New York City is a place of many hidden doorways, but how about hidden concert seats? The Forest Hills Stadium, which dates back to the 1960s with legendary performances from The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and more, is the former home to the US Open and was revived as a concert venue in 2013. In recent renovations came the brilliant idea to include a few hidden hangouts throughout the venue.One of them includes a porta potty. This particular VIP room isn’t your average box viewing, members only, password-protected establishment. It’s a hidden room beyond the doorway of an ordinary porta potty that you need a 9-volt battery to get into.The porta potty VIP room can be accessed by using a special battery given by the all-knowing venue staffers (and other Very Important People), which is then used to open a makeshift lock. Once inside the room, there’s a concert haven complete with comfy couches, prime viewing of the show, and free-flowing booze galore. Though, it’s not very easy to find. [photos by Ron Asadorian via NYPost]“We thought it’d be funny if people standing in line for the [real] porta-potties suddenly saw 20 people come out of one, like a clown car,” explained Mike Luba, president of Madison House Presents, who recently teamed with the venue for a series of upcoming shows. “Half the time, people trying to find the room open the door to a potty and just find somebody taking a leak,” a staff member of the stadium security crew told the New York Post.Apparently, the stadium hosts a few of these strangely-located hangouts around the stadium floor. Another spot goes by the “Raccoon Room” because of the family of raccoons that were discovered inside, with one of them reportedly munching on a Milk Dud. With its recent renovations, it now holds a self-serve bar and is password-protected with a new term assigned to every event. According to the New York Post, “sitting atop the bar is a taxidermied raccoon holding a box of Milk Duds.” Then there’s the Sign Room, also password-protected, which used to be where the US Open’s sign painter once worked. “We’re pretty sure he was living or at least sleeping in [it],” Luba explains. “When we found this place, there was a cot in it.” The room is filled with hand-painted signs with the names of professional and amateur tennis players, alongside the new age concert posters that promote shows by the Replacements, Ed Sheeran, The Who, and Mumford & Sons. “Without naming names,” Luba says, “it’s not unknown for artists to utilize these spaces to party well after the crowd has gone home.”Needless to say, the Forest Hills Stadium is way cooler than we initially thought — and they have some pretty awesome shows coming up in conjunction with Madison House Presents beginning with Flight of the Conchords and Chris Stapleton this month. See here for all show info and ticketing details!
Category: chgxkidyfzrbeimj ‘Robust protection’
Related Panel outlines efforts to find COVID-19 cure, including phase 3 trials at BWH Single-shot COVID-19 vaccine proves successful with primates Some human testing begun, with phase 3 trials possible as soon as September Most people with COVID-19 have relatively mild disease, but a subset of them develop severe pneumonia and respiratory failure, potentially leading to death. In new research published today in Nature Medicine, immunologist Dan H. Barouch and colleagues at Harvard-affiliated Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) demonstrated that the optimal vaccine elicited robust immune response in Syrian golden hamsters and prevented severe clinical disease — including weight loss, pneumonia, and death. In recently published previous work, Barouch, the William Bosworth Castle Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, and his colleagues showed that a candidate COVID-19 vaccine raised neutralizing antibodies that robustly protected non-human primates (NHPs) against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. “We recently reported that an Ad26-based SARS-CoV-2 vaccine provided robust protection in rhesus macaques, and this vaccine is currently being evaluated in humans,” said Barouch, who is director of BIDMC’s Center for Virology and Vaccine Research. “However, nonhuman primates typically don’t get severe clinical disease, and thus it was important to study whether this vaccine could prevent severe pneumonia and death due to SARS-CoV-2 in hamsters, which are more susceptible to clinical disease.”,The vaccine — developed through a collaboration between BIDMC and Johnson & Johnson (J&J) — uses a common cold virus, called adenovirus serotype 26 (Ad26), to deliver the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein into host cells, where it stimulates the body to raise immune responses against the coronavirus. Barouch’s group and J&J developed a series of vaccine candidates designed to express different variants of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, which is the major target for neutralizing antibodies. In the current study, the researchers immunized Syrian golden hamsters with a single injection of the Ad26-based SARS-CoV-2 vaccine, which induced neutralizing antibodies in all animals. Four weeks later, the animals were exposed to a high dose of SARS-CoV-2. Vaccinated animals lost less weight and had less virus in their lungs and other organs than unvaccinated control animals. Vaccinated animals also demonstrated lower mortality. Moreover, the researchers found that neutralizing antibody responses were inversely correlated with weight loss and viral loads in respiratory tissues. The Ad26.COV2.S vaccine is currently being evaluated in clinical studies to establish the performance of the vaccine candidate in humans.“This hamster model of severe COVID-19 disease should prove useful to complement current nonhuman primate models in the evaluation of candidate vaccines and therapeutics,” said Barouch, who is also the William Bosworth Castle Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, a member of the Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT, and Harvard, and the co-leader of the vaccine working group of the Massachusetts Consortium on Pathogen Readiness. In July 2020, investigators at BIDMC and other institutions initiated a first-in-human Phase 1/2 clinical trial of the Ad26.COV2.S vaccine in healthy volunteers. Kathryn E. Stephenson is the principal investigator for the trial at BIDMC, which is funded by Janssen Vaccines & Prevention, B.V., a pharmaceutical research arm of Johnson & Johnson. Pending clinical trial outcomes, the Ad26.COV2.S vaccine is on track to start a phase 3 efficacy trial in up to 60,000 participants this month. Global race to a COVID-19 vaccine Vaccines may arrive in record time, but the virus has been faster The Daily Gazette Sign up for daily emails to get the latest Harvard news. Team at Harvard plans to launch clinical trial in fall
Category: chgxkidyfzrbeimj Tracking an invasive ant species to its native land
Ants are among the most damaging invasive species in the world, and several types have been spread by human activity around the world. Learning more about these ants and their original natural habitats could help scientists understand more about their evolution as well as how to better control them.That was the goal of Harvard researcher Waring Trible, whose research took him to Southeast Asia, vowing to turn over maybe not every rock, but a bunch of them (along with other assorted debris), in what would become a somewhat lengthy quest to unravel the origin story of the clonal raider ant, an invasive species found in various parts of the world.The findings of Trible, a distinguished science fellow in the FAS Center for Systems Biology, and a colleague were recently published in the journal Biology Letters. It represents just one of a handful of cases where the native range of an invasive ant species has been identified.The analysis involved some genetic detective work that may help scientists better understand the biological factors that allow a species to become invasive. This can one day aid in finding natural biological control agents that could help limit the spread of invasive species.To make that kind of lab work possible, researchers first had to get out in the field and down in the dirt.“We wanted to find the closest evolutionary relatives of the species we study in the lab in order to place it at a more precise position on the tree of life,” said Trible, who runs a lab studying the genetics and evolution of ants. “If you can find an invasive species in its native population before humans took it out to the rest of the world, then you might be able to learn what kinds of features of their biology make them particularly likely to become invasive.”The investigative odyssey began with the team narrowing its geographic search. Trible worked with Sean McKenzie, the study’s other lead author, whom he met when they were graduate students in the lab of Daniel J.C. Kronauer, a professor at The Rockefeller University. Kronauer discovered an ant in India that was closely related to the invasive clonal raider ant but appeared to be a different species. The group then took an educated guess based on genetic data that the source population of the ant should be within a vicinity of about 1,240 miles.The search area included countries like Pakistan, India, and Nepal, but the scientists settled on Bangladesh because of its huge seaports, which are major shipping routes. This would explain how the blind and subterranean ant could have traveled the world, carried in the soil that sailors used for the ballast of ships. The choice was a gamble, however, because no one had documented the existence of the clonal raider ant in the country before.Part of that, the researchers postulated, may be owing to the fact that the underground lifestyle of the ants make them easy to miss. People wouldn’t know they existed unless they were looking for them, Trible said.The species is also queenless and reproduces clonally when embryos from worker ants grow and develop without fertilization. They are only 2 millimeters long, stocky, and are known for being eyeless and heavily armored. They are called raiders because they dig tunnels into the colonies of other ants and pillage their eggs, larvae, and cocooned larvae, called pupae, and feed on them.,Trible and McKenzie traveled to Bangladesh in October 2014. They coordinated with a German NGO to arrange reliable transport and other small but crucial details like hiring a local master’s student named Tawhid Hossain as their translator.“By the end of the second day, we had a small backpack full of money, a car, a guide and a driver, and we were on the road out toward Western Bangladesh where our contacts knew of a professor out there who could get us started with some places to look for these ants, because we didn’t really have a great idea of even where we could find the ants in the first place,” McKenzie said.Their mission was complicated by the fact that Bangladesh has little protected land, forest, or completely uninhabited areas where ants like this flourish. Most of the places the pair looked were private yards, construction sites, or small fields like those on university campuses — all of which necessitated flipping not only rocks but bricks and assorted debris from razed buildings.“From the road, we’d see what looked like a good place, so we would stop the car and our translator, Tawhid, would go find someone and ask them, ‘Who owns this? We have these researchers from America who are looking for ants. Would you mind if we could come look around?’” Trible said.While the translator would chat with the property owners over tea, Trible and McKenzie would dig for clonal raider ant colonies for an hour or so before moving to the next site.They had no luck the first few days and the locals thought they were up to something strange.“A lot of them thought we were eating the ants because they weren’t really sure why a couple of Americans would be crawling around in the dirt trying to find ants if they weren’t good for something,” McKenzie said.Then they caught their break, turning over a brick and spotting a single clonal raider ant. They pounced, collected it, and started digging. The giant hole turned up only five more ants, but the researchers were ecstatic.“It was a big relief to know that we wouldn’t come home empty-handed,” Trible said.Working 16-hour days, they found 16 colonies. Once, they even flipped a rock and found a colony of about 500 ants.They kept the ants in humid petri dishes. Tragedy almost struck midway through the trip when a quarter of the ants they found died because they left the dishes in the sun too long during a lunch break. That slip made the 24-hour trip home even more nerve-wracking. If none of the ants survived, the trip could be ruined since the researchers hadn’t conducted their sequencing experiments.“The interesting thing about studying genetics is that we can’t see DNA with our eyes, so when you collect things in the field you don’t know what you have until you get home,” Trible said.Back in the lab, they got to work mapping the ants’ genetic sequence to see if the Bangladesh population was the source population for this invasive species. They describe the work in the report published in June.Their analysis showed there were seven different lineages present. Two were identical to two of the four strains already known throughout the world. The other five had never been seen in the hundreds of colonies the researchers and collaborators had studied before. This was a telltale sign that they’d found the source populations. In population genetics, genetic diversity will always be greater in populations where a species originates than in populations where they have been introduced by humans.The scientists further cemented their finding using a statistical method to build the genealogy, or family tree, of the different strains to see how they are related. That molecular phylogenetic analysis showed that the five new strains share a recent common ancestor with the four invasive strains found around the world — an ancestor that lived in Bangladesh.“The two findings together are basically a smoking gun,” said Trible.In short, mystery solved.
Category: chgxkidyfzrbeimj Will Audra McDonald Return to the Screen in Film Adaptation of Hello Again?
Broadway.com has confirmed that six-time Tony winner Audra McDonald, upon finishing her star turn in Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill on the Great White Way, has been approached to lead a film adaptation of Michael John LaChiusa’s Hello Again. The project is not yet confirmed. View Comments McDonald took home her record-breaking sixth Tony Award this year for Lady Day; she has also won for Carousel, Master Class, Ragtime, A Raisin in the Sun and Porgy and Bess. She’s also no stranger to bringing musicals to the screen, having starred in NBC’s The Sound of Music Live! and the 1999 TV adaptation of Annie. According to Showbiz411, the movie will be directed by Tom Gustafson and will feature a screenplay by Cory Krueckeberg. The two previously collaborated on films including the gay-themed musical Were the World Mine, while McDonald starred in LaChiusa’s Marie Christine on the Great White Way. No additional casting or timeline has been announced. With a book and score by LaChiusa and based on Arthur Schnitzler’s play La Ronde, Hello Again follows an assortment of love affairs among ten characters, spanning across each decade of the 1900s. The tuner premiered off-Broadway in 1993, and was most recently revived off-Broadway with a cast that included Max von Essen, Elizabeth Stanley and Rachel Bay Jones.
Category: chgxkidyfzrbeimj Celia Keenan-Bolger, Joel Grey & More Set for The Cherry Orchard
Related Shows Show Closed This production ended its run on Dec. 4, 2016 Diane Lane The Cherry Orchard Now this is a stellar lineup! Three-time Tony nominee Celia Keenan-Bolger, Tony and Oscar winner Joel Grey, along with many more Broadway favorites, have been tapped to join the previously announced Diane Lane in Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard. Directed by Simon Godwin, the new adaptation by Tony winner Stephen Karam (The Humans), will begin previews on September 15 and officially open on October 16 at Broadway’s American Airlines Theatre.Along with Keenan-Bolger (The Glass Menagerie) as Varya and Grey (Cabaret) as Firs, the newly announced cast includes Tony winner John Glover (Love! Valour! Compassion!) as Gaev, Tavi Gevinson (The Crucible) as Anya and Harold Perrineau (Lost) as Lopakhin. They will be joined by Tina Benko, Susannah Flood, Maurice Jones, Quinn Mattfeld, Aaron Clifton Moten, Peter Bradbury, Philip Kerr, Lise Bruneau, Jacqueline Jarrold, Ian Lassiter and Carl Hendrick Louis.The acting company has a unique history with Chekhov: Lane made her Broadway debut as a child, in the 1977 revival of The Cherry Orchard and, also in 1977, Grey played Platonov (Chekhov’s first play) at the Williamstown Theatre Festival.First produced in Moscow in 1904, The Cherry Orchard is Anton Chekhov’s masterpiece about a family on the edge of ruin—and a country on the brink of revolution. The story of Lyubov Ranevskaya (Lane) and her family’s return to their fabled orchard to forestall its foreclosure, the play captures a people—and a world—in transition, and presents us with a picture of humanity in all its glorious folly. By turns tragic and funny, The Cherry Orchard still stands as one of the great plays of the modern era.The production will feature sets by Scott Pask, costumes by Michael Krass, lights by Donald Holder, sound by Christopher Cronin, movement by Jonathan Goddard and original music by Nico Muhly.The limited engagement will run through December 4. View Comments Star Files Celia Keenan Bolger & Joel Grey(Photos: Jeremy Daniels & Bruce Glikas)
Category: chgxkidyfzrbeimj Ag Dept denies egg farm permit
State Agriculture officials announced October 1, 2002, that they have denied the application by Vermont Egg Farm (VEF) for a proposed expansion that would have more than doubled the size of its Highgate facility. In an 8-page finding, the Department cited a number of concerns in denying the expansion, primarily centering on manure management and its direct relationship to the potential return of the fly problem that plagued the facility in its early years of operation. “I considered this decision very carefully,” said Agriculture Commissioner Leon Graves, “because a big part of my job is to encourage and support all of the diversified agricultural interests of Vermont including small, medium, large and expanding farming operations. In the end, however, Vermont Egg Farm simply failed to meet the requirements for adequate manure management as called for by the LFO (Large Farm Operation) law.” The expansion application has generated a great deal of controversy since being deemed complete the first time in February of 2002. Just over one month later, the application was rendered incomplete due to revisions of the manure management plan. After more than five months passed, an amended manure management plan was resubmitted to the Department of Agriculture by Vermont Egg Farm. The application was recently deemed complete again on September 10. In both cases, a 10-day public comment period was offered. Graves, who operated a small dairy farm in Fairfield for many years prior to being named Commissioner of Agriculture, said public input is a crucial part of the process. However, Graves said that for the LFO process to have legitimacy it can’t be subject to political concerns or popular opinion and each application must be judged on its merits on a case-by-case basis. “It is the public policy of this state as expressed in law, and my own personal belief as well, that diverse agricultural operations are essential to our rural communities and character, that farming preserves the environmental resources of the state, that farming furthers the economic self-sufficiency of the state, and that agriculture provides a general benefit to the health and welfare of the people of the state,” Graves said. “These policies do not equate this value to the relative size of an agricultural operation, however,” said Graves, “and it is for this very reason we have the LFO law in Vermont. To remain economically viable some farms may choose to expand and we have to allow them this option. At the same time, we have to make sure that this is done in an agriculturally sound way.” “We have been hearing about the increase of large farms inVermont. The truth is that only 17 farms in Vermont — just slightly over 1.1 percent of our approximately 1,500 dairy farms and less than 2/10 of one percent of our 6,700 total farms — are permitted as large farms.” “Furthermore,” Graves added, “all but one of our large farms are family owned and support not only the families that run them but as many as 20 other individuals and their families, not to mention the tax base of their communities and the businesses that supply them.” Graves encouraged anyone with questions about large farms and the LFO permit process to contact the Department of Agriculture in Montpelier.
Category: chgxkidyfzrbeimj Vermont’s congressional delegation pushes for $219 million in broadband funding
The members of Vermont’s Congressional Delegation — US Senator Patrick Leahy (D), US Senator Bernie Sanders (I) and US Representative Peter Welch (D) — are urging the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the US Department of Commerce (DOC) to invest in Vermont’s broadband infrastructure. The lawmakers wrote to the agencies this week in support of the more than $219 million in broadband infrastructure applications submitted by Vermont companies and nonprofit organizations seeking Vermont’s share of $7.2 billion in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act broadband infrastructure grants.“Each week our offices receive multiple pleas from Vermonters desperate for access to affordable, high-speed internet access,” the lawmakers wrote in their letter to USDA Rural Utilities Service (RUS) Administrator Jonathan Adelstein and DOC National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) Assistant Secretary Lawrence Strickling. “These constituents are disadvantaged compared to many Americans and citizens of countries around the world who enjoy exponentially faster internet access speeds at a fraction of the cost compared to rural Vermonters’ access speeds and rates. Those with inadequate access to the internet suffer economically, socially and physically as advancements in e-commerce, telecommuting, telemedicine and e-learning become more and more pervasive.” The economic recovery plan directed RUS and NTIA to solicit and review proposals to expand broadband availability in underserved and unserved communities. Earlier this year, the agencies announced hundreds of millions in grants from an initial proposal solicitation, referred to as Round 1, including two NTIA grants for Vermont – a $1.2 million broadband mapping grant for the Vermont Center for Geographic Information, and a $2.5 million grant to the Vermont Council on Rural Development to help communities adopt broadband. The lawmakers commended the approval of those grants in their letter but expressed disappointment that Vermont has not yet received any funding for broadband infrastructure itself.“A recent University of Vermont Center for Rural Studies poll showed that only 69 percent of Vermonters have access to high-speed internet access,” the lawmakers wrote. “National data used to prepare the NTIA’s own February 2010 Digital Nation: 21st Century America’s Progress Towards Universal Broadband Internet Access reported that Vermont ranked 38th in the nation for broadband availability. Despite these appalling numbers, Vermont failed to receive a single Recovery Act-funded broadband infrastructure grant in Round 1.” The lawmakers said they highlighted all six applications they were aware of originating in the State of Vermont and serving Vermonters that have been submitted to the agencies in response to the second request for proposals. Other applications may have also been submitted. The applications highlighted in the letter include: Vermont Electrical Cooperative’s $4.6 million mid-mile fiber optic project in Northern Vermont; Vermont Telecommunications Authority’s $33.4 million proposal to create Vermont Fiber Link, a mid-mile fiber network increasing bandwidth and reducing broadband costs to state offices, healthcare institutions, schools and other critical customers; Vermont Telephone Company’s $13.7 million proposal to create an open-network middle-mile hub-and-spoke fiber network to schools, colleges, public safety facilities, healthcare facilities, and telecommunications providers; East Central Vermont Fiber Network’s $44 million loan and grant proposal to build a universal, open-access, fiber-to-the-home system to 18 Vermont towns including libraries, town offices, schools, community facilities, households and businesses; Vermont Telephone Company’s $118 million loan and grant proposal to create an open-network serving 61,497 Vermont premises comprising all 33,165 un-served households, with Tri-Band 4G/LTE mobile broadband, plus fiber-to-the-home to all VTel premises; and Waitsfield Champlain Valley Telecom’s $5.6 million loan and grant proposal to provide fiber-to-the-home technology and offer connection speeds between 5 and 100 Mbps. The text of the Delegation’s letter is available below or online as a PDF. More information about the RUS and NTIA broadband programs, along with more information about the Vermont applications, can be found online at www.broadbandusa.gov(link is external).# # # # #April 29, 2010Mr. Jonathan Adelstein Mr. Lawrence StricklingAdministrator Assistant SecretaryUnited States Department of Agriculture United States Department of CommerceRural Utilities Service National Telecommunications and STOP 1590 Information Administration 1400 Independence Ave., SW, Rm 5151 1401 Constitution Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20250 Washington, DC 20230Dear Administrator Adelstein and Assistant Secretary Strickling:We are writing in support of several critical broadband infrastructure proposals submitted by Vermont organizations to the United States Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service (RUS) Broadband Initiatives Program (BIP) and the Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications Information Administration (NTIA) Broadband Technology Opportunity Improvement Program (BTOP). Each week our offices receive multiple pleas from Vermonters desperate for access to affordable, high-speed internet access. These constituents are disadvantaged compared to many Americans and citizens of countries around the world who enjoy exponentially faster internet access speeds at a fraction of the cost compared to rural Vermonters access speeds and rates. Those with inadequate access to the internet suffer economically, socially and physically as advancements in e-commerce, telecommuting, telemedicine and e-learning become more and more pervasive. Messages from constituents like those mentioned above, and a recognition by the President and Members of Congress that rural America remains underserved by our existing telecommunications infrastructure, resulted in the inclusion of $7.2 billion in broadband infrastructure funding in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to build broadband infrastructure. This investment aimed to connect millions of Americans to the internet at internationally competitive speeds and rates better positioning them to compete in tomorrow’s economy and aimed to put thousands of Americans to work in the telecommunications industry of today. A recent University of Vermont Center for Rural Studies poll showed that only 69 percent of Vermonters have access to high-speed internet access. National data provided by the NTIA’s own February 2010 Digital Nation: 21st Century America’s Progress Towards Universal Broadband Internet Access reported that broadband availability in Vermont ranked 38th in the nation. Despite these appalling numbers, Vermont failed to receive a single Recovery Act-funded broadband infrastructure grant in Round 1. While our home state was fortunate to receive NTIA grants for broadband mapping and broadband aggregation, we feel it is vitally important that Vermont, one of the nation’s most rural states with many underserved rural communities, benefit from the Recovery Act’s broadband infrastructure program.A number of Vermont for-profit and non-profit organizations have submitted proposals to RUS BIP and NTIA BTOP. We wanted to bring your attention to these proposals in hopes that RUS and NTIA can help Vermont address its critical telecommunications infrastructure needs in Round 2. Vermont NTIA Broadband Technology Opportunities Program Applicants· Vermont Telecommunications Authority: A $33.4 million proposal to create Vermont Fiber Link, a statewide, mid-mile fiber network increasing bandwidth and reducing broadband costs to state offices, healthcare institutions, schools and other critical customers.· Vermont Electrical Cooperative: A $4.6 million proposal to connect 154 anchor institutions to a fiber network in Northern Vermont.· Vermont Telephone Company: A $13.7 million proposal to create an open-network middle-mile hub-and-spoke fiber network to schools, colleges, public safety facilities, healthcare facilities, and telecommunications providers.Vermont RUS Broadband Initiatives Program· East Central Vermont Fiber Network: A $44 million loan and grant proposal to build a universal, open-access, fiber-to-the-home system to 18 Vermont towns including libraries, town offices, schools and other critical community facilities along with all households and businesses desiring service.· Vermont Telephone Company: A $118 million loan and grant proposal to create an open-network serving 61,497 Vermont premises comprising all 33,165 un-served households, with Tri-Band 4G/LTE mobile broadband, plus fiber-to-the-home to all VTel premises.· Waitsfield Champlain Valley Telecom: A $5.6 million loan / grant proposal to provide fiber-to-the-home technology and offer connection speeds between 5 and 100 Mbps. We appreciate your fair and timely consideration of these proposals, and look forward to working with you to ensure Americans across the country have affordable high speed internet access as quickly as possible.Should you have any questions about our support of these applications, please feel free to contact us directly.Sincerely,PATRICK LEAHY BERNIE SANDERSUnited States Senator United States SenatorSource: Vermont congressional delegation. WASHINGTON (Monday, May 17, 2010) –
Category: chgxkidyfzrbeimj Guatemalan President Names New Defense Minister
Guatemalan President Álvaro Colom dismissed his defense minister, Abraham Valenzuela, due to the end of his military career, and named Brigadier General Juan José Ruiz in his place, the president announced at a press conference. “The change is strictly due to a military shift, because (Valenzuela) ended his military career,” the head of state commented at the National Palace of Culture, a former seat of government in the center of the Guatemalan capital. Ruiz, who was serving as head of the Defense General Staff, took office upon being sworn in by the president the same evening. The new minister is the fourth to occupy that position in the three years and four months of Colom’s administration so far. Valenzuela served more than two years in the post, the longest period in office. The president also replaced the head of the Presidential Security Administrative Affairs Secretariat, Ricardo Marroquín, whose place was taken by René González. The secretariat is the agency responsible for providing security for the presidents of this Central American country. The dismissals took place after the president ordered the redoubling of security measures in the country in view of possible reactions by the Al Qaeda terrorist group following the death of its leader, Osama bin Laden, in a U.S. attack in Pakistan. By Dialogo May 09, 2011
Category: chgxkidyfzrbeimj Pole position
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Category: chgxkidyfzrbeimj Government unveils new rule to guarantee loans for MSMEs as risk aversion rises
The government has unveiled a new rule to guarantee working capital loans for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in a bid to boost credit disbursement from banks, as risk aversion increases amid the COVID-19 pandemic.Finance Ministry Regulation (PMK) No. 71/2020 published on Monday stipulates that the government will assign state-owned credit insurer Jaminan Kredit Indonesia (Jamkrindo) and state-owned insurer Asuransi Kredit Indonesia (Askrindo) to provide guarantees for banks to channel loans to MSMEs.The government has allocated Rp 12 trillion (US$839.07 million) to guarantee working capital loans, which consists of Rp 10 trillion for guarantee services and another Rp 2 trillion in reserves. The government has allocated Rp 695.2 trillion to fight the health and economic impacts of the pandemic, of which Rp 87.55 trillion will be allocated to health care, Rp 203.9 trillion to strengthening social safety nets and Rp 123.46 trillion to incentives for MSMEs, among other measures.The PMK also outlines several criteria for banks to receive the state guarantees, such as they must have a good reputation, be considered healthy by the Financial Services Authority (OJK) and bear a minimum of 20 percent risk from providing the working capital loans.The government has also put in place several criteria for MSMEs to be eligible to get the state guarantees, such as a good credit record and a proposed maximum loan value of Rp 10 billion.“We used to have 12 percent credit growth [annually] but what I have now is only 3 to 4 percent. It’s lucky enough to even have positive credit growth,” Sri Mulyani said, adding that the growth was driven by loans to the healthcare, as well as food and beverages, segments.Indonesia’s loan growth slowed to 5.7 percent year-on-year (yoy) in April from the 7.9 percent annual growth recorded in March, Bank Indonesia (BI) data show, as the pandemic discouraged loan demand amid disrupted business activity. At the same time, some borrowers have been facing difficulties in repaying their loans.OJK data show that Indonesian banks had provided 6.35 million borrowers with credit restructuring worth Rp 695.3 trillion as of June 22, following the issuance of OJK Regulation No. 11/2020, which instructed financial institutions to provide relief for borrowers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.“Credit restructuring has grown significantly in banks in the BUKU IV [category], with the highest growth recorded in the trade sector,” OJK chairman Wimboh Santoso told lawmakers in a hearing on Monday. “We will ask banks to start providing loans for borrowers again.”As part of its efforts to boost loan channeling, the government announced last week that it would place Rp 30 trillion in state-owned banks, associated under the auspices of Himbara, to be disbursed as loans to businesses to help support economic recovery.The government is following through on its promise to allocate fund placements in banks worth Rp 82.2 trillion to help their liquidity as they conduct credit restructuring for MSMEs and labor-intensive businesses affected by the pandemic.The fund placement and the working capital loan guarantee are part of the government’s Rp 695.2 trillion budget to mitigate the impact of COVID-19.Topics : Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati said the government would soon implement the insurance scheme, adding that the policy aimed at pushing banks to channel more loans to MSMEs whose businesses have been heavily disrupted by the pandemic.“We are introducing risk management for new working capital loans so that banks feel safe to lend again and companies feel protected as the government will pay the insurance for them,” she told a discussion on Monday, warning that risk aversion might further delay the economic recovery.“Risk aversion is exactly what is happening now as banks and businesses do not want to restart the working capital disbursement after debt restructuring,” Sri Mulyani went on to say. “The economy will not grow if they wait for all the restructuring processes to be completed, which will take months.”The government has been struggling to keep the economic wheels turning since the COVID-19 outbreak forced people to stay at home to contain the coronavirus spread. It has started to gradually reopen the economy despite an increase in the number of cases as the economy is expected to grow by just 1 percent this year under the baseline scenario or even contract by 0.4 percent under the worst-case scenario.