Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Pittsburgh Resident Meets Chinese Premier on Train – Blog Posting Makes Him Chinese Media Sensation

By Thomas Buell, Jr.

On the eve of major U.S.-China diplomatic talks in Beijing, Pittsburgh-area resident Andrew Hang Chen recently found himself face to face with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao chatting about politics and foreign policy, and his blog posting about the event became a news sensation in China and among the global Chinese community.

Chen, who was back in his native country on business, ended up sitting next to Wen on a passenger train from Beijing to Tianjin, where Wen was scheduled to speak at an economic forum on May 13, 2010. After writing about the meeting – during which the men talked for about 20 minutes on topics ranging from the world economy to farming conditions – on his Chinese-language blog, Chen found himself swamped with attention.

Chen's posting caught the attention of a public thirsty for information about their government, and within 48 hours it had been read more than 2.5 million times and Chen was featured on some of China’s largest internet news outlets, including Sina, Tencent, Soufun, Netease, and reprinted by several other publications including Tianjin Daily and Changjiang Daily.

More than 20,000 readers posted responses to the articles, with many simply writing to express good wishes to Premier Wen. One reader even created a video clip based on the article and pictures, posted on Tudou Net, the Chinese equivalent of YouTube.

Two days after the blog posting, Phoenix TV, one of the most influential TV station in the worldwide Chinese community, featured Chen’s blog on its "Reading Newspaper Everyday" program. The posting was described as the first blog article to be fully reprinted in Chinese government-controlled mainstream newspapers.

Chen said he had the impression that Wen, who is seen as one of the most accessible leaders in the Communist Party, felt it was important to meet with regular citizens and let them know his honest feelings.

"I told the Premier, 'I live in America,'" Chen wrote in his blog. "'Seeing the economy of my home country in fast and steady growth, I'm very proud to be a Chinese person living overseas. I'm willing to improve the business communication and understanding between China and the United States. The fast growth of Chinese economy is a big challenge. It demonstrates the diligence and wisdom of the Chinese people.'

"The Premier said, 'Yes, the American President said he was under pressure with 6 million unemployed. However, there are 150 million migrant workers in China, and we need to have job placement for 200 million people. The progress of China needs double efforts of all of us.'"

"The Premier said, 'There are some reports about Chinese industry protection against foreign companies lately. As long as the foreign companies setup and register in China, follow the Chinese law, they can get equal growth in China. No matter if the project is for the government or in the private sector, they have equal opportunities. As overseas Chinese, you should improve communication with the mainstream community.'

"I said 'Yes, indeed. One seminar organized by the Bar Association of the Allegheny County invited me as panelist at the end of May, regarding Google's exit from China and Chinese intellectual property. I will deliver your message to the mainstream media in America.'"

Chen, who said the meeting was totally coincidental despite suggestions in China that the event had been staged, said Premier Wen was very friendly and signed autographs and shook hands with many passengers.

"The train was finally approaching the destination," he wrote in the blog. "The Premier stood up, all the passengers also stood up and clapped hands. Premier Wen was as nice as an old teacher. This made me forget this was the Premier managing a country of over one billion people."

Chen came to the United States from Beijing in 1995 and became a U.S. citizen in 2005. He is president of Foreopen LLC, and president of American Chinese Business Associates, which provides business consulting services for companies in the United States and China. The purpose of his trip to China was to expand direct air cargo routes between Pittsburgh and China. Chen also works with GlobalPittsburgh, a non-profit organization, to attract university students to the Pittsburgh area. He can be reached at chen@amcba.com or by calling 412-805-1868.

Below is a direct translation of Chen's blog posting, which can be found (in Chinese) at:

Coincidence Prime Minister Wen

On the train to Tianjin from Beijing today, I met Wen Jiabao, the Chinese Prime Minister, and he sits right across from me.

The train took off from Beijing South Railway Station at 2:30pm on May 13, 2010. I went to Tianjin to meet one large Chinese airline, to get direct air cargo flight to Pittsburgh International Airport. On the train platform, there are a lot of security guards, there are a few cars that were restricted from passengers to walk by. Apparently there are some important figures on the train. The passengers next to me complained that the ticket purchasing was not convenient because of the security. In China, the difference between government officials and general public. However, nobody knows who the “big figure” is.

A few minutes after the train started, a group of people walk from the car next to us. The guy sit across from me said, “It seems like the Minister of Railroad is there.” As the group approaching us through the passengers, I realized it was the Premier Wen Jiabao that was in the middle.

All the passengers are very excited when they see the Premier. The Premier shakes hands with everyone around him. In no time, he came to me, I shake hands with Premier Wen, his hand was firm and friendly.

The Premier dressed very simple, with a grey jacket, his face is kindly, cordial and dignified. He is almost 70, and he has very good spirit, quick thinking, and willing to listen.

The Premier shook hands and talked to surrounding passengers. When he saw there is a seat empty in front of me, he said, “let me sit here.” He sits right there with 3 passengers surrounding one small table. I cannot believe it was the Premier sitting right in front of me!

One Muslim old migrant worker from Xinjiang Province came and greet the Premier. The Premier asked, why don't you work in your home town, and choose to come to Tianjin? The worker said, When it is not busy at the farm, I come out to work. I come to Tianjin for a construction project. It is part of the “Sending Water from South to the North” project. This is the second time he come to Tianjin.

I told the Premier, I live in America. Seeing the economy of my home country in fast and steady growth, I'm very proud as oversea Chinese. As the president of American Chinese Business Associate, I'm willing to improve the business communication and understanding between China and the United States. The fast growth of Chinese economy, is a big challenge. It demonstrates the diligence and wisdom of the Chinese people.

The Premier said, “Yes. The American President said he was under pressure with 6 million unemployed. However, there are 150 million migrant workers in China, and we need to have job placement for 200 million people. The progress of China needs double efforts of all of us.

The Premier said, there are some reports about Chinese industry protection against foreign companies lately. As long as the foreign companies setup and register in China, follow the Chinese law, they can get equal growth in China. No matter the project is for the government or in the private sector, they have equal opportunities. As oversea Chinese, you should improve communication with the mainstream community. I said: “Yes, indeed. One seminar organized by the Bar Association of the Allegheny County invited me as panelist at the end of May, regarding Google's exit from China and Chinese intellectual property. I will deliver your message to the mainstream media in America.

The Premier looked out of the window. There are farm lands passing by, with farmers working. The Premier said, “The world climate was abnormal last year, the winter is cold and long. The crops need to be taken good care of this Spring, with well fertilizing, and cultivating the seeds, then the harvest can still be secured."

The Premier said, “there will be another round of heavy rain in the Southeast.” When he said that, the Premier looked straight outside, with gloomy face. It reminded me one picture of the Premier visiting the drought cracking land in Yunnan. He was squatting by the cracking landing, and it was the same gloomy face.

The captain of the train, alumni of the Premier, college sophomore of Beijing Normal University, all stopped by to greet the Premier. The Premier has quick thinking. He was familiar with all different industries.

One passenger sit next to me asked for autograph from the Premier. The Premier laughed as said, “Let's not doing autograph and talk more. It will take half an hour if the autograph get started.” The passengers all value the time to talk to the Premier, and stopped requesting.

As the train is close to the destination, one passenger from the far side squeezed by, and requested for autograph, and the Premier granted the request. The passenger was too excited, and could not find a piece of paper. He passed his train ticket. The Premier laughed, and said, “That's not too good, let's find a piece of white paper.” The Premier took over the paper, and write down his name seriously: Wen Jia Bao. Each character was written very slow and very seriously.

The train was finally approaching the destination. The Premier stood up, all the passengers also stood up and clapped hands.

The Premier Wen was nice just as an old teacher. This made me forget this was the Premier managing a country of over one billion people. The Premier is really people first.

Later on, I finally realized, I wrote one letter to the Prime Minster Wen from America in last April. It as a letter regarding the real estate of China, and I expressed some of my opinions about Chinese real estate strategies. When I met the Premier, I just forgot about that. As a matter of fact, that letter was for the decision makers of Chinese real estate industry, and I wonder if the Premier Wen read that or not. As I met the Premier today, he sit across from me, listen carefully, talking quietly, as if he is an old friend.

With such close distance conversation to the Chinese Premier Wen, it was really one coincidence, and I was so lucky. I full-hearty wish the people-first Premier Wen good health, and my home country great prosperity.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Concurrent Technologies Corp. of Johnstown Contracted by Air Force to Design Robotic Laser System to Take Paint Off Jet Fighters

Concurrent Technologies Corp. of Johnstown announced that it has been contracted by the U.S. Air Force to design and build an environmentally friendly robotic laser system to remove paint from U.S. Air Force aircraft, a process currently done during maintenance procedures with abrasives or chemicals. Both processes result in large amounts of solid waste, hazardous waste, and air emissions.

In an effort to reduce the environmental impact of conventional depainting operations and to increase aircraft availability, the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) hired CTC to design, demonstrate, and validate a robotic laser coating removal system capable of removing coatings from the aircraft.

The robotics being used for this five-year project are scalable for use on aircraft from fighter size, to the larger cargo and tanker aircraft, CTC said in making the announcement.

“This project will utilize the most recent advancements in laser technology, process control, and robotic manipulation to provide a state of the art coating removal system,” said Mr. Edward J. Sheehan, Jr., CTC’s President & Chief Executive Officer. “It will provide innovation to not only the U.S. Air Force but to the entire Department of Defense (DoD) through the development and implementation of an environmentally friendly paint stripping system that can be utilized on a variety of aircraft. We are pleased to be able to expedite the transition of this innovative technology by conducting this testing in our Johnstown, PA facility.”

The system will consist of a commercially available laser source, scanner, and particle capture system that will be mounted to and integrated with a mobile robotic base and surface monitoring sensors. Activities in progress include performance testing at CTC on the laser source and a design of an autonomous robot base by Carnegie Mellon University Robotics Institute National Robotics Engineering Center (NREC).

The benefits of this new system include the reduction of plastic media, paint stripping chemicals, hazardous waste, air emissions, spent personal protective equipment, masking materials, and maintenance costs that are associated with aircraft depainting.

Concurrent Technologies Corp. (CTC) is an independent, nonprofit, applied scientific research and development professional services organization providing innovative management and technology-based solutions to government and industry.

As a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization, CTC's primary purpose and programs are to undertake applied scientific research and development activities that serve the public interest. For more information, visit www.ctc.com.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Madeleine Albright to Speak at Pittsburgh Middle East Institute’s Third Annual Conference - Nov. 10, 2010

Former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright will speak at the Carnegie Music Hall in Oakland on Wednesday, Nov. 10 at 8 p.m. Albright’s lecture will be the closing event of the day-long Third Annual Conference of the Pittsburgh Middle East Institute (PMEI).

"As we have done the past two years, we are committed to bring in speakers who are writers and thinkers and can inform audiences about the ideas that drive the mission of the Institute," said Simin Curtis, President of the Pittsburgh Middle East Institute.

Albright is Chair of Albright Stonebridge Group, a global strategy firm, and Chair of Albright Capital Management LLC, an investment advisory firm focused on emerging markets. She is the author of four New York Times best-sellers. Her autobiography, Madam Secretary: A Memoir, was published in 2003, and her latest book, Read My Pins: Stories from a Diplomat’s Jewel Box, was published in 2009.

Albright was the 64th Secretary of State of the United States. In 1997, she was named the first female Secretary of State and became, at that time, the highest ranking woman in the history of the U.S. government. From 1993 to 1997, Albright served as the U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations and as a member of the President’s Cabinet. She is a professor in the Practice of Diplomacy at the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service. She chairs both the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, the Pew Global Attitudes Project and serves as president of the Truman Scholarship Foundation. Albright serves on the Board of Directors of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Board of Trustees for the Aspen Institute. In 2009, Albright was asked by NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen to chair a group of experts on NATO’s New Strategic Concept.

The Pittsburgh Middle East Institute is an independent, non-profit consortium of prominent civic institutions and corporations in Pittsburgh dedicated to promoting business, educational, and cultural ties between Pittsburgh and the countries of the Middle East. The Institute was launched in September 2008 with New York Times columnist and author Thomas Friedman and a conference on how to do business in the Middle East.

PMEI seeks to brand Pittsburgh in the Middle East and foster a greater understanding between the two cultures and advance a new generation of forward-thinking global leaders and visionary business partners.

For more information about the Pittsburgh Middle East Institute, go to www.pittsburghmideastinstitute.org or send email to info@pittsburghmideastinstitute.org

Monday, May 17, 2010

Western Pennsylvania Specialty Construction Firm Signs Five-Year Contract Worth Over $10 Million for Environmental Cleanup in China

Geo-Solutions, Inc., a New Kensington-based specialty construction firm, has signed a five-year agreement with a major Chinese company to provide environmental remediation services to help clean up China’s polluted industrial sites.

Slurry Wall Trench being Dug with Long Reach ExcavatorValued at more than $10 million over five years, the contract with BCEG Environmental Remediation Co., Ltd. (BCEER), a subsidiary of Chinese construction giant Beijing Construction Engineering Group, and BRISEA Engineering Services of Parsippany, N.J., is expected to lead to immediate involvement in major new projects, according to New Kensington-based Geo-Solutions President Chris Ryan.

Geo-Solutions already has undertaken test projects using its equipment and technology in China, and plans to work on several major soil and ground water remediation projects at former industrial plants in China to provide brown field development opportunities for commercial and residential projects, Ryan said.

“We see a tremendous opportunity for additional growth in demand for our services in China and throughout Asia,” Ryan said, adding that Geo-Solutions already has worked extensively in the United States, Canada, Australia, South America, Europe, and Japan.

Using specially designed heavy equipment and unique engineering expertise, Geo-Solutions has been a leader in the development of environmental remediation services, primarily involving on-site containment and treatment of contaminated soil and groundwater.

The new contract in China is expected to lead to increased employment this year at Geo-Solutions, which currently employs 25 people, Ryan said.

“We are currently interviewing Chinese-speaking project engineers and staff to help manage our efforts in China,” he said. “Some of our current staff in the United States will also be spending time in China as the projects move forward.”

Numerous business opportunities exist between the Chinese environmental market and U.S. firms that have been working in this sector, Ryan said.

“China is waking up to the issues of contaminated soil and groundwater that are present at former industrial sites, the same issues that the U.S. has been confronting and dealing with for the last four decades,” he said.

“I believe that we are going to help them shorten their learning curve on issues from regulations to design methodologies to remediation technologies. They have shown a great interest in the U.S. reaction to these sites at all levels and they will surely gain greatly from our experience.”

Geo-Solutions was founded in 1996 and operates throughout the U.S., Canada and several foreign countries. The company is a leading specialty contractor offering services related to soil and groundwater remediation. Specialties include slurry walls, biopolymer drains, soil mixing, jet grouting and related services.

For more information about Geo-Solutions’ specialty services, go to http://www.geo-solutions.com/construction-technologies/index.php. For general information about the company, go to www.geo-solutions.com.

Geo-Solutions placed 322nd on Inc. Magazine’s list of America’s 500 fastest-growing private companies in 2009. The company ranked second among engineering firms on the list.

BCEER is a wholly owned subsidiary of Beijing Construction Engineering Group, which is among the first providers of environmental remediation services in China. For information on BCEER, go to www.bceer.com.

BRISEA Engineering Services is a wholly owned subsidiary of BRISEA Group, Inc., which is an environmentally oriented company with offices in Beijing and the U.S., providing environmental technology transfer, training and other technical assistance for both U.S. and Chinese clients. For information on BRISEA Group, go to www.brisea.com.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Second Asian Freight Company Chooses Pittsburgh International Airport as Air Cargo Distribution Point

The Allegheny County Airport Authority announced today that UTi Worldwide Inc. of New York has selected Pittsburgh International Airport as its distribution point for chartered cargo flights from Asia.

Another company, Wings Logistics, announced a similar cargo program last month and recently informed the Airport Authority that its shipments will extend from the end of August through the end of the year, the Authority also reported.

UTi Worldwide is an information-focused global integrated logistics company that provides air and ocean freight forwarding, contract logistics, customs brokerage and other supply chain management services to customers around the world.

UTi flights will be scheduled on average of one per week through August 2010, beginning May 15, 2010. The initial flights will come from Shanghai and Vietnam.

"We are very pleased to announce new air cargo service in Pittsburgh and anticipate that we can deliver the competitive advantage to each of our client's supply chains due to efficiencies of airfield operations, location to other cities for truck delivery and the time reduction in transit," said Frank Bello, Vice President of UTi Worldwide. "This new service offering will maximize value along the supply chain with high quality, cost effective, delivery from end to end."

Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato said the announcement provides more evidence that Pittsburgh International Airport is well positioned to serve as an international cargo hub.

"We have been working for several years to promote the availability of our cargo facilities and our capacity to handle all types of aircraft, as well as our great highway, rail and water connections," Onorato said. "Today’s announcement shows that our trade missions to Asia are paying off, and it opens the door to even more opportunities that could mean more jobs, commerce and development.”

The airport, which is 100 percent compliance for homeland security screening, continues to actively seek new cargo opportunities as the deadline approaches for cargo services to meet the stricter screening requirements, said Bradley D. Penrod, Executive Director/CEO, Airport Authority, adding that the new cargo flights will benefit existing ground cargo companies at the airport.

“This is great news because the Allegheny County Airport Authority has been actively pursuing growth in our cargo operations. Pittsburgh International Airport has a great deal to offer freight forwarders including excellent access to interstates, cooperative teamwork with U.S. Customs and Border Patrol in facilitating timely clearances and a terrific geographic location to 80 percent of the North America’s population and business centers,” stated Glenn R. Mahone, Chairman, Allegheny County Airport Authority.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra Embarks This Week on 18-day, 12-Concert European Tour

Music Director Manfred Honeck and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra (PSO) embark this week on the 12-concert BNY Mellon 2010 European Tour from May 15 through 29, 2010.

In addition to two concerts at Vienna’s famed Musikverein, the Orchestra is also performing in Switzerland, Luxembourg, Germany, France, Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovenia. Joining the Orchestra and Maestro Honeck are violin virtuoso Anne-Sophie Mutter, renowned pianist Emanuel Ax, and dynamic cellist Jan Vogler.

The PSO is continuing its partnership with the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance in Europe.

“The PSO’s BNY Mellon 2010 European Tour, along with the U.N.’s World Environment Day and Pittsburgh’s role as the North American host city, are key opportunities for capitalizing on the global attention that the region is again receiving," said PRA President Dewitt Peart.

"The spotlight is back on Pittsburgh, and we’re going to turn the conversation about ‘why Pittsburgh?’ – begun in earnest last year around the Pittsburgh (G-20) Summit – to ‘why not Pittsburgh?’ Ours is a top-ranked region that has continued to be a standard setter for turning the page to a new economy, even in the thick of a deep recession,” he said.

"The PSO is one shining example of a transformed, world class Pittsburgh – a region that’s proven it can welcome and wow the world. The PRA and the PSO will showcase the region, its balanced, diversified economy and its other assets to international business leaders and decision makers in the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Luxembourg and Switzerland. Pittsburgh is a model place to invest and to do business; come and see. That’s the message we’ll be taking to the world."

Repertoire for the tour includes one of Maestro Honeck’s signature works: Mahler’s Symphony No. 1. Performances include Brahms’ Violin Concerto; Dvořák’s Symphony No. 8; Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 5; Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 5, “Emperor;” and Schumann’s Cello Concerto.

The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra has been a vital part of the City of Pittsburgh’s heritage for more than 100 years. With its noble history of the finest conductors and musicians and its strong commitment to artistic quality and excellence, audiences around the world have claimed the PSO as their orchestra of choice.

In September 2008, the PSO welcomed its ninth Music Director Manfred Honeck. Beginning in the early 1900s with frequent performances in Canada, the PSO confirmed its ranking as a world-class orchestra, earning critical acclaim for each tour abroad.

Its 34 international tours include 18 European tours, eight trips to the Far East and two to South America. In January 2004, the PSO became the first American orchestra to perform at the Vatican for Pope John Paul II, as part of the Pontiff’s Silver Jubilee celebration.

The Pittsburgh Regional Alliance, an affiliate of the Allegheny Conference on Community Development, markets the benefits of conducting business in southwestern Pennsylvania to companies all over the world that are growing, relocating or expanding. For more information, visit www.pittsburghregion.org.

The Allegheny Conference on Community Development and Affiliates – the Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce, the Pennsylvania Economy League of Southwestern Pennsylvania and the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance – work in collaboration with public and private sector partners to stimulate economic growth and improve the quality of life in southwestern Pennsylvania. For more information, visit www.alleghenyconference.org.


BASEL, Switzerland – Musiksaal Stadtcasino
Saturday, May 15, 2010
Manfred Honeck, conductor
Anne-Sophie Mutter, violin
Brahms Violin Concerto
Dvořák Symphony No. 8

STUTTGART, Germany – Liederhalle
Sunday, May 16, 2010
Manfred Honeck, conductor
Anne-Sophie Mutter, violin
Brahms Violin Concerto
Mahler Symphony No. 1, “Titan”

PARIS, France – Salle Pleyel
Monday, May 17, 2010
Manfred Honeck, conductor
Anne-Sophie Mutter, violin
Brahms Violin Concerto
Shostakovich Symphony No. 5

FRANKFURT, Germany – Alte Oper
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Manfred Honeck, conductor
Emanuel Ax, piano
Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 5, “Emperor”
Shostakovich Symphony No. 5

LUXEMBOURG, Luxembourg – Philharmonie
Thursday, May 20, 2010
Manfred Honeck, conductor
Emanuel Ax, piano
Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 5, “Emperor”
Dvorak Symphony No. 8

LUXEMBOURG, Luxembourg – Philharmonie
Friday, May 21, 2010
Manfred Honeck, conductor
Anne-Sophie Mutter, violin
Brahms Violin Concerto
Shostakovich Symphony No. 5

PRAGUE, Czech Republic – Smetana Hall
Saturday, May 22, 2010 at 8 p.m.
Manfred Honeck, conductor
Anne-Sophie Mutter, violin
Brahms Violin Concerto
Shostakovich Symphony No. 5

DRESDEN, Germany – Semperoper
Sunday, May 23, 2010
Manfred Honeck, conductor
Jan Vogler, cello
Schumann Cello Concerto
Mahler Symphony No. 1, “Titan”

VIENNA, Austria – Musikverein
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Manfred Honeck, conductor
Emanuel Ax, piano
Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 5, “Emperor”
Shostakovich Symphony No. 5

VIENNA, Austria – Musikverein
Thursday, May 27, 2010
Manfred Honeck, conductor
Anne-Sophie Mutter, violin
Brahms Violin Concerto
Mahler Symphony No. 1, “Titan”

BUDAPEST, Hungary – Belá Bartók National Concert Hall
Friday, May 28, 2010
Manfred Honeck, conductor
Anne-Sophie Mutter, violin
Brahms Violin Concerto
Mahler Symphony No. 1, “Titan”

LJUBLJANA, Slovenia – Cankarjev Dom
Saturday, May 29, 2010
Manfred Honeck, conductor
Jan Vogler, cello
Schumann Cello Concerto
Shostakovich Symphony No. 5

The PSO recognized BNY Mellon for its title sponsorship of the BNY Mellon 2010 European Tour, Westinghouse Electric Company LLC for its presenting sponsorship of the May 17 concert in Paris, and PPG for its supporting sponsorship of the May 16 concert in Stuttgart. International touring is made possible, in part, by the Hillman Endowment for International Performance.

For more information, go to www.pittsburghsymphony.org.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

How Does the World Look at America? Luncheon Discussion Program to Address Perceptions of the U.S. from Abroad

Luncheon Discussion Group and Webcast: How Does the World Look at America? Perceptions of the U.S. from Abroad

Featuring Andrew Nagorski, Vice President and Director of Public Policy at the EastWest Institute

Thursday, May 20, 2010
Presentation: Noon
Webcast: 12:40 p.m.
Adjourn: 1:45 p.m.

Location: The Duquesne Club, 325 Sixth Avenue, Downtown Pittsburgh

The World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh, in partnership with the Polish Cultural Council, presents this special event:

The past 18 months have brought to the forefront a number of foreign policy challenges for the Obama administration, including the continued management of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, simmering crises in Iran and North Korea, and intense yet productive nuclear diplomacy with Russia.

How is America viewed internationally as it confronts these and other critical foreign policy issues? Is the U.S. now considered to be a waning superpower, especially in light of rising powers? Or, is America still seen as a key leader in resolving crises around the globe?


Sunday, May 9, 2010

CMU Biologist Among Researchers Breathing New Life Into Ancient Mammoth Blood - Discovery Helps Explain How Ice Age Beasts Kept Warm

A team of international researchers - including a Carnegie Mellon University biology professor - has "resurrected" authentic woolly mammoth hemoglobin - the blood protein responsible for delivering oxygen from the lungs to the tissues.

The discovery of special evolutionary adaptations helps explain how the iconic Ice Age creatures were able to keep warm in harsh Arctic conditions.

"We've managed to analyze living attributes of an animal that hasn't existed for thousands of years," says team leader Kevin Campbell of the University of Manitoba. "This is quite amazing, given that biochemical features do not fossilize."

"It has been remarkable to bring a complex protein from an extinct species back to life and discover important changes not found in any living species," adds collaborator Alan Cooper, director of the Australian Centre for Ancient DNA at the University of Adelaide. "This is true paleobiology."

Writing in the journal Nature Genetics, the team describes sequencing hemoglobin genes from the DNA of three permafrost-preserved Siberian mammoths that lived between 25,000 and 43,000 years ago.

The genetic codes were sent to the Carnegie Mellon University lab of Chien Ho. Ho, a professor of biological sciences, has been studying hemoglobin and blood substitutes for more than 20 years and has developed techniques for creating genetically engineered hemoglobins.

"This is a very powerful way to study evolution," Ho said.

"The resulting hemoglobin molecules are no different than ‘going back in time' and taking a blood sample from a real mammoth," explains Campbell.

The team used structural modeling and a battery of modern scientific tests to uncover unique molecular and biochemical properties that helped mammoths to withstand extreme environmental cold.

"This is the first time we've been able to study biological processes of an extinct animal in precisely the same way we would for living species," Campbell adds.

Team member Roy Weber at the University of Aarhus, Denmark, tested the "revived" mammoth proteins and confirmed that three highly unusual changes in the hemoglobin sequence allowed mammoth blood to deliver oxygen to cells even at very low temperatures, something living elephant blood is unable to do. This indicates that mammoths, which initially evolved in tropical Africa, developed a natural adaptation to the harsh Arctic environment.

"This is one piece of the puzzle as to how these animals moved into and survived the extreme conditions of the Arctic," says Campbell. "Our approach opens the way to understand how, at the molecular level, extinct species adapted to paleoenvironments that are no longer present on Earth."


Improving Family Health in India Focus of Second Global Health Conference at University of Pittsburgh

Health experts from India will join researchers at the University of Pittsburgh May 10-12 for the second annual global health conference, which aims to improve the health of families in rural India.

Part of Science Health Allied Research and Education (SHARE) India, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving medical training and care in Hyderabad, India, the programs they will discuss address high infant and maternal mortality rates in one of the poorest areas of the country.

“More than one-third of India’s four million residents lack basic health needs – clean water, adequate nutrition and immunizations,” said Donald S. Burke, M.D., associate vice chancellor for global health, University of Pittsburgh, and dean, Pitt’s Graduate School of Public Health. “In Hyderabad, those most often affected by poverty are women and children, with female-headed households making up the poorest of the poor.”

The conference, “Building Research Capacity Through Partnerships and Mentoring,” is sponsored by the University of Pittsburgh Center for Global Health and will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Wednesday, at the University Club, Gold Room.

The meeting’s keynote address, “Global Health in the 21st Century: A View from the Fogarty International Center,” will be delivered by Roger I. Glass, M.D., Ph.D., director, Fogarty International Center, and associate director of international research, National Institutes of Health, from 12 to 1 p.m., Wednesday, May 12 in 125 Victoria Hall. This address is open to the public.

Other speakers include P.S. Reddy, M.D., professor of cardiology, Pitt’s School of Medicine and founder of SHARE India, and investigators working with SHARE’s programs in India.

Throughout the meeting, experts will give updates on these programs including:

  • Longitudinal Indian Family Health (LIFE) Study – an ongoing project that ultimately will recruit 1,000 women of childbearing age prior to their first pregnancy. The study will follow the women as well as their children from pre-conception through adulthood.
  • Mobility and Independent Living in Elders Study (MILES) – a study of healthy aging that will include 500 rural Indian residents ages 50 and older.
  • MediCiti Institute of Medical Sciences – a teaching medical college located near Hyderabad, founded in 2002.
  • Rural Effective Affordable Comprehensive Healthcare (REACH) Project – a health care delivery system that provides preventive and primary health care to rural Indians.

The Center for Global Health, directed by Joanne L. Russell, M.P.P.M., R.N., C.C.R.C., serves as the unifying framework for global health activities at the University of Pittsburgh. The mission of the center is to effectively address health issues that affect populations around the globe through programs that support and expand multidisciplinary collaborations in the areas of research, scholarship, service and policy.


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Pitt Hosting International Law Conference Relating to European Union-U.S. Cooperation and Competition

The University of Pittsburgh’s European Union Center of Excellence and European Studies Center (EUCE/ESC) is hosting a policy conference entitled "Promoting the Rule of Law: Cooperation and Competition in the EU-U.S. Relationship" on Thursday May 6, 2010 at the University Club in Pittsburgh.

The conference aims to address various questions including if the rule of law is an important aspect of external relations efforts of the EU and the U.S., are the programs and policies of each of them (1) consistent with their own definition of the rule of law and how it should be implemented, and (2) in competition with or complementary with one another?

What is the value of coordination of programs and policies in this area, and is there value in program and policy competition?

This conference will explore these and related questions to seek a better understanding of the importance of the rule of law as a goal reflected in the policies and programs of each of the EU and the U.S., as well as how the objectives of existing programs and policies can be improved through such an understanding.

Throughout the conference, participants will be addressing the relationship between governments and civil society in pursuing these objectives.

The conference will be convened by Ronald Brand, Professor of Law, with remarks by Mark A. Nordenberg, Chancellor, University of Pittsburgh; Alberta Sbragia, Director, European Union Center of Excellence and European Studies Center; Carolyn Ban, Acting Director of the European Union Center of Excellence and European Studies Center, and Bart De Schutter, President, Institute for European Studies, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium.

Conference participants include: Haider ala Hamoudi, Law, University of Pittsburgh; Ricardo Gosalbo-Bono, External Relations, EU Council Legal Service; Thomas Nachbar, Law, University of Virginia and Chief, Rule of Law and Stability Operations (IMA) for the Army’s Office of the Judge Advocate General; Kurt Riechenberg, Court of Justice of the European Communities; Mark Ellis, International Bar Association; Judge D. Brooks Smith, Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals; Glenn Hendrix, American Bar Association – Chair, International Law Section; Elena Baylis, Law, University of Pittsburgh; Esa Paasivirta, Legal Services, European Commission; Wade Channell, USAID; Scott Worden, U.S. Institute of Peace; Paul Amato, Defense Policy Advisor to the U.S. Senior Civilian Representative in RC (East), Afghanistan; James Friedberg, Law, West Virginia University; Orsolya Szekely, Council of Europe; Stephen Gardner, U.S. department of Commerce; and David A. Murdoch, K&L Gates, Chair Emeritus, Board of Trustees, World Learning.

Sponsors include the University of Pittsburgh Center for International Legal Education and the Institute for European Studies at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel in Belgium.

The European Union Center of Excellence and European Studies Center (EUCE/ESC) support faculty and student research, teaching, collaboration, and public engagement in studying the cultures, languages, histories and institutions of Western Europe, post-1989 Europe, and the European Union, its member and candidate states. EUCE/ESC is housed in the University of Pittsburgh’s University Center for International Studies. For more information, go to www.ucis.pitt.edu/euce/euce.html.

For more information, contact Timothy Thompson at 412-624-3503 or tst@pitt.edu.