May 2, 2013 (CIDRAP News) – The most detailed genetic analysis so far of H7N9 viruses that have infected humans in China shed more light on how the virus may have emerged—a complex set of events that could have involved mixing between wild and domestic ducks and reassortment in poultry.In analyzing the family tree of H7N9 and related viruses Chinese researchers also found a long branch between the new virus and avian influenza viruses from wild birds, suggesting that an intermediate host might exist. The study appeared yesterday in an early online edition of The Lancet.The group used H7N9 genetic sequences from the GISAID database that are linked to the first four human isolates. Using sophisticated analysis tools, they compared the H7N9 sequences with public ones from the Influenza Virus Resource, a flu sequence data source and tool. They used leading-edge techniques to estimate the phylogenies, divergence times, and other evolutionary information for all eight gene segments.The researchers pointed out that their analysis lacks extensive surveillance data, partly because H7 virus subtypes have low pathogenicity for avian hosts, which can harbor the virus for long periods without showing symptoms. However, the team wrote that the study includes most publicly available related sequences.The new virus fell within the Eurasian H7 lineage and was most closely related to sequences from ducks in Zhejiang province in 2011, and the team estimated that the most recent common ancestor of the H7N9 virus was in January 2012.Similarly, their analysis of the N9 phylogenetic tree found the H7N9 virus belongs to the Eurasian lineage. It was closely related to H7N9 viruses from wild ducks in South Korea in February and April of 2011. At that time, the wild ducks were colonized for breeding in southeast China during their northward migration along the East Asian flyway.The six internal genes of the H7N9 virus clustered with H9N2 viruses from China from at least two different origins: one for the NS gene and one for the rest of the internal genes. The most closely related ones were all from one strain, a virus collected from a brambling in Beijing in November 2012. The group’s phylogenetic analysis also found that the H7N9 polymerase gene fell within a clade of chicken H9N2 viruses from near Shanghai in 2012 and Zhejiang province in 2011.The new virus could have at least four possible genetic origins, which is more than an early analysis of the virus proposed, the group wrote.The NA gene of H7N9 might have traveled from Europe through bird migration and could have been carried by wild birds. The team said a likely scenario is that wild ducks transferred the viruses to domestic ducks, which share similar behaviors and habitats in eastern China. The ducks could have obtained the HA and NA genes from migratory birds sequentially and simultaneously, such as when large colonies of mixed wild ducks winter in southeast China.The group noted that a long branch between the new H7N9 virus and those from wild birds raises the possibility of an intermediate host, which touches on a question that flu experts are still puzzling over. Though investigations of human cases have found a link to market poultry and environments, little is known about how the market birds are becoming infected.Taken together, the group wrote that the evidence so far suggests that new H7N9 virus emerged from an HA gene that was circulating in the East Asian flyway in wild birds and ducks, from an NA gene that was introduced from a European lineage early and transferred from migrating wild birds, and from H9N2 viruses in eastern China’s chickens and ducks that possibly reassorted with H7 and N9 viruses in ducks.”After these reassortment events, the new viruses started to circulate in chickens, with low pathogenicity,” they wrote, adding that the reassortment events probably occurred in Shanghai and nearby provinces.The time to the most recent common ancestor for the gene segments, as well as frequent poultry transportation, might have played a role in the increasing sporadic detections of the H7N9 virus in humans, according to the report.The diversity that they found in the isolates suggests H7N9 has evolved into at least two lineages, with the possibility of unknown intermediate hosts, pointing to a need for heightened global surveillance in animals and humans, they wrote.Liu D, Shi W, Shi Y, et al. Origin and diversity of novel avian influenza A H7N9 viruses and causing human infection: phylogenetic, structural, and coalescent analyses. Lancet 2013 May 1 [Abstract]
USDA News:WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development Bette Brand has announced USDA extended foreclosure and eviction moratorium for all Single Family Housing Direct Home Loans through Aug. 31, 2020.The moratorium applies to:Initiation of foreclosures or completion of foreclosures in process, excluding vacant and abandoned properties; andEvictions of borrowers from properties bought with a USDA direct home loan. For more information on USDA Rural Development’s actions to support customers directly impacted by COVID-19 visit www.rd.usda.gov/coronavirus.
By ANDY ANDREWSLos Alamos World Futures InstituteEvery day we receive information through our senses, primarily through sight and sound. As we advanced as a species, we created coding, the energy transmitted through the structures of the sounds or images in the form of languages and graphic representations of them. Of course, one can expand and modify the simple perspective with other sounds such as music and warning signals or visual media such as art and other signals. The key, however, is that these energy transmissions are created by humankind to send information. It is highly sophisticated information. We frequently communicate through talk in close proximity to others while concurrently sending visual signals through facial expressions and posture.This form of communication has been occurring for a very long time and was a key element to the evolution of the species. One might point out that other species also communicate and clearly they do. Humans, however, developed much more sophisticated mechanisms in complex languages and behavior.But if the means of communication had remained person to person, I could not write this and you could not read it.In the history of humankind, we find images on building, caves, walls, and on and on. Did these images communicate and do they now? Probably so, but individuals had to see them, they had to get to a specific location and perhaps interpret the information. Somewhere along the timeline writing, more as we know it, came along. It was more than the use of pictures or symbols to convey an idea. It was a way of encoding words using a set of symbols (letters and punctuation) to represents words of the language.If you look it up, writing began somewhere between 3,400 and 3,100 BC or 3,250 BC depending on your preference for Mesopotamia or Egypt. And writing has been determined to have been independently created in other places including Southern Mexico and Guatemala around 500 BC. As time progressed, writing was done on clay, papyrus, wood, slate and parchment. And in Rome, wax tablets were used. The sources of writing were limited and it was difficult to widely distribute it.Then 3,400 years after the creation of writing, Ts’ai Lun invented paper in China (105 AD). If you look him up in The 100 – A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History, by Michael H. Hart you will find that Ts’AI Lun ranked seventh on the list. Paper reduced the cost of writing material and greatly eased its distribution. While we take it for granted except when in short supply, the invention of paper made writing communication and the distribution of information more plausible. If you continue reading Hart’s book you find Johann Gutenberg at number eight. He invented moveable type for the printing press, somewhere around 1450 AD, only 1300 years after the creation of paper.Moveable type sped up the process of creating written (OK, printed) material in multiple copies. One can argue “so what? Very few people could read.” But the greater availability of written material, information, made learning more exciting and inspired the continued growth of humanity. Jump forward about 445 years and you find the telegraph and its ability to send messages in Morse code over long distances rapidly. While it is rather common knowledge that dot – dot – dot, dash – dash – dash, and dot – dot – dot means SOS or “help!”, most people cannot communicate in Morse code and need a skilled telegrapher to send or receive a message. But the birth of the telegraph marked a significant increase in the speed of communication over greater distances, albeit reduced in content. Samuel Morse received an honorable mention in Hart’s book, perhaps an indication of the relative importance of speed of communication when the amount of communication content is reduced.Then came Guillermo Marconi and the working device he patented in 1896 that we all call a radio. At first his technology only allowed sending signals (messages) wirelessly. But wireless meant anywhere, without the mass of paper, and very, very quickly. More importantly, in 1915, the coding in radio messages became voice, an older but widespread code.If you layout the dates of these inventions the list is 3,250BC, 105 AD, 1450 AD, 1845 AD, and 1896AD, at least approximately. The intervals calculate to 3400 years, 1845 years, 395 years, and 41 years in the speed of communication for the distribution of information. What is the acceleration, noting that acceleration might influence the size of information distribution? And what would Alexander Graham Bell have to say? Til next time…The Los Alamos World Futures Institute website is at LAWorldFutures.org. Feedback, volunteers, and donations (501.c.3) are welcome. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. Previously published columns can be found at http://www.ladailypost.com or http://www.laworldfutures.org.
Arrow Energy has welcomed today’s Queensland Government approval of its planned liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant on Curtis Island off Gladstone, in central Queensland.“Today’s announcement by Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney marks an important milestone in our journey towards our Arrow LNG project,” Arrow CEO Andrew Faulkner said.“Coordinator-General Barry Broe has assessed and approved the Arrow LNG Plant’s environmental impact statement.“It means we now have state-level approval for three of the five components of the overall Arrow CSG-LNG project, namely the LNG plant and our pipelines from the Surat and Bowen basins.“Today’s announcement is welcome news for our overall project and demonstrates we’re meeting the rigorous government approvals process.”The LNG plant project includes a sub-harbour gas pipeline tunnel from Gladstone to Port Curtis, jetties and loading facilities.[mappress]LNG World News Staff, September 10, 2013; Image: Arrow
ION Geophysical Corporation announced that on July 2, 2015, a panel of justices on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, D.C. reversed in part and affirmed in part the patent infringement judgment against ION in favor of WesternGeco granted by the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas in May 2014.As previously disclosed by the Company, WesternGeco filed the lawsuit, styled WesternGeco L.L.C. v. ION Geophysical Corporation, in June 2009, alleging that ION’s DigiFIN™ lateral streamer control system infringed numerous method and apparatus claims contained in patents held by WesternGeco U.S. for marine seismic streamer steering devices. In May 2014, the United States District Court entered final judgment in favor of WesternGeco and ordered ION to pay$123.8 million in damages, prejudgment interest and costs to WesternGeco, plus post-judgment interest. ION appealed the judgment to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, D.C.On July 2, 2015, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, D.C. reversed in part the judgment, holding the district court erred by including lost profits in the final judgment. Lost profits were $93.4 million and prejudgment interest was approximately $10.9 million of the $123.8 million final judgment. Pre-judgment interest on the lost profits portion of the final judgment will be treated in the same way as the lost profits. Post-judgment interest will likewise be treated in the same fashion.The opinion is not a final judgment of the Court of Appeals until the mandate issues and could be subject to further proceedings.Brian Hanson, ION President and Chief Executive Officer, commented, “We are pleased with the decision of the Court of Appeals to reverse the decision of the trial court on lost profits, and ION will continue to vigorously defend its rights. We are confident that when the mandate of the Federal Circuit issues, ION will have a substantial reduction of the May 2014 judgment, leaving an estimated judgment of only $20-24 million.“We consider the elimination of the lost profits damages to be a total victory for our Company. This case has been an overhang on our business for far too long, and we are glad to have the focus returned to our core business and its continued success as we move forward.“The real winners of today’s verdict are our shareholders, who have long suffered from the erosion of value caused by this case. We are excited to get back to our business and to continue to build on this success. While this has been a long and arduous process, we feel it is close to a successful end.”
We read with interest the Benchmarks item on forced marriage protection orders (see  Gazette, 23 July, 19). The article concludes with the following remark in respect of the case of Dr Humayra Abedin: ‘…the English proceedings having been withdrawn because the victim was not a British national’. I represented Dr Abedin within the proceedings. The English proceedings were not at any time withdrawn and indeed the orders remain extant. The fact that Dr Abedin is not a British national is irrelevant. The jurisdiction was based on the fact that Dr Abedin is habitually resident in the jurisdiction of England and Wales and that is what is set out in the judgment of Mr Justice Coleridge. A full judgment is being handed down in this matter shortly. Anne-Marie Hutchinson OBE, Hassan Khan, Dawson Cornwell, London
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There has been news this week of the European Commission’s MUNIN research project to develop an autonomous ship, which is primarily guided by automated on-board decision systems but controlled by a remote operator in a shore side control station.Could this be the next big development in global shipping, like the arrival of the ocean container in the 1970s?Or is it all a very expensive white elephant?The jury is out, but Rolls-Royce predicts that by 2024 unmanned remote controlled ocean-going vessels will be carrying cargo, including heavy lift consignments, on short-sea routes. These drone ships are said to be the answer to a growing shortage of seafaring personnel in Europe, says MUNIN’s backers.This week’s Friday Flyer is sponsored by DHL Industrial Projects, which aims to be the logistics partner of choice to the oil and gas, mining, power generation and construction industries. Its expertise in cargo scheduling and materials management means it can offer tailored solutions for unique outsize cargoes and heavy lifts.In the corporate worldTexas, USA based project forwarder UTC Overseas Inc. has established a new office in Mexico, which will be headed up by Roberto Lange.Inchcape Shipping Services (ISS) is now the owner of marine surveyor Christy & Griffin, headquartered in New South Wales, Australia.Media reports in Tanzania are suggesting that breakbulk and heavy lift shipments are taking second place at the port of Dar es Salaam because of a deal entered into by the Tanzania Ports Authority (TPA) and Maersk Tanzania Limited, which gives priority at the port to the container line.Hoegh Autoliners has sold the pure car and truck carrier (PCTC) Hoegh Tropicana to Grieg Green for environmentally responsible recycling in China.Jumbo Shipping has inked a contract with Ballast Nedam Offshore (BNO) to transport and install 80 transition pieces for the Butendiek offshore wind farm using the dynamically positioned heavy lift vessel Jumbo Javelin, which will lift, ship and install all of the pieces across ten voyages.Capacity developmentsIndian media reports are talking up the prospect of a 270 m multipurpose cargo handling berth at Ennore Port, 24 km north of Chennai Port, to be built alongside the planned container terminal and operated on a PPP basis agreement.Following the purchase of 21 Boeing 777-9X aircraft, Cathay Pacific Airways has ordered another 747-8 freighter as well as another three 777-300ER aircraft.Notable shipmentsConbit has delivered and installed an emergency shelter and a helideck module offshore Libya, on behalf of Mabruk Oil Operations for its BD-1 offshore platform. Mabruk Oil Operations, a joint venture between Total and NOC, ordered the two modules in 2012. Conbit was tasked with delivering each piece from Rotterdam in the Netherlands to Libya and completing the heavy installation work.Chapman Freeborn Italy has coordinated an urgent cargo charter to transport a giant piece of machinery, which weighed 28 tonnes, for a biofuel plant project from Turin, Italy to Recife in Brazil.BNSF Logistics and Smart Logistics have handled a consignment with a total volume of 1,600 cu m, including several pieces weighing 22.7 tonnes, of cement mill equipment from Izmir, Turkey to Houston, USA from where it will be delivered to a cement plant in Alberta, Canada.A replica of the first ship to successfully circumnavigate the world, NAO Victoria, has taken the modern route from Palma de Mallorca in Spain to Port Everglades in Florida, USA on the DYT Yacht Transport semi-submersible vessel, Super Servant 4.Fortune International Transport has moved two 100-tonne, 6 m high cylinders from a dismantled paper mill in Italy to the port of Marghera in Venice for oncarriage to India where the entire plant is being rebuilt. Fortune has already shipped more than 200 40 ft containers for this project, and over 1,000 cu m of equipment is set to sail at the beginning of this month.Egytrans has transported two 233-tonne transformers (pictured bottom right), along with additional equipment and accessories, from the port of Alexandria to the Giza north power plant in Egypt. The transport required barging along the Nubaria canal for 250 km to a temporary jetty at Khatatba, designed and built by Egytrans, before onward road movement.All about EvieEvie notes the passing of one of the greats of heavy lift shipping, the founder of SAL Heavy Lift, Hans Heinrich, who unexpectedly passed away in his home on Christmas Day at the age of 67. Heinrich established the SAL office in Steinkirchen, Germany in 1980 before retiring in 2011 along with his brother, Claus Heinrich. The family has asked for donations to be sent to the Duckdalben International Seamen’s Club via the following bank details: Sparkasse Stade Altes Land, IBAN DE29241510051210120695, SWIFT NOLADE21STS
Solicitors submitted a ‘disappointingly low’ one-eighth of the almost 1,000 completed Legal Education and Training Review (LETR) surveys so far received by the review’s research team. In contrast, barristers make up almost two-fifths of the responses. The online survey, which closes on 16 August, asks what comprises the ‘competence’ to be a lawyer; and what is the impact of competition on quality. It asks whether education can be a ‘regulatory tool’, and if the qualifying law degree, legal practice course and training contract are still ‘fit for purpose’. Questions also probe what knowledge and skill sets respondents believe are of prime importance to practitioners. At 12.3% of the responses, head of the research team Professor Julian Webb noted, solicitor input was ‘disappointingly low’. ‘It fails to reflect the size or importance of the solicitors profession within the legal sector. By contrast, 18.6% of responses have come from chartered legal executives and a substantial 39.6% have come from barristers,’ he said. Online survey Related links
A family judge has told the Legal Aid Agency not to issue a letter ‘almost akin to a tick-box form’ should it refuse to pay an expert’s fee in a case involving a three-month old boy at the centre of care proceedings.His Honour Judge Clifford Bellamy, in Re J (Care Proceedings: Apportionment of Experts’ fees), said the agency ‘must engage with the case advanced by the guardian’s solicitor’ when determining an application for prior authority.The judgment, handed down this month, centres around the payment of experts’ fees in a case involving a baby who sustained bilateral parietal skull fractures and a small right-sided subdural haemorrhage. The baby’s parents took him to hospital after becoming concerned about swelling to his head. The local authority does not believe the injuries are accidental.Although the parents originally consulted solicitors and legal aid is available to cover their legal costs, Bellamy said they are now, through choice, litigants in person.Had the parents been legally aided, Bellamy would have ordered the experts’ fees to be shared equally between all four parties. He acknowledged that ordering the parents to make a contribution – which they cannot afford – is a ‘futile gesture’.The two experts’ fees should be split equally between the local authority and the guardian, Bellamy said. He agreed that the £180 hourly rate for one of the experts – higher than the allowable rate set out in civil legal aid regulations – was justified.Should that expert’s fee be divided equally between the local authority and the guardian, the guardian’s solicitor would have to pay £216 more than she will be entitled to claim back from the agency. Even if she only paid 25% of the fee, the guardian’s solicitor would still have had to pay £108 more than she would be entitled to claim back.Bellamy said the guardian’s solicitor was ‘prudent’ to seek the agency’s prior authority, and that the application should be made and determined ‘without delay’.Should the agency refuse the solicitor’s application, Bellamy said the agency must give reasons for its decision.He added: ‘The reasons given for refusal of a request for prior authority should be “concise” but must also but be sufficient to enable the parties to understand why the application has been refused.’Bellamy referred to a different case where the agency had not made a final determination of an application for prior authority submitted 12 weeks ago. ‘The initial refusal of the application was communicated to the solicitor by means of what is clearly a standard form letter almost akin to a tick-box form. The letter makes no attempt to engage with the particular circumstances of the case,’ he said.