Abba’s goal is to be a trusted IT advisor to their customers by providing cost effective, secure and efficient IT solutions for their business. Their federal contracts include SEWP, GSA and CPA contracts for Arista, Extreme Networks and Juniper Networks. Their core practices include IT Virtualization, Storage & Network Solutions, Secure Client Computing, Data Center Technologies, Managed Services and Professional Engineering Services. CHAMBER News: Ribbon cuttings are a benefit of being a Los Alamos Chamber Member. For more information about Chamber membership, visit losalamoschamber.com or call Ryn Herrmann at 505.661.4807. The Chamber of Commerce is celebrating the new location of Abba Technologies with a ribbon cutting 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., with the actual ribbon cutting at 11 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 5 at 102 Central Park Square.Abba Technologies is an IT advisory and solutions firm that has been in business 26 years. They started their business working with the national laboratories and since then have expanded throughout the nation to include customers from state agencies to municipalities to educational entities and private businesses. The Los Alamos Chamber of Commerce is a program of Los Alamos Commerce & Development Corporation, a private, not-for-profit economic and community development organization serving the Los Alamos area since 1983. LACDC serves as the umbrella organization for the Los Alamos Chamber of Commerce, Los Alamos MainStreet, Discover Los Alamos, Los Alamos Small Business Center, projectY cowork Los Alamos and the Los Alamos Research Park. Abba Technologies looks forward to continuing to serve Los Alamos National Laboratory and Los Alamos.
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Certainly, I had never imagined to be hit with something like Covid-19 this year.From a European perspective, I believe it is very difficult – due to the sheer distance involved – to understand the variety, dynamics and dimensions of the Asian markets. I have been both impressed but also surprised, at how little I knew about it while I was in Europe.Since the outbreak of Covid-19, our lives and our markets have changed. In Singapore, we were quick to understand the risks associated with a virus outbreak; Singapore took early measures like social distancing to limit the virus’ spread across the community, while keeping businesses and the economy open. From late January until 7thApril, the restrictions were only moderately felt among the community. With the start of the so-called ‘circuit breaker’, however, all our daily lives have changed significantly. Currently, and until 1stJune, we are encouraged to stay at home as much as possible and avoid going out – except to buy food and daily essentials, or for urgent medical needs. If we must go out, we should go alone, not in groups or as a household. Furthermore, we need to wear facial masks when in public. Exercising outside is allowed, but only alone and in the immediate neighbourhood.Over the last several weeks, I have become used to working from home and using digital applications – for video calls, for example – which I had never really imagined to be able to handle myself before. The communication with my Uniper team members, at their homes, and my partners across Asia works surprisingly well, even if I do miss meeting people in person.The learnings and new experiences do not stop there. This current crisis also teaches and reminds us how we should look at markets. For example, the helium market went from a prolonged shortage to a short-term over-supply due to lockdowns and the shutdowns of economies in just a matter of days. We usually analyse markets to the tiniest level of detail but as history proves before our eyes, we miss out on the big game changes because they are difficult, if not impossible, to forecast. I always try to adopt the attitudes of ‘expecting the unexpected’ and ‘not the strongest but the most adaptive survives’ and finally, to ‘not get caught up in details’. Even with these mindsets, however, we can still be caught off-guard. We could not have foreseen this crisis and nor can we ignore the details of such a life-endangering pandemic, for example. But we can work around it; we can learn from it, and we can change our outlook in the years ahead. How we respond and move forward is key.In the helium markets we have been facing numerous issues popping up at the same time; demand destruction, disruption to shipping capacity, port handling and local transportation restrictions. At the same time, the market has to find outlets for existing production which cannot be delivered to their usual destinations for the above reasons.Two things are almost certain: we have eventful and volatile times ahead of us, and when the economy finally bounces back, our markets will be very different from now.At Uniper Global Commodities, we are still very optimistic about the future growth in the helium market and particularly in Asia. Even during this current slowdown due to Covid-19, we are continuing to build our position in Asia.I hope we will all come out of this situation in good health and will draw the right conclusions from the experience.About the authorSingapore-based Roland Kuchler is Head of Business Development for Helium and Gas, Asia-Pacific at Uniper Global Commodities SE.
Desmond Hudson, Chief executive, Law Society I would like to clarify an important point in relation to last week’s news story ‘Large firms in legal aid talks’ (see  Gazette 18 February, 1) . As yet, no substantive discussions have taken place with the Ministry of Justice or the Legal Services Commission on new proposals for a revised tendering scheme, nor has the Society been present at any meetings involving the MoJ and representatives of large firms. The Society has been invited to attend a meeting to discuss the broad policy in relation to the design of a proposed new scheme prior to any proposals being put to consultation, but at the time of writing no date had been set for this meeting. The Law Society represents all practitioners and firms of all sizes. We will not represent one type of firm at the expense of another, and will endeavour to take a policy line that represents the best interests of the profession as a whole, and that seeks to ensure that there is a viable service for those who need it, with solicitors at its heart.
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) The threat of nuclear missile attack by North Korea is accelerating, U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Saturday, accusing the North of illegal and unnecessary missile and nuclear programs and pledging to repel any strike.In remarks in Seoul with South Korean Defense Minister Song Young-moo at his side, Mattis said North Korea engages in “outlaw” behavior and that the U.S. will never accept a nuclear North.The Pentagon chief added that regardless of what the North might try, it is overmatched by the firepower and cohesiveness of the decades-old U.S.-South Korean alliance.“North Korea has accelerated the threat that it poses to its neighbors and the world through its illegal and unnecessary missile and nuclear weapons programs,” he said, adding that U.S.-South Korean military and diplomatic collaboration thus has taken on “a new urgency.”“I cannot imagine a condition under which the United States would accept North Korea as a nuclear power,” Mattis said.As he emphasized throughout his weeklong Asia trip, which included stops in Thailand and the Philippines, Mattis said diplomacy remains the preferred way to deal with the North.“With that said,” he added, “make no mistake – any attack on the United States or our allies will be defeated, and any use of nuclear weapons by the North will be met with a massive military response that is effective and overwhelming.”Mattis’ comments did not go beyond his recent statements of concern about North Korea, although he appeared to inject a stronger note about the urgency of resolving the crisis.While he accused the North of “outlaw” behavior, he did not mention that President Donald Trump has ratcheted up his own rhetoric. In August, Trump warned the North not to make any more threats against the United States, and said that if it did, it would be met with “fire and fury like the world has never seen.”Song, the South Korean minister, told the news conference that he and Mattis agreed to further cooperation on strengthening Seoul’s defense capabilities, including lifting warhead payload limits on South Korean conventional missiles and supporting the country’s acquisition of “most advanced military assets.” He offered no specifics and refused to answer when asked whether the discussions included nuclear-powered submarines.Some South Korean government officials have endorsed the nation getting nuclear-powered submarines amid calls for more military strength. There’s a growing concern among the South Korean public that North Korea’s expanding nuclear weapons arsenal, which may soon include an intercontinental ballistic missile that could target the U.S. mainland, would undermine Seoul’s long alliance with Washington.South Korea’s conservative politicians have also called for the United States to bring back tactical nuclear weapons that were withdrawn from the Korean Peninsula in the 1990s. But Mattis and Song were strongly dismissive of the idea.“When considering national interest, it’s much better not to deploy them,” said Song, adding that the allies would have “sufficient means” to respond to a North Korean nuclear attack even without placing tactical nuclear weapons in the South. Mattis said current U.S. strategic assets are already providing nuclear deterrence and that the South Korean government has never approached him with the subject of tactical nuclear weapons.Trump entered office declaring his commitment to solving the North Korea problem, asserting that he would succeed where his predecessors had failed. His administration has sought to increase pressure on Pyongyang through U.N. Security Council sanctions and other diplomatic efforts, but the North hasn’t budged from its goal of building a full-fledged nuclear arsenal, including missiles capable of striking the U.S. mainland.If Trump sticks to his pledge to stop the North from being able to threaten the U.S. with a nuclear attack, something will have to give – either a negotiated tempering of the North’s ambitions or a U.S. acceptance of the North as a nuclear power.The other alternative would be U.S. military action to attempt to neutralize or eliminate the North’s nuclear assets – a move fraught with risk for South Korea, Japan and the United States.Mattis touched off unease in South Korea last month when he told reporters at the Pentagon that the United States has military options for North Korea that doesn’t put Seoul at risk. At Saturday’s briefing, Mattis didn’t offer a direct answer to what those options are or how and when they would be used.“Our military options as I mentioned are designed to buttress the diplomats’ efforts to maintain a deterrence stance and denuclearize the Korean Peninsula,” he said. While the allies are committed to deterring North Korea, they also need “many different military options that would realistically reduce that threat as low as possible,” Mattis said.“And yes, we do have those options,” he said.The North says it needs nuclear weapons to counter what it believes is a U.S. effort to strangle its economy and overthrow the Kim government.This was Mattis’s second visit to South Korea since taking office in January. He made a point of going to Seoul and Tokyo on his first overseas trip in February, saying he wanted to emphasis the importance he places on strengthening alliances and partnerships. Do you see a typo or an error? Let us know. Pentagon chief says North Korea engages in ‘outlaw’ behavior Published: October 28, 2017 10:36 AM EDT SHARE
Lawyers reacted with a combination of elation and relief last week when Michael Gove pulled the plug on the new criminal legal aid contracting regime.In a ministerial statement last Thursday, the lord chancellor put an end to a week of speculation by saying he had decided ‘not to go ahead with the introduction of the dual contracting system’.He will also suspend, for 12 months from 1 April, a second 8.75% cut in fees which was introduced in July last year.Law Society president Jonathan Smithers (pictured) said Chancery Lane was pleased that Gove had listened and recognised that the current situation was ‘untenable’. He said: ‘It is clear that a competitive approach to the provision of criminal legal aid services is not appropriate. The assurance that there will be no competitive tendering in the future gives practitioners greater certainty.’Smithers added that suspending the second fee cut for litigators for a further 12 months ‘will provide some assurance to solicitors and help support the viability of criminal legal aid services across England and Wales’.Gove said that his decision followed two ‘significant’ developments since last July. First, as a result of economies elsewhere in his department, HM Treasury had given a settlement ‘which allows me greater flexibility in the allocation of funds for legal aid’.Second, following challenges mounted against the government’s procurement process, Gove said it ‘has become clear’ that ‘there are real problems in pressing ahead as proposed’.A judicial review sought by the Fair Crime Contracts Alliance of the government’s procurement process was due to open on 7 April. A hearing into more than 100 individual procurement law challenges, sought in accordance with part 7 of the Civil Procedure Rules, was to begin on 3 May.Gove said: ‘My decision is driven in part by the recognition that the litigation will be time-consuming and costly for all parties, whatever the outcome. I do not want my department and the legal aid market to face months, if not years, of continuing uncertainty and expensive litigation while it is heard.’As the print Gazette went to press, parties in the litigation were expected to liaise to agree orders disposing of the proceedings. This will inevitably involve the consideration of costs.Some firms have spent thousands of pounds preparing for the new contracts. The Legal Aid Agency’s Information for Applicants document stated that the agency has the right ‘not to proceed to award contracts at any time at its absolute discretion’.However, some successful bidders plan to seek compensation. One firm spent in the region of £30,000 preparing for the new contracts.
The Ministry of Justice faces a huge fight to recoup much of the £68.6m imposed through the unpopular – and now abandoned – criminal courts charge.New figures published show the department was struggling to collect outstanding amounts when the policy was dropped on 24 December.Of the £5.7m levied in the second quarter of 2015 – the first period of the charge – just 20% was paid back within six months of imposition.Courts imposed £22m in new charges from July to September, but within three months just £2.9m was paid back.In the final three months of 2015, the amounts imposed against convicted criminals rose significantly to £40.9m during the period.But collection rates were almost identical in this period to the previous quarters, with just £2m (5%) paid back within a month.The figures throw into doubt the government’s chances of recouping anywhere near the full amount imposed during the eight months of the charge.The criminal courts charge, created in April 2015 by then justice secretary Chris Grayling, started at £150 for a guilty plea in the magistrates’ court. Grayling’s successor Michael Gove suspended the charge on 24 December and vowed to find other ways to ensure offenders contribute towards the costs of running the criminal justice system.Prison reform group The Howard League said today the collection figures show how ‘unfair, unrealistic and unjust’ the charge was and that it disproportionately affected the most vulnerable.The MoJ figures also reveal increases in waiting times for cases to be listed and resolved.The time taken from receipt by the Crown court to the main hearing, and also from the main hearing to completion, has increased over the last two years.The average number of days from first listing to completion rose from 164 to 204 days between Q2 2013 and Q2 2015, although it decreased to 195 days in the final quarter of 2015.In the last two years, waiting times for triable either-way cases have increased overall by six weeks, while indictable cases take on average 4.2 weeks longer.
Liz TrussSource: PA ImagesSecretary of State for Justice and Lord ChancellorThe Law Society has now called for the legal principle of 100% compensation to be met by methodology for setting the rate, and for the decision to be taken away from politicians.‘Fundamentally, any changes should not undermine the 100% compensation principle. We agree that the current methodology could be changed to better reflect the potential yield claimants could receive from investing a lump sum as long as it does not undermine the 100% compensation rule,’ the Society states in response to a government consultation. ‘Decisions on awards made by the courts should not be subject to political influence. In order for the civil justice system to retain the trust and confidence of claimants and defendants, the process should be fully independent from government.’The Society said the lord chancellor should be removed entirely from the process and the discount rate set by a panel of independent experts, chaired by a government actuary. Experts on the panel should all have qualifications relating to or a substantial background in financial investment.In its full response to the Ministry of Justice call for evidence, the Society said the court should retain the power to apply a different rate from the specified one if appropriate.The rate should be reviewed every five years, and the rate setter should not be responsible for the timing of any review.Last week, the new president of the Association of Injury Lawyers Brett Dixon told the Gazette that he favoured moving the rate setting ‘away from political considerations’. The Association of British Insurers has said the lord chancellor should be compelled to consult a panel of experts but should have the final decision.But one insurance leader has urged the government to take charge of the decision after the election and include discount rate reforms in legislationIn a blog posted on LinkedIn, AXA group chief executive Amanda Blanc said work on the discount rate – as well as other proposed reforms affecting personal injury claims – ‘mustn’t go to waste’ after the election, even on an agenda dominated by Brexit.She said rate reform – designed to address the ‘baffling decision’ to move to -0.75% could be included in any new incarnation of the Prisons and Courts Bill, which was dropped before parliament was dissolved.‘I don’t think anyone would argue with fair compensation for those who suffer long-term injury but there are ways to help the few without penalising the many,’ said Blanc. ‘As well as the damaging impact on the NHS, the change will cause the cost of car insurance to increase even further, with young motorists, who already pay the most, likely to be hit the hardest.’ Calls are growing for any future decisions on the level of discount rate to be taken out of the hands of ministers.Lord chancellor Liz Truss elected earlier this year to change the rate for deductions to personal injury awards from 2.5% to -0.75%.The change was welcomed by campaigners who had pressed for a reduction in the rate since it was last altered in 2001, but insurers have warned of hikes to premiums and extra costs to the NHS.#*#*Show Fullscreen*#*#
Anont Luangboriboon, Deputy Director General of Thailand’s Highways Department, has been named Acting Governor of the State Railway of Thailand while Voravidh Champeeratana, head of the Securities & Exchange Commission, becomes Chairman. Their appointments follow the dimissal of former Governor Wuthichart Kalyanamitra along with most of SRT’s Board by Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha on February 23.‘In the past the SRT Governor did a certain amount of work, but we want the board and the SRT Governor to supervise projects more closely and ensure there are no irregularities’, said Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith.
USA: Valley Metro has approved the appointment of Kiewit as the construction manager for the South Central extension of the light rail network serving Phoenix. Construction on the extension from central Phoenix to Baseline Road is due to start in 2019, for opening in 2023. Aecom is acting as designer.