Sunshine Continues; Record Warmth Possible Monday And Tuesday

first_imgJAMESTOWN – The unseasonably warm weather continues through at least mid-week, with record highs possible for Monday and Tuesday. For Today, partly cloudy with highs around 70.Tonight, clear skies with lows in the upper-40’s. Both Monday and Tuesday will feature more sunshine and dry weather. Highs both days are projected to be in the lower-70’s. Temperature records maybe set both days. The record highs for Monday is 71 set in 2009, while the record high for Tuesday is 72 set in 1999.A cold front will pass by early Wednesday morning, allowing for rain showers and a rumble of thunder or two. Otherwise it will be mostly cloudy with highs in the low to mid-60’s.High pressure builds back in for Thursday and Friday and into next weekend. More dry Fall weather will return but with temperatures cooling to more seasonable feels with highs in the 50’sWNYNewsNow is a proud Ambassador for the NOAA Weather-Ready Nation program..Share:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Institution, U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum Presenting Online Program

first_imgShare:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window) US Holocaust Memorial Museum CHAUTAUQUA – Chautauqua Institution and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum have announced a jointly presented online program titled “The Tehran Children: Iran’s Unexpected & Suppressed Connection to the Holocaust,” inspired by Mikhal Dekel’s 2019 memoir Tehran Children: A Holocaust Refugee Odyssey. Dekel will participate in each segment of the two-part, 90-minute presentation, to air live beginning 7 p.m. EST Tuesday, Dec. 8, on the Institution’s CHQ Assembly video channel.A finalist for the 2020 Chautauqua Prize, Tehran Children tells the little-known story of the of the more than 1 million Polish Jews who fled the Nazis by traversing the Soviet Union, and in particular nearly 1,000 children who were evacuated to Iran. Dekel’s late father, Hannan Teitel, was one of these “Tehran Children”; the book is the culmination of her decade-long journey to understand the 13,000-mile odyssey at the core of his young adulthood — an experience which he never talked about, though it informed every aspect of his being.The program is part of the Museum’s Sardari Project, with IranWire.com. Today Iran’s leaders actively suppress and deny Holocaust history and spread antisemitic propaganda and conspiracy theories. As a result, Iranian citizens are largely unfamiliar with their country’s role during World War II. The first segment of the Dec. 8 program will be a panel discussion exploring Iran’s role in this lesser-known Jewish refugee rescue and how this discovery has the power to shape identity and transform the perspective of young Iranians. Dekel will be joined in conversation by Arash Azizi, a journalist with IranWire and former international editor of Kragozaran, an Iranian daily newspaper, and author of the new book The Shadow Commander: Soleimani, US, and Iran’s Global Ambitions. The discussion will be moderated by Dr. Edna Friedberg, a historian with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.The second segment, an Author’s Talk, will feature Dekel in conversation with Chautauqua Institution Director of Literary Arts Sony Ton-Aime on the power of the storyteller, how history and current events shape the writer’s identity and perspective, and, specific to Dekel’s life, how new knowledge has informed one Holocaust descendant’s identity.The two-part “Tehran Children” program will be presented among the complimentary offerings of Chautauqua’s CHQ Assembly platform. Audiences are invited to pre-register for the free program at tehranchildren.chq.org. Each segment of the program will conclude with a live audience Q-and-A.“Today we think of the Iranian regime’s Holocaust denial and antisemitism, but there is also a rarely told story about the Iranian people welcoming Jewish refugees during WWII,” said United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Director Sara J. Bloomfield. “Exploring lesser-known aspects of this history can challenge our assumptions which is what good education does.”“Chautauqua Institution is honored to reconnect with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, and to continue a partnership that began in 2018 when Sara Bloomfield delivered a stirring and poignant lecture in our Amphitheater. That lecture, during a week on ‘History and Memory in the 21st Century,’ has a clear and meaningful through line to this co-presented program on the Tehran Children,” said Michael E. Hill, president of Chautauqua Institution. “We at Chautauqua feel mission-bound to facilitate these important cross-cultural and historically minded conversations, as part of our exploration of the best in human values through civil dialogue. In our current political and societal moment, we are proud to provide opportunities for understanding, and we thank USHMM for their enthusiastic partnership.”last_img read more

U.K.’s National Theatre Announces Dates for Here Lies Love Transfer & More

first_img View Comments Finally, Robert Louis Stevenson’s story of murder, money and mutiny, Treasure Island, will play at the Olivier Theatre in a new adaptation by Bryony Lavery. Starring Patsy Ferran, the production will begin previews on December 3, with press night set for December 10, continuing in repertory. Directed by Polly Findlay, the show will be designed by Lizzie Clachan, with lighting by Bruno Poet, fight direction by Bret Yount, music and sound by Dan Jones and songs by John Tams. We now have dates for when the Dorfman Theatre at the U.K.’s National Theatre will be transformed into a pulsating club. The previously reported British transfer of David Byrne and Fatboy Slim’s Here Lies Love, the hit off-Broadway immersive theatrical event, will play September 30 through January 8, 2015. Opening night is set for October 13. The National’s upcoming season will also include David Hare’s Behind the Beautiful Forevers and Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island. Siobhan Finneran will star in 3 Winters, a new play by Tena Štivičić, directed by Howard Davies. The production will begin previews on November 26 and officially open in the Lyttelton Theatre on December 3, continuing in repertory. Set against a country, Croatia, in turmoil, 3 Winters creates the portrait of an eclectic family, held together by the courage to survive. The show will be designed by Tim Hatley with lighting design by James Farncombe, fight direction by Terry King, music by Dominic Muldowney, sound design by Mike Walker and projection design by Jon Driscoll. Show Closed This production ended its run on Jan. 3, 2015 Here Lies Love Conceived and directed by Lloyd Newson, John, a co-production between the National Theatre and DV8 Physical Theatre, will run October 30 through January 13 at the Lyttelton Theatre, with opening night set for November 4. A dance-theater work, the cast will feature Taylor Benjamin, Lee Boggess, Gabriel Castillo, Ian Garside, Ermira Goro, Garth Johnson, Hannes Langolf, Vivien Wood and Andi Xhuma. Set design will be by Anna Fleischle, lighting by Richard Godin and sound by Gareth Fry; the creative associate is Hannes Langolf. Related Shows Incoming National artistic director Rufus Norris will helm Hare’s Behind the Beautiful Forevers. Starring Meera Syal and based on the book by Katherine Boo, the production will open in the Olivier Theatre on November 18, with design by Katrina Lindsay, lighting by Paule Constable and sound by Paul Arditti. The show is based in an India surging with global ambition. But beyond the luxury hotels surrounding Mumbai airport lies a makeshift slum, full of people with plans of their own.last_img read more

Tickets Now On Sale for A.R. Gurney’s The Wayside Motor Inn Off-Broadway

first_img Related Shows Show Closed This production ended its run on Oct. 5, 2014 Outside Boston, ten people—some strangers, some not—struggle with the circumstances that have brought them to the Wayside Motor Inn. With old grudges and new feuds threatening the travelers’ peace, the play examines the tenuous space between loneliness and connection, and the fragile framework of the American Dream. Joining Kudisch as Vince will be Kelly AuCoin as Andy, Jon DeVries as Frank, Quincy Dunn-Baker as Ray, Rebecca Henderson as Ruth, Jenn Lyon as Sharon, Lizbeth Mackay as Jessie, David as Phil, Ismenia Mendes as Sally and Will Pullen as Mark. Tickets are now available to see Tony nominee Marc Kudisch and more in A.R. Gurney’s The Wayside Motor Inn off-Broadway. Directed by Lila Neugebauer, the show will run August 12 through September 21 in The Alice Griffin Jewel Box Theatre at The Pershing Square Signature Center. Opening night is set for September 4. View Comments The Wayside Motor Innlast_img read more

Tracey Ullman Loves Her Bovine Into the Woods Co-Star & More

first_img View Comments Tracey Ullman stopped by The Tonight Show on November 13 and revealed her favorite Into the Woods co-star. Her onscreen son Daniel Huttlestone? Nope. Three-time Academy Award winner Meryl Streep? Nah. It’s f**king Milky White. “I got to have a real cow,” the Emmy winner says. “My cow was lovely. She was called Tug…How can you eat them?!” Ullman, who plays Jack’s Mother in the highly anticipated film, was full of love, as she also praised the talents of her fellow castmates of The Band Wagon at City Center Encores!, including Brian Stokes Mitchell, Laura Osnes and Michael McKean. Take a look at the clips (including her account of the time she mistook Kanye West for a store worker) below!last_img read more

Hamilton Wins Big at OBIEs; Complete List of Honorees Announced

first_img Lin-Manuel Miranda View Comments Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Broadway-bound Hamilton continued its off-Broadway awards sweep at the 60th Annual OBIE Awards on May 18, picking up the night’s big prize, Best New American Theatre Work. The awards feature informal categories that change annually, recognizing excellence in off-Broadway and off-off-Broadway theater. As previously reported, Signature Theatre’s Founding Artistic Director James Houghton received the OBIE Award for Sustained Achievement. The ceremony at Webster Hall was hosted by OITNB’s OBIE Award-winning actress Lea DeLaria and presenters included Sting, Jesse Eisenberg, Stockard Channing, Billy Crudup, Tommy Tune, T.R. Knight, Tony Kushner and LaChanze.A complete list of awards follows:Best New American Theatre Work (includes $1,000 check)Hamilton by Lin-Manuel Miranda, choreography by Andy Blankenbuehler, direction by Thomas Kail, arrangements/orchestrations/music direction by Alex LacamoirePerformanceUsman Ally, The Invisible HandFirdous Bamji, Indian InkBrooke Bloom, You Got Older Stephen McKinley Henderson, Between Riverside and Crazy April Matthis, Sustained Excellence of PerformanceJohn Douglas Thompson, Tamburlaine & The Iceman ComethPlaywritingAyad Akhtar, The Invisible HandClare Barron, You Got OlderSuzan-Lori Parks, Father Comes Home From the Wars Parts I, II, & IIIDirectionTrip Cullman, Punk RockAnne Kauffman, Sustained Excellence of DirectionDarko Tresnjak, The KillerDesignAbigail DeVille, Prophetika: An OratorioChristine Jones, Sustained Excellence of Set DesignBen Stanton, Sustained Excellence of Lighting DesignJaphy Weideman, Sustained Excellence of Lighting DesignSpecial CitationsKate Benson (writer) and Lee Sunday Evans (director), A Beautiful Day in November on the Banks of the Greatest of the Great LakesBootycandy, writer/director Robert O’Hara, actors Philip James Brannon, Jessica Frances Dukes, Jesse Pennington, Benja Kay Thomas, Lance Coadie WilliamsCatch (performance series), Andrew Dinwiddie, Caleb Hammons, Jeff LarsonBridget Everett, Rock BottomBush Moukarzel and Dead Centre, LippyAndrew Schneider, YouarenowhereOBIE Grants ($2,500 to each theater)Horse Trade Theater Group / The Fire This Time FestivalJACK (Arts Center)The Ross Wetzsteon Award (includes $1,000 check)Ars NovaSustained Achievement AwardJames Houghtoncenter_img Star Fileslast_img read more

Kristin Chenoweth & Andrew Lippa to Present I Am Anne Hutchinson/I Am Harvey Milk

first_img Star Files View Comments Tony winner Kristin Chenoweth and composer Andrew Lippa are teaming up again to pay tribute to two American luminaries. The two will reprise Lippa’s I Am Harvey Milk on April 23 and 24, 2016 at the Music Center at Strathmore in Bethesda, Maryland; they previously performed the oratorio together last year at Lincoln Center. But this time, the event will also feature the world premiere of his newest work, I Am Anne Hutchinson.Part choral work and part theater piece, I Am Anne Hutchinson and I Am Harvey Milk explore the lives of two equal rights leaders: the 17th century pioneer of women’s rights and religious tolerance and the first openly gay man to hold public office in California .Chenoweth and Lippa have collaborated multiple times before, including the 1999 revival of You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, which won Chenoweth her Tony, and the recent Disney Channel movie Descendants, which taught us that a 4’11” Maleficent can be just as evil as an other villain.I Am Harvey Milk premiered in 2013 in San Francisco, featuring Lippa and Laura Benanti. Noah Himmelstein will return to direct I Am Anne Hutchinson/I Am Harvey Milk. Take a look at I Am Harvey Milk below.center_img Kristin Chenowethlast_img read more

Andy Karl & More Will Join Megan Hilty for Annie Get Your Gun at City Center

first_img View Comments Megan Hilty Star Files Andy Karl Two-time Tony nominee Andy Karl, Something Rotten!’s Brad Oscar, Tony winners Chuck Cooper and Judy Kaye, Ron Raines and more will join Megan Hilty for Annie Get Your Gun at New York City Center. The annual gala has also added an extra performance; it will now run on October 27 and 28. John Rando will direct the concert presentation.Karl takes on the role of Frank Butler opposite Hilty’s Annie Oakley. He received Tony nominations for his recent performances in On the Twentieth Century and Rocky. Cooper, who will play Pawnee Bill/Mr. Wilson, can currently be seen in Amazing Grace on Broadway; he won a Tony Award for The Life. Kaye received Tonys for her performances in Nice Work If You Can Get It and The Phantom of the Opera; she’ll take on the role of Dolly Tate in the concert presentation. Oscar will play Charlie; in addition to his Tony-nominated turn in Something Rotten!, he received a nod for The Producers and appeared in Big Fish, The Addams Family and more. Raines, who will play Buffalo Bill, received a Tony nomination for Follies and last appeared on Broadway in Annie.The ensemble will include Ward Billeisen, Sam Bolen, Laura D’Andre, Nicolas Dávila, Christine DiGiallonardo, Leah Horowitz, Miles Johnson, Andrea Jones-Sojola, Amy Justman, Patricia Noonan, Daniel Schwait and Nicholas Ward. Additional casting will be announced later.With a score by Irving Berlin and a book by Herbert and Dorothy Fields, Annie Get Your Gun is inspired by the true story of sharpshooter Annie Oakley and her relationship with Frank Butler. It originally premiered on Broadway in 1946 starring Ethel Merman and has been revived twice. The 1999 revival won Bernadette Peters a Tony Award. Coincidentally, Peters played Hilty’s mom in Smash.last_img read more

Original Stars Celebrate Les Miserables’ 30th Anniversary in London

first_imgThe West End production of Les Miserables hit a major milestone on October 8: a triumphant 30 years on the London stage. To celebrate the historical moment, members of the original company joined the current cast for a special gala performance at the Queen’s Theatre, and they seemed to be having a grand old time reuniting. Above, see Frances Ruffelle (original Eponine) and Patti LuPone (original Fantine) cuddle up to the man who has brought Les Miz’s story of resilience and redemption to millions: producer Cameron Mackintosh. The gala performance was more than just glitz and glam, by the way. It also served as a benefit to raise money for Save the Children Syria Children’s Appeal. See below for the great Colm Wilkinson (original Jean Valjean) taking a curtain call with the Les Miz company. Long live Les Miserables! View Commentslast_img read more

Odds & Ends: Release Date Set for The Wiz Live! Soundtrack & More

first_img View Comments Here’s a quick roundup of stories you may have missed today. Release Date Set for The Wiz Live! SoundtrackWe’re sure plans for your viewing party on December 3 are in full swing and now there’s even more to look forward to from The Wiz Live! team! The original soundtrack of the NBC Television event will drop digitally on December 11 and land in stores on December 18, courtesy of Sony Music Masterworks and Broadway Records; it’s also available for preorder right now. We can’t wait to ease on down the road with Shanice Williams, Queen Latifah, Mary J. Blige, NE-YO, Uzo Aduba and so many more!Cynthia Nixon is Motherstruck! (Again)More good off-Broadway news for Sex and the City star Cynthia Nixon. After her recent directorial project, Steve, extended, it’s been announced that the previously canceled MotherStruck! is back on. Nixon had been set to helm the Staceyann Chin vehicle before the world premiere was recently—and abruptly—postponed. Producers, including Rosie O’Donnell, have now confirmed that MotherStruck! will begin performances on December 4 at Culture Project’s Lynn Redgrave Theater, with opening night set for December 14.Mighty Real Aiming for BroadwayGet ready to funk…on Broadway? Mighty Real: A Fabulous Sylvester Musical, which recently ran off-Broadway, is eyeing a move to the Main Stem. A Kickstarter page has been established for the project, which features music by the legendary performer and a book by Anthony Wayne. We will keep you posted!Watch Melissa Errico at Home!Miss Melissa Errico’s show at Times Square hotspot Feinstein’s/54 Below, featuring quips, anecdotes and renditions of songs by Stephen Sondheim, Burt Bacharach, Stephen Schwartz and more? Never fear, you can watch the Tony nominee’s performance of What About Today?—Live at 54 Below at home! The first show from the venue to be released EVER on DVD by Broadway Records will drop on December 15.last_img read more

Nicolas Dromard Will Temporarily Step Into Broadway’s Jersey Boys

first_img from $59.00 Related Shows Star Files Jersey Boys is about to get a new man in town! Broadway.com has confirmed that Nicolas Dromard is set to board the Great White Way company of the long-running tuner on December 22. He will temporarily assume the role of Tommy DeVito through March 6, 2016, taking over for Richard H. Blake.Dromard has appeared as Tommy DeVito on the Jersey Boys first national tour. He made his Broadway debut in the 2002 production of Oklahoma!; his additional Main Stem credits include The Boy From Oz and Mary Poppins.Jersey Boys tells the story of how Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons went from being unknown New Jersey kids to international pop superstars. The show features over 30 hit songs, including “Sherry,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry” and “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You.”The Broadway production currently additionally stars Joseph Leo Bwarie as Frankie Valli, Quinn VanAntwerp as Bob Gaudio and Matt Bogart as Nick Massi. View Comments Jersey Boys Richard H. Blakelast_img read more

Rufus Sewell & More Tapped for Art in London

first_img Three friends and a white painting. Tony nomines Rufus Sewell and Paul Ritter, along with Tim Key, will star in Art at the Old Vic. Translated by Tony and Oscar winner Christopher Hampton, Tony-winning director Matthew Warchus has reunited the original creative team for the revival of Yasmina Reza’s acclaimed modern classic. The play will begin previews on December 10, and officially open in London on December 20.Sewell is set to take on the role of Serge. Tony nominated for Rock N’ Roll, additional stage credits include Closer, Old Times, Macbeth, Translations and Arcadia. His extensive screen work includes Victoria,The Man in the High Castle, Gods of Egypt, Hercules, The Sea, Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter, The Holiday, Amazing Grace, The Illusionist, A Knight’s Tale, Illuminata, Parade’s End, Taming of the Shrew Charles II, Middlemarch and Cold Comfort Farm.Ritter will appear as Marc; he received a Tony nod for The Norman Conquests. Other theater credits include The Audience, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time, The Hothouse and Coram Boy. Key is set to play Yvan; on stage he’s been seen in Tree. Screen credits include Midmorning Matters, Peep Show and the upcoming Foreign Bodies.The production will feature design by Mark Thompson, with lighting by Hugh Vanstone, sound by Mic Pool and music by Gary Yershon. View Comments Rufus Sewell(Photo: Charley Gallay/Getty Images)last_img read more

Lovebugs Chill.

first_img Photo: Joe Courson An early-October frost probably signaled the end of the semiannual plague of lovebugsin south Georgia.”That, and the fact that it’s been five-plus weeks since they started around hereshould pretty much do it for this year,” said Will Hudson, an entomologist with theUniversity of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. “Thequestion now is whether next year will continue the recent trend toward increasingpopulations in south Georgia.”This fall’s swarms of lovebugs were the biggest in years. They couldn’t go away toosoon for motorists. “I’ve traveled all over the country, and that’s the most bugsI’ve ever seen in my life,” said one traveler near Tifton, Ga. Lovebugs’ feeding isn’t a problem. But their mating flights above roadways make them a nuisance.center_img ‘Love’ on the WingLovebugs (Plecia neartictica) are small black and red flies. They have movedfrom Central America into states along the Gulf of Mexico. Getting their name from theircurious nature, lovebugs mate on the fly for about a day out of their two-day adult lives.”They stay coupled, mated for 12 to 15 hours at least,” Hudson said. The femalelays her eggs in the grass along roadsides and in pastures, and then dies.In late April and May, the eggs she laid in September and October hatch with smashingregularity, causing more hate than love among the humans passing by. Hudson said the cycleis something drivers just have to live with. If you sprayed a pesticide to get rid ofthem, he said, “you’d have to spray the entire grassy roadside area every two hoursfor several weeks.”‘Here to Stay’Obviously, getting rid of lovebugs altogether would be impractical, if not impossible,and environmentally unsound. “They’re here to stay,” Hudson said. “They’vemoved into the Southeast, and they like it very well.” Lovebugs aren’t all bad, hesaid. As small worms, they clean up the ground litter, eating a lot of dead leaves.last_img read more

Sentinel soybeans

first_imgBy Brad HaireUniversity of GeorgiaUniversity of Georgia farm experts will begin planting soybean plots throughout Georgia next month to act as early detectors for an aggressive crop disease first reported across the Southeast last fall.Asiatic soybean rust was reported in the United States in November. Tropical storms in September are believed to have picked up spores in South America and delivered them to Southeastern states.It was first reported in soybean research plots in Louisiana. Later, it was identified in farm fields in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Missouri, South Carolina and Tennessee.This year?The disease hit late in the 2004 growing season. It didn’t cause any damage to the crop. But Southeastern soybean farmers may not be as lucky this year, said Bob Kemerait, a plant pathologist with the UGA Extension Service.”It’s not guaranteed,” Kemerait said. “But it’s very likely that it will hit us this year.”Asiatic rust is a tropical fungal disease. Cold temperatures kill it. It probably didn’t survive Georgia’s winter, he said.”But it’s likely that it did survive in south Florida or in the Caribbean,” he said. “It could be reintroduced very quickly.”It’s carried by wind, he said, and can spread as fast as 300 miles a day. The disease attacks a plant’s leaves, reducing yields or killing the plant.Control earlyThe UGA Extension Service will monitor 15 to 20 plots on research stations and farms across Georgia, said Phil Jost, a UGA Extension agronomist.”We hope they will be like canaries in the mineshaft,” Jost said, “where we will detect the disease first on these plots before it’s picked up in growers’ fields.”The disease can be controlled with fungicides, he said. “But the key will be to control it on time and quickly.”Georgia growers usually don’t spray soybeans with fungicides. But they’ll have to, he said, if this disease gets in fields. But it’ll cost $20 to $30 per acre. This could eat up any profit for some farmers.”Soybeans have traditionally been a cheap and easy crop to grow for Georgia,” Jost said. “This rust changes both of those.”Soybeans are a more highly valued crop in the Midwest, where most of the U.S. crop is grown. Kemerait and Jost will coordinate and share information from Georgia’s Asiatic soybean rust monitoring program with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, other Southeastern states and research institutions in the Midwest. If the disease shows up, farm officials there can implement their control programs.Georgia farmers planted 270,000 acres of soybeans last year. But they’ll probably plant fewer acres this year, due to the rust threat and lower expected prices, Jost said.The disease can hurt other Georgia crops, such as snap beans and Southern, pole and English peas. But they’re not as susceptible as soybeans, said David Langston, a UGA Extension plant pathologist. If left unchecked, though, it could cause problems.Georgia’s pea and bean crop was worth $77 million in 2003. Snap beans accounted for about $60 million of that. Georgia ranks second in the United States in snap bean production. Most of Georgia’s snap beans are sold for fresh markets.Georgia farmers who plant peas and beans already spray their crops at least once for other fungal diseases, Langston said. This should also take care of Asiatic soybean rust.But farmers need to watch for the disease, he said, and be ready to respond with more fungal sprays if it gets a foothold in a field.last_img read more

Garden makeover

first_imgIs your garden looking sad and tired after the long winter? Learn how to give your garden a spring makeover on “Gardening in Georgia with Walter Reeves” April 23 and 26. “Gardening in Georgia” airs on Georgia Public Broadcasting stations across Georgia each Wednesday at 7 p.m. and Saturday at 12:30 and 6:30 p.m. The show is hosted by retired extension agent and Georgia gardening guru Walter Reeves.David Chambers from Callaway Gardens shows Reeves how to guard fruits and vegetables against spring cold weather. Looking for a springtime showy plant? Italian arum produces silver-veined leaves and spikes of red berries long before summertime plants show their true colors.Drought has made gardeners water-conscious. There’s a new twist on an old idea that makes it possible to conserve and keep the garden well-watered. He shows how to easily build a water barrel.Some plants look best in places difficult to access. He uses a drill and a vacuum cleaner to plant groundcover plants in between stepping stones.“Gardening in Georgia” is coproduced by the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and GPB. It’s underwritten by McCorkle Nurseries and the Georgia Urban Agriculture Council. To find out more about the show, visit the Web site www.gardeningingeoria.com. By Kristen PlankUniversity of Georgialast_img read more

Planting bulbs

first_imgBy Stephanie SchupskaUniversity of GeorgiaBulbs in bloom are one of the first signs of spring, but they won’t be adding color to your garden if you don’t plan for them. Now’s the time to thumb through catalogs, search Web sites or visit a garden center to buy bulbs, says University of Georgia Cooperative Extension horticulturist Paul Thomas.“Georgia is a great place to grow bulbs,” he said. “Most species on the market do well here, and they are drought tolerant.”Buying bulbs is the first step. The second is waiting for the right time to plant them. Thomas tells home gardeners in north Georgia to wait to plant bulbs until Oct. 1. In south Georgia below Cordele, he says that’s a good date to place bulbs temporarily in the refrigerator. Without the appliance’s help, many bulb species in this region of the state won’t get enough cold hours to bloom properly.Chilly bulbsNorth Georgians can also take advantage of the refrigerator method.“One of the tricks is to put the bulbs in a bag of moist peat moss and then put the bulbs in the vegetable crisper for about three weeks,” Thomas said. “Then you can put them in the coldest part of your frig or freezer, right next to the ice cubes.”On a nice warm day in December or January, take them out of cold storage and plant them in the cold sod in full sun. “You need to put them in the ground in December or early January because they still need to grow roots,” he said. “If they don’t, the flowers will die very quickly.”Mulch the bulbs with leaves, and water them in.Leaf blanketEvery year, Thomas notices bulbs that bloom way before spring has sprung. The reason for this, he said, is that the soil warms up too quickly and the bulbs think it’s time to start growing.To prevent this, bulbs need to be mulched each year with at least two inches of leaf litter. Thomas uses four to five inches of wet leaves and then takes the extra off in late February. For time-stressed gardeners, two inches is plenty, he said.Once the planted bulbs are covered with leaf litter, sprinkle bone meal over the top “nice and heavy,” Thomas said. It can also be added to holes and mixed into the soil when bulbs are planted. Bone meal provides bulbs with calcium and will leach through the mulch throughout the winter. In the spring, fertilize bulbs with 10-10-10 when the flowers are still in the bud stage. To keep from damaging the flowers, run a handful of fertilizer evenly on the ground between the plant’s foliage. Then water the fertilizer in thoroughly.“Adding fertilizer post-bud-break does wonders for daffodils,” he said. Much of the fertilizer added in the winter is lost to heavy rains and leaching so it’s better to wait until after the blooms form.Brown leavesGardeners with time on their hands will often braid leaves of bulbs, especially daffodils, that have bloomed out. “The leaves of most bulbs definitely do not look very nice after it warms up in Georgia,” Thomas said. Braiding does not hurt the leaves, but an easier solution is to cut the leaves to within an inch of the ground. Wait until the leaves turn yellow, or the bulb will not get all the nutrients it needs for next season.(Stephanie Schupska is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)last_img read more

Turfgrass in Olympics

first_imgThe University of Georgia turfgrass program in Tifton is linked to elite athletic programs across the country, but it’s caught the eye of international sporting officials as well. One variety being tested at the UGA Tifton Campus now is slated for the Olympic golf course in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 2016, when golf is re-introduced as an Olympic sport. Zeon Zoysia grass is a turfgrass variety developed by David Doguet and Blade Runner Farms in Poteet, TX, but it’s currently being tested on the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Tifton campus. Zeon Zoysia grass has attributes that make it easier to grow in warmer climates, and it is preferred by many golfers. “It has a stiffer leaf blade so the golf ball sits perfectly in the fairway. Golfers love it,” UGA turfgrass breeder Brian Schwartz said. Schwartz and Doguet formed a collaboration allowing Schwartz to research Zeon in Tifton, including the entire set of parent material that was used in its development.“In the rough, with taller mowing heights, the ball lie is actually different than in Bermuda grass,” Schwartz said. “It’s really rewarding if you hit your golf ball in the fairway. It’s pretty penalizing in the rough.”Golfers around the world will have a chance to test their skills on Zeon Zoysia during the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. This will be first time golf will be an Olympic event since 1904. Zeon Zoysia will be used on a newly constructed course. It possesses qualities highly sought after by both golfers and golf course superintendents.“Low maintenance is the big thing,” Doguet said. “It has high quality and very fine texture, but it’s very low maintenance, too; less fertilizer, less water, less chemicals. That’s what they were really attracted to — a high-quality surface without all the input.”The Olympic Committee selected Zeon Zoysia after visiting the Atlanta Athletic Club, where Zeon is used. Zeon, which is shade tolerant for rough areas and excels in the sun, is starting to be used more on golf courses, Schwartz said.Typically, Zeon Zoysia sod is more expensive and it can have different disease pressure than what is commonly seen in Bermudagrass. However, the long-term costs of growing Zeon are likely less than many other grasses because of its low input requirements. Doguet said that four years ago, he shipped Zeon Zoysia to a grower in Rio in small quantities to be expanded. It soon grew to half an acre. Once the project got established, it expanded more rapidly. Today, there are 25 acres of Zeon Zoysia grass being grown in Rio.“I think it’s the biggest turf project in the world, to be involved with the very first Olympic golf course. That’s an amazing feeling,” he said.For more information about the Tifton turfgrass breeding program, see the website at caes.uga.edu/about/hottopics/displayBrief.cfm?pn=Water%20and%20Drought&dn=water&pk_id=3758&Tifton%20Turfgrass%20Breedinglast_img read more

Ancient Find

first_imgAs a youngster, I was fascinated with the idea of becoming an archaeologist. I could not imagine a more romantic profession than the study of ancient cultures and sites. To practice finding clues at ancient sites, I would routinely bury my coin collection in plastic bags, make maps, then get my metal detector out and dig them up months later. I was not Indiana Jones, but I never lost my appreciation and sense of wonder about the people and animals that inhabited the Earth before I did.Last spring, my wife and I were expecting the arrival of our first child, Graham. My mind was continually preoccupied with what kind of parent I would be, what type of personality and interests Graham would have, and how that would influence his life into adolescence and, eventually, adulthood. Just a few weeks after Graham was born, I was taking a midday stroll in my freshly tilled garden. I jokingly refer to my garden as a “prehistoric parking lot,” given the never-ending supply of jagged granite stones I find. On this particular day, I was walking just after a rain, which is prime rock-harvesting time. My stroll, however, yielded more than handfuls of brown granite. Typically I only bend down to pick up bigger rocks found by my hoe or tiller, but at the end of one row, a small rock caught my eye through the rain-soaked soil.I reached for the burgundy-hued rock and was surprised to find an arrowhead about the size of a 50-cent piece. In the hours after my find, I wondered about this ancient tool and the person who crafted it. What kind of life did the person have? Was my garden the site of his or her hunting grounds, or perhaps where he or she brought game back to feed a family? Did this arrowhead yield successful nourishment?After finding the arrowhead, I was reminded of an oddly shaped stone that I found some months prior while planting muscadines. This particular stone was almost perfectly round, about 8 inches in diameter and no more than 2 inches thick at its widest point in the center. When I initially dug it up, I thought it was different and put it to the side, but never thought that it had some history and purpose to it. After finding the arrowhead, I suspected that this too might have been some tool used by people who lived on my 2 acres long before I did.Not knowing much about Native American relics, I sent some pictures off to Ervan Garrison of the University of Georgia’s Department of Anthropology. He reported back that what I thought was an arrowhead was much older than bow-and-arrow technology, and was in fact made a few thousand years before that technology. He explained that it was likely used with a spear-thrower or atlatl. He described the object as a corner-notch spear point from the Middle Archaic Period (5000-3000 B.C.).The round stone was not as easy to identify. Garrison did say that it appeared to be a grinding or polishing stone. A stone like this was likely used by a woman during food preparation or other daily tasks, he said.I was astounded and humbled to find these pieces of ancient history while performing the trivial task of picking up rocks in my garden. Finding these treasures has given me a greater connection to my garden and the early history of north Georgia. When Graham gets older, I plan to hide the point in the garden so that he can experience the thrill of discovering such a piece of history. I hope it will inspire him to value human history and the natural world and, selfishly, make him excited to pick up rocks in his dad’s garden.For help in identifying items, contact the UGA Laboratory of Archaeology at (706) 542-9234.last_img read more

Bullying Essay

first_img(Georgia 4-H’er Olivia Forrest recently won first place in the high school division of the University of Georgia Safe and Welcoming Schools project’s first Bullying Prevention Essay Contest. For her accomplishment, Forrest was awarded a $25 Amazon gift card. The following is her winning essay.)In manufacturing, there is a department called “quality control.” Their job is to examine parts and determine if the part was made correctly. If the part was not made correctly, it is rejected. Sometimes they work with the part to correct the flaws. Sometimes they throw it in the scrap heap. I was a rejected part due to my flaws. Most schools tossed me in the scrap heap. By the time I was 10 years old, I had attended eight schools. Students would do things to me to get a response, then deny it. My parents had no other options but to move until Doug Clark stepped in.Doug Clark was the principal at Belwood Elementary School in Calhoun, Georgia. He read my history and said, “I will take her.” He worked with me, my teachers and the school counselor to ensure my success. It was not a perfect school year. However, it was a successful school year. I completed the fifth grade.Middle school was very difficult for me. People provoked me to get a reaction. No one would believe my side of the story because I was an anomaly due to my temper. But Doug Clark said he had a place for me when he was hired to be the principal at Gordon Central High School in Calhoun.I was then home-schooled in order to be free from the bullying. Then I returned to public school because I knew that Doug Clark would be there for me.last_img read more

Pecan Dieback

first_imgNearly a year after thousands of trees were destroyed by Hurricane Michael, Georgia pecan producers are reporting the dieback of pecan branches and leaf burning in trees that survived the October 2018 storm, according to Lenny Wells, University of Georgia Cooperative Extension pecan specialist.The conditions, which are occurring in trees ranging from 2 to 15 years old, are not uncommon following storms that feature high winds, Wells said, attributing the problems to delayed hurricane damage.“The trees got knocked around so much in that storm, even if it didn’t blow them down, it shook them around enough that it broke some of those roots underground and they haven’t been able to regrow enough roots yet to support the growth that the tree is trying to make,” Wells said.Now that the temperatures have risen and the water demand has gone up, those trees are basically “in shock,” Wells said, and don’t have the roots they need to support them.Wells says growers whose trees are showing these symptoms need to improve the root to shoot ratio and keep the roots watered.“Growers need to cut some of the tree back and try to get the top of the tree back in line with what the roots can support,” he said. “The more severe the dieback, the more you need to cut the tree back. The worst trees may need to be cut back by half if the cambium is still green under the bark.”Wells has seen similar symptoms in older trees that were pushed down by high winds but stood back up and righted after the storm by farmers. When the trees were erected, the roots were broken on the other side of the tree. These trees had enough root to survive initially, but the combination of intense summer heat and high water demand led to their demise, he said.Scab diseaseWells has also fielded his share of calls regarding scab, a fungal disease that infects the leaves or nuts of pecan trees. If it hits early enough, scab can cause the pecan nuts to blacken and fall from the tree.After a late dry spell in May, Georgia has received adequate rainfall in June and July, which has increased instances of scab disease in some orchards.“It’s pretty rough so far this year. We’re seeing it on ‘Desirable’ and ‘Pawnee’. We’re starting to see it on some varieties we haven’t seen as much in years past, like ‘Stuart’,” Wells said. “The rain has certainly given us a lot of disease pressure and we’re at the point in the season where, if growers do have a crop, they can’t let up at all on those varieties that are susceptible.”Wells recommends growers space their spray treatments 10 days apart.For up-to-date information about Georgia’s pecan industry, see site.extension.uga.edu/pecan.last_img read more

Public hearings to address the budget

first_imgAhead of a June 2 special legislative session, legislative leaders and the Douglas Administration will hold public forums to inform the public about the budgetary issues. Douglas vetoed the $4.5 billion budget and has offered his own alternative. Before the Legislature would take up Douglas’ changes, it will first have to vote to sustain or override the veto. As with the gay marriage veto that the Legislature overrode in early April, the budget showdown could come down to a single vote.Public Hearings to Address BudgetWednesday, May 27Noon –1 pm, WillistonThe Governor will speak with businesses regarding budget challenges currently facing the state, and economic development opportunities, such as the Sales Tax Holiday and R&D Tax Credit.  He also wants to listen to their concerns and ideas and discuss strategies for putting the state on a fiscally sustainable path.This event will be held at noon at DEW Construction at 277 Blair Park Road in Williston.  No registration is needed to attend. 1 – 4 pm, Montpelier The House Ways and Means Committee and Senate Finance Committee, along with the Chairs of Appropriations and Education, will hold a public hearing from 1 – 4 p.m. in Room 11 at the State House regarding the Education Fund and tax proposals for this year’s budget.You can sign-up in advance to testify by contacting the Joint Fiscal office at 828-5767 and asking for Theresa, or by emailing tutton@leg.state.vt.us(link sends e-mail). Thursday, May 281– 4 pm, Montpelier The House and Senate Appropriations Committees, along with the Chairs of Ways and Means, Finance, Human Services, Health Care and Government Operations, will hold a public hearing from 1 – 4 pm in Room 11 on the governor’s proposal to make deeper General Fund cuts.You can sign-up in advance to testify by contacting the Joint Fiscal office at 828-5767 and asking for Theresa, or by emailing tutton@leg.state.vt.us(link sends e-mail).last_img read more

International Center for Captive Insurance Education finishes year in black

first_imgThe Bermuda Insurance Managers’ Association (BIMA) is again offering two full scholarships to the Associate in Captive Insurance (ACI) designation program. The scholarships will be announced in early June at the Bermuda Captive Conference. The following individuals recently completed the Associate in Captive Insurance (ACI) professional designation:Satyajeet Beekarry, PriceWaterhouseCoopers – Grand CaymanAmber Breaux, Alliant Insurance – TXTammy Chute, HSBC Bank (Cayman ) Limited – Grand CaymanJordan Cohen, Physicians’ Reciprocal Insurers – NYAudrey Dixon, HSBC Group – Cayman – Grand CaymanJesse Lussier, USA Risk Group – VTLynsey Marfleet, Aon Insurance Managers – Grand CaymanKristen Minton, Regions Insurance – ARJason Oswald, CNA Insurance – COGregory Petrowski, GPWA – AZLarry Prudhomme, GPWA – AZDaniel Seman, ALPS Corporation – MTTracy Stopford, USA Risk Group – VTTom Syzek, Premier – OHAmanda Wescott, USA Risk Group – VTLori Wind, Wilmington Trust – SC Housing Authority Insurance Group (HAIG) will again be providing the Harry House Scholarshipsreserved for minority students in a college or university risk management program. This opportunity will offer one student a complete ACI scholarship and an additional student will be awarded an individual course scholarship. New Courses and InstructorsICCIE continues to add more new electives to its stable of courses. The first new elective of 2011 is “Captive Board Governance,” which will be offered for the first time this month. Taught by John O’Brien, Wendy Fisher, and Tom McMahon, the course takes an in-depth look at corporate governance from the perspective of the Board of Directors. Both the Harry House Scholarship and the Distinguished Scholar Award will be announced at the VCIA 2011 conference in August. Recent ACI recipients ICCIE is also excited to announce that Derick White will soon be co-teaching (along with Chaz Lavelle) the core course “Forming and Operating a Captive.” The former long-time Vermont regulator, now with Strategic Risk Solutions, will debut in this role later this spring.center_img In another exciting development, ICCIE continues to partner with industry conferences for live seminar broadcasts. Following up on last October’s live webcast of a seminar panel from the Hawaii Captive Insurance Conference, ICCIE’s next live conference webcast will be from CICA on March 14th. “To FASB or to IASB” is the conference seminar to be webcast live and then rebroadcast the following morning. The panel will feature Joel Chansky and Magali Welch. Later in the year a 14th ICCIE course in development will be announced and taught for the first time. Both “Captive Board Governance” and the upcoming elective have been developed with the aid of a Next Generation (Act 46) Grant from the Vermont Department of Labor. The International Center for Captive Insurance Education (ICCIE), based in Burlington, closed the book on 2010 by finishing another year in the black – and by graduating 50 Associates in Captive Insurance (ACIs), bringing the total to date to nearly 200 industry professionals who have completed the captive industry’s only designation.Scholarships to ICCIE for 2011Several scholarships to ICCIE available in the past are again being offered in 2011. These opportunities are: John O’Brien                       Wendy Fisher                  Tom McMahon The Vermont Captive Insurance Association (VCIA) is the sponsor of the Distinguished Scholar Award, a full scholarship to the ACI program offered to a VCIA-member individual based on industry participation and community service.last_img read more

Seven Vermont towns get $1.3 million for new police hiring

first_imgHartford Police Department$182,324Milton Police Department$226,477Pittsford Police Department$212,742Rutland County Sheriff’s Department$153,110University of VT & State Agriculture College$204,501Vergennes Police Department$133,313Windsor Police Department$200,856Total:$1,313,323 Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Grants Awarded To Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) announced Wednesday that seven police departments across Vermont have been awarded grants through the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Hiring Program.  The grants total more than $1.3 million to help law enforcement departments hire officers. ‘The COPS program has helped Vermont communities keep officers on the streets, which helps keep all Vermonters safe,’ said Leahy.  ‘These grants have helped law enforcement departments in Vermont and across the country for nearly 20 years.  The COPS program is an important partnership between the federal government and state and local law enforcement, and I will be working in Congress to ensure that we maintain our commitment to this successful program.’ Vermont communities have received nearly $46 million in grants from the COPS program since 1994.  More than 285 officers have been hired across Vermont as a result of these grants.  Grants awarded through the COPS Hiring program allow law enforcement agencies to hire or re-hire career officers.  The grants provide 100 percent funding for approved entry-level salaries and benefits for three years for newly-hired officers, or for re-hired officers who have been laid off as a result of local budget cuts.  The COPS program began in the 1990s, helping to put more than 100,000 new officers on the streets.  Leahy has worked in recent years to secure funding for the COPS program after its budget was cut during the Bush administration.  In 2009, Leahy successfully included $4 billion in the economic stimulus package for state and local law enforcement programs, including $1 billion for the COPS program.  Law enforcement departments in Hartford, Milton, Pittsford, Rutland County, Vergennes, and Windsor have been awarded COPS grants.  The University of Vermont & State Agriculture College has also been awarded a grant. Leahy is the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.  In recent years, he has focused part of the Committee’s work on examining the federal partnership with state and local law enforcement agencies.  He has chaired a series of Committee hearings in Vermont to highlight the state’s successful, community-based approach to fighting crime. last_img read more

Ramtron ships custom F-RAM device built on IBM Burlington manufacturing line

first_imgGlobalFoundries,US semiconductor maker Ramtron International Corporation (Nasdaq: RMTR), a leading developer and supplier of low energy nonvolatile ferroelectric random access memory (F-RAM) and integrated semiconductor products, today announced that it has made initial customer deliveries of a custom designed F-RAM device built on its new IBM manufacturing line in Burlington, Vermont. In addition to 50,000 devices already shipped, the company expects to ship approximately 1.9 million devices over the next few quarters with a potential for significantly higher volumes in the future. The Ramtron-designed custom F-RAM devices are destined for use in generic printer cartridges.‘This milestone marks the first commercial shipment of 3-volt F-RAM devices built on our new F-RAM manufacturing line in Burlington,’ said Eric Balzer, Ramtron’s CEO. ‘In recent months, we have made significant progress toward improving the product yield on our new manufacturing line, which also bodes well for our recently introduced standard F-RAM products being built there.’ Also, in anticipation of its participation at the 14th Annual Needham Growth Conference and related investor meetings today and tomorrow (January 11 and 12, 2012), Ramtron today announced preliminary results for total revenues for its fiscal year ended December 31, 2011.Based on a review of Ramtron’s preliminary results, management expects to report fiscal year 2011 revenue of approximately $66.4 million. In addition, Ramtron believes that the company’s fourth-quarter results will allow it to achieve its previously published net income guidance of $0.02 to $0.05 per share for the second half of 2011. These results are preliminary and unaudited. The company plans to report its final results for the fourth quarter and fiscal 2011 on Thursday, February 16, 2012.On Thursday, January 12, 2012, Ramtron plans to present at the 14th Annual Needham Growth Conference at the New York Palace Hotel in New York. The presentation is currently scheduled for 10:00AM ET. Representing management will be Eric A. Balzer, Director and Chief Executive Officer. About Ramtron and F-RAM TechnologyRamtron International Corporation, headquartered in Colorado Springs, Colorado, is a fabless semiconductor company that designs, develops and markets specialized semiconductor memory and integrated semiconductor solutions used in a wide range of product applications and markets.Ramtron pioneered the integration of ferroelectric materials into semiconductor products that enabled a class of low energy nonvolatile memory, called ferroelectric random access memory, or F-RAM. Ramtron F-RAM products combine the high-speed performance of Random Access Memory (RAM) with high-integrity nonvolatile data storage, or the ability to save information without power. Since commercializing the technology, Ramtron has sold nearly a half-billion F-RAM devices into demanding applications such as automotive safety and entertainment systems, portable medical devices, industrial process control systems, smart electricity meters, and consumer printer cartridges. As the most power-efficient of any nonvolatile memory technology on the market, F-RAM products promise to pave the way for the development of ultra-efficient battery powered products and energy harvesting applications, among others. For more information, visit www.ramtron.com(link is external).COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo.–(BUSINESS WIRE)last_img read more

On the Blogs: Keeping Aging Coal Plant Online in Texas Will Cost $100 Million

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Rivard Report:CPS Energy‘s newest coal plant at Calaveras Lake operated at a $135 million loss in 2015 and 2016, according to a new report by a Massachusetts-based utility research firm. The report states that the public utility would save money if it closed the plant and instead invested in renewable energy sources – by purchasing power off the grid or building more of its own wind and solar capacity.“Furthermore, CPS Energy could lose $100 million more in the next few years if it continues current operations,” said Avi Allison, an economics expert and author of the report by Synapse Energy Economics, on Thursday. The firm’s report was commissioned by the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign, which seeks to replace coal-based power production with cleaner energy.But shutting down the plant southeast of San Antonio is not an option, CPS Energy officials said in response to the report, because it provides reliable, baseline energy that wind and solar cannot.“We don’t disagree with report’s overall perspective that the market is moving away from coal,” CPS Energy Chief Operating Officer Cris Eugster told the Rivard Report on Thursday. “The challenge of [retiring the plant] is if you shut it down, without energy storage, you can’t run a city on solar today.”The utility has made great strides in diversifying its energy portfolio, Eugster said, including next year’s shutdown of the older J.T. Deely 1 and 2 coal-fired units – 15 years ahead of schedule – instead of installing $550 million scrubbers. CPS Energy purchased a natural gas plant in 2010 to offset capacity loss from Deely.Seven years ago, 80% of electricity consumed by CPS Energy customers was from coal or nuclear power plants. By investing more in renewables, natural gas, and other sources, the 2016 energy portfolio is vastly different: about 30% nuclear, 27.6% coal, 24% natural gas, 10.6% wind, 2% solar, and 4.8% purchased power. CPS Energy also has been able to realize a 3% savings from energy efficiency and demand-response initiatives, Eugster said.CPS Energy acknowledges that the Spruce units cost more money than they produce energy, he said, but they are still needed to “bridge into renewables.”When demand can be covered by wind, solar, and other sources, the coal plant is dialed down. But peak load times when the wind isn’t blowing and the sun isn’t shining is when the coal plant needs to be ramped up, Eugster said. And the price of natural gas continues to be a factor.More: Coal Plant Losing Money, But CPS Energy is Keeping it – For Now On the Blogs: Keeping Aging Coal Plant Online in Texas Will Cost $100 Millionlast_img read more

More delays, cost increases for two East Coast natural gas pipelines

first_imgMore delays, cost increases for two East Coast natural gas pipelines FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享The Roanoke Times:The projected cost of building the Mountain Valley Pipeline has gone up by another half a billion dollars. And the expected completion date, most recently slated for mid-2020, has been pushed back to the end of that year.In an announcement Tuesday, Mountain Valley attributed the latest delay and revised cost estimate — now at between $5.3 billion and $5.5 billion — to “various legal and regulatory challenges.”When work began in February 2018, Mountain Valley said it would be done by the end of that year at a cost of $3.7 billion. Several delays and cost increases have been announced since then.As costs have risen steadily, some opponents have voiced hopes that investors will pull out of the joint venture, made up of five energy companies. But considering the amount of work that has already been completed on the pipeline’s route through West Virginia and Southwest Virginia, one financial analyst who has followed the project closely saw a “very low probability” of that happening.“I don’t think that EQM has any intention of giving up on this project, given how much capital has already been devoted,” said Josh Price, a senior energy analyst for Height Capital Markets, an investment banking firm in Washington, D.C.Still, construction has progressed faster than that of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, a similar project to the east that was approved at the same time by FERC. Led by Dominion Energy, the Atlantic Coast project has also encountered legal resistance from environmental groups. The cost for that three-state pipeline has gone up by about $3 billion, to $7.75 billion, and construction is running two years behind schedule, with completion delayed until late 2021.More: Another delay, cost increase for Mountain Valley Pipelinelast_img read more

Developers postpone planned plastics manufacturing facility in Ohio

first_imgDevelopers postpone planned plastics manufacturing facility in Ohio FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Inside Climate News:The developers of a proposed plastics manufacturing plant in Ohio on Friday indefinitely delayed a final decision on whether to proceed, citing economic uncertainties around the coronavirus pandemic.Their announcement was a blow to the Trump administration and local economic development officials, who envision a petrochemical hub along the Ohio River in Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.Environmental activists have opposed what they say would be heavily polluting installations and say bringing the petrochemical industry to this part of Appalachia is the wrong move for a region befouled for years by coal and steel.Thailand’s PTT Global Chemical America and South Korea’s Daelim Industrial have been planning major investments in the $5.7 billion plant, 60 miles southwest of Pittsburgh, for several years.On the site of a former coal-fired power plant, the facility would have turned abundant ethane from fracking in the Marcellus and Utica shale regions into ethylene and polyethylene, which are basic building blocks for all sorts of plastic products.In March, financial analysts with IHS Markit, a global information and data company, and the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA), a nonprofit think tank, agreed the project was in trouble even before the coronavirus began to shrink the global economy.  A global backlash against plastics, low prices and an oversupply of polyethylene, were all signs of troubling economic headwinds before Covid-19 sent world oil prices tumbling, disrupting the petrochemicals industry.[James Bruggers]More: Developers put a plastics plant in Ohio on indefinite hold, citing the Covid-19 pandemiclast_img read more

10 Lakeside Mountain Biking Loops Not to Miss This Summer

first_imgWe could list all the reasons we love mountain biking—the challenge of a long uphill, those heart-pounding downhill lines, the satisfaction of solving a technical section—but one reason rises above the others: the views. The views, the air, the outdoors. Surrounded by trees, riding a trail through ferns and boulders and briars to emerge on some ridgeline, some riverbank, some lakeshore. That moment is the payoff to a day of pedaling, so we found 10 lakeside trails that are worth every ounce of effort.Issaqueena ForestClemson Experimental Forest, Clemson, SCClemson University’s 17,500-acre experimental forest is laced with more than 100 miles of mountain biking trails and forest roads spread over three distinct areas. Make your way to Issaqueena Forest where 47 miles of trails await. You’ll find waterfalls just of the trail but biking the Issaqueena Lake Trail along the east side of the lake will reward you with some stunning views. Before you go, know this is a teaching forest and trails are built to study recreational design and use, so conditions vary, routes vary, and finding your way can be tough (bring a GPS).Paris Mountain State ParkGreenville, SCJust six miles north of Greenville, SC, (a cool town where it’s easy to quench your thirst and fill your belly) you’ll find Paris Mountain State Park and some of the top mountain biking trails in the Upcountry. Eleven miles of Intermediate-to-Difficult trails give you a taste of everything: switchbacks, technical climbs and downhills, steep sections, and ramps. Ride Brissy Ridge to Pipsissewa to North Lake for a 5-mile ride that will loop the lake. The only downside: since these are hiking-biking trails, it’s boots only on Saturday. The upside: you can ride Greenville’s popular Swamp Rabbit Trail on Saturday and never be far from a cold brew.rsz_1allegrippis_raystown_credit_aelandesBig Bear Lake Trail CenterBruceton Mills, WVThe reputation of Big Bear Lake Trail Center has been growing because within their 50 miles of trail you can put together a ride that introduces novice riders to the sport or challenges the most experienced rider in your group. In addition to the iconic singletrack cutting through thigh-high ferns, rock gardens, and brake-testing downhills, a couple of tracks skirt the edges of the namesake lake. If you’re into races and endurance events, keep these guys on your radar as they hold several throughout the year.Fort Yargo- biking-GeorgiaDepartmentofNaturalResourcesMountwood ParkWaverly, WVClose to 30-miles of singletrack trails cut courses through the valleys, ridges, and ravines that make up Mountwood Park. Lake Trail and Rat Snake Trail will have you pedaling alongside the 50-acre lake, while other rides—Trip to The Moon, Warrior Ridge, and Power Line—will challenge you with leg-burning uphills and switchbacks. Mark your calendars for their early-April Challenge at Mountwood but go ahead and start riding, consider it training for next year.Allegrippis TrailsHuntingdon, Pa.It’s no surprise that the Allegrippis Trails—ranked among the top mountain biking trails in the world by SingleTrack.com—appear on this list. The two-dozen trails in the system give riders 30 miles of trail to ride and combine any way they please. Raystowne Deer Trail gets you lakeside, but just about every trail has lake views. One thing that makes these trails excellent is access. Beginners will find the trails doable and challenging if they take them slow, and experts will find the trails ripe for lung-ripping rides. If you’re hitting the trail here and want a little warm up, check out the 2-acre Raystowne Mountain Bike Skills Park and stretch out or brush up on some neglected techniques.rsz_allegrippis_raystownlake_evanwheelie_credit_aelandesphotographyFort Yargo State ParkWinder, Ga.What can be better than a swim at the end of a long ride? Pedal the length of either the Yellow or Blue Trail at Fort Yargo State Park and you’ll earn that dip in the lake. Both trails carry you to the water’s edge and bring you uphill for even bigger views. Though each trail is rated as intermediate, Yellow is considerably easier and both the length of Blue (12 miles) and the section known as the “Monster Mile” will push the endurance of advanced riders.Tsali Recreation AreaBryson City, NCTsali is well known and technically the trails there only flank the edge of Fontana Lake (but we can forgive that, right? I mean, Fontana’s only got 240 miles of shoreline, so a loop would be a little time-consuming), but still, they offer a solid mix of challenging rides and pause-worthy views. Mouse Branch, Left Loop, and Thompson Loop Trails provide loads of waterside riding, while Right Loop gets you up on the ridge for long views of the lake and mountains. Access to these trails alternate between equestrian and mountain bikes, so two days here will cover all four trails.Issaqueena-creditTKTKKerr Scott TrailsWilkesboro, NCBuilt by mountain bikers for mountain bikers, the trails at Kerr Scott Reservoir in the North Carolina mountains are possibly the most challenging on the list. Three sets of trails—Dark Mountain, Overmountain Victory Trail, and Warrior Creek—offer up lake views along with their own quirks, pulse-quickening moments, and problems to solve. Warrior Creek follows the undulating shoreline of the reservoir and challenges riders with technical downhill and uphill sections. All of these trails are tough and Warrior Creek is by far the toughest, so come prepared for a big day.FountainheadTrail-flickr-scorchedearthPanther Creek State ParkMorristown, Tenn.Mountain Bikers will find 15 miles of trails along the shore of Cherokee Lake and along the lakeside hills in Tennessee’s Panther Creek State Park to be lovely and immensely rideable. That said, they are suited to Beginner-to-Intermediate riders, but experienced riders shouldn’t be discouraged by this, they should see it as an opportunity to bring a new rider along and show them why your love for mountain biking falls somewhere between passion and obsession.Panther Creek State Park_flickr_Simon (1)Fountainhead Regional ParkFairfax, Va.We’d be remiss if we didn’t’ mention Carvin’s Cove, the fantastic recreation area near Roanoke, Va., but since we know we’ll find so many readers on the trail there anyway, we thought we’d look elsewhere in Virginia for a killer lakeside Ride. Enter Fountainhead Regional Park in Fairfax. The trails here are bike-only; are riddled with rock gardens, wooden ramps and banked turns; have clearly marked alternate routes to guide beginners around technical or difficult features; and the loops here can be ridden in any order, giving experienced riders a challenging day in the saddle. At several points you’ll want to stop for a breather and to take in those views of the Occoquan Reservoir.Related Content:last_img read more

Get Tucker’d this Winter in Tucker County, West Virginia

first_imgHow will you Get Tucker’d this winter in Tucker County, West Virginia? With everything this high-mountain paradise has to offer throughout the season, it’s no wonder it has become the go-to destination for those who want to get the most out of winter.Snow sports in Tucker County are legendary, and with good reason. All the necessary natural ingredients are here in abundance to assure the ultimate winter playground. Snow, and lots of it, blankets the region amply in all its sparkling glory. The area’s premier resorts, Canaan Valley, Timberline, and Whitegrass are situated within five miles of each other and enjoy average snowfall ranges between 150 and 180 inches!  The lofty mountains embrace the sky with summits that exceed 4,260 feet.canaan-social-9Over 80 slopes and trails, eight lifts, terrain parks and a snowtubing park offer fun for every level of thrill seeker, from novice to expert and everything in between. At Canaan Valley Resort, downhill skiers and snowboarders of all levels love its 43 slopes and trails. With a vertical drop of 850 feet, adventurers of all ages enjoy snowboarding, skiing, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, ice skating and snow tubing.Timberline Resort offers some of the longest runs in the South, nearly two miles long. The resort’s 1,000-foot rise and 41 slopes and trails are evenly divided among easiest, intermediate and expert terrain. Skiers and boarders of all abilities, from snow angel to daredevil, have a satisfying way to get to the bottom.jes-04339For more than 30 years, White Grass Cross Country Touring Center has been offering cross country skiing, snowshoeing and telemarking. With a well-maintained 50-kiolmeter trail system, lessons are offered for all levels and specialties, and rentals are available for all types of cross country skiing and snowshoeing. Full moon night tours offer a breathtaking winter experience. Home to those iconic falls, Blackwater Falls State Park also offers cross country skiing and sledding. A conveyor transports riders to the top of the sled run before the thrilling ride down. The park also offers equipment rentals, a warming area and refreshments. Not geared up for snow sports? No problem! A wide selection of the latest gear is available for both sales and rental at the Driftland Ski and Sport in Davis. The Ski Barn in Canaan Valley also offers extensive equipment rental and sales and a staff of pros who know exactly what you need to make the most of your winter adventures. Don’t just get Tucker’d. Get wild at the Wild Things Weekend, March 4th – 5th, at Canaan Valley Resort. Head out to the slopes to enjoy family friendly activities, contests, and the Governor’s Cup Ski Race—the longest running ski race in the Southeast! The annual Snowy Luau, March 11th and 12th, at Timberline Ski Resort is one of the area’s favorite events. Contests, games, food, fireworks and ski races highlight this high-energy, family friendly festival. Don’t forget your favorite Hawaiian shirt!l5r_0870Winter in Tucker County is much more than snow sports. From diverse music performances and special events to legendary libation, it’s also a great place to play up an appetite and a thirst. There are plenty of local favorites to please the palate and warm the soul. The always-happening Purple Fiddle in Thomas offers great brews and live music in a lively atmosphere. Whether you need the warmth of a gourmet coffee or the invigorating bite of a Moscow Mule, the Tip Top Coffee Bar is always a good choice for a great time. Or sample some interesting brews at one of West Virginia’s largest full-scale microbreweries, Mountain State Brewing Company.canaan-social-20In nearby Davis, don’t miss Blackwater Brewing or a Holy Citra Double IPA at Stumptown Ales. An authentic taste of New York awaits at Sirianni’s Pizza Café, with mouthwatering pizza, pasta and sandwiches. As its name implies, Hellbender’s Burritos can conquer even the most serious appetite. Canaan Valley offers several great dining choices. Enjoy casual dining in a pleasant atmosphere at White Grass Café, or savor a homemade meal at Amelia’s Restaurant, featuring its own in-house pastry chef. And full-service dining by the fireplace at Canaan Valley Resort is always in good taste.img_6281Whether you’re staying the weekend or a week, lodging options are diverse and the hospitality is warm and inviting in Tucker County. Canaan Valley’s 160-room lodge offers luxury and great views, while cozy Bed and Breakfasts offer intimacy and charm. Or choose a quaint rental cabin or accommodating house, many with slope convenient slope access. If you decide to stay for life, there are six real estate agencies in Canaan Valley to help you find your new home in paradise. Visit GetTuckered.com or call 800-782-2775 to Get Tucker’d this winter.last_img read more

Your Synthetic Shirt Is Killing Ocean Life

first_imgSynthetic fabrics, a staple of the outdoor apparel industry, are ending up in oceans in the form of microplastics. Invisible to the the human eye, microplastics are tiny plastic fibers that shed from synthetic materials when cycling through the washing machine.Because of their size, microplastics are extremely difficult to filter out at wastewater treatment plants. In short, every time synthetic clothes are machine washed, microplastics are released into the water stream–polluting rivers and oceans across the globe. Often mistaken as food by fish, these long plastic fibers will wrap around fish’s internal organs and suffocate them, or will sometimes later make their way into the larger food chain. In 2011, ecologist Mark Browne released a groundbreaking study on the issue; he found that microfiber pollution had increased by 450% since the 1960s. When he contacted leading outdoor retailers such as Nike, Patagonia, and Polartec, to seek help researching the topic, no one agreed. Yet as more research comes to light, outdoor retailers are being forced to face the issue. In 2015, Patagonia commissioned University of California Santa Barbara to conduct a research project on the famed Patagonia fleece and its unfortunate capability to shed microplastics.Research found that a single fleece jacket sheds 250,000 synthetic fibers during a machine wash. Outside Magazine calculates that based on “an estimate of consumers across the world laundering 100,000 Patagonia jackets each year, the amount of fibers being released into public waterways is equivalent to the amount of plastic in up to 11,900 grocery bags.” The study also found that top loading washing machines loose five times more fibers than front loaders and that old jackets shed more than new ones. The outdoor industry is beginning to respond to microplastic pollution. Beyond commissioning the fleece research project, Patagonia has been working with Tersus Solutions, an innovative Colorado company, to create a washing machine that washes clothes with carbon dioxide instead of water.What to do while the outdoor industry catches up? Opt for clothing made of natural fibers and wash synthetics by hand.last_img read more

Summer Road Trips: For The Climbers

first_imgLocation: WEST VIRGINIADistance: 239 milesDriver: Deb SimonGuide, Hard Rock Climbing; Medical Trainer, Vertical Medicine ResourcesFayetteville, W.va.“My husband Bryan and I have traveled all over the U.S. and climbed all over the world and, from my standpoint at least, I think West Virginia is the best place in the world. The rock quality is the best, too, and the people of West Virginia are just really amazing souls. I’m honored to be able to call West Virginia home, and I think you’ll love it, too.”Day 1  |  0 miles | PrincetonSet off at the southernmost end of the state near Pipestem Resort State Park. Climbers looking to warm up with some bouldering and crowd-free crags should check out the climbing area at Bozoo, which is located on Shanklin’s Ferry Campground. The rock here is comprised of bullet hard patina, and even in the dead of summer, this shaded crag keeps impressively cool. Though there are a few sport and trad routes here, really it’s the 2.5 miles of boulders that most climbers come for. Overlooking the New River, this quiet bouldering oasis is a pretty sweet (and cheap) spot to post up for the night, too—it’s only $9 per night for groups of six or less—but if you forgot to bring food, you may need to press on to Fayetteville, as this crag is pretty far from any restaurants or grocery stores.Summersville LakeDay 2  |  75.9 miles | Princeton — FayettevilleRise and shine early to beat the heat (and the crowds) at the New River Gorge. Though by no means an off-the-beaten path climbing destination, the climbing in the area is vast and diverse enough that you can find ways to avoid long lines at the crag. Your best bet is to ask the awesome folks at Waterstone Outdoors. If you don’t have a guidebook, you can buy one here and also pick the brains of the many climbers on staff. The two guiding services in town, Hardrock Climbing and New River Mountain Guides, are also great resources and offer the whole gamut of customized climbing trips.Some of Deb’s favorite moderate trad routes in the New are Fantasy (5.8) and Black and Tan (5.10a) over at Endless Wall. For sport climbing, drive a little farther out of town to the Lower Meadow or Summersville Lake. The latter can get pretty crowded in the summer (and with good reason—who can pass up lakeside climbing on a hot day?) but some of the harder classics like Under the Milky Way (5.11d) tend to be less overrun compared to the moderate suite. Fortunately, even on a weekend you can find peaceful climbing at the Lower Meadow, which requires a good 10-minute hike in to reach. Some of the New’s classic routes are located here, like Doug Reed’s Toxic Hueco (5.11d) and Lynn Hill’s Greatest Show on Earth (5.13a, trad).After a hard day of climbing, head into Fayetteville for either gourmet pizza at Pies & Pints or stick-to-your-ribs sandwiches at Secret Sandwich Society. Most of the waiters and waitresses at any restaurant in the Ville are climbers, paddlers, and raft guides, so you can pretty much bank on your server having the lowdown on beta. Live tunes over at The Grove (located above Secret) are always a blast, and if you want to keep the party rollin’ after the show, pick up a six-pack of local beer from Studio B and head over to the New River Gorge American Alpine Club Campground ($20 per night for AAC members, $24 for Access Fund members, $30 for non-members). There’s always a campfire going at one of the big fire pits here, and it’s an easy place to pick up a climbing partner for the next day if you’re flying solo.Secret Sandwich SocietyDay 3  |  163 miles | Fayetteville — SenecaIt’s a long haul up through the entire state to Seneca, but if you came to climb West Virginia’s best, you’d be stupid not to make the drive up to the most iconic rock feature in the East. This mammoth flake of white Tuscarora quartzite juts out of the Monongahela National Forest like the back plates on a Stegosaurus. The summits here are exposed and out-of-this-world incredible, providing 360-degree views of practically undeveloped forest.If you’re new to town (or to climbing), pick up a guide with Seneca Rocks Mountain Guides, located inside The Gendarme climbing shop before setting out. Old Mans and Old Ladies is an easy 5.2 multipitch route that will make even newbies hooked on Seneca. Triple S (5.8) is Deb’s favorite though, so if you’re only in town for a day, find out why for yourself (spoiler alert: you better like stemming). Once you’re back on the ground, pay a visit to Harper’s Olde General Store & Front Porch Restaurant, where you can load back up on the calories and admire that beautiful hunk of rock you just climbed.last_img read more

Gangs and Gang Members: A Challenge To Public Safety In Central America

first_imgBy Dialogo March 04, 2009 Extracts of this interview were published in volume 19, number 1 of Diálogo, titled ‎‎“Gangs.”‎ Gangs have become a serious concern for governments as well as a source of fear for the ‎population. Retired General Álvaro Antonio Romero Salgado, Honduran Public Security ‎Minister and Secretary of the Honduran Chapter of Transparency International, spoke ‎about the proliferation of these groups in all social spheres, as well as the local and ‎regional initiatives to fight this problem.‎ *Are there any differences between “maras” and gangs?*‎ They do not like to be called maras, but prefer we call them gangs. They consider mara to ‎be a derogatory term, so we use it to irk them.‎ ‎*_Are they considered a subculture? _* ‎ Sociologists have identified them as a subculture. Why? Because they have a particular ‎way of speaking, identifying themselves and communicating, they dress a certain way, ‎and use specific tattoos. However, I think that all countries have subcultures, vestiges of ‎ancient civilizations, but they are positive subcultures; ones that are associated with ‎society, that are integrated, and proactive. I would classify this as a negative subculture, ‎in the sense that, although they integrate with society, they do it with a premeditated ‎focus on crime. ‎ Within this gang subculture we can distinguish different levels. This is the case with ‎white-collar maras, the ones involved in corruption. They debilitate their countries by ‎sucking the life of their employers and of society. Perhaps these do more damage than ‎maras, which are labeled as negative subcultures. Th[is] question is vital when one ‎speaks of subcultures because it is like a game of chess. In the opening of a chess match, ‎you know what can happen at the end. If a guerrilla is labeled a rebel, the government ‎must take actions against that classification.‎ When speaking about these subcultures, if we classify them as a negative subculture, the ‎state must respond by taking coercive action against them. Positive subcultures receive ‎support from international organizations and the support of the government; they form ‎part of development plans because they have remained stragglers. In fact, within gangs ‎and maras, very rarely do we find members of the subcultures from our society. You ‎won’t find a “tahuac,” or “mesquitos,” or the “negritos,” since they do not participate in ‎that kind of thing. One really sees that if we want to label [gangs] as a subculture, it has ‎to be a negative subculture involved in crime.‎ ‎*_Are white-collar maras linked to street maras? _*‎ It is difficult to identify white-collar maras. They move in high spheres, and there can be ‎some elements of those maras that have a legitimate function and position within an ‎agency. They may manage some areas of organized crime, such as the laundering of ‎assets. It is like a cancer; they really cause more damage, sometimes, because they are ‎killing a society. Now with the process of globalization, we see how such groups have ‎legal functions and agency positions, forcing us all to discriminate against most of ‎society. ‎ ‎*_Returning to the subject of maras, do you think that they are evolving or that they have ‎ties with organized crime? How about with terrorist organizations? _* ‎ ‎[This] is an evolving phenomenon; they are learning. These gangs were born from the ‎exodus of Central Americans caused by the political crisis. Most of them emigrated to the ‎United States. These children of guerrillas, or ex- guerrillas, were raised in a culture of ‎violence and were already predisposed to it. When they arrived in the U.S., they felt ‎isolated. The gang phenomenon grew out of loneliness, being without a family and ‎wanting to find kinship with someone. In addition, in the U.S., they endured the pressure ‎of the gangs that were already organized there; it was like a self-defense mechanism. But ‎after sating their feelings of vulnerability, they moved on to their economic problems. ‎They found the opportunity to administer regions, zones, and territories. ‎ The rest is common knowledge. After the policy of repatriation took effect, the gang ‎culture was introduced back into Central America. Maras are not native to Central ‎America, but are instead a phenomenon imported by those who emigrated to another ‎country. They learned their craft from orthodox gangs in the U.S., and their evolution has ‎been constant. Leadership was primarily maintained in the U.S.; they were like Central ‎American subsidiaries of U.S. organizations. But they have been evolving gradually and ‎they have their own recruiting systems. They have evolved into administrative roles. ‎ They are always involved in crime, and we believe that this evolutionary process can ‎eventually lead to the emergence of criminal tycoons and the control of sectors of ‎organized crime. ‎ We should be wary that this evolution may lead to long-term political aspirations and to ‎the joining of forces with organized crime due to the development of similar expectations ‎and interests. Organized crime would favor the creation of a ‘narco-state’ for their ‎purposes. If the interests of organized crime unite with the expectations of maras, then we ‎could see an evolution that would be very difficult to handle. ‎ But there is also an involution process. Where there is evolution, there is also involution. ‎Maras are disciplined, organized, secretive, and hierarchical, but in this process they can ‎evolve [and] make contact with elements of organized crime. If they move to this level, ‎gangs or maras will more than likely decrease, but they will be replaced with organized ‎crime. There will be much more violence. This is what is happening in many Mexican ‎cities. ‎ ‎*_What is the role of society and government in that evolution? _* ‎ I believe that government should use its investigative resources to constantly pursue all ‎types of maras and gangs. If they are aligned with other groups, it is fundamental that the ‎government remembers that groups like these should not be allowed to have political ‎expectations. We had a serious situation like that already in Central America. There was ‎an experience during the cold war of governments here facing guerrilla organizations that ‎were rural in nature. But the result of the cold war was that they became urban guerrillas. ‎This situation is very dangerous because urban wars are much bloodier than rural wars.‎ ‎*_Do you think that the community would support them if they decided to demonstrate a ‎political interest? _* ‎ It is fundamental that a strategy be developed at all levels of government with an ‎expectation against the institutionalization of crime. These groups must be watched very ‎closely in every possible way so that they do not become a serious problem for society.‎ ‎*_Is there a connection between the maras and organized crime? It has been said that ‎there is a link between the MS-18 and Mexican cartels. _* ‎ It is assumed that such a tie exists because crimes have been witnessed that involved the ‎participation of the maras. Some resolved crimes indicate the intervention of members of ‎the maras. But it is a very tenuous link. Why? If a gang member leaves any trace of his ‎involvement, it would lead law enforcement to the heads of organized crime. ‎ This tie has not been proven. But in fact there are some activities that seem to indicate ‎that the bond exists. However, organized crime is much more subtle and tends to favor its ‎own organizations, so that [if a gang member is investigated] by law enforcement, the ‎trail will not lead to organized crime.‎ ‎ ‎ Organized crime is more disciplined and has greater defined characteristics than gangs, ‎which are not subject to the same level of control. For example, drug trafficking –one of ‎the requirements of the organized drug business is that those in control do not consume ‎the drugs. Normally, a gang member is part of the drug chain and uses drugs. Organized ‎crime avoids this connection. We could say the same of the even more critical issue of ‎terrorism. The terrorist has ideological motives, whereas the gang member does not feel a ‎sense of commitment to the cause. To him it is just a way of life. The gang is his family.‎ He may be loyal to his gang but he does not have to be loyal to a drug trafficker or a ‎terrorist. If the link existed, it would be very weak, very subtle. I almost feel that they ‎could not be used, unless it is for terrorism within their own population. Gang members ‎sometimes commit acts of terrorism to instill fear, but normally it is to instill fear in those ‎whom they want to extort, always relevant to their lifestyle, but not due to loyalty to an ‎organization such as organized crime.‎ ‎*_How do maras in Honduras compare to their neighbors in El Salvador and Guatemala? ‎‎_*‎ When referring to maras, the total region is their turf. Honduras is a small section within ‎it. We have seen that Honduran maras have tried cutting ties with other regional groups. ‎If we compare the case of Honduras with other Central American countries, their rapid ‎growth is a clear indicator that they have been gaining momentum. They are equally ‎violent. They all commit atrocious crimes, but the growth in Honduras has been more ‎significant. ‎ International organizations have determined that in Honduras there are at least 70,000 ‎organized gang members and an equal amount of supporters. The case of Honduras has ‎been extreme. However, it is different from what happened in El Salvador, but remember ‎that the maras of El Salvador already were infected by the syndrome of war where they ‎lived. In their civil war, they had 80,000 dead. Many of those gang members are children ‎of those dead guerrillas who were left orphans. There, they are much more violent ‎because they have a military culture. They made their own weapons.‎ ‎ ‎ The phenomenon in Honduras, although quite widespread, was essentially an imitation.‎ ‎*_How is Honduras working with its neighbors to eradicate gang violence? _*‎ ‎ There is a regional organization called the Central American Integration System, or ‎SICA. This system of integration deals with the economy and social concerns, as well as ‎gang-related and similar issues. At the diplomatic level, the vice chancellor of the ‎republic of each country is responsible for setting up security conferences with the ‎undersecretaries of government and the undersecretaries of security, as is the case in ‎Honduras. They meet regularly. Certain indicators must be constantly re-evaluated to ‎determine how the process is evolving. ‎ But important decisions have also been reached. For example, communication between ‎countries is taking place in real-time. Interpol, which has already had an ample history in ‎Central America and in the rest of the continent, will communicate with far greater ease, ‎and this will allow us to inform other countries of what is happening. When a gang ‎member goes to a country and is captured in that country, we are immediately informed ‎and he is extradited. The extradition process is also working. ‎ The integration process is quite fast in Central America – they no longer require ‎immigration documents – and this allows gang members to speed up the process. Gang ‎members communicate with each other more easily than governments. This has ‎motivated us to find ways in which government institutions can act more quickly in ‎enforcing appropriate measures. The U.S. has supported a process known as the Mérida ‎Initiative. Decisions have also been made to create regional training centers, like the one ‎operating in El Salvador, allowing us to communicate more efficiently between countries. ‎ ‎*_How do you think the Mérida Initiative is going to help Honduras? _*‎ It is actually already helping. The U.S. has donated funds for this project, which have ‎been evenly distributed among Central American countries to carry out operations such as ‎permanent monitoring crime observatories. The Mérida Initiative has also ‎institutionalized a general operating procedure among Central American nations to fight ‎this type of crime. ‎ ‎*_What other types of initiatives does Honduras have in place to fight the problem of the ‎maras? _*‎ The needs are very extensive since it has been established in many countries that to ‎rehabilitate a gang member you need an average of four years in order to detoxify the ‎psychological distortions present in these young people. Very specialized centers are ‎required, equipped with sociologists, criminologists, and experts in reversing the damage ‎endured by most gang members. ‎ They have not only committed robberies. Their entrance tests [to gangs] involve ‎committing other crimes, and they continue doing so to reach different levels within the ‎hierarchy. They must commit more crimes. Their tattoos speak of that. These countries ‎are then faced with the dilemma of investing their small budgets in the process of ‎rehabilitation instead of all the other vital social issues that abound in society like ‎education, health, roads, agriculture, and migration. Since all these needs of society have ‎to be neglected to take care of 70,000 mara members, the political agenda has been to ‎promote organizations like the ONG’s and international aid. However, the needs are ‎quite extensive.‎ Honduras does not have any government-subsidized centers for rehabilitation or reform. ‎The maras that are captured are in prison. Although they are separate, we must remember ‎that there are maras like the Salvatrucha and the MS that are different and cannot be put ‎in the same category. In addition to that, we must note that some members are separating ‎from the maras. These individuals are referred to as the “pesetas”. The state should be ‎paying extra attention to them. The costs to take care of all that would be extremely high. ‎At this time, many of these needs are being covered by international organizations, [like] ‎the United Nations. We are beginning to see that private enterprises are getting involved, ‎particularly with homeless children considered at-risk. But these needs are too large for ‎the State.‎ ‎*_What about prevention? How difficult is it for the states with smaller budgets to invest ‎in prevention? _*‎ At least at the state level, we do have a prevention mechanism that is carried out as ‎community policing methods, sort of like the “prevention police”. This project is getting ‎very good results. Graduations have about 200 participants that have added up to 100,000 ‎graduates. The project is called Anti-Gangs, Anti-Sexual Harassment and is taught in ‎primary and secondary school. It is taught to the teachers and parents so that there is a ‎multiplying effect on the parents and families. They attend every Saturday to receive ‎education about maras, drugs and the exploitation of children. We cover regional capitals, ‎highly populated communities and primary and secondary education levels.‎ ‎*_What is the role of the police in the eradication of gangs? _*‎ The police have special statutes against maras. The state formulated a law against illicit ‎association that has been effective because it has served as a deterrent against these ‎sectors. The police also attempt to infiltrate these groups. ‎ It is a procedure using the same police or the same maras. It involves getting to know ‎them, to the point where they know their structures and then there are positive results ‎because taking this policy of approach with them lets them know their expectations. This ‎cannot be done if one does not really try to connect with them. The police do that, but we ‎also prefer that the organizations that interact with them (the maras) try to ascertain their ‎expectations. There are some that are non-recoverable. But there are others that ‎voluntarily accept that they must leave that system. ‎ I remember that President Diaz Ordaz of Mexico said a very important thing referring to ‎Communism: Adolescents who are communists are idiots, but those who continue being ‎communists after 20 are stupid. This is a phenomenon of imitation, an imitation of young ‎people. The police must watch young people. ‎ ‎*_As far as white-collar crime, what is being done to eradicate corruption? _*‎ The justice system is the best tool for this, but there are institutions that are dedicated to ‎that like Transparency International, of which I am the secretary. The approach is to ‎educate in order to eradicate corruption. Government officials need to respect the law and ‎serve the public with unbiased and fair treatment for all. ‎ As far as criminal prosecution, we still have not reached the capacity of other law ‎enforcement agencies in developed countries to infiltrate all white-collar crimes, for ‎example, money laundering. ‎ In addition, the state has the Superior Court of Accounts where each civil employee, ‎together with the general office of the public prosecutor of the republic, watches for ‎sudden, excessive growth of income; where people who had nothing to start with, ‎suddenly start making money. Everybody sees it, and they just say these are remittances ‎from the U.S., but how much can a young person send from the U.S.? He is expected to ‎send money to feed his family, for education, to buy land for a house, but it should not ‎reflect a sudden growth in income. Seeing that the growth of wealth is unusual they could ‎use this as a control mechanism, but nobody is following up on it.‎ Society always complains about justice not being efficient and that judges and public ‎prosecutors are easily compromised by organized crime. In fact, lately, there have been ‎many deaths of attorneys defending people accused of drug trafficking or organized ‎crime.‎ ‎*_Do regional efforts exist to avoid corruption? _*‎ We use the same procedures against petty criminals, gang members and organized crime. ‎We have this connection, a direct line of communication between countries. But policing ‎it is difficult to do: when an industrialist of one country receives funds from money ‎laundering and tries to use them in the economy of another country, that is very difficult ‎to catch. We have never detained anybody here for sheltering organized crime proceeds ‎from another country, but communication exists between law enforcement and justice ‎systems to figure out how to lessen this problem. The laws exist; it is just hard to enforce ‎them.‎ ‎*_In your position as Minister of Security, what progress did you see in the eradication of ‎violence? What lessons have you learned? _* ‎ A good diagnosis is needed. I have learned that security should not become politicized. ‎Politicized security breeds more insecurity. In addition, it creates suspicion. If a political ‎party uses the lack of security in its campaign as a step to gain power, it is safe to assume ‎that that party wishes for insecurity to motivate people to vote for them to protect them. ‎ My experience is that a national policy needs to be created – with the participation of ‎society and in particular of political organisms and leaders – against insecurity. It should ‎be both a medium and long-term policy. In the short term, we have security institutions ‎that are dedicated to this. It is my experience that promoting security it is vital to ‎establish a unanimous strategy in the form of a national project. ‎ ‎*_Do you have anything to add on the subject of gangs? _* ‎ Everything that we have spoken about is integral to the subject, but without strategy, all ‎those questions, although they are understood perfectly, do not solve anything. They say ‎that everything old is new again, but in the decades from the 1960s to 1989, a strategy ‎that the West used to be able to confront the threat of Communism was very effective ‎because it was very simple, comprehensible and feasible. ‎ First, development must be evenly distributed. Now, since everybody wants to use new ‎terms to modernize things; they call it integral development; it has been called ‎sustainable development, but it is the same thing– balanced development. I am referring ‎to the fair distribution of wealth among the people. And as we reach the point of balanced ‎development, we notice an evident departure from globalization, supported by neoliberal ‎capitalism. But, in the long run, this will reveal that there is a great concentration of ‎capital in the hands of a minority and a great majority that lives in poverty. This must be ‎evaluated correctly to develop a strategy. ‎ Second is the propagation of ideas. Culture and education must be promoted. Emphasis ‎needs to be placed on education because the world today is competitive and ‎technological. In countries like ours, still primarily rural, education does not reach ‎everybody. Our country has a 30% illiteracy rate, with a functional illiteracy rate of ‎‎50%, and perhaps a small minority has managed to rise above that and is at a competitive ‎level of the system. The movement of ideas is fundamental. But so is social mobility, so ‎that a farmer can receive an education and have the option to be involved in government ‎and thus he can then rise within the political system. If there is social mobility, there will ‎soon be a movement of capital. This way a single sector of society will not hold on to all ‎the capital and the tasks will be distributed. ‎ Finally, use of force is the third element. These elements must be clear to us and we must ‎learn the lessons of past wars and past conflicts. Military troops cannot be brought in to ‎solve a problem of a political nature. The lesson we learned from the Cold War is that ‎societies must understand that the police cannot be used to solve a social problem. There ‎must be consistency. The powers-that-be need to realize that deterrence cannot only be ‎achieved by law enforcement. It is necessary to eradicate a problem starting from the ‎bottom. Our tools to knock down this wall of insecurity should be the control of territory ‎and the fortification of moral values. Our educational goal in this aspect should simply be ‎to control mass media. Uncontrolled television has a large impact in societies like ours. ‎People think that it is the normal way of life. These are degrading systems that in the long ‎term produce more distortion in our society. ‎ The use of force is a general strategy abused by governments in past decades, which ‎brought about the triumph of capitalism. This comes hand in hand with the strategy of ‎institutionalization. Nothing should be done to make things easier for these groups. The ‎heroes of the young people are themselves young, able to easily promote themselves ‎within the media. They are not the Nobel prizes winners for peace or for medicine. The ‎media, in general, is promoting that young people, delinquents and those who exhibit ‎aggressive behaviors are the heroes of our time. They should not be permitted to promote ‎themselves with such ease. ‎ They must also be infiltrated, use the maras themselves as a means of internal ‎communication. It is also necessary to erase the legitimacy of those groups. In that sense, ‎I suggest one basic strategy (involving government support): the government must ‎prioritize the popular support of the people. Without the support of the people, the police ‎can do nothing. We see that the maras in order to survive must fight for a territory; just as ‎the state, they cannot exist in the air. The maras cannot act if they do not have territory. ‎The basis of all secure societies is to have control of a territory.‎ Society can have control of territory only if it is organized. When discussing security, one ‎should consider that the reverse of the coin of security is insecurity. Insecurity is an ‎indicator that tells us the degree of organization we have as a society. There is insecurity ‎because society is not controlled. There is insecurity because society does not control its ‎public spaces. We have allowed criminals to have access to public spaces. Honest citizens ‎live imprisoned in the isolation of their homes, while the gang members and the maras ‎have taken over the streets. ‎ Finally, we must reorganize our forces strategically. The government must emphasize the ‎use of very good intelligence. For the police forces, quality must become the priority, not ‎the number of police. There is one point within that strategy that is essential: the loyalty ‎of the police to the community. The police must really be an institution dedicated to ‎service. They must be valued by the community. If the government gives priority to ‎mobilizing the community against crime, the police must have the loyalty and ‎commitment of their people. If the police extort the population, if they have criminal ties, ‎if they have allowed organized crime to permeate, they will be shunned by the people. If ‎there is no harmony between the police and the people, we will never be able to gain ‎control of the territory. The fundamental requirement for criminals to be able to thrive, ‎especially maras, is territory. For that reason the primary fight must be over territory. ‎ ‎ ‎ Soon we would have what I call a cascade against delinquency. First, it is necessary to ‎knock them off their pedestals, so they are not the heroes of society. Second, it is ‎necessary to debilitate them. What sustains a gang? They must have human resources. It ‎is necessary to try to prevent young people from joining them. (You must have) a policy ‎of security that monopolizes the minds of young people so they are not attracted to gangs ‎and so there are other options for young people. What other thing sustains them? ‎Economic resources. ‎ After discrediting them, isolating them and debilitating them, it is necessary to start the ‎infiltration process. Then, to prosecute them, it is necessary to apply a law to them that is ‎powerful and place them behind bars, rehabilitate them and return them to society. Within ‎this policy we must be clear: society must understand that once they have gone through ‎the rehabilitation process, it is necessary to give them options so that they really find in ‎society the hope to live, to develop, to regenerate. If society does not accept them, they ‎return with more aggressiveness, to form other more aggressive gangs. ‎ ‎*_As far as the support of the community, do you think that the citizen roundtables are ‎improving the community’s perception of the government or government efforts toward ‎fixing the gang problem? _*‎ At least in our environment, the population thinks that matters concerning safety are ‎strictly the responsibility of the police and that it is nobody else’s obligation to contribute ‎to public safety. When I mentioned that the government must prioritize the support of the ‎people, I meant that we must look for the mechanism to earn that support. If there is no ‎security, it is because there is no organization. The citizen roundtables are not an ‎invention of Honduras. In the U.S., President Clinton used them in the various ‎neighborhoods and called it Project Safe Neighborhood; other communities refer to them ‎as a “Safer Community”. We call them Citizen Roundtables for Security and Citizens for ‎Security. ‎ The government project was meant to organize the two largest cities: Tegucigalpa and ‎San Pedro Sula. However, either due to a sudden awareness or the need of the population ‎to feel safe, having felt discouraged or intimidated, they began to unite. We started seeing ‎the emergence of youth roundtables in the schools aided by teachers to help protect ‎adolescents from drug dealers and gangs. A fundamental part of the citizen roundtables ‎for security was the study I did with the help of the European Economic Community, as ‎well as the U.S. government, of the real situation in Honduras. We reached the conclusion ‎that there was a permanent block: the police were rejected by the community; the police ‎did not have the complete confidence of the community. The first order of business was ‎therefore for the police to become closer to the community. ‎ Citizen roundtables help local police organize communities and establish relationships. ‎But this works both ways. It helps in controlling a community territory, but it also allows ‎the community to supervise police behavior. ‎ ‎ I believe that in both respects, citizen roundtables are garnering results because there are ‎law enforcement agents who believe that the community is working for them and not the ‎other way around. That is how you can tell. The goal was for the community to stop ‎fearing criminals and to stop fearing the authorities. In both cases it has worked.‎ ‎*_Regarding intelligence, are there police initiatives to improve intelligence? _*‎ In this area, we must improve our skills; deliver a strategy based more on quality than ‎quantity. During the period in which I was minister, we placed much emphasis on ‎improving the intelligence services. We require a law that allows a system of capturing ‎images, to be able to monitor the radio electronic airspace of organized crime. They ‎watch us. Members of organized crime will readily abandon a small plane (while) we in ‎the police do not have the capacity to buy a small plane. They abandon one a month. ‎ They have sophisticated satellite equipment and they use listening systems, in addition to ‎infiltrating the police. Our intelligence systems must be improved. When I spoke with ‎members of the DEA or law enforcement agents that work in the area of international ‎antiterrorism, I would say to them that by controlling the prisons, one can control ‎organized crime and the gang system. Likewise, it is necessary to allow them to ‎communicate but by using a system enabling us to intercept their conversations. It is ‎fundamental to have legislature in place allowing the intelligence services to listen in on ‎people. This has been an area of no compromise where citizens do not want to be ‎monitored, yet criminals can listen to us. ‎ For that reason, the improvement of the intelligence services is fundamental. In our case, ‎the preventive police analysis division was created to pursue and obtain practice and ‎experience with common criminals and gangs. Once they have learned, they are ‎transferred to specialized intelligence services so they can work with public prosecutors ‎and ultimately with the general directorate of criminal investigation, which is the highest ‎level. Now we do have a more standard procedure to produce and accept intelligence aid. ‎The U.S. gives us aid, but sometimes we do not have the technological capacity to ‎receive that aid. That is where the intelligence service must be ahead of the maras; the ‎intelligence service must be considered a priority. ‎ ‎_General Romero is professor of geopolitics at the School of National Defense of ‎Honduras and was Minister of Defense (1990-91). He served as Honduran Ambassador to ‎Nicaragua (1992-93), Presidential Chief of Staff (1994-98) and Minister of Public ‎Security (2006-2007)_‎last_img read more

Rebel video hounds Ecuador’s Correa

first_imgBy Dialogo July 21, 2009 BOGOTA (AP) 7/17/2009 — An hour-long video police found in a computer of an alleged rebel appears to confirm that Colombia’s largest rebel army gave money to the 2006 election campaign of President Rafael Correa of Ecuador. The video shows the second-ranking commander of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia reading the deathbed manifesto of founding leader Manuel “Sureshot” Marulanda. The manifesto states that the FARC made contributions to Correa’s campaign, but it’s possible that Correa wasn’t aware of them. The video, given to The Associated Press by a government official on condition of anonymity due to political sensitivity, adds weight to evidence found in a half-dozen electronic documents recovered at a rebel camp destroyed in a cross-border raid last year. Correa has accused Colombia of fabricating the documents, despite an investigation by the global police agency Interpol that determined they were not altered. The same rebel manifesto turned up on a different rebel computer recovered in October. But in the video it is read aloud by Jorge Briceno, a member of the FARC’s ruling secretariat and No. 2 commander, which will make it harder to deny. Ties between Colombia and neighboring Ecuador are deeply frayed, and the video is sure to complicate relations further. Colombia is outraged that the FARC, a leftist group on the U.S. State Department’s terror list, was operating out of Ecuador, allegedly with the support of that country’s leftist government. The State Department had no comment on the video. Ecuador broke diplomatic ties after Colombia crossed into its territory last year to raid the rebel camp. Attempts by the Organization of American States and the Carter Center to mediate the dispute have been stymied. Told of the video Friday, Ecuador’s security minister, Miguel Carvajal, denied that Correa’s government had “any relation in the campaign or has any relation with or contributions from groups such as the FARC, and certainly no type of accord.” Correa himself has repeatedly denied any ties to FARC. The video was found on a computer seized May 30 in the Bogota home of a suspected FARC operative, and finally decrypted last week. A senior Colombian prosecutor, anti-terrorism unit chief Hermes Ardila, confirmed that the video was found on one of three computers seized in the arrest of Adela Perez, 36 — “the secretariat’s key player in Bogota.” It shows Briceno reading from a laptop perched on a roughhewn shelf to about 250 somber-looking rebels in a jungle clearing. Briceno first informs the troops of Marulanda’s death and of changes in the rebel leadership. He reads from a missive from someone present when Marulanda died on March 26, 2008, at age 78, of an apparent heart attack. “We awake today with an immense solitude, so very sad. The comrade died yesterday, the 26th, at 18:20 hours,” Briceno reads. The faces of his young audience are grim. They look dumbstruck, distressed. At one point, Briceno pauses briefly and says, “What was that sound? A bomb?” He gets a negative reply from off camera. Briceno then turns to the sobering letter Marulanda wrote just days before his death. The letter stresses the strategic importance of “maintaining good political relations, friendship and confidence with the governments of Venezuela and Ecuador.” It is a grave reflection on devastating blows the FARC has suffered at the hands of the military in Colombia, which has received more than $4 billion in U.S. aid since 2000. It describes the “trophies of war” Colombia obtained when it killed the rebels’ foreign minister, Raul Reyes, and 24 other people in a March 1, 2008 raid on his jungle camp inside Ecuador. Marulanda laments that Colombia seized a trove of electronic documents that badly compromised the rebels and their foreign friends — namely, Correa and President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela. “The secrets of the FARC have been lost completely,” Briceno reads. Among those secrets is “assistance in dollars to Correa’s campaign and subsequent conversations with his emissaries,” the letter said. It mentions “some agreements, according to documents in the possession of all of us, that are very compromising regarding our ties with friends.” Marulanda’s letter does not say whether Correa personally knew of the money, and does not mention an amount. But it supports four other documents the Colombian government says it found on Reyes’ laptop that were allegedly written in late 2006 by FARC leaders discussing rebel payments of at least $100,000 to Correa’s campaign. It appears unlikely that the video could be fake. AP video experts found no signs of tampering. Also, Briceno is a known FARC leader with whom AP reporters had frequent contact from 1999-2002, and it is clearly him in the video. The Ecuadorean minister, Carvajal, told the AP that if the video is proven to be authentic, his government will want to know who the supposed emissaries are that established ties with the FARC “in the name of the (Correa) electoral campaign.” Late Friday, Ecuador’s foreign minister, Fander Falconi, announced the formation of a commission to investigate the allegations. Correa strongly denies receiving money from the FARC. He has argued that Reyes’ computer equipment could never have survived bombs that ripped apart his jungle camp. Despite revelations about ties to FARC, Correa was re-elected in April by a comfortable margin. Correa this month imposed stiff import tariffs on a broad range of Colombian goods including autos and beef, which will seriously affect Bogota’s $500 million in annual exports to Ecuador. The video, separated into 20 files on a Sony Vaio laptop, took more than a month to decrypt before the code was cracked July 10, said several government officials who spoke on condition they not be identified due to the matter’s sensitivity. The laptop’s owner, Perez, is jailed on charges of terrorism and criminal conspiracy, as the alleged leader of an urban cell engaged in extortion and bombings in the capital, Ardila said. The other two laptops found in her home contained intelligence on senior government officials, including Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, national police director Gen. Oscar Naranjo and Juan Manuel Santos, who as defense minister managed the raid into Ecuador, the officials added. An Ecuadorean prosecutor last month issued an arrest warrant for Santos on murder charges. Interpol refused, however, to circulate the warrant. Colombia’s government says it has no intention of handing over Santos. The Marulanda letter also was found on a laptop seized in a raid on a rebel camp in Putumayo state near the Ecuadorean border on Oct. 31, according to Colombian authorities. The AP obtained a copy of the letter the following month.last_img read more

Infraero Anticipates Investment of 6.48 Billion Reais in Brazilian Airports by 2014

first_img Airports in Brazil will receive 6.48 billion reais in investments between now and 2014, when the country will host the World Cup, Infraero superintendent Jonas Lopes said today, days after the country’s World Cup infrastructure was the target of criticism. Out of this total, which will come from Infraero (51%) and the federal government (49%), 5.4 billion reais will be invested in the fourteen airports serving the twelve World Cup host cities, the state-owned company announced. “According to studies commissioned by the Ministry of Defense, during the World Cup, the volume of passengers will increase approximately 10% over the estimated transit for the year,” Infraero said in a statement. The forecast for 2014 without the World Cup would be 26 million passengers, stated Lopes. At some airports, such as Guarulhos (São Paulo), Campinas (São Paulo), and Brasília, Infraero anticipates the installation of operational modules that will support efforts to meet the demand on those terminals. The airport situation is what is most worrisome for the competition that Brazil will host, according to the president of the Brazilian Soccer Confederation and the World Cup organizing committee, Ricardo Teixeira. Last week, in an interview in South Africa, Teixeira was not able to provide information regarding investment and said that the area was Infraero’s responsibility. However, FIFA’s general-secretary, Jerome Valcke, said that Brazil will be divided into “four regions to guarantee that fans will not have to travel for more than one or two hours between stadiums.” The idea is to avoid long trips for the teams between the twelve cities that will host the games: Belo Horizonte, Brasília, Cuiabá, Curitiba, Fortaleza, Manaus, Natal, Porto Alegre, Recife, Rio de Janeiro, Salvador, and São Paulo. By Dialogo July 16, 2010last_img read more

Guatemala Arrests 22 Members of Mexican Los Zetas Cartel

first_img Guatemalan security forces landed a heavy blow against one of the Mexican drug-trafficking cartels operating in the country when they detained twenty-two of its members, including the alleged leader in the area, the government announced. With the arrest of four alleged members of the Mexican paramilitary drug-trafficking group “Los Zetas,” the Guatemalan police crowned an operation that included the seizure of 239 rifles, twenty-eight all-terrain vehicles, five small planes, ammunition, and explosives, the Interior Ministry specified. The arrests and seizures took place after Guatemala decreed the suspension of constitutional guarantees, a day after placing the border department of Alta Verapaz, around two hundred kilometers north of the capital, under a state of emergency. Soldiers and police officers have been sent there to combat growing criminal activity by Mexican gangs. “These individuals were not preparing to confront the security forces; they were preparing to take over the country,” Guatemalan President Alvaro Colom told reporters after authorizing the emergency measures. Government reports indicate that “Los Zetas” were practically governing the area, appropriating rural properties and committing assaults and rapes. Those arrested include a former member of the Guatemalan military, José Armando León, once a member of the Kaibiles, an elite army unit trained for counterinsurgency operations and used during the prolonged civil war that the country suffered. The authorities suspect León of being the head of the group active in Alta Verapaz. Around eight hundred members of Los Zetas are believed to operate in Guatemala, a third of them Mexicans, according to official investigations. Although their chief area of influence is located in Alta Verapaz, the organization is calculated to have freedom of movement in about 75 percent of the country’s territory. Los Zetas, who originated ten years ago as a group of hitmen in the service of the Mexican Gulf Cartel, have become a criminal organization in themselves, with thousands of members and a strong presence in Central America. Analysts and high-ranking officials affirm that Mexican cartels are buying land, warehousing weapons, and contracting members of criminal networks throughout Central America to help them to transport and sell drugs. By Dialogo December 28, 2010last_img read more

Colombian National Army captures an ELN leader ‘Ernesto’

first_imgBy Dialogo October 03, 2014 For 18 years, an operative known as “Ernesto” worked his way up the ranks of the National Liberation Army and evaded capture by Colombian security forces. But his luck ran out on September 16, when soldiers with the Colombian National Army’s Second Division and agents with the Technical Investigation Corps (CTI) used intelligence to capture him in the town of San Pablo, in a rural region in the department of Bolivar. They also rescued a male juvenile, who soldiers suspect Ernesto of recruiting about six months earlier. Additionally, they recovered a fragmentation grenade, 34 rounds of ammunition of different calibers, and documents relating to operations the ELN is planning, according to Vanguardia. Ernesto is top lieutenant of ELN leader ‘Familia’ Army officials believe Ernesto, about 42 years old and a native of Remedios, Antioquia, is the second-in-command in the ELN’s Heroes and Martyrs of St. Rosa Front. That makes him the alleged right-hand man of an ELN commander known as “Familia,” who’s suspected of coordinating terrorist support networks and organizing schemes to extort mine owners, palm oil farmers, and other business people and inhabitants in San Pablo and Cantagallo, another town in Bolivar. Familia has also allegedly worked for the ELN as an explosives instructor. Ernesto, meanwhile, became Familia’s top lieutenant after security forces captured “Marcos Embalado” in February. At the time, Marcos Embalado was the leader of the ELN’s Heroes and Martyrs of St. Rosa Front. The ELN moved Ernesto from the rural areas of Antioquia to southern Bolívar to fill the position left vacant by the arrest of Marcos Embalado. Strong blow against the ELN: analyst On June 14, Colombian police captured Alfredo Hernández as he watched a World Cup match at his home in the department of Bolívar. Before he was captured, Hernández, who is also known as “Mocho” or “Elkin”, was the alleged leader of the ELN’s Luis José Solano Sepúlveda Front. On May 26, Army soldiers with the 16th Cavalry Unit, attached to the 16th Brigade, killed Rito Ramón Barreto, an ELN leader who was also known as “Llanero” or “Criollo”. Llanero was the second in command of the ELN’s José Adonay Ardila Front. A little more than a month before soldiers killed Llanero, on April 19, Army soldiers killed an ELN regional leader who was known as “El Pollo” during an operation in the department of Bolivar. On December 25, 2013, soldiers with the Nueva Granada Batallion captured “Nelson,” a high-ranking leader of the ELN’s Heroes and Martyrs of St. Rosa Front, which operates in the Las Pavas region of Simití, Bolívar. This most recent arrest is just the latest in series of captures or killings of ELN leaders during the last nine months: center_img “It is a strong blow to the ELN to lose a leader with as much experience as Ernesto has,” said Néstor Alfonso Rosanía, director of the Center for Security, Defense and International Affairs Studies (CESDAI), in Colombia. “However, the organizational structure will allow a new leader to arise quickly within the group…each leader has a second and even third line replacement in the wings, who are at the same structural level but never from the same geographical area. This minimizes the impact of casualties and arrests.” “The guerrilla forces in Colombia have a collegiate command structure. The authorities have struck a disheartening blow to ELN’s guerrilla fighters with this arrest, and the authorities will continue the fight.” Ernesto’s capture also removes from the ELN one of the terrorist group’s key recruiters of children. “The ELN is becoming ever more deeply involved in recruiting uneducated minors in rural areas…[it’s] a human rights violation, both domestically and internationally. Undoubtedly, Colombian judicial system will open a case against the former ELN leader on those charges; legally, they must charge him.” Security forces deal strong blows to the ELN These captures and killings have hampered the terrorist group’s ability to carry out attacks, and continue to protect the civilian population of Colombia. The public forces do more without making these captures public and working quietly without making such a fuss because after a few days these enemies of calmness in the regions won’t take revenge. Chek it out and you will see the results SUPER, IN FRONT THIS IS OUR NATIONAL ARMY I like getting news about these bandits when the authorities catch them, but even so, that terrible scourge has no end. May the Lord bless our heroes of the National Army and the police, who expose their lives to give the Colombian people a measure of peace. We think it’s excellent that the information reaches us in Colombialast_img read more

Seizing a ‘Transformational Moment’ in U.S.-Central America Relations

first_img“From our end,” responded Adm. Tidd, “we’ve already taken some initial steps to improve SOUTHCOM’s support to our government colleagues and to our partners throughout Central America. I’ve tasked our Joint Task Force Bravo to look at improving our common understanding and information sharing, so that we can better address the destabilizing operations, corruptive influence, and transregional reach of criminal networks.” CENTSEC is a multinational forum that brings together defense and security leaders from the United States and Central America to develop a common understanding of the operational environment; exchange ideas and perspectives; and identify opportunities to improve bilateral and multilateral security cooperation. Representatives from the armed and security forces of Belize, Chile, Colombia, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama; senior U.S. government representatives; and observers from regional organizations are in attendance at this year’s event. SOUTHCOM’s commander also said that the goal of the United States is to identify new, innovative opportunities to enhance security cooperation, improve interoperability, and better support partner nation efforts against new and old threats. “Let me know what obstacles remain, what we can do better, what still needs to be done, and what SOUTHCOM can do to help,” he added. “Our commitment is to being an equal and trusted partner.” Following Adm. Tidd, Costa Rican Minister of Public Security Luis Gustavo Mata said that his country and other participating nations were interested in hearing everyone’s thoughts on improving regional cooperation. “It’s important to break down barriers to information sharing and improved interoperability.” Minister Mata also reinforced the enduring strength of U.S.-Central America relations, building on the progress that has been achieved thus far, and identifying new opportunities for cooperation. Transnational threats According to SOUTHCOM’s new commander, “We are bound together by common hopes and a shared vision of a better future where our children can go to school without fearing the violence of drug traffickers and gangs, where our institutions are strong and resilient and impervious to corruption. This is both the promise and the potential of our shared home, and one that we look forward achieving together. This is our home, and we all have a shared responsibility to protect all of our citizens.” Brazil should be included in this program here…But, oh!, how everything this corrupt, communist dis-government supports does no good…naturally it wasn’t interested in something so important for all of us…I have high hopes that everything will change here in my country. In the late 2000s, Costa Rica went through what its former Deputy Minister for Justice and Peace Max Loría called “a crisis” when the homicide rate reached a record 11.5 killings per 100,000 residents, and cocaine seizures by the anti-drug police spiked. Yet crime never reached the levels seen in parts of the region. Even without a military, however, Costa Rica is tackling crime in the same way as its neighboring countries: by investing heavily in security and trying to equip the police with heavy arms. This is one of the reasons why Costa Rica decided to co-host this year’s Central American Security Conference (CENTSEC) on the second week of April. Costa Rican President Luiz Guillermo Solís Rivera was present for the opening ceremony. He thanked the United States for its support helping his country fight “the new threats, and to build a region where our countries can work together to create a hemisphere that is a beacon of peace, prosperity, and partnership in an increasingly insecure world.” President Rivera also said that his government, “is working with local municipalities to develop programs including conflict resolution and providing opportunities and job training for young people, …but Costa Rica’s security problems are largely due to the issues related to drug trafficking in the region.” On the topic of expanding the partnership efforts throughout the region, Adm. Tidd said that, “it’s time to seize a transformational moment in U.S.-Central America relations and be creative and bold in our ideas.” His goal for this year’s CENTSEC, he said, “is to identify additional opportunities to enhance our support to all of you, to find new ways to work together, whether by repurposing a multilateral exercise to improving our collective interoperability, or refocusing our ongoing Operation MARTILLO, or redoubling our information sharing efforts.” Because drug trafficking is a pan-regional problem, the theme for this year’s conference is “Promoting Security Cooperation against Transnational Threats”. During his opening remarks, U. S. Navy Admiral Kurt W. Tidd, commander of U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), co-sponsor of the conference, said, “I’m excited to be here for my first CENTSEC. While I’m still fairly new to the position of Commander of U.S. Southern Command [SOUTHCOM], I’m by no means new to working with our partners in this vital part of the world. From what I know, and from what I’ve learned over the past few months, I see tremendous opportunity to build on the significant progress we’ve made and continue to make confronting transnational threats.” By Dialogo April 08, 2016last_img read more

Costa Rican Coast Guard Receives Patrol Boats to Protect its Territorial Waters

first_imgBy Julieta Pelcastre/Diálogo August 19, 2016 To help prevent transnational organized-crime and drug-trafficking groups from using Costa Rica as a transit point for drugs, U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) will donate two renovated Island-class oceanic patrol boats to the Costa Rican National Coast Guard Service. The donation, valued at $19 million, includes new communications and navigation equipment, ship renovation, weapons, and training on how to operate and maintain the vessels. After his meeting with Costa Rican President Luis Guillermo Solís in San Jose, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL), William Brownfield, announced the donation on June 22nd. “This is the largest collaboration ever between SOUTHCOM and Costa Rica,” Costa Rican Public Security Minister Gustavo Mata Vega told Diálogo. “The vessels that the Ministry of Public Security’s National Coast Guard Service will receive next year will be the largest that will be used to combat drug and human trafficking, human smuggling, illegal fishing, and environmental crime in Costa Rican waters, which had never before been monitored due to the lack of capacity of the country’s fleet up to now.” Long-time negotiations Negotiations between the Costa Rican Government and SOUTHCOM began two years ago during a visit from then SOUTHCOM Commander, General John F. Kelly, when the United States and Costa Rica agreed that reinforcing the Coast Guard’s capabilities would be mutually beneficial to both nations. The boats will be more than 34 meters long with a displacement of 168 metric tons and will have an overall length (LOA) of 33.53 meters, a maximum draft of 2.32 meters, and a beam of 6.40 meters. The patrol boats have been in active service for the U.S. Coast Guard since the 1980s. As part of the acquisition, they will be completely renovated and fitted with next-generation communication and navigation equipment. Once work is complete, they will have the operational range and maritime capacity to patrol Costa Rica’s extensive maritime territorial and exclusive economic zone waters. “Acquiring these ships has been the top security related priority for the U.S. Embassy country team in Costa Rica for the past two years. Placing these ships in the hands of a proactive and professional force like the Costa Rican Coast Guard will undoubtedly benefit the entire region,” said U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel Daniel R. Fitch, deputy chief of the Office of Defense Representative in Costa Rica. “The realization of this donation is also a great example of what is possible when different agencies work together to accomplish one goal. In this case, the close collaboration between SOUTHCOM, INL, and the Costa Rican Ministry of Public Security was critical. The U.S. Department of Defense is donating the boats, Foreign Military Financing is funding the communications suite, weapons, and training support, INL is funding the refurbishment and spare parts package, and the Ministry of Public Security is increasing the Coast Guard by 110 sailors to man and support the vessels as well as increasing the Coast Guard’s maintenance budget,” explained Lt. Col. Fitch to Diálogo. Costa Rican sovereignty To operate the new vessels, a total of 40 sailors will undergo six months of training at a naval academy in Baltimore, Maryland. When training is concluded, the Costa Rican officers will sail the ships [“Juan Rafael Mora Porras” and “General José María Cañas”] to Costa Rica. The ships, each with a crew of 18 people, will allow Costa Rica to increase its presence and control of territorial waters from 1,200 kilometers to more than 5,500 kilometers in the Pacific Ocean. Those maritime areas are currently patrolled by U.S. frigates within the framework of the Joint-Patrol Convention between the two countries. Signed in 1999, the convention allows for highly coordinated patrols, the provision of information and equipment, professional officer training, and rescue operations. “We don’t want to be given the fish. What we want is to be given the fishing line to be able to reel in organized-crime organizations,” Mata Vega said. “We will continue working jointly with U.S. authorities to identify, detain, and inspect suspicious vessels.” Regional collaboration The Costa Rican Government recognized the support of the United States as another piece of the puzzle to finalize the commitment and the actions being developed with regard to security. The U.S. Government, in turn, indicated that the transfer of the two vessels would not have been possible without a firm commitment of the Costa Rican Government to provide the National Coast Guard Service with the resources it needs to operate the patrol boats. “This is an excellent example of what we can accomplish when our governments invest jointly in security. Costa Rica can be very proud of having intercepted more drugs at sea than almost any other country in the region,” Brownfield reported during a June 22nd press conference at the Presidential House. According to the Ministry of Public Security, security forces confiscated more than 13 metric tons of cocaine between January 1st and August 1st this year. Meanwhile, more than 19,000 tons of cocaine were confiscated in 2015, and 134 international criminal organizations were dismantled, according to the Costa Rican Drug Institute. Transshipment route Costa Rica has become a bridge for criminal groups. Drug traffickers are using small go-fast boats that are difficult to detect. Many of those depart from Ecuadorian and Colombian ports in the Pacific Ocean, traverse Ecuador’s Galapagos Islands, and continue on to Mexico and the United States through Cocos Island in Costa Rica. Drug traffickers usually unload and store cocaine in Costa Rica, with the intention of subsequently shipping the drugs to Guatemala, Mexico, the United States, and Europe. “The added range and capability of the ships will benefit the Costa Rican economy and environment by providing presence in Costa Rican waters where illegal fishing is prevalent. Moreover, the Coast Guard will disrupt established drug routes that pass through Costa Rican territorial waters, thereby protecting Costa Rican sovereignty and increasing collaboration with the Joint Interagency Task Force South.” explained Lt. Col. Fitch. In this context, SOUTHCOM has contributed to strengthening the maritime fleet and the installation of new police checkpoints on the Caribbean and Pacific coasts of Costa Rica. In January 2015, the U.S. Government donated six Eduardoño boats to the Ministry of Public Security to patrol the border checkpoint of Delta, in the province of Limón. The donation included spare parts for the six boats, two transmission devices, and six propellers with a total value of more than $1.1 million. “Thanks to SOUTHCOM’s cooperation, the National Coast Guard System will have a new Coast Guard Station in the port city of Golfito, Puntarenas, on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica starting in 2017. This project will cost $2.5 million because it includes two additional projects: a floating dock and a hangar,” Commissioner Martín Arias, director of the National Coast Guard Service, explained to Diálogo on April 14th. These donations, which are a key component of Costa Rica’s strategy for combatting criminal groups, also strengthen the cooperation and bonds of friendship between Costa Rica and SOUTHCOM. “SOUTHCOM identifies strongly with our nation’s cause, and that is rooted in several meetings we have had with SOUTHCOM’s high officials. We have cooperated more closely on defense matters, and we have tightened our bonds of friendship,” said Mata Vega. “Costa Rica has new announcements to make on this type of cooperation on the part of SOUTHCOM.” A hemispheric alliance is essential in the fight against crime. “We should be clear that no country will be able to win the fight against organized crime, criminal groups and terrorism on its own. It is important to establish alliances at the regional and international level where everyone acts as one in a number of areas so that we can continue working for the well-being of society,” concluded Mata Vega.last_img read more

US Southern Command Hosts Brazilian Chief of Defense

first_imgBy U.S. Southern Command July 25, 2019 Brazil’s top military leader met with U.S. Navy Admiral Craig S. Faller, SOUTHCOM commander, and other command leaders and experts to discuss the deepening and expanding cooperative defense ties between the Western Hemisphere’s two largest democracies.The U.S. and Brazilian armed forces enjoy longstanding ties, and defense cooperation between them includes a wide range of partnership activities, such as exercises, training, counter-proliferation and counter-narcotics cooperation, humanitarian assistance, reciprocal visits, personnel exchanges, and the sharing of information and expertise.In March, Brazil signed a partnership declaration with the New York National Guard, joining more than 80 nations participating in the State Partnership Program with the United States.“I’m pleased to welcome General Botelho to SOUTHCOM,” said Adm. Faller. “Brazil is a trusted security partner. This visit helps our nations take another important step in advancing our military relationship and expanding our defense partnership to support goals we share as neighbors committed to working together for a secure, stable, and peaceful region.”Brazil’s contributions to global security date back more than a century, when the country’s armed forces conducted convoy operations and security patrols with allied nations during World War I. Brazil also supported allied naval operations in the Atlantic and deployed an expeditionary force to Italy during World War II.Today, the Brazilian armed forces’ legacy as a committed security partner continues to grow as they take on new leadership roles promoting security cooperation, building regional capacity, and supporting security and stability in the western hemisphere and in other regions, like the continent of Africa.In February, Brazil’s Navy hosted U.S. Navy medics during a month-long riverine medical mission aboard a Brazilian Navy hospital ship. The mission helped doctors gain invaluable experience and expertise in tropical medicine, as well as treatment of patients in austere conditions unique to the Amazon. The U.S. medical teams were also able to use and share expertise on the use of new medical technologies as they collaborated to care for and treat more than 800 patients.Brazil helped provide medical assistance to patients when the U.S. Navy Hospital Ship USNS Comfort deployed to the region in 2018 and is supporting the ship’s current mission, which completed stops in Ecuador and Peru.Gen. Botelho, the first Brazilian Air Force general to assume duties as chief of Defense, returned to SOUTHCOM after visiting the command in 2016 to discuss bilateral cooperation between the U.S. and Brazilian air forces.This year, Brazil will host the Atlantic and amphibious phases of UNITAS, the world’s longest running, multinational maritime security exercise. Brazil was among nine nations that participated in the first iteration of the exercise in 1960.SOUTHCOM is one of the nation’s six geographically focused unified commands with responsibility for U.S. military operations in the Caribbean, Central America, and South America, as well as security cooperation with defense and public-security forces in the region.last_img read more

US: Venezuela A Global Crisis Requiring A Global Solution

first_imgBy Luis Alberto Facal / Voice of America / edited by Diálogo Staff December 11, 2019 The crisis in Venezuela is urgent and must be given a sense of urgency, said Carol Thompson O’Connell, principal deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, on October 31.“When almost 5 million people have been forcibly displaced and have had to flee their country to find the basic necessities of life, shelters, food, water, security, there is nothing that can describe it, but urgency to face the political situation in Venezuela,” Thompson O’Connell said.The official spoke at a telephonic press briefing about the results of the International Solidarity Conference on the Venezuelan Refugee and Migrant Crisis, held in Brussels October 28-29.“Countries in the region have been dealing with this crisis for months, and at times for years. They have done a phenomenal job in helping Venezuelan refugees and migrants. But the rest of the world must understand the magnitude of this crisis and must understand that this is not just a regional crisis. It’s a crisis that affects the countries of the rest of the world and should be treated as such,” said Thompson O’Connell.The State Department official said the United States is proud to lead worldwide efforts to provide humanitarian assistance. During  fiscal year 2019, the U.S. government contributed nearly $9.3 billion to support humanitarian crises, she said.“When I was in Brussels, I announced an additional $10 billion in economic and development assistance that will provide treatment for HIV, critical vaccinations, and support for activities to counter human trafficking,” Thompson O’Connell added.The aid comes in addition to the nearly $119 million in humanitarian assistance for Venezuela U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced in late September.The U.S. government’s total response to the crisis involves more than $650 million, of which almost $473 million goes to humanitarian assistance to save the lives of people affected and to promote stability in Venezuela and the region, the U.S. official said.The United States has been the largest financial contributor to the Venezuelan crisis.“Almost 4.5 million Venezuelans have escaped from Venezuela due to the actions of the Maduro regime,” she said.The United States has said it is working with international and nongovernmental partners to complement the efforts of governments that receive Venezuelan refugees.“Our system also increases the original capacity of the asylum authority and provides legal support to Venezuelans seeking asylum. The program also helps Venezuelans to integrate into the communities that host them by finding them employment and access to education and health care,” said Thompson O’Connell.She stressed that during her recent visit to Colombia, she was able to see her assistants in action, caring for Venezuelan refugees who had arrived in the country. “I met with children in Colombia who have been able to go to school and receive an education, because access to education provides hope, and it helps children find stability and normalcy in very difficult situations.”She also thanked European partners for their response to the crisis, and urged them to increase their support for the Venezuelan people, in response to the “tyranny of the Maduro regime.”“This is a global crisis that requires a global solution,” she added.The Brussels conference, she said, “demonstrates that Europeans are focused on this problem and are willing to consider new ways to try to solve the crisis Maduro caused.”last_img read more

US: Terrorist Incidents in Venezuela Reflect Growing ELN Presence

first_imgBy Voice of America (VOA)/Edited by Diálogo Staff July 23, 2020 Terrorist incidents in Venezuela in 2019 reflected the growing presence and territorial control of the National Liberation Army (ELN, in Spanish), the U.S. Department of State said in its annual report presented June 24.The report shows an increase in confrontations between the ELN, other Colombian and Venezuelan illegal armed groups, and Venezuelan government forces.In its report, the U.S. Department of State stresses that there were no changes in Venezuelan anti-terrorist laws in 2019.Border security at ports of entry was vulnerable and susceptible to corruption,” the report added.In addition, the Department of State highlights that the Juan Guaidó government worked with regional partners to invoke the Interamerican Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance (also known as the Rio Treaty) in September to address the Maduro regime’s illegal activities, including terrorism and its financing.U.S. sanctions Iranian ships’ captains for delivering oil to VenezuelaU.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that the United States was sanctioning five Iranian ship captains who had delivered oil to Venezuela.Pompeo also told the press that the United States continues to support Interim President Juan Guaidó.Washington and most governments in the Western Hemisphere have recognized Guaidó as the nation’s legitimate leader.“Great advances” in the fight against terrorismIn 2019, the United States and its partners made great advances to defeat and dismantle international terrorist organizations, according to the June 24 report.The Department of State’s report on terrorism added that, throughout the year, several countries in Western Europe and South America joined the United States in designating Iran-backed Hezbollah as a terrorist organization in its entirety.In 2019, Argentina, Kosovo, Paraguay, and the United Kingdom joined the United States in designating Hezbollah as a terrorist organization, rejecting the false distinction between its “military wing” and an alleged “political wing.”last_img read more

SOUTHCOM, South American Defense Leaders Meet Virtually to Discuss Partnering During Pandemic

first_imgBy U.S. Southern Command Public Affairs/Edited by Diálogo Staff August 31, 2020 U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) hosted defense leaders from South America August 27 during the first virtual South America Defense Conference (SOUTHDEC), focused on how to strengthen defense partnerships in a pandemic environment.The command invited chiefs of Defense from Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, Paraguay, Suriname, and Uruguay to the annual conference, as well as Defense leaders from Canada, French Guiana, Spain, and the United Kingdom.U.S. Navy Admiral Craig Faller, SOUTHCOM commander, hosted the forum. He was joined by U.S. leaders and security experts from the Department of Defense, Department of State, Department of Homeland Security, and the William J. Perry Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies.SOUTHCOM sponsors this annual regional conference to facilitate an open and candid dialogue between the region’s top military leaders. The leaders share security cooperation ideas, perspectives, expertise and experiences, as they seek to improve their collective understanding of regional threats and security challenges.This year, SOUTHDEC’s participants discussed their support of the region’s ongoing response to the pandemic and law enforcement-led operations against transnational criminal organizations.Since March, SOUTHCOM has worked with partner nations in South America, Central America, and the Caribbean to support their COVID-19 response and mitigation efforts. Under its Humanitarian Assistance Program, the command has purchased and donated supplies, equipment and other vital resources to support the efforts of 28 nations.“We have extended that enduring hand of friendship […] with humanitarian assistance donations now totaling around $17 million across 300 projects to help friends in need,” Adm. Faller said.In April, the White House announced the start of SOUTHCOM-led enhanced counternarcotics operations to degrade the capabilities of drug trafficking organizations, save lives, and directly support its National Drug Control Strategy. To date, the internationally supported enhanced operations, along with Colombia’s Operation Orion V, have helped law enforcement authorities disrupt or seize more than 154 metric tons of cocaine and more than 40,000 pounds of marijuana, a loss of more than $4 billion in criminal profits for transnational criminal organizations.last_img read more

Chinese Technology Helps Maduro ‘Control’ Venezuelans

first_imgBy Voice of America (VOA)/Edited by Diálogo Staff September 08, 2020 A U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations report, accusing China of promoting an authoritarian atmosphere in cyberspace, says that the Venezuelan regime has taken full advantage of China’s hardware and services to control Venezuelans.The report, commissioned by Democrat Senator Bob Menéndez, says that Venezuela owns internet and mobile network equipment, intelligent monitoring systems, and face recognition technology that has been developed and set up by Chinese companies.Government officials have also traveled to China to take part in information management seminars.“The regime,” the report says, “uses these technologies to censor and control its critics by blocking social media platforms and political content, using pro-regime commentators to manipulate online discussions, stifling content critical of Maduro, increasing surveillance of citizens, tracking and detaining government critics, and accessing the data of human rights organizations.”According to the document, the Chinese telecommunications company ZTE has helped the Nicolás Maduro regime to create the Venezuelan Fatherland Card, something critics have said is used to exert tougher social control over the population.According to employees of the institution in charge of the card system, the database stores birthdates, family, employment and income, private property, medical history, state benefits, social media presence, political party affiliation, and voting records.ZTE has also supported Maduro in building six emergency response centers in larger cities and in centralizing the government’s video surveillance.The Menéndez reportThe Senate Committee on Foreign Relations requested the report, which was signed by Menéndez and prepared after reviewing documentation and interviewing former government officials and nongovernmental experts.The report documents how the Chinese government creates a legal framework to strengthen the Communist Party’s manipulation of tools of “digital authoritarianism” to export it abroad.“The People’s Republic of China is pressing forward […] to build and expand digital authoritarianism through economic, political, diplomatic, and coercive means at home and abroad,” the 61-page document says.last_img read more

Board of Governors adopts 2001-02 Bar budget

first_img April 15, 2001 Regular News Board of Governors adopts 2001-02 Bar budget Members’ comments soughtThe 2001-02 Bar budget, with the first increase in Bar members’ annual membership fees in 11 years, has passed its initial review with the Board of Governors. The board approved the budget at its March 30 meeting in Melbourne, and will consider any changes, including objections from Bar members, at its May 11 meeting. Following action at that meeting, the fiscal plan will be submitted to the Supreme Court for its review. The new budget will improve the Bar’s balance sheet, according to incoming Budget Committee Chair William Kalish, who presented the figures to the board. “The budget we have approved will take our $9 million in reserves to $11 million,” he said. “It will enhance the financial stability of the Bar so we won’t need a fee increase for a substantial amount of time.” The last increase in annual fees came with the Bar’s 1990-91 budget. Both Kalish and current Budget Committee member Jesse Diner have said that the increase in annual membership fees was needed because the Bar has increasingly been using reserves the last two years to a point where it is not fiscally responsible to continue to do so. Annual fees for active Bar members will increase from $190 to $265 and for inactive members from $140 to $190. According to figures presented to the board, Bar revenues for the current year are projected at $25 million with a potential shortfall of $1.7 million. For the 2001-02 budget, revenues will rise to just over $30 million, with an expected surplus of around $2 million. The largest part of that increase will come from annual fees, where income is expected to rise from $13 million in 2000-01 to $18.3 million in the new budget. The largest expenditure will continue to be on regulation of the practice of law activities, which is expected to cost $10.7 million this year and $11.5 million for 2001-02. Those functions include the grievance system, ethics, lawyer advertising, professionalism, and the Bar’s Membership Records office. Added to that are the unlicensed practice of law activities budgeted at $1.2 million for the current year and $1.3 million next year. One notable change is an increase in the amount of membership fees going to the Clients’ Security Fund. That has been increased from $15 to $25 per member. That will increase the total contribution from members from $983,310 this year to $1.35 million next year. The CLE programs are expected to cost $2.5 million next year, up $100,000 from this year. Income is projected to drop slightly, from $3.1 million to just under $3 million. The Bar’s public information, Journal, and News operations are budgeted at $3.5 million next year, down from almost $4 million in the 2000-01 budget. Sales for advertising for the Journal and News are projected at $2 million next year, compared with $2.1 million this year. A complete breakdown of the proposed budget appeared in an official notice in the April 1 Bar News, on pages 18-19. Those wishing to file comments or objections to the 2001-02 budget should send them to: Executive Director, The Florida Bar, 651 E. Jefferson Street, Tallahassee, FL 32399-2300. Comments should be received by the morning of May 10. Board of Governors adopts 2001-02 Bar budgetlast_img read more

Section sets seminar focusing on federal commercial cases

first_img August 15, 2002 Regular News Section sets seminar focusing on federal commercial cases Section sets seminar focusing on federal commercial casescenter_img The Florida Bar Business Law Section will present “Advice From the Experts: Successful Strategies for Winning Commercial Cases in Federal Courts.” September 27 at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Miami.The CLE program will feature a panel of four federal judges, three former federal judges, and 15 well-known commercial litigators giving practical advice and strategies for winning business and commercial cases in federal courts.The program will begin with discussion of the strategic issues involved in choosing the proper forum, investigation of a case, and motion practice. The next topics will be the effective handling of depositions, document discovery, interrogatories and requests for admissions, as well as general discovery strategy. Also covered will be ethics and professionalism.The program will proceed with discussion of techniques that are effective in commercial trials — including a separate segment on pretrial conferences and procedures. Evidence and the use of expert witnesses will also be covered in detail. The program concludes with discussion of damages and appeals.The moderator is Robert L. Haig of New York City. The speakers include United States District Judges Alan S. Gold, Paul C. Huck, Adalberto J. Jordan, and Donald M. Middlebrooks; former federal judges Edward B. Davis, Joseph W. Hatchett, and Thomas E. Scott; and litigators Jose I. Astigarraga, Barry R. Davidson, Alvin B. Davis, Ervin A. Gonzalez, Alice G. Hector, Robert C. Josefsberg, Maxine M. Long, Stephen Mahle, Harry A. Payton, David L. Ross, Brian F. Spector, Marty Steinberg, C. Thomas Tew, Harley S. Tropin, and Stanley H. Wakshlag.As part of the program, all registrants will receive a copy of the six-volume treatise Business And Commercial Litigation in Federal Courts and two diskettes containing forms and jury instructions.The program fee is $265 for Business Law Section members and $280 for nonmembers. This course has been approved for 6.5 hours of CLE credit, including. 5 hours of ethics credit. For reservations, call (800) 342-8060.last_img read more

Homelessness seminar set

first_img April 1, 2004 Regular News Homelessness seminar set Homelessness seminar setcenter_img “Under Seige—Meeting the Legal Needs of the Homeless,” is the title of a day-long seminar sponsored by The Florida Bar Public Interest Law Section’s Ad Hoc Committee on Homelessness, and Ninth Judicial Circuit Public Defender Bob Wesley.The seminar will be held Friday, April 23, from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Public Defender’s Office, Room 400, 435 N. Orange Avenue, Orlando.The $95 fee includes breakfast, lunch, and refreshments afterwards.“The purpose of the seminar is not only to educate advocates for the homeless, but to draw in and interest new participants, both lawyers and nonlawyers, in the Ad Hoc Committee on Homelessness in Florida,” said Jane Shaeffer, chair.“We’ve purposely kept the cost low to make it more accessible for all interested people.”There will be plenty of opportunity to network with other advocates in the field, and there will be opportunities to ask questions and share information.Featured speakers include Naomi S. Stern and Tulin M. Ozdeger, both of the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty in Washington, D.C.The agenda of the seminar, which will provide six CLE credits, will include an overview on the criminalization of homelessness, successful legal challenges to such measures, and strategies to work with government, including alternatives to incarceration.Another segment, called “Domestic Violence to Homelessness— One Small Step,” will address domestic violence as it intersects with poverty and homelessness law. The focus will be on evictions and the Fair Housing Act, and legal arguments made in response to discriminatory evictions of domestic violence victims in federally funded housing. Discussion will also address NIMBY (Not In My Backyard) issues, the FHA, and successful nonlitigation advocacy efforts.The third section is called “Legal and Policy Strategies for Representatives of Homeless Clients.” Part of the discussion will focus on the education rights of children in unstable housing, including rights to immediate enrollment in school without documentation, to remain in the same school despite residential mobility, and to receive transportation to school. Attorneys will also learn about barriers that make it difficult for homeless persons to apply for and receive SSI and SSDI benefits, and legal strategies for removing those barriers. Finally, strategies in obtaining assistance available to homeless service providers from the federal government in the form of surplus property under Title V of the McKinney Act will also be addressed.A panel discussion, “Pitching In: Practical Opportunities to Help Meet Unmet Needs,” will provide an overview of the legal needs met by legal aid and public defender offices, identify gaps in service these offices are unable to meet, and provide concrete suggestions on helping clients work through the public benefits maze.For reservations and to register, call 407-836-2199; e-mail PubDef@circuit9.org or mail to Homelessness Seminar, P.O. Box 532055, Orlando, FL. 32853-2055. For more information, visit the Web site: www.PD.Circuit9.org.last_img read more

Bar leaders happy with ’04 session

first_img May 15, 2004 Senior Editor Regular News Bar leaders happy with ’04 session Bar leaders happy with ’04 session Gary Blankenship Senior Editor Suspended or disbarred lawyers who continue to practice could face prison time as well as additional Bar sanctions under an unlicensed practice of law bill that passed the Florida Legislature and is awaiting the governor’s signature.Lawmakers also approved a new specialty license plate that will raise funds for Florida Bar Foundation legal programs for kids, and continued, albeit with lower funding, the Civil Legal Assistance Act.Legislators also dealt with — or allowed to die — several other issues of interest to the legal profession in the closing days of the 2004 Regular Session.“I think the Bar did very well,” Bar President Miles McGrane said. “The only thing I’m very disappointed about is the failure to raise the Civil Legal Assistance Act to $5.5 million.”He said he was particularly pleased with the UPL bill and that the Bar was able to work out a compromise to head off a proposed constitutional amendment to have the legislature take over from the Supreme Court the oversight of court procedural rules.“All in all, it was a successful session as far as the Bar was concerned,” said President-elect designate Alan Bookman, who chairs the Bar’s Legislation Committee. “I’m very glad to see the license plate was approved; that’s going to raise needed money for children’s programs.“I’m glad to see the penalty was raised for UPL; that’s going to be a third degree felony.” UPL Bill The UPL bill that passed was the House version of the proposal rather than the initial Senate bill, which amended only one section of the law.The bill sent to the governor amends F.S. §§454.23, 454.31, and 434.32. All three sections increase the penalty from a first degree misdemeanor to a third degree felony.The first section makes it a violation for a nonlawyer to practice law; the second applies to suspended or disbarred lawyers who continue to practice; and the third applies to any person who knowingly assists a suspended or disbarred attorney who continues to practice law.If signed by the governor, the law becomes effective October 1.The bill arose from legislators’ frustration with constituents who had been victimized by UPL, particularly in the immigration area, and the Bar responded to requests by strongly supporting the bills which increased the penalties for UPL to a third degree felony. That penalty carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $10,000 fine. Bar Tag The new license plate was one of a dozen specialty tags lumped into one bill that passed in the closing days of the session.But legislators expressed concerns about the proliferation of specialty tags (with the new bill, the state has almost 100) and the bill included standards for continuing the unique licenses. Those with specialty tags will now have to sell at least 1,000 plates annually, or have their tag dropped.Sen. Skip Campbell, D-Tamarac, also said he’d like to see legislation to audit the nonprofit groups that get tag revenue to make sure it’s used mostly for charitable purposes and not administrative overhead.He also noted there’s concern by law enforcement agencies about the specialty plates because the tags may not be readily recognizable as Florida licenses.Sen. Victor Crist, R-Tampa, said of the 84 existing plates, 34 have sold less than 1,000 plates over the years, and 11 have sold fewer than 100. “If they aren’t going to go out and work their plate, their opportunity should go to someone else who is going to go out and promote it,” he said.Bar and Foundation planners expect to meet the 1,000 plate requirement easily with the “Kids Deserve Justice” tag. The money will go to the Foundation which will use it for children’s legal programs. Civil Legal Assistance The Bar and The Florida Bar Foundation were less successful with their support for the Civil Legal Assistance Act. First approved two years ago after it was proposed by the Bar and the Foundation, the program had $2 million split among six circuits for legal aid programs that helped families. That funding was cut to $1.5 million last year.This year, McGrane hoped to take the program statewide by getting a $5.5 million appropriation. Instead, the program was continued but with only $1 million.“We need to find a source to fund that, other than general revenue,” McGrane said. “Until we do, we’re going to be facing this every year.”He noted that Sen. Rod Smith, D-Gainesville, had proposed a small surcharge on large court awards and there was talk of earmarking some of that money for the act. But nothing came of Smith’s idea. Other Legislation of Interest On other issues:• No further action was taken on a proposed constitutional amendment to have the legislature take over court procedural rulemaking from the Supreme Court. The backer of that bill reached an agreement with President McGrane to have legislators appointed to the various rules committees and also have the legislature notified of recommended rule amendments. (See story in the April 30 Bar News. )• After much jockeying, HB 1357, which passed the House 104-8, was not taken up in the Senate. The bill would prohibit attorneys from running ads that solicit or urge potential clients to file a lawsuit. Although the issue died this year, incoming Senate President Tom Lee is interested in pursuing the issue next year and the House sponsor, Rep. David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs, said he plans to reintroduce his bill next year and he expects it to pass both chambers. The issue is expected to be studied by a special commission set up by Bar President-elect Kelly Overstreet Johnson to review Bar advertising rules.• HB 1149 died after it passed the House 86-21 on March 29, but was not taken up in the Senate. The measure would have reversed long-standing Florida tradition of giving the defense in a criminal case the first and last say in closing arguments when no evidence other than the defendant’s testimony is presented at trial.• A provision in the House proposed budget striking $1.7 million from the budgets of the state’s capital collateral regional counsels and prohibiting them from representing state death row inmates in federal appeals was omitted from the final budget. The state’s two CCRC offices retained those funds and the ability to handle federal appeals in the final budget.• HB 573, which gave business owners greater protections from lawsuits resulting from third party criminal activity if the owners took steps to make their properties safer, passed the House by a 117-0 vote, but wasn’t taken up in the Senate.• SB 2306 passed unanimously in both chambers. It calls for a study on the availability and usage of mammograms in Florida, with the report to be issued by the end of the year. That language replaced earlier drafts in both House and Senate bills that would have given radiologists reading mammograms immunity from medical malpractice cases except in cases of gross negligence. Bill backers said high malpractice insurance premiums are driving radiologists away from mammography, making it hard for women to get those services in many areas of the state.As for next year, McGrane and Bookman said they expect that court funding will remain a top Bar concern. Although court officials have said they are satisfied with their budgets for the coming year (see story page 1), McGrane and Bookman said they are worried the courts didn’t get enough to cope with the mandates of Revision 7 to Art. V, which requires the state to pay more expenses of the trial courts.“I think the court funding will be back on the table. I expect we’ll discover the amount approved by the legislature is not sufficient,” McGrane said.Bookman noted that rather than directly budgeting to the courts reserve funds they may need to cope with Revision 7 uncertainties, the legislature gave the courts permission to tap into the state’s large working capital fund. He said he would prefer the money had been put in the courts’ budget.“We’ve got a great court system, a functioning court system, and it would be unfortunate for the citizens if we took a step backwards,” he said.last_img read more

April 15, 2006 On the Move

first_img On the Move Bradley B. Eavenson joined Kohl & Tanzer in Stuart as an associate. Michael Busenkell joined Eckert Seamans Cherin & Mellott in Wilmington, DE. His practice areas include corporate bankruptcy and creditors’ rights. John C. Glancy was named shareholder at the Greenville, SC, firm of Ogletree Deakins. Glancy is a member of The Florida Bar Labor and Employment Law Section and Out-of-State Practitioners Division. Ronald R. Friedman joined The Karp Law Firm and concentrates his practice in the areas of tax and estate planning. Eugene P. Murphy joined the insurance practice at Robinson & Cole. Stephanie Alexander and Jarrett Cooper joined Tripp Scott as directors. Alexander will focus her practice on healthcare and appellate work, and Cooper will focus his practice on complex business litigation and labor and employment. Steven C. Simon has been named partner/shareholder at Rosenthal & Levy. Simon also manages the firm’s Port St. Lucie office, carrying a full case load in personal injury, Social Security, and disability law. Stephen F. Rosenthal, Ricardo M. Martinez-Cid, and Ramon A. Rasco are making moves at Podhurst & Orseck. Rosenthal and Martinez-Cid have become partners and Rasco has become an associate at their Miami office. Sara J. Burton joined the Orlando office of Rumberger, Kirk & Caldwell as an associate. Carlton Fields elected Miami shareholder Benjamine Reid to chair the firm’s board of directors. The following shareholders were elected to the board: Steven J. Brodie, Gary M. Pappas, Charles M. Rosenberg, and Patricia H. Thompson of the Miami office; Mark A. Brown, Chris S. Coutroulis, Richard A. Denmon, Edgel C. Lester, Jr. , Luis Prats, Gary L. Sasso, and Gwynne A. Young of the Tampa office; Thomas A. Hanson of West Palm Beach; David R. Punzak of St. Petersburg; Daniel C. Johnson of Orlando; and Nancy G. Linnan of Tallahassee. Chandler Black and Craig M. Tregerman joined Coel & Warren in Boca Raton. Black and Tregerman will assist in the litigation department. Elizabeth J. Biondo, Zachary Bower, Dolores Francis, Gerald Greenberg, Abigail Kofman, Lori Littlejohn, Eric Solomon, Morgan Swing, and Lauren Young all joined Stearns Weaver Miller as associates. Elizabeth B. Honkonen, Nathalie Cadet-James, and James T. Allmans are changing at Kenny Nachwalter. Honkoken has become a member of Kenny Nachwalter’s Miami office and Cadet-James and Allmans have joined the firm as associates. Hannesson Murphy joined Barnes & Thornburg as an associate in their Indianapolis office, practicing in the labor and employment law department. Jennifer L. Coffey joined Schwarzberg Spector Duke Schulz & Rogers in West Palm Beach. Her areas of practice are labor and employment, employee discrimination, and state and federal litigation. Molly Langer Gutcher has opened a law practice in Tampa that focuses on juvenile law and adoptions. Phone (813) 500-2957 and fax (813) 436-5240. Morgan, Lewis & Bockius opened a greater China practice based in Beijing. The practice will focus on structuring inbound and outbound Chinese business transactions in IP and technology. Charlie Brumback was named managing shareholder of Akerman Senterfitt’s Orlando office. He has been a member of the firm’s corporate practice group since 1979 and also serves on their board of directors. Angie Holley Desmond, formerly of the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation joined Desmond and Maceluch in Tallahassee. Ena T. Diaz joined the Miami office of Shook, Hardy & Bacon as of counsel in their employment litigation and policy practice. Peter H. Levitt joined the Miami office of Shutts & Bowen as a partner in the creditors rights group. Levitt has more than 20 years of experience in bankruptcy and insolvency litigation. Scott J. Topolski was elected shareholder at Buckingham Doolittle & Burroughs and will focus his practice on commercial, business, insurance, construction, securities and employment litigation. Lise L. Hudson joined Sachs Sax Klein’s Port St. Lucie office as an attorney in the family and matrimonial law practice group. Erick Martin joined Akerman Senterfitt’s Miami office as an associate in the firm’s corporate group. H. Hamilton Rice and R. David Jackson joined Lewis, Longman & Walker’s Bradenton office; Rice as a senior attorney and Jackson as an associate. Adam C. King joined Mills Paskert Divers as an associate. King’s practice is devoted to construction, fidelity, surety, and commercial litigation matters. Leigh Ann Murvin joined Akerman Senterfitt’s real estate group as of counsel in the firm’s Orlando office. Christopher M. Hinsley, Kristy M. Johnson, Stephen P. Johnson, and Daniel R. Vega were elected shareholders at Carlton Fields ’ Miami office, and Jaret J. Fuente was elected shareholder at Carlton Fields’ Tampa office. Kara L. Cannizzaro, George M. Koonce, Fabian A. Paul, and Melody Cobbe joined Fowler White Burnett as associates. Alexander Perkins joined Leesfield Leighton and Partners and will focus his practice on complex civil litigation. Michelle Stassi Rosamond joined Bavol Judge as an associate. Jodi Laurence opened The Health Law Office of Jodi Laurence at 817 S. University Dr, Ste.100, Plantation 33324. The phone number is (954) 332-0932; fax (954) 370-7849. Maribeth L. Wetzel joined The Fleming Law Group in St. Petersburg. Leonard J. Dietzen, III and Linda G. Bond joined the Tallahassee office of Rumberger, Kirk & Caldwell as partners. Dietzen has practiced civil litigation in Tallahassee since 1990, and Bond has practiced civil litigation in Tallahassee since 1995. George Smith has been named shareholder at Bryant Miller Olive’s Tallahassee office. He practices primarily in the public finance and affordable housing areas. John W. Dill became a partner with Richard B. Troutman’s firm in Winter Park. Dill focuses on catastrophic personal injury, wrongful death, and medical malpractice. Homer Duvall III was named practice group leader of Holland & Knight’s real estate practice in Tampa. Nicholas C. Gladding joined Ruden McCloskey’s Sarasota office as a partner. Gladding is a member of their environmental law practice group. David M. Fernandez joined Barr, Murman & Tonelli as a senior associate. He practices in the area of insurance defense. Marve Ann Alaimo and Mary Beth Forrester have been named principals of Cummings & Lockwood’s Bonita Springs office. Angel Castillo, Jr., and TerRance Q. Woodard joined the Miami office of Ogletree Deakins. Castillo joined as a shareholder and his practice currently focuses on representing employers in state and federal court litigation and appeals. Woodard joined Ogletree Deakins as an associate representing management in all aspects of labor and employment law and litigation. J. Garry Rooney has become a partner in the firm of Brooker & Rooney. Rooney specializes in personal injury and employment and family law. Liz Consuegra joined Berger Singerman’s Miami office as an associate and will focus her practice on probate litigation. Stuart I. Grossman and John M. Catalano have been promoted to partner at Tew Cardenas. Jon Polenberg, Christopher Cano, and Jude Cooper joined Wasserstrom Weinreb & Wealcatch’s in the Hollywood/Boca Raton area as partners. They will focus their practice in various aspects of litigation. Marc M. Crumpton, Jr. , joined Kingsford & Rock as an associate in the Tampa office. Georgianne Sims joined Revilla & Goldstein in Miami as an associate. Jonathan Yi joined Bull and Associates in Orlando as an associate. Yi practices construction law and commercial litigation. Richard S. Dellinger, Mitchell E. Grodman, Kevin K. Ross, Mark D. Scheinblum, W. Drew Sorrell, D. Scott South, William S. Vanos, and Ormend G. Yeilding have all been elevated to partner at Lowndes, Drosdick, Doster, Kantor & Reed. Gabriel Pinilla joined WardKim’s Ft. Lauderdale office as an associate. Pinilla will focus his practice on commercial litigation and personal injury. April 15, 2006 On the Move April 15, 2006 On the Movelast_img read more

Sandy Aid Passes Congress, Long Island Pols Cheer

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone and Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano, left, who went to Washington D.C. Tuesday to lobby for Sandy aid, meet with House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Reps. Peter King and Steve Israel.Seventy eight days after Sandy, the remaining $51 billion of the $60-billion northeast aid package finally passed the U.S. House of Representatives, sparking praise from Long Island lawmakers who two weeks ago were at war with the Republican majority that initially snubbed superstorm survivors.“Tonight’s vote to provide $60 billion in Hurricane Sandy relief was an outstanding victory,” said Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford), who famously blasted House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) for the delays. “It is unfortunate that we had to fight so hard to be treated the same as every other state has been treated. But we did fight this bias against the northeast and thank god our residents won.”Rep.  Steve Israel (D-Huntington) said, “New Yorkers can finally rest assured that help is on its way. I’m delighted that the House finally passed the Sandy relief bill, but the real heroes are the New Yorkers rebuilding their lives, homes, and businesses.”New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Conn. Gov. Dannel Malloy released a joint statement saying, “We are grateful to those members of Congress who today pulled together in a unified, bipartisan coalition to assist millions of their fellow Americans … at their greatest time of need.”U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) said he expects the bill to easily pass the Senate and be sent to the President’s desk for signing.last_img read more

Samantha Specht: Co-Founder, ReesSpecht Life

first_imgOn Oct. 27, Superstorm Sandy turned toward the Florida coast. She took a breath and weakened, but soon intensified into a storm that no one in her path will ever forget. As the hurricane approached, Nassau and Suffolk county officials declared a state of emergency on Long Island.In Sound Beach on the North Shore, Rich and Samantha Specht, along with their three children—Abigail, 8, Lorelei, 6, and Richie, 22 months—were preparing for the storm. Samantha and the girls went to the store while Rich and his toddler son stayed home. Rich’s friend from childhood and godfather of Richie was also there to help Rich get the house and yard ready before the storm hit.The lawn furniture had to be stored, so Rich asked his friend to keep an eye on Richie while he moved the furniture into the garage. Rich was only gone for a few minutes, and when he went back inside the house, he asked his friend where his son was.“I thought he was with you,” he replied. Those six words immediately sank deep into Rich’s heart. Both men raced outside to look for the toddler. Richie had been told that the backyard pond was off limits, but Samantha says he was always a curious little boy.“They found him face down in the pond,” Samantha says, with tears streaming down her cheeks.Rich began performing CPR. The paramedics arrived minutes later and valiantly tried to restart Richie’s heart while they were en route to the hospital, and continued for another half hour after arrival. But it was too late.Samantha was still at the store when the hospital called. In a haze, she thought they were referring to her husband, and didn’t realize that her son had passed away until she got to the hospital.On Oct. 28, with Sandy barreling up the East Coast, people in parts of New York City were evacuated and transportation in the region ground to a halt.Still in shock, the Spechts had to begin preparations for their son’s funeral. By the next afternoon they were without electrical power or telephone service, and didn’t get it restored until 11 days later.“We had to drive to the post office and sit in the parking lot to get a signal to make phone calls,” Samantha says. “People couldn’t contact us or fly into New York.”On Nov. 1, Richard Edwin-Ehmer Specht was laid to rest. He was named after his father, his great-uncle Edwin, and Samantha’s maiden name, Ehmer.“I didn’t want him to be known as Little Richie,” Samantha says, “so my mother suggested that we call him Rees, and we did, just her and I.”Richie would soon become known as ReesSpecht. Rich found solace in putting his thoughts about his son’s death into words. Then, Samantha says, the idea of memorializing their son took root.“Rees always wanted to make people happy,” she says.Rallying around the family were their friends, family and the faculty and students at the Smithtown schools where the Specht’s work. Samantha teaches German at Smithtown East High School and Rich is a science teacher at Great Hollow Middle School.The outpouring of love and support helped get them through each day.A local company, Kelly Brothers Landscaping of Coram, was working in the area and contacted the Spechts after learning of the tragedy.“We didn’t know them but they heard about what happened and said they would like to do something for us,” she says. “They removed the pond. It was a constant reminder of what happened, and they just kept coming back.They planted thousands of plants in our entire yard, and they wouldn’t take anything in return.”Meals, movie tickets and gift certificates were given to the family by well-meaning friends and strangers.“Everyone was so unbelievably kind,” Samantha says. “There was no way we could repay them and the community.”To show their gratitude, they founded ReesSpecht Life in their son’s memory as a way to pay it forward.The night before Rees died, he was photographed wearing a Superman costume.“It’s our last good memory of him,” Samantha says.Adam Smith, a graphic designer and friend of the family, created a logo for the foundation using Rees’ Superman picture.ReesSpecht cards were printed and used for handouts, asking the recipient to “Help us help each other…. We all possess the ability to do something Super. Possession of this card is a solemn promise to pay it forward and perform random acts of kindness and be one of Rees’ Pieces.”“It’s therapeutic just to know that people are doing something in Rees’ name. That makes us so proud,” Samantha explains.“You might not know that a person is going through a hard time,” she adds. “If someone doesn’t know my story, they don’t know that I was hurt. People can mask their emotions, and paying it forward can make a tremendous difference. It doesn’t have to be monetary. The point is that you’re helping someone else.”Rich and Samantha recently began to fundraise for two scholarships that will be awarded to a Smithtown East and West High School senior. The Smithtown Teachers Association is holding the funds until the ReesSpecht Life organization gets its 501c3 designation approved.Meanwhile, Samantha says, they are doing their best to move forward.“We’re finding some peace,” she says. “We can’t just sit and wallow. The reality of it is we have two little girls [to raise]. We are grieving as a family, but we have to do something for them.”Remembering their little boy as someone who liked to make others happy is a way for the Spechts to perpetuate their son’s memory and ReesSpecht Life.[colored_box color=”blue”]For more information or to contact the Spechts, email: reesspechtlife@yahoo.com or visit www.facebook.com/reesspechtlife.[/colored_box][colored_box color=”grey”]In every issue of the Long Island Press and our sister publication, Milieu Magazine, the Fortune 52 column brings you stories of dynamic women who have made a significant and unique contribution to Long Island. To acknowledge their success, Beverly hosts tri-annual networking events that are attended by hundreds of LI business professionals, non- profit leaders and entrepreneurs. If you are interested in knowing more about the Fortune 52, or know a super woman who deserves good Fortune – and a profile – email Beverly at bfortune@longislandpress.com.[/colored_box] Sign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York last_img read more

Eli Rosenbaum: Nazi Hunter

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York For a man who’s devoted nearly 30 years of his life hounding the despicable men and women who’ve committed crimes against humanity, Eli Rosenbaum doesn’t look so menacing.Given the choice, he’d rather watch the Yankees or see a comedy than sit through another Hollywood movie about the horrors of the Holocaust. He’s been living with that gruesome reality almost 24/7 ever since the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Special Investigations hired him out of Harvard Law School in 1980.Today the 57-year-old Long Island native is the director of the human rights and special prosecutions section, making him the Justice Department’s longest-running investigator of human rights violators living in the United States.“So my entire career is really a summer internship gone awry!” he says with a grin.There’s a kindness in his brown eyes that belies the evil he’s had to face. He helped deport Boleslavs Maikovskis, a Nazi war criminal living in Mineola, and Karl Linnas, a former concentration camp commander living in Greenlawn. Because nature has finally enacted a “biological solution” to that Nazi generation, his section is now pursuing war criminals from the likes of Bosnia, Guatemala and Rwanda, who think they’ve found a safe haven here. His message to them: “You’ll have to be looking over your shoulder for the rest of your life.”Growing up “on the south side of Old Country Road in Westbury,” attending high school in East Meadow, and studying Hebrew three days a week, it’s surprising how little Rosenbaum knew about the genocide of World War II until one Sunday afternoon on his family’s black and white TV he saw a dramatization of the Nuremberg Trials by Peter Weiss, a German playwright. Rosenbaum couldn’t have been more than 12.“The Holocaust wasn’t spoken about in my household—it was too painful for my parents,” he recalls. They had both fled Germany before the war.But Rosenbaum’s father did return, wearing a U.S. Army uniform. One winter some 25 years after the war, Eli and his dad were driving through a blizzard when his father casually mentioned that he had been one of the first Americans to report on Dachau after its liberation in April 1945.“I said, ‘Well, what did you see?’ I’m looking out at the road, and I didn’t hear anything. Finally I look at my father, and I see that his eyes have welled with tears. His mouth is open like he wants to speak but he can’t do it. He’s crying…To the day he died, he never told me.”He found out for himself. Today, a father, Rosenbaum credits his wife of 25 years, Cynthia, who also has a law degree, for keeping him balanced. “She keeps me sane despite the awful stuff that I have to deal with—the subject matter of my work.”Recently Rosenbaum was in Manhattan sharing the dais at the Four Seasons with Sara Bloomfield, executive director of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., which was celebrating its 20th anniversary—and has been an invaluable resource for Rosenbaum’s investigations.The Nazis, it turns out, expecting they would win the war and rule for 1,000 years, kept meticulous records.“We’ve done the best job of any law enforcement agency in the world in hunting these people down,” he says. “I like to think that this effort is carried out for the victims who perished and the victims who survived.”last_img read more

Valley Stream Robbers Tie Up Store Clerk

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York A pair of armed robbers tied up a Valley Stream cell phone store clerk before ransacking the shop on Thursday evening, Nassau County police said.A 25-year-old man was working at the T-Mobile store on Rockaway Avenue when two men wearing bandanas over their faces walked in and bound the victim’s hands while one of the robbers flashed a handgun at 5:45 p.m., police said.The robbers stole the victim’s wallet, cell phones and cash before they fled the scene in a black Honda Accord westbound on Fairview Avenue. The victim was not injured.Both suspects were described as black men in their 20s wearing baseball caps. The first was 5-feet, 6-inches tall, 145 pounds, wearing an Adidas sweatshirt and dark pants. The second was 5-feet, 10-inches tall, wearing dark clothing and a hooded sweatshirt.Fourth Squad detectives request anyone with information regarding this crime to contact Nassau County Crime Stoppers at 1-800-244-TIPS. All callers will remain anonymous.last_img read more

Schumer Calls on Feds to Expedite Jones Inlet Light, Jetty Repairs

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York Boating through Jones Inlet has proven treacherous since a nearby navigational light tower was destroyed by Sandy and a nearby jetty was damaged in the superstorm nine months ago, officials say.Now, U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) is calling on the Coast Guard and Army Corps. of Engineers to expedite repairs on both structures this summer instead of pushing it off until next year.“Superstorm Sandy wreaked havoc on Long Island’s waterways and now without a main light tower beaming over Jones Inlet, it’s incredibly dangerous for boaters navigating their vessels in the dark or in foggy weather,” he said in a news release.The senator said boaters and others have expressed concern about the dangerous conditions in the inlet that connects the Atlantic Ocean and Middle Bay since the damage occurred in October.The highly traveled waterway is tucked between the west end of Jones Beach and Point Lookout on the east end of Long Beach.last_img read more

West Hempstead Man Charged With Dog Fighting

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York Hector HernandezA West Hempstead man has been arrested for allegedly keeping eight wounded or malnourished pit pulls caged in a shed full of paraphernalia used for what authorities described as an illegal dog-fighting operation.Hector Hernandez was charged Friday at Nassau County court with animal fighting and failure to provide proper sustenance.Prosecutors said that the 26-year-old suspect had eight dogs, some of which had scars on their faces, necks and ears consistent with bite wounds or scarring from previous wounds.He also allegedly possessed heavy restraint chains, a treadmill modified with a dog tether, vitamins and supplements and a training stick with a stuffed animal attached.Investigators with the district attorney’s office and Town of Hempstead Animal Control office responded to the suspect’s house on Pinebrook Avenue, where they also found chickens and a rabbit in the shed.Two of the dogs, Roja and Nana, had fresh bite marks on their front sides and the other six dogs—Little Red, Brownie, Sassy, Scorpio, Honey and Thor—were found in poor living conditions, authorities said.Hernandez could face up to a year in jail and $15,000 per dog in fines, if convicted. His bail was set at $2,500. He is due back in court Wednesday.last_img read more

Teen Gets 18 to Life for Hempstead Murder

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York A 19-year-old Bronx man was sentenced Thursday to 18 years to life in prison for fatally shooting a 34-year-old Freeport man in Hempstead last year.Jazz Murphy had pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in May before Nassau County Judge Meryl Berkowitz.Prosecutors said Murphy shot Leonard Thames once in the back and once in the head, killing him at the corner of Linden Avenue and Linden Place on the night of Jan. 13, 2013.Murphy was arrested by Hempstead village police shortly later.last_img read more

Authorities: Chimney Inspector Impostors Stole from Elderly Women

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York Suffolk County authorities said Wednesday that two men posing as chimney inspectors have been indicted for bias crime charges after they allegedly stole jewelry and cash from two elderly women last month. The District Attorney’s office accused 32-year-old Bruce Wimmer of Bohemia and 28-year-old Michael Windland of Lake Ronkonkoma of allegedly scamming a 77-year-old Huntington woman two weeks ago by telling her that they were chimney repairmen and needed to get into the house for an inspection. Once inside, the pair allegedly stole jewelry from the woman’s bedroom, the DA’s office said. Several days later, Windland and Wimmer entered a 92-year-old Bellport woman’s home under the guise of inspecting her chimney and allegedly stole $160 cash, a portion of which came from church envelopes, and the victim’s prescription medication, authorities said. The alleged burglars also quoted the woman $3,000 for chimney work and said they’d drive her to the bank to withdraw money. The DA’s office didn’t immediately say if they followed through with that plan. Both men were scheduled to be arraigned on the grand jury indictment Wednesday morning in Riverhead.last_img read more

Team De Blasio Backs NYPD Muslim Spying Ruling, Blames AP

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York [dropcap]W[/dropcap]hen New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio, a self-declared progressive Democrat, was running for City Hall last year, he soared to prominence with powerful rhetoric about reforming the NYPD, even hinting at changes to the police department’s controversial tactic of blanketed spying on Muslims.In April, four months after his inauguration, when the NYPD announced it would disband the so-called Demographics Unit, which conducted covert surveillance missions at dozens of mosques, Halal meat shops, and other locations frequented by Muslims throughout the five boroughs, New Jersey and even Long Island, he promised “a police force that keeps our city safe, but is also respectful and fair.” The mayor and his chosen police commissioner, William Bratton, were cheered by civil rights groups and Muslim leaders for disbanding the unit, but many were not totally convinced that Muslim Americans were no longer the focus of operations. Now, it appears the De Blasio administration is supporting the ruling in favor of the NYPD much the same way his predecessor Michael Bloomberg did when multiple lawsuits were filed against the city for its spying tactics. In a legal brief filed in the US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit Monday, lawyers for the city requested that the court affirm the US District Court for New Jersey’s decision in February, which said that the half-dozen New Jersey residents suing the department could not prove they were injured in any way by the NYPD’s clandestine surveillance. In fact, the city, in its brief, bolstered the lower court’s point that if any harm was done, it was not caused by the NYPD, but rather by the Associated Press for its revelations. The AP eventually won a Pulitzer Prize for its reporting. “All of the harms alleged by plaintiffs occurred, if they occurred, only after the Associated Press made public certain confidential NYPD documents and did so in unredacted form,” the city wrote in its 79-page brief. This is the first time the De Blasio administration has legally weighed in on the issue. The plaintiffs have alleged that the NYPD focused its surveillance on New Jersey mosques, restaurants, stores, schools and Muslim Student Associations. Their lawyers argued that they were targeted because of their religion after the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks, not because they were suspected of any crimes or misdeeds. The lower court wasn’t buying it. “The police could not have monitored New Jersey for Muslim terrorist activities without monitoring the Muslim community itself,” the court wrote in its opinion.Citing the US Supreme Court’s ruling in another case, the city’s lawyers wrote: “the [District] Court held that the plaintiffs in this case have not alleged facts from which it can be plausibly inferred that they were targeted solely because of their religion. The more likely explanation for the surveillance, the Court found, is that the surveillance was for a legitimate law enforcement purpose, i.e., counter-terrorism, and the most obvious reason for that explanation is because the alleged ‘Program’ began just after the attacks of September 11, 2001.” A spokesman for the city Law Department told The New York Times that the filing “does not address broader policy issues concerning surveillance of Muslim communities, but rather technical legal issues.”Glenn Katon, legal director for Muslim Advocates, which along with the Center for Constitutional Rights and Gibbons P.C. sued the NYPD, blasted the city’s response. “The brief that they filed on Monday has all of the same arguments that they made in the trial court,” under Bloomberg and then-NYPD Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, Katon told the Press. He said it’s clear by reviewing the Demographics Unit reports released by the AP that undercover officers were spying on his clients based on their religious beliefs. “They’re going to Muslim establishments and only looking at Muslims,” he said. Katon also called the decision to abandon the Demographics Unit a “public relations stunt,” adding that neither De Blasio nor Bratton have publicly stated their intentions to drop the program altogether. It turned out a similar unit existed, but its operations went far beyond spying. Less than a month after the NYPD said it had disbanded the unit, The New York Times revealed that a little-known group of detectives—dubbed the Citywide Debriefing Team—would scour city jails for people charged with low-level crimes and would try to recruit them into their roster of mosque informants. One man, as the Times noted, was a food cart vendor who got into a dispute with a parking enforcement officer. “Of course if you have leads, something that makes you believe that people regardless [of their religion], that they’re involved in something resembling September 11 or any criminal activity, then go do all the surveillance you want,” said Katon. “You can’t spy on everyone based on what a handful of fanatics did in 2001.” An appeal in the New Jersey case was filed in July seeking an injunction. Plaintiffs’ lawyers want the NYPD’s evesdropping ruled unconstitutional and minimal monetary damages awarded to one client. Two similar lawsuits against the NYPD are currently in settlement negotiations. To date, there have been no lawsuits related to the police department’s activity in Nassau and Suffolk counties. Separate demographics reports were created for both counties, amounting to 166 pages of mundane observations of Muslim restaurants, religious institutions, smoke shops and, in one case, weekend belly-dancing at a Huntington kebab joint. The undercover operations never led to one arrest or a formal terrorism investigation.last_img read more

Wyandanch Armed Home Invasion Leaves Victim Hurt

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York Suffolk County police are investigating a home invasion in Wyandanch over the weekend during which the victim was wounded by two suspects armed with a knife and a screwdriver, authorities said.The armed duo came into the victim’s Levey Boulevard home, demanded money and hit the victim before rifling through his belongings at 11 a.m. Friday, police said.It is unclear what, if anything, the assailants stole before they fled the scene.The victim was taken to Good Samaritan Hospital in West Islip for treatment of his injuries.No suspects have been arrested and no description of the attackers was available, police said.First Squad detectives are continuing the investigation.last_img read more

Thousands Blacked Out After Powerful Storm Hits Long Island

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York A powerful storm caused power outages to more than 74,000 homes and businesses in northern Suffolk County early Tuesday morning—some of which will remain in the dark for days, officials said.Although the majority of those who lost power have had it restored, about 20,000 remained blacked out at sundown Tuesday with about half of those still expected to be without power Wednesday, according to PSEG Long Island. The remaining estimated 1,000 emergency repairs that need to be made will be time consuming, the utility’s leader said.“This storm packed a very strong, concentrated punch,” said David Daly, president and chief operating officer of PSEG Long Island, who said additional crews have been called in from surrounding areas to assist in the repairs. He noted that hospitals and other critical customers in the area have had their power restored.Daly said the “pop-up” summer thunder storm left half-mile stretches of downed trees in a 40-mile stretch from Huntington and Brookhaven towns on the North Shore. The extensive damage is hampering the repair work, but utility staffers and their backup are working with tree trimmers.The storm is the worst severe weather seen on LI since a record 13 inches of rain fell in one day in and around the Town of Islip a year ago next week, causing widespread flooding that washed out several roadways and caused sinkholes.In Tuesday’s storms, the towns of Brookhaven and Smithtown were the hardest hit, particularly areas north of Jericho Turnpike, officials said.Jay Engle, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said that the damage caused by this storm came from “straight line wind,” which is defined as a damaging wind that exceed 40-50 mph—with Gov. Andrew Cuomo saying winds reached up to 80 mph on LI. Engle said that although this storm seemed extreme, it would still simply be classified as a severe thunderstorm, which formed when an old sea breeze boundary met with the warm, humid air that was felt earlier this week.In addition to residential power outages, the storms forced the Long Island Rail Road to temporarily suspend service on parts of the Port Jefferson line, stranding some commuters. Train service between Port Jefferson and Stony Brook was restored during the Tuesday evening commute, which initially saw some cancellations due to downed trees and power outages.“I have authorized all resources from Parks and Waste Management Departments to assist the Highway Department in the clean-up effort,” added Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine.“As communities across the state continue to experience and respond to extreme storms, I am urging all New Yorkers in the impacted regions to exercise caution,” Cuomo said. “Thunderstorms and flash flooding can quickly create dangerous situations, and New Yorkers in any of the worst hit areas should be careful if they must leave home.”For updates on power outages and other services, customers should visit PSEG’s website: psegliny.com or call 1-800-490-0075.last_img read more

Long Islanders Urged to Prepare for Hurricane Joaquin

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York With Hurricane Joaquin threatening the East Coast, Long Island officials began urging the public to prepare for the worst despite the storm’s uncertain path as it reached major hurricane status Thursday.The National Hurricane Center upgraded Joaquin to a Category 4 hurricane with 130 mph sustained winds, terming it “extremely dangerous.” It was expected to batter the central Bahamas overnight. As for where Joaquin will hit next, meteorologists are grappling with major unknowns due to the myriad atmospheric conditions in play. The intensifying storm could make landfall in the Northeast or veer further into the Atlantic, sparing significant coastal damage.“Right now we’re essentially in a ‘prepare and pray’ mode,” Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone told reporters during a press conference at police headquarters in Yaphank. “We’re gonna prepare for a worst-case scenario; we’re gonna pray that it does not unfold.”Although the National Hurricane Center said a hurricane watch may not be issued for the East Coast until Friday at the earliest, the National Weather Service issued a coastal flood watch and high surf advisory through 6 a.m. Friday to start. Astronomically higher than usual tides are forecast to cause barrier beach erosion and flood coastal homes.The message from officials in both Nassau and Suffolk counties is to stay informed, have go-kits ready for residents in low-lying areas, stock up on enough food and water that would last at least three days, gas up vehicles and generators, and heed evacuation warnings, if any are issued, so as not to put first responders unnecessarily in harm’s way.“The county is prepared to respond,” Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano said Thursday morning during a press conference at the Nassau County Office of Emergency Management in Bethpage.The county executive expressed confidence in a rapid and efficient reaction if the storm strikes, noting that Nassau learned from Superstorm Sandy, which hit LI three years ago this month. He added that residents also have to play their part, because early preparation prior to Sandy “saved lives.”Both Mangano and Bellone said their counties have more assets to help tackle the storm than they did during Sandy, touting dozens of high-axle vehicles used for flood rescues, portable traffic lights for blackouts and a slew of new emergency generators. One of the major issues in the early days following Sandy were the power outages that knocked out traffic lights, making roads very dangerous. An increase in portable traffic lights should help alleviate that problem, Mangano noted.Local municipalities are also calling residents to be vigilant. Town of Hempstead said it’s preparing equipment for a potential storm and urged boaters to begin removing their vessels from marinas.“It is critical for each and every one of us to formulate a hurricane preparedness plan, and to be ready when and if the storm arrives,” said Town of Hempstead Supervisor Kate Murray.In Brookhaven Town, supervisor Ed Romaine informed residents that they should visit the town’s website for news and weather updates, and also to access its “Hurricane Survival Guide.”Calling for the public to be proactive, Islip town officials not only cited Sandy’s aftermath, but also invoked the “unprecedented and unpredicted” storm in August 2014 that flooded neighborhoods with a record-setting 13 inches of rainfall, the most ever measured in a 24-hour period statewide.If a major tropical storm does hit LI, it would be the first true test for PSEG Long Island since it took over for the Long Island Power Authority in January 2014 amid outrage over LIPA’s inadequate response to Sandy. The utility said it’s monitoring Hurricane Joaquin and is preparing for a potential deluge of rain and powerful wind gusts. Resources will be in place over the weekend to initiate electric service restoration “as soon as the storm passes,” PSEG LI said in a statement.Officials remain concerned about LI’s Sandy-battered infrastructure. For example, construction is ongoing at Bay Park Sewage Treatment Plant, which suffered a catastrophic failure during Sandy. Mangano said the county will use sandbags as an added layer of protection around the plant because a planned storm wall is still being built. Pumps have also been installed to keep pumping sewage away from people’s homes, the county executive said.On the other side of the county line, Bellone expressed concern that the dunes on Fire Island have yet to be restored since they were flattened by Sandy, which puts coastal communities on the Great South Bay at risk of flooding. Fire Island Ferries, the largest boat service to the mostly car-free barrier island, said it plans to suspend service Sunday.Meanwhile, without knowing where Joaquin will go next, Gov. Andrew Cuomo told all New Yorkers to get ready for the hurricane.“Since we don’t know if the storm is downstate or upstate, you have to prepare statewide,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo reporters on a conference call Thursday.After Sandy,many upstate communities were devastated by severe flooding that left bridges impassable for days, if not weeks.The governor said it’s too early to tell what major roads, if any, will be closed or whether mass transit will be shut down in New York City and on Long Island as it was during Irene and Sandy.He added that maintenance crews are clearing problem areas in streams and conduits that have proven problematic in past storms, as emergency management offices are being activated statewide and are coordinating with utility agencies, “especially on Long Island.”Cuomo said that experience with prior hurricanes have helped the state better prepare for tropical cyclones. But he cautioned that Mother Nature always finds a blind spot.“You can’t be prepared for everything,” he warned.One thing’s for sure, more rain is definitely heading toward LI, with heavy downfall expected Friday morning and possibly through the weekend along with strong winds.last_img read more

Who cares about you?

first_imgI recently read the following quote from an NCUA official related to the role of specialized cyber examiners from a NASCUS/CUNA Cyber Security Symposium last week; “Obviously a small institution that could implode from an attack is less impactful to us from an insurer’s perspective than a very large one, but when we are looking at two credit unions in the $100 million range and one is very straight forward and simple and (the other) one has every service and connection under the sun, they’re going to have two distinct risk profiles. So that’s where we would sit there and say, ‘you know what, this is one we’re going to have to focus our energy on.” So who cares about you? NCUA cares. Hackers care. Security solutions providers care. In the light of new and potential regulations and the realities of a consolidating market ask this, Who really cares about the long-term survival of your credit union and your brand?Of course we know that in this age of technology, with consumer’s desire to have access to their financial information through a multitude of devices, the services and connections that are referred to above represent a critical aspect of competitiveness. Over the past decade the rise of online and mobile platforms has created an amazing array of services for consumers and incredible tools for credit unions to interact with their members. More recently, add a multitude of new payment platforms into the mix and the reliance on technology increases bringing with it complexity and, potentially, cyber risk.This focus on cyber and potential risk is certainly warranted. Cyber risk is uniquely devious in several ways including its rapidly changing nature. It certainly embodies the mantra, you don’t know what you don’t know. Perhaps NCUA is correct that small yet complex institutions pose increased risk. On the flip side of the coin, small credit unions may be uniquely capable of streamlining their services and operations more effectively than larger operations that have more potential loose ends and take longer to change course. This is certainly true when one considers the sometimes marginalized, human factors that contribute to lapses in cybersecurity. Does a smaller credit union mean less loose ends?The understanding and assignment of risk is where the movement can play a critical role in the development of new, cyber-focused, regulation. All aspects of the financial services industry has some level of comfort with financial risk. Bank leaders, credit union leaders, federal regulators, insurance companies, investment houses, legislators all have experience and can call upon a vast history of financial failure when calculating risk and projecting impact.Cyber however is a different story. The pool of institutions where cyber can be pointed to as the prime driver in collapse is far smaller, and even with large information breaches such as with Target, the full scope and impact remains to be seen and the business is still thriving. Unfortunately for credit unions, there remains a lot to be learned and experienced when it comes to discovering the true impact of a significant and successful cyber attack. Furthermore, it remains to be seen how such an attack on a small or mid-sized credit union can or will affect the resources and networks it is connected to.One area where credit unions can be proactive is transparency. Making an honest analysis of their cybersecurity position and coming forward with questions, areas of concern, and known issues can make all the difference. Basically, providing the clearest picture of current and potential issues so that regulatory solutions are appropriate and not created in a vacuum. The risks are too great to not be forthcoming.A catch phrase that is often used on resumes is “self-starter”. Credit unions can be self-starters on cyber, and now is the time. Being proactive shows that you care about yourself and your members. Communications from NCUA and the trade groups point to them searching for solutions, or ways to effectively and fairly incorporate cyber into the regulation and exam process. There are suggestions and models in play, such as the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) Cybersecurity Framework, that can act as a starting point. There are technology solutions that are currently being developed that can help credit unions punch above their weight class when it comes to cybersecurity. It will come down to proactive, honest analysis of operations and security and being self-motivated to take steps to ensure cyber safety and security. I would hope that potential increased information security and member well-being would be incentive enough to consider these suggestions before it becomes another piece of the regulatory burden. 3SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,Daniel Mica Dan Mica, former head of the Credit Union National Association (CUNA), established The DMA Group as a means to combine a myriad of experience into a one-stop consultancy. Elected in … Web: www.dmagroupdc.com Detailslast_img read more

Credit unions can create sustainable value, Radjou says

first_imgPeople across the globe dream of a more socially equitable and less wasteful way of life, and credit unions may be uniquely positioned among all financial institutions to make that a reality.That was the message presented by concluding keynote speaker Navi Radjou–recognized internationally for his work in innovation–at this year’s America’s Credit Union Conference and World Credit Union Conference co-hosted by CUNA and the World Council of Credit Unions.Describing an emerging global marketplace that reflects a shift of values across the world, Radjou said that credit unions could be the most prepared to answer the changing demands of consumers.Conference attendees have heard from several inspirational keynoters during the conference, including Alan Mulally, a former president/CEO of Ford Motor Co., who led its transformation to the No. 1 automobile brand in the United States, and Luke Williams, executive director of New York University Stearns School of Business, who’s renowned for his insights into disruptive innovation. continue reading » 1SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblrlast_img read more

Louisiana League reflects on Katrina, Rita 10 years later

first_img 20SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr Ten years after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita devastated New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, the nation still talks about the largest natural disaster in U.S. history. One shining light in those dark days was credit unions, who banded together to support other credit unions and thousands of members who lost their livelihoods and homes. The Louisiana Credit Union League (LCUL) marked the occasion and the lessons learned in its eNews (Aug. 28).In the hurricanes’ aftermath, Louisiana credit union employees faced personal challenges, damage to facilities and loss of key staff, but stayed determined to help their members. “While the days following Hurricane Katrina were filled with challenges and uncertainty for Louisiana credit unions and their members, credit union employees returned to work and ensured that branches were re-opened quickly to serve members,” said LCUL President/CEO Anne Cochran. The employees “implemented our philosophy of ‘people helping people’ when members needed it the most and were instrumental in the recovery and progress made in Louisiana’s credit union movement since 2005,” she added.Most of the assistance the state’s credit unions received was from within the credit union movement, a resource other financial institutions did not have. CUNA and its state leagues mobilized for fund-raisers and donations from foundations and individual credit unions offered office space, funds and clothing. continue reading »last_img read more

Planning to grow in 2016? Engage compliance

first_img 4SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr The new year is often a time of planning for growth in the coming year. It’s a milestone that provides reflection on the previous year’s activities, and can set the course for the year to come.  If one of your credit union’s goals for 2016 is to grow membership, or grow member engagement, marketing may be an area of increased efforts.Given the obvious visibility of effective marketing, it is important to ensure that materials are compliant. While a loan or deposit transaction may only impact a particular member, the hope is that hundreds or thousands (maybe more!) individuals will view the marketing material your credit union produces. Among those individuals with eyes on your promotional material may be the examiners set to arrive at your credit union during the year. continue reading »last_img read more

Development issue spotlight on transportation for credit unions

first_imgThis is the first of a 12-part series on our blog in 2016 that will highlight a different development issue each month. Now you may be wondering, “what is a development issue and why is it important for credit unions?”In our Development Education (DE) Program, the National Credit Union Foundation helps DE trainees delve into global development issues and recognize the ways in which credit unions can address these issues to improve the well-being of members and communities.  12 major development issues have been identified as barriers to economic growth and prosperity for the world’s families.  These issues do provide us with dilemmas and barriers, but more importantly, they provide us with challenges to overcome and opportunities to capitalize on. Working together can make a real difference in the lives of people in our local, national and global communities.  Click here to see a full listing of all 12 development issues.Understanding and tackling global development issues can grow the economic prosperity for the world’s families.  These issues can be seen throughout the developing world, but these same issues affect households across American and other developed countries. Millions of Americans live in poverty. Some are thrown into poverty by illness or unemployment; others live in a seemingly endless cycle of poverty that spans lifetimes and generations.  Evidence suggests that despite concern for addressing development issues and thereby reducing poverty, most Americans have a limited understanding of the key issues that relate to domestic poverty.Our goal with this 12 part series is to increase the awareness for these issues so that we as credit union organizations can be better informed on issues that face our members and communities.  This month, we will focus on the development issue of transportation. continue reading » 1SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblrlast_img read more

Banking on the unified wealth model

first_imgIt seems as if every investment management, advisory, accounting and consultancy firm is offering some sort of technology-enabled unified wealth solution to the ultra-wealthy these days, and it’s about time. While demand for a more holistic view of finances had been rising among high-net worth communities since the financial crisis, obstacles remained to integrate separate technology systems, and therefore financial data, to a single platform—the necessary requirement for holistic wealth management. As expectations have continued to move to even greater integration and convenience, some astute clients are noticing that most wealth platforms have left out an important component – traditional banking data and functionality.Most wealth platforms have left out an important component – traditional banking data and functionality.Current-state wealth management platforms enable consumers to evaluate investment and retirement accounts in relation to cash-flow analysis and long-term investment goals. Ultimately, the move to real time and full wealth platform convergence will be driven by parallel technology emerging through mobile app development in the banking sector.New apps provide clients with an aggregated view of banking, mortgage, savings and credit accounts, as well as automated payment functionality. In many cases, the offerings intended for the mass affluent are already far superior to those provided to ultra-wealthy families even through elite service provider relationships. Integration with investment and long-term planning components would dramatically speed industry adoption of a comprehensive wealth platform. continue reading » 6SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblrlast_img read more

As Feds crack down on payday lenders, fintech startups see an opportunity

first_img 7SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr The future looks grim for payday lenders. Comedian John Oliver has had them in his crosshairs since 2014, attracting millions of viewers and stirring up plenty of outrage. President Obama began expressing concerns about their exploitative lending practices last spring. Google announced last month that it would no longer allow payday lenders to advertise. And now federal watchdogs have unveiled new rules that would dismantle a business model that often traps borrowers desperate for cash in cycles of spiraling debt.“The very economics of the payday lending business model depend on a substantial percentage of borrowers being unable to repay the loan and borrowing again and again at high interest rates,” Richard Cordray, director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), told the New York Times.Payday lenders say the risks associated with serving subprime borrowers justify their practices (20% of payday loans result in re-borrowing and default). But regulators aren’t buying that argument and an increasing number of financial technology startups are reinventing the lending business with a model that promises to help borrowers and build their credit at the same time.“I applaud what the CFPB is doing,” says Joe Bayen, cofounder and CEO of a fintech startup called Lenny, which offers young borrowers credit lines up to $1,000 and a chance to improve their credit scores through a partnership with FICO. “We offer increasing balances based on how a user behaves. Everything is aimed at upward mobility and helping people.” continue reading »last_img read more

Keep it or shred it: Spring-cleaning financial documents

first_imgSpring is in the air! Along with spring-cleaning our closets and homes, it’s also important to take a look at that pile of papers gathering dust in the kitchen drawer or your home office. Are you holding on to financial documents that can be shredded, or should you continue to (carefully) keep those records on hand? Here are four types of financial documents and tips for whether to keep them or shred them.Credit card statements: ATM or deposit receipts can be tossed after the transaction is recorded, but credit card statements should be kept until a payment is made and appears on the next statement. Receipts for anything purchased on your credit card should also be kept until the statement arrives so you can confirm you were charged the appropriate amount.Student loans: When you originally took out your student loan you were given a master promissory note. This document shows how you promised to pay your loan and any accrued interest and it should be kept securely until your loan is completely paid off.Mortgage/Lease: Because many mortgage lenders now allow for electronic payments, most documents associated with your home will be available anytime on their webpage. If you are leasing your residence, transaction histories may not be available online, so hold on to your lease and any record of rent payments made. That way if there is a dispute with your landlord, you will have the necessary detailed documents handy.Car and health insurance: Many insurance companies will send policies via email or will allow you to create an account on their website and access your secure documents at your convenience. If this is the case there is no need to keep any paper copies that are mailed to you. If there isn’t an electronic copy, file away your policy information until the next year when the new plan information arrives. Life insurance policies are an exception and should be filed away forever. 85SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,Wendy Moody Wendy Moody is a Senior Editor with CUInsight.com. Wendy works with the editorial team to help edit the content including current news, press releases, jobs and events. She keeps … Web: www.cuinsight.com Detailslast_img read more

Checking account growth – It’s go time!

first_imgIt’s go time!  New account activity peaks spring through fall, so now is the time to put your acquisition strategies in place.  Our client data shows a consistent national trend each year with new account openings.  The new account activity increases in early spring, the momentum created by tax returns and nicer weather. A second peak occurs between June and September, followed by the lowest period of activity in November and December.  Right now, we’re experiencing the first spike in activity, so it’s time to make sure systems are in place and strategies are aligned to get more than your fair share of new accounts.Each new member who enters your branch is a great opportunity.   This visit may be the most time you ever get to spend with them, so make it count.   It’s time to audit the experience of a new member.Roadmap/New Account ProcessHow is the time being spent?   Is there a roadmap to the conversation to ensure a good conversation flow and that all key areas are covered?  WorkflowAre employees leaving the member to scan, copy and print?  Are there any efficiencies you can add to reduce time on processes?New Account PersonnelIt can be tempting to rush through the process.  Remember the member drove to your location to open the account – they are seeking a financial advisor, not somebody who cursorily completes the paperwork. Is the employee confident and knowledgeable?  Do they ask questions to identify and understand the member’s needs so they can offer solutions?   Are they offering to assist with moving direct deposits and automatic payments?  Consider having a member of management open a new account on a regular basis to examine the process and determine if there could be an improvement in the member experience.It is during and after the account opening that you set yourself apart from the competition.   The onboarding process is key in building the relationship with the member.  How can you impress members during this critical time in your new relationship?Open Communication ChannelsEstablish communication channels with the new member.  How do they prefer future communication?  Do they prefer a phone call, email, text, or mail?   Young adults greatly prefer to send a text rather than to pick up the phone. If that option is available, it can facilitate drastically better communication.   More mature members may prefer a phone call.  If this is the case, which number and what time of the day is a good time to reach them?   Let the member know to expect future contact so it is expected.Send thank you notes shortly after account opening.   Have the relationship manager who opened the account write a personal note and mention something specific that was discussed during the new account process so the member feels valued and remembered.OnboardingHaving an onboarding strategy is just as important as having an acquisition strategy.   If the new account isn’t activated, you haven’t become their primary financial institution.   Onboarding starts with moving direct deposits over.  Offer to assist the member with this process and changing any automatic payments over to the new account. Check the member’s new account to see if there is debit card activity during the first 10 to 14 days.  If there is no activity, the new account personnel should verify the member’s new debit card was received and see if they need any additional assistance during a follow-up call.Switch kits just don’t work.  If the member uses automatic payments instead of bill pay, offer to get the actual forms they need for automatic withdrawals instead of a generic one.  It’s a good idea to have the major utility companies’ forms on hand to better assist with the process. Follow UpFollow up with a thank you note, phone call, and letter from management.   This personal connection makes the member feel that their business is valued and appreciated.Make note of future sales opportunities from your new account interview and follow up with the member.  If the member mentioned they had a CD maturing in early July, contact the member in late June with your rates and other investment options.  If the member mentioned they have a child needing a new car in the fall, contact them in late July with auto loan rates.  This kind of attention will set you apart from your competitors.  Members want to know they are important to you.Ask for referrals.  Don’t forget to ask these new members to refer their friends, family, and colleagues.  If you’ve provided exceptional service to your members, they won’t hesitate to make referrals. Focusing on all the little steps makes a big difference in getting the relationship and retaining memberships.  To maximize the opportunities during peak new account opening seasons, act now to ensure you have all the processes in place.  It’s go time!For assistance with digital referral programs, onboarding processes, and activation strategies around new and existing accounts, contact Velocity Solutions. 38SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,Cindy J Draper Cindy J. Draper is a Retail DDA Strategist and Director of Training at Velocity Solutions. Cindy has over 20 years of experience in the banking industry. She has worked her … Web: myvelocity.com Detailslast_img read more

The importance of open architecture in credit union technology

first_img 6SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr One of the topics of recent conversation in credit union technology has revolved around the impact Millennials are having on the financial industry. Within the next few years, this tech-savvy group will represent close to 75% of the workforce and is becoming an influential part of the financial world. Keeping pace with the ever-changing face of credit union technology is vital to attracting Millennial members. The credit union industry has had to evolve to be able to offer the tools and technology members demand and what once was thought of as taboo in the industry, credit union APIs are now crucial to satisfying current technology needs and staying relevant. A core data processing system with a robust API allows for credit union open architecture so that you can offer the best-of-breed products that might otherwise be unavailable.Staying RelevantBeing able to offer up-to-date technology and engage with the latest applications is important to staying at the forefront of your competition. For example, industry trends are showing that more and more people, many of them Millennials, are using non-traditional alternative banking tools. Alternative payment options such as Venmo, PayPal, and Applepay are just some of these third-party applications to offer this. FICO recently reported that an estimated 52% of Millennials and 27% of Baby Boomers are using these forms of payment. Having the ability to engage third parties via an API, and being able to offer additional options to your members is a great reason to seek a core processor with open architecture. continue reading »last_img read more

3 ways to improve teamwork

first_img 66SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,John Pettit John Pettit is the Managing Editor for CUInsight.com. John manages the content on the site, including current news, editorial, press releases, jobs and events. He keeps the credit union … Web: www.cuinsight.com Details Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither was your team. If you want your team to truly act like one, be patient and allow time for learning, bonding, and growing. Here are 3 ways you can help your team come together.Create cohesion: Combining a group of people with individual skills to create a well-oiled machine can be tricky. Each person needs to buy-in to the team and feel they are an important part of the group. By constantly reviewing processes and improving on them, your team will remove obstacles and create a cohesion that will help them succeed and grow.Build trust: If you want your team to work well together, they’ll need to be able to trust each other. It’s hard to trust teammates that you don’t know. Give your team opportunities to get to know each other outside the office, so they can share ideas and opinions through honest communication.Focus on goals: By setting goals and providing your team with direction, they can begin to understand how they need to work not only as a team but as individuals. Focusing on personal tasks will allow your team to see how individual responsibilities fit together to affect a common goal.last_img read more

Bureau issues updated FCRA forms to implement S.2155 changes

first_imgSection 301 of S.2155 amends section 605 of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) (codified at 15 USC §1681c). Section 605 establishes requirements regarding the information in consumer reports and disclosures regarding them. S.2155 adds subsection 605(i) and (j) establishing requirements regarding security freezes. These changes will primarily affect consumer reporting agencies (CRAs) rather than credit unions.One change adds a required notice for whenever a summaries of rights is required by FCRA’s section 609. While section 609 contains a lot of disclosure requirements, only subsections 609(c) and (d) specifically reference a “summary of rights.” Last week, the BCFP issued an interim final rule updating the Summary of Consumer Rights in Appendix K to Part 1022and the Summary of Consumer Identity Theft Rights in Appendix I. These are required under section 609(c) and (d), respectively (codified at 15 USC §1681g (c) and (d)).The Summary of Consumer Rights must be provided by a CRA whenever it makes a written disclosure of information to the consumer. Also, it may need to be provided by employers taking adverse employment actions in connection with a credit report. The Summary of Consumer Identity Theft Rights must be provided by the CRA when a consumer reports that they are a victim of identity theft. In the interim final rule, the Bureau specified that it is soliciting commentary to determine how to proceed regarding other model forms. 3SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr continue reading »last_img read more

New housing bill a mixed bag for credit unions

first_imgYesterday, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., released a modified version of her comprehensive housing reform bill, the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act of 2019. While the updated legislation would not subject credit unions to Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) regulations, the bill would introduce new regulatory burdens for some community chartered credit unions and credit unions that seek to add underserved areas.“We thank Senator Warren for updating her legislation to no longer subject credit unions to CRA regulations, which were designed to prevent banks from engaging in discriminatory lending practices,” said NAFCU Executive Vice President of Government Affairs and General Counsel Carrie Hunt. “Additionally, we appreciate that the bill seeks allow all types of credit unions to add underserved areas to their fields of memberships. However, we have concerns about the new regulatory and examination burdens that would be placed on credit unions that add underserved areas.“While the bill makes improvements over the previous version, NAFCU continues to have concerns about some of the language as we want to ensure that credit unions that want to assist communities that other institutions have left behind are not subject to new CRA-like regulations, just under a different name. There’s absolutely no reason for credit unions to be subject to new regulations.” ShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr continue reading »last_img read more

An end-of-day strategy to stay effective

first_img ShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr continue reading » There are only so many hours in the day and they often seem to fly by. From meetings to email correspondence to employee drop-ins, a leader’s time can quickly be accounted for without making much of a dent in our to-do list.Not accomplishing tasks can add stress. We leave the office thinking about what we didn’t get done, and worrying about how that’ll impact tomorrow’s schedule. If we’re not careful, we’ll get burned out. That’s why it’s important to put yourself in the right mindset to disconnect at the end of the day.Productivity expert Charlie Gilkey has a strategy to help: The “15-minute checkout.”“With the 15-minute checkout, you’ll take a brief pause at the end of each workday to evaluate the day you just had and also set yourself up to successfully start anew the next day,” Gilkey writes. “It’s a simple routine that, done consistently, will empower you to reject the everything-is-a-priority mindset so prevalent in today’s workplace. At last, you’ll be able to ‘clock out’ without worries or distractions.”last_img read more

Vote for the 2020 Credit Union Hero of the Year

first_img continue reading » CUNA has announced the finalists for the 2020 Credit Union Hero of the Year award, sponsored by Symitar.Voting is open to select one of these individuals as the 2020 Credit Union Hero of the Year.A credit union hero is someone who personifies credit union philosophy and ideals, shows dedication to credit union principles, and makes a difference in their community.The 2020 finalists are:Robin Brulé, chief community engagement officer at $2.4 billion asset Nusenda Credit  Union, Albuquerque, N.M. ShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblrlast_img read more

Don’t forget about the future

first_img ShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr continue reading » The world we’re currently operating in makes it difficult to look past the end of the week. Our businesses have been disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic. New issues and concerns arise almost daily.We’ve all had to make sacrifices – whether it’s canceling an event, reducing hours, or closing up shop and hoping for a return. Right now, our main goal is just to make it through. But what happens when we get to the end of this? Will you be prepared for the future?Leadership guru Dan Rockwell has some good insights from a recent conversation with strategic innovation consultant and author Mark Johnson, where the two discussed how “volatility makes long-term thinking more important.”The approach Johnson takes to execute on vision is using “future-back” thinking. This way of thinking is used to develop strategy, while “present-forward” thinking is used to execute. Here are a few examples of the differences between the two ways of thinking:last_img read more

NAFCU details NCUA PPP rules in new alert to CUs

first_img continue reading » NCUA headquarters Earlier this month, the NCUA Board approved an interim final rule to make conforming amendments to capital adequacy rules consistent with the CARES Act. Under the rule, paycheck protection program loans will receive a zero percent risk weighting under the NCUA’s risk-based net worth requirement. NAFCU outlines what credit unions should know regarding the rule in a new Final Regulation Alert.NAFCU has previously urged the agency to grant additional capital flexibility, as well as place a moratorium on exams, and more, and will continue to advocate for additional relief and guidance.In the alert, NAFCU highlights that the rule:provides that if a PPP loan is pledged as collateral for a non-recourse loan that is provided as part of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System’s Paycheck Protection Program Liquidity Facility (PPPLF), the pledged loan can be excluded from a credit union’s calculation of total assets for the purposes of calculating its net worth ratio; andcenter_img ShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblrlast_img read more

Payments: The need for speed

first_img continue reading » In payments, fast can be defined in a single word: immediate.“Consumers experience real-time transfers across a variety of fintech tools. That expectation carries over to their relationship with traditional providers, including credit unions,” says Tom Church-Adams, SVP/lead, payments solution line, for CUES Supplier member CO-OP Financial Services, Rancho Cucamonga, California. “And nearly everything is immediate, thanks to digital channels, faster network speeds and innovation in supply chain models.”Church-Adams reflects on other areas of immediacy in our lives.“In many cities, groceries are at your door in a matter of hours. In all parts of the world, doctors and mental health practitioners diagnose ailments in real-time from an iPad. We buy cars and homes in online marketplaces. Paying rent, getting paid for a gig, sending cash to a friend—these are everyday tasks consumers expect to be simple, seamless and speedy.” ShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblrlast_img read more

“Do not pick up nickels in front of the steamroller!”

first_img continue reading » ShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr It seems like every time a sudden and severe shock hits the financial markets, all the fancy hedge fund investment strategies that use monikers like, “Enhanced Return,” or “Alpha Plus” go from being perfectly fine to gone within a month. This has happened in the major market blow-ups in 1998, 2001, 2008, and 2020, with a few notable semi disasters (2002, 2013, 2016) thrown in between. Then, when the dust clears, investors are pulverized, and fund managers close up shop so as not to have to work the next 5 years for free to make up remaining investors’ losses.Naturally, with 2020 being easily the worst economic disaster to hit in nearly a century, the “Alpha” and “Enhanced” hedge fund story has been no different. Recently, one fund run by a very prominent money manager dropped a cool 75% in March. You almost have to try to lose 75% in a month, kind of like Max Bialystock and Leo Bloom in “The Producers.” Many other hedge funds have followed suit, only losing 25% or so. What we find is the same, old story. We find out that the managers with their rocket scientist degrees were, when it comes down to brass tacks, selling puts and calls on an index like the S&P 500 and collecting premiums every month –which was great until the market blew up. Sure, they may have been trading fancy things like “Skew Vol” vs. “VIX” or some other attributes with Greek letters, and no doubt, there were some cool algorithms, but in the end, it was simply selling volatility that blew them up. We call this, “The Picking up Nickels in Front of the Steamroller” strategy.So much of the selling volatility strategies are part of “The Fed has my back” approach to market investing. Let’s face it; the Fed has been supportive of risk for far too long. The increase in their support has been parabolic. This is what leads to long periods of declining volatility and price inflation for risk assets like equities and corporate credit. Pressure builds, as the degree of Fed support increases, and each blow-up tends to be more spectacular than the last. That is why, before the Fed and Treasury came in the markets in March with the message of, “Put the sell button down, we’re going to be buying everything!” the most liquid markets in the world, US Treasury and Agency Mortgage-Backed Securities markets were simply broken. Anyone who relied on leverage through borrowing was being margin called out of existence.last_img read more

Victims Pistol-whipped in Baywood, North Bay Shore Home Invasions

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York Suffolk County police are investigating a pair of armed home invasions during which victims were pistol whipped about one mile apart on the same day last week in Baywood and North Bay Shore, authorities said.In the first case, a gunman with his face covered kicked in the door of a Baywood home on Sonia Road, hit the victim in the head with a gun and demanded money at 4:25 a.m. Thursday, police said. The attacker fled empty handed.In the second case, three men—two of whom were armed with handguns—and a woman rang the doorbell of a Hemlock Drive apartment in North Bay Shore and then forced their way inside when the victim answered the door shortly before 10 p.m. Thursday, police said.That victim was also pistol whipped before the assailants fled with two watches, police said.There were neither any arrests nor descriptions of the suspects in either case. Third Squad detectives are continuing the investigations.last_img read more

‘Our decisions matter’: Binghamton University professor says there is still hope in this pandemic

first_img“If we’re successful in flattening the curve, there will be an inflection point,” said Wander. “You’ll start to see a little bit slower growth of the number of cases and that’s what we’re looking for… to keep the number of cases in line with our medical system’s capacity.” Kathy Wander is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Binghamton University. She says when this crisis quickly grew into a pandemic, it was scary. She says the most alarming part was the ratio of how many people were infected by one person who had the coronavirus. “The average for influenza was estimated at one-point-three and already, that’s a huge public health problem in the U.S., but two is brutal, so whatever we can do to bring that number down, is going to save lives,” said Wander. (WBNG) — Epidemiologist and biological anthropologist at Binghamton University, Kathy Wander, says there’s no reason to lose hope during this crisis, as long as we work together. Overall, Wander says none of our efforts will work unless we all do it together. She added it doesn’t matter if you have symptoms or not, or if you know anyone with the virus or not, you must follow the simple rules of social distancing and washing your hands. While some countries such as China have appeared to reach a peak and are seeing a somewhat downward trend, Wander says it’s difficult to predict if that will be the same fate for the United States. She says every country is different in healthcare systems and how they are responding to this pandemic. However, she did say we are more guaranteed to see the same trend if we can each make the biggest impact, which involves social distancing. “Our decisions matter. We can control this,” said Wander. “We just need to make the right decisions together.”last_img read more

Water Street Brewing Co. supports small businesses while feeding the front lines

first_imgIt’s been an especially difficult time for bars and restaurants who depend on dine-in services. “Sales are down but we’re trying to accommodate to our customers’ needs. We’re providing free delivery of our full menu and beer and online ordering, which is new to us. So we’re trying to adjust to the times to try and stay in the business during what is a difficult time for our industry,” said head brewer Nick Hall. “We saw a need for both local businesses and healthcare workers, providing people with means, really providing both industries in one,” said Hall. “It’s been really nice to see the overwhelming support we’ve received from both businesses and individuals so far.” Meals have also been delivered to other places with front line workers. For more on the coronavirus click here. It started a GoFundMe page accepting donations from the public to buy meals from other restaurants. “The goal is to provide at least a small boost in revenue during a difficult time to small businesses to keep them afloat until this whole thing is over or until there is some more government assistance. And hope to provide at least enough to keep some service industry jobs going during the crisis,” said Hall. “The people who work in nursing homes are really protecting our most vulnerable. The first place we delivered to in terms of a nursing home was Susquehanna which has positive covid-19 there so we thought that was a great place to donate some food to, show them that the community has their support,” said Hall. Helping two industries through one initiative, and all made possible by the generosity of the community. BINGHAMTON (WBNG) — The coronavirus has forced many businesses to close their doors in recent weeks. If you would like to contribute to the GoFundMe page, click here. The meals purchased are being delivered to healthcare workers in our area including staff at Lourdes, Binghamton General, UHS Wilson, along with EMS crews. Water Street Brewing Co. in downtown Binghamton is one of many places that has had to adapt to restrictions and guidelines. Thus far, meals have been donated by Water Street Brewing Co., Hacienda Mexican Restaurant, Parlor City Vegan, Alexander’s Cafe, Nezuntoz, Garage Taco, and The Shop. Despite being a tough time, Water Street Brewing Co. is using its resources to help the community.last_img read more

How school districts are navigating the unknown to improve education

first_imgThis year, the state has the ability to cut funding in the middle of the school year. Governor Andrew Cuomo has said that amount could be from 10-30% of state aid to schools if New York doesn’t receive $61 billion in federal stimulus funding. Andrews said the governor had previously told schools a decision on cuts would come by May 15, but they have not heard anything from him after that date had passed. (WBNG) — For Southern Tier educational leaders, only one things is for sure: school will take place in some form this fall. “There’s no question that the in-person instruction, those classroom interactions, the real live in-person work, I don’t think the shift to virtual was a substitute,” said Dr. Jason Andrews, superintendent of the Windsor Central School District. Dr. Andrews said not only would these cuts be unprecedented, they would be devastating for area districts, leading to widespread cuts across the board in programs. Districts across the Southern Tier passed their budgets, but the planning for the 2020-2021 school year hasn’t stopped. No matter what happens, one local superintendent believes not only will school happen in some format, but it’s best in person.last_img read more

Feral to Friendly: How you can help feral kittens at the Susquehanna SPCA

first_imgMatteo Basile, a volunteer at the shelter, says he plays with animals because it makes them happy. (WBNG) — It’s kitten season and the Susquehanna SPCA says they are seeing a lot of feral felines coming into their shelter. “You really need to devote time to spend with them, to get them comfortable with humans, to trust humans,” said Haynes. However, with so many kittens, the shelter says they need volunteers to help out. “You come in to cuddle and and play with kittens,” said Haynes. Feral cats can be difficult to adopt given their wild nature. With nearly 30 feral kittens in their care, the Susquehanna SPCA will work to socialize those kittens, in hopes of finding them families. “It is a process and it does with most feral kittens take some time, but certainly they will come around,” said Haynes. center_img Haynes says by slowing earning their trust, these kittens can grow into adoptable and loving house pets. “We’re always really happy to see feral kittens because we can socialize kittens and find them homes to live in, instead of being wild,” said Susquehanna SPCA Executive Director Stacie Haynes. It’s that simple. For one hour a day, you can volunteer to play with kittens, which can also be life-changing for them. “Maybe they’ll get used to us, maybe they’ll like us,” said Basile. If you would like to volunteer with the “Feral to Friendly” program at the Susquehanna SPCA, call 607-547-8111, extension 102.last_img read more

NY nursing home residents, employees will be first to receive COVID vaccines

first_img(WBNG) — Even when the coronavirus vaccines are eventually approved by the FDA, not everyone will be able to get them at the same time. Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) announced the first 170,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine will arrive in New York by December 15. This can only happen if their Emergency Use Authorization orders (EUA) are approved beforehand. Southern Tier health officials told 12 News they have a plan in place to distribute the vaccines once available. Once Pfizer and the other companies that have manufactured vaccines gain approval, the vaccines will first go to long-term care residents as well as the employees of those facilities.center_img Besides those connected to longterm care facilities, Gov. Cuomo said healthcare workers will also be among the first to get a vaccine. “Those plans are underway, we are definitely leaning on our partners as well as the Office of Emergency Services, who’s been assisting us from the beginning, but I think we’re as ready as can be to receive the vaccine as soon as it’s ready to be shipped,” said Rebecca Kaufman, Broome County’s Department of Health Director.last_img read more

Top Biden advisor says national lockdown ‘measure of last resort’

first_imgThe U.S. is now reporting a weekly average of 145,401 cases every day, a more than 33% increase compared with a week ago and a record high average, according to Hopkins.More than 69,400 people were hospitalized with Covid-19, the highest number of patients with the virus at any point during the pandemic, according to data from the COVID Tracking Project, which is run by journalists at The Atlantic.Top coronavirus advisors for Biden, who named a panel of scientists on Monday to help navigate his Covid-19 response, have given differing stances on whether the U.S. should adopt lockdown measures to control the recent spike in cases.- Advertisement – Osterholm later clarified his comments in an interview with NBC News, saying, “It was not a recommendation. I have never made this recommendation to Biden’s group. We’ve never talked about it.”A Biden transition official told NBC News that a shutdown “is not in line with the president-elect’s thinking.”“We are not in support of a nationwide lockdown,” Dr. Atul Gawande, a professor of surgery and health policy at Harvard and a Biden advisor, told ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday. “You can have targeted measures building on mask wearing to include widespread testing, can include dialing up and down capacity restrictions, and those measures need to happen on a more localized basis.”Both Gawande and Murthy pointed to New York’s “micro-cluster” strategy as an example. The state has imposed tougher restrictions on specific areas depending on the level of coronavirus spread. The hardest-hit red zones would be forced to close nonessential businesses and schools for in-person learning while other surrounding areas can remain open with modifications.“On a zip code by zip code basis, you can deploy different restrictions in order to get the virus under control and it’s quite effective. We do not need to go into a nationwide, shelter-in-place shutdown,” Gawande said.More states are beginning to ease back into coronavirus restrictions and institute statewide mask mandates as coronavirus cases continue to soar ahead of the holidays. Many governors have pointed to “Covid fatigue,” or the reduced compliance with recommended public health guidance, as one reason for the swelling infections.North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, a Republican who has resisted instituting a mask mandate, ordered residents on Friday to begin covering their face when in public. On Thursday, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine reimposed a statewide mask mandate with tougher enforcement measures on businesses.“If we wear a mask, we are keeping our kids in school and we are protecting our elderly and we are protecting our hospitals,” DeWine told CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday. “We can see the end of this, we just have to tough it out… for a few more months and do what we need to do so we can get through this.” “That’s a measure of last resort,” Dr. Vivek Murthy, a former U.S. surgeon general tapped to help lead the group, told “Fox News Sunday,” adding that any lockdown at this stage of the pandemic would look different than the sweeping closures which states enacted in the spring to suppress the virus.“In the spring we didn’t know a lot about Covid, we responded, in a sense, with an on-off switch. We just shut things down because we didn’t know exactly how this was spreading and where it was spreading, but we learned a lot more since then,” Murthy said.Murthy’s comments come after another Covid-19 advisor to Biden, Dr. Michael Osterholm, who serves as director of the Center of Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, told Yahoo Finance in an interview Wednesday that shuttering businesses for four to six weeks while paying people for lost wages could help suppress cases and hospitalizations to a manageable level.- Advertisement – – Advertisement – A national lockdown of businesses and schools is a “measure of last resort,” even as cases continue to surge to record-highs across the U.S., a top coronavirus advisor to President-elect Joe Biden said on Sunday.Covid-19 cases were growing by 5% or more in 47 states as of Saturday, based on a weekly average, according to a CNBC analysis of data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. The U.S. reported 166,555 new cases on Saturday, the second-highest daily number of new cases so far.- Advertisement –last_img read more

Do you spend instead of save? Here’s why – and how you can change it

first_imgYour feelings about money may drive how you spend and save, but luckily you can change your ways- Advertisement –last_img

Latest avian flu cases may include one in Cambodia

first_imgJan 31, 2005 (CIDRAP News) – Two Vietnamese girls died of avian influenza over the weekend, and the disease may have claimed its first human victim in Cambodia, according to news services.A 13-year-old girl and a 10-year-old girl became the 11th and 12th people to die of H5N1 avian flu in Vietnam since late December, according to reports. Their illnesses were first reported in the news media Jan 28.The 13-year-old girl, who lived in Dong Thap province in southern Vietnam, died early on Jan 29, according to an Agence France-Presse (AFP) report. Her 35-year-old mother had died of avian flu Jan 21.AFP quoted state media reports as saying the girl and her mother had slaughtered an infected duck for a meal. Previous reports said the girl had fallen ill Jan 13 and been hospitalized Jan 20. The Associated Press (AP) said experts were still trying to determine if the two cases involved person-to-person transmission.The 10-year-old girl, who lived in the southern province of Long An, died yesterday, according to a Reuters report. China’s official news agency, Xinhua, quoted a physician at a hospital in Ho Chi Minh City as saying the girl had had contact with dead chickens.With the latest deaths, the apparent total of deaths caused by avian flu has increased to 44, including 32 in Vietnam and 12 in Thailand. The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Jan 28 it had received reports of the two girls’ cases, but it has not yet listed the cases as confirmed.The total number of human cases since late 2003 appears to be at least 57. That includes 27 cases reported in Vietnam before December 2004 and another 13 cases since then, for a total of 40. The 13 recent cases include a 42-year-old man from northern Vietnam who recovered and, according to Reuters, was released from a hospital Jan 28. Thailand has had 17 cases, including 12 fatal ones, but has not had a case since October 2004.(The latest WHO case count, updated Jan 26, listed a total of 54 human cases, including 41 deaths.)A 25-year-old Cambodian woman died yesterday in a southern Vietnam hospital with lung damage suspected to have been caused by avian flu, according to Reuters and AP reports.The woman’s family said she became ill after dead poultry were found in her village, the AP report said. Reuters quoted a physician named Nguyen Van Hung as saying that the case was worrisome because the woman’s brother had died of respiratory failure before he could be brought to a hospital.If the woman’s case is confirmed, she will be the first Cambodian known to have had H5N1 avian flu. Cambodia’s last H5N1 outbreak in poultry was in September 2004, according to records of the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).All serious cases of H5N1 avian flu since the disease re-emerged in late 2003 have been in Vietnam and Thailand, though evidence of a few mild or asymptomatic cases has been reported in Japan. The first known human cases of H5N1 occurred in Hong Kong in 1997, when 18 people fell ill and 6 of them died.Avian flu was also suspected to have killed a 39-year-old man who died yesterday in the central Vietnam city of Da Nang, according to a Reuters story citing a report in a Ho Chi Minh City newspaper. Test results were awaited, the story said.In addition, a Xinhua story said that seven people from northern Vietnam were admitted to the Topical Disease Institute in Hanoi on Jan 29 and 30 with avian flu symptoms. But the report didn’t identify the source of that information.In other developments, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last week cautioned travelers to Vietnam to take steps to avoid avian flu. The “travel health precaution” warns travelers to avoid areas where live poultry are kept and to make sure foods containing poultry or eggs are thoroughly cooked, among other steps. A separate notice for travelers visiting family and friends in Vietnam listed more detailed measures.last_img read more

Chiron’s UK plant to resume making flu vaccine

first_imgMar 3, 2005 (CIDRAP News) – British regulators have cleared Chiron Corp. to resume making influenza vaccine at its plant in Liverpool, England, which should improve the chances of an adequate vaccine supply in the United States next winter.British officials suspended Chiron’s license to make flu vaccine in October 2004 because of contamination problems at the plant. That forced the company to cancel delivery of 48 million doses of vaccine to the United States, close to half of the nation’s expected supply for the 2004-05 flu season.The United Kingdom’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) announced the lifting of Chiron’s license suspension yesterday. “The MHRA inspectors have concluded that satisfactory progress has been made in the manufacturing areas which had previously caused concern,” the agency said.The suspension was officially lifted at 5 p.m. yesterday. “The company . . . is now free to recommence full manufacturing of the vaccine,” the MRHA said.The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) welcomed the announcement but indicated it was not yet certain that the company could supply vaccine for the US market next season.In a news release, Dr. Jesse Goodman, director of the FDA Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, said, “FDA considers MHRA’s action today an extremely important milestone in Chiron’s efforts to supply influenza vaccine for the U.S. market for the coming flu season, but work remains. FDA and MHRA will continue to closely monitor Chiron’s progress as manufacturing proceeds.”When all critical stages of manufacturing are in full swing, and needed corrective actions can be fully evaluated, FDA plans to conduct a comprehensive inspection of Chiron’s Liverpool facility to assure that Chiron can produce a safe and effective vaccine.”Chiron, based in Emeryville, Calif., promised to continue working to get the plant back on track. Chief Executive Officer Howard Pien said in a statement, “Our employees have worked tirelessly and we are extremely proud of this result. This is a significant accomplishment. In this new beginning we remain focused on continuing to remediate and improve so Chiron can successfully deliver on the results required to supply influenza for the 2005-2006 season.”The statement did not say how much vaccine the company expects to be able to make. Flu vaccine is grown in chicken eggs; production usually begins in late winter or early spring and takes roughly 6 months.The loss of Chiron vaccine this season raised the specter of a shortage and prompted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to recommend that available doses be reserved for people with an increased risk of flu complications. The fear of a shortage triggered long lines at flu-shot clinics last fall.The nation’s other flu-vaccine sources stepped up their production in response to the situation. Sanofi Aventis (formerly Aventis Pasteur) said it would produce an extra 2.6 million doses, for a total of about 58 million doses of inactivated vaccine, and MedImmune planned to make an extra 1 million doses of its live intranasal vaccine, FluMist, for a total of about 3 million.In addition, the government arranged to buy 1.2 million doses of a GlaxoSmithKline flu vaccine that is not licensed in the United States. The vaccine, though considered safe, was to be used under investigational new drug rules, which require vaccine recipients to sign a consent form.The nation ended up with an estimated total of about 62 million doses of vaccine. The flu season has turned out be relatively mild, and some of the vaccine supply has gone unused, despite the earlier fears of a shortage.A CDC official was quoted yesterday as saying about 7% of the approved vaccine doses produced for the US market this year have not been used. Dr. Jeanne Santoli told the New York Times that 3 million to 3.5 million doses of inactivated vaccine and 1 million doses of live vaccine have not been sold.See also:UK MHRA news releaselast_img read more

Vietnamese find another case of avian flu

first_imgMay 17, 2005 (CIDRAP News) – Another man has contracted H5N1 avian influenza in northern Vietnam, only 4 days after the previous case dashed hopes of a respite from the outbreak.A 58-year-old man from Thanh Hoa was hospitalized at the Institute of Tropical Diseases in Hanoi on May 13, Reuters news service said today. Subsequent tests have confirmed he has the H5N1 virus.Nguyen Dang Ngoan, director of the Thanh Hoa provincial Preventive Medicine Center, told the Associated Press (AP) that dead chickens had been reported in the man’s yard a month ago and that the family slaughtered chickens for meals. He developed a high fever, coughing, and breathing difficulties Apr 20 and tested positive May 15, the AP reported today.A 52-year-old man from Vinh Phuc province, identified last week as Cao The Hai (previously listed as 55 years old), was admitted to the same hospital on May 12, Reuters reported. His case was the first reported in about 3 weeks. Both men were in stable condition, a doctor at the hospital told the media.”We are now treating two H5N1 patients and they are in good condition,” a doctor told Agence France-Presse (AFP), for a story published today.Authorities in the two provinces have quarantined the patients’ homes and are monitoring family members for illness, AFP reported.Unofficially, the two latest cases bring the number of Vietnamese diagnosed with H5N1 since late December 2004 to 43. Sixteen of those people died.Initial tests on a 20-year-old Cambodian woman from Kampot Province suspected of having H5N1 were negative, said Phan Van Tu, chief virologist at the Pasteur Institute in Ho Chi Minh City, as reported in today’s AP story.last_img read more

FBI says it easily replicated anthrax used in attacks

first_img At the same time, officials conceded that they probably will never be able to dispel all doubts about the case against Bruce E. Ivins, the anthrax researcher who died in an apparent suicide as the FBI was about to announce charges against him. According to a New York Times report on the press conference, FBI officials said investigators determined that the making of the powder was a relatively simple process of cleaning and drying anthrax spores. “FBI scientists easily reproduced it with gear that Ivins regularly used,” the article stated. Aug 15 CIDRAP News storyhttp://www.cidrap.umn.edu/cidrap/content/bt/anthrax/news/aug1508anthrax.html The FBI has said its experts and other scientists helping with the investigation developed a new DNA fingerprinting technique that enabled them to match the anthrax used in the attacks with a batch of anthrax that was in Ivins’ custody, known as RMR-1029. The agency has not released a detailed scientific report on the DNA evidence. Aside from that claim, the case against Ivins is mostly circumstantial, and a number of scientists have voiced doubts about it. At an Aug 18 news conference, the agency also acknowledged a specific error in the investigation and promised to release detailed information on the probe in peer-reviewed scientific journals. Aug 20, 2008 (CIDRAP News) – The FBI, seeking to counter scientific skepticism on its investigation into the 2001 anthrax attacks, insisted this week that the anthrax powder could have been made by one person and contained no “intentional additives” to make it more dispersible. The FBI then realized the sample was the same strain used in the attacks, which helped confirm other evidence implicating Ivins, the Times reported. “Looking at it in hindsight, we would do things differently today,” the newspaper quoted Majidi as saying. In addition, Dr. C.J. Peters, a virologist at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, said it is puzzling that the FBI has not reported finding traces of the letter anthrax in places where Ivins lived and worked, given how widely the spores were dispersed in settings such as the Washington, DC, post office that processed the letters mailed to senators. As expected, the FBI’s new revelations did not eliminate skepticism about the case. Dr. Richard Spertzel, a retired microbiologist who led the United Nations’ biological weapons inspections in Iraq, called the FBI’s new presentation “a pretty tenuous argument,” according to the Times. He specifically questioned the agency’s claim that the letter anthrax was not “military grade.” However, silicon was found in the mailed anthrax (as reported previously), and FBI officials conceded that the duplicate powder they made did not match the letter anthrax in that respect, according to reports by the Times and the Washington Post. FBI scientists said they concluded that the high level of silicon occurred naturally in the anthrax used in the attacks, the Times reported. Further, Majidi said the information released this week was “the first step toward broader dissemination of the scientific information surrounding this case. Additional information will be available through peer-reviewed publications and I ask you to respect the integrity of this process.” But it turned out that an extra copy of Ivins’ sample was kept by Paul Keim, a Northern Arizona University biologist who helped with the investigation, and he provided it to the FBI when the agency asked for it in 2006, according to the Post. “It is important to emphasize that the science used in this case is highly validated and well accepted throughout the scientific community. The novelty is in the application of these techniques for forensic microbiology.” The investigative error acknowledged by the FBI this week had to do with the handling of the first anthrax sample they obtained from Ivins. According to the Times, FBI officials revealed that they first obtained a sample of a unique strain of anthrax from him in 2002 and that it could have led them to the strain used in the attacks. However, the agency “destroyed the sample because Dr. Ivins did not follow protocol in the way it was submitted, making it more difficult to use in court,” the story said. “Through a comprehensive analytical approach, the investigators were provided with validated scientific data which linked the material used in the 2001 anthrax attacks to material from USAMRIID identified as RMR-1029,” Majidi said. In his Aug 18 written statement, Majidi listed several sophisticated techniques that were used in analyzing the mailed anthrax: scanning and transmission electron microscopy, energy dispersive x-ray analysis, carbon dating by accelerator mass spectrometry, and inductively coupled plasma-optical emission and mass spectrometry. “I would contend that anywhere he made the powder or manipulated the powder was almost certainly contaminated,” Peters told CIDRAP news by e-mail. “Think about the pos[itive] nasal swabs in the Hart office building or environmental swabs in the post office. Look at the spore counts on the protective gear when the Leahy letter was detected.” The mailing of anthrax-laced letters to two US senators and several media offices in the fall of 2001, shortly after the Sep 11 terrorist attacks, killed five people and sickened 17 others. The FBI outlined its case against Ivins on Aug 6 of this year, just 9 days after he died of an overdose of painkillers. Ivins had worked for years at the US Army Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) at Fort Detrick in Maryland. “I don’t think we’re ever going to put the suspicions to bed,” said Vahid Majidi, assistant director of the FBI’s Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate, as quoted in press accounts. “There’s always going to be a spore on a grassy knoll.” Early in the investigation, the FBI indicated that the mailed anthrax was a weaponized product, treated or processed to make it spread more easily through the air and penetrate deep into the lungs. It was reported that the powder contained silicon and that Army experts had been unable to replicate the material. The implication was that one person working alone would not have been able to produce the powder. But in a statement presented at this week’s news conference, Majidi said, “There were no intentional additives combined with the Bacillus anthracis spores to make them any more dispersible.” In other information given at the news conference, officials said the Institute for Genomic Research had sequenced the full DNA of several anthrax strains by 2002, suggesting it might be possible to link the letter anthrax to its source by identifying specific mutations, according to the Times. See also: It took another year to identify the four distinctive mutations the FBI has reported, the story said. Meanwhile, the FBI collected more than 1,000 samples of the Ames strain of anthrax, the strain used in the attacks, and started using its genetic test on them. The FBI found that 8 of the 1,000 samples carried the four mutations, as reported previously. According to the Times, 100 scientists had access to or were associated with those eight samples, and all of them were investigated. The body of evidence pointed to Ivins, the story said.last_img read more

American traveler survived Marburg fever, CDC says

first_img Samples collected from the patient during the illness initially showed no evidence of a Marburg virus infection, the agency said. But a sample taken during the patient’s convalescence yielded evidence of a possible infection, and more detailed testing of both samples at the CDC confirmed that the patient had the virus. The case appears to be the first Marburg infection reported in the United States. CDC table of Marburg outbreakshttp://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvrd/spb/mnpages/dispages/marburg/marburgtable.htm See also: The patient had visited the bat-infested “python cave” in western Uganda, the CDC said. Fruit bats can harbor the Marburg virus, which is a cousin of the deadly Ebola virus. A Dutch woman who visited the same cave in July 2008 contracted Marburg fever and died after returning to the Netherlands. “Both patients likely acquired their infections as a result of contact with cave-dwelling fruit bats,” the CDC said. CDC advice to travelers related to Marburg casehttp://wwwn.cdc.gov/travel/contentMarburgUganda.aspx “The patient developed illness four days after returning to the US, was hospitalized, discharged, and fully recovered,” the CDC Special Pathogens Branch said in an online notice. No details about the patient or the illness were released. A CDC official told CIDRAP News the agency expects to be able to provide more information soon. The appropriate state and local health departments were working with the CDC to further investigate the American patient’s case, the CDC reported. The investigation includes assessing anyone who might have been exposed to the patient during the illness and checking on travelers who visited the same cave or other caves in Africa. Officials said there was no evidence that the disease spread to anyone else. Feb 3, 2009 (CIDRAP News) – A case of the often deadly Marburg hemorrhagic fever was retrospectively identified in an American who fell ill after a trip to Uganda in January 2008 and eventually recovered, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported recently. CDC questions and answers about Marburghttp://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvrd/spb/mnpages/dispages/marburg/qa.htm CDC outbreak postings with report on Marburg casehttp://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvrd/spb/outbreaks/index.htm The Ugandan Ministry of Health officially closed the cave to visitors in August, after the Dutch case, the statement said. The Marburg virus, like the Ebola virus, can cause a severe febrile disease for which there is no vaccine or specific treatment. Case-fatality rates in recorded outbreaks have ranged from 21% to 90%, according to CDC data. A major outbreak occurred in Angola in 2004 and 2005, involving 252 confirmed cases with 227 deaths, as listed by the CDC. The virus is believed to spread through contact with bodily fluids. Jul 10, 2008, CIDRAP News story on case in the Netherlandshttp://www.cidrap.umn.edu/cidrap/content/bt/vhf/news/jul1008marburg.htmllast_img read more

New investment cycle of the Blue Lagoon

first_imgLaguna Poreč also opened the fourth pool in the auto camp Bijela uvala, which makes this camp unique in Croatia with as many as four pools for the comfort of its visitors.Camp Bijela Uvala (Zelena laguna, 52440 Poreč, 52440, Poreč) is located on the Istrian peninsula, 5 km from Poreč, and is recognized as one of the best Croatian camps. The camp is categorized with four stars and is a proud winner of the prestigious ADAC award for quality “yellow board”. The camp area is 450.000 square meters, with a capacity of 6.000 guests. The camp has accommodation on 1.200 camping pitches, mostly between 70 and 110 mXNUMX, as well as accommodation in mobile homes.In addition to the new swimming pools, this year’s investment cycle also includes the refurbishment of 11 villas in the Laguna Bellevue tourist resort and the expansion of the terraces and landscaping of the park in front of the 27 terraces of the ground floor apartments.The total capital investments of the company Plava laguna in the destination Poreč in 2017 amount to HRK 94,9 million. Part of the investment relates to the construction and arrangement of exemplary accommodation units of hotels, villas, apartments and villages of the Laguna Park Hotel in preparation for a thorough future reconstruction, and significant funds have been invested in improving the quality of content in camps. This year, the interior of the common areas of Hotel Zorna was decorated, and Hotel Delfin received 124 newly renovated bathrooms, which arranged all 800 bathrooms in this hotel.last_img read more

In June, Zagreb recorded a growth of 30 percent in overnight stays and arrivals

first_imgAccording to the Zagreb Tourist Board, the Croatian capital recorded 30% more arrivals and as much as 32% more overnight stays in June than in June 2016.Thus, a total of 137.638 arrivals and 244.670 overnight stays were registered, and the most numerous were guests from: South Korea, the USA, Germany, China and the United Kingdom, while guests from the United States of America were in the first place.”The Zagreb Tourist Board is extremely pleased with these excellent results, which once again confirm that Zagreb has become an unavoidable year-round tourist destination and invites everyone to the final two concerts of the festival. Zagreb Classic on Tomislav Square, which will be held today, July 4 (Zagreb Philharmonic and Roby Lakatos) and on Thursday, July 6, GK Komedija – Comedy Gala!), and also announces the fourth edition yard which will open its doors next week, on July 14th. ” stand out from the Tourist Board of the City of ZagrebFor the period January – June 2017, a total of 532.735 arrivals were recorded, which is 19% more and 961.364 overnight stays, which is 18% more than in the same period last year. There were 23% more foreign guests (438.801 arrivals) and 21% more overnight stays (790.604). In the first six months, most overnight stays were recorded by guests from South Korea, the US, Germany, Italy and the UK.last_img read more

UNWTO: Tourism is growing, with 70 million more arrivals than last year

first_imgTourist destinations around the world hosted 1,1 billion international tourists, from January to October 2017, according to the latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer. This represents an increase of 7% compared to the same period last year, or 70 million more arrivals from abroad.Thus, destinations around the world in the first ten months achieved a total of 1,127 million (+ 7%) arrivals of international tourists, 70 million more than in the same period in 2016.Destinations in Southern and Mediterranean Europe, North Africa and the Middle East have shown extraordinary strength, with international arrivals exceeding 7% in all Southern and Mediterranean European destinations, and Turkey is recovering rapidly as well as double-digit increases for most other destinations in the region. In North Africa and the Middle East, Egypt, Tunisia and Palestine have recovered strongly from previous years, while Morocco, Bahrain, Jordan, Lebanon, Oman and Dubai continue to grow.”These robust results, the best we’ve seen in many years, reflect ongoing demand for travel around the world, in line with the improved global economy and the recovery of destinations that have suffered declines in previous years”, Said UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai at the 2nd UNWTO / UNESCO Conference on Tourism and Culture held on 11 and 12 December in Oman.Regional resultsEuropean growth (+ 8%) led to an increase in international arrivals in the first ten months of 2017, thanks to significant results in southern and Mediterranean Europe (+ 13%). Western Europe (+ 7%) recovered from weaker results last year, while Northern Europe (+ 6%) had solid growth. Arrivals in Central and Eastern Europe increased by 4% between January and October 2017.Africa and Africa (+ 8%) are the fastest growing regions in international tourism. Africa (+ 8%) was the second fastest growing region during this period thanks to a strong recovery in North Africa (+ 13%) and sub-Saharan Africa (+ 5%).In Asia and the Pacific (+ 5%), results were led by South Asia (+ 10%), while Southeast Asia (+ 8%) and Oceania (+ 7%) also enjoyed a strong increase in arrivals. Northeast Asia (+ 3%) recorded more mixed results, with some destinations reporting double-digit increases and others rejected.South America (+ 7%) continues to lead growth in America, where total arrivals rose 3%. Central America and the Caribbean rose 4%, with the last signs of clear signs of recovery in October after Hurricanes Irma and Maria.Results in the Middle East (+ 5%) were mixed until October, with some destinations recovering strongly and others continuing to report sustainable growth, but the regional average was partly reduced by a few that declined.Strong recovery of tourist demand from Brazil and RussiaIn 2017, there was a strong growth in demand for international tourism, so demand in Brazil grew by 33%, and in Russia by 27%, which is indicative because the growth was recorded after several years of decline.Tourist spending                                                  Among the 10 leading markets, China (+ 19%), the Republic of Korea (+ 11%), the United States and Canada (+ 9%) and Italy (+ 7%) recorded the fastest growth in tourism consumption. Thus, tourist consumption from Germany, Great Britain, Australia, Hong Kong (China) and France increased between 2% and 5%.last_img read more

Bozinovic: We are in contact with colleagues from Slovenia and Austria. Most of the Croatian counties are in the green while only three counties are in the red zone

first_imgItaly introduced yesterday mandatory testing on covid19 for all who come to Italy from Croatia, Greece, Malta and Spain. News which of course unfortunately immediately resulted in the return of Italian tourists as well as the cancellation of reservations. “One of the main reasons for these mild clinical pictures is that mostly young people are infected, but they must be responsible for others not for themselves. They move among others, they may have to be with the elderly and the sick, with their household”Pointed out Alemka Markotić, director of the Clinic for Infectious Diseases“ Dr. Fran Mihaljević added you “I appeal to young people to try to realize that they do not have to give up entertainment completely, but they must be responsible, they must keep their distance, respect hygienic measures… I ask young people who have always and everywhere been leaders in good things to curb those numbers. ” There is intensive communication with all colleagues, including colleagues in Austria and Slovenia. It is most emphasized that the epidemiological situation is viewed through the counties selectively. For now, we have no announcement that Austria will put Croatia on the red list, said Minister Davor Božinović and added: “Most of the work is done to point out the specificity of certain situations in the regions. The situation is not the same in counties where more than half of the patients are sick today and in some others. Most of the Croatian counties are in the green while only three counties are in the red zone”Bozinovic added. The Italian government has announced that all costs related to providing protection against COVID-19 will be reimbursed to citizens. For this reason, Italians are likely to practice testing in their country of origin, but we will soon publish a list by counties where Italian tourists can be tested for covid in Croatia. Currently, about 820 thousand tourists stay in Croatia, or at the level of 68% compared to last year. Most tourists are in Istria County, followed by Primorje-Gorski Kotar, Split-Dalmatia and Zadar County. Also, today the Austrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced warning for travel to Croatia. However, there are no bans for now, but they recommend not to travel to Croatia. Currently, most new cases are in Zagreb and the Split-Dalmatia County. Most of the infected in Zagreb returned from summer vacations, and they are younger people, about 2/3 of them were at sea and stayed at larger gatherings in night bars that work after midnight, said Krunoslav Capak, reports Večernji list. Robert Koch Institute: Croatia is among the largest exporters of corona to Germany In the past 24 hours, 208 new cases were recorded, so the number of currently ill (active cases) in Croatia today is 961. According to the RKI data for August 11, currently 260 cases of covida19 have been imported from Croatia, while the last report from yesterday (August 13.08) does not list imported cases. The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) publishes daily reports on the state of the coronavirus pandemic in Germany with relevant information on the number of new infections, etc. Among the data that can be found in the daily report RKI for August 11, Croatia clearly stands out as one of the countries from which coronavirus is mostly “imported” to Germany, reports Index.hrlast_img read more

Letters to the Editor for Sunday, Sep. 1

first_imgDon’t blame others for actions of guiltyIt’s not often that you get two letters on the same day, Aug. 24, that look to blame someone or something else for the actions of the guilty.One blames Gov. Andrew Cuomo for opening the floodgates to make anyone with a Roman collar target for a lawsuit.Well what did you expect? Look at the track record of the cover-up in the Catholic Church. How many of you would feel comfortable leaving your little ones in a room alone with a priest?They lost their credibility due to their own actions, and now they have left themselves exposed to the consequences. Will there be some not-so-legitimate claims? Perhaps. But how many hundreds of the abused will never speak up or come forward as to what happened to them? Sounds like a wash to me. The Catholic Church brought this upon itself and has tarnished all its clergy. Blame Cuomo? Once again, take your eye off the problem and place blame elsewhere.The second letter was about not punishing children who are not vaccinated. Are we losing our minds here? The Aug. 17 editorial was right on the money. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one. The children aren’t the guilty ones here. It’s the parents’ refusal to comply with vaccinations, not caring how, if or when their actions will affect others based upon their beliefs. Sounds pretty selfish to me. I’m glad my parents weren’t selfish and got me vaccinated.Bob BeliveGlenvilleLicense plate plan is a way to stick it to usWhat is the purpose of new license plates other than more revenue, which the state will mismanage?This is just another fine example of why people are leaving New York state.I find it hilarious our governor is touting that we can choose which plate will become our state plate.You can bet the “choice” will not be ours, as the governor will choose the plate with the new bridge named after his father, and they will be our new plates.I have two cars, a truck and two motorcycles, and all their plates are fine. No need for new ones.New York is always finding ways to gouge its people.Michael P. Croce Sr.Ballston SpaInstall warning bar to stop bridge crashesI’m amazed at the lack of foresight by anyone in charge of making sure that our beautiful new bridge over Glenridge Road is protected from trucks and their drivers who can’t read a multitude of signs warning them they are about to be embarrassed after they run into said bridge.The solution sits less than three-tenths of a mile from our mayor’s office at the Dunkin’ Donuts in back of the Sunoco station. It’s called a truck height warning bar, which could save the Glenville police time and money, not to mention all the damage to the bridge and the time spent by motorists being stuck in these events.Trucks have had to stop and try to turn around on this narrow street, holding up traffic on an already-busy road. It took me 5 seconds to find them online.Hang this bar over the right-hand lane on Glenridge just before Bruce Drive, and then the truck driver has a chance to abort his trip, turn onto Bruce Drive and go in a different route to get to Route 50.They even come with warning lights and lit-up signs to let them know that they will hit the bridge. This isn’t rocket science. Why put up more signs that seem to do no good? How many more trucks will hit the bridge before this simple solution will be used?Denise CrisciScotia More from The Daily Gazette:Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s press conference for Sunday, Oct. 18EDITORIAL: Urgent: Today is the last day to complete the censusEDITORIAL: Thruway tax unfair to working motoristsFoss: Should main downtown branch of the Schenectady County Public Library reopen?EDITORIAL: Find a way to get family members into nursing homes Categories: Letters to the Editor, OpinionIt’s not a right to put others’ kids at riskJust when I thought I had heard every excuse and defense from anti-vaccine advocates, Ms. Garcia went “there” in her Aug. 23 letter (“Segregation not right for unvaccinated kids”), by comparing requirements that non-vaccinated children stay home to segregation. Wow.Ms. Garcia, your supposed “heavy heart” in one that is actually weighed down by a grotesque comparison of parents who will risk the health of not only their children, but others, based on a debunked theory to the exclusion minorities from aspects of American life. This is truly devoid of any logic or reason. Ms. Garcia, do what you wish with your children, and I would hope that by the time they reach an age of consent, they will make proper healthcare decisions for themselves based on science and not something from the tin-foil-hat world. Your rights end with your children. When you endanger others, your rights end. Michael FondacaroAlbanySchool a chance to educate dirt-bikersI’m glad to see the kids who were riding dirt bikes on the streets throughout the Capital Region will be returning to school very soon.I hope that when they think about the foolish choice they made to break the law, they will realize that they could have caused accidents that  could have resulted in injuries or even death.What they thought was fun was to drive recklessly and put a scare into drivers and pedestrians throughout the cities and towns, which was an unacceptable thing to do.Hopefully, when they return to their schools, the administrators will have the pleasure of explaining to our unlawful children that riding their dirt bikes where they were riding them was an unsafe thing to teach others. So it will not be done again next year. I would hope that all the school superintendents will put my request first on their list of things to do list to try to make our roads safer.Walter “Neal” BrazellRotterdamlast_img read more

The great plc reinvention

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Landmark letting fuels Glasgow market

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£126m investment deal double for Scottish market

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When the ship comes in

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Talk of the towns

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Venture into the unknown

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English planning system under threat

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Coronavirus crash wipes $5 trillion off world stocks

first_imgA sign reading “Please avoid shaking hands due to the current situation” is seen placed at the entrance of Swiss stock exchange operator SIX Group in Zurich, Switzerland February 27, 2020. (REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann)Bets are now that the Federal Reserve will cut US interest rates as soon as next month and other major central banks will follow to try and nurse economies through the troubles and stave off a global recession.“Investors are trying to price in the worst case scenario and the biggest risk is what happens now in the United States and other major countries outside of Asia,” said SEI Investments Head of Asian Equities John Lau.“These are highly uncertainty times, no one really knows the answer and the markets are really panicking.” Coronavirus panic sent world share markets crashing again on Friday, compounding their worst week since the 2008 global financial crisis and bringing the wipeout in value terms to US$5 trillion.The rout showed no signs of slowing as Europe’s main markets slumped 2-3 percent early on and the ongoing dive for safety sent yields on US government bonds, seen as probably the securest asset in the world, to fresh record lows.Hopes that the epidemic that started in China would be over in months, and that economic activity would quickly return to normal have been shattered this week as the number of international cases have spiraled. The index of Shanghai and Shenzhen shares dropped 2.9 percent, on track for its first weekly loss in three.Oil prices languished at their lowest in more than a year having plunged 12 percent this week – its worst since 2016 – while all the major industrial metals have dropped between 3 percent and 6 percent.The appeal of guaranteed income sent high-grade bonds. U.S. yields plunging with the benchmark 10-year notes yield hitting a record low of 1.241 percent. It last stood at 1.247 percent.That is well below the three-month bill yield of 1.436 percent, deepening the so-called inversion of the yield curve. Historically an inverted yield curve is one of the most reliable leading indicators of a US recession.Expectations the Fed will cut interest rates to cushion the blow are rising in money markets. Analysts say Fed funds futures are now pricing in about a 75 percent chance of a 25 basis point cut at the central bank’s March 17-18 meeting.Topics : Disruptions to international travel and supply chains, school closures and cancellations of major events have all blackened the outlook for a world economy that was already struggling with the US-China trade war falloutMSCI’s all country world index, which tracks almost 50 countries, was down over 1 percent once Europe opened and almost 10 percent for the week – the worst since October 2008.Wall Street shares had plunged 4.4 percent on Thursday alone which was its largest fall since August 2011. They have now lost 12 percent since hitting a record high just nine days ago, driving into so-called correction territory.The CBOE volatility index, often called the “fear index”, jumped to 39.16, its highest in about two years, well out of the 11-20 range of recent months.The index, which measures expected swings in US shares in the next 30 days, typically shoots up to around 50 when bear market selling hits its heaviest and approached almost 90 during the 2008/2009 financial crisis.Traders work on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., February 27, 2020. (REUTERS/Brendan McDermid)Pandemic warningIn Asia, MSCI’s regional index excluding Japan shed 2.7 percent. Japan’s Nikkei slumped 4.3 percent on rising fears the Olympics planned in July-August may be called off due to the coronavirus.“The coronavirus now looks like a pandemic. Markets can cope even if there is big risk as long as we can see the end of the tunnel,” said Norihiro Fujito, chief investment strategist at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities.“But at the moment, no one can tell how long this will last and how severe it will get.”World Health Organization Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the virus could become a pandemic as the outbreak spreads to major developed economies such as Germany and France.About 10 countries have reported their first virus cases over the past 24 hours, including Nigeria, the biggest economy in Africa.The global rout knocked mainland Chinese shares, which have been relatively well supported this month, as new coronavirus cases in the country fell and Beijing doled out measures to shore up economic growth.Read also: Global shares head for worst week since 2008 financial crisis Read also: Trading suspension looms as Indonesian stocks plunge another 4%last_img read more

Pope Francis cancels planned retreat due to ‘cold’

first_imgPope Francis said Sunday he would not be taking part in a planned six-day spiritual retreat south of Rome after coming down with a “cold”.The 83-year-old pontiff suffered two coughing spells that forced him to turn away from the crowd and cover his mouth with his fist on a windy and cloudy day on Saint Peter’s Square.”Unfortunately, a cold forced me not to take part this year,” he said after reciting the traditional Angelus Prayer and addressing the unfolding migrant crisis on Turkey’s border with Greece. There have been 29 confirmed deaths and 105 people were receiving intensive care treatment in hospital — all of them in three adjacent northern regions near Milan.The Vatican quickly shot down speculation that the pope himself had come down with COVID-19.”There is no evidence to suggest a diagnosis of anything other than a slight ailment,” a Vatican spokesman told AFP Sunday.The pope himself looked relatively strong on Sunday despite the coughing fits.He smiled a few times and addressed a range of theological issues before turning his attention to the plight of thousands of migrants from Turkey who have been blocked at the rugged frontier with Greece. “I am a little saddened by the news coming from many displaced people, so many men, women and children chased because of war,” Francis said.The pontiff asked the faithful to share a prayer for “so many migrants who seek refuge in the world — and help”.Faithfuls listen to Pope Francis’ speech as he delivers the Sunday Angelus prayer from his studio window overlooking St. Peter’s Square, at the Vatican on March 01, 2020. (AFP/ Filippo MONTEFORTE) Italy shuts down Concerns about the pope’s health have been mounting for days in a country where mass closures of public institutions and businesses due to the coronavirus are affecting the lives of millions.He first looked like he might be sick on Wednesday and lightened his workload for the rest of the week.The Vatican used the “mild ailment” term for the first time on Thursday to explain why the pope was spending his day around his Saint Martha’s guest house in the Vatican.But he still continued celebrating the morning mass and receiving visitors even as football matches were being cancelled and businesses were telling their employees to work from home.He met with the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church head Sviatoslav Shevchuk on Saturday and spent almost 15 minutes speaking on Sunday from his Vatican window.The Argentine-born pontiff has enjoyed a life of good health despite losing part of a lung as a young man and suffered from sciatica — a nerve condition that causes pain in his hip.Yet he rarely cancels appointments and normally takes extra time to mingle with supporters and the faithful.Topics : The annual retreat will still start Sunday but only include members of the Roman Curia administration team of the Holy See.The pope will be staying home while the rest of Italy battles Europe’s worst outbreak of the novel coronavirus that has spread from China to every continent except for Antarctica.Pope Francis wipes his nose during the Ash Wednesday mass which opens Lent, the forty-day period of abstinence and deprivation for Christians before Holy Week and Easter, on February 26, 2020, at the Santa Sabina church in Rome. – Pope Francis postponed his official appointments on February 28 and was working from home, the Vatican said, a day after cancelling a scheduled appearance at mass because of “a mild ailment”. Francis, 83, had appeared earlier in the week to be suffering from a cold. He was seen blowing his nose and coughing during the Ash Wednesday service, and his voice sounded hoarse. (AFP/Alberto PIZZOLI)The number of cases in Italy surpassed 1,000 on Saturday and the toll continues to mount.last_img read more

Sanders shrugs off primary defeats, remains in Democratic race

first_imgSpeculation had been growing that he might respond to pleas from Democratic activists to step aside for party unity, giving Biden — his only rival — a chance to focus on campaigning against Trump.But Sanders, 78, broke his silence to say he was preparing for his first one-on-one televised debate Sunday “with my friend Joe Biden.”While he remained defiant, Sanders did make a number of unusual statements, accepting both his losses during the primary race and perceptions that he would fare less well against Trump.”I cannot tell you how many people our campaign has spoken to who say they agree with us but will vote for Joe because they believe he’s the best to beat Donald Trump,” he said. Bernie Sanders on Wednesday shrugged off a string of primary defeats and pressure to drop out of the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, saying he remains in the fight against centrist frontrunner Joe Biden.In his first remarks since losing to Biden in Michigan, Missouri, Mississippi and Idaho on Tuesday, the leftist senator from Vermont said his main priority was defeating “dangerous” President Donald Trump.He acknowledged, however, in a brief, passionate speech that many Democrats see him as less electable than the 77-year-old former vice president — perhaps preparing the ground for his eventual exit. “Needless to say, I strongly disagree with that assertion, but that’s what millions of Democrats and independents say.”Sanders then listed questions he wanted Biden to answer on how to deal with far-reaching inequality and other structural issues that he believes can only be addressed by radical economic change or “revolution.””Joe, what are you going to do?” he asked in what sounded less like an attack on Biden than an appeal for him to reach out to the party’s left wing. Biden unstoppable? Biden’s trajectory to a November showdown with Trump began looking unstoppable after his primary wins on Tuesday, including in the industrial powerhouse of Michigan — a state that Sanders won over Hillary Clinton in 2016 and will be crucial in the general election.Sanders’ only win came in North Dakota while votes were still being counted in Washington state, where Sanders and Biden were in a dead heat.Biden now has about 860 delegates to Sanders’ 710, and looks set to reach the 1,991 needed to be declared the party standard bearer at the Democratic convention in Milwaukee in July.The next primaries are on March 11 in Arizona, Florida, Illinois and Ohio and campaigning in the delegate-rich states is being disrupted by the coronavirus outbreak.Biden and Sanders cancelled rallies which had been scheduled in Cleveland, Ohio, on Tuesday night and the former vice president announced further cancellations on Wednesday.The Biden campaign said because of health risks it was cancelling an event that was to have been held in Chicago on Friday and one that was scheduled for Miami on Monday.It said they would now be “virtual events” but did not release details of the format.The Sunday debate will also be without a live audience as a result of the health scare.Addressing supporters in Philadelphia on Tuesday, Biden reached out to Sanders, thanking him and his supporters for their “tireless energy and their passion.”Biden struck a unifying tone as he affirmed that he and Sanders “share a common goal and together we will defeat Donald Trump.”Uniting the ticket With Biden’s path to the nomination increasingly locked in, the main question now is whether Sanders will swallow his pride and get his supporters behind the candidate — or risk party civil war.”It will be vital for Sanders to mobilize his supporters behind the ticket,” tweeted Princeton University history professor Julian Zelizer.”But Biden has to reach out to Sanders’s energized movement. It will require a two-way effort to unite the ticket.”Many Democrats accuse Sanders and his devoted supporters of fatally damaging Clinton four years ago during their bitter nomination battle. They warn a similar scenario could play out this time.Reflecting the shift in power, Democratic political action committee Priorities USA, which had been neutral in the race, came out in support of Biden.”The delegate math is now a straight line to Joe Biden’s nomination,” chairman Guy Cecil told US public radio network NPR. “So we’re going to do everything we can to help him in the effort looking forward to November.”Topics :last_img read more

Jokowi must make case for lockdown as COVID-19 may spark social unrest: Report

first_imgPresident Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s administration must make the case for a lockdown in Indonesia as the COVID-19 pandemic is projected to overrun health systems and put a strain on the economy, which may lead to social unrest, according to a recent report by a London-based business consulting group, the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).The report, released on Friday, casts a dark outlook over the country’s fight against the pandemic while also emphasizing the need for a lockdown to curtail the spread of the coronavirus. The group stated that Indonesia did not have enough resources and lacked the ability to contain the spread of COVID-19.“The possibility of social unrest is high. It is essential that the government makes the case for lockdowns with clarity, precision and sensitivity, or else a greater number of lives will be lost,” the report said. The EIU projected Indonesia’s health system to be overrun with cases, as access to intensive-care beds are limited while protective measures toward health workers remain insufficient.A leaked document obtained by The Jakarta Post on March 13 shows that, of the Health Ministry’s list of 132 COVID-19 referral hospitals, only 49 are “ready”. The document is the minutes of a meeting involving several institutions, including the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) and the Health Ministry, on March 10.“As in many low- and middle-income countries, this lack of capacity is likely to raise the fatality rate. Health workers will also face higher risks than in some developed countries owing to a lack of protective equipment,” the report stated.On the economic front, the EIU projects COVID-19 to severely disrupt the Indonesian economy despite coordinated and swift responses from the government and Bank Indonesia (BI) to keep the economy afloat. Topics :center_img “The government and BI have so far provided a coordinated response, but a steep slowdown this year is certain. The economy will suffer deeply,” according to the report.Indonesia has allocated Rp 120 trillion (US$7.5 billion) from this year’s state budget for stimulus packages to cushion the economic impacts of the pandemic. The central government has also bought about Rp 163 trillion worth of government bonds to stabilize the country’s financial market.Despite such efforts, BI data recorded Rp 105.1 trillion in capital outflow as of Thursday, of which foreign investors dumped Rp 92.8 trillion worth of government bonds and Rp 8.3 trillion in stocks.The rupiah has weakened more than 15 percent against the dollar this year, touching Rp 16,000 per US dollar as of Friday, a level unseen since the 1998 crisis.The EIU also put a spotlight on the impact the COVID-19 will have on Ramadan and Idul Fitri, when the group predicts millions will be barred from going to their hometown during the holiday season’s annual exodus.“We believe that the government will be forced to restrict travel during Idul Fitri, if not before. This would be unprecedented, and a significant military and police presence could be required to maintain order,” the report said. (mpr)last_img read more

Japan to boost stimulus to $1.1 trillion as virus threatens deeper recession

first_imgTopics : Japan is boosting its new economic stimulus package to expand cash payouts to its citizen as the coronavirus fallout threatens to push the world’s third-largest economy deeper into recession.Prime Minister Shinzo Abe unveiled the new stimulus less than two weeks after his cabinet approved an earlier plan to spend 108.2 trillion yen ($1 trillion), which had detailed payouts of 300,000 yen to households with sharp drops in incomes hit by the outbreak.Abe has caved into pressure from within his own ruling bloc to boost the help with a payment of 100,000 yen for every citizen instead of 300,000 yen for limited households, analysts say, even as the new amount triples the cost to 12 trillion yen from what the government had originally planned. Expansion of the scheme may support private consumption that accounts for more than half of the economy, some analysts said, while others believe most of the payout would end up in savings rather than spending to shore up the economy.”Recipients of the payouts include the rich and the people whose incomes are not suffering, so savings will also rise,” said Ryutaro Kono, chef economist at BNP Paribas Securities. “Even considering more people will suffer an economic pain this time than during the 2009 financial crisis, the proportion of the payouts that will be spent is estimated at about 40%. As such, it would push up GDP only by 0.3 percentage points.”The upsized package will total 117.1 trillion yen ($1.086 trillion), with fiscal measures making up less than half of it, a draft reviewed by Reuters showed. Some 25.7 trillion yen will be funded by an extra budget for the fiscal year from April 1, compared with an initial extra budget worth 16.8 trillion yen.Monetary, fiscal policy mixcenter_img While the government boosts fiscal stimulus, the Bank of Japan has also joined other central banks to roll out stimulus to stave off the risk of global recession.The BOJ eased monetary policy last month by pledging to boost risky asset purchases and create a new loan scheme to pump more money into firms hit by slumping sales. The central bank will discuss further steps to ease corporate funding strains at this month’s rate review as the impact hits profits.The government now plans to issue extra bonds worth 25.6914 trillion yen to fund the supplementary budget, the draft showed.Of the extra bond issuance, some 23.3624 trillion yen will be deficit-covering bonds and the reminder will be used to finance infrastructure spending, bringing the amount of market issuance to the upper range of 152 trillion-153 trillion yen.The extra borrowing will add to the industrial world’s heaviest public debt burden, which is more than twice the size of Japan’s $5 trillion economy.It is rare for the government to compile an extra budget at the start of a new fiscal year, and it is even rarer to revise a budget draft that has been approved by the cabinet after coordinating closely with the ruling coalition.Last week, the prime minister, who has been criticized by some over his handling of the pandemic, apologized for confusion over a plan to start distributing coronavirus relief payments next month.Abe’s cabinet is expected to endorse the stimulus spending plan as early as Monday.More than 200 people have died from the virus in Japan, which has reported over 11,000 infections, of which more than a quarter are in Tokyo.last_img read more

Saudi Arabia to end flogging as form of punishment: Document

first_imgFlogging has been applied to punish a variety of crimes in Saudi Arabia. Without a codified system of law to go with the texts making up sharia, or Islamic law, individual judges have the latitude to interpret religious texts and come up with their own sentences.Rights groups have documented past cases in which Saudi judges have sentenced criminals to flogging for a range of offences, including public intoxication and harassment.Read also: Aceh unveils new female flogging squad”This reform is a momentous step forward in Saudi Arabia’s human rights agenda, and merely one of many recent reforms in the Kingdom,” the president of the state-backed Human Rights Commission (HRC) Awwad Alawwad told Reuters.Other forms of corporal punishment, such as amputation for theft or beheading for murder and terrorism offences, have not yet been outlawed.”This is a welcome change but it should have happened years ago,” said Adam Coogle, Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Division at Human Rights Watch. “There’s nothing now standing in the way of Saudi Arabia reforming its unfair judicial system.” Topics : Saudi Arabia is ending flogging as a form of punishment, according to a document from the kingdom’s top court seen by Reuters on Friday.The decision by the General Commission for the Supreme Court, taken sometime this month, will see the punishment replaced by prison sentences or fines, or a mixture of both.”The decision is an extension of the human rights reforms introduced under the direction of King Salman and the direct supervision of Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman,” the document said.last_img read more