Month: December 2020

Portugal Designs A ‘Smart’ T-Shirt That Measures Cardiac Rhythm

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first_imgBy Dialogo July 09, 2009 Two Portuguese firms have created the first ‘smart’ T-shirt that incorporates an electronic device and a variety of sensors capable of measuring the wearer’s cardiac rhythm and reporting the data in real time. “Vital Jacket” makes it possible to administer an immediate electrocardiogram or to follow the evolution of a patient’s cardiac rhythm over the course of weeks, as the manager of Biodevices, Luis Meireles, explained to EFE. Biodevices is the firm responsible for developing the technology, together with the Institute of Electronic and Telecommunications Engineering at the University of Aveiro. Compared to other devices, the principal advantage of the new system manufactured in Portugal is, according to Meireles, the continuous recording of data, making it possible “to detect cardiac anomalies that sometimes go unnoticed by the patient because they are asymptomatic.” The data obtained can be accessed in real time through several different platforms, such as a PDA (Personal Digital Assistant) or Bluetooth, or can be stored on a flash drive. The Portuguese firm Petratex, maker of the swimsuits worn by U.S. Olympic swimming champion Michael Phelps, is responsible for designing the stretchable, anti-perspiration, and easy-to-wash fabric used in the “Vital Jacket.” The new T-shirt, barely distinguished from a normal piece of clothing, can also be used in sports, since it measures variables like oxygen saturation and respiration rate, as well as activity, posture, and body temperature. Although the product is available in stores “for general use,” the Portuguese Secretary of Health, Manuel Pizarro, is expecting its clinical certification as a medical device, because it is “a more efficient and less uncomfortable product than those habitually used for administering electrocardiograms.” Authorization may take around “two months,” according to Meireles, who added that negotiations are underway for the sale of the T-shirt in Spain, the United Kingdom, Brazil, and Greece. The Biodevices manager hopes to sign agreements with several hospitals and to see the T-shirt sold in pharmacies in the future, especially in light of the “positive results” obtained in clinical trials carried out with sixteen patients in Portugal. Meireles concluded that “Vital Jacket” was designed on the basis of the concept of the ‘smart house,’ aiming at including on-line monitoring for patients in need of special follow-up at home.last_img read more

Spain Respects Colombia’s “Sovereign Decision” On U.S. Troops

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first_imgBy Dialogo August 11, 2009 Spain’s deputy prime minister said that Madrid respects Colombia’s decision, “in the exercise of its sovereignty,” to reach an accord with Washington on allowing U.S. troops to be stationed at bases in the Andean nation. Maria Teresa Fernandez de la Vega expressed that respect during a press conference at the presidential palace in Bogota after meeting with head of state Alvaro Uribe. She denied the Spanish government had changed its position on the matter after an initial statement about it by Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos, who said last week on a visit to Brazil that the pact could lead to a militarization of the region. Fernandez de la Vega said that Moratinos himself refined that statement in a subsequent telephone conversation with his Colombian counterpart. After receiving additional information from Uribe, she could say the Colombian government has taken a decision in the exercise of its sovereignty to do whatever gets results in the fight against terrorism and drug trafficking, and the Spanish administration respects that decision “because it couldn’t be any other way.” Asked whether Spain might mediate the hostility of countries like Venezuela and Ecuador for the pact between Colombia and the United States, she would only say that Spain will always work in favor of dialogue to seek a reconciliation of positions. Officials in the Spanish delegation said that Fernandez de la Vega told Uribe that the government of Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero is willing to explore ways to help lower tensions by establishing contacts with governments in the region. Uribe appeared briefly with the deputy prime minister at the press conference, but made his exit before the questions started, leaving Vice President Francisco Santos to face reporters. Fernandez de la Vega took advantage of his appearance to confirm Spain’s commitment to “walk side by side with Colombia and Uribe” to achieve an end to violence in this country. A position that she also conveyed to a group of representatives of organizations working in favor of peace with whom she met previously. Fernandez de la Vega and Santos were together in describing bilateral relations as extraordinary and saying that proof is the coming transfer to Afghanistan of a Colombian military unit under the command of the Spanish contingent in the Asian nation.last_img read more

Venezuela Arrests FARC Guerrilla Wanted by Bogotá

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first_imgBy Dialogo September 21, 2012 A FARC guerrilla linked to a foiled attempt to bomb a police headquarters in Bogota in May was killed in a shoot out in Venezuela on September 19, Colombian officials said. Freddy Rojas Rincon, known by the alias “Boiteaux,” was captured in a hotel near the Colombian border after he was wounded in a shootout with Venezuelan security forces, Colombian police said. “He received medical attention but died hours later,” said Colombian Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzon, adding that Colombian intelligence services had been pursuing Rojas. Venezuela did not immediately report on the death, which came a day after Colombia’s last major drug lord, Daniel “El Loco” Barrera, was taken into custody in Venezuela. The police said Rojas was believed to be the “principal organizer” of a foiled attempt to detonate a car bomb outside of a police headquarters in the Colombian capital on May 15. The bomb was deactivated before it exploded, but in another part of the city the same day a second bombing also attributed to the FARC ripped through a vehicle carrying a former interior minister, killing two bodyguards and wounding about 40 other people.last_img read more

Brazilian Armed Forces Prepare Strong Cyber Defense Strategy for 2016 Olympics

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first_imgCCOMSEx added that the most highly sensitive systems and informational assets are institutions directly involved with cybernetic security and defense, such as Area Defense Coordination Centers (CCDA); Integrated Centers for Regional Command and Control (CICCR); CDCiber; the Ministry of Defense; and the Navy, Army, and Air Force. CDCiber, which security authorities created in September 2012, is an organization within the Brazilian Army that’s responsible for coordinating and integrating cybernetic defense activities under the umbrella of the Ministry of Defense. During the Olympics, which will be held from August 5th-21st, CDCiber will be at the forefront of the activities that will bring together 200 members from all three branches of Brazil’s Armed Forces and other partner security agencies. CDCiber’s mandate is to fight against threats in cyberspace that could undermine the games. During the latest large events that Brazil has hosted, the main offenses were the abuse of public and private websites, wherein the page was hacked and content changed; virus alerts and hosting; and cases involving sites that were defaced or maliciously taken offline. On November 8th, the Army detected hackers had entered servers belonging to the Army’s network and leaked Natural Persons Registry (CPF, for its Portuguese acronym) numbers – a unique 11-digit number assigned to each individual – belonging to military personnel, as well as passwords they used to access Army web pages. CCOMSEx publicly stated that the breach did not compromise strategic defense systems and that the Army’s Coordination Center for the Response to Internet Offenses was handling the case. “The working model of the Center for Cybernetic Defense (CDCiber) will, in essence, continue unchanged since it has proven to be a successful strategy,” the Brazilian Army’s Social Communication Center (CCOMSEx) stated. “Small changes in the strategy do take place, though, as fruit of the lessons learned during the previous events. We are constantly broadening capabilities and perfecting processes.” By Dialogo December 22, 2015 Brazilians’ thinking in general is that military forces would be inert/stagnant, given the entry of weapons and drugs and the fact that the local police are drying ice in the hot sun (i.e., doing things that are completely unnecessary and counterproductive). However, I see with pleasure that it’s not exactly like that. There are responsibilities. There were also a number of phishing attempts, in which a hacker tries to manipulate people into disclosing private information. For example, one phishing attempt could be a false e-mail from a “bank” asking for the user’s bank codes; if the intended victim provides the information, the perpetrator could clean out the account’s contents. During the Olympics, cyberspace defense activities will prioritize informational assets and systems according to how important they are to sustaining the event’s overall structure. Informational assets refer to the means of storage, transmission, and processing of data and information, in addition to the places where the information is stored and the people who have access to them, according to the “Military Doctrine on Cybernetic Defense,” published in 2014 by the Ministry of Defense. Brazilian Armed Forces plan on continuing to enforce the security concepts that succeeded in keeping the country safe from cyberattacks at the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup during the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. center_img Strategic defense structures Countering threats in cyberspace Brazil highlighted cyberspace, along with nuclear and aerospace threats, as the three most strategic areas that need to be protected, according to the “National Defense Strategy” report in 2008. In Brazil, there is a popular saying: “one should not mess with a team that’s winning.” For the Olympics, the Armed Forces will adhere to this philosophy by using the same cybernetic defense strategy that helped provide public safety during the previous major sporting events. In the real world, attacks on “units” that are considered strategic for national defense such as ports, refineries, and hydroelectric power plants, could result in national catastrophes. However, Brazil has enacted important defense mechanisms to protect government databases and banks’ electronic systems, ensuring that the country would continue to run smoothly in the event of an attack. Since then, Brazil has launched a series of steps to protect cyberspace, which authorities define as “a virtual space, composed of computing devices – both connected to networks and not – from which digital information is transmitted and either processed or stored.” During the Olympics, these organizations’ domains (URLs), address books, and systems and services of partner organizations, such as the Federal Police and Brazilian Intelligence Agency (ABIN), will be protected.last_img read more

More Women in Colombia’s Public Security Forces

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first_imgBy Yolima Dussán/Diálogo March 06, 2017 The inclusion of 35 female Non-Commissioned Officers (NCO) in the Colombian Army’s weapons training course is yet another example of the process of expanding female participation in all national defense and sovereignty activities, a process that is underway in the Colombian Armed Forces. The course, which is scheduled to begin in March, is the 100th course taught at Inocencio Chincá NCO Academy, located at Fort Tolemaida, and the first to enroll women. This is one more rung in the audacious plan set in motion by Colombia’s Ministry of Defense, Armed Forces, and National Police, which changed their regulations to enable women to integrate into public security forces, attaining any rank in the military or police — even the rank of general — by actively participating in opportunities that include command operations and leading troops. History and indicators The outlook has changed remarkably since 1976, when the Colombian Army authorized the admission of women into the military chain of command, under the classification of administrative officers. As of December 31, 2016, 3,838 women serve in the Colombian Armed Forces: 1,515 female officers and NCOs in the Army, 780 in the Navy, and 1,038 in the Air Force, according to data provided by the Ministry of Defense. Its latest figure for male service members is 232,843. The National Police, an organization also committed to gender equity, listed 13,461 women among its ranks, which represents 9 percent of a staff that also includes 140,460 men. For more than 40 years, the so-called “weaker sex” was only allowed to perform administrative duties in the service branches, in areas such as medicine, dentistry, bacteriology, architecture, law, accounting, communications, educational sciences, and business administration. It was not until 2009 that the Army admitted the first 62 female officers in order to establish its policy of gender equity. “Today the Army has two female brigadier generals and three female sergeant majors who have paved the way for women in the lower ranks, and those who dream of wearing the uniform are now following in their footsteps as new opportunities for participation have been created where women can show their strengths and abilities,” General Alberto José Mejía Ferrero, commander of the Colombian Army, told Diálogo. “Including more women is a strategic part of the transformation towards the Army of the future as a multi-mission army,” he added. In July 2016, the Army created the first Colombian Army Office of Gender to align its institutional policies with national and international agendas on gender equity, differential focus, and the prevention of gender-based violence. “The management done by women inside the Colombian Army has been widely acclaimed not only in Colombia but internationally as being the first such measure in the military arena, not to mention other professional fields, such as sports, and this shows their ability to fully integrate themselves into the military professions,” Gen. Mejía told Diálogo. First office of gender Heading the first Office of Gender is Colonel María Cristina Barrios Jiménez, a distinguished officer who is an example of women’s progress. With a 24-year military career, Col. Barrios knows that her path from Chief of Aviation Psychology in the Army Air Brigade to Chief of Military Psychology, and now General Chief of Staff, is seen as a model of female performance within the armed forces. “We live in a chauvinist society. Breaking away from the attitudes that men have traditionally held towards women, seeing women as standing apart from military careers, has been the most complicated aspect. Men are starting to understand that female inclusion benefits the outcome of operations in which the balance that a woman contributes can make the difference,” she told Diálogo. Lieutenant Claudia Martínez, coordinator of the Office of Gender, explained that her office is working on developing new strategies and policies directed at progressively and concretely including gender equity. “This office’s fundamental purpose is to foster a mentality of inclusiveness; to be a tool for bringing visibility to female inclusion so that it increases. Women are highly competent but there is disbelief about that. This is something that we need to fight against, getting the word out about every achievement,” she said. The process of inclusion But what are the factors that led to changing the history of women in military life? Colonel Carlos Alfredo Castro Pinzón, dean of the School of Social Sciences at General José María Córdova Military Academy (ESMIC, per its Spanish acronym), where 29 women are training in military science and 19 other in other professions, says that this opening was an obvious stage of development in the military. “The spaces that women have claimed for themselves in civil society must also be ceded to them within the military. The world has changed. Women have shown their ability to fulfill more roles in society, and that is something that also needed to take place within the military and police institutions.” Col. Castro, who commands a cadet battalion of 100 women, says that because of their commitment, conduct, and performance, women have created a type of education and training in which there is no gender difference. “At the ESMIC, women and men do the same physical training, firing exercises, basic weapons courses, and advanced combat courses,” he said. “In the high command, they are evaluating opening new spaces for women in order for them to be able to join artillery divisions. For that to happen, we established the Gender Equity, Security, and Public Security Forces Observatory,” he noted. The first of its kind in Colombia and the second such organization in Latin America, this observatory already up and running for seven years fills an investigative need stemming from the various situations that arise from the presence of women in an institution that has been male-dominated for 102 years. “The observatory is a model that is to be applied in other security forces, and it tends to position itself as a consultative center on issues of importance to the service branches,” Col. Castro said. Colombian security forces are moving ahead with a process based on women’s participation, a process in which “what we are seeking is to someday reach the levels of female inclusion that countries like the United States and Israel have achieved,” Col. Castro concluded.last_img read more

Brazilian Air Force App Enables Flight Plan Management

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first_imgBy Taciana Moury/Diálogo November 30, 2017 The Brazilian Air Force (FAB, per its Portuguese acronym) just made life easier for civilian and military pilots in Brazil with the release of a new app. Pilots can now file a flight plan from any location with a smartphone without having to go to an Aeronautical Information Service (AIS) desk. The FPL BR app allows pilots to create, validate, submit, and update a flight plan in real time. The new tool can be downloaded for free from the App Store and Google Play and is available for iOS and Android since October 23rd, 2017. The Department of Airspace Control (DECEA, per its Portuguese acronym)—the oversight body for Brazilian Airspace Control—in partnership with a Brazilian company from Embraer Group developed the app to optimize customer service at AIS desks in Brazilian airports. “Brazil has an air traffic flow of 8,500 flights daily. That was the number of flight plans AIS service desks received every day throughout Brazil. It was necessary to adapt to modern times and ensure its practicality to improve the system flow,” said FAB Major General Luiz Ricardo de Souza Nascimento, chief of the Operations Subdivision at DECEA. Pilots embraced the app with 6,000 downloads on the first day of release alone. Reviews of the FPL BR app on Android and iOS were highly positive. On a scale from 1 to 5, the FAB’s app earned scores between 4.9 and 4.6. “Anyone can download the app for free, but to submit a flight plan you need a code from the National Civil Aviation Agency (ANAC, per its Portuguese acronym) or air units, in the case of military aviation,” Maj. Gen. Luiz Ricardo explained. According to him, the app guarantees functionality and accuracy, and increases flight plan quality. “Certain fields, unless filled in correctly, won’t let the pilot submit the flight plan. When filling in the airport field, for example, the app checks that the airport the pilot indicated is in normal operations and allows the plan to go through only with the right code,” he said. The FPL BR app is integrated to systems of the Air Traffic Control Center as well as other regulatory bodies such as ANAC, the Brazilian Aeronautical Infrastructure Corporation, and the Advisory Commission on Airfares. “You can get information on weather, airports, sunrise and sunset times at every corner of the nation, which ensures safer operations and allows for better airspace control,” Maj. Gen. Luiz Ricardo said. The interface allows users to check complete and simplified flight plans, receive messages with updates on any changes, cancellations, or delays, and notices regarding approval or denial of messages sent. Human resource administration Another objective of DECEA with the app is to better administer human resources at its aviation information desks. The agency foresees a gradual reduction of manual flight plans and therefore a reduction in user demand at AIS desks. “A 50 percent reduction over two years is expected, and it could be up to 80 percent at some locations,” Maj. Gen. Luiz Ricardo said. “Staff at AIS desks will be able to provide more relevant aviation information,” he added. Before the app came out, flight plans could be filed in person or over the phone at AIS desks. “Currently, we have staff exclusively dedicated to receiving flight plans. It’s a much slower process than what can be done with the app,” Maj. Gen. Luiz Ricardo said. The first step in the development process, he said, was in 2015 when submitting flight plans online via the Aeronautical Information Service Portal became possible. The data processing success motivated DECEA to create the app. “We realized we could expand its functionality and practicality,” he said. Tested and approved The development process—from the time the operational need was first documented to the release of the app—took almost two years. The testing phase involved more than 2,000 civilian and military pilots who used the tool for about six months. Second Lieutenant Datiza Vitória da Silva, a pilot with 2nd Transport Squadron, Wing 15, at Recife Air Base, was one of the pilots who tested the app and noted its advantages. “The system pre-fills the fields and reduces the possibility of errors. It’s also easier to use,” 2nd Lt. Vitória said. The app, she emphasized, is available 24 hours a day. “Some missions are carried out at times and in locations that do not fit within the structure of an AIS desk, making the app’s functions essential.” For Alessandro Rocha dos Santos, a helicopter and ultralight aircraft pilot, the app’s success is due to user and controller integration. “Aviation professionals at DECEA completed the project and understood the need to make the process easier. In addition, the opinions of pilots who tested the product were taken into account,” he said. One of the pilots’ suggestions was to be able to copy previously created plans. “I do sightseeing flights over Rio de Janeiro, always using the same route. Before, I had to create a new flight plan for each flight. Now, I use the same one and I just change the date and time. It’s much more practical,” Rocha said. According to Maj. Gen. Luiz Ricardo, DECEA still accepts suggestions to improve the tool over time. “Soon we will make available, either on this app or on another one, all aviation charts available in Brazil, to ease pilot navigation even more,” he said. For him, the Air Traffic Control System must constantly evolve.last_img read more

The Bahamas, a Regional Partner to Counter Illicit Networks

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first_imgBy Geraldine Cook/ Diálogo February 19, 2019 Commodore Tellis Bethel, chief of Defence Staff of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force (RBDF), recognizes the importance of providing security and stability in his country. Thousands of tourists flock yearly to the crystal, white sand and blue waters of the country’s tropical beaches, but the country also serves as a transshipment point for international criminal networks’ illicit activities. Cdre. Bethel participated at the 16th Caribbean Nations Security Conference (CANSEC), in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, December 4-6, 2018, to share his perspective on regional integration to defeat common security threats. The officer spoke with Diálogo about the security concerns his country faces and the importance of working together to counter the effect of illegal networks in the Caribbean region. Diálogo: What is the significance of Bahamas’s participation at CANSEC 2018? Commodore Tellis Bethel, chief of Defence Staff, Royal Bahamas Defence Force: Although The Bahamas is geographically located at the northwestern end of the Caribbean region, its threats and challenges are very much the same as its counterparts. CANSEC 2018 was most relevant to the region and The Bahamas, in particular. The outcomes of multilateral dialogue among a highly experienced and diverse group of security experts, provide a much-needed opportunity for The Bahamas to glean from the past experiences and the solutions proposed by other partners, as well as to share its own experiences and lessons learned for the overall enhancement of regional security. Diálogo: One of CANSEC’s main topics was to enhance the framework to counter regional threats. What does The Bahamas bring to the regional effort to counter security threats? Cdre. Bethel: The Bahamas had deployed troops to Haiti, as part of the CARICOM Battalion during the United Nation’s Peacekeeping Mission to Haiti from 1994-1996. In 2009, The Bahamas contributed to the security efforts of both the Summit of the Americas and the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting providing both events with troops and planning staff. Furthermore, The Bahamas plays a vital role through information sharing with regional intelligence agencies for a safer and more secured region. Today, the Defence Force stands ready as a predominantly small-island naval force to assist with peacekeeping, disaster relief, security operations for major regional events, maritime security and training. Diálogo: The regional crisis-response mechanism was part of CANSEC’s agenda. How does The Bahamas contribute to the regional crisis-response effort? Cdre. Bethel: The Bahamas’s National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) is an active partner within the regional crisis response framework under the umbrella of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency. NEMA is also the lead agency for local crisis response and therefore coordinates or participates in regular regional training, planning, and strategizing for regional crisis response. In addition to providing primary support for NEMA, the RBDF provides assistance to the Caribbean Disaster Relief Unit at both the managerial and tactical levels. In the wake of Hurricane Maria (October 2017), The Bahamas assisted Dominica with the deployment of an RBDF auxiliary vessel, HMBS Lawrence Major, with hurricane relief supplies. In route, the 187-foot landing craft also collected and transported supplies from Jamaica to Dominica on behalf of Jamaica’s government. In Dominica, the ship’s company prepared hundreds of meals daily, assisted with basic repairs to public facilities, and provided much needed water. The Bahamian government deployed a small medical corps to assist with medical care. Diálogo: What is the focus of your military efforts as chief of Defence Staff? Cdre. Bethel: The Bahamas’s maritime domain is challenged by a host of illicit activities including the potential for terrorism. If left unchecked, these activities could threaten the stability of the region. RBDF primarily operates from its main base at Coral Harbour on the island of New Providence, in central Bahamas. This makes it very difficult for timely response to threats or to provide humanitarian assistance throughout our chain of islands. A major objective of mine over the next five years is to unfold RBDF’s decentralization program. It’s a three-part program consisting of the acquisition of patrol craft and the dredging of harbors, the expansion and development of bases, and the acquisition and installation of detection and tracking technologies within the northern, central, and southern Bahamas. Already, The Bahamian government has invested USD $232 million for the acquisition of nine patrol craft ranging in lengths from 100 feet to 187 feet, as well as the dredging of three harbors in central and southern Bahamas. As part of the second phase, plans are already unfolding for the expansion and development of bases on islands in central and southern Bahamas, near strategic choke points where much of the illicit activities originate. The third phase is also simultaneously underway with the acquisition and installation of communications systems, and detection, and tracking technologies with the assistance of the U.S. Foreign Military Financing (FMF) program. Detection and tracking systems will include a network of coastal radars along our chain of islands. The first in a series of coastal radars was recently installed on our southernmost island with the assistance of FMF. The Bahamas has recently approved plans for the development and implementation of a multi-agency drone program to be coordinated by RBDF. The ultimate aim is to develop a multi-layered maritime security framework that would significantly improve RBDF’s C4ISR (command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance) capabilities within The Bahamas’s maritime domain. Diálogo: The Commonwealth of The Bahamas comprises 700 islands and 2,000 rocks and cays, which offer a paradise for tourists and a maritime haven for international criminal networks. What interagency initiatives has RBDF adopted to counter transnational criminal organizations? Cdre. Bethel: With over 700 islands to patrol and a myriad challenges, it is incumbent upon RBDF to network with its local and regional law enforcement and military partner agencies as force multipliers. The Defence Act, which also governs RBDF, makes provisions for RBDF to assist with law enforcement for the maintenance of law and order, or to be employed as directed by the National Security Council. In addition to assigning RBDF personnel to law enforcement agencies, RBDF has engaged in multiple, joint law enforcement operations with the Police Force, Customs, Immigration and the Marine Resources Unit, resulting in numerous arrests and, most recently, a significant reduction in serious crime on the streets of our capital city. Regionally, RBDF conducts joint operations with local police, the Turks and Caicos Police and U.S. law enforcement partners under Operations Bahamas Turks and Caicos (OPBAT). Additionally, The Bahamas and the U.S. have entered into a bilateral comprehensive maritime agreement that allows RBDF to engage in a ship-rider program where RBDF personnel are stationed as law-enforcement personnel aboard U.S. Coast Guard vessels. RBDF has also provided logistical and tactical support for several major joint combined operations with the police and U.S. partners. Diálogo: RBDF and the United States partnered on Operation Marlin Spike in January 2017. What was the objective and what successes did the operation report? Why was it important for The Bahamas and the U.S. to conduct it jointly? Cdre. Bethel: Operation Marlin Spike is a Joint Military Information Operations initiative between U.S. Northern Command and RBDF, to assist with the deterrence, prevention, or interdiction of drug, weapons, and human smuggling as well as poaching and potential terrorist activities within The Bahamas’s maritime domain through Information Operations (IO). We use IO as a mechanism to build support for our efforts among key sectors of the general public, in addition to disrupting or discouraging those who seek to violate The Bahamas’s maritime laws. A significant area of success, thus far, has been the constructive feedback from the community on how RBDF may better serve it. Although a Tips Telephone Line and Facebook page have been established as a part of this program, there has been a greater degree of success in receiving information concerning illicit activities born out of personal contacts made with the general public. Consequently, there is a gradual building of trust within the various communities. Our partnerships with the U.S., as neighbors with shared borders that are challenged with common threats, are important because they act as a force multiplier that enables The Bahamas and the U.S. to share vital expertise, resources, and information, as well as engage in joint operations with regional partners in combating common threats to regional safety and security, especially in the northern sector of the Caribbean region. Diálogo: What combined efforts does RBDF conduct with the United States? Cdre. Bethel: RBDF is a member of the Caribbean Region Information Operations Council, which fosters regional partnerships, networking, collaboration, and sharing of information for the promotion of regional stability and security through various IO programs in the region. We also have OPBAT, which consists primarily of U.S. Coast Guard rotor-wing assets that coordinate joint operations with the Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF), Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force, RBDF, the U.S. Coast Guard, and other U.S. law-enforcement agencies. RBDF also participates in three training exercises involving its Northern Command and/or Southern Command partners: Coral Cays, the Marlin Shield, and Tradewinds. RBPF and other local Bahamian law-enforcement partners, such as Immigration and Customs, are invited to participate when relevant. Coral Cays is a table-top planning and preparedness exercise that examines possible threat scenarios and the roles and responsibilities of those assigned to prevent, deter, detect, disrupt, eliminate or mitigate them. Marlin Shield is a joint combined counter-terrorism training exercise conducted every two years in The Bahamas. Principal agencies are Marine Forces North, Special Operations Command North, and RBDF. The exercise involves surface, air, and ground assets. The last exercise was held in 2017 and involved the tracking and apprehension of terrorists transiting The Bahamas in route to the U.S. southern border. Diálogo: Why is it important for RBDF to participate in multinational interagency exercises such as Tradewinds? Cdre. Bethel: All regional forces have their limitations in capacity and capabilities and therefore need to share their knowledge and expertise. This shared experience also helps to establish common procedures and protocols for interoperability, especially in the event regional partners are called upon to assist each other. Tradewinds provides tactical and operational training in areas of interoperability, collaboration, information sharing, and partnership building for the purpose of countering illicit smuggling activities like narcotics and weapons, terrorism, as well as mitigating natural disasters and providing humanitarian assistance at the regional level. Diálogo: RBDF has a strong partnership with the Rhode Island Army National Guard through the U.S. National Guard’s State Partnership Program. What kind of exchanges do you conduct together? Cdre. Bethel: The Rhode Island Army National Guard has provided extensive specialized training for RBDF, both in The Bahamas and in the United States since 2005. The training programs provided to RBDF over the years have included military policing, cyber and communications, logistics, force protection, detention center operations, non-lethal weapons training and weapons training, and K-9 training. These programs are typically one to three weeks in length. They are also complementary to other law-enforcement training programs conducted by RBDF, which will continue during 2019. Diálogo: What would you say were the most important achievements of RBDF in 2018? Cdre. Bethel: The RBDF has made a number of significant accomplishments during 2018. Among them were the apprehension of almost 200 poachers from the Dominican Republic, along with the confiscation of five steel-hulled fishing vessels with over 160,000 pounds of fisheries products on board, resulting in fines by the courts of over USD $8 million. RBDF also contributed to the reduction of serious crime on the streets of New Providence, where over 75 percent of Bahamians live, resulting in a 25 percent reduction in murders, the lowest in a decade. RBDF has apprehended or assisted in apprehending approximately 1,600 undocumented migrants being smuggled into The Bahamas. Additionally, RBDF provided logistical and tactical support for two major combined anti-drug operations with Bahamian police and U.S. law-enforcement agencies. With regard to humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations, RBDF continues to provide security for local residents on one of The Bahamas’s remote islands, which is still recovering from the devastation from Hurricane Matthew, in 2017. During 2018, more than 80 lives were rescued or assisted at sea.last_img read more

Program aims to provide foster kids with life experiences

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first_img November 1, 2002 Jan Pudlow Associate Editor Regular News Program aims to provide foster kids with life experiences Associate EditorHere’s the harsh reality: Some kids in Miami live in neighborhoods so dangerous that they spend entire summers locked behind doors watching TV instead of frisking playfully outside.Many foster children have never known the fun of summer camp or field trips to attractions like the Miami Seaquarium, the Miami Museum of Science, the Miami MetroZoo, or just going bowling, painting ceramics, or swimming.Norman Gerstein, an 11th Judicial Circuit judge and father of two boys, 4 and 8, decided to change that and give a few kids the experiences his own sons enjoy.Inspired by their own children, Judge Gerstein and his wife, Jackie, general counsel for Children’s Home Society, reached into their pockets to send eight foster children to camp at Temple Judea.That kind gesture in 1999 has blossomed into a nonprofit program called Summer Fun for Kids that reached more than 100 children this past summer. Next year, the hope is to double the fun for 200 kids. The grand scheme is to replicate the program throughout the state, through help from the Children’s Home Society.“What gave me the idea was my own children, unquestionably,” Judge Gerstein said. “Even though I represented kids when I was a lawyer, I realized for the first time when I was a parent how much help kids need, how much time they need.”Jackie Gerstein echoed that thought: “The idea started in having children and realizing how important it is to expose them to different things early on, and realizing kids in foster care wouldn’t have those opportunities. Once we became parents, our whole outlook and perspective became different. When our son started summer camp and we saw how much he enjoyed it, we thought: ‘Every child should have this experience.’”The Gersteins enlisted help from a few lawyer friends who make up the Summer Fun for Kids board of directors: Clay Roberts, Kevin Kaplan, and Patrick Knight. Their combined efforts raise money, make sure dollars go directly to helping kids, and take care of administrative paperwork as a 501c3 charitable not-for-profit organization.“It’s an opportunity for us as lawyers to give something back to our community in a way that helps out foster kids who really need help,” said Kaplan, father of three sons, ages 6, 4, and a baby born September 11.“It’s really a grassroots organization. We operate on a small and efficient budget, with essentially no administrative costs. We make telephone calls and send letters to raise money,” said Kaplan, whose law firm Aragon Martin, et al., donated money. “Who can say ‘no’ to this?”Knight, a lawyer with Kubicki Draper and president of the Coconut Grove Jaycees, is a bachelor with no children, but his group of 254 young professionals jumped at the chance to adopt Summer Fun for Kids as one of their “summer-long feel-good projects.”Knight found lawyer members to help with setting up the charity and IRS paperwork.“My members like to have hands-on activities. We worked with the Children’s Home Society organizing field trips to places like the Seaquarium. My members wanted to tag along. A couple of my members are certified rock climbers and took the kids rock-climbing and to the zoo,” Knight said, adding that Jaycees member Sonny Valladares “called 100 places to set up field trips,” and lawyer Annie Hernandez chaired the project and lawyer Anita Figueroa assisted.When Roberts visited the last day of camp, the smiles on the kids’ faces validated his decision to volunteer time with Summer Fun for Kids.“It was great to see kids just being kids, kids who haven’t had a lot of breaks in life having fun and running around. What could be better than seeing kids having fun?”Roberts, who has five children—ages 1, 3, 5, 8, and 10—added: “If it wasn’t for this Summer Fun for Kids, they would just spend the summer sitting at home bored. This gives them an outlet and a way to socialize with other children, being outside and being active.”One of the many benefits of the program, Judge Gerstein said, is that foster kids are “mainstreamed” with children who don’t come from dysfunctional homes.“They learn as much from other children as the program themselves. They learn about attitudes, about kids who did not grow up in foster care,” Judge Gerstein said.“We threw a picnic for the South Miami kids,” of what he called a “tremendous” effort by the City of South Miami to take 60 children in its summer camps at Murray and Palmer parks at reduced rates.“And I was amazed at how much fun they were having. After all, people think of them as children with problems in foster care, kids who came through the Department of Children & Families with all these issues. When you see them, they are just children who love to have a good time, who love to learn.”Who knows, the judge wonders, what seeds are planted in children with broadened positive experiences through Summer Fun for Kids?“Maybe the child who visits the Seaquarium will grow up to be a naturalist,” Judge Gerstein said. “Maybe the child who goes to camp will become a sports enthusiast.”Already, they know the impact has been positive.“What we hear, in general, is that the kids come home from camp happy and tired, which is a good thing,” said Jackie Gerstein. “They make new friends and have a lot less difficulty at home.”As Judge Gerstein said: “I know if every other person would go out of their way to do good deeds, our world would be a far better place. Each one of us can make a huge difference in a child’s life.” For more information about Summer Fun for Kids, call 305-447-2800, e-mail: sumfunforkids@aol.com, or write to P.O. Box 010563, Miami 33101. Program aims to provide foster kids with life experienceslast_img read more

Benchmarks

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first_img Benchmarks Judge Deboarh Pucillo (ret.) has been appointed to the board of directors of the Center for Creative Education. Judge Pucillo is a mediator affiliated with ARC Mediation in West Palm Beach, and a senior county court judge in Palm Beach County. Bruce E. Kasold has been appointed a judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veteran Claims by President George W. Bush. Judge Bonnie Rippingille of the 11th Judicial Circuit’s Domestic Violence Division presented “ A Day in Domestic Violence Court, ” for the girls in the Sisters of the Heart mentoring program. The program was founded by Judge Rippingille to help at-risk girls, and provide them with mentoring and cultural enrichment opportunities. Judge Paul Siegel of the 11th Judicial Circuit, recently completed his four and a half-year book project. Florida Trial Objections will be published and distributed by James Publishing in April. The book will cover substantially all of the objections a lawyer will want to make, or meet at trial. Judge David L. Levy has been elected chief judge of the Third District Circuit Court of Appeal. His term will commence upon the retirement of Chief Judge Alan R. Schwartz at the end of 2004 and will continue through the remainder of Judge Schwartz’s unexpired term in June 2005. Judge Gerald B. Cope, Jr., has been elected to a two-year term, and will succeed Judge Levy as chief judge in July 2005. April 15, 2004 Regular News Benchmarkslast_img read more

July 1, 2004 Letters

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first_img July 1, 2004 Regular News July 1, 2004 Letters Attorneys v. Physicianscenter_img Something is seriously wrong in the state of Florida when the top professions resort to a battle of constitutional amendments to protect their interests.During the 2003 legislative session Florida physicians attempted to obtain a cap on noneconomic damages in medical malpractice awards as a means of limiting medical malpractice claims and reducing insurance costs. The Florida trial attorneys responded with two constitutional amendments designed to strip a surgeon or physician of their medical license if they have had three or more successful malpractice claims against them and to force all surgeons and physicians to charge their lowest charge for any service to all patients. These amendments will have the effect of causing a number of physicians and surgeons caring for high-risk patients to be stripped of their medical licenses and many primary care physicians, who are barely making enough to survive, to close their practices. It will be difficult to attract replacement physicians in this legal environment.In 2004, Florida physicians filed a constitutional amendment to limit the amount of contingency fees trial attorneys will be able to obtain in medical malpractice claims as a means of addressing their concern with malpractice issues. The Florida trial attorneys responded with a constitutional amendment to do away with peer review and incident reporting confidentiality. The amendment limiting contingency fees is a matter of concern to trial attorneys. But, they can be creative in their contracts with clients and still serve their clients and receive compensation that satisfies their needs. The loss of peer review and incident reporting confidentiality will have a dramatic effect on risk management and preventive measures in the hospital environment and result in a decrease in the quality of medical care.This battle of amendments does no one any good. The physicians have real concerns about malpractice issues. The trial attorneys’ amendment responses do nothing to address these issues. They do the opposite by forcing physicians out of practice, making the state an unattractive legal environment in which to practice and by limiting the ability of hospitals to adequately do risk management and preventive care.Constitutional amendments should be used to protect the rights of individuals, not the perceived interests of professional groups. William Cushing Tamaraclast_img read more