By Dialogo April 02, 2010 Haitian President René Préval has given his backing to the creation of a UN “red helmet” humanitarian rapid reaction force which could swing into action within hours of natural disasters. In a speech before a donor’s conference at the UN headquarters on Wednesday to pledge help for his quake-hit nation, Préval argued there was a “need for creating a humanitarian intervention force under the auspices of the UN to coordinate response to disasters, which are bound to occur.” Along with the January 12 quake that left over 220,000 people dead, Préval said recent major natural disasters such as the December 2004 tsunami in the Indian Ocean and 2008’s Cyclone Nargis that struck Myanmar highlighted the need for rapid intervention to save the maximum numbers of lives. Préval was backed in his call by former French minister Nicole Guedj, who founded the “Red Helmet Foundation,” to lobby for the humanitarian force. UN chief Ban Ki-moon has called the goal “a good project that deserves study and reflection,” he added. Wednesday’s conference ended with some 50 international donors making 9.9-billion-dollars in pledges in a bid to help Haiti recover from the devastating earthquake.
Kenyan citizen journalists developed Ushahidi, a website to map violence during election time based on reports submitted via the Web and mobile phones. Ushahidi, which means “testimony” in Swahili, has also been used to map xenophobic attacks in South Africa in 2008; monitor elections in Burundi, India, Mexico and Sudan; warn drivers about snow-covered roads and map cleanup efforts during a blizzard in Washington in February 2010; and monitor the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, reported news website www.irinnews.org. A new version of the software called Mogadishu was developed for humanitarian catastrophes. It allows people to send data via e-mail or text message, creating a simple way for the public to share information during crisis response. For more information, visit www.ushahidi.com. By Dialogo July 01, 2010
The governments of Bolivia, Brazil, and the United States will soon sign a joint agreement to verify the eradication of coca plantings on Bolivian territory, an official source revealed in La Paz on 5 July. “Next week, or in the worst-case scenario, by 16 July, the agreement, which is beneficial to the government” of Bolivia “is going to be signed,” Deputy Minister of Social Defense Felipe Cáceres, the chief political figure in charge of the fight against drugs, said at a press conference. He explained that this is a “pilot project to verify the eradication of excess plantings,” which also includes “the equipment and modernization” of state institutions linked to the fight against drug trafficking. The initiative will make it possible to obtain information “in real time on the hectares of coca eradicated,” Cáceres added. Bolivia and Brazil also have an agreement to monitor drug trafficking using Brazilian unmanned planes. Until 2008, Washington was the chief source of economic support for the fight against drugs in Bolivia, which is one of the world’s leading cocaine producers, along with Colombia and Peru, according to the United Nations. Bolivia currently has 30,900 hectares planted with coca. Of that total, only 12,000 hectares are legally recognized, for infusion, chewing, and Andean religious rituals. By Dialogo July 07, 2011
By Dialogo June 01, 2012 Drug-trafficking cartels are increasingly using internet technology to improve their communication, evade law-enforcement operations, and recruit young people, but their tracks on the net could be used to combat them, officials responsible for the fight against drugs said at a meeting in Cancún, Mexico. Groups such as the Los Zetas cartel, made up of military personnel who deserted to work with drug traffickers, and the Pacific organization, led by Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, considered the most powerful Mexican drug boss, habitually turn to social networks, and not only in order to frighten their enemies with videos of executions, a common practice in recent years. Young people between 14 and 20 years old arrested in the United States have admitted that they were contacted on social networks such as Facebook and Twitter by Los Zetas liaisons, who then involved them in activities such as transporting contraband across the border or even working as gunmen. A report by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) indicated in late 2011 that the cartels also “spy on their members on social networks, in order to obtain information,” about family members, for example, that they can use in case of desertion. Groups such as Los Zetas also retain the services of hackers, who can access the addresses, telephone numbers, and even bank statements or credit-card statements of possible victims of extortion or kidnapping, the same document maintains. The report was among the texts analyzed by experts from 20 countries who gathered in the Mexican beach resort of Cancún to begin designing a hemispheric strategy targeting organized crime that was mandated by the recent Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, and is supposed to be ready by the end of the year. One of the aims of that strategy is to find mechanisms for filtering crime-related information that can be obtained on the internet, and making it useful for designing operations. “Greater collaboration in the area of real-time information exchange is necessary in order to carry out more effective operations,” General Oscar Naranjo of the Colombian Police stressed in Cancún. After more than 34 years of activity, including resounding blows struck against his country’s cartels, Naranjo – who will retire this month in order to take a post as an advisor to the Mexican government – said that just as criminals take advantage of technology, the authorities should do the same. In 2011, the Mexican Navy dismantled a communications network maintained by Los Zetas in the Mexican port of Veracruz that enabled them to connect their cells on land with vessels transporting contraband cocaine. An example of the way in which the authorities could make use of information obtained in cyberspace is geo-tagging, which makes it possible to use photos or data obtained from mobile phones or computers to locate criminals. The U.S. consulting firm Southern Pulse developed an interactive map, with changing information, showing gangs linked to drug trafficking in the Mexican city of Monterrey, their areas of activity, and possible mobilizations. Introducing a report about Mexico this week, Southern Pulse’s director warned that just as there is a “connection between organized crime and local hacker cells,” governments should have “an organized and secure approach” to accessing information available in cyberspace.
Citizen cooperation Ecuadorean law enforcement authorities recently seized more than 3.5 tons of drugs in more than 100 security operations. Security forces seized the drugs during a span of seven days in mid-November 2013. Security forces also captured 83 suspected drug trafficking operatives. Among them were 75 Ecuadoreans, six Colombians, and two Mexican nationals. Security forces also detained 14 minors who allegedly collaborated with the drug traffickers. By late November, security forces had seized 53 tons of drugs. The yearly record for drug seizures in Ecuador is 68 tons, which were seized in 2009. The volume of drugs seized by Ecuadorean security forces has increased dramatically in recent years.’ In 2010, security forces seized 18 tons of drugs. In 2011, authorities seized 26 tons of drugs. Ecuador cooperates with Peru and Colombia in fight against organized crime Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa recently signed agreements with the presidents of Peru and Colombia that call on the three countries to cooperate in the fight against organized crime. Correa and Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos discussed Colombia’s ongoing peace talks with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), during a binational meeting held on Nov. 25, 2013. The two leaders met in the border region which divides the two countries, in the Colombian city of Ipiales. Correa, Santos, the foreign ministers of both countries and several Ecuadorean and Colombian Cabinet ministers met for about four hours to discuss progress on agreements that were reached during the First Binational Cabinet meeting between the two countries. That meeting was held in December 2012 in the Ecuadorean city of Tulcán. Following the Nov. 25 meeting, Correa and Santos signed eight agreements regarding issues such as security, transportation, education, tourism, and the oil industry. Nine days before that meeting, Correa and the president of Peru, Ollanta Humala, agreed to have their respective security forces strengthen their cooperation in the battle against human trafficking and the illegal sales of stolen fuel. Humala and Correa announced the initiatives after they met on Nov. 14, 2013, in the city of Piura, Peru, near the Ecuadorean border. The meeting between of the two presidents concluded the VII Binational Ministerial Cabinet Meeting. The two presidents announced they had signed the two security cooperation agreements. Ecuadorean citizens are helping security forces by providing information about the suspected activities of drug traffickers, authorities said. Such cooperation is crucial in the battle against drug traffickers and other organized crime groups, according to security analysts. For example, information received from citizens led to the security operation “No Return,” in late November 2013, authorities said. Security forces received information from a citizen or citizens that drugs were hidden in a fiber boat docked at Las Piedras Viejas in Tachina, Esmereldas. Security forces inspected the boat and found 208 packages of cocaine hidden on the vessel, authorities said,. Targeted police operations Large drug seizures ‘El Chapo’ in Ecuador A transit point for drug trafficking By Dialogo November 29, 2013 The Sinaloa Cartel and Los Zetas, two violent Mexican transnational criminal organizations, operate in Ecuador, transporting drugs, according to authorities and security analysts. In February 2013, 19 inmates escaped from a high-security Ecuadorian prison in Guayaquil, located about 420 kilometers south of Quito. Among the escapees was Cesar Demar Vernaza Quinonez, who is known as “The Entrepreneur.” He is the leader of a gang, known as “The Courageous,” which collaborates with the Sinaloa Cartel, authorities said. The Courageous transports and protects drug shipments for the cartel, which is led by fugitive drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman. Colombian security forces recaptured The Entrepreneur in that country in April 2013. Authorities extradited The Entrepreneur to Ecuador, where he is facing drug trafficking charges. Ecuadorean police have made a large series of drug seizures by specifically targeting and focusing on organized crime groups, said Bertha Garcia, a security analyst at the Catholic University of Ecuador. “Ecuador is not a drug-producing country, but it is a country of drug collection and passage,” the security analyst said. “Drug shipments come in from Peru and Colombia. Although we cannot say these are huge quantities of drugs which are being seized, because Ecuador is a small country, but the volume is obviously increasing.” The November operations closely followed a major drug seizure in late October 2013. In that operation, Ecuadorean security forces found and seized more than a half-ton of drugs – cocaine alkaloid — in the seaport of Guayaquil. Security forces found the cocaine alkaloid hidden inside a container filled with pineapples. Drug traffickers intended to transport the cocaine alkaloid by boat to Belgium, according to police Gen. William Balarezo, commander of the Guayas province police district. The port drug seizure was reported by Interior Minister Jose Serrano, via his Twitter account. The series of large drug seizures indicate that Ecuador is becoming an important transit point for drug traffickers who smuggle drugs to Europe and Asia, a security analyst said. “Drug smugglers are increasingly using Ecuador as a shipping point directly to the intended markets,” explained Hector Chavez, a security analyst at the University of Guayaquil. Drug traffickers are decreasing the volume of drugs they transport to Central American markets through Ecuador, Chavez said. “Lower volumes of drugs are being shipped to Central American markets or Mexico from Ecuador,” Chavez said. “Criminals have realized that it is more cost effective and less risky to ship directly to European and Asian markets directly from Ecuador,” Chavez said. Ecuadorean security forces have used intelligence, technology, and cooperation with the Armed Forces to make a series of important drug seizures in recent months, according to Deputy Interior Minister Javier Cordoba. Among the seizures: • In October 2013, the Ecuadorian Navy and police forces collaborated to seize 799 kilos of cocaine in the country’s territorial waters, drugs which were destined for Central America and ultimately north to the United States, authorities reported. Advanced technology helped the authorities find the boat that was smuggling the cocaine, according to Naval officials. • Also in October 2013, Ecuador’s anti-narcotic agents from the National Police seized at least three tons of cocaine in an operation held in the southwestern coastal province of Santa Elena, Ecuador’s Interior Minister Jose Serrano announced. Security forces captured 11 suspects, Serrano announced via Twitter. The suspects were connected to a powerful Colombian drug trafficking organization, “Los Urabeños,” Serrano said via Twitter. • In May 2013, Ecuadorian police arrested five Ecuadoreans and four Mexicans who were suspected of being part of a drug trafficking network. Police also seized 453 kilograms of cocaine and $276,567 in cash. The arrests and seizures were part of part of “Operación Aluvión.” • In April 2013, Ecuadorean police alerted the Coast Guard that a yacht, the “Green Onion,” was transporting a large quantity of cocaine. The Coast Guard pursued the boat, which escaped into international waters. The Ecuadorian Navy alerted the U.S. Coast Guard, which captured the boat in waters near Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. When they realized they were about to be captured, the crew burned about four tons of cocaine.
By Dialogo July 14, 2015 EL Chapo is more clever than the whole Honduran Army. The U.S. training focuses on patrolling rural areas, operating border posts, providing first aid, using the latest fiber optic equipment to conduct vehicle checks, and a skill that is becoming increasingly important — swimming. Mata, along with other Costa Rican officials, took full advantage of the opportunity to consider how the U.S. Border Patrol’s approach could be adapted for their country, its 309-kilometer northern land border with Nicaragua, and its 330-kilometer southern boundary with Panama. “In order to be a Border Police officer today, you have to be able to swim, and you have to maintain certain abilities in the water,” Lacayo explained. Observing U.S. tactics to stop drug traffickers The June visit strengthened the bond between the two countries and will lead to additional cooperation, Security Minister Gustavo Mata and National Police School (ENP) Director Erick Lacayo told Diálogo. For example, in one instance, the Security Minister watched as U.S. Border Patrol agents conducted patrols on horseback — a tactic that he said could be used in Costa Rica, where “there are places that are unreachable by vehicle…even from the air.” All of these efforts to protect Costa Rica’s border pays important dividends for the country’s ecology, as well. Costa Ricans training to join the Border Police must complete a U.S. component during their training, which consists of a three-month Border Patrol Tactical Unit (BORTAC) specialization course; prospects typically participate in the BORTAC training in the United States. The goal is to develop “a multifaceted, multifunctional officer,” who protects the border area and human rights, Lacayo said. “We must not only think we’re going to teach him how to use a pistol… we must also teach him he must protect natural resources, because, particularly in our border zone, we find the issue of logging, smuggling of species, meat, cheese, fish, products… which also becomes a human security issue.” The recent visit is just one example of close cooperation between Costa Rica and the U.S. on border security. Ongoing training programs “The visit was meant to observe how the [US] authorities manage the border,” said Mata, a former deputy director of the Judicial Investigation Bureau [OIJ] and former Vice Minister of Security. “I was fascinated, because I saw that they use entirely different logistics for border surveillance –- they have mounted police, they have helicopters, airplanes, they have patrol vehicles, they have all-terrain vehicles –- and this gives operational diversity to protection.” Fighting organized crime groups which engage in wildlife trafficking is one of the most important responsibilities of the Costa Rican Border Police, one of several civilian law enforcement forces that provide public security in Costa Rica since the country disbanded its Armed Forces in 1948. Protecting Costa Rica’s natural resources The Border Police was inactive for several years until Costa Rica relaunched the department on March 30, 2014, at the Costa Rican border post of Los Chiles. The Central American country has about 51,100 square kilometers of land surface and about 589,000 square kilometers of territorial waters, and is one of the 20 countries in the world with the highest biodiversity. It’s home to more than 500,000 species of animals, including marine mammals and reptiles, more than 900 species of birds, and many big cats, such as pumas, jaguarundis, margays, ocelots, and oncillas or little spotted cats. “All that experience allowed me to have a much broader criterion about how we’re going to guard our borders … and see what logistics I could count on. I bring with me a clear model, to see, to analyze whether it’s possible to adapt it,” Mata said. Top Costa Rican security officials recently studied border protection strategies during a visit to Texas installations of the United States Border Patrol, located along the border shared by Mexico and the U.S. The Costa Rican authorities observed strategies and tactics their country’s Border Police (Policía de Fronteras) could utilize.
In addition to improving security, Operation Ágata also provides social welfare assistance for residents in the border regions where the Armed Forces conduct the initiative. Security and social welfare Most service members and government officers participating in Operation Ágata were assigned to checkpoints strategically positioned on land and waterways, where they intercepted, searched, and inspected vehicles and ships. “Everyone knows that the majority of drugs coming into Brazil passes through the strip where we are operating,” Brazilian Major General Carlos Saú, Chairman of the Joint Staff for the Western Operational Area, said. In 2015, the Armed Forces allocated military resources throughout the region, which collectively encompasses 166 municipalities in four Brazilian states – Paraná, Mato Grosso do Sul, Mato Grosso, and Rondônia. Operation Ágata mobilized more than 10,000 service members – approximately 5,000 from the Army and 5,000 from the Navy and Air Force (FAB) – plus 450 professionals from federal and state government agencies. The operation also utilized technological tools in the Integrated Border Monitoring System (SISFRON) for the first time. This collaboration is a consequence of Brazil’s Strategic Border Plan which launched in 2011 with the goal of strengthening the government’s presence in border zones through Operation Sentinela and Operation Ágata; the former focuses on intelligence activities, while the latter’s mission concentrates on making interventions on the ground. That area, which encompasses nearly a quarter of Brazil’s total border region, stretches between the district of Vista Alegre do Abunã, in the state of Rondônia, and the city of Foz do Iguaçu, in the state of Paraná. From July 22-31, Brazil’s Ministry of Defense conducted the ninth edition of Operation Ágata to disrupt drug trafficking and provide social welfare assistance along the 4,045-kilometer border the country shares with Bolivia and Paraguay. Ten days into the operation, Soldiers and officers had conducted 42,509 vehicle inspections and searches and had seized four tons of marijuana. Soldiers and Troops also confiscated other items, including cigarettes, alcoholic beverages, electronic equipment, fuel, and car parts that organized crime groups were smuggling in an attempt to avoid paying taxes; the goods had an estimated value of 200,567 dollars, according to the Ministry of Defense. “We primarily use sensors, radar, and long-range binoculars to monitor the region and capture a variety of data,” Maj. Gen. Saú said. “The technology helps us make decisions on how to better employ our resources.” “We want them to be proud of what they’ve done, and to feel like the space belongs to them.” In 2015, for example, 50 service members from the country’s Army and Navy teamed with 14 students and parents to completely renovate the Francisco Mendes Sampaio Municipal School in Ladário Mato Grosso do Sul. The 345 students were welcomed back from their mid-year break with painted walls, repaired plumbing and electricity, a new gym floor, and the works of student graffiti artists on exterior walls. During Operation Ágata 9, Troops also provided medical and dental treatment to residents, in addition to distributing medication and providing health care lectures, dental care kits, and recreational activities aimed at children as part of 7,341 civic-social actions. Captain Welliton Lopes dos Santos, Logistics Commander for the Western Operational Area, said the idea to involve students and parents in the renovation was intended to reinforce citizen responsibility at the school. By Dialogo August 07, 2015 Very good Hi. All of the Armed Forces should be congratulated. Great work. May nature protect you all. Good luck. It’s about time they’re taking action on the border. Drugs, the biggest problem in this country, should stay over there. Congratulations to our glorious Brazilian Army on the joint initiative to safeguard our borders and prevent the entry of weapons and drugs, as well as other activities related to the initiative. We managed Hallelujah! The Armed Forces need to get out of the barracks and serve on the outskirts of cities and in the countryside, especially in border areas, where Brazil lost its sovereignty a long time ago. Actually, if the Army doesn’t protest in the streets, we will be taken out by robbers, regardless of race, financial status or anything else. We are prisoners with no protection. White-collar robbers and street robbers are loose and doing as they please now. What we want is our Armed Forces to always act in accordance with our Constitution; just like they do in France, Sweden, USA, UK, Denmark, Norway, Germany, etc. Congratulations. May they continue becoming more professional. I would like to see that happen. It really would be a great reinforcement for the security of this big event to be held in 2016, another event. Awesome! This operation is wonderful. The most important thing is for our country’s military forces to bring themselves closer to society and reduce the fear people have of the military as being mean and negligent. Congratulations for the initiative. We need to demonstrate that we can fulfil the mission. Very nice. The country need more actions like this one to combat violence and drug trafficking in our country and state. Congratulations. Brazil needs to show these drug traffickers who they really are (just drug traffickers) and treat them as such. Let’s provide human rights to those who are decent and live with dignity. CONGRATULATIONS! This brings full security against any threat to our homeland. I love it. Construction begins with the foundation. So, the borders are the base of everything. Help from our local and state police, private security, civil police, etc. is not enough. A partnership is needed with other security forces such as the Army, Air Force and Navy. Congratulations, Carlos Sau. Every house begins with the foundation. Therefore, the foundation is the basis of everything. In the case of combating drugs, contraband, weapons, cigarettes, etc., the foundation is the borders of our country. Congratulations General SÃ¡. Congratulations Very nice. This is exactly what the Brazilian Army needs to do, be present and impose respect before organised crime takes over everything. I love peace. Very good, in addition to keeping the military busy with useful social actions. This shows that the military is indeed an arm of society. CONGRATULATIONS Brave warriors, who Brazil appreciates. Brazil first. Another dengue victim in the neighbourhood of J. Amelia. This one was lucky. It’s going to be nice to have security. It should be for all moments in Brazil. “Operation Ágata is not just another initiative bringing together three separate branches of service, the Army, Navy and Air Force. This operation is characterized by combining members of the security forces and government agencies and adding all of their capabilities together for the good of society.” The type of cooperation shown by the FAB and the National Aviation Agency, in which the Military works with civilian government agencies, accounted for about 70 percent of Operation Ágata’s actions, Maj. Gen. Saú said, adding that interagency cooperation, which increased in 2015, is one of the effort’s strengths. Military operation integrates with civilian government agencies Meanwhile, the FAB, working in cooperation with the National Aviation Agency, inspected eight airfields and checked 60 aircraft for valid documentation, which led to the seizure of one aircraft in Porto Velho, in the state of Rondônia, and 24 issued notifications on document records irregularities with set deadlines for them to be remedied. Partnerships with prefectures and state governments also allowed Troops to issue essential documents, such as identification cards and employment cards, to residents.
Leishmaniasis covers a group of diseases caused by a parasite belonging to the genus Leishmania. The main forms of leishmaniasis are visceral (the most severe), cutaneous (the most common), mucocutaneous, disseminated, and diffuse. Leishmaniasis is a zoonosis (a disease transmitted from vertebrate animals to humans), which is transferred through the bite of an insect vector. “We work with real-time PCR,” Lt. Col. Méndez stated. “This methodology allows us to quantify and identify the parasites in each patient and determine whether Glucantime treatment will be effective. We monitor them from day 0 to day 10 and on day 20 of the treatment, and establish a timeline for the behavior of parasites at the molecular level. If the patient is resistant to treatment, we can provide alternatives.” Cases of leishmaniasis have been widespread in Latin America, particularly in Colombia, Peru, Bolivia, and Brazil. In Colombia, the National Army has reported an average of 4,000 to 5,000 new cases annually. Human infection can occur through parasites from an animal source (zoonotic cycle) or through parasites from another human host (anthroponotic cycle). Dogs are the most common hosts of cutaneous leishmaniasis, though it is also present in other small mammals. Due to the proximity of Soldiers to canines during humanitarian demining and other activities, it is important to also treat animals, who are cared for by the National Army’s veterinarians. Good day I suffered from leishmaniasis I was ill a year and a half here there are vaccinations Maracaibo and Trujillo they are made here the parasite doesnâ€™t exist any more thank you Leishmaniasis in Latin America Pentamidine and Amphotericin are some alternative treatments that doctors can prescribe instead of Glucantime. This dual functionality of the PCR methodology for leishmaniasis, species identification, and parasite quantification, has involved analyzing samples from 200 patients at the Research Center. In April, the study is scheduled to run with funding from the Army’s Office of Education and Doctrine. In the case of Colombia, there are different strains of reference: L.braziliensis, L.panamensis, L.guayanensis, L.colombiensis, L.amazonensis, L.mexicana, and L.chagasi. Based on the displacement speed of each one at different temperatures during the test, it is possible to determine the species of Leishmania that is affecting the patient. Samples to determine the disease’s existence should be taken by a direct swab and analyzed by a microscope, according to Lt. Col. Méndez. However, platoons do not always have a bacteriologist who can perform the procedure and accurately diagnose patients, often making cases hard to diagnose. Harmful effects “When the papules are present but the test for leishmaniasis is negative, the patient needs to go to the nearest town, where a biopsy is taken,” Lt. Col. Méndez said. “The samples are then sent to the Military Hospital in Bogotá. This process takes about three weeks and is very expensive. It also causes a very slow recovery in patients.” After being bitten by the mosquito that carries the disease – the Lutzomyia Psychoidae – one to three weeks will pass before the development of a papule that can grow from 0.5 to three centimeters in diameter. Most patients have one or two of these lesions on their face, hands, or legs. Lesions within three weeks The medication used to treat the disease can cause harmful effects. In Colombia, physicians treat leishmaniasis with Glucantime, a medicine whose toxicity can cause myalgia, arthralgia, weakness, and vomiting, and if used for a prolonged period, kidney and heart damage. Leishmaniasis is linked to environmental changes such as deforestation, dam construction, irrigation systems, and urbanization, according to the WHO. In the Americas, cases have been reported everywhere from northern Argentina to southern Texas, with the exception of Chile and Uruguay. Colombian Troops are constantly exposed to the mosquito that transmits leishmaniasis, a disease whose clinical manifestations range from scarring cutaneous ulcers to severe inflammation of the liver and spleen. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that every year there are 1.3 million new cases and 20,000 to 30,000 deaths related to the disease worldwide. Lt. Col. Méndez’s research is focused on the quantification of the parasite load in cutaneous leishmaniasis through real-time PCR to characterize the circulating strains of Leishmania and determine the effective treatment for each patient. PCR is a molecular technique that utilizes the parasite’s DNA to obtain very specific results. Early detection of the disease is important to allow for the appropriate prognosis and follow-up treatment. Lieutenant Colonel Claudia Méndez, who heads the Army Health Directorate Research Center’s laboratory, develops tools to improve diagnosis, optimize the monitoring of patients, and reduce the adverse effects related to treatment of the disease, such as myalgia, arthralgia, and impaired liver function, among others. The new methodology featuring Conventional Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) technology was implemented in 2012. And in June 2014, real-time PCR was added, greatly simplifying the diagnosis of leishmaniasis among Colombian Troops. “Cutaneous leishmaniasis is the most common disease transmitted by insect vectors to Soldiers in Colombia, well above zika, chikungunya, chagas disease, dengue and other diseases,” Lt. Col. Méndez said. “While it is not fatal, it affects the Troops because it leaves scarring lesions on the face and other parts of the body. If not treated in time, the parasite can advance and produce mucocutaneous leishmaniasis, which deforms and pierces the septum, and damages the lining of the mouth, among other symptoms.” Lt. Col. Méndez and her team implemented an innovative procedure to address this issue. “In places that are difficult to access, combat nurses are trained to take the sample on filter paper,” she explained. “The patient takes the filter paper out of a hermetically sealed plastic bag, makes an imprint on the leishmaniasis lesion, and sends it to our laboratory in Bogotá. In two days, we have the diagnosis ready.” By Dialogo March 04, 2016
Vice Minister Rogelio Donadío: We expect that he will continue to protect our borders and, above all, combat organized crime in all its facets: drugs, human trafficking, and to protect national sovereignty, because, at the end of the day, we have problems, above all, in the South, where criminal organizations want to come closer to the border with Panama and set up permanent camps that are used to manufacture drugs, to cultivate cocaine plants, marihuana plants… So, what we have entrusted Commander Hayer with is to very jealously protect the territory and to protect against drug trafficking and any type of organized crime that there might be along that border. Diálogo: Could you tell us about “Operación Candado”? Drug trafficking groups often transport illegal drugs that are produced in South America through Central America before delivering them to the United States and Europe, according to a recent United Nations report. In 2015, Panama seized a record 58 tons of drugs. Panamanian authorities estimate that they have seized 462 tons since 2000. To talk about current issues related to drugs and other relevant issues in the country and the region, Diálogo spoke with Rogelio Donadío, Panama’s Vice Minister for Public Safety, during the Central American Security Conference (CENTSEC) held in San José, Costa Rica, from April 6th-8th. On April 1st, a cloud of thick black smoke darkened the skies around Panama City. It was the result of the Panamanian Police incinerating 6.3 tons of cocaine, 2.5 tons of marijuana, and 3.8 kilograms of heroin; since January 1st, Panamanian law enforcement authorities have destroyed almost nine additional tons of drugs, primarily cocaine, that they seized from narco-traffickers, according to data released by officials. Diálogo: Are there coca leaf fields in Panama already? Vice Minister Donadío: In fact, we think so, because there is a possibility that not all of them will demobilize through fragmentation or the elimination of people engaged in organized crime; an armed group is going to be left over. They will demobilize in Colombia, but they are going to continue their business, above all, those earning the most money. And among the possibilities, which are not remote and are very real, is that they will move their business to the Colombian border, where Venezuela, where Ecuador, where Peru are, but also where Panama is. In other words, it is a fact that we believe they may mobilize to Panamanian territory and continue their criminal activities. Vice Minister Donadío: Yes. Above all, along both borders, at the border between Panama and Colombia, and at the border between Panama and Costa Rica. It is an inescapable issue. Aside from that, there also has to be a component of prevention, an element that provides social assistance and creates a civic component for the people; a component that works for the benefit of the population, because oftentimes, this component of security is the entire government of the Republic of Panama. They are the ones who often provide for health, education, and to a certain extent, the way in which the population can coexist in peace, and that, the original priority, is the fight against organized crime, as well as the civic actions that have to be brought to a population so as to prevent those populations from being infiltrated by organized crime, by the money there is in organized crime. Diálogo: Can the fall of the FARC in Colombia signify a threat to Panama? Vice Minister Donadío: We have found coca leaf fields in Panama, but we have found more marijuana leaf crops. However, we have been eradicating them. The advantage we have had in comparison with when these problems began in the years between 2002-2005 is that, during those years, there was a permanent criminal presence in Panamanian territory. The arrival of SENAFRONT permanently kicked them out of Panamanian territory. Now, because the border is so wooded and is so large, they somehow come in and conduct their activities, but not permanently. Then, of course, there is cultivation, but practically none of cocaine. There is a small part they have used to cultivate marijuana, which began to be eradicated at the beginning of the year. However, since we eradicated it up to now we have not seen any more marijuana or cocaine fields. Diálogo: And what is the importance of continuing to work with the United States and other countries in the region in this fight against drug trafficking and other threats? Diálogo: Is the fight against organized crime and drug trafficking still SENAFRONT’s priority? Diálogo: The new commander of the National Border Service (SENAFRONT), Cristian Hayer, assumed the post on February 15th. What do you expect from him? By Dialogo April 19, 2016 Vice Minister Donadío: Well, organized crime is a crime that makes quick decisions, that mutates, that does not ask, that does not respect sovereignties, that does not respect laws. However, we are the guardians of the constitutions and the laws of our countries, and each country also must defend its sovereignty. In order to take action in the territories in which they are active, we must join together, we must communicate with each other, we must trust one another, and be loyal to one another to strengthen solidarity, strengthen even the context of how we are going to act in a given case. That is the only way to combat organized crime that is active in the entire territory, from Colombia and much farther away, all the way to the United States. There is no way to combat that if we do not join together. There is no way to combat that if we do not coordinate, if we do not get organized, if we do not have effective, timely, and true communication. There is no way to combat that if we do not have a legal framework in all our countries. We are looking to work together and create an integrated network when these types of events occur, like here at CENTSEC, so that the legal framework can be applied respecting the countries’ sovereignty and respecting the way in which each one of us sees the solution to the problems created by organized crime. Vice Minister Donadío: “Operación Candado” is like the continuation of “Operación Patria”. As a result of it, there have already begun to dismantle the camps that were being used by the FARC. “Operación Candado” has to do with the fact that, somehow, we have to protect our coastline and our waters along the border with Colombia, both on the Atlantic and the Pacific coasts. If we make that impenetrable and optimize the watercraft, the criminals will not reach our coastlines and will instead pass by on the outside. Excellent work. I hope everything continues to be well organized to be able to fight every kind of crime, keep it up, looking for a solution to everything.
By Lorena Baires/Diálogo October 28, 2016 Drug trafficking, money laundering, arms smuggling, human trafficking, and gang violence know no borders. That’s why the armed forces of Central America have outlined a joint strategy for stopping criminal organizations. This is an ongoing effort led by the Central American Armed Forces Conference. Representatives of the armed forces in the region meet annually at El Salvador’s Regional Center on Training Against Transnational Organized Crime (CRACCT, per its Spanish acronym) to standardize criteria and share their greatest successes. Army officials from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua participated in the 6th edition of the Regional Seminar to Counter Transnational Crime from September 19th-30th. “Criminal structures change their ways of operating due to globalization. That’s why it is important to continue sharing information and experiences. This allows us to raise the level of effectiveness in the fight against crime,” said Artillery Colonel Rafael Antonio Díaz, CRACCT commander. The seminar was developed by El Salvador’s Special Forces Command, Air Force, and Navy. However, the Joint Group Cuscatlán, the Transnational Anti-Gang Initiative, and elite groups of the Salvadoran National Civil Police, such as the Anti-Narcotics Division, the Elite Division Against Organized Crime, and the Special Anti-Gang Unit also shared their experiences in the field. During the theory portion of the seminar, the elite Salvadoran combat groups explained the new modus operandi of gangs, drug-trafficking and illicit-smuggling groups. They elaborated on the substructures of these criminal groups, as well as the action mechanisms that together make them organized crime organizations. “The successful experiences gained by all of the countries are the key to squeezing the vice to stop these organizations,” said Transmissions Colonel Daniel Serrano, deputy chief of the General Army Staff of the Salvadoran Armed Forces (FAES, per its Spanish acronym). “Gangs and drug trafficking are scourges common to our countries, although each one has its own peculiarities,” stated Col. Serrano. “Sharing these experiences allows us to reduce the chances of it multiplying. These threats are borderless, and we must address them as such.” Special dynamics were carried out during the practical courses to combine procedures related to search, seizure and custody of evidence. The officers also established clearer channels for interagency cooperation and new methods for aerial and maritime interception. A region without borders Since borders do not exist for these criminals, sharing lessons learned and exchanging experiences are the key to consolidating and integrating border procedures. “El Salvador is fighting these gang structures head on, which is why there has been migration to rural municipalities in Guatemala,” said Lieutenant Bladimir Álvarez, representing the Guatemalan Armed Forces. “Our immediate mission is to strengthen the borders, so as to prevent criminals from evading justice.” A related phenomenon is that migration follows a pattern of searching for safer spaces to train in the use of weapons of war. “In Honduras, we have observed that gang members from El Salvador come here to train. The same thing happens with Salvadoran gang members who go to Nicaragua,” added Honduran Navy Lieutenant Denis Meléndez. “Jointly identifying these movements allows us to design more effective strategies for capturing them.” CRACCT will draft a list of recommendations for immediate joint application. Meanwhile, because of their complexity, the standardization of other lists that require more time continues. Already, 300 officers have been trained. These meetings help to share tactics and strengthen joint efforts in the fight against emerging threats. For FAES, the effectiveness of implementing these new strategies rests on the leadership of officers when leading their troops. That way, the contents and practice of this new regional exercise are multiplied.
By Andréa Barretto/Diálogo January 03, 2017 Sports were one activity that defined 2016. And the Brazilian Armed Forces were no exception, closing the year by hosting the 49th World Military Orienteering Championship from November 17th-23rd at the Brazilian Naval Air Base, in the Lagos region in the state of Rio de Janeiro. The event gathered 206 athletes from 26 countries, including Chile, Ecuador, and Venezuela. Seven men and four women represented Brazil in the competition. “The determining factor for our results in the championship was the dedication and unity of the team. We are a tight-knit family of athletes from the three armed forces,” said Provisional Tech Sergeant Edinéia Roniak dos Santos. The sportswoman began her military career in the Brazilian Army in 2014, when she was selected to take part in the High Performance Athlete Program associated with the ministries of Defense and Sport. Multiple abilities Orienteering is a sport more widely practiced in Europe than in Brazil. The discipline combines elements of running with traditional military navigational skills, as it requires the athlete to be able to read a map and use a compass as guides. The competition starts with setting up the course — generally outdoors and in the countryside — along which mandatory travel points. These travel points are markers on a map given to each orienteer at the time of the competition. “When the stopwatch starts, the athlete must open the map, find his or her bearings, and using a compass set off for an area, sequentially passing through the points that are marked on the map. The winner is the person who is able to pass through all of the points in the shortest time,” explained Lieutenant General Paulo Martino Zuccaro, director of the Department of Military Sports for the Brazilian Ministry of Defense. Each participant receives a map, a compass and a digital key that must be inserted into mini computers scattered throughout the terrain, from start to finish. Using this system, each athlete’s time and movement through the set points on the map can be monitored. An athlete that fails to cross through a point, or does not follow the established sequence, is disqualified. “The fact that the competition is held in the middle of the forest, over uneven terrain, requires the orienteer to have an extraordinary physical capacity. Additionally, the orienteer must have the necessary mental agility to handle the map and compass together in order to quickly choose the best paths from one point to another,” Lt. Gen. Zuccaro said, adding that the points are fixed, but the route between points is variable. It is up to the athlete to decide which route to take. “For example, he can go through the brush, or go around it along a trail that was established in that area.” City and country Three trials were held in the 49th World Military Orienteering Championship. The first trial took place on an average-length course; the second over a longer course out in the country in the Rio das Ostras municipality. The third trial was an urban relay in the city of Búzios. The first course required athletes to cross through 16 points. Male competitors had to cover slightly more than five kilometers, while female athletes were required to cover around four kilometers. As in most orienteering competitions, the points for men are spread out across longer distances from each other, than they are for women. In the long course, men had to cover 28 points and approximately 12 kilometers of ground, while women had to travel 6 kilometers. “I had some difficulties on the average-length course, as it was a faster and more technical trial,” said Sgt. Edinéia, who participated in all three trials. “On day two, in the trial over the long course, I was more confident because I like long-distance runs. Adding up my results on the two courses, plus my teammates’ results, our team took 6th place,” Sgt. Edinéia said. Holding trials in the city is a recent development in the orienteering sports world. The idea of taking this discipline into the urban space arose from a desire to promote the sport more widely. Despite the different environment, the competitive principle remains the same – the points are spread out along city streets, and each competitor sets off on the route with a map and compass. “It is a very lively trial. We have music, sports casting, and a crowd of locals who are in close proximity to the participants,” Lt. Gen. Zuccaro said. Búzios was chosen as the host city because of its diverse and eclectic architecture, which blends colonial and modern styles with lots of greenery. Another factor that affected the selection was the city’s smooth flow of traffic. The competition was not held in an isolated area, but event organizers took precautions to choose quieter streets for the transit points. “We also put some security features in place along stretches with more traffic, to reduce vehicle speeds,” explained Lt. Gen. Zuccaro. This was the fifth time Brazil hosted the World Military Orienteering Championship. It was held twice in Paraná, in 1983 and 2006, with nine and 27 countries participating respectively. Another edition was held in 1992 in Brasília, with 12 nations participating. The penultimate championship hosted by Brazil was held in Rio de Janeiro in 2011, with 28 countries participating. This was Sgt. Edinéia’s first experience at a world event. She is focused on a six-day-a-week training regimen and hopes that this is just the beginning. “I know that I have a lot to learn now, and each day I am more determined!”
By Jennyfer Hernández/Diálogo November 15, 2018 In early September, officers of the Colombian Armed Forces’ General Rafael Reyes Prieto War College (ESDEGUE, in Spanish) visited Guatemala as part of their international educational tour. During their stay, Colombian officers exchanged experiences with students of the Guatemalan Army Higher Education Command (COSEDE, in Spanish), based in Guatemala City. The objective of the visit, September 3-7, was to learn about the Central American country’s political, economic, sociocultural, and military aspects. The group also sought to exchange knowledge with their Guatemalan counterparts on border security, the fight against organized crime, and illegal trafficking. The meeting also strengthened bonds of friendship between the Guatemalan Army and the Colombian Armed Forces. “We call these geostrategic studies’ visits, where countries such as Mexico, El Salvador, the United States, Brazil, Colombia, and Guatemala make trips every year to strengthen the knowledge about our military educational systems,” Guatemalan Army Colonel Francis Rossito, director of COSEDE’s General Staff Command course, told Diálogo. “The courses are important in all armed forces, because they are academic requirements that need to be met to obtain higher ranks in the institutions.” Peace in Guatemala The Colombian delegation of 27 officers— students of ESDEGUE’s General Staff course—led by Colombian Army Brigadier General César Augusto Parra León, commander of the Army’s Sixth Division, took part in workshops and training with students of COSEDE’s General Staff Command course. Among the topics addressed, Col. Rossito said, three stood out: the Guatemalan peace process, the fight against narcotrafficking and other crimes, and cyber warfare. Guatemalan Congressman Manuel Conde Orellana delivered a lecture about the perspectives of civil society and the peace process in Guatemala. Conde talked about the decades of confrontation with armed groups in the country and analyzed the events that enabled peace negotiations, signed in late 1996. “The process Colombians are going through right now is very similar to what we experienced. […] We passed along all our experience in peace processes,” Col. Rossito said. “We shared our situation not only at the political-strategic level, but also at the strategic-operational level, and also showed them how we turned our counterinsurgency war doctrine into a different doctrine to start comprehensive cooperation operations and support civil security forces.” Colombian students also learned about the Guatemalan Army’s internal methods of adaptation after the peace accords and their progress over two decades. Colombian Army Colonel Robinson Arango, military attaché at the Colombian Embassy in Guatemala, told Diálogo that the information was very well received. “Guatemala has 20 years of experience with peace processes, and we’re just getting started with this,” Col. Arango said. “So we are seeing in this country what we can do and what we cannot do. Successes and errors are very valuable, because we are learning all this so we know what we need to improve in the Colombian Army.” Mutual understanding Guatemalan officers learned about the experiences of their Colombian counterparts in the fight against narcotrafficking and their operations to dismantle criminal gangs. The Central American students were also briefed about methods military institutions use to identify and destroy drug labs, eradicate illicit crops, and substitute them for legal ones. The Colombian delegation also shared their knowledge about cybersecurity and cyberdefense, detailing the work their institutions carry out, such as the mission of the Military Forces Joint Cyber Command, devoted to defending national interests. Guatemala launched its national cybersecurity strategy in July 2018. With passion and discipline The Colombian officers seized the opportunity to visit the Special Forces Brigade at the North Command Air Base in Petén department. During the visit, officers learned about the Guatemalan elite forces’ training. “Being in Guatemala was a great experience,” Col. Arango said. “We are impressed by the discipline, dedication, and passion with which they train.” The Colombian delegation concluded its stay in Guatemala with a trip to Guatemala City’s historical center. The group continued to Ecuador as part of its international tour.
March 15, 2001 Regular News Program makes it easier for lawyers to evaluate judges Program makes it easier for lawyers to evaluate judges The Florida Bar’s Judicial Evaluation Committee has approved a significant expansion of its circuit judge evaluation by allowing attorneys to directly receive and return evaluation forms. “We’ve been calling it the attorney participation initiative,” said JEC Chair Jennifer Coberly. “The impetus is to have the program be effective in its goal and to provide the judiciary with feedback. It’s important for reasons of judicial independence. “People want to feel there’s a meaningful evaluation system in place. We’ve tried to increase the participation as much as possible.” The circuit judge evaluation program began just over three years ago. Under the program, when judges send out a final order in a case to the lawyers, they can include an evaluation form. The lawyers can fill out the form, make comments and return it to The Florida Bar. When a sufficient number of forms for an individual judge have been accumulated, the forms are mailed to the judge for review. The judge, at his or her option, can review the forms with the chief circuit judge, but the contents are otherwise confidential. In the new program, Coberly said, lawyers can get the form on their own, fill it out, and return it to the Bar. “When there’s a final order of any kind, we would like the lawyers to directly access the evaluation form and fill it out,” she said. Coberly said the committee embarked on the new program because it wants to boost participation in the evaluation process. “The judges [who use the evaluation process] are happy with it and the attorneys [who use the process] are happy with it,” she said. “The problem is getting enough participation. “A lot of attorneys don’t know this program is available. We want to give them the opportunity.” To get a form, go to the Bar’s website at www.FLABAR.org, and click on Organization. Under the Committees listing, choose Standing, and then select the Judicial Evaluation Committee. There are links in the text to both the trial and appellate judicial evaluation forms, as well as instructions for filling out the forms. (Use your browser’s print command to print out the form.) Those without Internet access can obtain the forms from Doris Maffei, The Florida Bar, 651 E. Jefferson Street, Tallahassee 32399, or by calling Maffei at 850/561-5670. Completed forms should be placed in an unmarked envelope (Maffei noted that some lawyers have enclosed the forms in envelopes with their firms’ addresses). The envelope should state the judge’s name and his or her circuit or county and be addressed as follows: c/o Judicial Evaluation Committee, P.O. Box 11067, Tallahassee 32302-3067. (See illustration) Coberly said lawyers should also use care in filling out the form so that they do not include anything that identifies them or the case. Forms are held until several are collected and then forwarded to the judge, which further helps guarantee anonymity for participating attorneys. “We really want this to work and be an effective way to let judges know how they’re doing,” Coberly said.
Chief Justice Charles T. Wells [Editor’s Note: This is the first installment in a series of brief profiles on the justices of the Florida Supreme Court as produced by the Bar’s Public Information and Bar Services Department. These profiles are to let Bar members and others get to know each justice as an individual.] Bar Public Information Coordinator His family is his proudest personal achievement, while his job is his passion. Chief Justice Charles T. Wells feels honored to have led the Florida Supreme Court during a time in history that included so many complex legal issues, not the least being last fall’s presidential election. It’s an experience that he describes as the “most intense six weeks” of his chief justice tenure, “both exhilarating and exhausting.” Being a trial lawyer was Wells’ first professional passion. Because of his civil trial preparation at University of Florida’s College of Law, he felt well armed for trial practice and treasures his trial experience for preparing him for his service as a justice. One of his first mentors as a person and a trial lawyer was his father, Joel Wells, Jr. Both the Chief Justice and his brother, Joel III, went into the practice of law after their father Joel, Jr., and their grandfather, Joel Sr. “My father was my role model in the practice of law,” Chief Justice Wells said. “He was a person who had great integrity and was a gentleman regardless of circumstance.” His other role models include former Justices Stephen H. Grimes and Ben F. Overton. Even after his time as a justice, Wells hopes to return to trial practice. “I thoroughly enjoy the practice,” he says. The Chief Justice first became interested in being on the Supreme Court while serving on The Florida Bar’s Board of Governors from 1994-96. He was intrigued by the administration of the courts, and the timing was right in 1994 with Justice Parker Lee MacDonald retiring. Chief Justice Wells considers the best part of his job to be the opportunity to help develop Florida case law, as well as working with the other branches of government. He expressed his continuing interest in the legislative process and has enjoyed his unique role in the judiciary’s relationship with the legislative branch. Chief Justice Wells only finds a few concerns with his job, including the court’s high caseload and the fiscal issues raised by the impending Article V funding transition in which the state will assume the lion’s share of funding of the court system. “We have to be innovative in what we do to manage the caseload,” Wells said. “The only other downside is the fiscal problems in the court system and the state.” His goal for the next year is to survive the upcoming fiscal transition while “ensuring that the courts continue to operate with quality. . . having cases processed in a fair and efficient manner.” Wells also wants to see the courts try to attract more judges with quality experience as lawyers. Throughout his career, Chief Justice Wells keeps finding one legal truth: “The longer I’m here, the more I understand that [legal problems] all boil down to something that’s not a very complicated proposition, but you’ve got to figure out how to make it not complicated.. . . You’ve got to boil legal problems down to finite issues that you can understand.” Wells said it keeps coming back to “how important it is to understand matters of detail to reach legal conclusions; it’s a matter of real discipline.” When asked what other profession he would like to attempt, the Chief Justice said he would like to be a teacher, especially with his experiences with Supreme Court programs in educating and his lecturing experiences. Although Wells enjoys reading in his leisure time, during the last court recess he found himself busy on the lecture circuit speaking about last year’s presidential election and election issues in general. One notable speaking stop was at Yale Law School. But outside of his day job, Wells said his greatest personal achievement is “my truly wonderful marriage, [to Linda Fischer Wells] for 33 years as of November 29, and my three successful children.” And although he has little free time, Wells stays involved with Trinity Methodist Church, and he enjoys Gator sports. December 1, 2001 Jennifer Krell Davis Regular News Chief Justice Charles T. Wells
Board warns about advance funding Senior Editor After an Ohio appellate court found an advance funding arrangement was both a loan and usurious, a Bar Board of Governors committee wants more time to study a proposed ethics opinion on advance funding in personal injury cases.But both the board and the Board Review Committee on Professional Ethics took action to let lawyers know about the Ohio case if Bar members become involved in third-party loans to their clients.Board members, at their November 30 meeting, discussed whether they should advise Bar members to avoid any participation in such loans. But they finally voted to accept the BRCPE recommendation to allow it to continue studying the issue – in light of the Ohio decision – until the board’s February 1 meeting.In the meantime, the committee recommended telling inquiring lawyers about the Ohio case as well as the pending Proposed Advisory Opinion 00-3, already adopted by the Professional Ethics Committee and pending on appeal at the board.That opinion says lawyers may tell clients about advanced funding companies, which offer loans to personal injury clients in return for part of the hoped-for winnings in the case. It also says lawyers may tell clients the names of specific companies, but may not issue a letter of protection to the advance funding company, although they can honor such a letter executed by the client.The BRCPE had recommended approving the opinion, with a change allowing lawyers to issue letters of protection. The board considered the issue at its October meeting, but tabled the issue to do more research, and in the meantime the Ohio court acted.“I think it ought to give us some pause before we go any further,” said BRCPE Chair Richard Tanner of the Ohio ruling. “What your committee is suggesting to you is that we sit tight, temporarily.”In the meantime, he said, the Bar’s ethics staff will tell inquiring lawyers “there is now an Ohio appellate court opinion finding these advance funding loans improper and we’re not in a position to offer advice at the moment.”Bar Ethics Counsel Elizabeth Tarbert said she planned to tell inquiring lawyers “about the Ohio case and tell them we can’t tell them if this is a legal transaction. If this is a grey area, which it now appears to be, we would tell them they could be at risk [if they participated in the loan].”She said lawyers would also be told about the PAO and its prohibition against issuing a letter of protection, and also that the opinion is still pending before the board.Board members expressed several concerns. Some continued to have reservations about the advance funding area, citing the high interest – as much as 200 percent or more – on the transactions. Some worried that lawyers acting in good faith might participate in the loans and then possibly face Bar disciplinary actions if PAO 00-3 eventually holds they are improper. Others said the Bar shouldn’t be involved in the area, even if the practice is distasteful, if the loans are legal in Florida.“I think we can’t go to the extent that we think this is usurious and we don’t think they should be doing this, because we are on real thin ice,” said board member Jesse Diner. “The red flags are up. I think that’s the best we can do.”“I also don’t think we should be prosecuting any lawyer who calls and gets information from the Bar and based on that information decides to go further,” he added.“If it’s not illegal in Florida, it’s really not our position to say it is,” said board and BRCPE member Louis Kwall. “It is a grey area. While we agree for the most part we don’t like it being done, if it’s not unlawful, we shouldn’t be telling our lawyers not to engage in it. What we’re saying is we’re not absolutely sure what the outcome is going to be. It [the Ohio case] will be brought to lawyers’ attention and you can make up your own mind.”Board member Jennifer Coberly said it’s important for the Bar to get a position because if advance funding arrangements are found to be usurious, there can be criminal as well as civil and disciplinary consequences for lawyers. But, she added, “Until we make up our minds, we shouldn’t be prosecuting people in the interim who do it.”Tanner emphasized that the BRCPE is working as quickly as it can on the issue and expects to make a recommendation at the board’s February 1 meeting in Tampa.“The BRCPE is not walking away from this. We are stepping back to see if we can make a more appropriate decision,” he said.Added Bar President Terry Russell, “I sense a certain degree of urgency here to deal with this issue.”The Ohio decision came from the state’s Ninth District Court of Appeals in a unanimous opinion from a three-judge panel. The ruling was issued October 31.The case involved a Nevada-based advance funding company and its Ohio subsidiary that together gave an Ohio woman, who was trying to collect uninsured motorist damages from an insurance company, a total of $7,000. The contracts call for a repayment, depending on when the case settled and repayment was made, of not less than 280 percent on most of the transaction and not less than 180 percent on the remainder. The actual repayment amount was $16,800 if repaid in 12 months, $22,200 if repaid in 18 months, and $27,600 if repaid in 24 months. The woman’s attorney advised her against entering into the contracts.The underlying case eventually settled for $100,000.The woman then filed suit arguing the companies committed unfair and deceptive loan practices, and further that because the arrangements violated Ohio law, no repayment was necessary. The two advance funding companies replied that the arrangements were “contingent” financing and not loans and thus the contracts were legal.The trial court ruled the advance funding was a loan that violated the state’s usury laws because there was little likelihood the companies wouldn’t be repaid. It ordered the woman to repay the loans at 8 percent interest.The appellate court agreed the deal constituted an usurious loan. But it also found the companies violated Ohio law by not being licensed to make small loans and hence under that state’s law no repayment was required.The opinion noted that the owner of the Ohio company carefully evaluated the case before making the loans, including conducting a database search of similar cases. Further, about the time the first installment of the loan was made, the insurance company made a settlement offer and had raised that offer by the time the second installment was made.“The evidence presented at trial demonstrated that the contracts were loans because no real probability existed that non-payment would occur,” the opinion said. “The trial court’s judgment that the contracts are loans is supported by competent and credible evidence.”The case is Rancman v. Interim Settlement Funding Corp. , case no. 20523, 2001WL 13339487 (Ohio App. 9 Dist.). An Internet link to the opinion, in WordPerfect or Microsoft Word formats, is at http://www.sconet.state.oh.us/District_Courts/AllListing/List.asp?DCN=9. December 15, 2001 Gary Blankenship Senior Editor Regular News Board warns about advance funding
A. Thomas Levin, a member of The Florida Bar since 1980, has been elected president-elect of the 73,000-member New York State Bar Association, the second largest voluntary bar association in the world.“My plans are not yet fully formulated, as the current president has just begun her term and I don’t want to push my own issues this soon,” said Levin, who will become NY State Bar president on June 1, 2003.“I am very interested in access to justice issues, particularly in having the bar become an active force in finding ways to make the legal system work better for middle-income and low-income consumers of legal services.“In New York, we have a big issue over the fees paid to assigned counsel for indigent parties in criminal and family court matters — where the fees remain at $40 per hour for in-court and $25 out-of-court — levels set in 1986. This needs to be updated promptly, as we are losing attorneys from our panels and the legal services are not being delivered,” Levin said.“Lastly, I want to make the bar a more effective advocate for the profession, including increasing public understanding of the role of law and lawyers.”Levin is a graduate of Brown University and holds two law degrees (J.D. and LL.M.) from New York University School of Law.Concentrating his practice in the field of local government law, land use, and commercial litigation, Levin is a partner in the law firm of Meyer, Suozzi, English & Klein, P.C., with offices in Mineola, NYC, Smithtown, Albany, and Washington, D.C.Before entering private practice in 1972, he was a senior deputy Nassau County attorney, counsel to the Nassau County Planning Commission, and law secretary to a Nassau County Supreme Court justice.Levin has been a member of the Executive Committee of the New York State Bar Association since 1995, has served a term as an at large member, three terms as a vice president, and one term as secretary. Levin is also co-chair of the State Bar Association President’s Committee on Access to Justice.In the public service field, Levin has been counsel to the Judiciary Committee of the New York State Assembly, and to the Joint Legislative Committee on the State’s Economy, and has been active in numerous community and charitable organizations.A life-long resident of Rockeville Centre, Levin has been married to Iris for 35 years, and they have two children, Amy and Karen. Florida Bar member to lead NY State Bar Florida Bar member to lead NY State Bar August 15, 2002 Regular News
March 1, 2005 Regular News Briefs B riefs THE ALL LAWYER BAND “LEARNED HANDS” and a band composed of doctors “Running With Scissors” staged their first Battle of the Bands to Benefit the Winter Park Community Center. Dr. Mark Schwartz, drummer for the Scissors said, “While our lobbyists battle over the issue of tort reform in Tallahassee, a group of local physicians and attorneys have decided to settle our differences in the way men of honor have done throughout the ages — through rock ’n roll.” The celebrity judges: Mike Thomas, an Orlando Sentinel columnist; John Gross, manager of WLOQ-FM; and Gary Moffatt, drummer for. 38 Special) declared the contest a tie. More than $4,000 was raised for the Winter Park Community Center and a rematch is set for April 16 to benefit the Buoniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis. Pictured from the left are Randy Thomas, Dr. Rob Winter, Richard Whitaker, Dave Cannella, Irene Wertley, Steve Ball, Richard Wright, David Jones, Gary Moffatt, John Gross, Dr. Marc Schwartz, Peter Chinelli, and Dr. Dan Mancini. FOR THE FIRST TIME IN RECENT memory, 100 percent of the circuit and county court judges of the 17th Judicial Circuit are now members in good standing of the Broward County Bar Association. For the past year, President Steve E. Moody, Judicial Liaison Circuit Judge Ana I. Gardiner, and Membership Chair Christopher M. Neilson, with the support of the BCBA board and Executive Director Art Goldberg and his staff, have worked to enlist all the 79 judges as members of the bar. In recognition of the milestone, BCBA hosted a luncheon for the judges. Pictured from the left are Goldberg, Neilson, Judge Gardiner, and Moody.
Chief judges want to control court tech dollars Jan Pudlow Senior Editor It may be only $2 collected from each court filing fee, but it’s piling up into a high-stakes debate about who should have control of millions of dollars for an integrated court technology system.Right now, the counties have control of the money, with little direction from the legislature on how to spend it for court technology needs in circuits that cross county lines.When the Article V Technology Board met in Tallahassee September 23, Second Circuit Chief Judge Charlie Francis temporarily suspended his role as chair of the group to argue passionately that the chief judge of each circuit should take control of one integrated court computer system that serves everyone’s needs.“It is the chief judge who has the responsibility of how cases are processed. That’s the bottom line,” Francis said. “As the chief judge, as the constitution says, they look to me, and the buck stops here as to whether a case makes it through the system or not.”Judge Francis spoke against a motion made by 15th Judicial Circuit Public Defender Carey Haughwout that proposed money generated by the $2 filing fee be administered at the circuit level by a joint committee of the state attorney, public defender, and chief judge.Fifth Circuit State Attorney Brad King said he had concerns about “the idea of the chief judge being the sole decision-maker where the money is spent, even after consultation” with the others.“and large, the court’s role should be a neutral one and not taking an active role in the management of cases,” King said.But Judge Francis stressed that he, as chief judge, has a constitutional charge to supervise the court system, and that should include technology that enables one division of the courts to talk to another, as well as receive and share information from a variety of state agencies needed to make decisions in cases.Francis said he has “no problem with some kind of review process if judges are not handling things right.” But he believes the chief judge needs to be in charge of setting court system priorities.“Right now, in most civil cases, there is no record of what happens other than the court taking notes in chambers. Clerks don’t have that ability. We depend on judges’ handwritten notes to know what’s going on in 60 percent of our court system,” Judge Francis said with frustration. “My job is to make sure the whole court system is working correctly.”The committee tabled the discussion until the next meeting, October 21, when they hope to have hard numbers on just how much the $2 fee is generating and how it is being spent. Francis said he does not think the $2 fee is sufficient to cover court technology costs.Statewide, Florida spent a total of $1.35 billion on all technology in 2003-04.“That’s a chunk of money to be spent on technology and the legislature has legitimate concerns if it is being spent properly,” Francis told committee members. “Our job is to recommend a funding model or models to the legislature.”It was clear from public testimony that confusion is swirling about the $2 fee enacted by the legislature last year, as part of a combo of county/state/and fee-generated funding for the courts.The legislature passed a $4 hike in filing fees on official records, of which $2 is set aside for the clerks. But the other half goes to fund the public defenders, state attorneys, and the court.“The legislature did not give enough clear direction to the counties as to how to utilize that fund,” said State Court Technology Officer Mike Love. “They set it aside and said, ‘Clerk, you capture it. You then pass it to the board of county commissioners.’ The board of county commissioners, with little direction thereafter, is to use their discretion in supporting the technology requirements of the state court system.”Exactly how much money the $2 fee is generating was unclear, but likely it is not enough.“I know that three years ago, when this was being contemplated, each dollar would generate $26 million. So there’s at least $100 million bucks we’re talking about. The clerk gets half of it and the other players get to split the other half,” Love said.“The reason you see there’s discontent is because there is not enough money in the $2.”Some of that discontent was detailed by those who testified before the board:• Third Circuit Chief Judge Julian Collins, of Lake City, said: “We need a circuit-wide system, not seven separate counties. We need centralized control over our $2 portion of the $4 surcharge” in order to have “reliable funding and an opportunity for centralized planning. Some counties are so small they won’t generate enough funds for technology.”• Jon Lin, court technology officer for the Fifth Judicial Circuit, handles five counties from his office in Ocala and he wishes he could prepare one circuit-wide budget. “I don’t have the ability to actually move equipment where I need it, when it needs to be transferred to another county,” he said. “I’d like to see our county employees for technology, who are funded out of the $2 fee, become state employees.”• Britt Beasley, court administrator for the Fourth Judicial Circuit, of Duval, Clay, and Nassau counties, said, “We’re experiencing somewhat of a crisis in funding. One of the problems is that with the $2 fee going directly to the local government, the local government is experiencing budgetary problems, and they are somewhat reluctant to dispense the money—or there seems to be a lack of understanding of what the money should be used for.” Beasely proposed that “we could actually fund 20 circuit systems totally for perhaps less than you can fund 67 county systems.”• Ken Nelson, chief technology officer for the Sixth Judicial Circuit of Pinellas and Pasco counties, said, “We would like to recommend that the $2 of the $4 fee be returned to the circuit so that it could be administered as a circuit-wide fund, preferably by the chief judge.. . . Right now, we are in a situation where both of our counties micromanage everything we spend, right down to having us have our equipment authorized by the local IT departments. It becomes a real problem.”• Sheldon Gusky, executive director of the Florida Public Defender Association, said the biggest concern of its members is how best to resolve conflicts when they crop up. “Everybody has talked about funding, but nobody has talked about costs. Where are we today? What is the liability out there for the various entities on costs? What is the demand that is not being met?” Chief judges want to control court tech dollars October 15, 2005 Senior Editor Regular News
Sign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York A 10-month-old girl died and her pregnant mother was hospitalized after they were hit by a truck while the mother pushed the baby in a stroller in North Amityville on Saturday evening.Suffolk County police said 29-year-old Yancy Arevalo of Amityville was pushing the stroller with her daughter, Britney, across Route 110 just south of Nathalie Avenue when they were struck by a northbound Chevrolet pickup truck at 7 p.m.Arevalo and her child were taken to Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center in West Islip where the infant died nearly seven hours later. Arevalo suffered minor injuries and is being held for observation because she is pregnant.The driver, 46-year-old Arthur Plowden of North Amityvill,e was not injured.First Squad detectives impounded the truck, are continuing the investigation and ask anyone with information about the crash to call them at 631-854-8152.
Sign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York Four Muslim Americans have filed a lawsuit against the FBI claiming their names were added to the government’s secretive No Fly List and allegedly coerced to spy on their own communities, and told their names would be scrubbed if they cooperated.The Center for Constitutional Rights, along with the City University of New York School of Law’s CLEAR project, filed an amended complaint on April 22 on their behalf, arguing that the men are innocent and pose no threat to aviation security. The suit also notes that one of the men was alienated and stigmatized after his relatives and acquaintances were allegedly approached by government agents and questioned.In the suit, they claim their clients were deprived “of their right to travel freely and wrongly stigmatized…without justification and without due process of law by placing them on the No Fly List.”Since their inclusion on the mostly-secret list, one of men has been unable to travel to see his 93-year-old grandmother, and another has gone five years without seeing his wife and three daughters, according to the court filing.The four men—Muhammad Tanvir, Jameel Algibhah, Naveed Shinwari and Awais Sajjad—either suffered economic losses or emotional distress due to the FBI’s unwarranted questioning, the suit claims.In an interview on Democracy Now on Thursday, Shinwari said his first interaction with government agents occurred in October 2011 when he was denied a boarding pass in Dubai after spending several months in Afghanistan—where he got married. Shinwari, who lives in West haven, Conn., said he was interrogated by two FBI agents for roughly four hours.“I was pressured to give them everything that I know in order to go back home,” he told the program. “And the more I give them, the better chance of me coming back home.”He also refused a lie detector test because “I was very truthful to them from the beginning,” he added. He was questioned again five days later after returning to Washington, D.C., the suit states.In March 2012, Shinwari alleges he was prevented from boarding a flight to Orlando, Fl., where he had found a job. According to the suit, agents approached him and said “they were aware of his inability to board his flight, and again asked him to work as an informant.” He refused.In his interview with Democracy Now, he recounted his experience with government agents.“Tell us everything,” they allegedly demanded. “Where have you been? Have you attended any training camps in Afghanistan?”Naveed Shinwari, a Muslim American from Connecticut, says he discovered he was on the No Fly List after boarding a flight to Orlando, Fl., where he got a job. (Photo credit: Screenshot, Democracy Now)A second plaintiff, Awais Sajjad, of Brooklyn, a convenience store employee, was approached by two FBI agents at the check-in counter of John F. Kennedy International Airport in September 2012, where he was attempting to board a flight to Pakistan so he could visit his ailing father and elderly grandmother.He was allegedly brought to a windowless interrogation room and was later told by agents that his inclusion on the FBI No Fly List prevented him from traveling.“They asked him for his best friends’ names, and whether he had any girlfriends,” according to the suit. “He was asked whether he had any military training or ever sought to enlist for terrorism training. Mr. Sajjad answered all of their questions truthfully. He told them he had never had any kind of training and had never been in trouble with the law.”During the alleged interrogation, three agents reassured Sajjad that “they would be willing to help him get off the No Fly List and gave him the impression that such assistance would be provided if he agreed to their requests,” the suit states.One month later, after visiting Sajjad’s sister house in New Jersey, agents told Sajjad they wanted him to work for them in exchange for U.S. citizenship and a salary, according to the suit. He declined.He was later brought to FBI headquarters in Newark where he underwent a polygraph test, which he failed.“Mr. Sajjad was very frightened. He did not know what a polygraph test was. They attached multiple wires to different parts of his body,” the suit alleges. “He was told to remain very still and not even move his eyes, and to answer their questions. They then asked him many questions, including whether he loved the United States of America, whether he loved Pakistan and whether he would ever do anything that might bring shame to his family. They also asked whether he had signed up for or taken military training in Pakistan and whether he had ever used any guns.”The suit criticizes the FBI for the lack of transparency regarding the No Fly List. The government has not published the criteria for inclusion on the list, the suit says, adding that to be nominated for the list, there is supposed to be “reasonable suspicion” that the person is a “known or suspected terrorist.”It is unknown how many people are currently on the No Fly List. The government’s main terrorist watch list ballooned to at least 700,000 people, the New York Times reported last November.In the suit, the four men are seeking removal from the list and monetary relief for damages they have suffered.The latest allegations follow a string of lawsuits and complaints against the government and the NYPD for what many in the Muslim community consider unwarranted surveillance, which picked up following the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks.The NYPD’s top brass this month disbanded the controversial Demographics Unit, which spied on Muslims in the city and across its borders for about a decade. Many are skeptical, however, that the department has altogether discontinued covert actions against Muslim Americans.In an email on Friday, the FBI declined to comment for this story.
Sign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York An 18-year-old man was shot to death in front of his Wyandanch home early Sunday morning, Suffolk County police said.Eric Meade was standing with a group of people in the front yard of his South 26th Street home when he was shot in the head at 1:20 a.m., police said.Relatives took the victim to Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center in West Islip, where he was pronounced dead.Homicide Squad detectives are continuing the investigation and ask anyone with information on this incident to call them at 631-852-6392 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-220-TIPS. All calls will be kept confidential.
Sign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York A hit-and-run boater who crashed into a jetty in Patchogue abandoned ship, leaving behind an injured 29-year-old Farmingdale woman on Sunday night, Suffolk County police said.A 23-foot Sea Ray boat crashed into the west jetty at the entrance of the Patchogue River, where reponding officers and Patchogue firefighters found the victim at 9:20 p.m., police said.The victim was taken to Brookhaven Memorial Hospital Medical Center in East Patchogue, where she underwent treatment of non-life-threatening injuries.Witnesses reportedly told investigators that up to seven people were on the boat at the time of the crash. Police found some of them nearby, but they did not cooperate with the probe, authorities said.Police are trying to find the owner of the severely damaged boat, who is responsible for removing it from the rocks, authorities said.Fifth Precinct Crime Section are continuing the investigation and ask anyone with information on this incident to call them at 631-854-8526.
Sign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York This secluded waterfront Victorian on approximately one acre of land with about 220 feet of bulkheading is listed for sale at 3960 John Ln. in Seaford.Built in 1998, this five-bedroom, three-bathroom home has 5,000-square-feet of living space and offers the opportunity to be converted into a Mother/Daughter with the proper permits.It comes equipped with a newly renovated eat-in kitchen, formal dining room, vaulted ceilings in the living room, a den, office and wrap-around porch.The house is less than a mile from the Seaford Long Island Rail Road station, nearby Route 135 and within walking distance of Tackapausha Museum and Preserve. It’s located in the Seaford School District.The asking price is $849,000, not including the annual property taxes of $27,024, which come down to $25,632 with the Star Exemption.The real estate agent listed for the property is Gregory Masaitis of Keller Williams Realty Elite. He can be reached at 516-795-6900.
7SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr “I wonder what kind of tell we’ve fallen into?” – Samwise Gamgee from Lord of the RingsI love the Lord of the Rings, what a great story! A story about good and evil, a story about a struggle, a story about something lost, a story about courage, loss, pain, suffering, triumph, brotherhood, romance, battle, fear, friendship, risk and joy.A story rooted in the human condition. A story of heart where the end is never achieved fully because even after the glorious triumph…the story continues.In previous blogs, I have talked about the kind of story we are telling with our own lives. On older man in my life asked me recently “I wonder if someone followed you around with a movie camera, what kind of story would that tell?”I like the question because it helps me root out my true desires. Desires for my career, desires for our business, and desires for my life. What kind of marriage do I want? What kind of relationship do I want with my children? What kind of mark do I want to leave on this earth? continue reading »
I’m always on the lookout for useful tools. As a department of one, I’m short on time, but have plenty to do. Here are three of my favorite tools:Canva: For designing simple graphics.I am not trained as a graphic designer, so I don’t know all the tricks of the trade. I don’t use Canva all the time, because it does have limitations. I use it for quick social media graphics, flyers or simple invitations. Upload your own photo or choose from free backgrounds, photos and tons of graphical elements. Here’s a quick graphic I did with one of my photos.Wordmark.it: For finding the ideal typeface.Don’t let anyone tell you fonts aren’t important. A great typeface is what holds your marketing materials together. Wordmark.it allows you to see how a word looks in all the fonts that are installed on your computer. See them on a white background, black background, all lowercase or all caps. This is a great way to find a new font, or isolate a word that you want to stand out in your materials. Here’s one I did using “credit union.”Feed.ly: For catching up on the latest news.Anyone remember iGoogle? I was annoyed when Google discontinued support of that feature. I housed all my RSS feeds on iGoogle. Reluctantly, I moved over to Feed.ly, which works just fine, and offers different layouts for a variety of experiences. Feed.ly is a news aggregate that allows you to quickly glance at all the news important to you.And these tools are all free…what are some your favorite tools or websites? 17SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,Susan Dyer Susan is the Communications Director for the Heartland Credit Union Association, the trade association for credit unions in Kansas and Missouri. She has been a part of the marketing and … Web: HeartlandCUA.org Details
10SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr Marketing may put the public face on the brand, it is the staff who must live the brand every day. Great credit union brands are built with a triangle approach: management, staff, and members. In an ideal world management leads the brand, staff lives the brand and members love the brand.In many cases, effective brands fail at the staff level because of that gap between the brand and staff. Successful brands involve staff at every level. Financial institutions doing branding must conduct brand training with their staff and develop brand standards for their staff.Credit Union Of Texas ($1.2 billion, Dallas, TX) recently rebranded their credit union. As part of that rebrand, they took each staff member through brand training—almost 300 employees.“We wanted all of our people buying into our new brand,” said Chris Lederer, vice president of marketing and brand management. “The training gave employees the opportunity to understand the critical role they play—from frontline to support staff. Branding is not just about marketing—it’s about how staff delivers that brand to our members and each other every day.” continue reading »
Since Americans aren’t bashful when they borrow money, especially when it comes to buying a car (about 85% of buyers take out a loan for a new ride), Nerdwallet decided to conduct a consumer study that examined where’s the best place to get a auto loan.Survey says, CREDIT UNIONS!Nerdwallet got to this conclusion by estimating how much money a consumer could save by financing her new car purchase with a low interest rate auto loan while being able to invest in the stock market.Nerdwallet went off the assumption that the consumer had $25K saved away and could put down $5K for a down payment on a new car. In addition, the consumer was interested in a 2% APR auto loan for the remainder and then invested $20K cash in an index fund.The conclusion: when looking for a loan be sure to secure the lowest/best APR percentage you can. The lower the APR, the more money you’ll save in the long run. However, these percentages are dependent upon the stock market’s performance which is know to be very unpredictable. continue reading » 25SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr
Good Tuesday morning from our nation’s capital! I’m happy to be in attendance alongside the nearly 5,000 credit union professionals at this year’s CUNA Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC). GAC is a tremendous opportunity to network with others in the industry and share stories of the #CUdifference with our legislators and regulators.As always, CUNA has done a great job of putting together a jam packed agenda here in Washington, D.C. As a result, I’ll keep today’s post brief. You know, it’s funny. I can actually hear my regular readers (all three of them) breathing a collective sigh of relief.Last month the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) was kind enough to issue some clarifying guidance on complying with the Integrated Disclosure Rule (TRID) relative to construction loans. While many in the industry found the guidance lacking in substance, at least it’s something. Let’s take a moment to review the key points:Construction Loans are Subject to TRIDWhile you were not required to provide the Good Faith Estimate (GFE) on construction loans as they are considered temporary financing under the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA), most construction loans do fall within the scope of TRID. As a result, both the Loan Estimate and Closing Disclosure are required to be provided in connection with a closed-end construction loan. continue reading » 5SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr
With Google continuously changing algorithms and consumers catching on fast to marketing “tricks”, marketers need all the help they can get. That’s why many marketers turn to marketing automation tools to make their life easier. There’s a ton of marketing automation tools out on the market, and it’s impossible to test all of them out. That’s why I thought I’d help you by asking top marketers what their favorite marketing automation tools are. Some of them you’ll be familiar with, but I hope you find something new to add to your marketing arsenal.There’s a ton of marketing automation tools out on the market, and it’s impossible to test all of them out. That’s why I thought I’d help you by asking top marketers what their favorite marketing automation tools are. Some of them you’ll be familiar with, but I hope you find something new to add to your marketing arsenal.1. HubSpot.HubSpot is an all-in-one marketing automation tool and is hands down the favorite with marketers. It has been ranked number one in GetApp’s recent marketing automation report. This is the Grand Daddy of marketing automation apps.Oleg Korneitchouk, director of marketing at SmartSites, comments that “their suite of tools makes it easy to integrate sales, marketing, and CRM – which reduces all types of friction. You can follow the complete customer path, from ad click to maintaining a lifetime relationship. Not only will this let you understand your business and clients more, it helps you maximize your ROI by letting you focus on the things that work best. From there, you can set up automatic emails, content personalization, and segmentation in order to provide your customers with exactly what they want.”Ryan Riley, Partner of Something Creative says simply, “Hubspot is kind of a jack of all trades tool. You have email marketing, analytics, blogging, SEO and more all in one tool. It’s sort of the standard, at least for our team, in terms of marketing tools.” continue reading » 11SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr
There’s something terribly unnerving about having your smartphone stolen or lost. Even more worrying: A savvy saboteur may be able to hack into your bank accounts, mobile payment apps and credit card applications. Once inside, he could drain your bank accounts, use them for a shopping spree or even steal your identity, wreaking havoc on your credit and finances. continue reading » If your phone falls into the wrong hands, a smart thief can gain access to your professional, social and other personal information. “It’s very daunting when you realize that we leave an enormous trail of breadcrumbs [on our phones],” says Adam Levin, chairman and founder of IDT911, an identify theft solutions company, and author of “Swiped: How to Protect Yourself in a World Full of Scammers, Phishers, and Identity Thieves.” 13SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr
9SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr NAFCU tomorrow will monitor the House Financial Services Committee mark-up of the Financial CHOICE Act (H.R. 10), slated for 10 a.m. Eastern, and will make credit unions aware of any legislative updates to the bill affecting the industry.The CHOICE Act contains numerous NAFCU-sought measures, including Durbin interchange amendment repeal and other Dodd-Frank Act reforms. Two separate hearings were held on the bill last week; one which often cited the Dodd-Frank’s impact on the current regulatory environment and credit unions.NAFCU encourages credit unions to reach out to their members of Congress and seek support for repealing the Dodd-Frank Act’s Durbin amendment through NAFCU’s Grassroots Action Center.In hearings this week:The Senate Banking Committee on Thursday will examine the reauthorization of the National Flood Insurance Program. Slated for 10 a.m. Eastern, the hearing includes witnesses from the Association for State Floodplain Managers and others. continue reading »
17SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,Amanda Reed Web: www.CUInsight.com Details “It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.” – Walt DisneyWhen you start thinking about digital transformation, it can be easy to go down the rabbit hole and feel overwhelmed with all the details that might entail. To start, take a step back and look at the job that needs to be done instead. When you look at the big picture, and you ask the right questions, it’s not scary at all. It’s exhilarating.Today at THiNK17, we focused on determining what exactly what is it that we are trying to accomplish – for ourselves, for our employees, for our members. If we don’t know what it is that we are trying to solve, what our real job is, then we are never going to be able to transform. To help you through the process let’s take a cue from Disney…A few years ago Disney released the now iconic Magic Bands. They have a variety of purposes but it all started when they began listening to guest complaints. They didn’t like waiting in line or keeping up with hotel keys, things like that. Now it would’ve been easy(ier) to solve these problems individually, but instead Disney took a step back to look at the big picture. What was causing friction in an otherwise “Magical Experience”? But it isn’t just about accomplishing a task for a guest or a member, it’s about creating a better overall experience that helps employees as well. What they found was that moving to this system allowed their employees to focus on the interaction and creating a special moment, instead of just making one transaction with them.Today as you go about your work day, take a moment to think about the deeper needs of your members. Why is it that they are looking to you to complete a specific task and how can you help ease the friction in their daily lives so that you can move them from feeling ordinary to extraordinary. Once you start that thinking process, then you’re already on the path to digital transformation.
10SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr Rep. Paul Cook, R-Calif., along with several fellow representatives, sent a letter Wednesday to the Department of Defense urging the department to exempt credit unions from the July 2015 amendments to the Military Lending Act.“It has come to my attention that the July 2015 amendments have caused numerous financial institutions to eliminate products and services, many of which have been relied on by servicemembers and their families,” the letter states. “Of great concern, I have heard from credit unions that they are being forced to cut back on, or eliminate, products that help find solutions for credit for servicemembers and their families that may have few, or much worse, other options.”The letter acknowledges that while the MLA changes “have proven effective in broadening the scope of products and services targeted by … lenders, it has also had the unintended effect of creating barriers for good actors seeking to serve the military with highly regulated and safe products and services. Particularly, I am concerned about the unintended consequences on the thousands of credit unions, serving 110 million consumers including servicemembers.” continue reading »
9SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr continue reading » $1.6 billion Sunova Credit Union, Selkirk, Manitoba, boasts one of the youngest, most energized (and top performing) credit union teams in North America. Year after year, they’re leaders in sales generation and member satisfaction. Turnover is low (9.43 percent in 2016), and the CU’s work environment conducive to growth and collaboration.Unlike models built around the C-suite, success stems from a business model that recognizes and rewards front-line staff first and eliminates unintended barriers (perceived or otherwise) between the corporate office and branches.“You can choose to compete in price, product or service delivery, but not all three,” reflects CEO Edward Bergen, CCD, CCE, a CUES member. “Being the lowest in price is difficult, and since associates are often the first point of contact with members, we wouldn’t want them to be the lowest paid. We recognize their value and have built a business model focused on fostering long-term, mutually beneficial relationships and delivering exceptional service.”
ShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr continue reading » FDIC Board Member Martin Gruenberg this week made clear that relief language in S. 2155 regarding the Volcker rule is intended for community banks – not all banks regardless of asset size as some have argued. Gruenberg’s conclusion on the intent of the language supports NAFCU’s view, which was shared with the FDIC and other bank regulators earlier this month.“There has been some discussion that the new statute can be read in a way that would allow any bank, regardless of asset size, to be exempt from the Volcker Rule if its trading assets and liabilities are five percent or less of its total consolidated assets … This was not the intent of the new statute as I understand it … I believe it is clear that this statutory exemption … appl[ies] only to banking organizations with $10 billion or less in total consolidated assets and that the limitation on trading assets and liabilities is an additional limitation placed on this defined group of banking organizations,” Gruenberg said.In a letter to the OCC, FDIC, Federal Reserve, Commodities Futures Trading Commission, and Securities and Exchange Commission, NAFCU Executive Vice President of Government Affairs and General Counsel Carrie Hunt gave a similar explanation to the intent of this portion of S. 2155. She further noted that the Volcker rule is a “critical reform that emerged from the financial crisis which addresses, among other things, the riskiest of all investment behaviors – investing in private equity or hedge funds using a bank’s own accounts for the bank’s own benefit.”
At the end of the day, if I had to list everyone that has made an impact on my life, my list could be endless. I’m constantly longing to make a positive impact in the world and I hope those around me are too. No matter where you are in life, it’s important that we work to be the best people we can, with a purpose in mind. If we do that, we’ll truly make an impact. ShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,Katie Nehl A born and raised ranch girl from small town North Dakota, Katie started her credit union journey six years ago, with First Community Credit Union (FCCU). After working three years … Web: myFCCU.com Details A few weeks ago, I was visiting with a coworker and she told me I was the reason she stayed at her job. Confused and shocked, I asked for more details. “What do you mean I’m the reason you’re still working here?”, I asked. She went on to tell me, an article I wrote at my former job two years prior, about never giving up, was the reason she stayed at her job. After a streak of bad luck at that credit union and a tough few months due to an upcoming merger, she had her office all packed up, ready to quit that day. After hearing her tell this story, I was stunned. How could my words really make such a lasting impression? What are the odds that now we both work for the same credit union and are coworkers? If you’re like me, somedays you wonder if what you’re doing is worthwhile. I love my job and I truly feel like I’m making an impact, but on occasion, even outside the office, doubt can set it. With work duties, home responsibilities, spousal responsibilities and more, somedays life is just hard. I’m usually a glass half full type person, with a positive mindset, but we all have our bad days. However, in that moment, after hearing my coworkers’ story, I had no doubt life had led me to the place I am supposed to be. I think we all need those reminders now and then, that we are making an impact. Whether it’s an impact on our family, a positive impact in the lives of friends, strangers or even our credit union members. Here’s a few tips how you can live a life, making an impact at your credit union.Listen: Listening to the needs of those around you, to your members and co-workers can play a huge role in making an impact. Without takin the time to listen, how will you ever know what that member needs? How will you ever know your spouses or kids dreams and goals? Listening is a simple, yet crucial aspect. When we take time to sit, listen and get to know those around us, we can learn what makes them happy, what goals they have and how we can help impact their life. It’s a simple thing, that takes time, patience and practice to be a good listener. I encourage you to put the phone down, engage with those around you and listen to what knowledge others have to offer.Be Real: Being true to yourself sounds so simple, yet so hard. Do you wake up every day with passion and the fire under you to do what you love? Or do you wish for something different? When you’re not true to yourself, you abandon your goals, desires and dreams. You pass off bad emotions or vibes you get when being around certain people because you want them to like you, therefore, sometimes not acting like yourself. Being your real, true, genuine self is what can help you be happier and keep your integrity for what you believe. Being real and authentic can be a life-long practice, where you know and understand your strengths, don’t worry about the mistakes and dream big—not to mention you’re not afraid to laugh at yourself. This authentic self, can be contagious and make a positive impact for those around you.Work for a Cause, not Applause: We all know or have that one person in our lives that works for the glory, the applause and to add another achievement to their list, which is just fine. Har worker are good workers. However, sometimes, remember to work hard for a cause and not just the applause, is better. The hard part, might be finding your cause and what you want to work for. Is it your job? Your members? Your family? It’s important to remember, nothing in life comes easy, especially not without you giving it your all. When you’re questioning how to give more and work for a cause, try starting small. Give more of your time, give more of your love, give more of the money you spend going out on weekends to charity instead- the list goes on. You were put here on this earth for a reason, don’t forget to give more and use every ounce of that wonderful talent you were given, for a positive cause.Remain Positive: Growing up, if I missed a calf in breakaway or tipped a barrel, I’d often not only be mad at myself, but my horse, as well. Nonetheless, I got a reality check quite often when I was constantly reminded by my father to have more of a positive attitude. When I left the trailer, he explained that I needed to have a positive attitude, focus on my next task at hand and ultimately focus on my job at the time, rodeo. If I let my negative thoughts get to me, I often did poorly in the rest of my events. The same is in life or at your office. If you think negatively, your actions will be negative. Garbage in-garbage out. Conversely, if you think positively, your actions most times will be positive. Positive attitudes in the workplace can lead to improved communications, better teamwork, increased morale and high productivity. In addition, having a positive attitude, can make you more approachable and can be more impactful on those around you. Be Thankful: A simple thank you can go a long way. I’ve witnessed it, I’ve felt it and been impacted by the power of both getting and not getting a thank you. When we go through life expecting things, without being grateful and thankful, that’s when life can take a turn for the worse. I’ll be honest, there’s many days when a thank you, means more to me than the action I did to receive the thank you. A thank you can truly impact someone’s life, far beyond that moment, for many years, in fact. The point is, be kind to everyone you meet. You never know what they might be going through. A thank you, a congratulations to your coworker, an uplifting note and even a kind heart can make the biggest impact on someone’s life.
2SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,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 Social media came on the scene around 20 years ago and it changed the world forever. That’s especially true with members and the way they deal with having a bad experience. It used to be that “Karen” would just walk right up and ask to speak to a manager (that of course still happens), but now they can use their Facebook and Instagram accounts to blast their complaints out to anyone who will listen.So, what can you do about it? Honestly, there’s not a whole lot you can do if someone decides they want to vent their frustrations to all 127 of their Facebook friends, but you can try to stop those frustrations before they start. One place you can begin to look is your member service department. Here are three reasons people hate member service…They feel like they’re having to wait forever: Obviously call volume can be a lot busier at certain times of day, but if a member doesn’t feel like you’re prioritizing their problem, you may see their loyalty start to slip away. If you’re understaffed or just unusually swamped, it’s okay, but make sure to keep callers informed so they can prepare themselves to wait.They feel like nobody wants to help: When you have a problem and you’re trying to get help solving it over the phone, it really stinks to be passed around. We’ve all seen Home Alone. When Kevin’s mom tries to call their local police department from Paris, her call gets passed around like a White Elephant gift. Playing hot potato with a member’s concerns won’t make anyone feel like a priority. Think about a time this has happened to you. It gets really frustrating when you’re telling your story for the third time.They feel like you’re not prepared: People who call you for help actually need help. If a member doesn’t feel like you’re ready to go to battle for them when it comes to fixing their problems, they’re not going to feel very supported. That kind of defeats the purpose of a member support line.
Sign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York A Long Beach teenager has admitted to fatally beating and strangling an 18-year-old Lynbrook woman who was found dead in Rockville Centre nearly two years ago.Maxwell Sherman pleaded guilty Friday at Nassau County court to second-degree murder. A charge of sex abuse was dropped in exchange for his plea.Authorities have said that the 19-year-old killed Lauren Daverin, who was found by witnesses on the Mill Pond footbridge between Sunrise Highway and Merrick Road in August 2013.Sherman later told Rockville Centre village police that he had been assaulted on the footbridge that night and confirmed that he was the last person on the bridge with the victim after a group of other people left, prosecutors said.A witness also told investigators that he saw Sherman on top of Daverin on the bridge, authorities said. The witness later identified Sherman in a photo array.Judge Meryl Berkowitz is expected to sentence Sherman to 18 years to life in prison on June 11.
Sign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York A New York City police officer from Farmingdale and his wife have been arrested for allegedly violating a court order banning them from owning animals after they were convicted of fatally neglecting a dog, Nassau County prosecutors said.Danny Neira, 43, and his 34-year-old wife, Rose, were charged Thursday with criminal contempt. Judge James Darcy set their bail at $500.Prosecutors said a judge had signed an order in February banning the couple from owning animals for five years after they were convicted of animal cruelty in 2012.In that case, the couple had failed to provide food or veterinarian care to their emaciated pet Great Dane, which died after being removed from their home in 2010, prosecutors said.Despite the ban, investigators found a dog, a cockatoo and a tarantula in the couple’s home, authorities said.If convicted, the Neiras’ face up to one year in jail. They are due back in court June 4.
Sign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York Sponsored Content Brought To You By NY Auto GiantThe hottest crossover/SUV on the market has gotten even hotter.Honda has made several improvements to its CR-V—2014’s highest-selling crossover/SUV—elevating the United States’ most popular hybrid and creating a whole new automotive driving wonder in the process.Updated with a direct-injected 2.4-liter engine with CVT (continuously variable automatic transmission), innovative new safety features, improved occupant protection, new projector-beam headlights, daytime LED running lamps, brighter trim and upgraded electronics, among other additions, the jazzed-up 2015 Honda CR-V has been wowing both drivers and critics alike.“It remains the finest jacked-up Civic hatchback you can buy,” gushes Car and Driver. “It’s just that modern car-based crossover SUVs like the Honda CR-V, with its elevated driving position; 70-plus cubic feet of cargo space (with the rear seats down); friendly fuel economy, ride, and handling; and available four-wheel drive, offer pretty much everything today’s buyer needs in such a vehicle.” Head down to NY Auto Giant and get behind the wheel of your own 2015 Honda CR-V!Expert reviewers at Kelley Blue Book are equally impressed.“Against the Nissan Rogue, Ford Escape, Toyota RAV4 and others, the CR-V is the best-selling SUV of the decade and, for 2015, it has even more to like,” one writes. “There’s attractive new styling, appealing features and noteworthy technology, and the 2.4-liter direct-injection engine with continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) delivers more power, performance and fuel economy.“The new CR-V is available in multiple trim levels and with front-wheel drive (FWD) or all-wheel drive (AWD),” the review continues. “Safety features are class-leading, there’s a new Touring upper trim level and, if that isn’t enough, the new CR-V represents an exceptional value for the money. No wonder owners love it.”Click Here To Learn More About NY Auto GiantThe 2015 CR-V has more power under the hood and boasts smoother, quieter, more responsive performance. Some say she sings like a bird! It also has better fuel economy than its predecessor, advanced safety features, and an overall enhanced appearance!Don’t take our word for it, though—head in to NY Auto Giant’s Atlantic Honda, Millennium Honda or Advantage Honda, fall in love, and drive home one of your own today!
Sign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York A 54-year-old woman drowned in the pool in the backyard of her Miller Place home on Tuesday night, Suffolk County police said.A family member found Erin Attard unresponsive in the semi-in-ground pool at 8 p.m., police said.She was taken to John T. Mather Memorial Hospital in Port Jefferson, where she died.Homicide Squad detectives are continuing the investigation but believe the incident is non-criminal.
“Lastly, we want to thank the greatest fans in the world. Your support this season was unbelievable from start to finish. We know that support would have continued as we were making a historic run towards the playoffs. Be safe, be healthy, and we’re already looking forward to the 2020-21 season!” “The Binghamton Devils fully support the decision made by the American Hockey League to cancel the rest of the 2019-20 season. The health and safety of our fans, players, partners, and staff are the top priority.” The Binghamton Devils released the following statement: After a remarkable season which ended with the Binghamton Devils going on a seven-game win streak, the franchise also thanked fans in Binghamton. “Like” Nicole Menner on Facebook and “Follow” her on Twitter. BINGHAMTON (WBNG) — The American Hockey League has cancelled the remainder of the 2019-2020 season due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. This cancellation includes the Calder Cup playoffs. The Binghamton Devils finished with a 34-24-4-0 record. For more information on the cancellation of the season, you can visit the Binghamton Devils website.
JOHNSON CITY (WBNG) — The Johnson City Fire Marshall says the fire at 67 Albert St. was accidental in nature. No injuries were reported. The Fire Marshall says the fire was caused by “improperly discarded smoking materials” on the second floor front porch. Five adults were displaced from the fire but are able to stay with friends and family.
(WBNG) — While the talk of the town may be the beginning of the reopening process, one Binghamton financial advisor is urging everyone to proceed with caution. Sydlansky stresses that many lenders understand the current situation and will be willing to work with borrowers to adjust their repayment plan. He says believe it or not, you and your lender actually have a common goal. Sydlansky says that since the crisis has meant people are staying at home more many are saving money on things like gas, trips to restaurants, and recreational activities. He says this is not only an opportunity to save money but to take a look at where you can make cuts. If you do end up with an excess amount of cash because you’re spending less money during the crisis, Sydlansky says resist the urge to spend or invest it. With recent talk of a possible second wave of the virus, Sydlansky says the best thing you can do to prepare for the remainder of the crisis is to create and maintain an emergency account. He says the goal should be to have funds to cover three to six months of expenses. If you are unable to set aside that extra cash and find yourself struggling due to the crisis, he says to take a look at ways to reduce your biggest expenses such as car payments, mortgage bills and student loans. “Refill your emergency account. there could be a second wave and we could be doing this all over again in three or four months where the service industry is shut down so I would say prepare for this to happen again,” he says. “Start with something even if it’s 5, 10, 20, dollars out of a paycheck, you’ve got to start somewhere” he says. “Once you get into the habit it will be a lot easier to keep that going.” “I would encourage people to see where their spending has been the last month or two and say ‘wow I’ve been without that cup of coffee and I’ve been without that trip to the movies if I needed to I can cut back on this.'” “You want to learn from a situation like this if you weren’t prepared this time learn what you can do differently in the future,” said Paul Sydlansky of Lake Road Advisors. “Reach out to some of your lenders and see if you can negotiate, see if you can get rates lowered and see if you can get payments skipped,” he says. “Ultimately they’re going to want to work with you to help you out in the short term because they don’t want you to default on that loan or have problems in the long term.”