Radiation pill fast-tracked
A drug that that fights radiation sickness has gotten fast track approval from federal regulators, reports the Buffalo News. The Innovation Trail's Daniel Robison has previously reported on the U.S. military's interest in the pill, to stockpile in case of nuclear attack.
There were two forums about hydrofracking in Washington yesterday, one about disclosing the chemicals used in natural gas drilling, and another about leasing public land for drilling. There's a good rundown of what happened at NYT's Green blog. The leasing issue is particularly relevant for Broome County readers, where the legislature recently voted down a measure that would have freed up more than 3,000 acres of county land for drilling.
Meanwhile, as we reported yesterday, the governor isn't sending clear signals about whether or not he'll sign a moratorium on issuing permits for hydrofracking. Today Gannett's Albany bureau reports that the governor will take the next 10 days to mull over the legislation.
City in decline
Buffalo is "still in decline," according to a Brookings Institution study, reports the Buffalo News. The look at 150 world cities turned up 14 where employment and income levels are dropping:
The methodology used by the Brookings researchers, which emphasized income and employment growth rates, tended to result in high rankings for cities in emerging markets, such as the Far East and India, while giving low marks to metro areas in developed nations, such as Europe and the United States. Of the 30 metro areas with the weakest performance during the recovery, 28 were in Europe or the United States.
"We are witnessing a historic shift in the balance of power from metro areas in the United States and Europe," said Bruce Katz, the director of Brookings' Metropolitan Policy Program.
You can see the full results of the report at the Brookings Institution site.
Polishing at a price
The Democrat and Chronicle is reporting that Rochester's optics sector is suffering as prices rise for a metal used in glass polishing:
Stefan Sydor Optics Inc. in Chili goes through about 40 pounds of powdered cerium oxide-based polishing compound a day. Since mid-summer, prices have exploded from $8.50 a pound to more than $45, said general manager Michael Naselaris. Adding to the business woes, he said, is that suppliers will not make any long-term commitments to delivery or price "because they don't know when they can get it in."
The metal primarily comes from China, but the country has recently begun to trim exports. The leaves manufacturers with few options - pay more for the metal, change what they use to polish and risk lower performance, or wait for another market to emerge as an exporter, according to the paper:
China controls roughly 97 percent of the planet's rare earths market, which includes such elements as erbium, samarium and lanthanum. They are used in everything from the manufacture of fiber optics to reducing ultraviolet transparency in containers. While the Chinese government has slowly cut export quotas in recent years, earlier this year it announced a massive 72 percent reduction in what it would export to the outside world.
Wind turbine innovations
The Post-Standard points us to a piece in the Greater Binghamton Business Journal, highlighting the work of several Syracuse University researchers who are working to develop new building-mounted wind turbines. From GBBJ:
"We're excited to be partnering with SU on the frontier of urban wind energy," Raymond Davis, CEO of Impact Technologies, said in a news release. "This is a full-court press to move the technology forward and develop new applications for locally generated wind power."
Promoting public school
Public schools in Albany are having to make the hard sell to parents to encourage them to send their children to their district schools, instead of private schools or charters. The campaign includes advertising, knocking on doors, and marketing the schools at local events. But the Times Union reports its paying off:
Reaching out to families and investing in advertising is already paying off for the district. Enrollment is up by 451 students over the last two school years, according to district figures, though that increase has swelled in part by the closing of New Covenant Charter School and the consolidation or closing of a few parochial schools.
Albany school district enrollment reached a low of 8,170 in 2007-08 and jumped to 8,621 this year. Albany's charters enroll some 2,500 students, about 2,000 of them from the district. The Albany schools budget is $203 million this year, and the district sent $26 million to the city's charter schools.
Enrollment at colleges across the country is rising, including at Medical University at SUNY Upstate and the College of Environmental Science and Forestry at Syracuse University, reports the Post-Standard:
The State University of New York Upstate Medical University has attracted 58 percent more applicants in the last five years — 6,273 for the fall of 2010 compared to 3,982 in 2005. And the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry saw applications grow by 87 percent during the same period — 1,720 compared to 922.
Small dairy gets big
Small dairy operations are growing in New York, reports the Times Union. Producers are tapping into the "buy local" sentiment, and flouting the recession while they're at it:
Many more small dairy companies thrive in the Hudson Valley, producing milk and cheese that is sold in New York City farmers markets and gourmet stores.
"The demand is tremendous," said Matthew Scott, founder of Pampered Cow, a Columbia County company that helps small dairy producers distribute their products. "People more and more are looking to find that connection to place."
Some dairy producers, meanwhile, are looking to disconnect from large-scale agribusiness, which at times forces the prices paid to farmers below a living wage. Farmers are finding they can charge more for high-quality specialty products.
New president for SUNY Binghamton
Candidates for the presidency of Binghamton University are being unveiled, one-by-one, as each visits campus, reports the Press & Sun-Bulletin. The visits start Thursday, and continue December 6, 8, 10 and 13.
The Times Union reports that the EPA continues to investigate what happened at Knolls Atomic Power Labs on September 29, when workers doing demolition work set off radiation detectors.
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