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Click for Sound Video Loading Video Unavailable The video will start in 1Cancel Play now How to download The Sentinel’s new FREE app Watch Next Share this video Video will play in Click to playTap to play Watch again We pay for stories! Send your videos to email@example.comWelcome to The Sentinel’s breaking news service bringing you all the latest updates from Stoke-on-Trent and North Staffordshire on Thursday April 5 Our team of reporters will be updating this live service with all the latest on the weather, traffic and travel as well as news, sport and entertainment through the day. We’ll be bringing you the very latest updates in our live news feed below. For the latest news and breaking news visit www.thesentinel.co.uk . Get all the big headlines, pictures, analysis, opinion and video on the stories that matter to you. Follow us on Twitter @ SentinelStaffs – the official Sentinel account – real news in real time. We’re also on www.facebook.com/sentinelstaffs – your must-see news, features, videos and pictures throughout Stoke-on-Trent, North Staffordshire & South Cheshire. Key EventsAir ambulance called to M6 crash17:1117:44More issues on the M6Slow traffic and one lane blocked due to broken down vehicle on M6 Southbound between J19 A556 (Knutsford) and J18 A54 (Middlewich / Holmes Chapel). In the roadworks area.Lane one (of three) is blocked less than half a mile before J18. 17:43Person hit by train in BirminghamServices being diverted via Solihull on CrossCountry and trains not stopping at Coventry, and at Birmingham International due to person hit by a train at Marston Green. Tickets being accepted on local bus routes. 17:11KEY EVENTAir ambulance called to M6 crashThe scene of the M6 accident (Image: Highways England)The air ambulance was called to the M6 after a crash involving two lorries forced two lanes to close.Emergency services were called to the scene on the northbound carriageway between junctions 13 and 14, for Stafford at around 3.24pm.One of the drivers was trapped in his vehicle, but was freed by Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service crews and taken to hospital via land ambulance.Read more here.15:44Long delays on the M6Queueing traffic and long delays due to earlier accident on M6 Northbound between Stafford Services and J15 A500 (Stoke-On-Trent), congestion on M6 to J13 A449 (Stafford South). Travel time is around 50 minutes. All lanes have been re-opened.Lane one (of three) was closed. All restrictions were lifted at around 15:25. Stafford Services is located between J14 and J15. 13:43Road blocked after fireA5005 Commerce Street Southbound is partially blocked due to building fire from A50 Market Street to Commerce Street.The one way system here is partially blocked to assist.13:15Check out this new £13.5 million care home – which even has its own pub!Residents preparing to move into a £13.5 million care village on the site of a former nightclub will have their own tea room, hairdressers – and pub.And the Belong facility in Newcastle – which will open its doors next week – will also play host to an exercise studio and therapy room alongside a gallery to celebrate the site’s past.Check out everything on offer there in our report. Staff prepare to welcome residents to the new care village12:56Man, 34, dies after being hit by train on way home from gigA 34-year-old man has died after being hit by a train after returning home from a gig.Drummer Asa Simpson, from Newcastle, was tragically killed early on Saturday morning (March 31).He was well-known across the area as a member of Stoke-on-Trent four-piece Exowaves.The band had played a gig at De Bees in Winsford the night before his death shortly after 8am.Asa Simpson was a drummer with Exowaves (Image: Twitter)12:16HUGE rise in scarlet fever in Stoke-on-Trent and StaffordshireAlmost 200 cases of scarlet fever have been reported in Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire in the first three months of the year – TWICE as many as last year.New figures from Public Health England show there have been 171 suspected cases of the illness between January 1 and April 1.Read our full report here. 11:41Broken down vehicle on M6 SouthboundOne lane of the M6 is closed due to a broken down vehicle Southbound between J13 A449 (Stafford South) and J12 A5 (Gailey). Traffic is coping well.Lane one (of four) is closed.11:41Heavy traffic going into city centreThere is heavy traffic on Bucknall Road inbound from A52 Leek Road (Lime Kiln Traffic Lights) to Hanley Town centre at the moment.11:21’I thought he was going to kill me’ – Stoke-on-Trent mum, 36, reveals how she was regularly attacked by nine-year-old sonA Stoke-on-Trent mum has told how she feared she could die at the hands of her nine-year-old son because of his violent and uncontrollable rages.Single mum-of-four Debbie appeared on ITV’s This Morning under the headline ‘I thought my son was going to kill me’ yesterday.Mum Debbie divided viewers on This Morning10:57Big changes at The Marzipan Pig!The owners of a much-loved city centre coffee shop and lifestyle store are preparing to close the business – to focus on their mouth-watering cakes.And customers are being invited to join Gav and Heather Tilstone for a special ‘cake smash’ to mark their last day at The Marzipan Pig later this month.Read more about it here.Heather and Gav Tilstone with some of the made-to-order cakes10:30Top story on The Sentinel website todayToday’s top story online, based on page views, is ‘Drug addicts and prostitutes’ caught on CCTV breaking into coin-operated toilets – weeks after they opened.The toilets were only recently opened to the public08:40Need some ideas to keep the kids entertained during this Easter break?Look no further than our list of 10 days out you can do from Stoke-on-Trent with just over £5 of petrol. You can get so much further than you think! We picked out some of our favourite spots that seem far away, but are actually surprisingly cheap and easy to get to. Days out with just a fiver of petrol – how far can you get?08:23Wheelie bin set on fire in Baddeley GreenHanley firefighters spent the early hours of the morning tackling a bin fire in Baddeley Green. The crew was called at 2.38am to a wheelie bin fire on Baddeley Hall Road. 08:10Emergency services attended two-car collision in Burslem where vehicle ended up on roofA car ended up on its roof after a collision on Moorland Road in Burslem, last night.Firefighters from Hanley and Sandyford attended the incident at 11.42pm. The Sandyford crew dealt with the aftermath of the two-car crash, but all people were out of the cars by the time they got there.07:46Morning everyoneThanks for being with us on April 5, 2018. We’ll be bringing you the latest news, traffic and travel updates, and more throughout the day.
Technology | July 12, 2009 New Ultrasound Solution Aims to Enhance Structure Definition, Reduce Noise News | PACS | August 08, 2019 NetDirector Launches Cloud-based PDF to DICOM Conversion Service NetDirector, a cloud-based data exchange and integration platform, has diversified their radiology automation options… read more July 13, 2009 – Toshiba America Medical Systems Inc. recently introduced Precision Imaging technology, software designed to increase productivity while improving patient care in diagnostic imaging, and is available on the Aplio XG ultrasound system. The next generation Aplio XG ultrasound system provides several enhancements designed to improve productivity, increase diagnostic confidence, facilitate connectivity and enhance ergonomics. Upgrade enhancements include new 4D technology, which allows users to acquire volume data sets for subsequent, off-line review. The Aplio XG’s 3D multi-slice view delivers sequential imaging with a presentation format similar to CT and MR. Additionally, slice thickness and the number of images displayed can be selected by the user. A new ergo-optimized control panel and 19-inch LCD also have been added to increase user comfort. The Aplio XG also is IHE compliant for improved connectivity and workflow.Precision Imaging technology increases productivity and diagnostic confidence by providing more detailed ultrasound images. As a multi-resolution signal processing technology, it not only evaluates images line-by-line, but also includes information from adjacent lines to enhance the amount of information obtained. Traditional ultrasound systems acquire images line-by-line only and do not consider information from adjacent lines. As a Toshiba-exclusive software, Precision Imaging’s ability to capture information from multiple lines improves the definition of the structure, provides more detail and minimizes noise and clutter, according to the manufacturer. This approach enables clinicians to determine if the signal is part of a structure or an anomaly from one line.Precision Imaging is beneficial for head-to-toe scanning. It improves the ability to show subtle tissue differences and image small structures better than conventional imaging. It clearly shows contrast boundaries between tissue and lesions, visualizes vessel walls, and enhances true color borders in difficult to image areas. It is useful for imaging breast lesions, superficial regions, small parts, the abdomen, spleen, liver and thyroid.Precision Imaging is available on the Toshiba Aplio XG. The first deliveries to customers are scheduled for July 2009, with product demonstrations available now.For more information: www.medical.toshiba.com FacebookTwitterLinkedInPrint分享 Technology | Interventional Radiology | August 16, 2019 Profound Medical Receives U.S. FDA 510(k) Clearance for Tulsa-Pro Profound Medical Corp. announced it has received 510(k) clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to… read more Sponsored Content | Case Study | Radiation Dose Management | August 13, 2019 The Challenge of Pediatric Radiation Dose Management Radiation dose management is central to child patient safety. Medical imaging plays an increasing role in the accurate… read more The CT scanner might not come with protocols that are adequate for each hospital situation, so at Phoenix Children’s Hospital they designed their own protocols, said Dianna Bardo, M.D., director of body MR and co-director of the 3D Innovation Lab at Phoenix Children’s. News | Pediatric Imaging | August 14, 2019 Ultrasound Guidance Improves First-attempt Success in IV Access in Children August 14, 2019 – Children’s veins read more Technology | Cybersecurity | August 07, 2019 ScImage Introduces PICOM ModalityGuard for Cybersecurity ScImage Inc. is bridging the gap between security and functionality with the introduction of the PICOM ModalityGuard…. read more Key Topics for Radiology Administrators at AHRA 2019Video Player is loading.Play VideoPlayMuteCurrent Time 0:00/Duration 7:33Loaded: 2.15%Stream Type LIVESeek to live, currently playing liveLIVERemaining Time -7:33 Playback Rate1xChaptersChaptersDescriptionsdescriptions off, selectedCaptionscaptions settings, opens captions settings dialogcaptions off, selectedAudio Trackdefault, selectedFullscreenThis is a modal window.Beginning of dialog window. 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News | Artificial Intelligence | August 08, 2019 Half of Hospital Decision Makers Plan to Invest in AI by 2021 August 8, 2019 — A recent study conducted by Olive AI explores how hospital leaders are responding to the imperative read more Related Content News | Artificial Intelligence | August 05, 2019 Montefiore Nyack Hospital Uses Aidoc AI to Spot Urgent Conditions Faster Montefiore Nyack Hospital, an acute care hospital in Rockland County, N.Y., announced it is utilizing artificial… read more News | PACS | August 09, 2019 Lake Medical Imaging Selects Infinitt for Multi-site RIS/PACS Infinitt North America will be implementing Infinitt RIS (radiology information system)/PACS (picture archiving and… read more Videos | Radiology Business | August 02, 2019 VIDEO: Key Topics for Radiology Administrators at AHRA 2019 Association for Medical Imaging Management (AHRA) President … read more News | Cardiovascular Ultrasound | August 05, 2019 Digital Health Devices Used at Point of Care May Improve Diagnostic Certainty A West Virginia-based rural medical outreach event showcased the use of point-of-care technology in an ambulatory… read more
News | Interventional Radiology | July 31, 2019 International Multidisciplinary Group Publishes Recommendations for Personalized HCC Treatment With Y90 TheraSphere New consensus recommendations for personalized treatment for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) with BTG’s TheraSphere have… read more X-ray images such as the one on the left fail to indicate many cases of advanced bone destruction caused by multiple myeloma, says the author of new guidelines on imaging for patients with myeloma and related disorders. Image courtesy of Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center. News | Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) | June 07, 2019 Amsterdam University Medical Center Wins MR Solutions’ Image of the Year Award The Amsterdam University Medical Center has won MR Solutions’ Image of the Year 2019 award for the best molecular… read more News | Radiopharmaceuticals and Tracers | July 26, 2019 NorthStar Medical Radioisotopes Awarded $30 Million by U.S. Department of Energy NorthStar Medical Radioisotopes LLC has been awarded $15 million in a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Department of… read more News | Radiopharmaceuticals and Tracers | July 01, 2019 Bracco Imaging Acquires Blue Earth Diagnostics Bracco Imaging S.p.A. has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Blue Earth Diagnostics, a molecular imaging company… read more Technology | Information Technology | June 20, 2019 DOSIsoft Receives FDA 510(k) Clearance for Planet Onco Dose Software DOSIsoft announced it has received 510(k) clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to market Planet… read more Feature | September 01, 2011 | Thomas Kron Alzheimer’s Disease Imaging Options Examined at MEDICA 2011 News | Computed Tomography (CT) | June 17, 2019 International Working Group Releases New Multiple Myeloma Imaging Guidelines An International Myeloma Working Group (IMWG) has developed the first set of new recommendations in 10 years for… read more News | Radiopharmaceuticals and Tracers | July 16, 2019 NorthStar Medical Radioisotopes Completes Construction on Beloit, Wis. Molybdenum-99 Processing Facility NorthStar Medical Radioisotopes LLC announced completion of construction on its 20,000-square-foot molybdenum-99 (Mo-… read more News | Radiopharmaceuticals and Tracers | August 02, 2019 ASRT Supports Radiopharmaceutical Reimbursement Bill The American Society of Radiologic Technologists (ASRT) announced its support for House Resolution (HR) 3772, a measure… read more News | PET-CT | August 15, 2019 United Imaging Announces First U.S. Clinical Installation of uExplorer Total-body PET/CT United Imaging announced that its uExplorer total-body positron emission tomography/computed tomography (PET/CT) system… read more September 1, 2011 – As with all chronic illnesses, it is everyone’s dream to be able to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease in the early stages. Naturally, the aim is to prevent the late stage, i.e. dementia, through early therapy. Scientists around the world are making ever more progress in early diagnosis – for instance, in the field of imaging technologies. What is already diagnostically possible today will be showcased at MEDICA 2011, the world’s largest medical trade fair and congress to be held from Nov. 16–19, 2011 in Düsseldorf, Germany, with more than 4,500 exhibitors from 60 countries.Just months ago, experts in the United States published new recommendations for the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, which differentiate between three overlapping stages:• The preclinical stage (Stage I)• The stage of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) (Stage II)• The dementia stage.Today, the dementia stage can be diagnosed with considerable certainty through a combination of anamnesis, psychometric tests, imaging procedures and chemical parameters (biomarkers in blood serum). However, up to now, the therapy options for this stage have not been very effective. In order to possibly achieve more through early drug therapy, Alzheimer’s researchers around the world are increasingly focusing on methods that diagnose the neurodegenerative disease before the onset of dementia. They are concentrating their efforts on the MCI stage (Stage II). Annually, ten to twenty percent of MCI patients develop dementia. The challenge is to recognize those patients with certainty. In addition to anamnestic findings, psychometric tests and blood serum analyses, there are essentially two imaging procedures that are relevant for early diagnostics: positron emission tomography (PET) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and its various procedures. The leading manufacturers of these procedures – for instance, GE Healthcare, Siemens Healthcare and Philips Healthcare – are exhibitors at MEDICA 2011.Direct Amyloid Imaging: PET Makes it Possible Currently, PET is getting a lot of interest, such as with radioactive tracers such as fluorodesoxyglycose (FDG) to detect cerebral glucose metabolism disorders, but primarily with radioactively marked active agents for direct amyloid imaging. Examples of such tracers include florbetaben (Bayer Schering), florbetapir (Lilly), flutemetamol (GE Healthcare) and Pittsburgh Compound B (PiB – license holder GE Healthcare). These substances bind to beta amyloid in the brain, which can be measured with a PET camera. This provides data that, together with MRI data, allow a precise localization of the beta amyloid. This direct amyloid display is a combined diagnostic method using PET and MRI. Developed by Siemens Healthcare, the Biograph mMR is a total body system with simultaneous MRI and PET which, within the framework of clinical trials, has been installed at several university hospitals in Germany and the United States for the past year. The system received U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval in June 2011 and, thanks to its CE certification, is now also in regular use in hospitals in the European Union.A so-called hybrid system comprising a total-body PET/MRI scanner, equipped with Philips technology, was also installed at the University Hospital of Geneva last year. However, PET is not suitable for diagnosing Alzheimer’s in day-to-day medical practice. Problems using PET to diagnose amyloids include low availability and the relatively high degree of complexity as well as the cost (about 1,250 to 1,500 Euros per examination). In addition, the accumulation of beta-amyloids is a prerequisite for developing Alzheimer’s dementia but, based on current knowledge, this is not enough. The clinical significance of the amyloids detected by PET is not yet entirely clear, explained the neurologist and professor Hansjörg Bäzner, chief physician at Stuttgart’s Bürgerhospital.Important additional information through functional MRI proceduresConventional, non-functional MRI has long been a routine procedure in the diagnosis of dementia, above all for differential diagnosis of various forms of dementia and cerebral diseases that may be accompanied by cognitive disorders like vascular damage, brain tumors and inflammations. Functional and special MRI procedures for the diagnosis of early-stage Alzheimer’s are promising but, similar to PET, are still mostly limited to research. “Initial studies indicate that it is voxel-based morphometry, MR spectroscopy and diffusion tensor imaging that may be the primary sources of important additional information,” explained Thomas Hauser, M.D., of the German Cancer Research Center.With voxel-based morphometry (VBM), the brain volume is measured to determine the amount of gray or white matter or of brain fluid / bone (voxel is a coined word that combines the words “volume” and “element”; three-dimensional equivalent of a pixel). All the MRI images of the examined brains are scaled to the same size so that a comparison can be made between a number of people. According to Hauser, VBM allows (independent of the respective investigator) a quick, almost completely automated quantification of changes in the brain that are characteristic of Alzheimer’s, like atrophy of the hippocampus (loss of matter in certain areas of the brain). In addition, there are positive results from early diagnosis with various functional MRI procedures, like magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS). This non-invasive procedure can measure water in the living brain as well as metabolic products – currently more than 16 metabolites. The lower detection threshold is 1 millimole; this means that substances with a concentration 100,000 times lower than water can be detected. The best-researched and most important metabolites in the early diagnosis of dementia are N-acetyl-aspartate (NAA), choline (Cho), creatine (Cr) and myoinositole (mI). NAA is a marker for intact neurons, Cho is considered a marker for cell proliferation, Cr is an indicator for intact energy metabolism of cells, and ml contributes to intracellular signal processing. Another non-invasive MRI procedure is diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance imaging (DW-MRI), which measures and displays in 3-D the diffusion of water molecules in tissue. It is primarily used to examine the brain, as with several diseases of the central nervous system (CNS) the diffusion behavior undergoes characteristic changes. Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) is a variant of DW-MRI. According to Hauser, in contrast to volumetric measurements, these complex procedures reflect microscopic tissue changes.Everyday Risk Score Calculator Developed for Predicting Dementia As fascinating as imaging procedures are, they represent only a small piece in the jigsaw puzzle of Alzheimer’s diagnosis. Other relevant pieces in the puzzle are still anamnesis, clinical findings as well as neuropsychological tests and serum parameters (beta-amyloid, total tau, phospho-tau and amyloid precursor proteins). As well, a patient’s own admission that he/she is becoming forgetful should be a warning flag.Because, as psychiatrist and professor Frank Jessen of Bonn has discovered, an above average number of patients who are merely concerned about their forgetfulness frequently develop dementia. Together with colleagues, Jessen developed a risk score calculator with which quite a precise prognosis of the risk of developing Alzheimer’s is allegedly possible. Based on this risk score calculator, which requires anamnestic data as well as cognitive tests, family physicians are able to advise patients and their families as well as start initial preventive and therapeutic steps. According to Bäzner, although there are no pharmacological or non-pharmacological treatments that without any doubt, in the sense of evidence-based medicine, are proven to protect MCI patients from dementia, there are indications that good blood pressure and blood sugar regulation, losing excess weight, and endurance sports can help. In any case, “therapeutic nihilism” is, with certainty, the wrong approach in a concrete treatment situation.Dementias are the focus at the MEDICA Congress, including at the seminars “Demographic change and dementia” (November 17), no. 203, headed by professor Ingo Füsgen, M.D., and “The elderly patient and neurological diseases” (November 18), no. 313, headed by professor Stefan Isenmann, M.D., (both held at the Congress Center Düsseldorf, CCD South). For more information: www.medica-tradefair.com Related Content Figure 1. A high-fidelity 3-D tractography of the left ventricle heart muscle fibers of a mouse from Amsterdam Ph.D. researcher Gustav Strijkers. News | PET-CT | June 19, 2019 United Imaging Announces First U.S. Clinical Install of uMI 550 Digital PET/CT United Imaging announced the first U.S. clinical installation of the uMI 550 Digital positron emission tomography/… read more FacebookTwitterLinkedInPrint分享
January 20, 2016 — Spok announced that St George Hospital in Sydney, Australia, has selected the company’s solutions for radiology result notification and Web directory to improve clinician communications and patient care. By sending all radiology test results directly to the requesting clinicians’ smartphones, the solutions help St. George improve turnaround time for communicating the findings—thus accelerating patient treatment plans and care.St. George Hospital wanted a system to allow radiology to automatically communicate the report to the requesting doctor in addition to sending the report to the electronic medical record (EMR). “With Spok solutions in place, all radiology test results, including preliminary and authorized results, are automatically sent to the doctor who requested the test,” said Derek Glenn, M.D., director of radiology for St George Hospital.The Spok Mobile secure smartphone messaging app encrypts messages from the radiology information system (RIS) and sends them to the requesting clinician. The test results reach the right clinician’s preferred device based on the requesting doctor identity received from the EMR and the list of matching registered users in the secure Spok directory. Spok Mobile enables St. George Hospital’s clinicians to accept or reject the notifications and securely forward messages to other registered clinicians as needed.“We needed a way to measure the turnaround time it takes for requesting clinicians to actually receive and acknowledge test results after they are made available. The reporting and audit trail capabilities of Spok’s solutions give us a clear view of the communications from start to finish,” said Glenn.St. George Hospital’s Department of Radiology also uses Spok’s radiology result notification solution to notify referring clinicians when images are available in the system, before the report is generated. “This was a request from the referring community that we hadn’t considered before. Keeping doctors up-to-date on where their patients are in the imaging chain goes a long way in expediting the patient journey. This means that the requesting doctor receives an automatically generated ‘Images Available’ message as soon as the images are created,” said Glenn.As part of South Eastern Sydney Local Health District (SESLHD) in Australia, St. George Hospital is the major teaching hospital for University of New South Wales. The 627-bed hospital provides Level 1 Trauma care for the district and has one of the busiest emergency departments in the state.For more information: www.spok.com FacebookTwitterLinkedInPrint分享 News | Radiology Business | August 01, 2019 Philips Completes Acquisition of Carestream Health’s HCIS Business … read more News | Artificial Intelligence | July 31, 2019 Artificial Intelligence Solution Improves Clinical Trial Recruitment Clinical trials are a critical tool for getting new treatments to people who need them, but research shows that… read more The CT scanner might not come with protocols that are adequate for each hospital situation, so at Phoenix Children’s Hospital they designed their own protocols, said Dianna Bardo, M.D., director of body MR and co-director of the 3D Innovation Lab at Phoenix Children’s. Sponsored Content | Case Study | Radiation Dose Management | August 13, 2019 The Challenge of Pediatric Radiation Dose Management Radiation dose management is central to child patient safety. Medical imaging plays an increasing role in the accurate… read more Key Topics for Radiology Administrators at AHRA 2019Video Player is loading.Play VideoPlayMuteCurrent Time 0:00/Duration 7:33Loaded: 2.15%Stream Type LIVESeek to live, currently playing liveLIVERemaining Time -7:33 Playback Rate1xChaptersChaptersDescriptionsdescriptions off, selectedCaptionscaptions settings, opens captions settings dialogcaptions off, selectedAudio Trackdefault, selectedFullscreenThis is a modal window.Beginning of dialog window. 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News | Artificial Intelligence | August 08, 2019 Half of Hospital Decision Makers Plan to Invest in AI by 2021 August 8, 2019 — A recent study conducted by Olive AI explores how hospital leaders are responding to the imperative read more Videos | Radiology Business | August 02, 2019 VIDEO: Key Topics for Radiology Administrators at AHRA 2019 Association for Medical Imaging Management (AHRA) President … read more A nurse examines a patient in the Emergency Department of Cincinnati Children’s, where researchers successfully tested artificial intelligence-based technology to improve patient recruitment for clinical trials. Researchers report test results in the journal JMIR Medical Informatics. Image courtesy of Cincinnati Children’s. News | PACS Accessories | January 20, 2016 St. George Hospital Selects Spok for Smartphone Delivery of Radiology Results System automatically communicates results to requesting clinicians and the EMR, with a clear reporting and audit trail News | PACS | August 08, 2019 NetDirector Launches Cloud-based PDF to DICOM Conversion Service NetDirector, a cloud-based data exchange and integration platform, has diversified their radiology automation options… read more Technology | Cybersecurity | August 07, 2019 ScImage Introduces PICOM ModalityGuard for Cybersecurity ScImage Inc. is bridging the gap between security and functionality with the introduction of the PICOM ModalityGuard…. read more News | Artificial Intelligence | August 05, 2019 Montefiore Nyack Hospital Uses Aidoc AI to Spot Urgent Conditions Faster Montefiore Nyack Hospital, an acute care hospital in Rockland County, N.Y., announced it is utilizing artificial… read more Related Content News | Electronic Medical Records (EMR) | August 01, 2019 DrChrono Teams With DeepScribe to Automate Medical Note Taking in EHR DrChrono Inc. and DeepScribe announced a partnership so medical practices using DrChrono EHR can use artificial… read more News | PACS | August 09, 2019 Lake Medical Imaging Selects Infinitt for Multi-site RIS/PACS Infinitt North America will be implementing Infinitt RIS (radiology information system)/PACS (picture archiving and… read more
Three shark attacks within three hours on same Florida beach Source: The Associated Press Tweet Monday, September 19, 2016 NEW SMYRNA BEACH, Fla. — Three surfers suffered shark bites in separate attacks over a three-hour period in the same area of a Florida beach.The attacks began Sunday morning when the Volusia County Beach Safety Ocean Rescue agency says a 43-year-old man was bitten on the lower leg or ankle while surfing. About a half hour later, a 36-year-old old man was bitten on the hands. Both men were hospitalized.About two hours after that, the agency says a 16-year-old boy was bitten on his inner thigh. He had only a minor injury and wasn’t taken to the hospital.All the bites came near a jetty in an area well-known for shark activity.Afterward, beach safety officials instructed beachgoers not to go in the water above their knees. Tags: Florida << Previous PostNext Post >>
Tags: Galápagos By: The Associated Press Tuesday, June 18, 2019 U.S. military could use Galapagos island for flights QUITO, Ecuador — A plan by Ecuador to let the U.S. military use a Galapagos island for aircraft on anti-drug trafficking flights is drawing criticism that the agreement would damage the archipelago’s unique animal and plant life.About 30 people protested outside the main government office in Quito on Monday, calling the plan a threat to the environment of the U.N. world heritage site as well as Ecuador’s sovereignty. Protester Gloria Reinoso said she was concerned about the impact of the noise and infrastructure required to support a U.S. military presence.Last week, Defence Minister Oswaldo Jarrin said San Cristobal island could be a staging point for American aircraft flying surveillance missions aimed at stopping drug traffickers who transport illicit cargo by sea. Jarrin said flight crews would stay a week at most on the island and would be monitored by Ecuadorian authorities.The United States Southern Command, which is responsible for U.S. military affairs in the region, did not immediately comment.More news: Help Princess Cruises break the world record for largest vow renewal at seaThe United States had a base in the Galapagos during World War II and operated it without the involvement of Ecuadorian authorities.Grace Jaramillo, a political scientist at the University of British Columbia, said more needed to be known about reasons for the recent plan with the U.S. military as well as the environmental costs for “our touristic jewel.”“What are the benefits? How was it negotiated?” Jaramillo said.Carlos Espinosa, an analyst at the Universidad San Francisco de Quito, said it would be better to stage anti-drug flights from the South American mainland so as to safeguard Galapagos ecosystems.Another commentator, Farid Simon, gave a different view, saying that relatively brief stopovers by U.S. planes did not mean an airport in the Galapagos would become a military base.“We have an obligation to contribute to the fight against drug trafficking,” Simon said. Share << Previous PostNext Post >>
From the print edition. Updated at 6:10 p.m. May 18.U.S. investors who put tens of thousands of dollars into a Costa Rican teak company are becoming leery of their prospects, now that years have passed and the company has not paid clients promised investment returns. To add to their doubts, the company recently informed investors that the man charged with managing their investment is dead. The purported business model for Costa Rican corporation Tropical American Tree Farms apparently was to sell clients small teak trees that the company would grow and maintain. Those teak trees were to be harvested years later for wood to be sold on the lumber market, and proceeds returned to clients.Teak is a popular and durable wood ideal for construction and outdoor furniture when it is cut at a mature age.Many clients, especially those looking to support an “environmentally friendly” investment model, were drawn to the company and others like it, which began popping up in Costa Rica in the 1980s. An eight-part Tico Times investigation in 1993 found that as many as 30 tree companies existed in the country by the early ’90s.The Tropical American Tree Farms’ website claims the company is one of the largest teak growers in Costa Rica. According to information provided by the company, the operation spans more than 5,500 hectares – about 0.1 percent of the country, the site claims – and is responsible for planting two million trees on a multitude of farms along Costa Rica’s Pacific coast. But the most recent records from the National Registry show the company, under the name TATF S.A., owns only about 1,700 hectares split among 30 separate properties ranging in size and value, as well as industrial equipment and vehicles for its operation. It is unclear if the company owns more properties under different names.The company’s owners, Steve Brunner, a former lawyer from Ohio who specialized in real estate, and his wife, Sherry Brunner, claimed to have had more than 3,000 individuals, companies and trusts enlisted in the project in 2007. Actual figures remain unclear.One thing is certain: Many involved with the company are unhappy about their purchases. Those who have invested said payout dates have passed without the company making good on payments, and angry comments about the company fill online timber-investment forums, with some posters calling it an outright scam. Recent news of Steve Brunner’s death from cancer in late March added further confusion and uncertainty.“You send them about $4,400, and in 20 years down the road, according to the experiences of most [of the] 70 or so people on this board and others, you get back nothing,” one forum member wrote. Other forum posts urged investors to file complaints with the U.S. FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center about the Tropical American Tree Farms’ website, which is used to attract tree purchasers from the United States.A spokeswoman for the complaint center confirmed the agency received about a dozen complaints about the company, which they referred to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. When asked in an email if the complaints had sparked any action or investigation, an SEC spokeswoman responded that as a matter of policy, the SEC declines comment on questions pertaining to investigations.The company also found itself on a Costa Rica Tax Administration list published in February for failure to pay sales tax. The list indicates which companies the administration is pursuing through a legal collection process for unpaid taxes.An agency spokeswoman would not comment on the list or provide any details about the company, but she indicated Tropical American Tree Farms has been submitting sales tax filings since 2007 through the current year, and salary tax filings from 2006 to 2011.While doubt has been cast on the company’s claim to be one of the biggest teak operations in Costa Rica, the company has gained notoriety for being atop another list: Tropical American Tree Farms has failed to pay ₡674 million ($1.4 million) in mandated employee insurance premiums to the Costa Rican Social Security System (Caja).“TATF has been delinquent on payments [to the Caja] for several years, and for us, this isn’t a new case. In fact, they are one of the companies with the biggest Caja debt,” Luis Diego Calderón, the Caja’s director of collections, told The Tico Times. “We’ve known about this case, and we’ve used all the strategies and tools at our disposal to collect from them.” Those strategies include filing 58 separate cases to the Caja’s judicial collection office, which attempts to collect from delinquent companies through a series of punitive actions. Calderón said the Caja also took action against Tropical American Tree Farms for illegally deducting Caja premiums from employee salaries and failing to transfer those deductions to the Caja. “We have filed 34 penal cases [against the company] for withholding ₡165 million [$331,000] from employees for Caja deductions that were never paid to the Caja,” Calderón said.Caja officials also have moved to shut the company down on 12 occasions for failure of payment. TATF was closed four times, while seven other closing orders remain pending, Calderón said. According to Caja regulations, officials can only force a company to close for five days for each request. Caja officials also attempted to negotiate a payment plan for the company – allowed under Caja rules – but those efforts were unsuccessful, Calderón said.Article 74 of the Caja’s charter requires government agencies to verify that companies are not delinquent with the Caja before issuing any type of permits, licenses, concessions or exemptions, among other bureaucratic procedures. Legally, Tropical American Tree Farms is barred from obtaining permits from municipalities, health and environment ministries, or any other government agency, until it cancels its million-dollar debt to the Caja. On Wednesday, Tico blogger and whistleblower Roberto Mora – who has publicly denounced several Costa Rican companies and organizations for accumulating unpaid debt with the Caja – circulated an email stating that two weeks ago, TATF cut “an enormous quantity of teak trees” from a 60-hectare section of farm in Río Naranjo, Quepos, on the central Pacific coast. Mora noted that in order to cut the trees, the company would have required a certificate of origin from the Quepos office of the Environment Ministry (MINAET), and to transport trees, they would need a permit from the Costa Rican Agricultural Engineers Association’s Forestry Attorney’s Office. The Tico Times was unable to independently verify Mora’s statements. But in an email, MINAET’s director of the Central Pacific Conservation Area, Carlos Vinicio, clarified that certificates of origin are not permits to remove trees, but rather to transport them, and they are issued by forestry engineers registered as regents with the Agricultural Engineers Association, not MINAET. “The National System of Conservation Areas [under MINAET] receives the certificate of origin and a report from a registered regent,” Vinicio said. “Therefore, the Agricultural Engineers Association and the forestry regent [handling the case] are responsible for checking to see if [TATF] had a debt [with the Caja]. For this kind of paperwork, which is not a forestry permit, Article 74 of the Caja’s charter does not apply, because we are only receiving information,” Vinicio said.In response to questions about TATF, the Caja’s Calderón said if officials do not abide by Article 74, the Caja could file a complaint with the Comptroller General’s Office to see if government officials broke the rules, in which case the Comptroller General would get involved. “We’ve done that before,” Calderón said.Regardless, the company’s unpaid debt to the Caja is bad news for investors, as it means the company may be legally blocked from marketing clients’ trees until it is no longer delinquent with the Caja.Déjà vu?Some Costa Rican teak companies have run into legal trouble in the past. In 1993, during the teak boom, the SEC filed a lawsuit in a Florida federal court against a Costa Rican teak company, Bosque Puerto Carrillo, an operation of at least 3,000 hectares, for selling unregistered securities to U.S. residents. The SEC accused the company of providing misleading and overly optimistic investment information to investors.Several clients accused the Tropical American Tree Farms of similar practices, but unlike Bosque Puerto Carrillo, TATF is not publicly traded and deals in direct sale of young trees, which it sells by way of certificates. One teak farm owner said the distinction between tree buyers and investors is important, because additional rules regulate investment firms.Tropical American Tree Farms is not registered to make public offerings, according to the Superintendence of Securities (SUGEVAL), Costa Rica’s securities regulatory agency. The company also is not registered with the SEC on their website database, although companies raising less than $1 million are not required to register.Phone calls and emails from a Tico Times reporter to Tropical American Tree Farms went unanswered. A lawyer who represents the company would not comment for this story.A great offerIn the early ’90s, financial planner Virginia Moran, now 78, was one of the first investors in Tropical American Tree Farms, a start-up plantation that had approximately 500 clients at the time, according to company publicity. Moran, from Golden, Colorado, in the U.S., bought 100 teak trees, planted in 1993, for $3,500. The 2011 price for teak, listed on the company’s website, is $5,365 per 100 trees.In exchange for her purchase, Moran received a certificate of tree ownership from the farm.Certificates are only one of the methods used by teak farms to signify a stake in the company. Some firms sell the land the trees are planted on, while others issue shares in the company itself.At the time Moran bought her trees, teak was being used in Costa Rica as a potentially profitable crop to facilitate the reforestation of hundreds of thousands of hectares that had been stripped for cattle-grazing. Statistics show that between 1966 and 1986, one-sixth of the nation’s land – more than 800,000 hectares – was deforested. The idea of reforestation was so popular that high-ranking officials, from former presidents to government ministers, promoted the practice, according to the 1993 Tico Times investigation. In the ’80s, the government offered tax incentives for teak reforestation projects, despite the market being so new and largely untested in Costa Rica.Moran based her investment decision on company projections that promised a final return of $43,000 in 20 years and $60,000 in 25 years. Those figures were calculated based on the assumption that teak prices would increase annually by 6 percent. But even without an increase in market prices, the company promised Moran a minimum $30,000 return in 25 years.Moran was excited about the projections, and spread word to her Colorado clients, friends and acquaintances, as well as other investment planners specializing in “green” projects. She also personally visited the farms three separate times, spending various nights in a cabin on one of the plantations and touring the grounds on horseback.“It all looked pretty good,” Moran said. “Although the projections looked a little optimistic, even if they did half of what they projected it would have been a good investment.”On Moran’s recommendation, up to 30 others bought trees from the company, with some investing more than $15,000, she said. In 1997, Tropical American Tree Farms awarded her 300 additional trees for referring clients. Today, her first batch of trees is nearly 20 years old, but Moran claims neither she nor any of the others she referred to the company has been paid. She said she is having second thoughts about the company and her role in promoting it.“There’s a definite possibility that this has been become a very elaborate Ponzi scheme, and they’re taking the money from the sale of trees,” Moran said. “I have not been suspicious to that level until this year. I had a highest level of trust in [the Brunners].”Moran said that on three trips she visited company-owned tree farms near Uvita, a beach town in southern Costa Rica. She became close with the Brunners, and described them as seemingly trustworthy Christians. She even invited the couple to visit her church in Colorado and give a presentation about their project.She said she’s sorry to hear of Steve Bruner’s death, but that doesn’t negate the years of promises the company made to her. She said almost 10 years ago, she received notice from the company that money was credited to her account from an early harvest, but when she tried to call the company office to collect she was told by a secretary that there was no way for her to receive the payment.She has called the company’s office phone and left messages repeatedly in the past three years, but calls were never returned.“The money isn’t coming as promised, and they have not been communicating,” Moran said. “It’s beginning to not look good at all.”A steady marketTeak industry experts in Costa Rica say there is a way to invest safely and effectively in tropical hardwoods. One tree farm owner in Costa Rica, Fred Morgan, a U.S. citizen who has lived in Costa Rica for nearly a decade, said some of his clients also own trees with Tropical American Tree Farms. Morgan’s Finca Leola, near Arenal, in north-central Costa Rica, is 10 times smaller than the advertised size of Tropical American Tree Farms, and has existed since the early 2000s.Morgan claims to have already paid his early tree buyers, and has a policy to respond to communication from clients within 24 hours. But he worries that some investors’ bad experiences with investing in tropical hardwoods could reflect on the rest of the industry. “If it doesn’t go well, everyone says it’s a fraud and nobody invests in it anymore,” Morgan said. “It’s like someone saying you should never buy a used car. A lot of people have success with buying a used car, but some people get ripped off.”Morgan said selling wood has been difficult after the global economic downturn, which hit the construction sector hard. He said prices for wood dropped by 20 percent after 2009.However, Juan María Solera, president of the Costa Rican Forestry Chamber and manager of teak company Panamerican Woods, touted the teak market as stable and profitable, much more than the stock market.He said recently added regulations on harvesting wild teak in countries such as Myanmar have boosted worldwide demand and increased the profitability of growing the crop in Costa Rica.Costa Rica’s gross wood exports, including teak and other species, valued more than $47 million in 2011, versus $13 million in 2007, according to statistics from the Foreign Trade Promotion Office.Other factors such as rising land prices and the deterrent that forestry is a considerably longer-term investment when compared to pineapple production or other agro-businesses have contained teak industry growth in Costa Rica, Solera said.Solera said according to industry calculations – because no current official surveys exist – about 30,000 hectares of land are devoted to teak in the country. He said about 10 large companies exist here, but the actual number of players in the teak market is hard to estimate, as small-time producers grow stands of less than 15 hectares.He said he had no recent knowledge of Tropical American Tree Farms, but added that the company formerly was affiliated with the Forestry Chamber and used to operate a furniture factory and mill near Dominical. He said he hasn’t had contact with the Brunners for several years.Solera acknowledged the industry was known for scams in the past, but he said the market is generally safe today. “It’s a good market,” he said. “But in my opinion it’s more the responsibility of the shareholder to check where he’s putting his money.”Solera said his company provides audited financial statements to its roughly 400 foreign and domestic shareholders.Left in the darkNot only does Tropical American Tree Farms not provide audited financial statements, it’s hard to get the company to respond to an email, said Hal Brill, an investment coach from Colorado.Brill bought trees from Tropical American Tree Farms in 2002 and referred clients to the company. He said neither he nor his clients have been paid yet, and their faith is dwindling.Looking back, Brill said, there were several red flags.Brill said Steve Brunner refused to disclose his financial information to investors, would not take the proper steps to receive a sustainable forestry certificate and made short-term projections that seemed too high. The projections Brill received from the company included paybacks at years six, nine, 12, 16, 20 and 25.Industry experts explain that in a typical 20- to 25-year teak cycle, a large number of trees are planted, about 800 per hectare, depending on the landscape. As the trees mature and compete for light, smaller trees are cut five to seven times, a process called a raleo in Spanish.If done correctly, only 250 to 300 trees are left for the final harvest. But if thinning is neglected, an entire harvest can be stunted because trees compete for resources, and the economic viability of an entire stand can be lost.Part of Tropical American Tree Farms’ business plan was to create a subsidiary, Raleo Designs, which would sell high-end furniture taken from younger teak trees cut during thinning to boost short-term returns. Brill said the intermediary plan was not sure-fire, but even if Raleo Designs didn’t pan out, and even if half of what was projected in the long-term harvest was returned to investors, he said it still looked to be profitable. Brill and his wife took a trip to visit the farm and were happy with what they saw.So, despite warning signs, the couple bought 500 trees with the company in 2002. They also recommended the company to several other investors.Initially, he said, he and others were enthusiastic about their decision. But recently, he said poor communication has plagued his relationship with the company.Most notably, he said, news from the Brunners dropped off in the past three years, and the couple failed to return Brill’s emails and phone calls. In the past, the Brunners would respond promptly to inquiries, and they sent periodic newsletters to investors, he said.One of the last times investors heard from the Brunners was an email sent in December stating that thousands of trees were damaged or lost during rainy-season floods. Experts say teak trees must be planted on land with proper drainage, as they are susceptible to flooding. Brill said the company didn’t respond to requests for more information about the alleged damage.“I just don’t know if the Brunners are alive or if they’re even in Costa Rica,” Brill said.On April 16, Brill and other investors received an email from Sherry Brunner stating that Steve had died following a lengthy battle with cancer. The email didn’t provide any details of the death. Brill said he hadn’t seen an obituary, and he wondered why the news wasn’t announced earlier.The Tico Times independently confirmed that Brunner died March 25 in Costa Rica.Brill said Brunner’s illness may partially explain the downslide in communication and productivity on the part of the company. He said he hopes tree owners can unite and find a way to reclaim their purchases. Brill said he pins his hopes for some settlement on a four-day trip he took to the farm a few years ago, when he saw the trees he purchased.“That’s what has sustained me through this,” he said. “There are great trees in Costa Rica … with our initials on a sign in front of them.”This story was corrected from an original version to include comments from the Environment Ministry’s director of the Central Pacific Conservation Area, Carlos Vinicio. An original version of the story said Vinicio did not respond by press time. However, Vinicio did respond promptly to The Tico Times, but due to a technical error, a reporter did not receive comments before going to print. Facebook Comments Teak plantations exploded in the 1990s as a way to fight deforestation. Tico Times No related posts.
MANAGUA — The earthquakes have decreased in Nicaragua. However the country planned Wednesday to maintain the current red alert due to experts not being able to assure that the danger of another big earthquake has passed.Nicaragua was rocked by two earthquakes last week with a magnitude greater than 6.0. The country has experienced thousands of aftershocks, and the shaking has left two dead, injured at least 41 and damaged thousands of homes, forcing widespread evacuations. “It is true that there is less seismic activity, but unfortunately that means absolutely nothing, no expert can say that the situation has completely calmed down, nobody ventures to say it,” said first lady and government spokeswoman Rosario Murillo.Nicaragua seemed to have regained the calm after five days of constant tremors that kept the population on edge, principally in Managua, where officials authorities warned even Monday about the risk of a major earthquake.“We have to remain vigilant of the signs” that the government “has given us as to not mourn (more) casualties,” said Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes to thousands of followers during a procession in Managua to start the Holy Week celebrations.The government Wednesday called on the population to continue sleeping in safe places until the Nicaraguan Institute of Territorial Studies and seismologists from Cuba, Venezuela, Mexico, Chile and the United States, who are in the country, agree with certainty that the worst is over.Managua sits over a series of fault lines that converge at Lake Managua. In 1972, the capital was destroyed by a devastating earthquake that left 10,000 dead and hundreds injured.Murillo said that the experts need several days to clarify whether “this crisis is resolved, which does not mean that another won’t begin, simply because the land, the volcanoes, are so unpredictable.”Earlier in the week, Murillo said the government planned to begin reconstruction in 17 cities affected by the two quakes on Thursday and Friday, half of which are near Lake Managua.Nicaragua declared the red alert last Thursday after a magnitude-6.2 earthquake was felt 20 kilometers north of the capital. Related posts:Panic in Nicaragua as tremors continue Magnitude-6.6 earthquake shakes Costa Rica on Friday afternoon, epicenter located in Nicaragua Strong magnitude-6.8 earthquake rocks Costa Rica’s southwest Earthquake jolts five provinces in Costa Rica Facebook Comments
A friend recently posted this headline on my Facebook timeline: “Costa Rica Is Shutting Down All Zoos And Freeing Every Animal In Captivity.”Hmm, I thought. Yes, I was taking the weekend off, but I had been monitoring the news all the previous week and didn’t have any inkling that such a radical move was imminent.I clicked on the headline, from an online publication called Higher Perspective whose tagline is “Connect. Reveal. Transcend.” and whose Twitter handle is @AlteringMinds.The date was about right, Aug. 19, 2015, but after a quick scan of the story, it was obvious that Higher Perspective had gotten its information from another online publication, True Activist, which had gotten its information from an article published in Treehugger TWO YEARS AGO.Even worse, the True Activist story (headline: “Costa Rica Plans To Shut Down Its Zoos And Free All Animals In Captivity”) had a link to a 2014 Tico Times story with this headline: “Environment Ministry loses court battle to close Costa Rica’s zoos.”Suddenly the whole story went “poof!” And yet, the headline has appeared in other media — in English and Spanish — numerous times since.This kind of terribly reported, recycled-from-last-year, so-called “news” about Costa Rica happens All. The. Time. So, in the spirit of setting the record straight, we at The Tico Times are starting a new occasional column called “For the record.”Here, we’ll take on false news, false rumors and misguided ideas about the land of pura vida. We’ll also fact check statements and comments made by public figures. Most importantly, we’ll let our readers know what the real story is, backed up by facts, boots-on-the-ground reporting, and good old-fashioned common sense — of the type that drives one to check the sources on a suspicious-looking news report.We’ll start with the zoo story that’s been recently revived in the social media sphere as if it had happened yesterday. Here we go.The Environment Ministry did try to close Costa Rica’s two official zoos, but failedIn July 2013, former Environment Minister René Castro announced that the government intended to let its contract run out with the nonprofit that runs Costa Rica’s two urban zoos.“We are getting rid of the cages and reinforcing the idea of interacting with biodiversity in botanical parks in a natural way,” Castro said at the time. “We don’t want animals in captivity or enclosed in any way unless it is to rescue or save them.”Under the minister’s plan, both zoos would cease operations as such in May 2014. San José’s Simón Bolívar Zoo was to become a biological education center and Santa Ana’s Conservation Center was to become a forest reserve. The animals held there, including a jaguar and an African lion, were to be sent to animal rescue centers in other parts of the country.Then-Minister Castro went even further, telling The Tico Times in an August 2013 interview that he planned to free all animals in captivity in Costa Rica. “It is a gradual process, but eventually we hope that there will no longer be animals in cages anywhere in the country,” Castro said.If this had all actually happened, we wouldn’t be writing this post. Instead, the nonprofit zoo manager FUNDAZOO took the issue to court alleging breach of contract and won a ruling allowing it to continue managing the zoos for another 10 years.In fact, FUNDAZOO seems confident enough in its survival that it recently began renovating the Simón Bolívar Zoo in Barrio Amón, the historic neighborhood near the city’s center. The renovations may also be, in part, a response to criticism about some of the cages and enclosures for the zoo’s inhabitants.After years of lying cramped together in a dingy moat, the zoo’s crocodiles and caimans will soon be relocated to a larger, more natural-looking lagoon. The zoo’s tapir will also join them.Enclosures for some of the zoo’s big cats, including the jaguar, have already been improved.At present, the African lion still lazes away his days in a dismally small, concrete pen. But he, too, will soon be getting better digs, according to Fundazoo spokesman Eduardo Bolaños.When the Environment Ministry lost its court battle with Fundazoo last year, it did say it planned to appeal the decision. Both Bolaños and a spokesperson for the ministry said they had no immediate knowledge about the status of that appeal. A request for further information from the Environment Ministry wasn’t answered by close of business Friday.Have a Costa Rica myth you want busted or a story you want fact-checked? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com, or on Facebook and Twitter. Facebook Comments Related posts:Lion at San José zoo needs a better home, agencies order Ministries confirm relocation orders for Kivú the lion Environment officials move Kivú the lion to a new home Kivú the lion recovers at his new home
Related posts:Rebuilding the community of La Carpio through cultural education Changing paradigms in La Carpio through volunteering La Carpio’s cultural rebellion The Black side of the story: Afro-Costa Rican MC Huba Watson Part Two in a four-part series. Read Part One here.Is it possible for a single organization to transform one of Costa Rica’s toughest neighborhoods? La Carpio, the shantytown located in La Uruca, San José, is synonymous in the minds of many Costa Ricans with poverty and violent crime. In 2011, however, Alicia Avilés and Maris Stella Fernández launched a quest to change this when they founded the Integrated System of Art Education for Social Inclusion (SIFAIS), an NGO seeking to promote cultural growth in the neighborhood. In this four-part series, The Tico Times sets out to show how this non-traditional cultural education model is trying to beat the odds and help this vulnerable community strive for a better future.On the website for the Integrated System of Art Education for Social Inclusion (SIFAIS), Alicia Avilés is listed as the community director, but also as the “inspiradora” – the inspiration. She who inspires.The woman whose improbable dream of a symphony orchestra from the La Carpio shantytown grew into a renowned non-governmental organization was born in Managua, Nicaragua, where she studied at the religious school Lumen Christi and Loyola High School. She went on to work as an elementary school teacher in both rural and urban areas of Nicaragua for 12 years.Twenty years ago, struggling to make ends meet on her teacher’s salary, she came to Costa Rica in search of a better life for her family and herself. She went on to become a community leader in La Carpio; thanks to an unexpected partnership with the woman who is now the president of SIFAIS, Maris Stella Fernández, Avilés is now helping to lead a team of staff members and volunteers who are changing the neighborhood in a big way through cultural education.On a beautiful, sunny morning at the Cueva de Luz – the SIFAIS headquarters – in La Carpio, The Tico Times sat down and spoke with Avilés, 51, about her extraordinary attitude toward improving resilient community of La Carpio. Excerpts follow.How did you end up in Costa Rica?Frankly, the decisions were based on the fact that we had to feed our family in order to survive. A teacher’s wage in Nicaragua is very low and I had to sustain my five children. Besides that, I had to buy teaching materials for my work and the bus passes. Receiving a monthly wage of $100 as a teacher made it difficult to be able to sustain my family. While I worked, my-mother-in-law was the one who took care of my children. I came to Costa Rica in order to provide my kids with food and clothing, and I was searching for a better perspective of life for myself.I never thought I would stay for 20 years. I just thought of coming here, trying this new lifestyle and then returning to Nicaragua. Here I’ve only worked as a maid because I never intended to teach again. As a maid I didn’t have to work 12 continuous hours and take the work back home with me. [Being a teacher is like] working 24 straight hours.Which has been your role in La Carpio and with SIFAIS?I was named the Security President in the community of La Carpio. It’s a role I’ve had for three years now. We’ve been working away like ants, but we’ve made progress. Maybe it can’t be seen right now, but as time passes by it’ll become evident. It’s about teaching lessons to the families of the community. The Mixed Institute for Social Aid (IMAS), and a few gringos who came here to help, covered families’ basic needs. [A lot of] drugs used to be sold here and we’ve been trying to eliminate those things that damage the community.Four years ago, I also became president of this sector of the community in which we’re speaking right now. The government hasn’t solved these problems that have existed for quite a long time, because the community hasn’t been organized.When [SIFAIS President] Maris Stella Fernández first came to La Carpio, I cried. I was dealing with several difficulties with the community…. I had been named president of social pastoral outreach, and began solving other people’s legal problems by speaking to the community about how to come to an agreement through dialogue. Oftentimes people stabbed each other with knives. Ambulances were called constantly and they did not come into the area because of the danger. Now, the ambulance comes here very rarely because there are no injured or dead people. That’s how I began my work as a community leader. I also work with various ministries and private enterprises that are willing to help us.Citizens have to take responsibility for their actions. The fact that they live in an illegal slum doesn’t mean that they can do whatever they like. You’ve got to respect the norms and laws that our country has and give our best as the citizens that we are. I’ve been imparting those [messages in educational] talks with people who want to improve the country, and that’s how we’ve been advancing.How has the implementation of SIFAIS workshops and classes improved the community?You notice the improvement in people’s attitudes… Eradicating violence might be seen on a long-term basis, but the change is beginning to be noticed. It’s a seed that grows through the hard work we have done as a team.People have been repairing their houses by painting them and keeping them neat. The entire family must help with this, not just the mother. The way in which people dress has changed. Now you don’t see people walking half-naked on the streets. Women are dressing differently, and due to this they have regained their dignity.SIFAIS has reassured everyone about their capabilities and this has been done through teachers. The teachers are those impulsive and strong machines that help us; they’re our pillars.What role does kindness play in the project?People have stopped asking for [material] things. In 2015 I went to Costa de Pájaros, Puntarenas to deliver 95 toys to the children there. I went with various people from my community who usually beg for these things for themselves. By November and December [of the next year], normally they’d be asking for toys themselves, but instead they came asking when we were going again to deliver more toys [to kids in Costa de Pájaros]. It’s part of the kindness that has been growing.SIFAIS… is helping our vulnerable community emerge from the anonymity in which the government had kept us. It has also demonstrated that we should all contribute something to our community. For La Carpio’s people, SIFAIS is a dream come true. People have been given the opportunity to get an education for free.How do you think that the core values of SIFAIS (trust, constancy, madness and tenderness) are important elements of the project?As you see, there are no rules here telling you to come at a certain hour. The children come here to do creative things in their own way. You give them that freedom [to express themselves]. It’s part of that craziness or madness: not limiting their eagerness and excitement. Of course, they’re quite mischievous, but it’s part of their growth process.Afterwards I listen to what they’ve got to say in order to know what they want or desire. This helps them to express themselves and speak at home with their families. Part of the education here is to allow them to direct themselves wherever they want, whether they’re evangelical, Catholic or from some other religion.In our next story in this series, meet the volunteers of SIFAIS and find out how this “two-way street” is changing lives both in and out of La Carpio. Facebook Comments