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Issey Miyake, Japanese Fashion Designer, Dies at 84

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TOKYO — Issey Miyake, the Japanese designer famed for his pleated style of clothing and cult perfumes, and whose name became a global byword for cutting-edge fashion in the 1980s, died on Friday in Tokyo. He was 84.

The death was announced on Tuesday by the Miyake Design Studio, which said the cause was liver cancer.

Mr. Miyake is perhaps best known for his micro pleating, which he first unveiled in 1988 but has lately enjoyed a surge in popularity among a new and younger consumer base.

His proprietary heat treating system meant that the accordionlike pleats in his designs could be machine washed, would never lose their shape and offered the ease of loungewear. He also produced the black turtleneck that became part of the signature look of Steve Jobs, the Apple co-founder.

His Bao Bao bag, made from mesh fabric layered with small colorful triangles of polyvinyl, has long been an accessory of choice for creative industries.

Released in 1993, Pleats Please, a line of clothing featuring waterfalls of razor-sharp pleats, became his most recognizable look.

Mr. Miyake’s designs appeared everywhere from factory floors — he designed a uniform for workers at the Japanese electronics giant Sony — to dance floors. His insistence that clothing was a form of design was considered avant-garde in the early years of his career, and he had notable collaborations with photographers and architects. His designs found their way onto the 1982 cover of Artforum — unheard-of for a fashion designer at the time — and into the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Mr. Miyake was feted in Japan for creating a global brand that contributed to the country’s efforts to build itself into an international destination for fashion and pop culture. In 2010, he received the Order of Culture, the country’s highest honor for the arts.

Kazunaru Miyake was born on April 22, 1938. He walked with a pronounced limp, the result of surviving the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, his hometown, on Aug. 6, 1945. His mother died three years later from radiation poisoning.

Mr. Miyake rarely discussed that day — or other aspects of his personal history — “preferring to think of things that can be created, not destroyed, and that bring beauty and joy,” he wrote in a 2009 opinion piece in The New York Times.

He graduated in 1963 from Tama Art University in Tokyo, where he majored in design. After studying in Paris during the student protests of 1968, and a stint in New York, he founded the Miyake Design Studio in 1970. He was one of the first Japanese designers to show in Paris and was part of a revolutionary wave of designers that brought Japanese fashion to the rest of the world, opening the door for later contemporaries like Yohji Yamamoto and Rei Kawakubo.

He often stressed that he did not consider himself “a fashion designer.”

“Anything that’s ‘in fashion’ goes out of style too quickly. I don’t make fashion. I make clothes,” Mr. Miyake told the magazine Parisvoice in 1998.

“What I wanted to make wasn’t clothes that were only for people with money. It was things like jeans and T-shirts, things that were familiar to lots of people, easy to wash and easy to use,” he told the Japanese daily The Yomiuri Shimbun in a 2015 interview.

Still, he was perhaps best known as a designer whose styles combined the discipline of fashion with technology and art. His animating idea was that clothes should be made from one piece of fabric, and he pursued designs — such as his famous pleats — that incorporated new techniques and fabrics to accomplish that ambition.

There was no immediate information detailing Mr. Miyake’s survivors. A famously private person, the designer was known for his close relationships with his longtime co-workers and collaborators, whom he credited with being essential to his success. He was most closely associated with Midori Kitamura, who started as a fit model in his studio, worked with him for nearly 50 years and now serves as president of his design studio.

Throughout his life, “he never once stepped back from his love, the process of making things,” Mr. Miyake’s office said in a statement.

“I am most interested in people and the human form,” Mr. Miyake told The Times in 2014. “Clothing is the closest thing to all humans.”

Hikari Hida contributed reporting from Tokyo.

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One Step Closer to a Universal Flu Vaccine?

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Imagine a single dose of vaccine that prepares your body to fight every known strain of influenza — a so-called universal flu vaccine that scientists have been trying to create for decades.

A new study describes successful animal tests of just such a vaccine, offering hope that the country can be protected against future flu pandemics. Like the Covid vaccines made by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, the experimental flu vaccine relies on mRNA.

It is in early stages — tested only in mice and ferrets — but the vaccine provides important proof that a single shot could be used against an entire family of viruses. If the vaccine succeeds in people, the approach could be used against other virus families, perhaps including the coronavirus.

The vaccine would not replace annual flu shots but would provide a shield against severe disease and death from potential pandemic threats.

“There’s a real need for new influenza vaccines to provide protection against pandemic threats that are out there,” said Scott Hensley, an immunologist at the University of Pennsylvania who led the work.

“If there’s a new influenza pandemic tomorrow, if we had a vaccine like this that was widely employed before that pandemic, we might not have to shut everything down,” he said. He and his colleagues described the vaccine last week in the journal Science.

By the age of 5, most children have been infected with the flu multiple times and have gained some immunity — but only against the strains they have encountered.

“Our childhood exposures to influenza lay down long-lived immune memory that can be recalled later in life,” Dr. Hensley. But “we’re sort of living the rest of our life dependent on the random chance of whatever we got infected with as a kid.”

Current influenza vaccines protect against seasonal flu but would provide little protection against a new strain that may emerge as a pandemic threat. During the 2009 H1N1 swine flu pandemic, for example, the conventional vaccine offered little defense against the virus. But older adults who had been exposed to H1N1 strains in childhood developed only mild symptoms.

Scientists have long tried to create a vaccine that would introduce children to every possible strain of flu they may encounter later in life. But researchers have been constrained by technical hurdles and by the diversity of the flu virus.

Broadly speaking, there are 20 subgroups of influenza that each represent thousands of viruses. Current vaccines can target four subgroups at most. But the experimental vaccine contains all 20, and it would be faster to produce.

The vaccine elicited high levels of antibodies to all 20 flu subtypes in ferrets and mice, the researchers found — a finding that several experts said was unexpected and promising.

If the vaccine behaves similarly in people, “we’ll have a more broad coverage of influenza viruses — not only those that are circulating, but those that might spill over from the animal reservoir that might cause the next pandemic,” Alyson Kelvin, a vaccinologist at the University of Saskatchewan in Canada, said.

Packing 20 targets into one vaccine does have a downside: Antibody levels in the test animals were lower than when they were given vaccines aimed at individual strains. But the levels were still high enough to be effective against influenza.

Because a new pandemic strain of influenza might differ from the 20 targets included in the experimental vaccine, the researchers also tested it against viruses that were imperfectly matched. The vaccine still provided strong protection, suggesting that it would prevent at least severe illness, if not infection, from a novel pandemic flu virus.

This phenomenon is akin to that with the current Covid vaccines: Although the latest Omicron variants are so different from the ancestral virus that the original vaccine does not prevent infections, it continues to help safeguard most people against severe illness.

This quality may be a particular advantage of mRNA vaccines, Dr. Kelvin said. Conventional flu vaccines target only the specific viruses they are designed for. But mRNA vaccines seem to produce antibodies that defend the body against a broader range of viruses than those included.

The experts noted some important caveats and questions that must be answered before the vaccine becomes a viable candidate.

The animals in the study built defenses against all 20 flu strains equally. But “these animals have not seen flu before,” said Richard J. Webby, an expert in influenza viruses at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis.

Such a complete lack of immunity against flu is only true of very young children, Dr. Webby noted. Older people are exposed to many different strains over their lifetimes, and it’s not clear whether their immune responses to a universal vaccine would be quite so uniform.

“The proof of the pudding will be what happens when it goes into humans and how going into a preimmune population skews the response to it,” Dr. Webby said.

Designing universal vaccines for varying age groups, if necessary, would be a challenge. It would also be important to see how long protection from such a vaccine lasts, some experts said.

“The biggest issue about universal flu is what you need to target and how long you can continue to use the same vaccine,” Ted Ross, director of Global Vaccine Development at the Cleveland Clinic, said. “If you have to keep updating it, it may not increase the advantage of how we do vaccines today.”

The next step for the vaccine would be to test it in monkeys and in people. But proving its effectiveness might be challenging. “How do you evaluate and regulate a vaccine where their targets aren’t circulating, and so you can’t really show effectiveness?” Dr. Kelvin said.

Perhaps the vaccine could be tested in small sporadic outbreaks, or in poultry workers who are at risk of becoming infected with an avian flu virus, she said: “Those are questions that I think we need to answer before we have our next pandemic.”

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With Federal Aid on the Table, Utilities Shift to Embrace Climate Goals

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“I’ve spent too much time this last year flying in helicopters over areas of scorched earth,” Mr. Biden told them, referring to a rash of wildfires, blamed in part on climate change. “More territory is burned to the ground in the West Coast than the entire state of New Jersey in terms of square miles,” he added. “It’s just stunning. Absolutely stunning.”

Mr. Biden also let the assembled group know that he was well aware that many of them in the past were hardly ready to rally behind him, alluding to when he served as vice president during the Obama administration and also pushed, often in the face of industry opposition, for ambitious climate change measures.

During that period, utilities were secretly sending millions of dollars to a law firm that filed litigation on their behalf to block the Clean Power Plan, enacted during the Obama administration. They also made large donations to Republican attorneys general who filed their own lawsuits to overturn air pollution and climate rules.

E.E.I. members, in some cases, even organized their own sophisticated, but covert, political operations to try to block renewable energy mandates.

The owner of Arizona Public Service, the state’s largest electric utility, secretly donated more than $10 million to help elect state regulators who would sabotage renewable energy requirements it opposed.

The company denied for several years that it had played a role in the scheme, until the F.B.I. opened an investigation. The company was subpoenaed and then confessed in 2019 that it had bankrolled the dark-money push.

But despite that history of opposition to clean-air regulations, the industry in recent years has been abandoning coal, largely for economic reasons. Southern Company, which serves 4.4 million electric utility customers Georgia, Mississippi and Alabama, has long had one of the largest fleets of coal-burning power plants, and it waged an intense fight to protect them, including donations to climate change skeptics.

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U.S. weighs sending 100-mile strike weapon to Ukraine

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WASHINGTON – The Pentagon is considering a Boeing proposal to supply Ukraine with cheap, small precision bombs fitted onto abundantly available rockets, allowing Kyiv to strike far behind Russian lines as the West struggles to meet demand for more arms.

U.S. and allied military inventories are shrinking, and Ukraine faces an increasing need for more sophisticated weapons as the war drags on. Boeing’s proposed system, dubbed Ground-Launched Small Diameter Bomb (GLSDB), is one of about a half-dozen plans for getting new munitions into production for Ukraine and America’s Eastern European allies, industry sources said.

Although the United States has rebuffed requests for the 185-mile range ATACMS missile, the GLSDB’s 94-mile range would allow Ukraine to hit valuable military targets that have been out of reach and help it continue pressing its counterattacks by disrupting Russian rear areas.

Ukrainian service members look for and collect unexploded shells after a fight with a Russian raiding group in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv.
AFP via Getty Images

GLSDB could be delivered as early as spring 2023, according to a document reviewed by Reuters and three people familiar with the plan. It combines the GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb (SDB) with the M26 rocket motor, both of which are common in U.S. inventories.

Doug Bush, the U.S. Army’s chief weapons buyer, told reporters at the Pentagon last week the Army was also looking at accelerating production of 155 millimeter artillery shells – currently only manufactured at government facilities – by allowing defense contractors to build them.

The invasion of Ukraine drove up demand for American-made weapons and ammunition, while U.S. allies in Eastern Europe are “putting a lot of orders,” in for a range of arms as they supply Ukraine, Bush added.

The Pentagon was told last week the Army was considering at accelerating production of 155 millimeter artillery shells to supply to Ukraine.
The Pentagon was told last week the Army was considering at accelerating production of 155 millimeter artillery shells to supply to Ukraine.
AFP via Getty Images

“It’s about getting quantity at a cheap cost,” said Tom Karako, a weapons and security expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. He said falling U.S. inventories help explain the rush to get more arms now, saying stockpiles are “getting low relative to the levels we like to keep on hand and certainly to the levels we’re going to need to deter a China conflict.”

Karako also noted that the U.S. exit from Afghanistan left lots of air-dropped bombs available. They cannot be easily used with Ukrainian aircraft, but “in today’s context we should be looking for innovative ways to convert them to standoff capability.”

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