The Mayor of North Charleston, SC, got in front of some cameras to sing the praises of the city’s new Riverfront Park event space on Monday. R. Keith Summey, who has served as Mayor of North Charleston since 1995, cited a number of successes associated with the park during the promotional video, including the inaugural Trondossa Festival that brought Widespread Panic to the venue for two nights earlier this month.According to Summey, the new Riverfront Park has benefited the community in a lot of ways. One particularly interesting benefit he mentioned is that marijuana smoke at Widespread Panic concerts dissipates into the air more easily than it did when the band performed at the indoor North Charleston Coliseum. Also, it turns out the mayor likes Widespread Panic’s music a lot more than he previously realized.Here’s the full quote:My wife coerced me this past weekend to go see Widespread Panic. I’m 71 years old. Widespread Panic has come to this town a number of times at the Coliseum, but this was the first time they’ve been in an open-air area, and it worked a heck of a lot better. I think some of the things people were puffing on may have dissipated into the air a little bit better. But I actually found out I enjoyed their music. And all these times I’ve missed them when they’ve been here, but of course, she made me stay until it was over and the fireworks went off. I’m hen-pecked and I admit it.And here’s the video (the good stuff comes around 4:08):[Video: City of North Charleston]It’s great to see that Mayor Summey has such kind words for Widespread Panic. It’s also great that he gets such a kick out of the things people puff at their shows. On the other hand, it’s not so great that the South Carolina has some of the strictest marijuana laws in the country, so maybe Mayor Summey can lend his endorsement to the comprehensive medical marijuana bill that is being debated in the state’s legislature. After all, legalizing it works a heck of a lot better.You can check out our review and photos from the inaugural Trondossa Festival, which also featured sets from Sturgill Simpson, Margo Price, Big Something, Moon Taxi, and Hiss Golden Messenger, here.[H/T – PanicStream]
Neuron transplants have repaired brain circuitry and substantially normalized function in mice with a brain disorder, an advance indicating that key areas of the mammalian brain are more reparable than was widely believed.Collaborators from Harvard University, Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) and Harvard Medical School (HMS) transplanted normally functioning embryonic neurons at a carefully selected stage of their development into the hypothalamus of mice unable to respond to leptin, a hormone that regulates metabolism and controls body weight. These mutant mice usually become morbidly obese, but the neuron transplants repaired defective brain circuits, enabling them to respond to leptin and thus experience substantially less weight gain.Repair at the cellular-level of the hypothalamus — a critical and complex region of the brain that regulates phenomena such as hunger, metabolism, body temperature, and basic behaviors such as sex and aggression — indicates the possibility of new therapeutic approaches to even higher-level conditions such as spinal cord injury, autism, epilepsy, ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), Parkinson’s disease, and Huntington’s disease.In 2005, Harvard Medical School Dean Jeffrey Flier, then the George C. Reisman professor of medicine at BIDMC, published a landmark study showing that an experimental drug spurred the addition of new neurons in the hypothalamus and offered a potential treatment for obesity. File photo by Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff Photographer“There are only two areas of the brain that are known to normally undergo ongoing large-scale neuronal replacement during adulthood on a cellular level — so-called ‘neurogenesis,’ or the birth of new neurons — the olfactory bulb and the subregion of the hippocampus called the dentate gyrus, with emerging evidence of lower level ongoing neurogenesis in the hypothalamus,” said Jeffrey Macklis, Harvard University professor of stem cell and regenerative biology and HMS professor of neurology at MGH, and one of three corresponding authors on the paper. “The neurons that are added during adulthood in both regions are generally smallish and are thought to act a bit like volume controls over specific signaling. Here we’ve rewired a high-level system of brain circuitry that does not naturally experience neurogenesis, and this restored substantially normal function.”The two other senior authors on the paper are Jeffrey Flier, dean of Harvard Medical School, and Matthew Anderson, HMS professor of pathology at BIDMC.The findings are to appear Nov. 25 in Science.In 2005, Flier, then the George C. Reisman professor of medicine at BIDMC, published a landmark study, also in Science, showing that an experimental drug spurred the addition of new neurons in the hypothalamus and offered a potential treatment for obesity. But while the finding was striking, the researchers were unsure whether the new cells functioned like natural neurons.Macklis’ laboratory had for several years developed approaches to successfully transplanting developing neurons into circuitry of the cerebral cortex of mice with neurodegeneration or neuronal injury. In a landmark 2000 Nature study, the researchers demonstrated induction of neurogenesis in the cerebral cortex of adult mice, where it does not normally occur. While these and follow-up experiments appeared to rebuild brain circuitry anatomically, the new neurons’ level of function remained uncertain.To learn more, Flier, an expert in the biology of obesity, teamed up with Macklis, an expert in central nervous system development and repair, and Anderson, an expert in neuronal circuitries and mouse neurological disease models.The groups used a mouse model in which the brain lacks the ability to respond to leptin. Flier and his lab have long studied this hormone, which is mediated by the hypothalamus. Deaf to leptin’s signaling, these mice become dangerously overweight.Prior research had suggested that four main classes of neurons enabled the brain to process leptin signaling. Postdocs Artur Czupryn and Maggie Chen, from Macklis’ and Flier’s labs, respectively, transplanted and studied the cellular development and integration of progenitor cells and very immature neurons from normal embryos into the hypothalamus of the mutant mice using multiple types of cellular and molecular analysis. To place the transplanted cells in exactly the correct and microscopic region of the recipient hypothalamus, they used a technique called high-resolution ultrasound microscopy, creating what Macklis called a “chimeric hypothalamus” — like the animals with mixed features from Greek mythology.Postdoc Yu-Dong Zhou, from Anderson’s lab, performed in-depth electrophysiological analysis of the transplanted neurons and their function in the recipient circuitry, taking advantage of the neurons’ glowing green from a fluorescent jellyfish protein carried as a marker.These nascent neurons survived the transplantation process and developed structurally, molecularly, and electrophysiologically into the four cardinal types of neurons central to leptin signaling. The new neurons integrated functionally into the circuitry, responding to leptin, insulin, and glucose. Treated mice matured and weighed approximately 30 percent less than their untreated siblings or siblings treated in multiple alternate ways.The researchers then investigated the precise extent to which these new neurons had become wired into the brain’s circuitry using molecular assays, electron microscopy for visualizing the finest details of circuits, and patch-clamp electrophysiology, a technique in which researchers use small electrodes to investigate the characteristics of individual neurons and pairs of neurons in fine detail. Because the new cells were labeled with fluorescent tags, postdocs Czupryn, Zhou, and Chen could easily locate them.The Zhou and Anderson team found that the newly developed neurons communicated to recipient neurons through normal synaptic contacts, and that the brain, in turn, signaled back. Responding to leptin, insulin and glucose, these neurons had effectively joined the brain’s network and rewired the damaged circuitry.“It’s interesting to note that these embryonic neurons were wired in with less precision than one might think,” Flier said. “But that didn’t seem to matter. In a sense, these neurons are like antennas that were immediately able to pick up the leptin signal. From an energy-balance perspective, I’m struck that a relatively small number of genetically normal neurons can so efficiently repair the circuitry.”“The finding that these embryonic cells are so efficient at integrating with the native neuronal circuitry makes us quite excited about the possibility of applying similar techniques to other neurological and psychiatric diseases of particular interest to our laboratory,” said Anderson.The researchers call their findings a proof of concept for the broader idea that new neurons can integrate specifically to modify complex circuits that are defective in a mammalian brain.The researchers are interested in further investigating controlled neurogenesis — directing growth of new neurons in the brain from within — the subject of much of Macklis’ research as well as Flier’s 2005 paper, and a potential route to new therapies.“The next step for us is to ask parallel questions of other parts of the brain and spinal cord, those involved in ALS and with spinal cord injuries,” Macklis said. “In these cases, can we rebuild circuitry in the mammalian brain? I suspect that we can.”This study was funded by the National Institutes of Health, the Jane and Lee Seidman Fund for Central Nervous System Research, the Emily and Robert Pearlstein Fund for Nervous System Repair, the Picower Foundation, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, Autism Speaks, and the Nancy Lurie Marks Family Foundation.
Dell EMC The Source Podcast Episode #74: Converged Platforms and Magic MirorsIt’s an age-old proverb that “Time is Money”, and the Dell EMC Converged Infrastructure Portfolio is designed to focus your IT resources on business innovation instead of infrastructure. Recognized by IDC and Gartner as the leader in converged and integrated systems, the Dell EMC Converged Infrastructure Portfolio has been proven to deliver 4.4x faster time to market at 36% lower cost. Time is Money!This week on Dell EMC The Source, Brian Carpenter (@IntheDC) Dell EMC Global Portfolio Messaging Director, joins me to talk Converged, Magic Mirrors, Raspberry Pie and Opportunity Costs.The Source Podcast: Episode #74: Converged Platforms and Magic MirrorsAudio Playerhttp://traffic.libsyn.com/thesource/EMC_The_Source_Episode_74_audio.mp300:0000:0000:00Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.Don’t miss “Dell EMC The Source” app in the App Store. Be sure to subscribe to Dell EMC The Source Podcast on iTunes, Stitcher Radio or Google Play and visit the official blog at thesourceblog.emc.comEMC: The Source Podcast is hosted By Sam Marraccini (@SamMarraccini)
An expert in the genomics of malaria vectors and the O’Hara professor in the department of biological sciences, Nora J. Besansky has been elected membership in the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), according to a Monday press release.In order to better understand the relationship between malaria-transmitting mosquitoes and their environments, Besansky’s lab studies the closely related Anopheles species. Her research focuses on determining how chromosome structural rearrangements and the transfer of genes between species allow for enhanced disease transmission.“A key to this puzzle is ‘ecological plasticity,’ which allows the mosquitoes to thrive and be efficient vectors in a wide variety of environments, whether they are found in rainforests or in semi-deserts,” the release said. “Fully understanding the evolutionary, ecological and functional genomics of malaria vectors will allow scientists to develop new control strategies that can interrupt transmission of the disease.”Besansky received her bachelor’s degree from Oberlin College, followed by her doctoral degree from Yale University. After working as a staff scientist for the Centers for Disease Control and as an associate professor in the department of biology at Emory University, she was hired as an associate professor at Notre Dame in 1997.To make genomic resources available for more than 16 malaria vectors, Besanksy worked on two international genome sequencing and analysis projects sponsored by the National Institutes of Health. Having published over 140 papers during her career, the press release said Besanksy’s research has also been supported by the World Health Organization and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.When Besansky received news of her election in the NAS, she was initially taken by surprise.“My first thought was one of disbelief,” she said in the press release. “My second thought was gratitude for my numerous students, trainees, mentors, collaborators and support team, without whom this would have been impossible.“And the third thought is a feeling of great responsibility, given the mission that the NAS is charged with. It’s a great opportunity for me. I will be in the company of giants — with people I never thought I would rub shoulders with.”Tags: Department of Biological Sciences, National Academy of the Sciences, O’Hara professor
Sign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York The powerful winter storm that barreled into Long Island overnight will continue to bring heavy snow and blustery conditions through the morning. The National Weather Service is already reporting unofficial snowfall totals for some parts of the Island.Here they are (remember, reports are unofficial):Nassau County:Oceanside – 12.4 inchesCarle Place – 11.7 inchesNorth Merrick – 10.6 inchesNorth Massapequa – 10.3 inchesMassapequa – 10.1 inchesGarden City – 10 inchesPlainview – 10 inchesBayville – 9.5 inchesLevittown – 9.2 inchesPort Washington – 9 inchesBaldwin Harbor – 9 inchesAlbertson – 9 inchesHicksville – 8.9 inchesSouth Valley Stream – 7.5 inchesEast Norwich – 7.1 inchesNew Hyde Park – 7 inchesBellmore – 5.5 inchesSeaford – 5.3 inchesWantagh – 4.1 inchesSuffolk County: Bay Shore – 12.5 inchesNorth Babylon – 12 inchesCommack – 11.5 inchesUpton – 11.2 inchesEastport – 11 inchesEast Northport – 10 inchesRiverhead – 9.8 inchesPort Jefferson – 9.5 inchesSound Beach – 9.5 inchesFarmingville – 9.2 inchesBridgehampton – 9 inchesIslip – 8.9 inchesCentral Islip – 8.6 inchesBaiting Hollow – 8.5 inchesOrient – 8.5 inchesPatchogue – 8 inchesStony Brook – 8 inchesCenterport – 7.2 inchesHolbrook – 6.5 inches
As required under Dodd-Frank, late last month the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) released its Consumer Response Annual Report for the period of January 1 to December 31, 2018. This report is a breakdown of the approximately 329,800 consumer complaints the bureau received in 2018. Complaints came through the bureau via its website, by referral from the White House, congressional offices, other federal and state agencies, and by telephone, mail, email and fax. In her opening statement, CFPB Director Kathleen L. Kraninger states this report is one way the bureau is delivering on the promise of the bureau’s transparency. She also indicates this review will “inform how our complaint program will evolve and how we will serve and interact with the program’s various stakeholders, including consumers, companies, and other regulators.”Credit or consumer reporting, debt collection, mortgage, credit card and checking or savings were the most complained about consumer financial product and service categories, comprising approximately 89 percent of all the complaints the bureau received. Other categories consumers complained about included: student loan, money transfers or services, virtual currencies, vehicle loans or leases, personal loans, prepaid cards, payday loans, credit repair or title loans. In most cases according to the CFPB report the majority of consumers indicated having attempted to resolve the issue with the company named in the complaint. Complaints were submitted by consumers in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Interestingly, the bureau received more complaints from the District than anywhere else in the U.S., followed by Georgia, Florida, Nevada and Delaware, while South Dakota consumers filed the fewest complaints. ShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr continue reading »
Sign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York By Arnie DodgeRecently I sat down in New York with Donald Trump’s therapist, Dr. Rufus T. Quackenbush, the renowned Yale-trained psychiatrist. It should be noted that Dr. Quackenbush, a Freudian, is the second major analyst to work with Mr. Trump. Dr. Carl Gustav Jung, who died 55 years ago, worked with him during the ’90s, Trump preferring to be alone during the sessions. Trump claims this was a great experience despite Jung’s absence because Trump has “the best” unconscious and the “most interesting” dreams. Fortunately for me, Trump sanctioned my interview with Quackenbush, giving us both license to discuss any matter that arose.AD: Thank you for sharing some of your observations about Mr. Trump. Let’s get right down to it. Why do you think he agreed to let us talk?RQ: It comes as no surprise to me that he agreed. Donald is suffering from extreme narcissism, the worst case I’ve seen in my 40 years in the mental health field. In such extreme cases the patient believes that any and all things about him will be adored by others. I am sure that no matter what we talk about he will consider our discussion another testimony to his greatness. One time, Donald used the bathroom in my office. When he was done, he asked me to look at his bowel movement. He quipped, “I’ve had thousands and thousands of terrific bowel movements.”AD: I bet that was a bit unnerving.RQ: It was, but I showered him with praise because he is my patient, after all. He is quite proud of his achievements but there’s always an underlying element of intense insecurity.AD: What is your assessment on his candidacy for president? Do you think he can serve the American people with integrity?RQ: Donald is clearly a sociopath managing to fool others that he has their best interests in mind. He has risen to the top of the business world through a global sleight-of-hand that is breathtaking, convincing the wealthy and the powerful to partner with him, even in dubious endeavors. Trump “University,” promising a world-class education with Trump’s name on the diploma, bilked students out of thousands of dollars in tuition costs. His career is rife with similar examples. If integrity is a prerequisite for the presidency, then he surely is not suited for the position. He has a genius for dissembling and manipulation, characteristics that are informally known in the psychiatric community as Dissociative Sadistic and Psychotic Malevolent.AD: If he does become the President, do you foresee his condition affecting him in his new role?RQ: Yes, I am worried about the relationship between his illness and his ascension to the presidency. For example, he has shared with me that his role as Commander-in-Chief will be exhilarating. He has likened his position to a childhood game in which he set up toy soldiers as “good guys” and “bad guys.” He would douse the “bad guys” with gasoline and gleefully set them ablaze with the toss of a lit match. The display was submitted as his science project while attending military school. This pyromania is certainly cause for alarm in someone who will have his finger on the “trigger.” As an aside, I might mention that when he discusses his new title, he salivates uncontrollably. I have to have our custodial staff sanitize the area before my next patient arrives.AD: That must cut into your hours.RQ: Well, I try to schedule Donald at the end of the day but then he wanted to just call in when it was convenient to him and I couldn’t have that. It was totally unacceptable.AD: Mr. Trump has often said that he will confront those in Washington who do not agree with him and they will succumb to his will. Recently he suggested that if the Speaker of the House disagrees with him, the Speaker will “do as I say.” How would you characterize this behavior in psychological terms? RQ: Our protected rights against domestic tyranny notwithstanding, Donald has shared with me that the Constitution was poorly negotiated, and written by low energy people.AD: That’s an important distinction to him, isn’t it?RQ: No doubt. As a deal maker—and a billionaire—he told me that he will “make the Bill of Rights great again.” In addition, my notes include the following statement from Donald: “I am already making an ‘enemies list’ for those who will not follow orders, especially those creeps in the media, some of the worst people I have ever met. Would I shoot them? Maybe yes, maybe no.” A temperament that includes violent fantasies typically requires involuntary hospitalization.AD: That may not be possible in his case.RQ: It’s worrisome, indeed. He could prove very resistant.AD: What about his obsession with the “wall” he wants to build?RQ: There is no mistaking the indicators of a borderline personality. Of course, in his mind it’s all about keeping out “the other.”AD: It is common knowledge that mental health professionals probe their patients’ sub-conscious mind through an analysis of their dreams. Have you applied this technique to your work with Mr. Trump?RQ: Most definitely. Here is where we examine the layers of the troubled psyche. Donald recounts a recurring dream from childhood—a dream that appears occasionally even today—of being castrated by gangs who pass around his severed member, laughing at its uncommonly small size. I am fairly certain that building very tall structures that bear his name is his way of compensating for his shame.AD: What other characteristics have you observed, Doctor?RQ: Screaming epithets at his opponents, “making faces” that an adolescent might present in a grammar school lunchroom, referencing bodily functions to insult women. These are gestures that reflect a serious conduct disorder and a dangerous lack of impulse control. Quite frankly, I worry about these aberrations if he were to facilitate a meeting in the Oval Office or address the United Nations General Assembly.AD: What is your long-term prognosis for Mr. Trump?RQ: Donald has survived so well this far that I believe he will continue to present his disruptive behaviors because they have worked for him. Unchecked psychosis emboldens a distorted mind. However, I am more concerned about the pathology we see in his followers. The public displays are quite unsettling. The most recent example—the most disturbing one of all—is the spectacle of his acolytes pushing, shoving and punching those who disagree with Donald’s message at his rallies. People who cannot discern right from wrong—they’re countenancing violence, adhering to deformed logic and cheering at the prospect of dismantling democracy as we know it—they are easy targets for impostors promising to fulfill their desires. Donald should engender outrage from any sane individual. But here he engages people on a primitive level, stroking their id. Mobs of people under the spell of a lunatic can only lead to catastrophic outcomes.AD: Thank you very much for sharing your professional perspective with us. Would you like to make any final comments?RQ: Yes. God help us.(Editor’s Note: Of course, this is fiction. But yes, God help us.)
Video Player is loading.Play VideoPlayNext playlist itemMuteCurrent Time 0:00/Duration 2:00Loaded: 0%Stream Type LIVESeek to live, currently playing liveLIVERemaining Time -2:00 Playback Rate1xChaptersChaptersDescriptionsdescriptions off, selectedCaptionscaptions settings, opens captions settings dialogcaptions off, selectedQuality Levels720p720pHD540p540p360p360p270p270pAutoA, selectedAudio Trackdefault, selectedFullscreenThis is a modal window.Beginning of dialog window. Escape will cancel and close the window.TextColorWhiteBlackRedGreenBlueYellowMagentaCyanTransparencyOpaqueSemi-TransparentBackgroundColorBlackWhiteRedGreenBlueYellowMagentaCyanTransparencyOpaqueSemi-TransparentTransparentWindowColorBlackWhiteRedGreenBlueYellowMagentaCyanTransparencyTransparentSemi-TransparentOpaqueFont Size50%75%100%125%150%175%200%300%400%Text Edge StyleNoneRaisedDepressedUniformDropshadowFont FamilyProportional Sans-SerifMonospace Sans-SerifProportional SerifMonospace SerifCasualScriptSmall CapsReset restore all settings to the default valuesDoneClose Modal DialogEnd of dialog window.This is a modal window. This modal can be closed by pressing the Escape key or activating the close button.Close Modal DialogThis is a modal window. This modal can be closed by pressing the Escape key or activating the close button.PlayMuteCurrent Time 0:00/Duration 0:00Loaded: 0%Stream Type LIVESeek to live, currently playing liveLIVERemaining Time -0:00 Playback Rate1xFullscreenSorrento dream home02:00A sublime home has hit the market on the Gold Coast in Queensland, and it’s everything property dreams are made of. The property is located directly on the waterfront, at 8-10 Marseille Court in the prestigious beachside suburb Sorrento, and comes with an eye-watering price tag of $9.95m. The property is on a huge 2,703sqm block. Picture: realestate.com.au/buyStretching across 70m of Nerang River frontage, the property boasts exquisite views over the water. It also has a host of outdoor amenities that make it the ultimate entertainer’s paradise.One of its most desirable features is its resort-sized infinity pool: The luxury pool is fit with a 17m lane for laps, plus a diving board.There’s also a tennis court and an alfresco area with a kitchen and fireplace for outdoor dining and summer soirees.For boat lovers, the property is equipped with its own pontoon on the river, plus a boat shed, winch and ramp. It’s also just a short drive to the local beaches. Gallery (10 images)This Sorrento dream home is up for sale… for $9.95m. Picture: realestate.com.au/buy.What’s more, the interior is just as impressive as outside, with a temperature-controlled wine cellar, media room and a music room.There’s also an executive study and a separate gym with a steamer, for those who like to work hard before they play hard. More from newsNew apartments released at idyllic retirement community Samford Grove Presented by Parks and wildlife the new lust-haves post coronavirus19 hours agoThe 1,299sqm home sprawls across a sweeping 2,703sqm block and features five bedrooms and seven bathrooms, including a lavish master suite and guest quarters. The tennis court has floodlit lighting. Picture: realestate.com.au/buyThe dreamy master suite flaunts a fireplace, a huge walk-in luxury dressing room and its own private balcony terrace to soak up those views.It’s also the perfect house for hosting visiting guests, with a private suite with separate entry that boasts a kitchenette, an ensuite and walk-in robe. There’s also an additional studio room with yet another kitchenette, a laundry and ensuite, just in case you have a few extra guests coming along. And if you’re living in a house like this, we can see why all your friends would be extra eager to stay over.
INTRO: Opening of the Green Corridor route across central Madrid in 1996 concluded an important phase in a major investment programme that has transformed the Spanish capital’s commuter services. Construction of new lines to dormitory suburbs has been matched by rolling stock deliveries to create the most modern commuter train fleet in EuropeBYLINE: Abelardo Carillo JiménezDirector General, Commuter, Spanish National Railways MADRID’S commuter rail network, serving almost every municipality with over 30000 inhabitants in the conurbation, carries more than 600000 passengers a day on 12 routes. Service quality, assessed by users in terms of train frequency, convenience, speed and comfort on a scale of 0 to 10, currently stands at 8·4, the highest yet.This achievement comes at a time of expansion following the opening in June 1996 of the 8 km Pasillo Verde (green corridor), which has had a major impact on the city’s rail network and other public transport in Madrid. Connecting the northwestern suburbs with the city centre, this cross-city link (RG 8.96 p472) concludes a major phase of expansion that began in the late 1980s.Not that expansion will end there. Opening of new stations, for example at Villalba and El Pozo, is to continue, and there are many remodelling and new line projects pending.Political pressure is growing for important population centres currently without rail links to be connected to the commuter network. Work on the first section of a 7·2 km line from Cantoblanco to Alcobendas and San Sebasti
“Returns were positive for all asset classes during the first half of the year,” Hiidenpalo said.Equities had been the strongest performing asset class, returning 13.4% compared with 5.4% in the same period last year, led by European equities which returned 13.8% and private equity, which generated 14.6%, up from 7.5%, Elo said.Hiidenpalo said Elo had moved to trim its equity risk from April.“Equity market pricing has remained higher than average and there has been no clear change for the better in the current year’s return expectations,” she said.Elo reported that it had continued diversifying its interest rate risk investments outside the euro area, keeping its interest rate position moderate by underweighting Europe in particular.It also said it reduced exposure to corporate bonds during the spring.Because of low interest rates, returns for fixed-income investments came in at 0.2%, down from 2.9% in the same period a year before, Elo said.Pension assets grew to €20.8bn at the end of June from €19.9bn at the end of December.Solvency increased to 27.5% of technical provisions at the end of June from 25.8% at the end of December, rising in absolute terms to €4.5bn from €4.1bn.Premiums written were up slightly year-on-year, at €1.6bn at the end of June from €1.5bn by the same point last year. Pensions mutual Elo made 4.9% on investments in the first half of this year with returns from all asset classes in the black.In its interim report, Elo, which was formed in January 2014 through the merger of Finland’s Pension Fennia and LocalTapiola, said it had cut equity risk between January and June, with the equity allocation falling to 32.2% of risk-adjusted assets from 35.3% at the end of December.Hanna Hiidenpalo, director and CIO of Elo, said: “During the first half of the year, Elo’s investment income remained at a good level despite the strong movements on the equity and fixed income markets during the second quarter.”There had been no significant change in the return level at the end of June from that in March, she said.