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Guatemalan Service Members Respond to Volcano Disaster

first_imgBy Jennyfer Hernández/Diálogo June 07, 2018 Hundreds of Guatemalan service members joined disaster relief efforts in the departments of Sacatepéquez, Chimaltenango, and Escuintla following the June 3rd eruption of the Fuego Volcano. Lying 50 kilometers southeast of Guatemala City, the volcano claimed the lives of 75 people, according to the latest data published on June 6th. Guatemalan authorities warned the number is likely to rise as search and rescue efforts continue. More than 600 troops from the Guatemalan Armed Forces joined rescuers to respond to the emergency in the three departments under red alert. Active and reserve troops mobilized as soon as the eruption began and focused their efforts on two main areas, explained Guatemalan Army Colonel Juan Carlos De Paz Arredondo, spokesperson for the Ministry of Defense. “The Humanitarian Rescue Unit [UHR, in Spanish] is carrying out the first effort in the disaster zone, helping rescue survivors and victims”, Col. De Paz told Diálogo. “This takes place in the community of San Miguel Los Lotes, in the department of Escuintla. Troops also deployed to rescue people in the municipality of Alotenango, Sacatepéquez.” Deployed service members also contribute to the collection and distribution of essential supplies. According to a report from the Guatemalan National Coordination System for Disaster Reduction (CONRED, in Spanish), about 12,000 people were evacuated from communities on the slopes of the volcano. An estimated 2 million people have been affected. “Our other role is to help distribute humanitarian aid, such as food,” Col. De Paz said. “And to monitor the shelters set up in the disaster zone.” Violent eruption The community of San Miguel Los Lotes and the nearby village of El Rodeo, located on the slopes of the volcano, were the hardest hit. The eruption and its pyroclastic flow—avalanches of rock and burning gases streaming down the sides of the volcano—buried both communities. The waves of destruction left behind a landscape seemingly frozen in time and covered in a dense layer of ash. The Fuego Volcano’s eruption, the largest since 1979, began on the morning of June 3rd and continued with a second explosion in the afternoon, spewing columns of ashes that spread out over miles, unleashing rivers of lava and pyroclastic flow. The Fuego Volcano last erupted in January 2018. Authorities transported more than 40 wounded to the Roosevelt and San Juan de Dios hospitals in the capital, and to the Escuintla Hospital. An unknown number of people are still missing. In addition to efforts at the two main hubs of activity, service members assisted rescuers in search and rescue missions in the communities of Los Tablones, Las Lajas, and La Reina, located on the volcano’s southern slopes. According to CONRED, communities on the north side of the mountain remained cut off as pyroclastic flow destroyed roads. Col. De Paz said troops set out for the village of Yepocapa, Escuintla, to establish contact. “All agencies have been working relentlessly,” said Sergio Cabañas, executive secretary of CONRED. “We are doing everything humanly possible to rescue more people and, especially, assist those who lost their home and family. The Army plays a key role in rescue and food distribution efforts. Each institution has done its part in this national tragedy.” Key military support Units from the Army Corps of Engineers joined the emergency efforts, which included clearing the ash-covered runways at La Aurora International Airport in Guatemala City. The airport resumed operations on the morning of June 4th after 15 hours of clearing-work involving 10 road sweepers. Guatemalan Air Force flights lent support to tasks on the ground. “We also did an overflight of the area to survey the disaster’s magnitude,” said Col. De Paz. “On Monday morning [June 4th], six people trapped in a sugar mill were rescued. Our personnel took them to a safe place.” In addition to the military, firefighter and rescue squads, the National Civil Police, the Traffic Police, and members of the various organizations within the CONRED network sprang into action. In mid-April, CONRED and the Guatemalan Army staged a mock eruption of the Fuego Volcano as part of the U.S. Southern Command-sponsored 2018 Humanitarian Allied Forces (FAHUM) exercise. “We’re putting into practice all the emergency protocols we ran through less than a month ago with U.S. Army South, which helped us improve our disaster response capabilities,” said Col. De Paz. “CONRED and other institutions participated to improve our procedures. I think we are doing well, thanks to those drills.” The Central American and international community expressed its condolences and solidarity with the Guatemalan people. The governments of Mexico, Honduras, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Israel, and the United States, among others, offered humanitarian aid and made search and rescue units available. “We haven’t turned down help from anyone,” said Guatemalan president Jimmy Morales during a press conference.last_img read more

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Armed Forces of Uruguay Support the Population as Coronavirus Advances

first_imgBy Juan Delgado / Diálogo April 03, 2020 Members and resources of the Armed Forces of Uruguay deployed to support the community in the face of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic with the distribution of basic and medical supplies and border patrols, among other essential measures.On March 13, Uruguayan President Luis Lacalle Pou declared a health emergency as a result of the coronavirus. Measures included partially closing the borders, mandatory quarantine for passengers from countries declared at risk, banning cruise disembarkation, suspending public shows and school classes, and isolation, among other measures.“We have several actions. Commandos of the Armed Forces are ready and willing to work in border areas to increase containment efforts to confront the disease,” said Uruguayan Defense Minister Javier García at a press conference. “We offered to deploy, control public health parameters, take [people’s] temperature to rule out signs of the disease,” he added.More than 1,200 elements from the Armed Forces deployed for Operation Safe Border at different points of the country to guard land and fluvial borders, stop illegal drug and human trafficking, and intensify controls against the coronavirus pandemic.The Uruguayan Air Force (FAU, in Spanish) made aircraft and helicopters available for the eventual transport of patients or medical laboratory equipment. Likewise, FAU repatriated Uruguayan citizens stranded in Peru, Bolivia, Argentina, and Ecuador in humanitarian military flights.The Uruguayan Navy has been handling the entry and exit of foreigners and Uruguayan citizens by sea and land as well as accompanying and guiding passengers suspected of carrying the virus to check and isolation points.“We collaborate with the Public Health Ministry for the entry of Uruguayans and foreign residents to Uruguay,” said to Diálogo Uruguayan Captain Diego Perona, head of Public Relations for the Navy. “In the face of the state of health emergency, the Navy, through its different prefectures, is dedicated to raising citizens’ awareness to avoid crowds in addition to restricting navigation.”For its part, the Army said it was supporting the population in medical centers in the cities of Montevideo, Melo, Cardona, Dolores, and Flores. The 1st Artillery Group Brigadier General Manuel Oribe, 8th Armored Cavalry Regiment Patria, and 5th Infantry Battalion Asencio, made vehicles and qualified personnel available to transport and install a tent on the hospital grounds of each city to be used as a waiting room for patients affected with coronavirus.Since mid-March, the Army also uses some of the Quartermarster Service’s workshops for the manufacture of face masks. Service members can produce some 1,000 face masks a day.“Behind all this misfortune, we must look for the positive. We all understand that all government agencies must work together and coordinate to be stronger in the battle we face,” Minister Garcia said.last_img read more

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5 tips for young people buying their first home

first_imgWith U.S. mortgage rates near all-time lows, the appeal of purchasing a home has become much more enticing. For those who currently own, those lower rates mean looking into refinancing options to lock in lower rates; for those who rent, this may provide a nice entrance into home ownership.According to the most recent National Association of Realtors® Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends report, the demographics of first-time homebuyers has shifted over the last century. The current median age sits around 29, with over 65 percent of homebuyers under the age of 34.One consequence of shifting demographic means those interested are young, but not financially literate. Today’s first-time homebuyers are able to set themselves up for success differently than members of younger generations. continue reading » 25SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblrlast_img read more

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Benefits of flu vaccination hotly debated

first_img Looking to flu vaccine to prevent death among the elderly may be focusing on the wrong benefit, Dr. Kristin Nichol of the University of Minnesota said Tuesday. While studies of reductions in mortality may have been clouded by selection bias, she said, studies that show decreases in rates of respiratory diseases and hospitalizations look solid. A study published earlier this month in the New England Journal of Medicine (and placed online in September) found that giving the flu shot to pregnant women lowered both their risk of flu and also the risk for their newborns, who were too young to be vaccinated themselves. Reports in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine in September and the Lancet in August contended that flu vaccine’s ability to protect the elderly from death and from pneumonia has been overstated, and several papers have pointed out that, while vaccination in the elderly has increased, the mortality rate has not declined. The question whether flu vaccine protects recipients both from developing flu and from serious complications of flu, as well as whether its administration protects contacts of recipients, has been an active research topic over the past year. Researchers from Emory University and the biotech companies i3 Innovus and Wyeth Research modeled the potential effect of vaccinating infants during a flu season with Prevnar, the 7-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine, in hopes of preventing the secondary bacterial infections that frequently cause flu-season deaths. But vaccinating children to protect others was challenged in a separate presentation, with Catherine Weil-Oliver of the Universite de Paris arguing that indirect benefit “has not been demonstrated in schoolchildren in any European study. . . . In children younger than two, no indirect benefit has been recorded at all.” They found that in a typical flu season, preventing post-flu bacterial pneumonia saves $1.4 billion in healthcare spending. In a flu pandemic such as 1918, however, vaccination’s effect would be much larger: It would prevent 1.24 million cases of pneumonia and 357,000 pneumococcal-related deaths and reduce costs by $7 billion. (Rubin JL, McGarry LJ, Klugman KP, et al. Public health and economic impact of 7-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccination in an influenza pandemic in the US. [Abstract K-4210]) Oct 30, 2008 – WASHINGTON (CIDRAP News) – The benefits conferred by influenza vaccination—to recipients and to their close contacts—were hotly disputed at an international medical meeting this week. The concern about low immunization rates also includes pregnant women. An analysis from Bridgeport Hospital and Yale University Medical School in Connecticut found that, out of 520 women who were pregnant during flu season, 19% had been vaccinated, though 28% had discussed vaccination with their physicians during prenatal care. (Panda B, Stiller R, Bruce L, et al. Influenza vaccination in pregnancy: compliance with current CDC guidelines for prevention and control of influenza pertaining to vaccination during pregnancy. [Abstract K-4202]) The authors theorized that the very old are so frail that they are unable to get the shots by themselves, while attendants or healthcare workers deem the shot not useful for them. The result, the authors said, is that the oldest old and most at risk from flu complications are excluded from analyses of flu-shot effectiveness and age, so that results are distorted. (Baxter R, Fireman B, Lee J. “Who gets flu vaccines? A look at bias in flu vaccine effectiveness studies” [Abstract G1-1206]) That includes children, according to a team from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Vanderbilt University, and the University of Rochester. They examined the medical histories of 772 children younger than 5 and 401 children aged 5 to 12 who were brought to outpatient care for flu-like symptoms and fever. Among the older children, 133 had at least one characteristic that put them at high risk for serious flu complications, but only 32 of them (24%) had gotten a flu shot. Among the younger children, 549 had at least one high-risk indication, but only half—275 or 51%—had gotten at least one dose of flu vaccine. (Shinde V, Iwane M, Prill M, et al. Influenza among outpatient children: US, 2006-07. [Abstract G1-1700]) Sep 18 CIDRAP News story “Study: Flu shots in pregnant women benefit newborns” Observational studies faulted”Observational studies have greatly exaggerated vaccination benefits in the elderly,” Lone Simonsen, PhD, of George Washington University said Tuesday afternoon (Oct 28). She wrote a controversial paper challenging flu-mortality estimates for the elderly in 2005 while serving as a National Institutes of Health senior scientist.center_img Meanwhile, however, other age-groups for whom the flu vaccine is most recommended continue to go unvaccinated. “We need to remember that the vaccine also reduces influenza illness and it reduces hospitalization, and so while we explore the controversy we need to continue to vaccinate the elderly,” she said. Aug 29 CIDRAP News story “Study: Flu vaccine doesn’t lower death rates in elderly” And healthcare workers also continue to have low vaccination rates. Researchers from the Chinese University of Hong Kong reported that among 133 acute-care nurses who responded to a questionnaire, 38% said they had received flu vaccine—but 23% of the group developed flu-like illness themselves, and most missed work as a result. (Ng K, Lee N, Hui D. A Survey on ILI among health-care workers during a peak ‘flu’ season – What are the risk factors? [Abstract K-4204]) Such studies distort reality, she said, by assigning any deaths in winter to flu—including deaths that occur before the flu season begins—and do not make sense given what is known about age-related decay of the immune system. She proposed that flu researchers tackle the problem of making separate, more immunogenic vaccine formulas for seniors, and stressed the importance of indirect protection via vaccines given to child and adult contacts of the elderly. Presenters at the 48th Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy and the 46th annual meeting of the Infectious Diseases Society of America (ICAAC-IDSA) presented abundant but often contradictory evidence regarding flu vaccine’s direct and indirect protective abilities. Age and immunization ratesA poster presentation earlier in the conference explored one of the hypotheses behind the distrust of flu-mortality studies: that they are subject to a “healthy recipient” design defect. Several Kaiser Permanente researchers looked at medical records for recipients of flu vaccine older than 65 who are members of Kaiser Permanente of Northern California, a healthcare organization with about 3 million members. They found a statistical oddity: The likelihood of an elderly person’s taking the flu shot rose along with their age and risk of flu mortality, but only up to a certain age. Once women passed 80 and men passed 85, they stopped taking the shot, even though their risk of dying from flu complications continued to rise. See also: The answer to improving protection against flu and flu complications, one group of scientists said, might be an additional vaccine—and not just for ordinary seasons, but for an influenza pandemic as well. Flu vaccine came in for additional critical examination during ICAAC-IDSA, which drew 15,000 people to Washington, DC, and concluded Oct 28.last_img read more

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Spanish pension funds return nearly 3% over 2015

first_imgAs of the end of December, total assets under management for the occupational pensions sector stood at €35.5bn, an increase of 0.8% over the past year.Total pension assets, including those in individual plans, now amount to €104.5bn, while the number of participants in the occupational system remains stable, at just over 2m.For Spanish pension funds as a whole, the recent shift towards domestic assets has halted; they formed 61.4% of portfolios at end-December 2015 compared with 64.8% at end-September 2015.Non-domestic holdings grew from 19.4% at end-September 2015 to 22.1% three months later.Fixed income investments make up 57.4% of portfolios, down 2.5 percentage points since end-September.This compares with 22.6% invested in equities, an increase of 2.1 percentage points over September.Of this, 8.6% is in Spanish shares, with 14% in non-domestic shares.The biggest single component of pension fund portfolios – 33.3% – is still invested in Spanish government bonds, with a further 15.9% in Spanish corporate bonds.David Cienfuegos, head of investment for Spain at Willis Towers Watson, said that, for company pension funds, the return distribution per fund for 2015 had been wider than usual due to three main factors.“Pension funds with better governance structures have been worried about equity valuations and economic growth over the past two years and have been gradually and marginally reducing exposure to equities to increase their alternative credit allocations,” he said. In addition, according to Cienfuegos, some large and medium-sized company pension funds have increased their overall strategy diversification in recent years, which implies a greater exposure to US dollar assets, among other things.This, he said, means they benefited from the US dollar rally in 2015.“Thirdly,” he added, “the more conservative pension funds continue to have larger local exposure, in terms of equity and fixed income. It hasn’t turned out too badly for them in 2015, as the European Central Bank continues to expand its monetary policy.”Cienfuegos concluded, however, that those corporate pension funds that fared better in 2015 might not be the best prepared to face the events of the next few years.“There’s still time to reassess the global risks and how those could affect their investments, as well as to determine what impact extreme events could have in their overarching goal for the corporate pension fund,” he said.“Governance is even more relevant in an uncertain and volatile environment.”Meanwhile, preliminary estimates from Mercer’s Pension Investment Performance Service (PIPS) confirm the INVERCO results, showing that Spanish pension funds returned 3% on investments over the 2015 calendar year.The PIPS covers a large sample of Spanish pension funds, most of them occupational schemes.Negative returns were experienced for all three main asset classes during December, with fixed income performing best, returning -0.8%.Non-EU equities returned -4.5% for the month, while EU equities performed worst of all, with a -6.7% return.The overall average return for the month was -2%.Over the calendar year, however, equities as a whole outperformed fixed income by a wide margin.Non-EU equities did best with a return of 8.9%, while EU equities made 7.8%.Fixed income returned 0.9%.Mayte Gonzalez, an investment consultant at Mercer, said: “Last year was a complicated one for pension plans in Spain, but the managers expected a year with high volatility, and they had prepared the portfolios with this in mind to mitigate market crashes.”But she added: “The falls in stock markets that happened during the last month of the year cancelled out the many gains accumulated until November.” Spain’s occupational pension funds made average returns of 2.88% over the 2015 calendar year, according to the country’s Investment and Pension Fund Association (INVERCO).The return is an improvement on the 1.58% for the 12 months to the end of September 2015 but lower than the 7.14% recorded for calendar 2014.INVERCO pointed out, however, that the 2015 performance was achieved against a background of increased market volatility, during which Spain’s IBEX35 equity index dipped 7%, while Spanish long-term government debt also fell in price.Average annualised returns for Spanish occupational funds were 5.96% for the three years to 31 December 2015, and 5.18% for the five years to that date.last_img read more

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Greensburg man in custody with ties to rape and assault cases from the 80’s

first_imgShelbyville, IN — Police have arrested a Greensburg man who is believed to have been connected to a series of rapes and assaults in Shelby County between 1982-1985.  Steven Ray Hessler, 57, of Greensburg is in custody and awaiting charges from the Shelby County Prosecutor’s Office.  No further details are available at this time.   According to a 1985 newspaper article from the Indianapolis Star, police allege that the investigation into the assaults had been hampered by the fact that the victims waited over 48 hours to report the crime, fearing that the assailants would return.  At that time, the rapist was described as 5’8″ or 5’9″ tall, weighing around 180-190 lbs., and in his mid-30s.   In the first two rapes, a knife was used in the crimes, but victims of later assaults allege a revolver was used.last_img read more

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SCA Blues cart off Under-17 title

first_imgTORONTO, Canada – Scarborough Cricket Association (SCA) Blues made light work of Action Zone when the final of the Under-17 tournament took place at the L’Amoreux ground here recently.Led by Arjuna Sukhu, whose father hails from Guyana, SCA Blues registered an emphatic nine-wicket victory over their opponents after limiting them to 59 for seven and then knocking off the required total in 8.3 overs.Due to early morning showers, the final was reduced to 16 overs and SCA Blues took full advantage of the playing conditions after winning the toss and asking Action Zone to take first strike.Action Zone innings were in immediate ruins with 14-year-old Nigel Ramsaroop, a tall lanky fast-medium bowler and Kyle Karran, son of popular softball player, Munniram Karran, making inroads as they slipped to seven for three after four overs.Action Zone never recovered from their precarious start with wickets falling at regular intervals and managed a paltry 59 for seven when their 16 overs expired. Aditya Manjrekar was the only player to reach double figures with 17.Ramsaroop ended with two for 13 from four overs, skipper Sukhu two for 12 from three and Karran one for six from three. Apart from the excellent bowling efforts, the fielding was of an exceptional quality.SCA Blues rushed to 61 for one in 8.3 overs with Sashwat Negi smashing four fours and two sixes in an unbeaten 34 while Eaton Gibson, son of former Canadian Over-50 World Cup player, Rudy Gibson, was also not out on 17 (one four, one six). Arjun Thuraisingam took the lone wicket to fall for nine runs and was adjudged the Most Valuable Player for the losing team. Negi got the nod for SCA Blues.SCA long-standing executive member, Vish Jadunauth, who served as manager of the SCA Blues and is also the junior coordinator, praised the juniors for their brilliant all-round performance and their sportsmanship throughout the season. He also extended kudos to coach, Calvin Alexander, and the parents who came out to support the players. (Frederick Halley)last_img read more