talent pool. The July 6 directive from ICE is just the latest in a series of policy decisions discouraging people from coming to America to study. I hope that policymakers understand that this must not continue. International students and scholars need to know that they are welcome in the U.S. and that it is possible to play by the rules and make a future here that will enrich us all.The recent litigation provided an opportunity for stakeholders across the whole social and political spectrum to come together to demonstrate that we remain committed to our international students, and to recognize that we would not be where we are today without them. Support for our challenge of the July 6 directive went well beyond higher education. We saw amicus briefs and letters of support from state attorneys general, from industry groups, including Google and Facebook, and from members of Congress, Republicans and Democrats alike, all of whom recognize that threatening to impede the flow of international students to the country makes no sense and does not serve the national interest. Labor unions stood side by side with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in supporting us, for this reason.Without international students in our institutions of higher learning, contributing to academic discourse, furthering the research enterprise, and driving the growth of new businesses and industries, we are collectively much, much less well-off. I’d add that just as we are far poorer without international students, we are also far poorer without immigrants. The Harvard president himself is the son of immigrants to this country, and I’m sure that is one reason why he has risen to the occasion to fight for us on this issue.Already, working with the Massachusetts congressional delegation and others, we have made progress in this regard. We will continue to push for immigration policies that fairly and accurately reflect the contributions that foreign students and scholars make to Harvard and to the U.S., and we will continue to advocate for incoming classes of international students to make sure that they have opportunities at Harvard and other colleges and universities across the country. As I say, our future depends on it. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) issued a directive on July 6 saying that international students at American universities who limited their class attendance to remote learning in the fall semester would not be allowed to travel to, or stay in, the U.S. Shortly thereafter, Harvard and MIT challenged the directive in court, ultimately convincing the Department of Homeland Security, to which ICE reports, to rescind the order.Still, the challenges for international students planning to attend American institutions this fall are many. For one, incoming students enrolled in institutions using entirely virtual learning, including Harvard, will not be allowed to enter this country.The Gazette interviewed Vice Provost of International Affairs Mark Elliott to learn about the context of the July 6 directive, the ongoing challenges faced by international students who are integral to the University community, and the resources that will be in place this fall for students studying at Harvard from locations abroad.Q&AMark ElliottGAZETTE:  Let’s begin with the widespread move to online learning made by many institutions of higher education across the country. How did that initial decision affect the status of international students here in the U.S.?ELLIOTT:  As you know, on March 13, Harvard made the decision to move to remote learning to reduce the number of people on campus and limit the spread of COVID-19. Within weeks, pretty much every school in the country decided to go to all-remote instruction for the remainder of the semester. This move created a potential problem for international students, most of whom are here on F-1 visas. According to existing regulations, which limit them to one online course per term, the move to entirely online education put them in violation of their visa conditions, subjecting them to potential loss of F-1 status, possible deportation, and as much as a 10-year bar on reentering the U.S.In response to efforts by colleges and universities to adapt to the public health emergency, the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP), which falls under the auspices of Immigration and Customs Enforcement within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), announced that it would exempt currently enrolled students on an F-1 visa from this online course limit, meaning they could remain in the country and in status even though they were taking all their courses online. SEVP said further that this exemption would be in effect “for the duration of the emergency.” This was a welcome demonstration of flexibility on the part of the government.As the spring semester came to an end, it became clear that the public health emergency was nowhere near ending and there would be a continuing need for remote instruction in the fall. This meant that we were going to need further guidance as to how the one-course limit would be applied in the fall when it came to entering students, who were not included in the March flexibility. We made persistent efforts to get clear guidance for the fall starting in May, efforts that included a letter from President [Larry] Bacow on June 2 to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Acting Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Chad Wolf. Changes to the ICE FAQ in June made it sound as though the March exemptions were good at least through the summer. But we heard nothing definitive until July 6.And that’s when everything blew up.GAZETTE: You’re talking about the directive that said that international students in the U.S. on F-1 visas would have to return to their home countries if they were taking only online courses.ELLIOTT:  Exactly. According to this directive, not only would there be no exemption for new students, but the prevailing exemption put in place in March would be discontinued for continuing students, too. Under these new rules, virtually every international student in the U.S. pursuing a curriculum of entirely remote instruction would be required to transfer at the last minute to a school with in-person courses, or else leave the country. This was clearly an effort to force schools to bring all students and professors back into the classroom as before — as if the pandemic had ended already, which it quite obviously hadn’t. It was also seen as a distinctly unfriendly move to the 1 million or so foreign students who study in the U.S.GAZETTE: And that’s when Harvard, in partnership with MIT, took DHS to court.ELLIOTT:  Right. Faced with litigation, DHS decided to rescind the July 6 directive. Unfortunately, the general elation around our victory in court — and it was a great victory, and people should be elated — led many to think that the problems we were facing with respect to international students all went away. In reality, what we won in court was the right to put into practice the reopening plans we had previously announced and to go back to working on the problems we had not yet solved before the release of the July 6 directive.GAZETTE: What does this mean for Harvard College upperclassmen from countries outside of the U.S., since they aren’t guaranteed housing this fall, and must show they do not have access to an adequate learning environment in order to live on campus?ELLIOTT:  The revocation of the July 6 directive means that returning students remain covered by the exemption and are free to take their courses remotely while staying in F-1 status. For those who remained in the U.S. after we closed the campus in March, they can continue to study remotely here in the fall as they did in the spring. If they went home, they can stay in their home countries and study remotely from there.Returning international students who went home can also come back to the U.S. and study remotely from a location here on their F-1 visa. As you note, upperclass students in the College are not guaranteed housing this fall unless they are in a category of high need. But still, they can be in the U.S.GAZETTE: Do students beginning at Harvard in the fall have the same choices as those who are returning?ELLIOTT:  Unfortunately, they do not, and this is what the Schools have been grappling with. Because they are not covered by the March exemption, entering students — meaning first-years in the College, G1 students in GSAS, and entering students in the professional Schools — are bound by F-1 rules and can take only one online course per semester. With the exception of the Business School and the upper levels of the Medical and Dental Schools, all the Schools have announced that instruction in the fall is entirely online. Of course, to qualify for a visa, a student must be full time; and since full time means a load of four courses, if those are all online, this puts students well over the one-course limit, making them ineligible for F-1 visas and therefore unable to come here. The most recent guidance from SEVP issued on July 24 makes that explicit.But the problems do not stop there. Let us imagine that the government were to decide to grant the exemption to the one-course rule to all entering students for the fall — something we are hoping legislation will address. Students would still face the reality that it is very difficult even to get an appointment for a visa interview. The State Department suspended routine visa processing worldwide back in March and closed consular offices. Only in the last 10 days or so has it announced that it will gradually resume handling student visa applications in certain locations. The backlog is so large that some students will not have interview appointments until October. And not every student has been offered an appointment yet. On top of that, you have the complex and ever-changing web of travel restrictions and quarantine requirements that make international air travel unusually hard, with flights that are few and far between.Given all of the above, we could already see a couple of months ago that it would be unrealistic to expect our entering international students to be here in time for the start of the term. Indeed, in addition to public health concerns, this was one reason why many Schools decided to adopt a remote-only curriculum for the fall, so that international students would not be unfairly disadvantaged over domestic students.GAZETTE: What about the suggestion that Harvard should go hybrid, in order to circumvent this ruling on incoming international students?ELLIOTT:  I’m glad you asked. Last week, Dean Rakesh Khurana explained that, despite the College’s invitation to first-years to study remotely while resident on campus, most incoming international undergraduates would not be able to take advantage of that offer, because current regulations do not permit them to enter the country to study fully remotely. This isn’t likely to change, unfortunately, despite all the advocacy we’ve done to this date to try to convince the administration to change those regulations in light of the pandemic. So indeed, why not try to figure out a way around the one-online-course rule by instituting something we could call hybrid?First, let’s be clear that, while there are various definitions of hybrid out there, there is fundamental agreement on one thing, which is that it involves online instruction in combination with some measure of in-person interaction between students and teachers. And under current rules, such conditions would need to be part of the requirements for at least three of an international student’s four courses.Now, as I think most everyone is aware, Harvard College made the decision to go completely remote for the fall to protect the health and safety of students, faculty, and staff, and to do its part to prevent the wider spread of the virus in the community and the region. It turns out we had to go to court to defend that decision — and happily we won, so that no one has to choose between their health and their education. To introduce a hybrid program of instruction now would be to compromise our public health priorities. We think there is still too much uncertainty for us to take that risk, and, on the advice of the experts we have been consulting with all along, we continue to believe that all-remote remains the only safe option. Given the government’s inflexibility on the rules, the consequences for our entering international students make us all unhappy. It’s of course not at all what we would have wanted for our international first-years. But none of this is what we wanted.GAZETTE: Harvard has spent significant time and resources ensuring that the fall semester of remote learning will be very different than the spring, while providing resources for students to enhance the virtual learning experience. Undoubtedly, international students will face challenges to remote work, particularly related to differences in time zones. Are there specific resources on remote learning at Harvard for international students who can’t be on campus?ELLIOTT:  There are quite a few resources for international students. The Office for International Education (OIE) is actively working with first-year students in the College to determine technical needs so that those who wish to study remotely have the tech support to do so. OIE has also set up a program called “Study Away” that allows for returning students in the College to enroll for Harvard credit at partner universities in their home countries. I’ve been working closely with OIE to expand the range of choices here. I would add that the Harvard Alumni Association has also been busy, brokering connections between international students in the College and our extensive global alumni network. Not everyone realizes this, but fully one-sixth of all Harvard grads live outside the U.S., and they have told us they are ready to help however they can.Finally, let me mention the Woodbridge International Society, which is the international student association. Its leaders are also working hard to find ways to provide virtual social opportunities for everyone, starting with this year’s all-remote First-Year International Program. Now more than ever, Woodbridge will be a valuable resource for international students across all years.On a more practical level, for students in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences who will be studying remotely, the academic day has been extended. In my case, I have two students in one of my courses who I know are in China, so I’m teaching my class from 7:15 p.m. to 10:15 p.m. East Coast time to facilitate the time difference. Lectures can be recorded, and courses can combine synchronous and asynchronous classes and sections. Faculty members and teaching fellows alike have been asked to keep in mind the time zones of all students when thinking about class times.Across the University, the Schools are implementing similar policies. The Graduate School of Education (HGSE), for example, is offering multiple time-zone-based sessions of each of their most popular courses, as well as courses they expect to be in demand from international students. They’ve added new classes that are relevant to the current times, including one on how COVID-19 is affecting education systems around the world, and another on education in disruption. The School is also putting together a series of asynchronous sessions specific to HGSE international students that will be available for them to view during orientation week, along with synchronous opportunities for these students to engage with each other in real time, virtually.At the Law School, the HLS Graduate Program has been matching incoming students in the Master of Laws program (LL.M.), which is predominantly international and typically includes students from more than 65 countries each year, with Class of 2020 LL.M. graduates to strengthen network ties across the years, and enable LL.M. graduates to share lessons from their own remote-learning experiences with incoming students.last_img read more

Reproducing pests

first_imgBy Sharon OmahenUniversity of GeorgiaWhen it comes to black flies, most people would prefer them destroyed. In the U.S., their bites cause pain and welts. In Africa, they can cause blindness. But to help find ways to control the tiny pests, University of Georgia scientists maintain the world’s only research colony.Often described as gnats, black flies are small, dark, stout flies about half the size of mosquitoes. Like gnats, they swarm around people’s faces and eyes. The big difference is that their bites hurt.Causes welts, blindness“We’re spoiled in the South as our species doesn’t usually bite,” said Elmer Gray, a medical and veterinary entomologist with the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. “In Canada and northern states like Maine and Massachusetts, they bite and leave a bloody welt.”In Africa, black flies carry a nematode that can move to the cornea of a bite victim and cause what is called river blindness. It affects 30 million people in Central and South Africa each year, Gray said. To fight the fly, a bio-control agent called Bti, or Bacillus thuringiensis var. israelensis, was developed. “It’s not a chemical pesticide,” he said, “so it doesn’t pollute streams or damage water quality.”Testing control formulationsBti is a strain of a soil-dwelling bacteriuim that occurs naturally. It is considered safe to people and wildlife. The World Health Organization has approved it for drinking water treatment in some countries, he said.With funding from Valent Biosciences, Gray and a team of 10 UGA students and technicians work every day, year-round to maintain the colony’s 2.7 million black flies. Keeping a healthy colony alive and thriving is an essential component of testing the Bti effectiveness in controlling the pest, he said.Housed, fed and harvestedThe researchers house the fly colony in Athens, Ga., in lobster tanks and modified salt water aquariums, a system developed at Cornell University to replicate a river habitat. The fly colony is fed soybean meal and rabbit chow. “Our flies are larger than the flies found naturally in streams because they’re fed well,” Gray said.Every Tuesday, the team harvests 18-day-old larvae to use to test Bti formulations. “Only 10 percent are used for research purposes,” he said, “but we have to keep a large population to ensure a healthy colony.”Knowing how much Bti to apply to black fly populations will enable groups like the WHO to control the flies instead of treating people for the problems they cause, he said.“Bti can be applied on a large scale using helicopters,” Gray said. “It typically costs about $25-27 a gallon in liquid form.”Just the right amountThe UGA researchers are also working on Bti quality. “The particles have to be the right size and must be stable and disperse in water to be effective,” Gray said. Flies from the UGA colony are being used by other UGA researchers and in research programs at Kansas State University, University of Alabama, Clemson University and Brock University in Canada. “We share samples with anyone we can help,” Gray said.last_img read more

SOUTHCOM: Much More than Wishing Storms Away

first_imgBy Dialogo April 12, 2013 The Peruvian city of Chiclayo is highlighted with a red dot recently drawn on the map at the United States Southern Command’s (SOUTHCOM) Humanitarian Assistance Program office. A Disaster Management Center was inaugurated there in March, joining a long list of projects that SOUTHCOM developed for nations in Central America, South America and the Caribbean to enhance their regional response capacity in case of natural disasters. Comprised of an Emergency Operation Center, a disaster relief warehouse, and a search and rescue training center, the complex is the result of joint efforts between SOUTHCOM, the government of the Lambayeque region (where Chiclayo is situated), local authorities, the Peruvian National Institute of Civil Defense and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). The project cost $1.2 million, granted by SOUTHCOM. However, Chiclayo is only one of many colored dots with which the team from SOUTHCOM’s Humanitarian Assistance Program monitors the progress of activities it executes throughout the Western Hemisphere. In total, SOUTHCOM completed 108 collaborative projects in the field of humanitarian assistance and disaster response during the 2012 fiscal year only, with a budget of $15.8 million. “Our team’s mission is to collaborate with each of these countries so that they are better prepared to cope with natural disasters,” program director William Clark stated. According to Clark, the command’s participation in this sort of activity can be traced back to the 60s, with the most significant moment being the paramount response by SOUTHCOM after the 2010 earthquake that ravaged Haiti. Operation Unified Response, as the effort was called, included mobilizing 22,000 U.S. troops, 33 U.S. Navy and Coast Guard vessels, 262 fixed-wing aircraft, and 57 helicopters to the Caribbean nation. In only a few hours, food, water, tents, generators, and medical supplies arrived in the Haitian capital Port-Au-Prince. The U.S. agency in charge of responding to aid requests from nations affected by natural disasters is USAID’s Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA). It is up to OFDA’s coordinated efforts with the U.S. Departments of State and Defense, foreign governments, and other institutions to determine if U.S. Military support is, in fact, needed. In addition to providing aid when disasters wreak havoc, SOUTHCOM permanently works on three fundamental areas: building facilities, training rescuers and medical first responders, and supplying material resources, such as ambulances, fire trucks, communication radios, and global positioning systems (GPS), among others. Where Does Help Go? During 2012, one of the most important endeavors was the inauguration of a Disaster Relief Warehouse in the Costa Rican Pacific coast’s Parrilla district. Built at a cost of $650,000, the facility will serve as a central point for aid distribution to other Costa Rican cities. Other projects took place in Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Belize, Colombia, Costa Rica, Chile, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panamá, Paraguay, Dominican Republic, and Saint Kitts and Nevis. Nevertheless, the country that continues to receive the most assistance is Haiti. “Since 2010, we have invested $35 million to construct emergency operation centers, warehouses, and fire stations in each department,” Clark states, pointing to the southwest Haitian port city of Les Cayes on the map. Between 2011 and 2012, four humanitarian assistance clusters were built in Les Cayes for the population displaced by the earthquake. Each humanitarian assistance cluster features a school; a clinic with dental facilities, a pharmacy and a lab; a community center that can serve as a shelter; and a well, essential to a nation where access to drinking water is a highly-valued asset. “We also do some really off the wall stuff,” Clark adds, explaining that one of the initiatives developed by his group emerged from lessons learned after another devastating earthquake, this time in Chile, in February 2010. Blocked roads, destroyed phone lines, and collapsed cell phone towers made it impossible to access the places most shaken by nature. “With that experience, and building on FEMA’s [U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency] response vehicles, we provided Chile with 11 vehicles that can be loaded onto their C-130 aircraft and transported to the most affected locations,” he says. Equipped with UHF, VHF, HF radios and satellites, as well as computers for four operators, these vehicles work as mobile emergency operation centers performing similar functions to those of the emergency operation centers like the one at the Disaster Management Complex recently opened in Chiclayo. “Activities are being coordinated with SOUTHCOM to enhance the regional governments’ capabilities, and even though several emergency operation centers have been built in Peru, the Chiclayo project is the only one that has three elements in one,” states Retired Peruvian Army General Alfredo Murgueytío Espinoza, director of the National Institute of Civil Defense in the South American country. Last February, when streets, homes, and businesses were destroyed by copious rain in several locations of Arequipa province, one of the emergency operations centers donated by SOUTHCOM served as the liaison between regional and national authorities. “The information received through the center in Arequipa allowed the national government to declare a state of emergency there and send the help they needed,” he states. General Murgueytío also said that SOUTHCOM’s Humanitarian Assistance Program is currently working in coordination with the Peruvian National Institute of Civil Defense in order to develop emergency operation centers, disaster relief warehouses, and search and rescue centers in Cuzco, San Martín, Puno, Ayacucho, Piura, Huaraz, Huancavelica, Loreto, Junín and Tacna. The inauguration of several projects in a myriad locations are scheduled for 2013. For instance, a National Emergency Operations Center will be inaugurated in Nejapa, El Salvador. With regard to the possibility of U.S. budget cuts affecting future endeavors, Clark simply states that his team will continue to work just as before. “By the way,” he adds, “we have not had to respond to a disaster in the last two years. I would like to believe this is because our partner nations have more resources to confront an earthquake, a tropical storm, or a low-scale hurricane. This lauds our partners’ accomplishments, as well as those of our program.”last_img read more

Done Right, Huntington’s Plan for Melville Could Benefit the Neighborhood and Long Island as a Whole

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York When it comes to the future of Long Island, residents should ditch the NIMBY attitudes and be constructively open-minded—but only if their local government promises to be responsive to the legitimate needs of the community.That’s the challenge facing the Town of Huntington as it contemplates what to do with the Route 110 Corridor on the Suffolk and Nassau border. The outcome looms large for Melville, one of the biggest employment hubs on the Island, whose economic vitality depends upon the integration of transit service, a balance of residential and commercial space and an innovative mixed-use development.Earlier this month, BFJ Planning, Urbanomics and Parsons Brinckerhoff, a team of consultants that the town had hired on the recommendation of its Melville Plan Advisory Committee, hosted a public workshop concerning the Melville Employment Center, the designation of a key commercial concentration on the Island in western Suffolk County that is Huntington’s largest source of employment and tax revenue. Resident turnout was strong, as were their views regarding the future of their community. I also spoke, trying to ease some concerns while raising these issues. The meeting was the first of what the town has said may be a year-long process before coming up with a draft plan.The Route 110 Corridor is often defined as “Long Island’s economic spine” thanks to an abundance of corporate headquarters that include multinational giants like Canon USA, Nikon and Henry Schein. The area also contains the largest undeveloped tracts of land in the Town of Huntington, which—for better or worse—presents an opportunity for Melville to transform itself. After initial review, BFJ found that the unincorporated hamlet’s “traditional suburban office development has led to traffic congestion and a lack of pedestrian amenities.”BFJ also observed that due to Melville’s large building footprints surrounded by ample parking lots, the aesthetic visual impacts aren’t exactly stellar. Workers in the area have complained about their relative isolation, the lack of walkability and the availability of few amenities. Residents have complained about the traffic, the congestion and the ever-increasing cost of living, a regional issue felt on the local level.Melville’s engaging in the planning process couldn’t come at a better time. As the New York State Department of Transportation wraps up expanding Route 110’s capacity to handle the multiple peak periods of traffic in the area, proposals have been made for implementing a new bus-rapid-transit (BRT) lane and reopening the Republic Airport LIRR Station, closed since 1986.No matter the approach, big questions—as always—must be answered. Are the consultants contemplating shoehorning more residents into this relatively isolated hamlet? Can the area handle increases in density without direct access to public transit? And, just as importantly, will LI’s affluent corporate workers even want to use it?Before moving forward, it’s critically important that BFJ and the town conduct a destination/origin study to see where, exactly, these Melville workers are coming from, and whether or not transit can meet their commuting needs.Proposals for providing sewage capacity and area-wide storm management should be explored seriously, but expect large costs of implementation and large impacts on the aquifer. The last Melville Industrial Sewer District Feasibility Study is now more than 20 years old. The area is also home to West Hills County Park, an underutilized public asset that is a geologically sensitive Special Groundwater Protection Area. Because of Melville’s mid-Island location, any sewage treatment plant would have to be a package plant that discharges its effluent into the aquifer unless funding can be found for other solutions.Planners and policymakers must embrace the current economic realities that the area faces. Is it wise to recommend growth to accommodate a new BRT route and LIRR station at Republic Airport if neither is built yet? Does the MTA even have the capital funding earmarked for the reopening of the Republic Airport station? These questions have to be answered before any plan is even drafted, because they will help dictate substantive policy and land use recommendations for the Town of Huntington to take.If neither a new BRT route or a reopened LIRR station is realistic, the plan should be scaled down and focused on providing amenities for local residents and the large population of workers in the area. Are there chokepoints in the street network where the town could ease the congestion? Can the office parks be made pedestrian friendly, complete with social civic spaces and more attractive streetscapes? These improvements have been shown to bolster residential property values elsewhere, so Melville residents should welcome them with open arms.Further commercial and office development should be halted along the Route 110 Corridor until there is coordination among projects like Jerry Wolkoff’s massive Heartland Town Square, Syosset Park, Renaissance Downtown’s efforts in Huntington Station and myriad other mixed-use proposals that are cropping up.All of this is well and good, but any plan is driven by resident input and scientific data. Local government and the consultants are responsible for an honest analysis of the area’s needs. They must answer the questions raised here before making any policy recommendations. The replies cannot be predetermined, and the assessments must not be driven by stakeholders.What was concerning was that at the public meeting there was talk of an advisory committee that was comprised of all too familiar players in the Island’s development scene. The committee should be expanded to include more civic leaders and local residents – the same old stakeholders lead to the same old solutions.The residents have an even bigger responsibility, for they must accept the findings and help implement the plan. What is key is an open-minded, constructive attitude that leaves room for change in the community. Clearly, Melville’s physical layout no longer serves the needs of those who live in the hamlet—and those who work there.Rampant NIMBYism against sensible fixes like providing sidewalks, attractive lighting and more retail options shouldn’t be protested reflexively. Instead, local residents should focus on getting traffic flow improved, and on reducing conflicts of land use between their residential neighborhoods and their neighboring offices and industrial properties.Let’s work to make Melville a shining example that local planning on the Island can benefit the entire region. The process has to be driven constructively by data and by input from residents and stakeholders having an honest conversation of the area’s needs.Without this effort, the Melville Employment Center Plan will be worthless.Rich Murdocco writes about Long Island’s land use and real estate development issues. He received his Master’s in Public Policy at Stony Brook University, where he studied regional planning under Dr. Lee Koppelman, Long Island’s veteran master planner. Murdocco is a regular contributor to the Long Island Press. More of his views can be found on or follow him on Twitter @TheFoggiestIdea.last_img read more

5 Father’s Day gift ideas under $50

first_img 17SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,Wendy Moody Wendy Moody is a Senior Editor with Wendy works with the editorial team to help edit the content including current news, press releases, jobs and events. She keeps … Web: Details Father’s Day is a time for showing our gratitude and appreciation for those important men in our life. Many of us would give our dear ‘ol dad the world if we could. The reality is most of us are on a budget, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find the perfect present for pops. Below are five ideas for Father’s Day gifts under $50.For The Techie“Alexa, what’s the perfect Father’s Day gift for my tech-savvy dad?” The answer is the Amazon Echo Dot, at only $40. This voice-controlled device plays music, controls home devices, adds items to grocery lists, provides news and weather, and much more. Just don’t be surprised if on your next visit to dad’s house, he talks to “Alexa” more than he talks to you.For The TV/Movie BuffWho doesn’t have Netflix these days? Well, honestly your dad may not. So, consider purchasing him a Roku streaming stick for only $40. This small USB jump-drive sized stick goes directly into the side of the television and is incredibly user friendly. Just follow the easy steps given and your dad will be on his way to streaming his favorite movies and shows.For The Sports FanaticNo matter what sport your dad follows, there’s a gift out there for him. UncommonGoods has an awesome selection of interesting and unique sports-related presents for dads that aren’t bad for your budget. There’s tabletop games, wall art, and beer glasses just to name a few.For The Kid at HeartThere’s something about motorized vehicles that every man seems to love. Today’s version of the remote control airplane that many males grew up loving is the drone. Most of us have seen a drone at some point and heard that loud buzzing, but now they are available for purchase at just the click of a button. Check out this one on Amazon with a built in HD camera.For The OutdoorsmanIs your pops a camper, a climber, or a hiker at heart? REI offers a great selection of gifts under $50 for your outdoorsy dad. Favorites include high-quality camping (or tailgating) chairs, YETI cups, and the classic Leatherman multi-tool.last_img read more

Cybersecurity: What’s your level of preparedness?

first_img 1SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr NCUA is using a new tool to gauge credit unions’ level of cybersecurity preparedness: The Automated Cybersecurity Examination Tool (ACET).Developed in 2017, ACET consists of an inherent risk profile and a cybersecurity maturity level, explains Wayne Trout, regional information systems officer for the agency. In 2018, NCUA will examine the 268 credit unions with more than $1 billion in assets using ACET.Trout, who addressed the CUNA Technology Council’s 5th Annual Security Summit in San Francisco, identified several of credit unions’ “least achieved baseline statements” from the cybersecurity assessments: continue reading »last_img read more

New York State Police arrest woman for illegal fireworks

first_imgPolice say a trooper witnessed Cornell make a vehicle and traffic violation on Interstate 81 in Kirkwood on Friday afternoon. Holly M. Cornell of Berkshire, NY was arrested for the misdemeanor of Unlawfully Dealing with Fireworks and Dangerous Fireworks. An investigation was done with the assistance of K9 Matti, and troopers found over $2000 worth of illegal fireworks in Cornell’s possession. KIRKWOOD (WBNG) — New York State Police said they have arrested a woman for unlawfully dealing with fireworks. According to an official press release, Cornell has been released on appearance tickets to the town of Kirkwood court on July 7.last_img read more

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A classic “renovator’s delight’’ is among the homes viewed more than any other in Queensland this week

first_imgNot hard to see why 76 Mallawa Drive, Palm Beach was such a popular listing.The home was designed by Jared Poole. It has a handcrafted sandstone feature wall and oak timber floors.There are wide bi-fold glass doors to an outdoor entertainment pavilion, equipped with an in-built kitchen.The 25 metre swimming pool is heated and the back yard leads down to the sandy beach canal.Third on the list this week was 55 Lather Rd, Bellbowrie, followed by 109 Mudgeeraba Rd, Mudgeeraba and 39 Cochrane St, Paddington. More from newsMould, age, not enough to stop 17 bidders fighting for this home5 hours agoBuyers ‘crazy’ not to take govt freebies, says 28-yr-old investor5 hours agoA little reno work is required at 22 Gail St, Kedron. Picture: it was popular with property hunters it didn’t attract as much as attention as this Palm Beach home which topped the list of most viewed properties this week.The waterfront home at 76 Mallawa Drive, attracted the most views in Queensland on is scheduled for auction on June 7. 22 Gail St, Kedron was a popular listing this week.IT certainly needs a coat of paint and a bit of a touch up but this Kedron home was among the most viewed properties in Queensland this week.The house at 22 Gail St, is being sold through the Public Trustee. It is described as a ‘superb character home’’ on two valuable lots.The 1920 pre-war home has two bedrooms and an original kitchen. The bathroom is described as “basic’’.last_img read more