Latin American and Caribbean Service Members Join Forces in Anti-chemical Weapons Exercise

first_imgBy Nelza Oliveira/Diálogo October 03, 2017 The Regional Assistance and Protection Exercise for Member States of the Latin American and Caribbean Region brought together service members and representatives of chemical emergency response agencies from Brazil and 18 other countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, and marked the official launch of the Regional Chemical Weapons Assistance and Protection Center for Latin America and the Caribbean. From August 28th to September 1st, Rio de Janeiro hosted 15 service members and representatives of chemical emergency response agencies from Brazil, along with 22 representatives from 18 other countries in Latin America and the Caribbean for the Regional Assistance and Protection Exercise for Member States of the Latin American and Caribbean Region (ExBRALC II, per its Portuguese acronym). The exercise closed out a series of regional trainings previously conducted in Uruguay and Argentina with the goal of developing skills to protect society against chemical-product threats. General César Augusto Nardi de Souza, head of Joint Operations of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the Brazilian Armed Forces, stated during the event’s opening at the Army War College (ESG, per its Portuguese acronym), in Fortaleza de São João, in the southern district of Rio de Janeiro, that the ExBRALC II has implemented and standardized lessons learned from basic and advanced courses at past editions of the exercise in the region’s countries.” Besides protection in the event of combat or war, the techniques and means used also serve to support civil defense in the event of chemical accidents. We aren’t immune to having chemical accidents on a massive scale,” said Gen. Nardi. “In addition to the threat of terrorism, we now have the chemical industry, with a strong petrochemical sector, which for an array of reasons might have accidents, perhaps not with the lethal nature of an attack involving specific toxic agents, but one that requires skills that we in the Armed Forces and Civil Defense have in order to address this type of emergency,” he added. Brazilian expertise Gen. Nardi used the opening ceremony to highlight Brazil’s experience gained in recent years in this field.” The defense sector’s involvement, in particular with respect to chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear defense, has been intense in terms of the major events that have taken place since 2007, of the Pan American Games in Brazil,” he explained. “With Brazil having been selected to host so many big events like the Confederations Cup, Rio+20, the World Cup, World Youth Day, and the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games, our expertise in this field has only grown stronger, resulting from the concrete legacy left from learning through practice over this period of time, especially in partnerships with other agencies and entities,” Gen. Nardi pointed out. ExBRALC II’s activities were conducted at various military units in Rio de Janeiro, like the Brazilian Navy’s Nuclear, Biological, Chemical, and Radiological Defense Center, the Specialized Instruction School, and the Army’s 1st Battalion of Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Defense, and the Aerospace Medical Institute of the Brazilian Air Force (FAB, per its Portuguese acronym). All instructors are Brazilian service members, with the exception of one instructor from Paraguay. The training addressed topics such as prevention, detection, sweeps, decontamination, medical triage, preparation for transportation, and evacuation with specialized assistance in the event of accidents involving chemical substances, employing state-of-the-art equipment to monitor, and identifying this type of agent. Brazilian center for chemical weapons assistance and protection During the opening of ExBRALC II, the Regional Chemical Weapons Assistance and Protection Center for Latin America and the Caribbean (CAPAQ-BRAZIL, per its Portuguese acronym) was officially inaugurated. It centralizes all the Brazilian Navy, Army, and Air Force equipment and human resources to combat chemical weapons. The center will organize, plan, and coordinate courses, internships, exercises, lab activities, inspections, and anything else required to combat chemical weapons, in addition to working with other governmental agencies to optimize procedures and cooperate in compliance with international agreements. The creation of CAPAQ-BRAZIL is in response to a request by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). “Within that format, each branch’s expert trainers, their facilities, and their equipment will spearhead the effort to conduct any exercises and courses that the OPCW requires,” Gen. Nardi explained. “In this way, Brazil hopes to have taken a big step toward joining forces with other countries, significantly contributing to the assistance and protection against chemical weapons, as established in Article 10 of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC),” he added. CAPAQ-BRAZIL is headquartered at the Ministry of Defense, in Brasília, and operates in partnership with the Ministry of Science, Technology, Innovation, and Communication, and the Ministry of Foreign Relations, in cooperation with the OPCW. “As we all know, science, technology, and innovation depend heavily on what is being done in military fields, regardless of the modality. In terms of banning chemical weapons, we have not only developed products used in emergencies or in combat activities, but also in the process of destroying weapons as well,” explained Luís Felipe Silvério Fortuna, head of the Special Advisory Council on International Affairs of the Brazilian Ministry of Science, Technology, Innovation, and Communications. “I once again would like to emphasize Brazil’s interest in technical cooperation with other Latin American and Caribbean countries to create and implement specific legislation and administrative control mechanisms, as well as to improve the capacity of the professionals who work for the national leaders to enforce the CWC’s provisions,” he added. According to Ambassador Eduardo Prisco Paraíso Ramos, head of the office representing the Ministry of Foreign Relations in Rio de Janeiro, the center’s creation now enables Brazil to expand its cooperation even further with the OPCW and other developing nations. “We want to reiterate Brazil’s firm, unwavering support for strengthening the disarmament and non-proliferation of chemical weapons and the pursuit of the goal of a world free of weapons of mass destruction,” he said. “It is essential for us to gather other Latin American countries together to discuss this type of issue, to train them to solve it in the event of chemical emergencies. It is really important for us to play a leading role,” Ramos concluded. The opening of ExBRALC II also involved a display of the military equipment used in chemical-defense procedures at the ESG’s facilities.last_img read more

Credit guarantee to boost lending for MSMEs, but risk of bad loans haunts banks

first_imgThe government’s new credit guarantee scheme is expected to boost lending for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, but analysts have expressed concerns that risk of rising bad loans now haunts the banking industry.The scheme is one of the most popular stimulus programs for economies across the globe during the virus-induced economic downturn, said Bank Indonesia (BI) senior deputy governor Destry Damayanti. The scheme, she went on to say, would be crucial to stimulate credit growth.“The loan guarantee program is crucial to allow banks to boost their lending for MSMEs and, therefore, support economic recovery,” Destry told an online discussion on Friday, adding that banks were previously reluctant to disburse their money amid fears of bad loans. She stressed that Indonesian banks were better now prepared than during the financial crises in 1998 and in 2008 to deal with liquidity issues and the risk of rising non-performing loans (NPL) in the wake of the pandemic.The government has disbursed credit insurance premiums worth Rp 5 trillion (US$341.02 million) to state-owned credit insurers PT Jaminan Kredit Indonesia (Jamkrindo) and PT Asuransi Kredit Indonesia (Askrindo) to guarantee working capital loans of Rp 100 trillion and help MSMEs survive the pandemic.The scheme will provide guarantees for banks that channel loans to MSMEs until November 2021 and cover loans with a ceiling of Rp 10 billion and a tenor of three years available for 60.6 million MSMEs from all business sectors.But the scheme may lead to mounting bad loans for banks as domestic demand remains sluggish due to weakening purchasing power amid slowing economic activity, said Institute for Development of Economics and Finance (Indef) economist Aviliani. “If businesses have yet to pick up following a slump in demand, then banks are forced to lend money; we are risking mounting bad loans in the next one to two years,” Aviliani said at the same discussion, adding the government would need to step up stimulus spending to boost demand.Indonesian banks’ non-performing loans (NPL), which calculate the ratio of bad loans to total loan value, continued to rise to 3.01 percent in May from 2.89 in April and 2.77 percent in March. Loan growth, meanwhile, fell to 3.04 percent year-on-year (yoy) in May from 5.73 percent in April.“We think the government should move more quickly in spending stimulus money and it must pay special attention to the demand side,” she said, calling for the government to bolster its stimulus on social aid to stimulate demand.The government is allocating Rp 695.2 trillion in stimulus funds to prevent a greater economic downturn, which is expected to shrink by 0.4 percent at worst or grow by 1 percent at best, with the budget deficit expected to reach 6.34 percent of gross domestic product (GDP).Moody’s Investors Service expressed a similar view in a new report in late May, stating that Indonesian banks would see their asset quality and profitability deteriorate because of coronavirus impacts. However, their capital and liquidity will remain strong, providing ample buffers to absorb financial stress.”Restructured loans in Indonesia have grown significantly since authorities relaxed rules for debt restructuring in March to provide financial relief for those impacted by the crisis,” said Moody’s analyst Tengfu Li.”And while this, along with subsidies for consumers and small businesses will provide temporary relief for banks, nonperforming loans will still increase substantially in the longer term, given the scope of economic disruptions stemming from the coronavirus crisis.”Indonesia’s financial authority has so far taken several measures to alleviate banking stress during the pandemic, including loan restructuring, interest relief for MSMEs and liquidity access from the central bank using the repurchase agreement (repo) route, among other measures.According to the Bank Indonesia Banking Survey published on Wednesday, credit growth is expected to slow to 2.5 percent this year, a decrease from 6.1 percent booked in 2019.BI Governor Perry Warjiyo said on Thursday that loan disbursement was limited due to slowing domestic demand, while banks try to avoid risks amid heightening debt restructuring. The central bank cut its benchmark interest rate to 4 percent to further support the economy.The lower benchmark rate is expected to transmit into lower interest rates charged by banks on consumer loans, corporate loans and mortgages, as well as bond yields and other instruments, thereby boosting domestic consumption and investment.Topics :last_img read more

Update on the latest in sports:

first_imgVerlander has surgeryHOUSTON (AP) — Justin Verlander is using the interruption to the Major League season to recover from surgery.The Houston Astros ace has undergone surgery on his right groin and is expected to be out about six weeks. The timing gives Verlander time to heal before opening day, which has been pushed back to mid-May at the earliest because of the new coronavirus.Verlander dealt with the problem early in spring training. His first start was delayed until March 3 because of discomfort in his right groin. He recorded a 3.86 in 4 2/3 innings over two spring starts.WOMEN’S COLLEGE BASKETBALL-FINAL POLL Durant among four Nets to test positiveUNDATED (AP) — Kevin Durant is one of four Brooklyn Nets players to have tested positive for the new coronavirus, bringing the total to seven known players in the NBA. The Nets did not name the players Tuesday, but Durant confirmed he was one of them to The Athletic, saying: “Everyone be careful, take care of yourself and quarantine. We’re going to get through this.” The Nets announced that one player is exhibiting symptoms, while the other three are asymptomatic.Utah’s Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell and Detroit’s Christian Wood are the other players who have tested positive for the COVID-19 virus.In other sports news involving the outbreak:— A person involved in the discussions tells The Associated Press the PGA Championship will not be held in San Francisco during the third weekend of May. San Francisco now is among six counties in the Bay Area where residents are ordered to venture outside only when necessary for the next three weeks. There was no indication when the PGA Championship would be played, or if it would remain in San Francisco. Associated Press Share This StoryFacebookTwitteremailPrintLinkedinRedditNFL-NEWSBrady is leaving PatriotsUNDATED (AP) — Tom Brady says he’s thrown his final pass for the New England Patriots. March 17, 2020 — The Lions have released linebacker Devon Kennard. He matched a career and team high with seven sacks last season and equaled a personal best with 58 tackles as a team captain.— The Giants have reached an agreement with Kyler Fackrell on a reported one-year contract. Fackrell spent the last four seasons in Green Bay, recording 17 1/2 sacks as a backup used mostly in passing situations.— The Steelers have placed the inside linebacker Ryan Shazier on the reserved/retired list. But the team says the move doesn’t rule out the possibility of Shazier playing again. Shazier spent the last two seasons on the Physically Unable to Perform list while recovering from a spinal injury suffered in December 2017. Shazier has made remarkable progress since the injury and has continued working out in hopes of one day being cleared to play again.— A person familiar with the deal says the Raiders have agreed with free agent linebacker Cory Littleton on a three-year contract. NFL Network reported the contract is worth up to $36 million.VIRUS OUTBREAK-SPORTS In other NFL news:— A person familiar with the deal says veteran tight end Jason Witten has agreed to a one-year contract with the Raiders. Witten ended a one-year retirement to return to the Dallas Cowboys past season, grabbing 63 passes for 529 yards and four TDs. Witten has 1,215 receptions for 12,977 yards and 72 TDs in 16 seasons with the Cowboys.— The Bears have agreed to a five-year, $70 million deal with former All-Pro defensive end Robert Quinn. Quinn recorded 11 1/2 sacks with Dallas last year despite a two-game suspension for violating the NFL’s policy against performance-enhancing drugs. The Bears also released outside linebacker Leonard Floyd, parting with a former first-round draft pick who never boosted their pass rush the way they envisioned.— The Buccaneers are retaining a key piece of an improved defense by agreeing to re-sign linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul to a two-year, $27 million contract. Pierre-Paul has 21 sacks since being acquired in a trade from the Giants two years ago.— The Eagles released safety standout Malcolm Jenkins, who led their secondary for the last six years and helped them win the 2017 NFL title. He will cost the team $6 million under the cap, but the Eagles also save nearly $5 million by cutting Jenkins. Update on the latest in sports: — The Panthers are parting ways with 2015 NFL MVP Cam Newton and quickly working to find his replacement. Panthers general manager Marty Hurney said Tuesday on Twitter the team is working with Newton and his agent to find a trade partner. The quarterback responded on social media by saying he never requested a trade, telling the organization to “stop the word play” because they’re trying to manipulate the narrative and act like he requested a trade. A person familiar with the situation says the Panthers are in negotiations with free agent quarterback Teddy Bridgewater from the Saints.Meanwhile, the Saints are keeping their record-setting quarterback, giving Drew Brees (breez) a two-year, $50 million contract.A person familiar with the situation spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity on Tuesday because the deal has not been announced.Brees has said repeatedly that he is taking career decisions one year at a time. His new contract gives the 41-year-old, 19-year veteran the leverage to decide after this season whether he wants to continue playing.Brees is the NFL’s all-time leader in completions with 6,867, yards passing with 77,416, and touchdowns with 547. South Carolina finishes on top for first timeUNDATED (AP) — South Carolina is No. 1 in the final Associated Press women’s basketball poll of the season for the first time in school history.The Gamecocks received 26 first-place votes and No. 2 Oregon got the other four. Baylor, Maryland and UConn round out the top five.  The AP has always released its final poll of the season before the start of the NCAA Tournament, which has been canceled because of the virus pandemic. Louisville, Stanford, N.C. State, Mississippi State and UCLA round out the top 10.,Tampa Bay Lightning advance to face Dallas Stars in Stanley Cup finals, beating New York Islanders 2-1 in OT in Game 6 — The Titans have agreed to terms with defensive end Vic Beasley, who led the NFL with 15 1/2 sacks in 2016 for the Falcons. Atlanta declined to re-sign the eighth overall pick in the 2015 NFL draft after he managed only 18 sacks combined over the past three seasons.— The Ravens have fortified their defensive front by obtaining free agent Michael Brockers. He agreed to terms on a three-year contract after spending his first eight NFL seasons with the Rams.— Free agent linebacker Joe Schobert is joining the Jaguars after four seasons with the Browns. He led Cleveland in tackles twice and made a Pro Bowl.— The Rams have declined their contract option on cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman, who had been the team’s nickel cornerback and their top defender on slot receivers since the team signed him in 2017. The USC product had three interceptions and 122 tackles for Los Angeles.— A person familiar with the move says defensive tackle Jordan Phillips has agreed to sign with the Cardinals. Phillips just finished a breakout season for the Bills, where he started nine of his 16 games and finished with a career-high 9 1/2 sacks. — The French Open has been postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic. It is the first Grand Slam tennis tournament affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. The French tennis federation says the clay-court tournament will be played from Sept. 20 to Oct. 4. The main draw was originally scheduled to begin in Paris on May 24. The next major tennis championship currently on the calendar is Wimbledon, which is to start in late June in England.— NASCAR has vowed to reschedule the seven Cup Series events already postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Figuring out how to cram the events and the All-Star race into the crowded 36-race schedule is potentially difficult. NASCAR President Steve Phelps says the series has no specifics on how it is moving forward. He says he wants the postponed races rescheduled before the playoffs begin in September.— The governing body of European soccer has postponed its marquee championship for one year. Euro 2020 became Euro 2021 in a major shift for an international soccer calendar that is on lockdown because of the coronavirus outbreak and with no clear end in sight. The tournament that was due to open on June 12 in Rome is now scheduled for next year from June 11 to July 11, in the same 12 host nations.— A person familiar with the diagnosis tells The Associated Press a second New York Yankees minor leaguer has tested positive for the new coronavirus. New York had announced a first positive test on Sunday and general manager Brian Cashman said the player had been isolated and the Florida Department of Health notified. The two Yankees minor leaguers are the only baseball players known to have tested positive.MLB-ASTROS-VERLANDER The 42-year-old quarterback has posted on social media “my football journey will take place elsewhere.” The comments were the first to indicate he would leave the franchise he’s led to six Super Bowl titles, and the only professional football home he has had.Brady becomes a free agent Wednesday afternoon and could still work out a deal with the Patriots, but his Instagram post and comments from owner Robert Kraft and coach Bill Belichick suggest that won’t happen.Kraft told ESPN, “It’s not the way I want it to end, but I want him to do what is in his best personal interest.”Brady isn’t the only decorated quarterback to leave the only NFL team for which he’s played:— Longtime Chargers star Philip Rivers has agreed to terms on a one-year contract with the Colts, according to a person who spoke to the Associated Press on the condition of anonymity. Rivers spent his first 16 NFL seasons with the Chargers and has set almost every major team record for quarterbacks since being taken first overall in the 2004 NFL draft. The eight-time Pro Bowl selection joins a team that went 7-9 with Jacoby Brissett under center and faded badly during the second half last season.last_img read more

Men’s Basketball: Wisconsin transfer Kobe King commits to Nebraska

first_imgFormer University of Wisconsin men’s basketball guard Kobe King officially announced his decision to transfer to the Nebraska Cornhuskers basketball program Wednesday, according to ESPN’s Jeff Borzello.Despite never visiting Nebraska during the transfer process, King — a former top recruit from La Crosse Central High School — chose the Huskers over multiple other programs, including UNLV and Gonzaga.King, a redshirt sophomore, will file for a transfer waiver with the NCAA to be eligible to play right away in the 2020-2021 season this fall. Wisconsin transfer Micah Potter has experience with the NCAA transfer rule, as he was ineligible to play in the Badgers’ first 10 games this season despite filing for a waiver.Whether or not King is granted the waiver, he will have two years of playing eligibility remaining.Men’s Basketball: Multiple contributors fill void left by Kobe KingFollowing a frustrating Jan. 27 loss to Iowa on the road, the Badgers were slammed with more bad news just Read…King was part of the Badgers’ 2017 recruitment class, entering as a 3-star shooting guard. After taking a redshirt season in 2017-2018 due to injury, King came off the bench for much of the 2018-2019 season, averaging 4.2 points across 34 games.In the 2019-2020 season, King started all 19 games he appeared in as he grew into a leader of the team. King averaged 10.0 points, 2.8 rebounds and 1.6 assists this season before deciding to transfer Jan. 29.In parts of three seasons with the team, King appeared in 63 games with 20 starts, averaging 6.1 points, 2.2 rebounds and 0.8 assists per game.King’s last appearance as a Badger was Jan. 24 against Purdue, when he totaled zero points, four assists, two rebounds and one block across 28 minutes.Men’s Basketball: Don’t attack Kobe King for his decision to leave UWUniversity of Wisconsin men’s basketball fans, before you read this, I need you to understand — I get it. It Read…With King remaining in the Big Ten, he will face off with Wisconsin again during conference play in the coming seasons. Nebraska Head Coach Fred Hoiberg gains a key player for the coming years despite having the worst-ranked recruiting class in the Big Ten for 2020, according to 247 Sports.Despite King’s departure, the Badgers have been resilient through the month of February — winning their last four games to move into a tie for second place in the Big Ten. Wisconsin will take on Michigan in Ann Arbor Thursday night at 6 p.m.last_img read more