One of the great things about being a Frank Zappa fan is the period installments of new, unreleased material from the vault. Despite family tensions, the Zappa Records label has announced two albums for release on July 15th. Frank Zappa For President and Crux Of The Biscuit are both on their way!In the throes of a heated presidential election, Zappa Records has released a collection of unreleased music composed by Zappa for the Synclavier. With these compositions and a number of politically-themed gems to be mined from the vault, the album is sure to be an ode to Zappa’s witty tendencies. The second album is a companion to ‘ (Apostrophe), with session outtakes, alternates, and live performances. Check out the tracklisting for each, below.FRANK ZAPPA: Frank Zappa for President1. Overture to “Uncle Sam”2. Brown Shoes Don’t Make It (Remix)3. Amnerika (Vocal Version)4. “If I Was President”5. When the Lie’s So Big (Live)6. Medieval Ensemble7. America the Beautiful (Live)FRANK ZAPPA: The Crux of the Biscuit1. Cosmik Debris2. Uncle Remus (Mix Outtake)3. Down In De Dew (Alternate Mix)4. Apostrophe’ (Mix Outtake)5. The Story Of Don’t Eat The Yellow Snow/St. Alphonzo’s Pancake Breakfast6. Don’t Eat The Yellow Snow/St. Alphonzo’s Pancake Breakfast (Live)7. Excentrifugal Forz (Mix Outtake)8. Energy Frontier (Take 4)9. Energy Frontier (Take 6 with OD’s)10. Energy Frontier (Bridge)11. Cosmik Debris (Basic Tracks Take 3)12. Don’t Eat The Yellow Snow (Basic Tracks- Alternate Take)13. Nanook Rubs It (Basic Tracks- Outtake)14. Nanook Rubs It (Session Outtake)15. Frank’s Last Words…..
Death rates from heroin overdose nearly quadrupled in the United States between 2002 and 2013, when the number of people reporting past-year heroin abuse or dependence rose to 517,000, a nearly 150 percent increase from 2007. In 2014, the use of heroin and other opioids killed 1,256 people in Massachusetts, an increase of 34 percent over 2013 and 88 percent over 2012.The Gazette sought insights across several disciplines for a three-part report on the crisis and new ideas for fighting it. Read the first part, on the science of addiction, here. Read the second part, on policy responses, here.For many, Nalan Ward’s daily routine might seem unbearably depressing. As the director of Massachusetts General Hospital’s West End Clinic, an outpatient facility focused on drug-use disorders, Ward regularly treats patients caught up in a cycle of addiction.Thirty-five percent of patients who walk through the doors of her clinic are suffering a primary opioid-use disorder. And 70 percent of those patients arrive with another serious medical condition directly related to or worsened by the drug use, such as hepatitis C, endocarditis (an inflammation of the inner layer of the heart), or sepsis.Then there is a whole group of complications closely tied to addiction. Seventy to 85 percent of the clinic’s patients, Ward said, are depressed, anxious, or experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder. Such a range of symptoms often presents a confusing tangle of cause and effect, one that makes addiction particularly hard to treat.“It’s a complicated, sick population with psychosocial needs complicated by unemployment, no stable place to live, legal issues … these are the kind of patients we see,” said Ward.But for the Turkish-born doctor, the work is anything but depressing. Her attitude is “positive,” not “burned out and negative,” she says, and she finds nourishment in the knowledge that her efforts save lives.It wasn’t always so. As a young psychiatric resident at Boston Medical Center, Ward became frustrated struggling to treat “hard-to-engage” patients who landed in the emergency room in the middle of the night suffering from withdrawal.“It’s just a very bad setting to encounter patients with addictions. You are trying to rationalize or figure out what’s going with someone who is totally intoxicated. There is not a lot to offer in an acute-care setting. Those are some of the things that shape residents’ views and feelings about addiction, and they don’t necessarily see the good, see the long-term outcome.”Ward is just one of many people in the Harvard medical community attacking the scourge of addiction as users of heroin and other opioids continue to fill emergency rooms, hospital beds, and treatment centers.From 2011 to 2012 McLean Hospital saw a 10 percent jump in opioid-addicted patients in its detox unit, said Kevin Hill, director of the hospital’s Substance Abuse Consultation Service. The increase came despite a rise in the number of patients turned down for inpatient treatment by insurance companies that preferred outpatient options, he said.Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital has accepted more than 200 patients at a treatment clinic that opened in 2013. More than half of the clinic’s 100 active patients have histories of heroin use. At Brigham and Women’s itself, in six years the rate of opioid-related inpatient consults for addiction has increased from 22 percent to 75 percent, said addiction psychiatrist Joji Suzuki, who works with patients at both hospitals.Suzuki noted that the profile of opioid users has also changed. “Today they are younger, more educated, less likely to have HIV … patients come from all walks of life.”What’s happening locally reflects what’s happening across the state. According to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, the number of patients admitted to programs contracted by or licensed to the Bureau of Substance Abuse Services who listed heroin as their primary drug rose from 38.2 percent in 2005 to 53.1 percent in 2014.‘The more I work with those who suffer, the more I am encouraged by how people change, their ability to change, and the ways we can help.’Doctors, nurses, and counselors at Harvard-affiliated hospitals and institutes are determined to offer hope, providing inpatient and outpatient care and drug-assisted therapies. Research is regularly shining new light on the best treatment options. And addiction specialists across Harvard are working to integrate medical and psychiatric services, facilitating treatment in primary-care settings, addressing co-existing conditions, and ramping up access to effective medications.There also has been a concerted effort to remove the stigma surrounding substance use. Addiction, experts agree, needs to be considered a chronic disease, not unlike asthma, diabetes, or high blood pressure, and managed the same way, with interventions such as medication and regular monitoring, and an understanding that relapse is often a routine part of recovery. The treatment standard needs to shift from an acute-care model, they argue, to one of long-term recovery management.“We really have to embrace the idea,” said Ward, “that this is a chronic disease.”Assessing the landscapeAddiction specialists agree that opioid-use disorders demand a multilayered approach, with medication, self-help, counseling, and family support all key to sustained recovery. It’s an addiction known to be particularly difficult to treat, with first-year relapse rates surpassing 80 percent, according to some estimates. Clinical trials have shown that medication-assisted therapies, often in combination with other treatments, offer opioid addicts some of the best chances at long-term recovery.For years, two drugs have led the way in helping ease people off their dependence on opioids: methadone and buprenorphine. Both medications mimic the drugs they are meant to overcome by activating opiate receptors in the brain, yet their longer-acting formulas prevent the “high” of a drug such as heroin while helping reduce the cravings and withdrawal symptoms that can trigger relapse.Approved for use by the Food and Drug Administration in 1972, methadone is still considered one of the most effective medications available for opioid addiction. To be eligible for methadone maintenance treatment a patient must have been suffering from opioid addiction for at least a year and must have failed at least one other type of intervention. The drug is strictly controlled: Patients must visit a federally regulated methadone clinic to receive their daily dose. For some, such a structured treatment works well. But for others the demands of the regimen rule it out, often in tandem with a sense of shame.“Methadone is an incredibly effective treatment option, but there continues to be a lot of stigma around its use,” said Sarah Wakeman, medical director for the substance-use disorder initiative at Massachusetts General Hospital. “People call it the liquid handcuffs because you are sort of linked to the clinic. You have to be there every morning, no matter what, rain or sun. It’s hard to go on vacation, it’s hard to build your work schedule around it.”In October 2002, the FDA radically changed the treatment landscape when it approved buprenorphine for opioid addiction. Instead of referring patients to a special clinic, certified doctors could prescribe the drug in their offices, enabling patients to take the medicine on their own. “It put addiction treatment back into the mainstream of medical practice,” said Roger Weiss, chief of McLean’s Division of Alcohol and Drug Abuse and director of the hospital’s alcohol and drug abuse research program.Weiss is well-versed in the effectiveness of buprenorphine. In 2011 he released the findings of the largest study to date on treatment for prescription-opioid dependence. The findings demonstrated both the difficulty of beating an opioid addiction and the promise of buprenorphine.In the study’s first phase, addicts used buprenorphine for four weeks, tapering off the drug, and then received no further medication. The pull of opioids was illustrated by the rate of patients — just 7 percent — who were subsequently successful at staying clean.In the second phase, directed at the relapse population, subjects received 12 weeks of buprenorphine treatment, at the end of which 49 percent, seven times as many, were doing well. During the four-week taper from buprenorphine, half of those patients relapsed. There were more relapses — two-thirds of the remaining group — in the two months after the taper period ended.“It showed the effectiveness, at least in a short-term treatment like this, of staying on medication,” Weiss said.A follow-up study of the same patients showed that 3½ years later, many were coping better than they had in the short term, including those who received no medication and had high relapse rates.“The course of this disorder is not constant,” Weiss said. “People have periods of recovery, then periods of relapse and, over time, a number of people do well, but not everybody. There’s a high relapse rate.”Yet even with research supporting the efficacy of buprenorphine, patients across the country routinely struggle to get it. When the FDA sanctioned the drug 13 years ago, the hope was that doctors would begin prescribing it for appropriate patients in their practices. But few actually have. According to the nonprofit National Alliance of Advocates for Buprenorphine Treatment, only 3 percent of the 800,000 doctors in the United States are certified to prescribe it. In Massachusetts, just 751 doctors authorized to treat opioid addiction with buprenorphine are listed on the website of the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.“The drug companies are manufacturing it, the treatment exists,” said Wakeman, long a licensed prescriber. “There’s not a drug shortage, there’s a doctor shortage.”One hurdle facing physicians is the added training required for certification. Doctors must take an eight-hour course, pass a test, and then register with the Drug Enforcement Agency, which grants prescription licenses. Doctors in their first year are allowed to treat a maximum of 30 patients and must reapply in order to increase their patient capacity to 100. Insurance is also a factor. Some providers require prior authorizations, set arbitrary dose limits, or even encourage doctors to stop prescribing buprenorphine altogether.One treatment obstacle Mark Albanese of Cambridge Health Alliance occasionally encounters is the idea that medication might replace rather than subdue addiction. Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff PhotographerEven among the certified, the number of prescriptions for buprenorphine remains low, partly because many doctors simply aren’t comfortable treating addiction.“They don’t feel they know enough about it, and they find it kind of a daunting task,” said Weiss, “and so they just say ‘Let somebody else do it.’ I think that’s really the issue.”Ward agreed.“People get trained to prescribe this medication. They hold a license for it but they don’t necessarily treat patients because they don’t feel comfortable.”Another issue is the idea of total abstinence espoused by many 12-step programs and residential treatment facilities. It’s not unheard of for patients to resist medication regimens. Mark Albanese, the director of Adult Outpatient and Addictions Services at the Cambridge Health Alliance (CHA), said sometimes his patients complain that they feel as hooked on their prescriptions as they had been on heroin. To calm their fears, Albanese offers a little perspective.“I say, ‘Let’s step back for a second. Tell me how much alike your life is now versus what it was when you were actively using heroin?’ And they just laugh at me and say, ‘It’s nothing like that.’”Collaborative thinking One model of care, in place at Brigham and Women’s for years, focuses on treating patients in non-specialized settings.“We still need the specialty addiction clinics for patients who want it, who can access it, but here at the Brigham we focus on offering similar approaches without sending patients somewhere else,” said Suzuki. “We try our best to actually take ownership of it and say, ‘This is a major health issue that’s impacting your health and we’d like to help you.’”When an opioid-addicted patient checks in at the Brigham seeking treatment for anything from a broken leg to pneumonia, a dedicated team, including an addiction physician, a group of addiction fellows, and a social worker, is activated. The group meets with the patient to discuss treatment options and to offer to immediately start him or her on buprenorphine.“Beginning treatment while they are here in the hospital … while it seems like such a small thing, at many hospitals it’s simply not done,” said Suzuki, the team’s attending addiction psychiatrist.Suzuki and his team help connect hospitalized patients with outpatient treatment options and community-support groups, enlist the aid of family and friends, and review relapse-prevention skills. Suzuki also works closely with the Brigham’s primary-care clinics, offering specialized guidance.“We’re not trained; we don’t have any expertise; we don’t have any clinical support; we don’t have enough time; I am afraid of these patients … there’s a long list of barriers that people working in the clinics describe,” he said.Undergraduate health coaches support the clinics. The students, often on a pre-med track, call patients to check on mood, cravings, and pain, as well as to monitor prescriptions and issue appointment reminders. They also relay any concerns they may have about the patient back to the team.For doctors trying to manage their already-stretched time, the support model, said Suzuki, “has a potential of actually making a big difference on a wider scale.”A similar approach is underway at MGH, which is building on early efforts to offer buprenorphine in its community health centers in 2003, soon after the drug received FDA approval.Last year an updated strategic plan in which MGH re-examined its long-range clinical mission made targeting addiction a top priority. In the next three years the hospital will spend $3.5 million on long-term substance-use disorders.The effort calls for collaborations among medical and psychiatric services to enhance addiction care, including a recently formed hospital-based Addiction Consult Team, similar to that at the Brigham. The team consists of psychiatrists, primary-care doctors, nurses, and social workers, and is called when a patient suffering from addiction is identified.“This is a new formal consult service where folks are working together and bringing the best state-of-the-art treatment together for all types of substance-use disorders,” said James Morrill, chief of the Adult Medicine Unit at MGH’s Charlestown HealthCare Center.The team helps connect hospital patients with outpatient services, in part through recovery coaches, ex-users affiliated with one of MGH’s three community health centers. The coaches also work directly in the centers, helping patients with everything from recovery support to how to find housing.Focus on trainingImproving access to treatment includes easing doctors’ interactions with patients fighting substance-abuse disorders. And that engagement has to happen as early as possible.At Harvard Medical School, students first learn about addiction during an introductory psychiatry course in their second year. The class covers the epidemiology, public health impact, and neuroscience of addiction, as well as the range of treatment options and community support available. Students also learn how to interview and screen drug users. During clinical clerkships at Harvard-affiliated hospitals in their third year, HMS students engage directly with patients suffering from opioid addiction in a variety of settings.But among teachers at HMS, which is currently overhauling its curriculum, there is a growing realization that perhaps the best way to help prepare students to treat addiction is to connect them with patients sooner.“One way that the curriculum is moving as part of the HMS curricular reform is toward covering the really important parts of lots of important topics in a shorter period of time pre-clinically, and then getting students involved with patients from the get-go,” said Todd Griswold, a psychiatrist at the Cambridge Health Alliance and the director of medical student education in psychiatry at HMS.Asked if addiction training could be increased for Harvard’s medical students, Griswold said “absolutely,” but with the caveat that so too could training in a range of other areas. “If you add to a particular topic, you have to think about what you are going to remove.”When it comes to prescribing buprenorphine, more doctors and students need to learn how to do it, experts say. At MGH, Ward is making that happen. Together with a group of colleagues she has helped offer training in buprenorphine treatment to doctors across the hospital, positioning them to receive DEA approval. Last month she helped train primary-care residents during an annual retreat that for the first time focused on buprenorphine.Wakeman is also working to sharpen residents’ training. As chief resident at MGH in 2012, she helped develop a survey of internal-medicine residents at the hospital that showed most felt unprepared to diagnose and treat patients suffering from substance-use disorders. In response, MGH boosted the number of lectures on addiction from one a year to 12. Progress was limited. When Wakeman repeated the survey with the new curriculum, the results showed that while residents were significantly more prepared, their knowledge hadn’t increased.“That really gets to the fact that we learn medicine through doing and seeing,” she said.For more hands-on training, internal-medicine residents are beginning to round with MGH’s Addiction Consult Team, and there is a push to have the intensive two-week outpatient rotation in addiction required for primary-care residents extended to all internal-medicine residents.“We are in the middle of a public health crisis,” said Wakeman. “We have treatment that works and yet doctors aren’t providing that treatment, and I think the only way to really change that, change that culture, is to better train the next generation of doctors to feel like this is something that they own, that it’s a part of our skill set and that they have the tools they need.”The other sideIn contrast to those difficult nights in the ER, Ward these days can see further along her patients’ journeys, and can feel the hope they keep close. After years of working with people struggling to get clean, she understands just how incredibly complicated treatment is. She knows addiction is a disease that takes a vise-like hold on users with certain genetic susceptibilities, and that over time it can actually alter the way the brain functions, making “drug-free” seem excruciatingly distant. She also understands the treatment map and the range of effective therapies that can bring addicts back from the edge.Still, even within the medical community, she acknowledges, there are doubters, those who wonder why she spends so much effort on patients who, to many, seem beyond help. They don’t bother her.“It’s an opportunity to educate,” Ward said, “to say, ‘Look, there’s a whole different side to this disease and treatment is not that straightforward, but individuals who suffer from substance-use disorders can be treated.“There is hope in this field,” she emphasized. “Addiction’s not a death sentence. It’s not your destiny. I think the more I work with those who suffer, the more I am encouraged by how people change, their ability to change, and the ways we can help. Every day, I am more and more impressed.”Harvard staff writer Alvin Powell contributed to this report.
Burton’s Broadway credits include The 39 Steps, Machinal, A Free Man of Color and Amadeus. Elrod has appeared in Reckless and Noises Off on Broadway. Holmes’ Great White Way credits include Spamalot, The Pillowman, Cabaret and Major Barbara. Additionally, Burton, Elrod and Holmes all appeared together in Peter and the Starcatcher on Broadway. Hutchinson’s credits include Desire Under the Elms, Major Barbara and Macbeth. This marks Rooth’s third play by Ives; she appeared in Venus in Fur on Broadway and regionally and All in the Timing off-Broadway. Lives of the Saints View Comments The Primary Stages mounting will feature scenic design by Beowulf Boritt, costumes by Anita Yavich, lighting design by Jason Lyons and sound design and original music by John Gromada. Related Shows Casting is now set for Lives of the Saints, a collection of short plays, including three new pieces, by David Ives. The comedy will star Arnie Burton, Carson Elrod, Rick Holmes, Kelly Hutchinson and Liv Rooth. Tony winner John Rando directs the off-Broadway production. Performances will begin on February 3, 2015 at The Duke on 42nd Street, where it will run through March 27. Opening night is set for February 24. Show Closed This production ended its run on March 27, 2015
For years, soil scientist J. Scott Angle worked to make some the world’s most technologically advanced farms more productive and more sustainable. Today, he’s doing the same for small-scale and subsistence farmers across the world.Angle, who served as dean and director of the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) for 10 years before joining the nonprofit International Fertilizer Development Center (IFDC), will return to CAES on Tuesday, April 18, to speak at the CAES International Agriculture Day Reception. The reception, which is open to the public, begins with Angle’s lecture at 3:30 p.m. at the Georgia Museum of Art. Angle’s lecture, ‘The Struggle for Enough: Why Half the World’s Farmers Go Hungry,” will address the effectiveness of the IFDC and other nongovernmental organizations that work to improve the livelihoods of smallholder farmers. He hopes to challenge CAES students, staff and faculty to think globally as they work to improve agriculture.“Dr. Angle has a unique perspective on the ways in which the research conducted at UGA and other land-grant institutions enable outreach and development agencies to do their work,” said Amrit Bart, assistant dean and director for the college’s Office of Global Programs. “Having had a hand in fostering that research and now running a globally prominent development agency that depends on it, he has an important message for our students and faculty about the impact of their work around the world.” Each year, the CAES Office of Global Programs hosts the International Agriculture Day Reception to encourage those engaged in international scholarship, research or outreach to build networks and to recognize students who have worked or studied abroad over the last year.It’s also a chance to celebrate students who are graduating with certificates in international agriculture, Bart added.The reception also offers students outside CAES the chance to explore the world of international agricultural development or business.The reception also offers students outside CAES the chance to explore the world of international agricultural development or business.Angle often invoked the international impact of agricultural research and outreach during his time at CAES, and working with IFDC has only crystallized his view that eradicating hunger and improving agriculture are the great challenges of our generation.For more information about the IFDC and Angle, visit ifdc.org. For more information about the CAES Office of Global Programs or the International Agriculture Day Reception, visit www.caes.uga.edu/global.html.
While ahead of its time when it was originally deployed, the legacy PShift network in the Morrisville area was no longer delivering an end user experience that was up to the GAW service standard. GAW upgraded its broadband access speeds that also accommodate Internet, Voice and DirecTV. With the new upgrade, GAW management made the decision to wave the customary two-year contract at the time of the upgrades, to support the current customer base.Although not as quickly deployed as we anticipated, we took the time to create a superior solution for our customers.’ said Josh Garza, CEO, GAW. ‘The subscriber response to the increased speeds and improved service has been overwhelming. Both current and new users are expressing their delight in having the best alternative in the market. Nearly 100 customers chose to upgrade to the highest Internet speeds in their area, which reach upwards of 6 mbps. ‘ The final phase of the Morrisville Service upgrade replaced the Trombley Hill, Stagecoach and Elmore Fire Department access points, as well as all customer equipment being served by those access points. The upgrade offers significant speed, with a 3 mbps standard. The upgrade provides for streaming video, online gaming and more. Now customers can have one provider of communications services, featuring Voice, DirecTV, and Internet. Digital Voice Service features unlimited local and long distance calling for only $19.95 per month, and GAWTV from DirecTV with monthly fees beginning at just $34.99. You can bundle all three for less than $95 per month, or purchase each individually as stand-alone services. ‘In many cases, our competitors raise their rates in a few months after signing up,’ exclaimed Josh Garza, CEO, GAW. ‘Once subscribers understand that our monthly rates don’t go up after the first few months as with our competitors, they choose to stay with a communications provider that rewards customers’ loyalty.’ About GAWGAW is the premier provider of Internet, Voice and DirecTV in New England. GAW offers services to both rural residents, and those in more urban areas seeking higher broadband signals. GAW has served more than 50,000 users in CT, VT, and parts of NH and NY. GAW is New England’s largest and fastest high-speed wireless Internet service provider. For more information about GAW, or to find out how to get high-speed access to the Internet, visit www.gaw.com(link is external), call 1.877.5.GET.GAW or email email@example.com(link sends e-mail).
By Dialogo July 03, 2013 Intelligence Sharing Flying in a Colombian Pacific Naval Force helicopter over the thickly vegetated Bay of Málaga makes it clear why drug traffickers use this area as a transit point. This bay, near the midpoint between Colombia’s southern and northern borders, is a labyrinth of islands, inlets and shallow groves ideal for concealing fast boats or semisubmersibles. Southern Colombia also provides the most fertile and remote areas for growing coca and processing it in well-camouflaged jungle laboratories. Waterways like this along 870 miles of Pacific coastline mark the beginning of the sea journey of illegal drug shipments bound for Central America, Mexico and, eventually, the United States. Garuz participated in the meeting of the IV South American Defense Conference because, as he said, Panama maintains two positions straddling South America and Central America. He added that Panama is establishing a center of information and intelligence oriented specifically towards narcoterrorism so that information about these transregional threats can be shared with all the countries affected. Fighting Narcoterrorists Colonel Gonzalo Aladino, commander of the 2nd Infantry Brigade of the Colombian Marines, assessed the estuaries near the port city of Buenaventura on a recent patrol aboard a flat-bottomed Marine patrol boat. “Due to the geographic configuration, due to the environment, it is in a zone that is ideal for the production of coca. Unfortunately, this zone, so rich in mineral resources and biodiversity, has become a critical zone for terrorist organizations to conduct narcotrafficking,” he said. Col. Aladino said his Marines in the area have found everything from semisubmersibles and go-fast boats to workshops for the production of the vessels and cocaine processing laboratories. In addition to these, the two countries share information that’s crucial in capturing traffickers and their illicit cargoes. “There are many lines of interaction,” the commander of the Colombian Navy, Admiral Roberto Garcia, told Diálogo. “One of the most important is intelligence. Today, with Colombian intelligence, Panama has executed successful operations whereby the Colombian Navy receives certificates from the government of Panama crediting the results to Colombian intelligence and the close communications.” “We had very clear information that a go-fast boat was preparing to leave our waters near the border, at Punta Ardita,” he said. Colombian patrol boats and planes were tracking the location of the suspected trafficker and coordinating with Panamanian and U.S. vessels waiting off Panamanian shores. The coordination between the three countries, as is often the case, was conducted through the Joint Interagency Task Force-South (JIATF-S) in Key West, a command and control center that monitors radar and shares information across the region. “So, the result of this operation was that the go-fast left our waters and the U.S. boat picked it up and followed it with a [Panamanian aeronaval] SENAN boat, and the seizure was tangible. In this case, 468 kilograms of marijuana, which was very positive.” In Panama, the Public Security Force has been responsible for territorial defense since 1990, when the armed forces were abolished by popular referendum. In recent years, Panama has invested tens of millions of dollars in new air and sea radar, maritime stations and assets, including helicopters and patrol boats to help its Public Security Force combat what it deems narcoterrorism. Speaking to Diálogo at a July 2012 conference in Bogotá, Panamanian Vice Minister of Public Security Alejandro Garuz said combating narcoterrorism is the country’s top security priority. “Now, as the Public Security Force, as the Ministry of Public Security, we take on the challenge of confronting narcotrafficking. Unfortunately, due to its geographic position, Panama is the first country in the region that feels the impact from three South American producer countries,” he said. “[Narcotraffickers] used our maritime, air and land areas to transit drugs to northern markets. Evidently, part of these drugs remain in our country and were affecting our population.” Colombian FNP Coast Guard Captain Carlos Delgado said intelligence cannot be underestimated when it comes to stopping semisubmersibles, the seagoing vessels designed by drug traffickers to evade detection while transporting large quantities of narcotics to distant shores. The low-profile fiberglass and wood vessels are nearly undetectable once in high seas. In addition, the light fuel consumption needed to maintain a speed of eight to 10 knots means the heat they produce quickly dissipates in the surrounding water, foiling detection via thermal imaging systems. To demonstrate the degree and fluidity of maritime coordination, Captain Joseph Thowinson of the Colombian Pacific Naval Force (FNP) recounted to Diálogo an interdiction that took place on February 19, 2013. In 2013, intelligence sharing between Colombia and Ecuador led to a seizure of the first fully submersible vessel in an estuary along the shared border. While the vessel was grabbed before its maiden voyage, it provided a glimpse at the level of technology achieved by traffickers. Thanks to bilateral agreements between Colombia and Panama, the two countries frequently exchange information. Also, the Colombian Navy and Coast Guard train Panamanian forces, both in Colombia and with a mobile training unit that makes visits to Panama. Colombia is also a regular participant in Panama’s most important regional training exercise, Panamax, which draws together countries from the Americas and Europe to practice securing the Panama Canal. Even with the challenges of finding small targets in the vast blue Pacific Ocean and thickly vegetated and sparsely populated mangroves, Colombia seized 32 tons of cocaine and captured 112 narcotraffickers in 2012. Colombia attributes part of this success to close maritime cooperation and intelligence sharing with its neighbors, especially its northern neighbor, Panama. By using technology, joint training and coordinated efforts, the Panamanian Public Security Force and Colombian Military are vastly reducing illegal shipments of drugs via the Pacific smuggling routes and choking off a key source of funding for guerrilla and criminal organizations. Maritime cooperation between Panama and Colombia is active and strong, say Colombian authorities from the Bahia Málaga Naval Base. “They maintain constant communication and through all of the means and technology that we have for intelligence, there is permanent interaction precisely to detect, prevent and cut passage of those aligned with narcotrafficking,” said Colombian Marine Col. Aladino. Asked what threat remains in the combined fight against drug traffickers, Col. Aladino underscored the importance of confidence building between partner nations. “The principal threat that can affect this is lack of confidence. This confidence is very strong. With the confidence between these countries, between our armed forces to unite and cooperate with information and exchange of information in real time, we can confront problems more efficiently.”
Data analytics was once the sole domain of giant tech companies – Amazon’s suggestions “If you bought that you might like this” or Facebook’s algorithms of which of your friend’s posts you most want to see on your timeline. With the proliferation of data across multiple systems, the increase in computing power at a decreasing price, and tools to extract and harness data, the science of data analytics is being increasingly used by credit unions to make better decisions. And it’s not just bigger credit unions that are introducing business intelligence through data analytics to their staff. Credit unions with under $500 million in assets realize that data analytics drive ROI, better member experiences, and increases in product penetration across their member base.Data Just For Data’s Sake – NOT!It’s important to keep in mind that no company, regardless of industry, invests in data analytics just for the technology. The cost of the tools, the hardware (or more common, the cost of cloud storage), investment in staff, such as business analysts and possibly a data scientist, and consulting services to help get started, can represent not just a significant up-front investment, but an on-going cost that must be justified. The justification sometimes comes in the form of use cases. The following paragraphs are use cases from credit unions showing the return on their investments. continue reading » ShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr
I write in response to the Nov. 19 editorial titled, “Serving on two boards is a bad idea.”I appreciate that the editors conclude that I have the “extensive experience, energy and dedication to the community” to serve both the Niskayuna Town Board and school board for the six months during which the terms overlap, and acknowledge that serving both boards is legally permissible.The editors just think it’s a “bad idea” because the positions have “inherent conflicts.”That is false. The true experts in the offices of the State’s Attorney General and Comptroller have opined that such dual service is statutorily permissible, and the positions are compatible. I owe that service to the voters, whose views matter most.I’m known for doing my homework, so I know that there are no conflicts to prevent my service and I can ethically and effectively serve out my school board term at a time when experience matters.I am the most senior school board member on a “young” board.Soon we will decide on a $20M+ capital project and school configurations which will affect generations to come.As a child of immigrants, my life was transformed by education.I want to ensure that all of Niskayuna’s students have transformational opportunities, too.It would be easier not to serve my remaining six months on the school board.But I remain committed to helping, have the energy and enthusiasm for it, and know that quitting is the real “bad idea.”Rosemarie Perez JaquithNiskayunaAmerica is better under Donald TrumpHe is alive. He goes by the name of Adam Schiff.You may have seen him on TV lately, conducting the phony scam of the impeachment inquiry.It’s so apparent, first he says he doesn’t know who the whistleblower is, but he won’t allow a witness to answer questions which might lead to finding out who he is.Not one of the witnesses accused our 45th president, Donald J. Trump, of anything. It was all assumptions on their part. No collusion, bribery, quid pro quo, etc. Minor leaguers who think they can run the government better. People whose feelings were hurt because their opinion wasn’t sought.This is not democracy It’s like a trial you’d expect in Russia or Cuba. Only the geek and his cohorts made up the unfair rules. Would you like to be tried under these conditions? Look at some of the insane things these people have suggested.Medicare for all (including undocumented immigrants), government-sponsored healthcare on the backs of American taxpayers, free college tuition, repayment of tuition, climate change solutions using trillions of dollars (Everybody would have a government job but no planes, cars, etc.), and slave reparations.I don’t want to live in a social or communist state. I want to live like an American, which I was proud to be again when Donald J. Trump was elected. I suffered under eight years of Obama. By the wa, maybe some of you could tell me what Obama ever did for this country.Edward HedlundClifton Park Trump have no respect for rule of lawRepublican leaders are claiming that the current impeachment inquiry of Donald Trump is unfair because he did release the military funding to Ukraine. Yes, Trump did release the aid, but only after the whistleblower complaint became public and the House decided to launch investigations into the Ukrainian “affair.”Apparently, the Republicans believe that it is appropriate to defend Trump because his efforts to bribe the Ukrainian government were thwarted.Sorry, if you attempt to bribe an official, but are prevented from doing so because someone discovered your intent and “blew the whistle,” you are still guilty of committing a crime.This type of flawed defense was also used by Republicans in the wake of the release of the Mueller Report, which identified a number of acts by Trump which could qualify as obstruction of justice.For example: Trump ordered White House counsel Don McGahn to fire Robert Mueller and then asked McGahn to lie about the order. McGahn refused to comply with Trump’s demands and eventually resigned.Republicans then argued that there was no obstruction because McGahn did not fire Mueller, nor did he lie about Trump’s request.The Republican leadership was defending Trump because his efforts to force McGahn to break the law were thwarted.As a businessman, Trump often skirted and flouted the law for personl gain, and now, as president, he is doing the same. Donald Trump has repeatedly demonstrated that he has no respect for our laws and, therefore, has exhibited behavior worthy of impeachment.Don SteinerSchenectadyEditorial on dual seats unnecessaryI was very disappointed to read the Nov. 19 editorial attacking our newly elected Niskayuna Town Board member, Rosemarie Perez Jaquith.I have every confidence that Perez Jaquith is committed to and capable. Why undercut her efforts before she gets started?The Editorial Board appears to have gone to extraordinary lengths to praise Rosemarie, citing her extensive experience, energy and dedication to the community prior to the election. All of which is valid and none of which has changed.Previously noted as well was her dual service on the school board and town board as legally permitted, and for a short six-month overlap. What has changed?The suggested special election would be costly and unnecessary.The last time we had a school board member quit before their term was up, it cost $17,000, attracting criticism by some for their efforts. An extra election would be similarly expensive. In six months, a newly elected member would need to campaign again to retain the seat in June. We can certainly find a better use for $17,000, and the Editorial Board can also find more productive topics to write about.Mary Beth ArcidiaconoNiskayuna Categories: Letters to the Editor, OpinionNothing wrong with serving on 2 boards Liberal Dems have made America weakerAccording to Connie Cartwright’s Nov. 9 letter, “No good Democrat is supportive of Trump.”I am a good Democrat, not a liberal like you must be. You liberals are hurting this country. I am one of the good Democrats that is left in this good country.The Democrats started to hurt this country with Lyndon Johnson when he took our Social Security money and gave it to some other countries.Also, Jimmy Carter gave undocumented immigrants our Social Security money when they turned 65, even though they never put a dime into it. Look it up. They are all liberals.The Democratic liberals are trying to put everyone on Medicare. When you work, you pay for Social Security and Medicare out of your pay. You liberals want it for free. That’s absurd. Our governor is killing babies and sponsoring efforts to legalize dope. The only good Democrats were Roosevelt, Truman, Stratton, O’Brien and a few more. You listen to the liberal news that knocks Trump. It’s all fake news, which is badly twisted. He doesn’t need any money. He loves this country and is trying to protect us. This country was weak when he took over. Wake up you liberals and look at what he is trying to do. Just let him do what he said he would do if he got elected. Remember, freedom is not free. God bless us all if he doesn’t win in 2020.Vincent BelardoAlbanyDems are working while GOP obstructsWhenever I read a letter to the Daily Gazette that begins with the sentence ”Here we go again,” I know it’s a FOX News viewer preparing to attack the Democrats for not doing their job. The truth is that the House Democrats are doing all the heavy lifting when it comes to passing legislation, while investigating a corrupt president. Comrade Trump’s behaviors have required constant vigilance by the Democrats, because the gutless Republicans are more concerned with their re-election than the future of our democracy.It’s abundantly obvious that Trump used his presidential powers to coerce a foreign ally to “investigate” his political rival for his own personal gain.In addition to their investigations, the House Democrats have been passing bills at a rapid rate.So far this year, the Democratic House has passed 100 bills that never made it to the Senate floor because Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell has not allowed any of these bills to reach the floor for debate.Some of the bills passed by the House that have died in the Senate include the Strengthening Health Care and Lowering Prescription Drug Cost Act, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019, the Veterans Access to Child Care Act, and many more.When you look at the real facts, it is the Democrats who are protecting our democracy while trying to pass middle class legislation.Robert KarandyBurnt HillsPlenty of evidence of Trump’s illegal actsIn his Nov. 14 letter, Jeffrey Falace asks: “What crimes did Trump commit that are provable.”How about the fraudulent Trump University that swindled thousands of working class students out of their hard-earned dollars?Then there’s the Trump Foundation that was, according to a Chicago Tribune report, “riddled with graft.”Both are now closed after Trump paid substantial fines for fraud in civil court settlements. That leaves the criminal charges.Trump remains an unindicted co-conspirator (Individual-1) in the money laundering case that sent his personal attorney to prison for a campaign law violation involving Trump’s hush money payments to the porn star and the Playboy centerfold he had affairs with.The Mueller report also cites several instances where Trump obstructed justice.More recently, Trump admitted to asking the president of foreign powers, the Ukraine and China, to interfere in our democratic elections. That in itself is illegal.But Trump also put our national security at risk and apparently committed bribery by withholding military aid appropriated by Congress until Ukraine’s president did him a political favor by investigating Joe Biden.Trump has managed to avoid criminal charges thanks to a Justice Department policy that says a sitting president can’t be indicted for a crime.But when Trump leaves office he’ll no longer be free to violate the law with impunity unless Americans buy into Trump’s claim that Article II of the Constitution allows him to do whatever he wants.Bill ScheuermanScotiaMore from The Daily Gazette:Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s press conference for Sunday, Oct. 18EDITORIAL: Thruway tax unfair to working motoristsEDITORIAL: Beware of voter intimidationEDITORIAL: Urgent: Today is the last day to complete the censusEDITORIAL: Find a way to get family members into nursing homes
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