The medical, biomedical and biodefense marketplace

According to the Economic Development Partnership for North Carolina, in 10 years, the state has invested more than $1 billion dollars in research and development facilities, workforce training, incentives and infrastructure in the medical-related industry — medical, biomedical and biodefense. With more than 60,000 North Carolinians working within this industry, the area represents a core component of our state’s economy and has grown 31% since 2001. North Carolina is home to four of the world’s leading medical schools, 18 university-partnered life science laboratories and the BioNetwork of North Carolina Community Colleges. There is no better place in the country to operate a medical, biotechnology and life science company.

Additionally, the Department of Defense has an annual impact of $66 billion and is the second-largest sector of North Carolina’s economy at 12% GDP. The state boasts six major military bases, 116 National Guard facilities, 40 Army Reserve facilities and the third-highest number of uniformed military personnel in the country.

In 2004, the state of North Carolina created the North Carolina Military Business Center, headquartered at Fayetteville Technical Community College, with regional offices statewide. Opening its doors in 2005, the NCMBC was created to leverage opportunities with North Carolina’s military installations, DoD commands and federal agencies operating worldwide.

NCMBC professionals focus on contract opportunities in crucial industry sectors, including medical/biotech, each with a growing federal and DoD demand and with significant business capacity in North Carolina.

To help businesses traverse the federal and DoD procurement processes, several entities annually host the Medical, Biomedical & Biodefense: Support to the Warfighter Symposium. Hosting entities include the offices of Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C.; Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C.; the NCMBC; the North Carolina Biotechnology Center; and the University of North Carolina System. This year’s event takes place June 12 at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The Medical Support to the Warfighter portion of this symposium will connect businesses in North Carolina with military and other federal agencies that require or purchase medical supplies, equipment, devices, pharmaceuticals, medical information technology and medical services. Representatives, prime vendors and major contractors from DoD, Veterans Affairs, and Health and Human Services — from national commands and from bases, commands and facilities in North Carolina — will highlight current technology or resource gaps and needs, future requirements and procurement processes to supply military and federal medical facilities and agencies.

All medical-related businesses in North Carolina — large or small, prime contractors, subcontractors, suppliers, manufacturers and service providers — will benefit from briefings on military requirements, procurement processes and supplier qualifications. This information will come from informal networking with buyers and users and from demonstrations of the latest medical technologies designed to support America’s warfighters.

The Biomedical and Biodefense Support to the Warfighter portion of the symposium will include sessions on the federal biodefense research and development landscape, mechanisms for engaging the defense and military biomedical research and development community, and new models for driving innovation through public-private partnerships.

In the first session, agency representatives from the Departments of Defense and Health and Human Services will discuss current interagency biodefense research and development priorities, perspectives and collaborations.

The second session will provide valuable insights from selected federal funding agencies and industry enablers about traditional and emerging approaches to defense research and development funding and support.

The third session will feature representatives from several partnership-based research and development consortia and accelerators for biomedical and biodefense technology advancement.

Each session will include presentations and panel discussions to foster awareness and dialogue among government, academic and industry stakeholders in addressing the future biomedical and biodefense technology needs of the military and our nation.

Visit for more information.

From Russia, with love — and fins

03belugaI have to admit it. Bob Mueller’s report missed the biggest Russian spy in the 2016 election. How can you miss a 3,500-pound, 18-foot-long Commie Olympicclass swimmer? This Russian spy is the size of the SUV that Tony Soprano used to drive before his unfortunate last meal as James Gandolfini in Rome.

For once, I have to admit that Dear Leader President Trump’s followers are right. The fix from Hillary and Obama was in. Mueller ignored Hillary’s closest confidant, the James Bond of the Seven Seas, Hvaldimir the Beluga whale. Nothing in Mueller’s report mentions spying on Dear Leader’s campaign by Hvaldimir. The lid of the Democratic cover-up is blown all the way to the Arctic Circle. Hvaldimir now is the most famous Russian spy since Col. Rosa Kleb defected from SMERSH to join SPECTRE in the second James Bond Movie, “From Russia With Love.”

Unless you were living under a rock, you will have seen the news about Hvaldimir the Beluga whale who worked in the Russian Secret Undersea Special Forces. For those of you who may have had some sedimentary rock overhead, here is a brief update on the fascinating story Hvaldimir.

Last month, the Hvaldimir was the Beluga spy who came out of the cold. Hvald, as his friends call him, defected to the West in the icy waters of Norway near the island of Rolvosoya. Despite Russian brainwashing attempts, Hvald remained a friendly guy. He will come up to mere humans when called by Norwegians.

Unlike most Beluga whales, Hvald was not skinny dipping. He was wearing a leather harness on which were written the fateful words “Equipment — Saint Petersburg.” It is pretty obvious Hvlad was not from St. Petersburg, Florida, as he squeaked in Russian and not in Spanish. This narrowed his origin down to Commie Land. Observers were quick to point out that his harness was well-suited for mounting a camera or a weapon. Putting two rubles and two rubles together, it quickly became obvious the Commies had rigged Hvald up to be a spy.

The Russkies have an animal re-education facility at Murmansk where they have publicly bragged of teaching sea lions, Beluga whales and seals to do undercover, underwater spying and worse. Clearly, Hvlad was a graduate of the Murmansk Academy of Aquatic Mammals as he is well-trained and can do tricks on command.

The cover story leaked by the Commies was that Hvald served as a pet and escaped from a therapeutic center for underprivileged Russian children. This explanation sounds suspiciously phony — like the cover story that the secret meeting in Trump Tower between Don Trump Jr., Paul Manafort, Jared Kushner and some Commies was actually about Russian adoptions and not to gather dirt on Hillary.

In reality, the MAAM project is much more like the SPECTRE training camp where Grant, James Bond’s nemesis in “From Russia with Love,” is chosen by Col. Kleb to assassinate Bond. Nothing good happens in Russian training camps for either Beluga whales or would-be assassins.

Not every aquatic animal can be a graduate of MAAM. Only the strong survive and graduate. Consider poor Charlie the Tuna who was a MAAM school dropout after first being rejected by StarKist tuna.

You might remember Charlie in his TV commercials. Charlie desperately wanted to be a StarKist tuna. He was so anxious to be in a StarKist tuna can that he wore a beret and fake glasses to look like a beatnik so StarKist would think he had “good taste.” Charlie would get a rejection note saying “Sorry Charlie” from StarKist on a fishhook. The voiceover would attempt to ease Charlie’s rejection blues by telling him: “Sorry Charlie, StarKist is not looking for tuna  with good taste, but rather for tuna that tastes good.” Charlie was a good sport about the whole rejection thing and ended his commercials by telling people to go out and buy StarKist tuna and “Tell ’em Charlie sent you.”

The news has been suspiciously quiet about what has happened to Hvald since his discovery as a former Russian spy. For your eyes only: Has he been arrested? Traded for Bill Clinton? Sent to the gulag of Sea World? Shredded into StarKist Beluga cans? Like the Kingston Trio’s famous song about Charlie on the Metropolitan Transit Authority, his fate is still unknown. He may swim forever neath the seas of Norway. He’s the Beluga who never returned.

So, what, if anything, have we learned today? As usual, not much. Five minutes of your life wasted. But here is a podiatry self-defense tip. If you are ever in the same room with Col. Rosa Kleb and she tries to kick you with her poisoned switchblade shoe, pick up a chair like a lion tamer and keep her away from your shins. If you can avoid her kick, remember you only live twice.

Census citizenship question is a ‘look at the calendar’ matter

04AmericaOn a rather frequent basis, I get to spend time with and engage in conversation with a wonderful group of Christian men. Topics addressed in our discussions run the spectrum from matters of our faith to those of politics and society. Part of my attraction to, and appreciation for, this group is that the tenants of our faith run throughout and provide foundation for whatever the topic might be. That is the case even when we get into what might be considered trivia.

In fact, during a recent gathering, we spent substantial time and energy exploring a question that was put on the table under the “trivia” heading. One gentleman asked how the date for Easter is determined. When none of us could give the precise answer, he reported having read that Easter is held on the first Sunday after the first full moon occurring on or after the vernal equinox. That report led us to research “vernal equinox.” After this discussion had gone on for a while, somebody piped up and said, “When I want to know the date for Easter, I just look at the calendar.” We all laughed and went on to other topics.

That “look at the calendar” statement stuck with me. It points to a great truth. That is, deciding how to address some matters does not require all the discussion, all of the back-and-forth, that we invest in deciding on a course of action. There is a rather straight line to the answer, to what should be done. I hold that this is the case with deciding whether there should be a citizenship question on the 2020 census.

The situation referred to here came about when Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross approved a question on citizenship for the 2020 Census. The following segments from an article by Peter Ciurczak provide an overview regarding the contentious debate resulting from Ross’ action. The article is titled “Citizenship and the census, in context.”

It reads, “In late 2017, the Department of Justice (DOJ) under Attorney General Jeff Sessions requested that the Census Bureau, which is overseen by the Commerce Department, incorporate into the 2020 census a question on citizenship status. The DOJ argued that the more granular data allowed by the census would be useful in enforcement of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination against any citizen’s voting rights on account of race, color, or membership in a language minority group.

“A number of previous census directors have written to Ross opposing the addition of a citizenship question, while 14 states led by California’s Attorney General Xavier Becerra are suing the Trump administration over the inclusion of the question. The Attorneys General charge that introducing a question of citizenship goes against the constitutional requirement to “count each person in our country – whether citizen or noncitizen – ‘once, only once, and in the right place.’”

Seeing that the issue of a census citizenship question does not require all the back-and-forth it is receiving might start with an examination of the claim in the final sentence above. That is, the argument by a group of attorneys general that the Constitution requires counting of each person in our country. As best as I can determine, they take this position based on a part of Article I, sec. 2, clause 3, of the U.S. Constitution. It says:

“Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons.”

Looking above, the crux of the argument from the attorneys general hinges on “…of all other Persons.” From Yahoo Questions, consider the following analysis of that argument in a post titled “What does ‘three fifth’s of all other persons’ mean in the Constitution?”

“It was a compromise between states that supported slavery and those that didn’t when it came to how representatives would be assigned to states and to how taxes would be distributed to the states. Those states which didn’t support slavery only wanted to count the free inhabitants of each state — meaning those states without slavery would receive a greater proportion of representation. Those states which supported slavery wanted all the states inhabitants to count — free or not, which would have given those states more representation. The biggest part, however, was that since slaves could not vote, states with slaves (in particular the slaveholders themselves) would have greater representation in house of representatives and in the electoral college.”

The first takeaway from this quote is that “all other Persons” refers to slaves. By no means does this phrase require counting every person in the country, including any who might have been here illegally. Interestingly, Native Americans were not to be counted. That was an exception. For me, this analysis destroys the prime argument being put forth by the attorneys general. There is an exception for one group and “all other Persons” refers to slaves, not everybody. This is a “look at the calendar” moment.

The second point that demands attention is the motivation of the attorneys general — especially California’s because of its large illegal migrant population. That motivation is similar to those that were at play concerning slaves. This is about increasing the number of persons counted in the census so that states get a larger number of representatives in the House of Representatives. The census count also determines the number of electoral votes allocated to each state. Consequently, in the pursuit of power to influence governmental decisions, counting illegal migrants definitely helps.

Beyond representatives and electoral votes, this push to count illegal migrants is about money going from the federal government to states. An article titled “Debunking the Myths about the Citizenship Question on the 2020 Census Form” includes this statement: “Census data also influence the allocation of more than $800 billion in federal government resources to states, localities, and families every year, such as for health care, education, housing, transportation, rural access to broadband, and other services.” This is further reason for states to push counting of illegal immigrants.

Another argument opposing the citizenship question is that there will be an undercount because some individuals will be reluctant to answer the citizenship question. Given what has been addressed to this point, it seems obvious that we should not be counting those who will not answer because they are in the country illegally. That being the case, why be concerned? Again, this is a “look at the calendar” issue.

It troubles and amazes me that, in this illegal immigration battle, the impact on American citizens seems to get little or no consideration. This is reflected in the tremendous emphasis on illegal migrants, while little or no attention is given to consequences such as what is reported by George J. Borjas. The following is from his article titled “Yes, Immigration Hurts American Workers”:

“Both low- and high-skilled natives are affected by the influx of immigrants. But because a disproportionate percentage of immigrants have few skills, it is low-skilled American workers, including many blacks and Hispanics, who have suffered most from this wage dip. The monetary loss is sizable. The typical high school dropout earns about $25,000 annually. According to census data, immigrants admitted in the past two decades lacking a high school diploma have increased the size of the low-skilled workforce by roughly 25%. As a result, the earnings of this particularly vulnerable group dropped by between $800 and $1,500 each year.

Given all that is presented here, and similarly compelling considerations not even addressed, I cannot make sense of the back-and-forth regarding having a citizenship question on the 2020 census. This is a “look at the calendar” matter.

Knowledge as healing

02pubpenEditor’s note: Once again, publisher Bill Bowman relinquishes his space to accommodate an article on a timely issue — The North Carolina Civil War & Reconstruction History Center. Sharing relevant information on important topics is what Up & Coming Weekly is all about.

Projects, both public and private, begin as a little kernel of an idea in someone’s mind and chug along for days, weeks, months and years before taking on lives of their own, if they ever do. When that someone shares an idea with others, they will either get on the bandwagon or see enough flaws to shoot down that idea. Development is always a journey.

What we now know is the North Carolina Civil War & Reconstruction History Center has been germinating since the late 2000s. It began with supporters of the Museum of the Cape Fear, who realized that the regional museum concept was not cohesive enough to create a booming and sustainable state museum and began looking for a bigger idea. A professional consultant was brought in and pointed out the obvious.

The United States Arsenal, built on Haymount hill in Fayetteville in 1838 and handed over to Confederate rebels in 1861, brought Union Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman to our city to destroy the Arsenal in March 1865, and destroy it he did. Sherman’s 62,000 Union troops and 25,000 camp followers swept into what was then a hamlet of 4,000-5,000 souls and swept out three woeful days later, leaving little but rubble on the Arsenal site. Sherman continued north into Virginia, and the Civil War was over within six weeks.

What happened in our community, and its aftermath, helped end the deadliest and arguably the most painful period and armed conflict in our nation’s history. Why not focus a comprehensive state institution on what happened to the people of North Carolina before, during and after the American Civil War?

By 2010, that idea had become a twinkle in the eyes of residents and museum supporters, including nationally known historian Mary Lynn Bryan and then-State Sen. Tony Rand. They enlisted others, like former Fayetteville Observer publisher Charles Broadwell, local businessman and community activist Mac Healy, and this Up & Coming Weekly columnist, forming a nonprofit foundation to explore and develop this idea.

Over this decade, support grew, and the foundation raised money to hire an architect to design an appropriate building, engaged a nationally known exhibit design firm to develop modern exhibits and collaborated with scholars and historians to develop a narrative of stories of North Carolinians — black and white, Union and Confederate.

Also, the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction is working with the History Center to allow fourth-, eighthand 11th-grade students studying North Carolina history online access to History Center resources. The idea is to tell real stories, at least one from each of our 100 counties, rather than displaying weapons and battle flags.

Along the way, the NCCWRHC garnered an advisory board, co-chaired by former governors Jim Hunt and Jim Martin, raised $7 million from private sources and an additional $5 million grant from the state of North Carolina. It has also received $15 million in financial pledges from the city of Fayetteville and Cumberland County, as well as funding from the North Carolina General Assembly. History buffs from across our state and beyond are looking forward to this one-of-a-kind resource as part of our state museum system.

All of this has happened since that kernel sprouted in local minds and hearts. The NCCWRHC has been researched and thought through at every stage of development and has the best organization, design and scholarship available behind it. The History Center is now poised to become reality.

Why should you care about this when our community and our state have so many divergent and pressing issues facing us?

Fayetteville and Cumberland County should care for a practical reason. A facility of this magnitude is an economic development project, bringing both visitors and resources to our community for the foreseeable future. Once operational, the History Center will be operated by the state, not by local government.

Less tangibly and perhaps more importantly, the History Center is an opportunity for North Carolinians and all Americans to understand the issues of our past, how those issues continue to plague us today, and how they may compromise our future if we cannot resolve them as a nation.

Writer and philosopher George Santayana put it this way. “Those who cannot remember history are doomed to repeat it.”

Full steam ahead

03Grad’Tis the season.

Not the season of Santa Claus but of something far better for many of us — graduation from high school, college and beyond. These are occasions of pride in accomplishments, high expectations for the future and both individual and family celebrations. They bring moments of relief at what has passed, and hopes for the future, with nagging touches of anxiety thrown in as well. They are gifts to ourselves for the rest of our lives. In short, graduations are both rites of passage and life markers.

More than ever, nontraditional students are walking in caps and gowns in graduation processions. They are generally older people who, for whatever reasons, did not complete their educations, and people returning to school for additional degrees and certifications. For the most part, though, graduates are young people just dipping their toes in the real world of careers and adult relationships. Their lives are ahead of them, and it is traditional that graduations come with advice from family, teachers and commencement speakers who have labored hard to come up with original thoughts.

My graduations are long behind me, but I do remember some of the advice I received that has served me well over the decades — both in work and in personal life.

Education is the key to self-sufficiency. If you are lucky, you will find a partner with whom to pool your earthly resources, but make sure you can support yourself. There is nothing in life like your own paycheck.

Get to know yourself, trust yourself and enjoy your own company. Even with a large family and a wide circle of friends, the truth is that no one — not your parents, your siblings, your partner or your friends — will take every step of life with you. You will be happier and more successful if you appreciate yourself and your abilities.

You may wind up not working in the fields you studied in school, but your education will enrich your life in other ways. It has almost certainly sparked your curiosity about the world and taught you how to find out what you want to know about it, which will be a blessing all your life.

Outstanding commencement speakers are much in demand, of course, and chief justice of the United States Supreme Court is a rarified office indeed. Our nation has had 45 presidents, including the current White House occupant, who with one exception were eligible for one or two terms. Our chief justice, on the other hand, is appointed for life or until he or she resigns, and only 17 men have served in that capacity. John Roberts, our current chief, is 13 years into his tenure, and unlike our president, he is a deliberate man who chooses his words carefully and delivers them calmly.

Roberts has surely made more than a few commencement addresses, and The Atlantic recently reported on one of them. Two years ago, Roberts addressed his son’s ninth-grade class of all boys at a private school in New Hampshire. The chief skipped the traditional “congratulations and good luck” route and gave the boys his thoughts about how to behave as an American, particularly an American of privilege and as a citizen of the world.

Said Roberts, “I hope you will be treated unfairly, so that you will come to know the value of justice.” And, this. “I hope you’ll be ignored, so you know the importance of listening to others.” He continued. “Understand that your success is not completely deserved, and that the failure of others is not completely deserved either.”

And, finally, Roberts acknowledged the privilege of the boys, including his own son, and told them they were good boys and left them with this. “You are also privileged young men. And if you weren’t privileged before you came here, you’re privileged now because you have been here. My advice is, don’t act like it.”

Godspeed to all graduating this season, and I wish you a speaker as wise as our chief justice.

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