Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Ex-JPMorgan Executive Fined $1.1 Million in ‘London Whale’ Case - The New York Times

Ex-JPMorgan Executive Fined $1.1 Million in ‘London Whale’ Case - The New York Times:



 "A British regulator said on Tuesday that it had fined a former JPMorgan Chase executive for failing to be “open and cooperative” about concerns regarding trading that eventually cost the bank more than $6 billion in losses in 2012, an episode known as the London whale."



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New Hampshire Should Answer a Lot of Key Questions - The New York Times

New Hampshire Should Answer a Lot of Key Questions - The New York Times:



"The former New Hampshire governor John Sununu once said that “Iowa picks corn and New Hampshire picks presidents.”"



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Monday, February 08, 2016

Richard P. Von Herzen, Explorer of Earth’s Undersea Furnaces, Dies at 85 - The New York Times

Richard P. Von Herzen, Explorer of Earth’s Undersea Furnaces, Dies at 85 - The New York Times:



"Richard P. Von Herzen, an explorer who found that the icy depths of the deep sea conceal vast regions of simmering heat, helping to confirm the scientific view of the Earth’s crust as continuously in motion, died on Jan. 28 in Portola Valley, Calif. He was 85."



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Sunday, February 07, 2016

Japan

‘Paradise Now: The Story of American Utopianism,’ by Chris Jennings - The New York Times

‘Paradise Now: The Story of American Utopianism,’ by Chris Jennings - The New York Times:



 "By any measure, Ann Lee, the illiterate daughter of a Manchester blacksmith, led one of the most audacious and improbable lives of the 18th century. Born in 1736, she came of age in the fetid, soul-destroying crucible of English industrialization. But in religion, Lee discovered her native boldness and charisma. She became a prophet and, in 1774, led a small band of followers across the Atlantic. They became known as Shakers. And from a mean cabin in upstate New York they formed a society that would draw thousands into communal villages across much of the United States. Lee did not live to survey her realm. But her social conscience — forged in the bleak shadow of the Manchester mills — animated Shaker communities well into the 20th century."



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James N. Andersen

James Norman Andersen Sr., 71, of Woodstock, formerly of Chicago and Elgin, passed away February 3, 2016 at Centegra Hospital. Born March 3, 1944 in Joliet; he was the son of Norman A. and Mildred M. (Durst) Andersen. He married Theresa Cierny on November 20, 1971 in Niles.
Jim was Vice President of Research and part owner of Lynk Labs Incorporated.
A man with love for cats, Jim enjoyed working on computers, LED lighting, watching science fiction, camping , bowling, playing his guitar, fishing, telling jokes, eating good food and spending time with his family.
Survivors include his wife of 44 years, Theresa Andersen; his children, James N. (Kelly) Andersen Jr. and Robyn (Paul) Rinaldi; grandchildren, Samantha, Michael, James N. III, Amber, and Nicholas; great-grandchild, Matthew; sister, Jacqueline (Richard) Wiggins.
He was predeceased by his parents.
Visitation 5 p.m. until time of service at 6 p.m., at Querhammer and Flagg Funeral Home, 500 W. Terra Cotta Avenue, Crystal Lake. Online condolences may be submitted at querhammerandflagg.com

Saturday, February 06, 2016

As Flint Fought to Be Heard, Virginia Tech Team Sounded Alarm

Photo
Marc Edwards, seated, a Virginia Tech professor, led a research team of students and professors whose members included, from left, Siddhartha Roy, Pan Ji, Otto Schwake and Jeffrey Parks.CreditTravis Dove for The New York Times
BLACKSBURG, Va. — The young scientists, mostly in their 20s and counting the semesters until their next degree, had drawn an audience so large that it spilled from the auditorium on the Virginia Tech campus into two overflow rooms.
They were explaining to students, members of the faculty and guests how they were at first laughed off by government regulators about 550 miles northwest of here in Flint, Mich., when they detected alarming amounts of lead coming from residents’ taps.
Siddhartha Roy, a doctoral student from India, held up a bottle of yellow-tinted Flint water. The team’s role, he told the crowd, was “essentially validating what citizens had been saying for months.” That validation was so important to the increasingly desperate people of Flint that one resident hugged him when he heard that the Virginia Tech scientists had indeed confirmed that the water was contaminated.
“He just wouldn’t let go,” Mr. Roy, 27, said in an interview. “It’s surreal, because when it’s happening, your mind is blank. But when you go back home and you reflect on it, you feel happy and grateful that you can be part of something big.”
Photo
Water samples from Flint, Mich., and Detroit in a lab at Virginia Tech, where a research team found alarming levels of lead in Flint’s water.CreditTravis Dove for The New York Times
Flint’s public health problem stemmed from a failure to properly treat water from the Flint River, which resulted in pipe corrosion and elevated levels of lead. The crisis is at best a tale of neglect and incompetence. At worst, critics say, it is criminal conduct that imperiled the public’s well-being. Already state and federal agencies, including the F.B.I., have opened investigations.
But as government officials were ignoring and ridiculing residents’ concerns about the safety of their tap water, a small circle of people was setting off alarms. Among them was the team from Virginia Tech.
The team began looking into Flint’s water after its professor, Marc Edwards, spoke with LeeAnne Walters, a resident whose tap water contained alarming amounts of lead. Dr. Edwards, who years earlier had helped expose lead contamination in Washington, D.C., had his students send testing kits to homes in Flint to find out if the problem was widespread. Lead exposure can lead to health and developmental problems, particularly in children, and its toxic effects can be irreversible.
Their persistence helped force officials to acknowledge the crisis and prompted warnings to residents to not drink or cook with tap water. Officials are now scrambling to find a more permanent solution to the problem than trucking in thousands of plastic jugs, and are turning to Virginia Tech for advice.
The scientists “became the only people that citizens here trust, and it’s still that way,” said Melissa Mays, a Flint resident who has protested the water quality.
At Virginia Tech, which experienced the nation’s deadliest mass shooting by a single gunman in 2007 and last weekend saw two students arrested in the murder of a 13-year-old girl, the researchers are a source of pride. At the presentation on campus on Jan. 28, they were interrupted several times by standing ovations.
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A water pipe from Flint is among the items that the team studied.CreditTravis Dove for The New York Times
The team is a mixed group. Mostly environmental engineers, the members range in experience from undergraduates to professors.
The students come from places as disparate as Arizona, Virginia, India and Singapore. Many said they had known little about Michigan, let alone Flint, before they started their research, spending nights and weekends working on the project.
Many of them were drawn to environmental engineering rather than a more lucrative specialty, Mr. Roy said, because “we have this childhood aspiration of hopefully helping people and serving society at some point.”
Dr. Edwards, who testified before a congressional committee on Wednesday, said the situation in Flint in many ways paralleled his work about 10 years ago in Washington, where government agencies were similarly dismissive of his efforts and slow to grasp the problem’s scope.
The students began their work last summer as Michigan officials insisted that Flint’s malodorous, discolored water was safe to drink. The team mailed testing kits to Flint, and in August a group packed into Dr. Edwards’s family van and set off for a site visit.
Once in Flint, the group visited several homes to collect water, shipping the samples back to Virginia so they could be tested quickly on campus.
Continue reading the main story

GRAPHIC

The Reach of Lead in Flint’s Water Supply

How the crisis developed, and which neighborhoods had the highest lead levels.
 OPEN GRAPHIC
“It’s like a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” said Colin Richards, 25, a graduate student in environmental engineering, who went on that trip. “This is a crazy situation. This is very unexpected that it got this big.”
The tests revealed alarming levels of lead. Besides calling residents to advise them of the troubling results, the team posted its documents and data online at flintwaterstudy.org, an act that has helped others investigate Flint’s problems.
Members of the team kept returning to Flint, collecting their samples and forging friendships with residents. When the federal, state and local governments failed to acknowledge the scope of the problem, Dr. Edwards held a community meeting in September advising residents to stop drinking the water.
In October, government officials finally warned of the lead risk, but the Virginia Tech researchers became concerned about the possibility that the water was causing Legionnaires’ disease. As it turned out, state officials had long been aware of a spike in Legionnaires’ casesafter the switch in water sources, but the public was not told until last month.
Joyce Zhu, a doctoral student, went to collect samples at a Flint hospital, looking for signs of the bacteria that cause Legionnaires’.
“When I turned on the tap, you see this corrosive, reddish, brownish tap water,” she said. “It’s that moment that made it so real.”
Photo
LeeAnne Walters, a Flint resident whose conversation with Dr. Edwards led to the team’s research efforts, took a tour in January of the labs at Virginia Tech.CreditTravis Dove for The New York Times
Ms. Zhu said she had planned on a “typical” academic career, doing lab research with limited application off campus. But after analyzing lead-tainted water samples in the labs in Blacksburg and traveling to Flint, she said, she is considering how her career can benefit the public.
“I grew up in Singapore, where clean water, you take it for granted so much,” Ms. Zhu said.
State officials in Michigan initially dismissed the Virginia Tech team’s findings. As they did with other whistle-blowers, they disparaged its work. In one email obtained by the researchers, a spokesman for the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, Brad Wurfel, played down the lead risk, telling a reporter that the Virginia Tech team was known to “pull that rabbit out of that hat everywhere they go.”
“They had all the power,” Dr. Edwards said of Michigan environmental officials, “and in a million years they thought no one would do what we did.”
Now the tables have turned, and the Virginia Tech team has been enlisted to help address the crisis. Gov. Rick Snyder, whose administration has been widely blamed for a failure to protect Flint’s residents, has thanked Dr. Edwards and included him in a group now advising officials on permanent fixes for the Flint problem. Karen Weaver, the city’s mayor, asked the researchers to oversee state and federal lead testing.
The Virginia Tech team is among a handful of outside researchers who have been credited with helping expose the lead problem and stop it from getting worse. Miguel Del Toral, an Environmental Protection Agency scientist, first sounded alarms about the lead in Ms. Walters’s tap water, though his superiors were slow to notify the public. And in September, around the same time Dr. Edwards suggested that residents not drink the water, Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, a pediatrician in Flint, announced test results that indicated elevated lead levels in children’s blood, which she attributed to the water.
Some in Flint have said they will not trust that the water is safe until the Virginia Tech researchers say so. Ms. Walters visited Blacksburg last month, touring the labs where the tests took place and where the corroded, lead-leaching pipes removed from her house are now stored.
Without Dr. Edwards and his team, Ms. Walters said, she suspected little would have been done to protect Flint from its toxic water.
“They cared about the people,” Ms. Walters said as the college team showed her twin boys around their labs. “That’s why Virginia Tech has all the trust.”
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